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View Full Version : What makes a good "Quality" trailer in your opinion?



SouthernNights
06-29-2011, 04:44 AM
First-this is not a bashing thread on HL or any other manufacturer so please don't.

Quality is a term used alot but without definition. We all have our own idea as to what quality.

Does it mean a higher priced unit? Higher priced individual components? Dependability? More bells and whistles? Never having to perform maintenance on a given item? Never having to go back to the dealer with warranty work?

My definition is "the conformance to the requirements". Does the unit or component perform they way it was intended with routine maintenance? i don't mind the occasional - "it just broke!!!" Things are going to break if you use your trailer-probably even more than things in your own house. I enjoy repairing and upgrading things. There a lots of us that do. But there are also many that either do not enjoy it or do not have the ability to. I am sure that definition will probably be very different from some one who does repair their own.

Other than just a discussion, I am not sure what the purpose of this thread will serve. Maybe, in the form of customer feedback, it will help the factory see what is important to their customers if they read this.

TedS
06-29-2011, 07:49 AM
A quality trailer meets or exceeds my expectations. A customer's perspective, not a manufacturer's.
Fit and finish are acceptable.
No maintainence for the first year of use after taking delivery. No warranty claims because this fitting was loose or that bolt was not tight, for example.
Operation and use manuals exist and are useful.
Systems and stuff work, as intended, first time and everytime.

This could be an interesting thread.

brianharrison
06-29-2011, 08:38 AM
Quality (an abridged definition from Merrian Webster dictionary)

- an inherent feature
- degree of excellence
- superiority in kind
- a distinguishing attribute

In my opinion, quality is a process. A company commits to quality when instead of acting like the manufacturing company it shifts itself to be a consumer products company; focused on the consumer, ie customer.

I beleive Heartland is a consumer products company; this forum is an example, Jim Belletti's position as Director of Owners Intersts is a huge committment to consumers, and many other definitive actions on Heartland's part.

Interesting thread. I'll be watching.

jpdoggett
06-29-2011, 09:50 AM
I myself think quality means to work like it should and not fall apart. nowing that everything made can break or quit working. Things happen with new and old and if the manufacture is welling to fix the problem and not let the consumer be left out all on his own then that is the way it sould be. Just my thoughts

57chevyconvt
06-29-2011, 11:22 AM
Interesting subject and respective thoughts as to what constitues quality in an RV. From my prespective, quality is an accumilation of pieces and/or components that meet the objective or the intent of the design of a unit. Many of the individual components that make up an RV are buy-out items from many different manufactures. Heartland or any other manufacturer must ultimately decided on the functionality and the quality of the components prior to incorporating them into their product design. Due to the competitive nature of buy-out items, I believe that quality in these components, especially if they are new to the market, takes time and use to determine their viability. I know from experience that components of yesteryears that were made in the USA, are often lacking in quality today because of the county of origin other than the USA. Just my thoughts and around here, most the time, they don't mount to a hill of beans.

2psnapod2
06-29-2011, 12:27 PM
To me quality is an expectation that the units are built to withstand normal use with minimal repairs and upkeep. I can do most of my work but some I cant. So when something does not hold up I would expect the company to repair it and also seek out why it happened and how they can stop it from happening in the future. On this unit and also the new ones also. It also needs to be superior in workmanship and materials used. I would also expect that the manufacturer use better than the cheapest materials when building their units. Just my thoughts and I hope mine are not out of the park. Michael

caissiel
06-29-2011, 04:29 PM
I remember the time that quality was mesured by the way the doors fit on a car. At the time I had an american car that was the cheapest to buy and was a great performer. Though the doors were not perfect the complete car was to my satisfaction. Well the same product with perfect door fit, one night was stuck at the local school with a dead battery and the owner went to open the hood and the hood cable was left in his hand broken because it was so inferior in quality that it just broke.

To me quality is what we put in our unit, I know mine is of great quality because I took care of the little things that did not make me feel great about it lasting long enough for me. I was at the Tampa RV show and everyone walked inside units and were amazed at the quality, while I was looking in the compartments, frame, axles and wheels.

I feel we look to much for quality at the surface and in return do overlook the things that will break in the close future. My friend just arrived last week with an SOB brand new trailer. He worked yesterday modifying fender braces and other small screws that were loose all over his unit. He told me this because I had told him to go over his unit before to late and he was amazed at the things that needed attention, He thinks his trailer has good quality but to him, like me, he wanted better. It might be to standard but some of use like to have better.

I had the best quality trailer made in Canada and after pulling it all over the country and US I found that the frame had a very serious problem caused by an inexperienced electrician and his work resulted in weakning my 5th wheel front frame by at least 50%. And I bet I was not the only frame he weakened before someone found out. I was lucky not to have lost the trailer in a hill somewhere before. The company refused to admit to their responsibility.

So to me quality is more then looks but build to satisfy the owners needs. A camper is build for part time living and cost is very important to stay in compitition. I feel we get what we pay for and hope that the more expensive products do reflect the cost in dependibility.

irvin56
06-29-2011, 10:45 PM
This will be interesting to hear from others.

For me I bought for Weight of trailer and floorplan. Then I looked at outside for hardwall, slides and how it operated, smoothly, Then I looked at features inside THAT heartland had control of. ((fridges, toilets, HWH. radio etc) heartland only buys them.) I was happy with the finish of cupboards, material they used on walls, color and co-ordination of everything inside. The side tables of bedroom, the way bunk house was layed out with second dinette. Wide trax suspension, the way storage in front was finished and no mess of lines all over the place. Then I looked around for a month at other unit in rv shows and lots. kept coming back to compareson to North Trail.

I went back to the dealer a couple times to check over and show others the unit to see what they though.

Talked to saleman about the product line( only being new in the last Yr). What kind of service Heartland and Racetrack rv have to back their product lines and services.

I don't and did not exspect to have a flawless trailer, we tow them all over king-dom-kong and all kinds of roads. But I excpect a company to stand behind their products they have contol of and improve over the long period to do a better job of fixing problems that arrive on units. Have they? I don't really know unless I buy another newer model of TT and live in it.

When I am ready to move up, I will again go through the same process to find out. If It's heartland okay. if not then It will be because it looks like or is better built.

I really think it's how it looks at first on lot that you have to decide about quality and what you like, because once they have your money, it's tough to get it back.

I read up on this forum about everything I could to see about complaints, products and any fixs that was going on at the time before I released my hard earned cash on my unit. Even without this forum. I would of still bought compaired to all other makes on the market at that time

pegmikef
06-30-2011, 04:48 PM
To me quality is simple. A quality product is one that will perform as expected for its intended purpose, whether it is an RV or a can opener . . . and that includes the sum of its components. In other words something I can buy and use and not have to screw with except for normal (reasonable) maintenance.

ankie3467
06-30-2011, 09:23 PM
Quality means to me: It would be nice if the manufacter would stand behind the unit as a whole, not have to go to stove manufacter, fridge manufacter, hot water heater guy, and on and on. When you buy the brand, the brand should stand for quality. When you spend 30 grand for a rv, you do expect there to be quality there.

imchud
06-30-2011, 10:27 PM
Quality... it's kind of a nebulous thing "Unclear, vague, or ill-defined " everybody has their own idea of what quality is or should be. However... Quality to me is a very measured thing and can be linked directly back to the manufacturer, and how they respond to a problem. For me, i haved had more then my fair share of water problems, all takin care of by H/L... even after the warrenty was up. Some of the water issues (in my opion) should have never happened, but they were still all fixed by H/L. So to me, thats Quality.
Now a quick story of a friend of mine that owns a H/L product and after the 1st year the sides were delaminating, H/L step up (after the warrenty) and fixed the problem. their next season was fine, however, when they took it out of storage this season the sides that H/L fixed were delamination again, this time H/L told them they were on their own?? So you tell me, quality or not???

Tom

Peteandsharon
07-02-2011, 10:21 AM
This is a very interesting thread. What makes for quality? I agree with many of the things that have been stated so far. Quality can be hard to define and very elusive. However, for me, any fiver, travel trailer or motor home should have one absolute requirement. It should, as much as possible, be watertight. Rigs can have many issues but nothing is as destructive or as demoralizing as chronic water problems in one of them. Obviously we have had many threads on what constitutes good water connections and good water lines. Regardless of what the answer is, I firmly believe that this should be job 1 for any RV manufacturer. Regardless of what it would do to bump up the cost, I believe that rigs should not leave the line without top quality, "built to last" water systems. I can deal with appliances that have issues. I can even deal with having to replace poor quality tires on a new rig. But if I have to worry about water leaks everytime I hook up or whenever I fill the fresh water tank, it hugely impacts my peace of mind and my sense of quality. I guess that is just my personal peeve.

Pete

57chevyconvt
07-02-2011, 11:49 AM
Pete,
I agree with your thoughts about the pains of water leaks. The last two trailers that I have owned were pleagued with water leaks. PVC plastic hose fittings are the pits when in comes to withstanding the stress and strain of constant vibration and bouncing as we travel down the road. I am slowly but surely replacing the PVC with all brass hose fittings. Ouality is Job One! Still is!

Jim

TedS
07-02-2011, 02:02 PM
The company that steps up to fix all problems has quality service not necessarily quality product. If the OEM stuff of low quality is used for repair, then you will be repairing it again. Quality to me means having few or no problems to begin with. Especially no problems with systems or structure with which the company has long experience. And that experience can be taken from competitors' product that has demonstrated quality. One does not need to reinvent what works. Certainly make it better, but don't start from scratch.

kb0zke
07-06-2011, 05:26 PM
Good thread!

Our mpg is our "learning" RV as we prepare to go full-time in a few years. So far the biggest issue I've had with it is the owner's manual, which is nearly worthless. Are there some other issues? Of course there are. The plastic drawers in the kitchen fall down because the aluminum brackets they slide on are too far apart. One of these days I'll take a look at exactly how the brackets are attached, and either replace them with bigger ones or maybe just put some washers behind them to move them closer together. The two overhead cupboard doors in the kitchen don't stay open, so I'm going to add something to hold them open. The exterior light is on the hinge side of the door, so when the door is open it blocks the light from hitting the step. That one might be a bit harder to fix.

On our trip to the Heartland Rally last month we toured the Airstream factory and the DRV factory. Airstream impressed us when they opened a large door and showed us a new rig being blasted by water from all directions. The interior goes in only when a shell survives the water bath with no water inside. All components go in via the door (except for the A/C, refrigerator, furnace, hot water heater, etc. that go into the wall).

DRV made a big point about their stacked box beam frames and how they are superior to stacked I-beams. The neglected to say that their Select Suites line uses stacked I-beams, just like Heartland.

The Heartland factory tour was the best of all. True, the line was shut down (the tour was on Saturday), but that meant that we could poke our noses everywhere. The man who lead my tour was obviously taking many mental notes, and even said that our comments would be discussed on Monday morning in a big meeting, and that there are many changes that have been made at the suggestion of Heartland owners.

From my perspective, building a quality product means using the best materials and workmanship to allow the customer to use that product safely and comfortably in every intended way. That means anticipating how someone will want to use the product (even if that use is a bit extreme) and then build for that use. Some people live full-time in their rigs, while others use them for only a few weekends each year. That doesn't mean that all rigs should be built to full-time standards, but it does mean that those which are advertised for that purpose should be.

TravelTiger
07-06-2011, 06:00 PM
I agree with this:
To me quality is an expectation that the units are built to withstand normal use with minimal repairs and upkeep.

There should not be a concern that this product will fail in areas not designed to be user-maintained, (i.e., electrical, water connections, frame, etc.) and it must be designed to withstand normal use (driving over typical roads and camping in it!). If a customer that buys a product and it has to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb to catch lazy, unskilled, unattentive manufacturing processes, or poor design, that is not "quality" to me.

I'm not pointing fingers at any trailer manufacturer in particular. Just explaining my thoughts, on purchasing any product.

scotty
07-07-2011, 06:12 AM
Quality means to me: It would be nice if the manufacter would stand behind the unit as a whole, not have to go to stove manufacter, fridge manufacter, hot water heater guy, and on and on. When you buy the brand, the brand should stand for quality. When you spend 30 grand for a rv, you do expect there to be quality there.

Ditto, Company selling coach should stand behind everything in it and the "company" run interference with they're sub contractors. Also, quality to me is improve on things that are known issues (frame weakness, springs, tires, etc) before they create numerous problems. Example my 06 BH has the frame issues, ok it was young and unknow, however I still read about 2010's with same issues. I would venture to say that the penny saved by not making improvments earlier, probably cost the company more in sells and Rep. Penny wise, dollar foolish. I know this is industry wide, not bashing any particular company, but you get my point.

DMitch
07-07-2011, 06:39 AM
Quality to me is being able to use the product you buy with normal care and not having to repair and maintain items due to faulty manufacturing. The second part of quality in my mind is having the company that makes the product stand behind it for a reasonable time. I don't think anyone who spends 30-100K dollars for an item should be told to go to the company that made a component for warranty. I bought a new Chevy pickup that I paid much less for than my RV. When I had a warranty issue with a transmission line Chevrolet fixed it and apologized for the inconvience they didn't tell me to go to some other company and see if I could get help. Currently these RV manufacturers are getting away with this practice and warranties that are about meaningless but I think people are beginning to look for changes in these areas.

Today more and more people are traveling more and farther spending more time in thier units vs. using them for 7-8 weekends a year within a 100 miles of home. These are two different uses and require two different levels of quality.

jmgratz
07-07-2011, 07:01 AM
Quality to me is being able to use the product you buy with normal care and not having to repair and maintain items due to faulty manufacturing. The second part of quality in my mind is having the company that makes the product stand behind it for a reasonable time. I don't think anyone who spends 30-100K dollars for an item should be told to go to the company that made a component for warranty. I bought a new Chevy pickup that I paid much less for than my RV. When I had a warranty issue with a transmission line Chevrolet fixed it and apologized for the inconvience they didn't tell me to go to some other company and see if I could get help. Currently these RV manufacturers are getting away with this practice and warranties that are about meaningless but I think people are beginning to look for changes in these areas.

Today more and more people are traveling more and farther spending more time in thier units vs. using them for 7-8 weekends a year within a 100 miles of home. These are two different uses and require two different levels of quality.

Never have understood how we can drive an automobile with all of the moving parts everyday for 5-10 years and with normal maintenance rarely have it in the shop, yet an RV will be in the shop for 3-4 months of the first year of ownership and then have to do constant repairs on everything from knobs falling off to wheels falling off. Then with an auto you have a whole continent full of dealer support and the RV it is a constant battle to find someone who wants to fix it. How a auto dealer can charge $60 an hour labor while an RV dealer charges $99 an hour labor. How you can get an auto part which is not in stock the same day and it takes weeks for an RV part to arrive. And I am not picking on Heartland, I am picking on the whole industry. Maybe the whole RV Industry needs to take a look at themselves and make some changes which will make them more user friendly.

mjatwalker
07-07-2011, 07:45 AM
What makes a good quality trailer or anything else for that matter is the PRIDE that goes in to it. If you take pride in what you build or repair or manufacture the QUALITY will always be there.

kb0zke
07-07-2011, 09:25 PM
"Maybe the whole RV Industry needs to take a look at themselves and make some changes which will make them more user friendly."

AMEN!!!

How about starting with putting frames, axles, and tires designed for the gross weight of the rig? Then, build a mock-up and have current owners actually try to use it. We looked at a FW recently that literally required someone to crawl in bed from the foot of the bed, because there was less than 12" between the bed and the wall! No, it wasn't a mock-up, but an actual production unit that was for sale! Who dreamed that idea up?