RV Manufacturer’s Recalls Lead Entire Auto Industry

It’s only February and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) has already issued several new batches of safety related recalls on thousands of RVs from a range of manufacturers and in particular two well-know names. Read on to learn more.

Who would think that an RV manufacturer would top all automakers in safety recalls in the early days of 2024? Forest River, the second largest RV manufacturer is cranking out recall notices faster than Ford and GM, each of which dwarf even the largest RV maker (that would be Thor Industries) in production.

As of the end of February, two well-known RV manufacturers made the 2024 year-to-date Top 12 on the recall list from NHTSA, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The list identifies vehicles and equipment that have been recalled for highway safety concerns.

Campground USA. Apache Junction, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River is number one on the recall list

Forest River’s 15 different recalls for the first two months of the year represent a full 25 percent of ALL recalls from NHTSA for 2024. The other RV manufacturer on the list is Tiffin Motorhomes running far behind Forest River in the number eight slot with three recalls representing 8 percent of total recalls.

As recently reported in February 2024 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 18 Recalls Involving 6 RV Manufactures, Forest River had nine recalls while Tiffin had two during the past month of February alone.

What caused these two manufacturers to make it into the Top Twelve of the recall list? Forest River’s baker’s dozen of recalls covered a wide range of issues. From LP tank gas brackets on motorhomes that could break—imagine a 50-gallon LP tank dragging on the freeway—to other problems including:

  • Axles that could break
  • Tires that could impact an adjuster and blow
  • Overheating furnaces that could blast deadly carbon monoxide into the coach
  • Awnings that could open while tooling down the highway
  • Shorting electrical wires

Of course, not all of Forest River’s RV recalls for highway safety concerns are as dramatic such as:

  • Marker lights that don’t reflect as they should
  • Incorrect tire placards not giving the straight dope
  • Tail light bezels that didn’t get installed reducing rear visibility

On the other hand, if you had a Forest River travel trailer and the draw bar mechanism failed allowing your trailer front end to suddenly drop, you’d probably prefer one of the lesser evils.

Tucson/ Lazydays KOA, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The latest Forest River recalls

Forest River Motorhomes

  • 2020-2023 Coachmen Galleria
  • 2021-2023 Beyond
  • 2021-2023 Coachmen Nova Class B 

Retractable awning defect – 2,519 units affected

The retractable awning may extend unintentionally during transit.

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will install a wedge to support the internal components in the gearbox and replace the motor as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 5, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-6319. Forest River’s number for this recall is 225-1723.

2023-2024 Prism Class C motorhomes

Furnace defect – 213 units affected

The furnace may overheat and cause a crack in the burn chamber which can allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will install the correct cold air return, grill, and heating ducts as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 6, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 215-1730.

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River Towables

  • 2023 & 2024 Ibex
  • 2023 & 2024 R-Pod
  • 2023 & 2024 No Boundaries

Bolts that attach suspension to chassis not correctly tightened on some units – 157 units affected

On certain RV trailers, the bolts that attach the suspension to the chassis may not have been tightened correctly. As a result, the suspension could detach and separate from the trailer and cause a loss of control.

What owners of affected products should do

Forest River will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your RV trailer to a dealership to inspect and, if necessary, tighten or replace the bolts on the independent suspension. Recall number: 51-1727

2024 Coachmen Clipper and Viking Travel Trailers

Tail light bezel defect – 18 units affected

The tail light bezel may not have been installed on the vehicle. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will install the tail light bezel, free of charge. Forest River expects to have owner notification letters in the mail on March 6, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-269-467-4600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 120-1729.

2023-2024 Salem and Wildwood fifth-wheel trailers

The federal placard may have incorrect tire size information – 107 units affected

The federal placard affixed to affected trailers has the wrong tire size and pressure information. This could result in the wrong tires being installed, creating a safety hazard.

As such, these trailers fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 120, “Wheels and Rims – Other Than Passenger Cars.”

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will mail new federal placards, free of charge. Forest River expects to have owner notification letters in the mail on March 13, 2024.

de Anza RV Resort, Amado, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tiffin is number eight on the recall list

And what about venerable Tiffin Motorhomes—how did it hit the Top Twelve of the recall list? Imagine sitting behind the wheel of your motorhome when suddenly your view of the freeway ahead is hampered because your driver seat broke away dropping you on the floor. Two other gremlins plagued some Tiffin motorhomes:

There were issues with shifting batteries that could allow their terminals to come into contact with grounded metal creating shorts

Solar panels could sometimes come loose, flying off the roof

The latest Tiffin Motorhomes recalls

2023-2024 Convoy and GH-1 Models

Solar panel bracket defect – 67 units affected

The bracket that secures the solar panel to the roof may crack and break which can cause the solar panel to detach.

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will replace the brackets, free of charge. Tiffin expects to mail owner notification letters on March 22, 2024. Owners of affected RVs may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-136

2022-2024 Allegro Bay motorhomes

House batteries could shift during transport and cause a fire – 300 units affected

The standard house batteries may shift position during travel, which can cause the battery terminals to contact the steel hold-down bar and create a fire hazard.

What owners of affected products should do

Dealers will install a new battery hold-down bar and angle brackets, free of charge. Tiffin expects to have owner notification letters in the mail on April 1.

2022 Allegro Bay, 2022 Phaeton, 2022 Allegro Red

Driver’s seat base could move in crash – 16 units affected

The driver seat base may not have been properly welded on certain motorhomes. As a result, the seat could move or detach in a crash, and increase the risk of injury.

What owners of affected products should do

Tiffin will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your motorhome to either a Tiffin dealership or an authorized service facility to inspect and, if necessary, replace the driver seat base.

River Sands RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Others have more recalled vehicles

To be sure, there were plenty of others who made the Top 12 list and some of those with far more vehicles being recalled.

From Ford which had 10 percent of all recalls on the list, five individual recalls netted a whopping 2,060,929 call-backs.

And while representing only 4 percent of the total recalls on NHTSA’s list, Tesla took the cake with its 2,393,869 recalls. Its biggest issue between two total recalls was 2,193,869 vehicles recalled because the font size of their dash warning lights were too small.

The number of recalled rigs between Forest River and Tiffin combined are, indeed, small potatoes in comparison.

Nevertheless, that two RV manufacturers would make the Top Twelve of the recall list should cause the industry (these two manufacturers in particular) to take a step back. Granted, the issue of Tiffin’s driver seat support breakage isn’t technically Tiffin’s fault. The same is true for the LP gas tank brackets that could break in Forest River’s camp. These issues came from outside manufacturers.

Still, the issues reflect on the integrity—and safety—of products sold by RV builders. Are RV manufacturers just in too much of a hurry to shove product out the door? Before shopping for a new rig, buyers might do well to examine NHTSA’s recall history books.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that not all RV manufacturers are created equal. It is a good reason (actually more than ome) why we own a Newmar motorhome.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are a few links to related articles I’ve previously posted on the RV industry:

Worth Pondering…

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

—Martin Van Buren

December 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 6 Recalls Involving 5 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall, creating a safety risk for you or your passengers. A certified dealer must repair Safety defects 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?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

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

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 or failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NHTSA announced 6 recall notices during December 2023. These recalls involved 5 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (2 recalls), Grand Design (1 recall), Tiffin (1 recall), Keystone (1 recall), and REV (1 reall).

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 XLR Boost toy haulers. The taillights may be insufficiently reflective. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Dealers will install reflector stickers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 17, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-642-0432. Forest River’s number for this recall is 79-1711.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Concord CNC321DSF motorhomes. The air suspension air line may be incorrectly installed near the exhaust, which can cause a sudden loss of rear suspension.

Dealers will re-route the air lines and 12-volt wiring away from the vehicle exhaust, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 24, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 210-1714.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Design

Grand Design RV, LLC (Grand Design) is recalling certain 2024 Reflection travel trailers. The electrical plug blade openings (narrow hot blade and wider neutral blade) may be reversed on one of the two receptacle outlet faces, which can cause outlet failure.

Dealers will replace the incorrect receptacles, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 5, 2024. Owners may contact Grand Design customer service at 1-574-825-9679. Grand Design’s number for this recall is 910041.

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2024 Allegro Open Road and Allegro Bay motorhomes. The 32-inch hard line LPG hose fitting may not fit correctly, which can cause a fuel leak.

Dealers will replace the 32-inch hose with a 40-inch hose, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 28, 2024. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-134.

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Dutchmen Coleman 1855RB and 190BH travel trailers. The trailers may be equipped with axle springs rated at 4400 pounds instead of 5100 pounds.

Dealers will replace the axle springs, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 25, 2024. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 23-447.

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

REV

REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2016-2023 American Coach American Eagle motorhomes. Turbulence may loosen or break the rear air deflector mounting bracket hardware.

Dealers will replace the attachment hardware bracket and fasteners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed February 3, 2024. REV’s number for this recall is 231205REV.

Please Note: This is the 58th 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

The Truth about RVs

Untold stories behind Indiana’s RV boom

“You’re not going to buy an RV and drive it off the lot and have no hassles”

Elkhart, Indiana is to recreational vehicles what Detroit once was to automobiles. Four out of every five RVs in the U.S. roll-out of Elkhart, an area dominated by three major players the way Detroit was once dominated by Ford, Chrysler, and GM: Thor Industries, Forest River (owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway), and Winnebago Industries. Unlike Detroit, however, Elkhart is union-free in a so-called “right-to-work” state. And unlike Detroit in past decades Elkhart has been ravaged by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The result, as documented October 19, 2022, by the Indianapolis Star in a 15,000-word, four-part, multi-media series is an industry riddled with broken bodies and a record number of recalled RVs even as the major manufacturers all have been posting unsurpassed revenues and profit margins.

Down the road in an RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lockdowns that confined Americans to their homes in 2020 created a record demand for recreational vehicles, much of it from first-time buyers who were looking for a safe way to travel. But COVID also decimated the ranks of RV factory workers even as they were being pushed to increase production.

Already strenuous jobs suddenly required even more from workers whose earnings are largely dependent on how many RVs they push out the door. Several compared it to a football practice that lasts eight hours or more leaving a body battered at the end of every day. 

Newmar factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV workers say they were frequently allowed—and sometimes pressured—to show up while sick or injured to meet the demand for a luxury product, according to IndyStar interviews with two dozen current and former workers and several family members. Some faced steep pay cuts for missing work due to COVID. Others were fired. 

As factories became COVID-19 hotspots, companies raked in record profits. Manufacturers shipped out 48 percent more RVs in 2021 than the year before the pandemic.

Inside the factories where those RVs were made, workers shared stories about the human cost behind the record profits.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Service Center, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From plywood and junk parts to luxury coaches

The RV industry in Elkhart County began with a man who built a travel trailer using plywood and junkyard parts for his family during the Great Depression. Milo Miller began building more trailers that he sold from a rented shed at a Mishawaka lumber yard, RV historian Al Hesselbart wrote in RV Capital of the World: A Fun-filled Indiana History. Other business-minded Hoosiers followed suit launching the first RV factories in the state. Those few factories turned into a few dozen then several hundred from RV manufacturers to parts suppliers, transporters, and repair shops.

Related article: RV Industry Surges amid Supply Chain Problems and Price Increases

Today, the industry dominates life in this manufacturing region just south of the Michigan border. Roads are typically congested as early as 3 a.m. as workers head to the factories. Restaurants are busy at lunch time when plants typically let workers out.

Across the factories in a county that’s home to blue-collar workers, grueling conditions are a long-accepted way of life. Calling in sick has always been seen as a sign of weakness, workers told IndyStar and many said they fear getting fired for taking too many sick days. 

Newmar Service Center, Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But problems in RV plants have been brewing long before the pandemic. Workers told IndyStar about injuries from lax safety rules and the fast pace, drug use, unfair pay structures, a disciplinary system that punishes workers for taking sick time, a lack of training, and quality issues with products that leave factories. 

Several RV workers said they and others inside the factories needed daily uppers such as energy drinks, Ritalin, or Adderall—even methamphetamine—to keep up with the pace. The most readily available option, energy drinks, can cause heart problems, worsen anxiety, and send workers to emergency rooms when abused.

Still, tens of thousands flock to the industry. Many cycle in and out, beaten down by the work but desperate for the fat paychecks. 

Newmar factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A punishing pace takes heavy toll on workers

Abey Bonifield took her first RV job because she needed more money than she could earn cleaning houses. Bonifield worked for multiple RV makers over about six years. Every day, she hit the ground running long before the crack of dawn, sometimes working for 13 hours a shift. She installed windows alone. She hefted appliances half her weight over her head. She pulled a small RV on a dolly by herself.

“I mean, who can wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and work themselves like that?” Bonifield said. “That’s not meant to be.”

She brought home enough to live a middle-class life without a college diploma and raise her two sons. In the process, Bonifield pushed her body past its limit. She worked even when she was sick or injured, sprinting in the summer heat to keep up with relentless production demand. She lived on energy drinks and caffeine pills, consuming an unhealthy amount each day. The faster she worked, the more money she made.

Related article: Forest River Workplace Safety Violations Top $250,000

But the breakneck pace gave her anxiety attacks as she scrambled to finish one RV unit and move on to the next. She stopped the energy drinks and caffeine pills only after developing kidney stones.

“The money is just not worth it,” she said. “Sometimes you can bring home two grand and that’s a lot of money for someone who didn’t finish high school or college. But emotionally dealing with that … no.”

Bonifield left the industry last year. And she doesn’t want to go back.

Newmar factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dreams go up in flames

Jenny Doman and her family stood beside a highway exit ramp watching helplessly as bright orange flames engulfed their brand-new RV.

Jenny Doman and her family had purchased the 40-foot-long Heartland Road Warrior, a fifth-wheel trailer and “toy hauler” made by a subsidiary of Thor Industries. The price tag was more than $100,000. Excited to enjoy the new luxury RV, they left their home in Oregon and hit the road for a trip to visit family in Utah.

But they only made it to Montana before flames engulfed their brand-new RV. The fire quickly transformed their dreams of a carefree life in their new home-away-from-home into a nightmare. The fire spread within minutes. Instead of spending the night in their new RV, Doman and her family found themselves standing near a rural Montana highway in the middle of a snowy winter night with nothing but clothes on their backs.

“There goes our fifth wheel, toy hauler, everything in it. Oh my gosh!” Doman said in a video she later posted on YouTube.

Newmar Service Center, Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pandemic drove demand for RVs

The desire to get away from home yet remain isolated introduced a new kind of lifestyle for many people during the pandemic. Recreational vehicles and trailers like Doman’s offered a vacation anywhere with all the comforts of home but not the crowds, costs, or hassles of commercial travel.

The RV industry—one of the biggest manufacturing sectors in Indiana—was quick to capitalize on this new and unprecedented demand. Last year, more RVs were built and sold than ever. Profits also soared to record highs.

Newmar factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recalls up, quality down

Recalls became more and more common—in part because parts suppliers are also under pressure to build fast. Defective products that go to multiple manufacturers meant multitudes of recalls.

Recalls jumped even more during the pandemic years.

Related article: THOR Buys Tiffin Motorhomes: What Happens Next?

Since 2020, three of the biggest RV manufacturers in the country have recalled hundreds of thousands of their products, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Companies owned by Thor Industries, the largest RV maker in the country, recalled more than 156,000 RVs this year. Forest River recalled nearly 200,000 RVs this year. Winnebago Industries recalled more than 125,000 RVs this year.

RVMH Hall of Fame, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Among the problems that led to recalls: gas leaks, various electrical issues, increased propane pressure, and poorly installed awnings.

In its statement to IndyStar, Thor Industries said the quality of its units went up even as factories were producing more. The company cited its lower warranty claims for products sold during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic years. But that doesn’t account for the recalls.

Forest River didn’t respond to requests for comment. Winnebago Industries didn’t answer questions about alleged quality issues.

Newmar factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shoddy work, unhappy buyers

A Hershey, Pennsylvania-based RVer bought a new 2022 unit valued at more than $100,000, only to have the generator and some other items stop working. After six weeks passed, he had no resort but to call the corporate office as he couldn’t get the manager to return his calls. Finally, he was told his warranty may have expired. After multiple calls, his unit was delivered to him in early June, but alas, not in acceptable condition. As you might expect, he wants a full refund. He’s still waiting.

Others, like John Kucharski, face a steady stream of issues that are not as devastating but add up to far more than just inconveniences. Kucharski, a longtime camper, had spent years saving enough money to buy a brand-new RV. He planned to spend his retirement years traveling the country with his fiancée.

RVMH Hall of Fame, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So in December, he bought a brand new Keystone Cougar, a 40-foot trailer, and paid the full price of $80,000. But problems became apparent as soon as he brought the RV home to Mesa, Arizona.

Among a long list of more than a dozen problems: The slide-outs aren’t sliding out properly. There’s a rip on the kitchen floor. The frame of the back window is bent. The bolts that hold one of the couches together are stripped so the back of the couch falls off. The drawers aren’t opening properly.

RVMH Hall of Fame, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“All these things are fixable and at some point in the trailer’s life will go wrong,” Kucharski said. “But when you buy brand new—and we’re talking about a lot of money … And to get home and see all this shoddy work.”

Related article: Buying an RV

The RV was sitting in a repair shop just three weeks after Kucharski bought it.

By August, a day before Kucharski was about to go on a six-day road trip, he saw the roof was coming off and large air bubbles had formed on its outer layer.

As some problems were fixed, new ones piled up.

Newmar Service Center, Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I don’t even know where to begin. I would be so outrageously angry if I wasn’t so disgusted,” Kucharski said in a scathing email he sent last month to Keystone RV and the dealership.

Keystone RV did not respond to a request for comment.

But no matter how angry he becomes, Kucharski said he knows not much will change.

“Manufacturers and dealers expect consumers to fall in line to buy RVs. So why make them better?” Kucharski said. “You just know you’re going to buy crap.”

Worth Pondering…

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

—Martin Van Buren

RV Industry Surges amid Supply Chain Problems and Price Increases

With this latest report, 2021 officially becomes the year the RV industry built more RVs than ever before—and that is with two months left in the year

The recreational vehicle industry has done what many U.S. businesses did in the face of this year’s epic shortages and surging inflation: Churned out more products and made more money than ever before.

Winnebago Industries Inc reported record fiscal 2020 revenues in October—up over 50 percent from the previous year. On Friday it is expected to post its second straight quarter of sales over $1 billion and a 33 percent increase in earnings per share, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Industries Inc, the largest producer, last week reported record results for its fiscal first-quarter while noting its backlog as of the end of October was over $18 billion—a 100 percent increase over a year ago.

Michael Happe, chief executive of the Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago, said in an interview that his company’s retailers have “been able to optimize retail pricing in a way they have not been able to do in a long, long time.”

Newmar Factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The RV industry is a prime example of how many U.S. producers have been able to thrive despite COVID-related shortages—and the related price increases in raw materials from steel and plastic to electronics and foam. The surge in RV sales began early in the pandemic as worried Americans looked for ways to travel without the risks of staying in hotels or riding in airplanes.

Related Article: Why are RVs So Popular?

Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all ri

All types of outdoor-oriented industries have boomed during the pandemic. Sales of swimming pools, boats, and all-terrain vehicles all surged after initial lockdowns.

Labor shortages also are bedeviling the industry which has struggled to fill jobs in production hubs like northern Indiana where Thor is based.

Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite all these barriers, the industry is producing and shipping more than ever. Results for the RV Industry Association’s (RVIA) October 2021 survey of manufacturers determined that total RV shipments ended the month with 57,971 units, an increase of 22.5 percent compared to the 47,326 units shipped during October 2020; this October was also the best on comparable record with shipments surpassing the October 2017 total of 48,926 units by over 18 percent. This month’s total was also the highest production total on comparable record for any month, surpassing last month’s record of 55,014 units by more than 5 percent.

Newmar Factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wholesale shipments of RVs in North America are expected to hit a record 602,200 units this year—a 40 percent increase over 2020 and 19 percent higher than the last record high set in 2017, according to an analysis prepared for RVIA. The analysis, by ITR Economics, is projecting a smaller increase of 2 percent in 2022, to 613,700 units.

Related Article: RVs Move America

Newmar Factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jon Ferrando, CEO of RV Retailer LLC—a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based retailer with 90 stores in 26 states as of the end of this year—said pricier raw materials, together with higher labor and transportation costs to move motorhomes and trailers across the country from factories to his stores—has meant multiple price increases passed along to consumers rather than the normal once-a-year adjustments.

Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Certainly, this year, there are more frequent price adjustments,” he said. But he added that the increases have not curbed the appetite of buyers.

“To the extent we have pressure to raise prices, consumers have great ability to trade down and get the price point they want,” he said.

To be sure, the price tags on RVs range widely. RV Retailer sells everything from $10,000 teardrop-shaped tow-along campers to $1 million diesel motor coaches.

Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jason Lippert, chief executive of LCI Industries, the largest parts supplier to the RV industry, said he expects supply chain problems to continue. But he does not see rising prices softening consumer demand any time soon.

Related Article: RV Sales Continue to Soar and Here Are the Reasons Why

“If you’re a first-time buyer, you’re not looking at what you could have bought in 2018 or 2017,” he said. “People buying their second or third RV will likely think about the price a little more.”

Newmar Factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One aspect of rising prices could ultimately add headwinds for the industry: gas prices which have soared this year.

But James Boyle, a spokesman for the RVIA, said the industry does not expect current prices at the pump to curb business anytime soon, noting that many RVs are used for short trips and tailgating, rather than long road trips.

Newmar Factory tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The new shipment report comes on the tail of a recently released survey showing more Americans plan on RVing in the next year than ever before. The survey showed 72 million Americans planning an RV trip in the next year in an RV they own, rent, or borrow—an 18 percent increase over the 61 million reported in the same survey a year ago.

Related Article: How COVID-19 Changed RVing

Worth Pondering…

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.

—Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1968)

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

Forest River Workplace Safety Violations Top $250,000

The RV industry is booming. Production is high and sales are good, but is it coming at the cost of worker safety?

Between September 2017 and November 2018, ten of Forest River’s 26 plants in Elkhart County were hit with a total of 55 violations, 44 of them serious. The initial fines totaled $254,975, according to an ABC57 report.

Forest River showed up in a 2017 annual state occupational safety report as a “significant case” due to “excessive injuries.” According to the report, in the first nine months of 2017 alone there were nine fingers amputated, a fractured pelvis, and multiple foot fractures.

Polomino Solaire travel trailer, a Forest River product, camped at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The ABC57 Investigates team spent almost a year going over stacks of IOSHA (Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspection reports and talking to several current and former employees at Elkhart-based Forest River. What they found paints a picture of a fast-paced work culture filled with alleged drug use and lax safety practices—all proving to be a dangerous combination.

In the last few years the Elkhart RV industry has soared back to life after sinking deep into the depths of the 2008 recession. Demand is so high many RV manufacturers are offering highly competitive packages to potential employees to help increase production. But in that rush to meet demand worker safety seems to be falling through the cracks at Forest River—one of America’s largest manufacturers of recreational vehicles.

A Class A motorhome camped at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

ABC57 spoke to several current and former employees who shared those concerns. Many declined to speak on camera out of fears of retaliation. One former employee did agree to speak on camera—if we hid his identity out of fears he would be frozen out of the industry for speaking up. His employment was confirmed through an old Forest River pay stub. He described the work environment inside the plant as fast-paced.

The company has a 3.2 rating out of 5 on indeed.com, a website that allows current and former employees to review their employers.

Outback travel trailer by Keystone RV, a Thor Industries Company © Rex Vogel, all rights reserv

Some call it a great place to work, while others say there are problems. One thing almost every worker agreed on was the fast pace. That pace inspired by the “piece rate” one former manager told us about. It means the more pieces completed the more you get paid.

“They try to enforce safety as much as possible, but of course there are slips within the system you would say,” the former worker said.

Those slips eventually drew the attention of the Indiana Department of Labor with the company showing up in a 2017 Annual State Occupational report as a “significant case” due to “excessive injuries”. According to the report, in the first nine months of 2017 alone there were nine fingers amputated, a fractured pelvis, and multiple foot fractures.

Alpha Founder diesel pusher. One of the casualties of the recession, Alpha is no longer manufacturing RVs

IOSHA then sent a team of six people to Forest River plants in Goshen and Middlebury and eventually several others. Between September 2017 and November of 2018, ten of Forest River’s 26 plants in Elkhart County were hit with a total of 55 violations, 44 of them serious. The initial fines totaled $254,975.

To compare, during that same time period only four other local RV companies were hit with safety violations. The most was Lippert Components with 10 violations and initial fines totaling $45,000.

Golden Palms RV Park in Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Among Forest River’s violations inspectors cited risks of amputation, falling, and electric shock. In some cases, inspectors found Forest River employees were not properly trained and wearing the proper protective gear was not mandatory.

The violations and injury reports continued to come in through most of 2018. Paramedics were called twice to the company’s Starcraft division in Goshen, one of the locations hit with repeat violations. ABC57 obtained all dispatch calls to the Goshen plant. One from January 2018 was for a 50-year-old man who fell 12 feet hitting his head. Then in May a man in his 50s had two deep lacerations to two of his fingers.

2019 Newmar Dutch Star at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Warren Buffet, are you listening?

And remember that not all RV manufacturers are created equal.

Worth Pondering…

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

—Martin Van Buren

February 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.

La Quintas Oasis RV Resort, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

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, violating labeling requirements listed in federal motor vehicle safety standards.

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.

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

NHTSA announced 4 recall notices during February 2019. These recalls involved 3 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (2 recalls), Heartland Recreational Vehicles (1 recall), Triple E (1 recall).

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Coachmen Apex recreational trailers. The inner hub bearings may not have been sufficiently greased, which can cause the bearings to overheat and fail.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and repair the hubs and bearings, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began February 4, 2019. Customer service number unknown at this time. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-0923.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Salem and Wildwood recreational trailers. The power cord hatch is located above the water heater exhaust, possibly resulting in the cord or the hatch melting.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will secure the power cord away from the water heater exhaust, free of charge. The recall began February 4, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 574-534-6127. Forest River’s number for this recall is 44-0929.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain Milestone recreational trailers, model 377MB. The liquid propane (LP) gas hose for the water heater may have been improperly secured with a zip tie. If the zip tie fails, the hose may contact the tire.

Heartland will notify owners, and dealers will secure the hose with a P-clamp and replace the LP hose if damage is found, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 11, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.44.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2019 Serenity recreational vehicles, model S24CB. The coach battery compartment door support metal cable may contact the positive battery terminal.

Triple E will notify owners, and dealers will replace the battery compartment door support metal cable with one that is covered with tubing, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in February 2019. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#9208-1

Columbia River RV Resort, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

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.

Please Note: This is the first 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