Buyer Beware of the Pandemic Built RV
Updated: Jan 3, 2022
So we bought a new fifth-wheel and its already a fixer upper. You heard me right! After suffering a great deal of anxiety over pulling our beloved 44’ long “Tag-Along” we finally downsized to a rig that makes right hand turns without violating curbs and frightening pedestrians. “Tag-Along II” is a 2021 Vanleigh Vilano 320GK and it is roughly eight feet shorter in length and eight inches shorter in height. So far we are loving how much more accessible the good camping spots are and my confidence level as the primary driver is soaring. Unfortunately, the list of defects that began the day we bought it has been growing every-since.
Common advice for RV shoppers includes mantras like “Don’t buy new, you’ll spend your first six months fixing all the defects”, “Don’t buy a pandemic build”, “Don’t rely on dealer promises and pre-delivery inspections” and “Don’t buy until you’ve had an independent professional RV Inspection performed”. If only we had listened to the inner voice shouting those things when we pulled the trigger on our purchase things would have been different, right? Well, it’s complicated! If you shopped for an RV in 2021 you know first hand that new and used inventories were extremely low and prices were up dramatically from a year earlier. Selling Tag Along at a very fair price would be easy but finding a replacement rig and moving into it without major life interruptions, that was our real challenge. As fate had it, we ended up finding the exact model that topped our list at a dealership in Salt Lake City and we thought our work was done. Little did we know that it was just beginning.
Concerns over the reliability of of our new rig began right after we completed the transaction when we began moving our personal possessions into it. In addition to a broken closet door, a dead living room TV, a missing awning motor cover and a water leak in the bathroom from a cracked vent cover we quickly discovered that the frame was covered with an excessive amount of rust. Over the days and weeks to follow more defects revealed themselves. The slide room seals were warped and torn to the point where you could feel the cold autumn wind hit your feet while standing in the kitchen. The toilet leaked, the central air vents were all installed backward, the awning has a short somewhere in its wiring, the shower skylight was cracked and leaking and the bedroom slide was built with defects that must be addressed before it will operate reliably. Safety issues include electric fireplace wiring that caught fire and melted and the disconcerting experience of being flagged down by a passing good samaritan at 65 miles per hour and being told that your rear jack is only an inch from the pavement. It turned out that three of our six jacks were defective.
The point of this post is not to complain. Complaining doesn’t fix things and if we don’t have anything positive to say about someone its best to not say anything at all. We do want to share that Vanleigh has been wonderful to work with directly and issue by issue they are helping us get the bugs out of this unit so we can get back to exploring, creating and inspiring. Also, a shout out to the technical assistance folks at Lippert Components for being so accessible to end users in diagnosing issues over the phone.
We invite you to follow us on Youtube as we juggle full time RV life and cross country travel with problem solving. We hope You'll follow along and with us there and we'd love to hear from you. Have you bought a new RV recently and if so how has your experience been?