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Old 08-13-2012, 07:04 AM   #1
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Quality Control

Hello all,

My wife and I are seriously looking to purchase our first AS. On Saturday, we went to our local dealer and were ready to put a deposit on a brand new 2012 30' classic when we discovered obvious water damage in two separate areas of the coach.

We of course did not buy the unit and the dealer is taking it off the lot for repairs which he claims will take six weeks.

Over the past few months, we have looked at several units (all at the same dealer) and every 30' has obvious signs of poor quality control, missing rivits, ball bearings falling out of drawer slides, reefer door that would not close, side table that is missing mounting screws, and now serious water leaks.

We are supposed to call the dealer today to place an order for a 2013 since the one we wanted is now in for repairs but after thinking about it I am really worried.

My question is, have we just been unlucky in finding a rash of units with issues or is this really the quality of the units coming out of the factory these days? A follow up question is if this normal quality, why wouldn't the dealer fix the flaws before putting the unit on the lot?

This is my first post and it is disturbing for the topic to be about the quality.

For the record, we have had several RVs ranging from a bus, to a high end 5th wheel and are very aware of the poor build/design quality in the RV industry. We ended up in litigation with the builder of the 5th wheel over quality issues and won.

Our main reason for looking at the AS was the reputation and reported quality of the units but our experience so far has not been positive.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to comments,

Paul
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:07 AM   #2
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There are many threads on this topic. And many stories of the quality of A$ trailers. Many stories of how great they are and also stories of problem units.
You are about to lay out some big bucks.
From my point of view, you should thoroughly inspect any and every unit you are considering.
Look for items like you mentioned above. But also look at the ease if access of items like the converter, access to plumbing and electrical components. Paying close attention to the workmanship. If you find scraps of material left over from the construction process, glue where it shouldn't be, ill fitting doors, windows, batch covers and the like. Things of this nature will give you an idea of the quality control used to determine whether the unit has been thoroughly checked out. Don't settle for this kind of workmanship. Set your standards high. After all you are looking at what is suppose to be the top of the line in RV's.
If you make a purchase and spend the next two years battling with the manufacturer and dealer to resolve problems. It will not be a pleasant experience.
I own a 38 year old unit which I purchased about three years ago. At that time I fully expected to put much time and money into the trailer. My experience with this has led me to the point of not buying a new unit. I have the bugs worked out of this one and know where to find the guy that did or will do the work.
I don't want to deal with scheduling repair or warranty work at some dealership. I want to be able to hitch the rig up and go on my schedule.
If you don't have the skills or desire to work on an older unit. Then I would recommend putting the time in up front to do a thorough inspection of any unit you are considering. It may pay you to have a knowledgeable person do an inspection.
Good Luck.
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:13 AM   #3
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Paul,
The quality of new Airstreams may not quite match up to the reputation. That said, after 15,000 miles of fairly hard and very satisfying use (mountains, deserts, rough roads, grandkids onboard) we have had no major issues. A few cabinetry screws fell out, the tank monitoring system had a bad sensor, the fan/light switches in the vent hood fell out, the ZipDee awning hook cracked (bad design). Reading other threads herein, build quality seems to be more variable than one would expect, so buyer diligence and the choice of dealer is especially important. In my experience, Airstream itself is fairly insensitive to owner input. Good luck with your shopping.
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:43 AM   #4
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Most of the things you found should have been seen and corrected by the dealership before showing to the public. Obviously there is some lack of service at that dealership. The dealer can make or break a deal, your case is proof positive. A good dealer knows of the common problems with AS and corrects them before putting the trailer on the lot for sale. Sorry for your problems, but it looks like you know what to look for when buying. Good job, check your new one over carefully at least for the obvious. Was your dealer in central Fl or n fl ? Jim
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:49 AM   #5
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Recently I have been reading post on several SOB forums. It may surprise you to hear that they all seem to have the same quality control complaints as people post here. Airstream seems tobe no worse or better than anyother brand when it comes to QA. Modern business models favor profit over quality and that is never going to change in my opinion as long as holding companies own trailer manufacturing companies. That said if I could afford it I would buy a new Airstream in a heart beat.
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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We've bought two late-model Airstreams, the newest having excellent build quality and much better than that reported on units a few years back. There were many improvements in design/build from our 2007 to the new one.

The new trailer we bought from the dealer fresh from the factory. The other had been on the lot two years and had the abuse of tire kickers. For that reason I would consider nothing but a factory order to get exactly what you want, and no showroom use.

When the new trailer arrives, go through it with a notepad and a fine-toother comb, get any quality concerns fixed before paying for it.

There is a reality with rv's that you already know, they break, corrode, and leak over time. Set up a quarterly inspection/maintenance schedule for it and stick to it. You live near the coast, Airstreams corrode (cosmetic but can be ugly over time) at cut panel edges, rivets, and fittings and underbody frame steel. Get some CorrosionX or Boeshield and treat these areas as soon as you get it home and regularly thereafter. Many grumble about this but its part of the deal, and your Airstream can last a lifetime. It's still the best looking, easiest-to-tow, best built, most satisfying trailer you can get.

doug k
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:12 PM   #7
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I would base my decision to buy new on my proximity to the dealer, what kind of service aura they emit, and the number of defects I saw pre-delivery.

I would not buy a water-damaged unit unless there was some extension on the warranty... as if I was buying a used one and saw the damage, I'd walk...
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the input, it is helpful to hear the good and bad.

Jim, the dealer is just outside of Tampa and seems to have a good reputation although I am surprised that some of the obvious defects were not corrected before presenting the units on the lot.
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul541 View Post
Thanks for all the input, it is helpful to hear the good and bad.

Jim, the dealer is just outside of Tampa and seems to have a good reputation although I am surprised that some of the obvious defects were not corrected before presenting the units on the lot.
When I bought our trailer new 3 years ago, I asked why things were not fixed prior to me inspecting the trailer. The dealer's service manager told me that Airstream had told them not to repair anything until the customer asked them to. He said if they didn't have a work order with the customer's signature, they would not be paid for the work.

I let you guess what the reason for that might be.

The service manager had only been working there for two weeks when he said that. I'm guessing that he would say it differently now.

Ken
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:41 PM   #10
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JD Sanders rv Alachua Fl. Only AS dealer I trust in the state. Jim
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Old 08-13-2012, 03:49 PM   #11
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Paul541,

I am in the same (kind-of) boat as you, in fact I have two posts in this forum so far, the first one Quality of new... sigh... echoes basically your general concerns.

My second post All I have to say is wow... was after I went down to my closest Airstream dealer and spent hours looking over their 20+ units of all types.

I did not do a low level rivit check, but I did do some serious looking for QA/Design issues, and I did find some minor stuff but nothing like what you are saying, they all seemed solid. Way better then the SOB's I have looked at over the years.

For me I am now on the path to become an AS owner, and have settled on trying to find a newly used AS, but if I get a few months down this path with no luck, I am going to order new b/c I have an 8 year old daughter and we are going to be RV'ing next summer in an AS god willing. My time with my little girl (vs teenager, grownup) is shrinking fast, I will never get it back, this is what is driving my process, for what it is worth. :-)

Unlike you I have never owned an RV, so take my comments in the proper context which is a noob, e.g. my comments all need to have the noob bit &'d into their context, if that makes sense.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:34 PM   #12
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We did visit JD Sanders and were quite impressed. Small dealership but nice atmosphere and I could see us doing business with them.

Unfortunately, we require a twin bed configuration and Sanders only has a queen in stock. The Tampa dealer has the twin bed and we would have purchased it on the spot but it was in such poor shape I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.


Paul
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:59 PM   #13
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We got our Airstream in 2009 from J. D. Sanders RV in Alachua. Great people! We asked Ben -- nicest man you'll ever meet -- to be on the lookout for a good late model Classic 30' for us. A few weeks later, he called and said he had one if we were still interested. Needless to say, we went with check in hand "just to look at it". It was love at first sight! The few problems we've had were mostly caused by the learning curve that we needed. The Sanders team provides wonderful service and they are just a phone call away. We highly recommend them.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w7ts View Post
When I bought our trailer new 3 years ago, I asked why things were not fixed prior to me inspecting the trailer. The dealer's service manager told me that Airstream had told them not to repair anything until the customer asked them to. He said if they didn't have a work order with the customer's signature, they would not be paid for the work.
...
Ken
Dang! That bit of information speaks volumes about Airstream's current corporate mentality.
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