The Pros and Cons of Buying a Travel Trailer

A travel trailer offers the amenities of a home with the portability of a trailer

If the coronavirus has you going stir-crazy, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about buying an RV and taking a road trip. After all, an RV allows you to travel without exposing yourself to germy airports and hotels.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You wouldn’t be the only person to come up with that idea. But if you’re a first-time RV buyer, there can be a steep learning curve to overcome. First, you need to figure out which type of recreational vehicle is right for you.

Solaire travel trailer at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailers are the most popular—and most varied—type of towable RV. They have solid walls and often feature a slide—a section of wall that pulls out to provide more interior space when camping.

In an earlier article we discussed advantages of a travel trailer and factors currently fueling an increasing demand for this type of recreational vehicle.

Travel trailer at White Tanks Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A recent study revealed that demand for travel trailers is expected to rise 5.2 percent per year through 2022 to $12.6 billion with volume reaching 475,000 units on 3.9 percent annual growth.

Jayco travel trailer at Golden Village Palms RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel trailers are favored for their variety of options, from luxury to low-cost entry-level versions, and from those that require a truck to tow them to those that can be managed by most small automobiles.

Travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In this article we’ll outline the different types of travel trailers available for purchase and the pros and cons of this type of recreational vehicle.

Travel trailers come in a wide variety of sizes and designs:

Airstream travel trailer at River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
  • Small retro-inspired teardrop trailers are essentially a tent and bed on wheels
  • Small molded fiberglass trailers like the Casita and Scamp have passionate fan bases for their low-maintenance designs
  • Mid-priced trailers offer a lot of space and features for the money
Travel trailer on display at RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The iconic Airstream has a distinctive aluminum body. Aerodynamic and low to the ground, these are easy to tow but are expensive for their size.

Travel trailer at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Smaller trailers have a single axle; larger trailers can have two (or even three). More axles increase towing stability and increase your living space, but they also add to tire replacement costs.

  • How long are travel trailers: 8 to 40 feet
  • How much do they weigh: 1,000 to 10,000 pounds
  • How many can they sleep: From two to eight
  • How much do they cost: $10,000 to $150,000
Travel trailer at Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros:

  • Spacious, open floor plans suitable for a variety of uses
  • Rigid walls provide some insulation from cold and noise, compared with a pop-up trailer or tent
  • Lower profile allows roof storage of items such as canoes
  • Very little setup time
  • Come in a wide variety of lengths and weights
  • Provides more interior space per length foot than motorhomes because it does not contain driving and engine compartment
  • Can be towed with a variety of vehicles fitted with a standard ball hitch and rated for the trailer weight
  • Tow vehicle doubles as local transportation
  • Lower profile allows easier entry than a fifth wheel trailer
  • Available in a wide range of amenities
Travel trailer at Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cons:

  • Less storage than fifth wheel trailers because it lacks a raised section
  • Driving and living compartments are separate; living area inaccessible while moving
  • Require a suitable tow vehicle
  • Least stable on the road of all RV types
  • Requires the most skill to tow and back up
  • Towing requires learning (and practicing) some different driving skills
  • Larger models can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces
  • Larger models require large storage area when not in use
  • Large trailers require large trucks to tow
  • Larger trailers won’t fit into small campsites
Travel trailer at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.

—Anon

March 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality.

NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 16 recall notices during March 2019. These recalls involved 7 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (7 recalls), Keystone RV Company (4 recalls), Heartland Recreational Vehicles (2 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Airstream (1 recall), Motor Coach Industries (1 recall), and Trail King (1 recall).

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Glaval Entourage motorhomes and 2017-2018 Berkshire Coach Ultra motorhomes built on a Ford chassis and equipped with an engine block heater. Water and contaminants may get into the block heater cable’s splice connector causing corrosion and damage to the connector, which can result in an electrical short.

Forest River has notified owners, and Ford dealers will inspect the block heater cable and replace it if damage is found. If no damage is found, the terminal connector will be packed with grease and reconnected. The repairs will be performed free of charge. The recall began on February 6, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-343-5111 or Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-0940.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018 XLR recreational trailers, models XLT26HFS, XLT26HFS-W, and XLT27KW. The affected trailers were not equipped with a liquid propane (LP)/carbon monoxide (CO) detector.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will install an LP/CO detector, free of charge. The recall began February 6, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-0432. Forest River’s number for this recall is 45-0931.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Flagstaff and Rockwood recreational trailers. The break-away safety switch may be improperly wired, and as a result, the trailer brakes will not apply in the event that the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a new wiring harness to maintain the supply of power to the brake system, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-2640. Forest River’s number for this recall is 10B-0943.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Forest River Columbus recreational trailers, equipped with MORryde Rubber Pin Boxes. The pin box mounting bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, possibly resulting in the trailer separating from the tow vehicle.

Forest River has notify owners, and Forest River or MORryde dealers will replace the mounting bolts, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-821-1487 or MORyde customer service at 1-574-293-1581. Forest River’s number for this recall is 410-0954.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Forest River Wildwood recreational trailers. The Federal Placard indicates an incorrect front tire pressure of 110 PSI. The correct PSI of the front, rear and spare tires is 80 PSI. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire selection and Rims.” Additionally, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Forest River has notified owners, and supplied a corrected Federal Placard, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-534-6127, extension 10917. Forest River’s number for this recall is 69-0949.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Rockwood and Flagstaff recreational trailers. The bunk bed door latch fasteners that secure the bunk bed door closed may fail, allowing the door to open while moving.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will install the correct fasteners for the bunk bed door latches, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-8943. Forest River’s number for this recall is 10D-0950.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Cherokee recreational trailers. The Federal Placards indicate incorrect tire size information of ST205/75R15, when the vehicles are actually equipped with ST225/75R15 tires. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.” Additionally, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Forest River has notified owners and sent them a new Federal Placard that has correct tire size information, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-541-644-8072, extension 4022. Forest River’s number for this recall is 64-0948.

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Dutchmen Endurance and 2017-2019 Dutchmen Voltage Travel Trailers. The tires may contact with the rear floor support, affecting the trailer’s handling.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will cut a notch in the floor support to provide sufficient clearance between the tire and the floor support, free of charge. The recall began on January 15, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone RV’s number for this recall is 19-338.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Montana recreational trailers, models 3855BR and 3854BR. The adjustment bolt for the kitchen slide may be too long, allowing it to make contact with the tire while moving.

Keystone had notified owners, and dealers will replace the adjustment bolt with a correct length adjustment bolt, and replace the dinette slide room adjustment mechanism, free of charge. The recall began on February 7, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-341

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Keystone Bullet Crossfire recreational trailers equipped with a rear-wall mounted spare tire carrier. The spare tire carrier was improperly mounted, possibly resulting in the carrier detaching from the rear wall.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will inspect the trailers and correctly install the tire carrier, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began on March 8, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-345.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Crossroad Redwood recreational trailers, equipped with MORryde Rubber Pin Boxes. The pin box mounting bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, possibly resulting in the trailer separating from the tow vehicle.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will properly tighten the mounting bolts for the pin box, free of charge. The recall began on February 28, 2019. Owners may notify Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-346.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2019 Prowler and Trail Runner recreational trailers. The trailers were equipped with Load Range D tires instead of Load Range E tires.

Heartland has notified owners, and dealers will replace the tires with ones of the correct load range, free of charge. The recall began February 14, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.46.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2019 Prowler and Trail Runner recreational trailers. The Federal Certification Label may contain incorrect tire size, load range and tire pressure information. As such, these trailers fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Heartland has notified owners and provided replacement certification labels, free of charge. The recall began February 14, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.45.

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2012-2018 Winnebago ERA motorhomes. The overhead cabinet shelf may have been improperly attached, allowing the cabinet face to detach and fall into the cab area.

Winnebago will notify owners, and dealers will install two support brackets, additional screws, and a maximum capacity warning label, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a recall start date. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2014 Metro Link vehicles equipped with Ricon S-Series and K-Series Titanium Wheelchair Lifts. The wheelchair lift positioning input cam may fail while the lift is in use, allowing the platform to travel higher than the vehicle’s floor height. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 403, “Platform Lift Systems.”

Winnebago will notify owners and Ricon dealers will replace the lift positioning input cam, free of charge. The recall began on February 28, 2019. Owners may contact Ricon customer service at 1-800-322-2884. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 157.

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019 Airstream Basecamp X recreational vehicles. The Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard may have incorrect information stating that the vehicle is equipped with 235/55R18 Load Range D tires needing 80 psi, when the vehicles are actually equipped with 235/75R15 Load Range D tires needing 51 psi. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Airstream has notified owners and will send them a new corrected Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard, free of charge. The recall began on February 22, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Motor Coach Industries

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain 2001-2015 J4500 and 1997-2013 102EL3/E4500 coaches equipped with a hydraulic rear axle (tag axle) steering system. The axle’s alignment and low hydraulic pressure in the steering system may cause the steering system to lock, causing a loss of steering control at highway speeds.

MCI will notify owners. The manufacturer has not yet finalized the recall remedy. The recall is expected to begin in March 2019. Owners may contact MCI customer service at 1-800-241-2947. MCI’s number for this recall is SB 469.

Trail King

Trail King Industries, Inc. (Trail King) is recalling certain 2016-2017 ACS and AACS drop deck fifth wheel trailers equipped with fifth wheel plates that have a 14″ king pin setting and 1/4″ plate. The fifth wheel coupler plate on these vehicles may crack, potentially allowing the trailer to detach from the tractor.

Trail King has notified owners, and dealers will replace the coupler plate, free of charge. The recall began on March 1, 2019. Owners may contact Trail King customer service at 1-800-843-3324. Trail King’s number for this recall is TK201901.

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Please Note: This is the second in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren