Saturday, June 10, 2023

The State of RV Brokenness

Imagine putting your house on wheels and driving it down the street on cobblestone roads or wavy, pitted highways for hours at a time. Those are the roads in Mexico we're driving on with the travel trailer. There are some world class toll roads in Mexico that rival European highways, but that's only half the story. There are also teeth chattering, dangerous highways that link towns that are the only option. As someone on my RV forum said when I mentioned the weak points, "These RVs aren't made for those roads!"

Things have a tendency to break on an RV, even on the best roads. I wanted to go over what broke and the categories of why they broke. We have three main categories: Initial quality defects, user error, and road damage. You'll see the roads are the least of my problems:

Initial quality defects. This is a bit of a shakedown trip in this 2023 model travel trailer. It's got a full time living warranty and this Keystone Cougar 25RDS is considered one of the top brands when it comes to quality. There are things that were poorly built, some of which we knew beforehand and kept an eye on. There were things that straight up failed under stress. Those include:

  • A bathroom door that has a bad latch that swings around and bashes things (fixed)
  • Poorly built (not glued) rear cabinets that get a lot of abuse. They separated (fixed)
  • An outside shower that's broken and can't be fixed without RV parts (under warranty)
User Error. There are things we used incorrectly, resulting in them breaking:
  • Rear stabilizer bracket. I bent this badly on our first night camping on a farm with a ridiculously un-level surface in the mud. I think we were 4" off on one side.
  • Rear bathroom door. I scraped it up by hanging a dirty clothes bag on it and as the bag got heavier, it became a bludgeon and flew around (fixed)
  • Refrigerator door latch. We used it wrong, not pulling it up to latch it correctly, and we broke it (fixed)
  • Trim on Slide. Rocco got a bag caught and it pulled off a fascia panel.
Road Damage. These are thing that broke from the stress of travel that were nobody's fault.
  • Refrigerator shift. The refrigerator appears to have shift and pulled apart the fascia trim on the bottom.
That's it! None of these things have impeded use of the RV in any way, they're mostly cosmetic. Some have been fixed along the way by an RV repair tech and by me. As we get to each town we consult the RV park about RV repair, with hopes of getting someone out to do the harder work. The entire rear cabinets were dismantled, repaired and reinforced, better than new, for around $65.

We have thousands of miles left on this trip, although the next couple of months is only 700 or so. It is likely the list will grow longer, but also that we'll fix existing problems along the way. The biggest concern are deal breakers, like bent axles. It's also possible something breaks that requires parts we can't get. So far we haven't lost any functionality.

I should mention my 2022 Ford F350 is a beast and has had absolutely no problems on this trip of any kind. I can't tell you how many times I've been grappling with RV issues and been happy the truck is fine. I'll be doing an oil change on it in a little while, as we just hit 4,000 miles on this trip (I do them every 5K).

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