The following is a podcast transcript about the challenges of buying RVs in today’s market.
Hello everyone and welcome to the RV Inspection and Care podcast.
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Now let’s go ahead and get started on the topic for today’s podcast though.
Buying RVs Now – Manufacturing Changes
Well things have really changed a lot in the last 10 years in this industry.
Some things have actually gotten better. But the sad news is that some things have not.
In fact, the use of quality materials in many of the RVs today has declined.
And also quality control procedures at the factory have suffered as well in many cases.
Now we’re not talking about all of the manufacturers here. But enough of them that it really is an alarming trend now.
Buying RVs – Why Quality Has Suffered
Before 2008, the good news was that the manufacturers were turning out some of the best RV’s that we’ve seen. At least in my opinion.
Generally speaking, many of them were using very good building materials. And they had good quality control procedures.
But the economic downturn of 2008 changed all of that. They started using cheaper materials instead.
That way they could keep the price of their RV’s down. And attract more business during that difficult economic period.
During that time there were also some good old RV brands that did not survive. We don’t have Beavers, or Safaris, or Alphas with us any longer.
But some did survive the tough economic times. However, many of them often did not improve their build quality again. Even after the economy stabilized. Of course, their sticker prices still rose afterward though.
Buying RVs – The Effects Of COVID
Then along comes COVID. And COVID brought a whole change to the RV industry.
All of the folks that had been cooped up for the period of the pandemic, they found a way to have freedom with RV’s. And at the same time be able to socially distance.
So the RV lifestyle just exploded when COVID came about. Now as a result of this, dealers and manufacturers are now in control.
And they’re selling everything that they can get their hands on. Everything the dealers can get from the manufacturers. And everything that the manufacturers can make, is just going right out the door.
But that has made the quality control procedures at the factory get even worse. Because they’re under pressure to deliver.
Also unfortunately, PDI’s or “pre-delivery inspections” at many RV dealers are also almost non-existent. Now once again, this is not the case with all RV dealers.
We’re not lumping all manufacturers or dealers in together. But there’s enough of this going on, that it’s a disturbing trend and it’s not very good.
Buying RVs – Inconveniencing The Customer
Essentially what is happening here is that the manufacturers and the dealers are expecting the buyer of the RV to complete the quality control procedure or be the PDI person.
They’re expecting you, as the buyer, to buy the RV as it is. Then you take it out and use it, and find all the problems that are in it.
This is because it was rushed out of the factory and because the dealer didn’t do his work in preparing it correctly for sale. Instead, they expect you to bring it back for repair under warranty.
Now in all fairness, we have to say that the word on the street is that most of these issues are being taken care of under warranty.
But this is what all of that means. You will not get the RV that you originally paid for in many cases until after all this warranty work is done.
And all of this warranty work. All of this finding issues and then bringing it back and then having them repaired. This could all take months.
And you could be out of your RV for a long period of time while this is happening.
Also, depending on what the problems are, it could take several trips back and forth to the RV dealer service center in many cases as well.
What does all of this mean? It means frustration! And it means irritation!
But it also means you don’t get the RV you paid for until sometime down the line.
Now my friends, this honestly is a sad way to do business in my opinion. It doesn’t show a whole lot of regard for customers. It’s definitely not very customer oriented!
The Effects Of A Worldwide Parts Shortage
But now a new wrinkle has been added to this whole situation by COVID as well. And that is that there is now an RV parts shortage.
There is a very extensive parts shortage going on across the world for RV components and parts.
Many of these components are on long waiting lists and back orders. Even the factories are having tough times in this area.
It’s hard to get all the items and components they need to be able to build the RV’s like they want to.
It also means that service departments just can’t get the parts like they would like as well.
So if you buy a new RV today, there is a chance it may not have all of the components actually installed in it.
You may actually buy a new RV and have to wait until the components come in to be installed later on.
Or you might buy the RV. But then you find that something needs to be replaced under warranty.
Well then, you may have to wait for months for that to be done. So this is really an inconvenience for the RV customer.
Obviously then, there are great challenges going on in the RV industry right now. And it makes it very difficult for the RV buyer who’s looking to buy a new RV.
Buying RVs – How To Handle These Issues
So how do you handle all of this? Well my suggestion is think about buying a used RV instead.
Now when I say used, really it only needs to be a year or two old. You can still buy a very good RV. One that hasn’t been used very much.
And by that time, many of these issues I’ve been mentioning. All the quality problems and quality control issues and also warranty problems. Well, they are all taken care of by then.
So finally you have an RV that actually works by that time.
So suppose you buy an RV right now that is a couple of years old. Well, generally speaking, most of the time the bugs are fairly worked out of it.
The only thing you have to understand is that these days it’s a seller’s market in the RV industry.
So you probably are going to have to pay a little bit more for that used RV. Or at least more than you would at some other time.
But the good news is, at least you will have a fully functioning RV from the very first day. And that is avoiding an awful lot of frustration that many new RV buyers are experiencing now.
Buying RVs – Get An RV Inspection
You see, if it’s a used unit, they’re going to go through it from top to bottom. And they’ll give you a full report on what’s going on with that RV.
You will know exactly what shape it’s in before you buy it. Now there’s one warning that I have to give you at this point though.
Some Dealers Are Denying RV Inspections
And that is many RV dealers these days are trying to deny RV inspections to their customers.
They don’t want the inspection to slow down this fast turnover of RV’s. They want to just sell, sell, sell. And they’re not interested in having the the customer have an inspection done on these units.
Once again this is not all RV dealers. But there is enough of this happening that it really is disturbing.
Or if they do allow RV inspections, they may try to talk you out of it. They may tell you that you don’t need an RV inspection.
“Because their PDI process, their pre-delivery inspection process, does exactly what the RV inspector does.” My friends do not fall for that!
It is not the truth. It’s not even close to the truth. There’s not a single PDI process that I have ever seen that comes anywhere close to what an RV inspector will do, if they’re a certified NRVIA inspector.
So please don’t fall for this logic. Don’t allow yourself to be talked out of getting the RV that you deserve.
Buying RVs Now Is A Challenge
So as you can see, buying right now from dealers is a challenge in many ways. Whether you buy new or whether you buy used.
Either way you’re going to face a challenge in some way. Because they’re in the driver’s seat at this point in the sales process.
It’s a seller’s market, so it’s to their advantage. But don’t let them take control of the buying process!
Now all of this should change somewhere in the future because this cannot continue forever.
Especially will this change if the RV lifestyle kind of cools down a little bit.
When it’s not quite such a hot thing that everybody wants to be involved in. Well then, things will normalize more. And it will be a little bit easier to work with.
The problem is nobody knows when that is going to happen.
Should You Buy An RV Now?
So does it mean then that you shouldn’t be buying RV’s right now? That things are just not in your favor and so you shouldn’t do it? I don’t recommend that at all.
In fact, I don’t think there’s any need to put off your RV plans and adventures at all.
There are plenty of great RV deals that can be had out there. All you have to do is just look a little bit harder.
You could even buy new and still get a good RV. But just understand that you’re probably going to go through some real challenges. Difficult issues that go along with the time we’re living in right now.
So just be patient and continue to look for the RV that you feel is going to work best for you. And be smart about what you’re doing in the buying process.
If you do, you can still find the RV that works just right for you. And that RV will take you on all the RVing adventures that you’ll be enjoying in the years ahead.
Well, that’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends….. until next time