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Old 07-04-2019, 08:17 PM   #1
Putz75
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Best Fifth Wheel Brands

Hey All,

My wife and I have a 2017 42' Shasta Phoenix fifth wheel. We love the floor plan (392BL) pullout couch in living room, bunk room with pullout couch, master bedroom with king bed. We thought it was a good camper when we scoped it out at the RV show. Yet, when we picked up the one we ordered, we found that it seemed to be put together in a hurry; panels falling out from not being nailed into wood, AC barely even flowing in bunk room (have to put your hand over the vent to feel any flow), table posts pulling out from the floor, etc. It is not lost on me that fifth wheels/campers flex when in transit. They cannot be compared to a traditional home. Yet, you expect a level of quality to match the price.

With that said, what are your thoughts on the best RV manufacturing companies or brands that are the best? We eventually want to get another one and would like to have an idea of which to include and which to avoid.

Thanks
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Old 07-05-2019, 06:59 PM   #2
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That is indeed a tough question--seems no matter the price level, TT/fiver/MH, they all can suffer from build quality. We have had good luck with DRV fivers, but many have reported problems of all sorts with new ones--dealer prep/followup is paramount to have firmed up before buying. It is up to you only to figure out whether to sign or not, and perhaps buying a 1-2 year-old unit MIGHT be the way to avoid some issues. Pay for an independent inspector might help.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:59 AM   #3
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Wayne, your Shasta was probably purchased in the neighborhood of 50K or so. A comparable Montana would run in the 70K range and in a DRV about 110K. There is a reason for all this. I'm not saying the worth is comparable, but one certainly is better quality than the other. Overall, you'll get what you pay for.
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:40 PM   #4
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I would say you get what you pay for to a point. I think like anything, brands tend to get inflated with price. Not saying the brand is bad but the price does get inflated a little bit due to popularity. That is definitely one factor.

I was looking new camper for a little while and saw a whole range of quality to non quality. We eventually went with a used Grand Design. I noticed If it was a “LITE” or “Feather Lite” the camper tended to have less quality with amenities and features. Some manufactures just seemed to be cheapie.

We looked at new Crossroads, Forrest Rivers, Keystones and many others. For example I discovered that I liked the layout of Crossroads and not Forest Rivers but the Crossroads seem to be lesser quality. It’s a matter of personal preference and getting out there to check them out and figure out what fits your needs.

I now have 10-15 years with our new gently preowned camper to do a lot of research and figure out what my ultimate new fifth wheel will be when I hit retirement . I’m sure we will continue to see these threads and I know I will get some insight! Cheers all
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:40 PM   #5
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Wayne, your Shasta was probably purchased in the neighborhood of 50K or so. A comparable Montana would run in the 70K range and in a DRV about 110K. There is a reason for all this. I'm not saying the worth is comparable, but one certainly is better quality than the other. Overall, you'll get what you pay for.
NO YOU DONíT!! Itís all on an individual basis - thoroughly inspect, if youíre not qualified get someone else to thoroughly inspect it! I met a guy last year that was on his third keystone alpine ($75,000) and it still had problems - the second one he got the slide out actually fell out on the ground! Keystone actually gave this guy two new units because the first one had so many problems. Two weeks ago I saw the same guy at the campground in a Grand Design that was $100,000 (I checked on website) and I witnessed him screaming on the phone about the awning being broken and leaking inside his brand new 5th wheel. He had the maintenance guys from the campground helping him put tarps over top of it!! Iím sorry to say thatís the truth unless youíre buying a custom unit for $400,000+ itís just the luck of the draw - Iím lucky - my brothers are lucky - my nephew is too, but we all have some small issues they really do make a statement of the random quality of the all these units! Iíve had 2 instances of wiring going bad and finding staples through the wires that slowly worked into a short. My rear axle was bowed and luckily I noticed it before it fell apart they gave me a new one on good faith and said it wasnít their fault!?!?! Sorry to be a downer but good luck AND I still LOVE my 2018 Keystone Laredo 340FL ($60k)!!! By the way our first trailer was a 2015 Jayco 19 XUD ($14,000) no problems at all for 3 years of heavy usage LOL
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Old 08-28-2019, 11:27 PM   #6
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I bought a 2018 DRV 36RSSB3 MS in the summer of 2017 for $120k. (Got extras like bigger battery bank, toppers, and Onan Generator). I have been fulltiming in it since. It has been permanently parked and only has 150 miles driven. The 150 was to take it back to the dealer to get items fixed when I first got it and they never fixed them right. I soon discovered that i am better off fixing everything myself instead of packing up the rig, leaving it with a service department for a month, and still it doesn’t get fixed right. It’s a shame because i paid extra and bought the full extended warranty. Ended up being a waist of money. The list of things that have been wrong with the unit, and that I have fixed so far are: Shower surround walls not sealed to base properly and leaked out on floor, pex fittings in the underbelly leaking, fiberglass nose cap not sealed to roof correctly, slideout roof leaking because factory didn’t apply the Eternabond tape correctly, electrical short and fire in junction box in bedroom upper cabinet due to a poorly crimped wirenut connection, bedroom heating duct not blowing air, faulty & leaking shower vacuum breaker/anti backflow device in the bedroom wall, topper bracket screw puncturing exterior fiberglass skin, various structural screws backing out, leaking bedroom skylight, poorly sealed exterior seams, leaking Lippart from landing jack. And the list goes on but you get the picture. I think no matter what brand, model, or amount of money you pay for a unit, there will ALWAYS things wrong with it from the beginning. And no matter how experienced or familiar you are with how they are put together and the systems that make them operate correctly, you will never 100% be able to identify what is wrong or broken with them before you drive it off the lot. It takes living in them and using them for a significant amount of time to be able to know what wasn’t done correctly from the factory. Do your best and take your time at the dealership to thoroughly inspect the entire unit, even if that means taking days to do the inspections. And be prepared to be married to the thing and do constant maintenance and fix everything yourself. Otherwise, the dealership/service department will have your unit more than you do, and you’ll be without a home if you are fulltiming.
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Old 08-29-2019, 10:57 AM   #7
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As far as DRV units go, over the past several years, several dealers are emerging as the 'ones to go to' for a good PDI. As it is virtually impossible to get a perfect unit new nowadays, it falls on the dealer to figure it out and correct what the defects are. If the dealer is simply a 'sell it-forget it' type, the factory shortcomings will haunt you for a long time. Very sorry for your problems but you sure seem to have come to grips with them.

Perhaps all new DRVs ought to be sold with a 'back-to-the-factory' trip voucher?
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Old 08-29-2019, 06:40 PM   #8
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We have had our DRV for exactly two years, been back to a dealer for warrantee work never, and have no complaints whatsoever. I do wish the walk-thru might have been a little better, but otherwise nothing.
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:38 PM   #9
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Wingnut, I agree with you 100% about the dealership PDI comments. If I were to buy one again, it would be from Rolling Retreats. @Notanlines: That’s amazing, no warranty issues from day 1. Looks like you got yours from a good dealership. What dealership did you purchase it from?

David
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:24 AM   #10
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David, we bought it from Davis Motorhome Mart in Memphis. I'm not sure if it was a proper PDI by DW and I or a proper PDI by their tech, or if we were just lucky. Probably a little of all. We would buy from them again, but also from a few other DRV dealers around the country. RV's for Less in Knoxville and America Choice in Ocala both come to mind. We have dealt a little with all and been very satisfied.
Obviously Rolling Retreats would be a logical choice also if that's the part of the country you're near.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:25 AM   #11
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David, we bought it from Davis Motorhome Mart in Memphis. I'm not sure if it was a proper PDI by DW and I or a proper PDI by their tech, or if we were just lucky. Probably a little of all. We would buy from them again, but also from a few other DRV dealers around the country. RV's for Less in Knoxville and America Choice in Ocala both come to mind. We have dealt a little with all and been very satisfied.
Obviously Rolling Retreats would be a logical choice also if that's the part of the country you're near.
Thank you Notanlines. I reside in Oregon and bought mine from a dealership named Guaranty RV in Junction City, OR. Their PDI was minimal at best and apparently, only after the sale, not the prolonged customer service. Right before I pulled the trigger with them, I found out about RR and quickly discovered through forums and just talking to them in the phone, that they were awesome and super knowledgeable especially about DRVís, but I had already given my verbal word to Guaranty that I was going to buy. I am old school, and believe a man is as good as his word, so I couldnít switch. Even though it bit me in the arse, the positive take-away from this is, I have learned more about how this coach is put together and runs, and actually enjoy working on it. I am grateful there are forums like this one and people like you guys, to help when things go south.

Much appreciative,
David
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:10 PM   #12
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Most fifth wheels use the same third party components and most are from Lippert. I have found that in most cases the major issues that people have are with these components and not with the actual RV manufacturer. Things that seem to be the fault of the manufacturer are typically poor workmanship and cosmetic. The dealer can make or break a good experience so do your homework on the dealer. If you are a good DIY person then take care of any issues yourself to avoid poor dealer experiences. Contact the actual manufacturer of any defective or failed component instead of the dealer or RV manufacturer. I have found that in most cases they will step up and help.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:12 PM   #13
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I like the Northwoods Arctic Fox. I'm biased of course because I've lived in one full time for the last four years. But I think for the money their well-built and don't seem to fall apart like a lot of RVs do. I boondock about 95% of the time so my Arctic Fox has spent plenty of time bouncing around on dirt roads and nothing has fallen off yet.

Northwoods is famous for the strength of its frames because they build their own in-house, they don't buy the infamous Lippert frames. If the strength of the trailer frame is marginal there will be a lot of flexing which will cause the part you live in to start coming apart. Northwoods has enough confidence in their frames that they told me it was okay to carry my 300 pound motorcycle on the back of my fifth wheel if I welded the motorcycle carrier to the frame which I did and it has been hanging there for four years, some trailer manufacturers won't even recommend you carry a bicycle on the back.

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