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During the current pandemic, RV sales have jumped hugely compared with 2019. These vehicles have offered people new ways to travel and explore the country. Most people probably assume their new RVs will last as long as their cars will.

And, for their high price, it would be great if these campers were reliable and durable. An RV insider claims on Reddit that RVs aren’t designed to last very long though.

RV insiders say RVs aren’t meant to last

In answer to the question “What’s an industry secret in the field you work in?,” posted to Reddit, an RV technician answered that RVs are designed to last about 44 uses.

The person explained that since most owners use their RVs only on occasional weekends, that number of times can stretch to two or three years before parts start breaking on the RV.

An RV service manager confirmed, saying that RVs are made of very cheap materials. An insurance adjuster also agreed. The person on the post described RVs as being “made of toothpicks and trash” and said they’ll begin to leak within a few years unless very carefully maintained.

Keep in mind, this is just a few comments from one Reddit thread. This means you should be wary to make sweeping generalizations about all RVs. However, it is telling none the less.

Comments from real RV owners

Some RV owners also commented on Reddit. They weren’t surprised by claim and agreed that their RVs often developed issues within a couple of years. They pointed to rushed manufacturing as one of the causes of the problems. RV brands that owners thought were better include Airstream, Northwood Manufacturing, and Casita.

One commenter suggested that renting might be a better way to go rather than owning an RV. With many repairs needed, owners suggested that anyone considering owning an RV should be a handy person to help take care of the RV’s problems while traveling.

Which are the best RV brands?

While the mass-produced models have a negative reputation, there are also high-quality RV brands. The website Camp Addict agrees that poor quality RVs are pretty common.

RV manufacturers hope buyers look at floor plans and amenities rather than the quality of the materials, the appliances, or the workmanship. With lower costs and fewer hours of human labor to assemble, the manufacturer is able to increase its profits from sales.

In addition to Airstream, Northwood Manufacturing, and Casita, which were mentioned as top manufacturers on Reddit, other good RV manufacturers include Coach House, Grand Design RV, New Horizons RV, Newmar Corporation, Outdoors RV, and Winnebago.

It’s worth noting that many of these top brands are all under Thor Industries. The company owns popular brands like Airstream and Jayco.

There are slight variations in leading brands depending on the style of RV, whether travel trailer, fifth wheel, teardrop trailer, class A motor home, class B motor home, or class C motor home.

Is owning an RV really worth it?

RVs depreciate very rapidly, losing 20% to 30% of initial value just within the first year of ownership. In addition, new RVs usually cost $10,000 to $300,000 but could be priced much higher. With such a large cost, buyers often end up with loans stretching for 10 or 20 years. 

Despite the financial commitment by buyers, they’re not always getting the fantastic product they assumed. Some warranties don’t cover full-time RV living and many only last for one year. And, although RVs are prone to problems, it can be difficult to have one repaired.

RVs can offer a fun way to take the family on the road to see the country. However, it’s important for buyers to do their homework before making a purchase. It’s easy to get sucked into the fantasy of life on the road without looking into the quality of the RV brand, how great its warranty is, and whether the company stands behind its products.