As travel trailers’ demand rises, some brands have chosen the easy way to mass-produce inferior products. These travel trailers are cheap, but the quality has been immensely compromised.
Some worst travel trailer brands to avoid are Forest River, Thor, and Winnebago. Gulf Stream and Keystone are infamous for water leaks, while Jayco and Coachmen suffer with their few worse-performing models.
Our guide might help you choose the best RV brand. But first, let’s get to know each travel trailer brand with a poor reputation.
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Bad Travel Trailer Brands to Avoid
Travel trailers are a big investment, so you must pick the best one that suits your needs. It’s easy to choose among the many options if you get rid of the duds. Here are some RV brands to avoid if you want a more enjoyable experience.
1. Forest River
Forest River is one of the worst camper brands when we talk about quality. The brand’s latest models have many faults, such as poor awning design, weak sidewalls, and poor trim installations.
Although the products offer a warranty, you might not enjoy the brand’s poor customer service.
The problem with Forest River is that it makes plenty of affordable RVs meant for weekend use. This results in low-end models with poor craftsmanship, like fragile countertops prone to cracking and furnaces that don’t produce warmth.
Another issue is the lack of quality on exterior caulking and trims. When it rains, water seeps into the travel trailer. So, no matter how this brand puts a sale tag on their trailers, avoid it if you don’t know how to fix things or are too far from a dealer.
Thor provides many floor layouts and advanced features in the RV world. However, they mass-produce cheap components, making them one of the worst RV manufacturers in terms of durability. It seems not obvious because these cheap parts hide in gears and motors.
The product line that draws the most flak is the Hurricane. This model seems to have some severe slide-out problems, resulting in the failure of house batteries. The water tank system easily ruptures in colder climates because it’s not winterized.
Using this brand occasionally might just be fine. However, you need to avoid Thor if you’re a full-time RVer.
Winnebago has been making budget-friendly RVs since 1966. They make good units, but tanks are small. The beds are also a little weak because they use wood studs instead of metal braces.
Since 2004, this brand has suffered from product recalls due to quality issues, making them one of the motorhome brands to avoid. Their Sightseer model draws a lot of complaints about its faulty brakes and engine.
Other problems are clogged fire extinguishers and problematic solar charging ports.
Winnebago is also infamous for its poor customer service. They’re known to be unresponsive to complaints. If you want to try this brand, you should have a lot of patience.
Keystone was a leader in manufacturing caravans, 5th wheels, and towable RVs before the acquisition by Thor in 2001. It made large, fuel-efficient campers with highly-rated floor plans. However, the quality went downhill after the acquisition.
One common complaint is poor finishing touches, like weak trims, loose fixtures, and flaking door veneers. The cabinets also have weak supports and latches so that they can fall out anytime.
Though loaded with appliances, Keystone RVs are low-quality and easily broken.
The best part about Keystone is its large bathroom. However, the water tanks tend to have broken drain pipes and seal problems. Moreover, the AC units and slide-outs are two sources of water leaks in the trailer.
Here’s an overview of the common Keystone RV problems:
Jayco has received much praise for its quality builds, especially its Jay Flight travel trailer. However, its 5th wheel is a different story.
Many were disappointed with the Eagle 5th Wheel model, making it among the worst-rated 5th wheel campers on the list.
The Eagle model looks flashy, but uses cheap materials, and many components get broken out of the factory. The grease they use in the bearings is pretty cheap, so you might need to repack it with high-performance grease.
Jayco travel trailers usually suffer from slide-out issues and faulty batteries. If you don’t know how to fix them, look for a certified technician to make the right connections.
6. Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream is one of the worst RV brands because of its inferior workmanship. The roof edges use a plastic trim that pulls off rather quickly. The rear jack knife sofa easily pulls away and is not secured to the floor and wall.
Many of the brand’s models suffer from water leak problems. The roof needs caulking because it’s unsealed, while all plumbing needs big improvements. The good news is that the trailers are under a 3-year warranty so that they can get fixed immediately.
The problem is calling customer service because they tend to be slow on the uptake.
Coachmen offer good floor plans, but it’s not the best in terms of quality. Insulation is poor, which burdens the air conditioner unit to cool the interior. The tanks underneath aren’t winterized, limiting your RV trips to only a few seasons.
The Apex model, in particular, has accessibility problems, making Coachmen one of the camper brands to avoid. When the slide is in, you can’t access the bathroom.
What Should You Know Before Buying a Travel Trailer?
More than the brand, you should pay close attention to specific details that will help you choose the best travel trailer. Here are things to consider before making that travel trailer purchase.
1. Towing Capacity Vs. Cargo/Payload Capacity
The first thing to figure out when buying a camper is understanding how a towing capacity differs from cargo or payload capacity. Both figures will tell you whether you can tow your trailer safely.
Cargo capacity refers to the maximum weight a vehicle can safely add to its cargo area plus the curb or empty weight. Meanwhile, towing capacity pertains to the amount of weight a vehicle can pull. The towing capacity should be higher than the cargo capacity.
2. Check The Floor Plan
More than the brand, focus on the floor plan. Make sure it has the features you need for travel. Where you plan to camp or travel may also influence what type of floor plan you want.
Make sure to check the motorhome’s actual condition before purchasing it. If you’re a newbie, ask a more knowledgeable person to inspect. Watch out for water intrusion, especially for used models.
An RV may look incredible and attractive on the surface, but a grim reality might hide inside. If you don’t want the worst RV to buy, check how the frame’s built. Look at the materials, springs, tires, and components. The furniture and floor covering should be high-grade.
As much as you want to save money, you can’t overlook that every manufacturer builds an RV to a price point. The price point typically reflects what materials they use.
Expensive high-end models use the best materials, like fiberglass and real wood. Meanwhile, the more affordable low-end models use entry-level finishes, like vinyl tile flooring and faux wood cabinets.
Don’t forget to prepare some cash for repair and maintenance because the travel trailer will likely break eventually.
Before you buy a travel trailer, consider the number of people you plan to bring on your trips or the size of the parking lot. Will you need more storage space for food and appliances? How long will you stay in your travel trailer?
You’ll need a large camper if you plan to bring more people, food, and items on your trip. A large vehicle is essential if you also want to spend multiple weeks in the trailer.
The more extensive travel trailer types, like 5th wheels have at least one full-size bed and a smaller secondary bed.
How Do I Choose a Good Travel Trailer Brand?
Today, there are many travel trailer brands. Separating the best from the bad will take time. A good travel trailer brand should have good customer service, high quality, and trustworthiness.
- Travel Trailer Quality Ratings: If you have a lot of candidates for your next camper, compare the quality ratings. You can find these quality ratings on customer review websites online.
- Overall Quality: Choose a brand that consistently produces high-quality travel trailers with few duds. If a company has been around for years and has a good reputation, it should be reliable.
- Customer Service: Good customer service is critical for the brand’s image. Excellent customer service quickly responds to customer concerns. Something as complex as a travel trailer is likely to get faulty in some parts.
Now that you know the worst travel trailer brands to avoid, you can streamline your choices and easily pick the best one. Choose a reliable manufacturer with high ratings and many positive reviews. And before you buy a travel trailer, consider the floor plan and size.
Let us know whether you agree on the worst travel trailer brands listed above in the comment section below. If you like the article, please share it with your friends.
Okay, so I’m Philip Lopez. I join Riverside Trailer as an editor, where I will be doing research for both content and reviews. I contribute to studies aimed at understanding the most typical problems encountered by RVers on the road. I also keep up with the newest RVing gadget innovations so that I can promptly evaluate and recommend the best options.