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Old 09-12-2014, 07:34 AM   #1
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My Advice When Purchasing an RV

There is a lot of satisfied and dissatisfied owners on this forum. You really have to read into some of the post what is really going on and you will always hear the negative stories and seldom the positive.

IMO there is enough negative feedback to say that FR does have a QA issue that really need to be addressed. I would like to see their key indicators but that is for another thread.

First off check out the dealer and customer satisfaction for handling warranty and service work. How fast do they respond and what is workmanship like. Dealers are always nice when you are buying but it can be a very different story when needing service. Forums can help with this also.

Do some online research for models and layouts the suit you. Join an RV forum or several RV forums to get advice and concerns on the RVs you are considering. You may not only find out that it is a good or bad choice, someone will be able to tell you of any little annoyances that may be due to poor engineering. I have found several in my RV. You can take a better look at these and decide if you can live with it or not. A lot of new used RVs out there b/c after purchase the owner didnít like some little things that just bugged them so they traded. I swear the engineers do not camp.

Once you settle on a model do a thorough inspection. Donít rush the purchase. Make sure everything works down to the TV working on all hook ups. Ask for a use before purchase deal. Rent it for a month with rent going to purchase. Look for the little petty things that will bug the heck out of you later on. If it enters your mind that it may be a problem for you, it will. Once you buy you are stuck with it.

Get the dealer to show you how to use everything (take notes). Donít let them tell you how something works or is used make them show you. How to move the slide in and out if the system fails. How to manually use hydraulic or electric jacks. You need to know how to override any auto system if it fails.

Water is the number one enemy of an RV. Keep an eye out for any leaks for a couple of months. If parked, keep the slides open and inspect during rains. Look for bubbles in the siding, any signs of water damage and get it addressed immediately.

Last but not least. Purchase a good roadside assistance program such as, but not necessarily; Good Sams.

Others feel free to add to anything I may have left off.
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:53 PM   #2
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I agree the dealer can make or break your purchasing experience, we made several trips to ours prior to the purchase. Not once did they make us feel like we were a bother to them. We spoke to sales, service and parts employees. When we finally made the purchase they spent several hours going over our unit and even encouraged video taping for future review. So far A+ for customer service.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:58 PM   #3
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X3 on making sure you get a dealer that excels in customer service after the sale. It will make or break your experience with the trailer/MH when (not if) something needs work.

When looking, sit inside the trailer/MH and imagine your usage. Think about where you will put things ie moms clothes in this cabinet, pots & pans in that cabinet, kids toys in that drawer, outside chairs in this compartment. Act out daily activities, i.e. mom cooking, kids playing, dad watching tv or walking to the bathroom, sit on the toilet, stand in the shower. Make sure you fit. Think about what type of camping you will be doing. Rv resort with full hook ups most of the time, tank size won't matter, state parks with w/e hook ups, then pay attention to black and grey tank sizes. Dry camping or boondocking, then pay attention to all tank sizes and consider needs for a generator. If you are camping mostly in the national parks out west pay attention to size as the longer rvs tend to have issues with not fitting. Remember the longer the rv, the more limited the sites are for you to choose. Slides are great for creating room but remember opposing slides do eat up campsite space.

Once you decide to buy, do not give them anything more than the required down payment to hold the trailer/MH until after the pdi and any repairs have been completed to your satisfaction. Video tape your pdi.

If buying a trailer of any kind come here and ask questions before buying about whether said trailer is truly within specs for your tv. Do NOT believe the dealership on this, they don't really know and don't care, they just want to sell the unit. Take the time to truly understand towing specs and how they relate to you.
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:24 PM   #4
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Lots of good feedback has been provided and I'm sure lots more will be added.

The PDI should be done prior to the customer arriving to take delivery. A detailed walk-through is very important. During the PDI/Walk through if problems or issues are noticed think twice about accepting delivery. Generally speaking leaving the RV at the dealership will likely get those issues taken care of sooner than later. You can take care of payment when the unit is ready. Scheduling trips can be a game of chance until you have your RV at home and there are no major issues. I can't say how many times I read a post about a new owner accepting an unit with problems because of camping plans.

x2 on figuring out where everything you need will go. My unit seemed to have plenty of storage when I first brought it only to find out otherwise while loading it up. I do have a space for everything but then I camp solo.

x2 on the fact that designers don't seem to be campers. If they were campers they would had figured out that the handle placement on my "closet" isn't their brightest idea. I can't open door all the way because it makes contact with the window treatment. This closet door is very slim to start with.
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:05 AM   #5
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All good points and video and pictures is a great idea.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:08 AM   #6
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All great points.

The comments brings up the issue of cost vs. benefits.

Internet wholesalers require full payment up front before you are allowed to see it. You basically own it once you show up for the pdi. Any problems with the unit? You can still leave it there as was stated and yes, one should not have camping plans. But the problem is you basically own it.

So the choice is - do you save a bit of money or pay a bit more and do as was said in previous posts. Whatever choice you make, it should be something you accept.

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Old 09-14-2014, 07:47 AM   #7
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Very good points. I say don't take delivery if there is even one issue with the unit. They will fix it really quick if you won't sign til all issues are resolved. Test everything yourself don't take there word for it. Test it from front to back everything! Climb on the roof and inspect it. If it isn't clean and look new, ask why if the unit is new. Make them clean it or your going to have to and UV protect. Make them put vent covers over the roof vent or you won't beable to use them in the rain. Test everything you then you will be confident it all is satisfactory at the time you take it home. If your like me and can fix most anything electrical or mechanical then it isn't as big of an issue, but for other it understandibly is. Some dealer techs aren't as good at what they make out to be either. They will make half azz repairs and say that's good enough so you better inspect what they touch. Make them put any promise in writing. Good luck and pay close attention to detail before your stuck with it.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:59 AM   #8
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Good advice.......

On dealers, my personal opinion is, learn as much as one can...so that the dealer is merely a facilitator, that way he is getting a person what they want(not pushing what hasnt sold).....our dealer was good, but if I hadn't known some of the answers or basis of what I was doing on this rig, he probably would have gotten one or two over...and they may still have....lol...but in the end, he worked for me and not the other way around...

one thing I can add to the sit down and imagine....think about 5, 10 years down the road....as well as type of camping....things, people change, kids grow and the money these things, cost these days, a person can save alot looking at where there family will be down the road......we as humans always like to upgrade, truthfully if maintained and cared for these new RVs on the market will last......and finding the right camper is easier these days because there are so many combos that are available...

We camp anywhere and everywhere.....so we took alot into our thought process and the fact that we would be giving up the ability to tow with our 1500....in past, either the 1 ton or the 1/2 could pull the toy hauler....but we were looking at extended living quality and longevity.....


one example....... we have a grand child on the way, so looking down the road at bunk house....we have adults that come with us every now and again.....going to have another little one every now and again.......So our purchase, I was looking at that along with room storage and everything 5-10 years down road....

Plus I based the maint. repairs on what I can do myself and based it on my future age.....So between longevity of quality parts and our future...I am hoping that this will be the last one I need to buy, unless I just plain want to....

*****this is important to me and I see it happen too much.....remember you are paying for the item, they are not paying you...it is your money...it should work and be what you want....don't let a dealer make smart comments or try to bully...he should be nothing but respectful and helpful.....your money dont be afraid or ashamed to put a foot down....

once again good advice on everyones part and it applies to other purchases also.......
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:14 AM   #9
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Excellent input.
I believe another common mistake is the buyer's expectations, paticularily first timers. This is not allowing for poor quality of workmanship or manufacturing defects at all. But--you do get what you pay for. An RV is not your home. Plastic, fiberfoard, laminates abound. So when you're looking at the $17,000 vs the $25,000 unit, the quality of the components may not be comparable, ie hinges on the cabinets, drawer glides, structural components, etc. Travelling down roads and bumping along do allow for vibrations and things come loose, water fittings and the like.
We had a 4 hour walk through for our unit and I took pics and videos as we went along.
1. the Tech operated everything
2. my wife then operated everything
3. I then operated everything

We told the dealer we wanted the unit closed and ready to be set up on our arrival which they accommodated. Every function was tested on all power sources, battery (but not the Tow Vehicle), shore power, and LP where applicable.
DON'T sign anything until you're satisfied. Sure you get a better deal from internet dealers, but again, you get what you pay for.

Developing a personnal face-to-face relationship with the dealership is vital to your satisfaction, you catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar.

and for goodness sake, don't buy the new unit starting you dream 3000 mile vacation that starts the minute you pull out of the lot!
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:22 AM   #10
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Wish mine would have been $25k maybe I'm shopping at the wrong dealers.
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:00 PM   #11
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I am a recent first time buyer and I am guilty on all counts of "The wrong way to buy your first RV". Read my first thread on this site to see what I got stuck with.
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Old 09-14-2014, 12:55 PM   #12
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Yea, I saw your thread. The Gov't should make Lippert recall those frames but it won't happen unless it cause a few deaths. Aways happens after the fact.
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:19 PM   #13
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In our case, purchasing our first RV, we did a ton of due diligence, research, inspected it twice, and still ended up coming away with a crummy experience from the dealer. Front of the house services were great (sales and finance) but the service department is a total mess at General RV in Wayland. When we took ownership, both propane tanks had been open for who knows how long and the fridge was running, so both tanks were nearly empty for our first trip. Black and grey tanks both 2/3 full with God knows what and the fresh tank was almost empty. Virtually non-existent orientation and instruction on using the hitch.

Overall though I'd say who gives a damn about the dealer experience as long as you get a good deal. You never have to talk to the dealer again but you have to live with whatever rig you get.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backcountry View Post
In our case, purchasing our first RV, we did a ton of due diligence, research, inspected it twice, and still ended up coming away with a crummy experience from the dealer. Front of the house services were great (sales and finance) but the service department is a total mess at General RV in Wayland. When we took ownership, both propane tanks had been open for who knows how long and the fridge was running, so both tanks were nearly empty for our first trip. Black and grey tanks both 2/3 full with God knows what and the fresh tank was almost empty. Virtually non-existent orientation and instruction on using the hitch.

Overall though I'd say who gives a damn about the dealer experience as long as you get a good deal. You never have to talk to the dealer again but you have to live with whatever rig you get.
I understand how this may work well for some people. On the other hand as a first time RV owner with no previous knowledge I rather pay a little more and get the whole package. Instead of a great deal I rather have a pretty good deal and good training. Now that I do have some experience I could get by with less assistance from the back of the house.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
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In our case, purchasing our first RV, we did a ton of due diligence, research, inspected it twice, and still ended up coming away with a crummy experience from the dealer. Front of the house services were great (sales and finance) but the service department is a total mess at General RV in Wayland. When we took ownership, both propane tanks had been open for who knows how long and the fridge was running, so both tanks were nearly empty for our first trip. Black and grey tanks both 2/3 full with God knows what and the fresh tank was almost empty. Virtually non-existent orientation and instruction on using the hitch.

Overall though I'd say who gives a damn about the dealer experience as long as you get a good deal. You never have to talk to the dealer again but you have to live with whatever rig you get.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terier View Post
I understand how this may work well for some people. On the other hand as a first time RV owner with no previous knowledge I rather pay a little more and get the whole package. Instead of a great deal I rather have a pretty good deal and good training. Now that I do have some experience I could get by with less assistance from the back of the house.
This is a debate that rages on this website. I will weigh in and say having had issues with my fiver, I'm very glad to have the assistance of a good local dealership. I have not only been back a few times but spoken with them on the phone and by email several times. The service manager has talked me through some repairs, gotten me in immediately for other repairs and just been a huge help to us (this is our 1st fiver but we had a tt before this).

Remember that local dealerships will often put customers who didn't buy from them at the back of the list if they are willing to do the work at all.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:00 PM   #16
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I understand how this may work well for some people. On the other hand as a first time RV owner with no previous knowledge I rather pay a little more and get the whole package. Instead of a great deal I rather have a pretty good deal and good training. Now that I do have some experience I could get by with less assistance from the back of the house.
We thought we were getting the whole package. How are you supposed to be able to tell? We wound up with a service guy who just wanted to get us the heck out of his face and screwed up seemingly the most basic of prep on our trailer. We found out after the fact that General pays its service guys for 30 minutes worth of time for orientations regardless of whether they take 5 minutes or 60. Clearly our guy as going for the 5 minute tour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by asquared View Post
This is a debate that rages on this website. I will weigh in and say having had issues with my fiver, I'm very glad to have the assistance of a good local dealership. I have not only been back a few times but spoken with them on the phone and by email several times. The service manager has talked me through some repairs, gotten me in immediately for other repairs and just been a huge help to us (this is our 1st fiver but we had a tt before this).

Remember that local dealerships will often put customers who didn't buy from them at the back of the list if they are willing to do the work at all.
I don't mean to contribute to a debate but I'm not going to solicit a service department that doesn't respect my time or property. It's incredibly tough to tell the good from the bad based on things like online reviews, since people generally tend to just post the horror stories. They did offer to fill the tanks and service our water heater, which is giving off a terrible sulfer smell, at no cost per the service department manager upon hearing our story. But when I took it in, the service advisor gave me some story about how it was going to come out of one of their paychecks. Give me a break, respect your customers. We paid almost a $1000 fee on the purchase order for them to prep the trailer and give us an orientation, which in hindsight was for almost nothing.

Regarding your last paragraph: That sounds practically outlandish that a business would cut off its nose to spite its face just because a potential customer didn't buy their RV from their shop.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:56 PM   #17
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We thought we were getting the whole package. How are you supposed to be able to tell? We wound up with a service guy who just wanted to get us the heck out of his face and screwed up seemingly the most basic of prep on our trailer. We found out after the fact that General pays its service guys for 30 minutes worth of time for orientations regardless of whether they take 5 minutes or 60. Clearly our guy as going for the 5 minute tour.



I don't mean to contribute to a debate but I'm not going to solicit a service department that doesn't respect my time or property. It's incredibly tough to tell the good from the bad based on things like online reviews, since people generally tend to just post the horror stories. They did offer to fill the tanks and service our water heater, which is giving off a terrible sulfer smell, at no cost per the service department manager upon hearing our story. But when I took it in, the service advisor gave me some story about how it was going to come out of one of their paychecks. Give me a break, respect your customers. We paid almost a $1000 fee on the purchase order for them to prep the trailer and give us an orientation, which in hindsight was for almost nothing.

Regarding your last paragraph: That sounds practically outlandish that a business would cut off its nose to spite its face just because a potential customer didn't buy their RV from their shop.
Unfortunately the world of rvs is not like new car dealerships, where you buy a chevy at xyz chevy 3 hrs away so you take it to abc chevy up the street from you for service. For some reason most rv dealerships have not understood that servicing other customers can earn them sales business not the other way around. I agree it is asinine and I do not condone or excuse it. I too was unaware of how bad the service department was at the dealership I bought my first trailer from. I did have some out of warranty repairs that needed doing quickly on my old trailer. I began calling around getting prices and time quotes from other dealerships. That helped show me some really good and bad dealerships right off the bat. I also came to these forums and read reviews as well as spoke to members who had used them for service after the sale. I was lucky enough to find two really good dealerships nearby.

As for the $1000 dealer prep fee.... my dealership charged way less and I made them take that off my bill of sale. I was not going to pay for that. Another dealership in VA I talked to tried to tell me it was required by law, I walked away. During my pdi I made them fix several problems. The tech told me they were paid a flat rate by the dealership to do the pdi. A different tech had been paid to prep my 5er and did a very poor job. The tech told me how mad he was that he was getting screwed. I told him I was sorry and he said, don't worry about it, it wasn't our fault and we shouldn't have to pay because someone else screwed up. He never once let it affect the job he was doing and his manager even came out to help. The tech later told me the dealership was going to make it right for him as well. I have had a major slide repair done by them already and they did a fantastic job in a short period of time. My 5er is going back to the factory in October because the problems are beyond their abilities but that hasn't stopped them from communicating with me and trying to help me. The service manager and I are on a first name basis at this point in time. He even walked me through temporary fixes for slide problems and a busted propane line over the phone. If I had bought far away and had no relationship with my dealership I would have been in really bad shape and very unhappy right now. Because both the dealership and the factory are working very hard to make things right, I am not as furious as I would have otherwise been.

I do agree, don't go to the bad one. Try to find another forest river dealership nearby that is good and get them to help you.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:42 AM   #18
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Backcountry, I also bought my 5er from General (Brownstown) and got ripped on the $1000 prep bs, they fixed nothing, did nothing and only gave me about a 10 minute run through. I will admit I was eager to get it home but when I did I found grey tank leaking, broken weld on front stairs, gas station pump bad, half the marker lights and 1 tail light out, and the big one..... a cracked frame. I made it 70 miles from the dealership and lost a tire, tearing up the wheel skirt and siding. I am doing a total rebuild of the trailer now making it better than new and there will be no next time for General.
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:27 AM   #19
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They told us removing the prep fee was non negotiable so we asked them to take it out of the price of the rig or we'd walk. They did but said we still would get all the services provided in the prep fee. Maybe they were passive aggressively trying to get us back for making them mark it down, or maybe their service staff is inept. Either way, they told us they'd do something and then did the exact opposite, leaving work for us to take time out of our schedules so they could correct the issue.

Brian, that sounds horrific and puts my small annoyances into perspective.
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Old 10-17-2014, 11:01 PM   #20
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Benjamin Franklin said something about picking a spouse that applies to buying an RV:
"Before you do it look a long long time. After you do it hardly look at all."
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