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Old 09-20-2020, 02:29 PM   #1
KAL
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Buying a New Forest River Product?

Hi Everyone. My husband and I are new to the RV world and have been searching for a travel trailer for many months. I fell in love with the R-Pod at first sight but we finally settled on a new 2021 FR 203RKLE due to size, function and layout. Last night I started searching for reviews on FR and found a huge amount of complaints from FR owners who seemed to have very long lists of quality issues and repair challenges. The amount of complaints seemed excessive and now, just as we are about to put a deposit down on a new 2021, I feel like we should start looking all over again. Before I give up on FR, Im hoping the experienced owners in this forum can give us some perspective and share their own experiences with FR and the Surveyor Legend series. Any information would be helpful. Thank you all in advance with your help. P.S. My husband has a great deal of experience with sail boats and is an A&P (airplane mechanic) so he has a lot of experience that should come in handy with travel trailers, I think? Thank you.
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Old 09-20-2020, 02:48 PM   #2
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I have an r-pod. We have had very few minor issues. FR has several different plants that make various lines and models of RVs. They likely don’t all have the same quality.

I (and, it seems, most r-pod owners) are very happy with the quality. I cannot speak for any other line or models, but this forum does seem to have more complaints for some lines or models than for others.

Bear in mind that you hear more from the people with problems than you will from those of us who got quality-built products.

I am biased, but I recommend you go back to the r-pod that you fell in love with.
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Old 09-20-2020, 03:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by KAL View Post
Hi Everyone. My husband and I are new to the RV world and have been searching for a travel trailer for many months. I fell in love with the R-Pod at first sight but we finally settled on a new 2021 FR 203RKLE due to size, function and layout. Last night I started searching for reviews on FR and found a huge amount of complaints from FR owners who seemed to have very long lists of quality issues and repair challenges. The amount of complaints seemed excessive and now, just as we are about to put a deposit down on a new 2021, I feel like we should start looking all over again. Before I give up on FR, Im hoping the experienced owners in this forum can give us some perspective and share their own experiences with FR and the Surveyor Legend series. Any information would be helpful. Thank you all in advance with your help. P.S. My husband has a great deal of experience with sail boats and is an A&P (airplane mechanic) so he has a lot of experience that should come in handy with travel trailers, I think? Thank you.
You do understand that Forest River is the corporation name and FR has almost 100 different brands and different divisions, right.
Have you looked at reviews for Thor Industries, as they are same kind of RV corporation as FR, only bigger.
You need to look for reviews on each brand, not by the corporation name, as the trailer you're looking at is made by the Surveyor division, not FR.
It's like looking for reviews on a Chevy Camaro and only using GM to do the research.
We've owned two trailers, made by two different FR divisions and we've been very pleased with both.
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Old 09-21-2020, 01:59 PM   #4
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When we fell in love with the A-frame idea, we shopped the 3 different manufacturers. The Forest River product was about 2/3 the price of A-liner and Chalet equivalent models. At the time, the A-liner and Chalet were having production problems, and getting one was at least 6 months out. Between price and availability, Rockwood/Flagstaff became our choice.

For A-frames, the dealers that discount them tend to sell in volume and understand the product. For both our A-frames, we had very good dealers, who resolved almost all the issues before delivery (and gave us a good discount on price compared to dealers who primarily sold bigger trailers), and took care of us after delivery. We didn't have any warranty issues with the 2nd A-frame, and only a hidden flaw in a propane fitting in the 1st. Take a close look at the service dept of the dealer before you buy. Or be prepared to use independent RV mechanics and self-help.

Having kept track of A-frames, there are design/engineering issues unique to each brand. Forest River uses a very different roof latch mechanism that is sturdy in all winds, unlike the other brands. FR uses OSB (Oriented Strand Board) for floors, where the other 2 use aluminum. Makes the FR product heavier, but both work fine. I'm sure you'll find the same kinds of things when it comes to R-Pods and similar from other manufacturers.

just my experiences
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Old 09-22-2020, 12:54 PM   #5
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I believe that successfully buying and enjoying a new RV is all about managing expectations. You need to understand that finding ANY RV that is perfect upon delivery is as rare as your average unicorn. All of the RV shopping I have done over the years has lead me to the opinion that Forest River and Thor operate multiple sub-brands, each with different target audiences. They both make everything from luxury units where you would expect fewer issues all the way down to entry level cheap-o's that are all about making the unit as cheap as absolutely possible. If you opt for the "cheap as absolutely possible", don't be too surprised if the quality is "less than perfect".

The second thing to know is that the dealership experience can vary widely. The two aspects of a dealership are sales and service. Some do good at one or the other, some at both, and some at neither. If you do end up having issues that need to be resolved with a unit you purchase, just be aware that Forest River does not force you to use the dealer where you purchased the RV to do service on that RV. Sometimes that's the best option, but it is not the only option.

As any long-time RV-r will tell you, it will be in your own best interest to learn how to do as much maintenance on your rig as possible. Many issues are fixable by someone who is somewhat handy and you can save a lot of money over the years by learning to maintain and fix your own rig.

I purchased a new Rockwood Ultra Light fifth wheel last summer and there were a few minor things that I had the dealer fix initially, but overall I was quite satisfied with the build quality. It is my opinion that given a choice between Forest River and Thor products, you will generally be better off in the Forest River product, but as in many things, either company can produce both lemons and gems. I don't have a significant opinion on some of the non-Thor or FR brands out there because I just haven't had that much exposure.
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:08 PM   #6
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Can happen to anyone

Quote:
Originally Posted by KAL View Post
Hi Everyone. My husband and I are new to the RV world and have been searching for a travel trailer for many months. I fell in love with the R-Pod at first sight but we finally settled on a new 2021 FR 203RKLE due to size, function and layout. Last night I started searching for reviews on FR and found a huge amount of complaints from FR owners who seemed to have very long lists of quality issues and repair challenges. The amount of complaints seemed excessive and now, just as we are about to put a deposit down on a new 2021, I feel like we should start looking all over again. Before I give up on FR, Im hoping the experienced owners in this forum can give us some perspective and share their own experiences with FR and the Surveyor Legend series. Any information would be helpful. Thank you all in advance with your help. P.S. My husband has a great deal of experience with sail boats and is an A&P (airplane mechanic) so he has a lot of experience that should come in handy with travel trailers, I think? Thank you.
We have a Rockwood which is a Forest River product, and we've been happy. We did have some issues initially, but I don't know anyone who hasn't. We looked at Surveyor and liked them. I think they use Azdel now. In my experience within specific tiers, most trailers are very similar. The differences are in the features and floorplans. They all use the same components, appliances, and tires with some differences here and there. The build quality is a little different across lines and price points. If you step up to something like a Lance or Airstream, you'll likely see some improvements, but you're paying for it. And the differences aren't usually dramatic. Those trailers have issues also. I would focus on a trailer that meets your needs, look it over really well, and make sure you're working with a reputable and reliable dealer. Because that is where the difference really is in my experience.
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:11 PM   #7
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IMHO I use to feel you'd have more issues with motorized campers Class A,B or C because they're more like mobile houses on wheels so you'll have engines and generator to worry about but these days trailers and 5ers stuff a lot in them too just no engines...before moving into a Class A a few years ago I had a variety of pop-ups and trailers, all Jayco. Never any issues, I always felt Jayco was one of the best. Maybe not true today but never had one issue with them the over 25 yrs. with them. But like whats already been said you'll hear more complaints or issues than good stories. Me my first Class A was FR Georgetown. A lot of issues and seemed to have good service dept. Yet problems existed almost till I moved up to a DP. The jury's out on that still need to do more traveling. Like said do your homework a dealer with a good reputation and a great service dept. Is paramount IMHO if you need them, fix the little things go to them to fix the major things. Good luck and please let us know how you make out.
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:24 PM   #8
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I have owned Dutchmen and FR Wildcat (Wildcat bought new in 2015 (2016 model). I am very happy with FR and my Wildcat. Sure, there was a short list of issues when it was new. Dealer fixed all the ones from that first 3 months, I fixed a few (like a loose coax connection that just needed tightening). I have a good dealer, but honestly, other than that first warranty visit at month 3, I've never taken it back to them.

Any other faults that appeared during the rest of the first 2 years were fixed in Goshen during Forest River's National Rally at the Goshen Fairgrounds. The Rally is a great experience by itself, but having FR assign a team that inspects and repairs everything they find while you are there! Well that's the best.

Lastly, Forest River brands benefit from this very forum. Over the years I've experienced and notice others experience "Issues". As far as I can remember, every time there was an "Issue", a group of seasoned RVers here would chime in with either troubleshooting and repair help and links to a youtube that will show you what to do. From time to time, there will be a FR customer service rep who is a member and he will engage to help you with parts or other help.
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:35 PM   #9
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We have a 2019 Surveyor 241RBLE that we bought in April of 2019. We have only had one issue which was with the shower drain that I repaired myself. We use it at least once a month year round but stayed in it for six weeks when our house flooded. The only regret we have is not getting different (Quality) tires on it at the time we purchased it. We have been lucky so far with the castle rocks which are going away in October before our next trip.
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:23 PM   #10
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We have a Rockwood Mini Lite 2109S

The Mini Lite line is well made, We did have the kitchen sink fall in the first 50 miles but dealer was only 10 miles away when it happened so we took it and was a back on the road in 2 hours. We are having an issue with the Carbon Monoxide detector which I think is flaky. Heard that the quality is down on all RV's with the Covid still rampant as people are buying them like hotcakes so they are pumping them out fast with little reguard to quality. I would suggest you make a trip to Elkhart ID an tour the plant where the ones your are interested in are built and make a decision after that. You can probably get a better deal there also. Just my 2 cents worth so take it as just that. Good luck
We liked the R-pods also but just too small and not the ammenities we were looking for.
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:25 PM   #11
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My recommendation would be to allocate several hours to go over every detail. We were unable to do this for both RV's we bought so our walkthrus were somewhat rushed due to outside time constraints. Some issues that we would have seen in a more leisurely review (summary of 2 rv's):
* Water pump didn't have a fuse so it didn't run (we didn't notice until went off city water)
* When the heater kicked on, sawdust and crap went flying out of all the vents
* 2 heater vents were clogged and no air came out at all
* 1 AC unit was leaking, a thermometer during walk through would have caught the poor cooling of the unit
* excess plumber's putty on the drains
* 2 AC vents clogged from poor ducting
* Water heater electric relay bad (4-8 seconds of clicking every 5-10 minutes before it finally failed)
* missing door strap on barn door


You get the idea. Nothing life shattering, just very annoying and we(I) should have caught all of those in the pre-signing review. Your ability to get minor issues resolved quickly drops dramatically after you sign.


In retrospect, I'm willing to bet that in the vastness of the internet, someone out there has probably already created a nice handy checklist for just such an occasion. I'd google that "rv pre-sales walk through checklist".


Good luck & keep a sharp eye!
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:41 PM   #12
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I think the advice given above is realistic. As a first time buyer...I'm real happy with the quality and service of my Georgetown but I see a lot of 1st time buyers with unrealistic expectations.
1. I don't think that any of the other big 3 companies have any edge in quality over FR. Thor in particular seems to get a lot more complaints than FR...but of course they are also bigger.
2. People tend to look at RV's like they look at cars or boats. And at RV dealers like car or boat dealers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
a. You have a RV Chassis mfr. responsible for the engine, frame, tranny etc. and you'll need to deal with THEM to get any problems there fixed.
b. Then you have the RV mfr. who builds the stick house on the frame. You'll deal with the mfr. (FR) on that with the interposition of the dealer in many cases.
c. Then you have the item mfr's who provide their own warranties for your fridge and air conditioner & radio and stove etc, They have their own warranty and warranty providers which are not necessarily your dealer.
No one takes responsibility for the whole product. And fingers are often pointed at "the other guy",
d. It the dealer you go to did not sell you your unit... they have NO legal obligation to service your unit at all.. and if they often will not...or will make you wait months. They are not like your Honda dealerships.
Fortunately...at least with Forest River...they will often work with a local provider of your choosing to help you get your unit fixed and reimburse YOU for the expense with proper documentation as arranged in ADVANCE of the work being done.
Lots of folks here are handy and the factory has worked with them to let them do their own fixes.
I'd also note that buying from a local dealer is also NO guarantee of good service. Warranty repairs don't pay well and dealers often promise things then don't deliver. All to often we hear :The part is still on order.:... only to find it has never been ordered.



Despite all that FR has IMO a good reputation for standing behind their products and their customers and if you ever need to take the unit back to the factory...outstanding service is the rule.



So that's my perspective. IMO...the decision to buy...despite the above... has been one of the top ten good decisions of my life. (Wives 1>>>9 might disagree!! )
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:59 PM   #13
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Forrest River is a "Huge" company w/ many different model lines. I think currently all the manufactures are building them as fast as possible to meet demand. My sense is this causing the quality to decrease even lower on a scale that was already low. I have had a Flagstaff/Rockwood, which is about the center of Forrest River's price line. I have a 2016 and have been happy w/ the quality overall. I suggest looking at one of their middle lines for the best "Bang for the Buck". Due to the volume that Forrest River does, you get a lot for the money compared to other brands. If you look on RVT they have customer reviews on specific models.
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Old 09-22-2020, 03:50 PM   #14
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To be honest with you. It dont matter what brand you buy or how much you spend they all have trouble .I have 2019 FR 26 rbws superlite and my sink cave in Thats What happen when they throw them together .I took it back and they made it good
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:16 PM   #15
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I recommend Thor, I bought from forest river and Thor,
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:53 PM   #16
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond to my request for information. We needed an quick education and something told me we could count on this group for that. You did not disappoint. We have some great take-aways, especially finding a good service dept, the pre-purchase inspection, and the re-setting of some expectations. We have 2 FR recommended dealers in AZ and the price difference is huge, so we'll be digging deeper. Again, thank you all for your input. Take care. ----Kathleen & Chuck
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:56 PM   #17
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Thanks for the update and glad the forum helped you out as its helped me over the last few years. Please come back and let us know what the final decision you made and perhaps the results of it with the rig you decide on. Thanks and enjoy.
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:01 PM   #18
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One last thing to remember.. For every person who posts a complaint, there are scores of others who have had no issues and thus no reason to go online and post.
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:16 PM   #19
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We are now on our second trailer. Our first was a 2018 Dutchman Kodiak. Not known for quality. We had no problems with it whatsoever except for the Air Conditioner failed and replaced by Dometic under warranty. Customer Service from Dutchman was a "B+"

We purchased a new 2020 Surveyor Luxury in January. A few minor issues I fixed myself.

One major issue has been on the books since Early June. Customer Service an "F".

Flip a coin. You just never know.

Recommendations.

Buy from a local dealer with a good reputation. Any money you save will be lost if you have issues. Dealers don't like to work on other dealer units because they are always booked up and will cater to the customer that bought from them. This has been told to me by three Dealer Shop Managers. We also have an independent shop we can go to for warranty work and repairs that is very close. This is a bonus.

If you are going to be an RVer. Either be "rich" or be a DIYer. Basic skills at a minimum. Electrical skills and Mechanical skills will be a big plus.

Do your research as to your tow vehicle capability. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Do not trust the salesman. Understand the parameters you are working under.

Immediately get a camera in the back to help you back up and see the people that are tailgating you.
Immediately get a Trailer Tire Pressure Monitor.

Have fun!!!
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:22 PM   #20
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Rockwood

Rockwood is made by Forest River and have had very few problems with the trailer. Like several have said earlier, make sure dealer shows you how to operate trailer and have a good PDI(pre delivery inspection). Pay attention to what the PDI guy says and take notes. Investigate dealer throughly before purchasing. Do your homework and if you notice any problems before purchase,make sure they fix them before you give any money.
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