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Old 09-18-2016, 06:50 PM   #1
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Wilsonville , Oregon
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Newbie worried about the quality/problems

Ahoy Mateys! Taking the plunge & ready to pull trigger on new AS. (Considering Sport22FB, FC20 or 19, Intl or Serentity19 [not fond of toilet placement in last 3]).
Then I start going down rabbit hole researching. What gives with all the problems, repairs, glitches, bad wiring, plumbing horrors, etc? Are the peeps building these money pits high on something? I just don't understand. I got so freaked out today that I started looking at Jaycos, River Forests and Casitas.
I reading about brand new trailers straight off the lot with water leaks and cab latches falling off. Is our dream of seeing the country in a trailer dead? The Husband is handy but doesn't enjoy it. I don't know which end of a hammer is up but I will learn. Riddle me this, friends:
1) Are all new trailers like this? Or is it an Airstream glitch.
2) Why do some folks sail into sunset from dealer with no major repairs for a year while others have trailer in shop 3 days later?
3) What can we do as new owners to minimize this hassle? We have never owned RV before so don't know all the tech questions to ask salesperson. (i.e. "Hey, can you have a guy open all the walls and make SURE the plumbing is correct?")
4)The water leakage thing has me really worried. Should we go over all seams and rivets with sealant?
5) Do all AS leak & have water damage?
Sorry this is so wordy. Talk me off the ledge folks. We really, really want an AS but if other cheaper (uglier!) brands are more reliable I will need to move on. Thanks.

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Old 09-18-2016, 07:02 PM   #2
2 Rivet Member
Vernon , Arizona
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 51
I am in the same situation as you in researching for buying my Airstream. There were points where I was reading the forum that I wanted to throw the towel in for my Airstream dream. BUT, I realized that people like to "*itch". I decided that some people have problems, but we never hear about the ones who pull away and never have a single issue.

I own a Porsche Macan - the most reliable Crossover SUV in 2016. I ended up with a lemon. 9 visits to the dealership in a year, the car must have spent 2 months during that time as they searched for the problem. I still love and adore my car and Porsche North America stood behind their vehicle and worked closely with the dealership to solve the problems and make sure that I was a happy Porsche Owner. At the end of the day I would buy another Porsche. I use this same belief system when it comes to the Airstream. Both icons of quality, beauty, dreams and drive ability but every now and then a bad vehicle comes out of the manufacturing plant.

I am even more committed to finding the right Airstream for me.

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Old 09-18-2016, 07:19 PM   #3
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Gold Country , California
Join Date: May 2015
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Hello and welcome to the forum!

Great points by Ms Tara and along the same I was going to make. People who are upset are always the loudest. Those who have had no issues have less reason to stand on the internet soapbox.

The great news is that if you're buying new, neither of you need to be handy. Your trailer will have a 2 year warranty that will cover any issues you may have early on. Once these initial issues get sorted, you will probably have only the occasional issue. It's really not a complicated machine, much simpler than any car on the road. There's less to go wrong. Issues will come up, but for the most part, they are small things that probably won't effect you too much. We had a small punch list after a year. These were things I could have and maybe should have done myself. Ask on the forums about your dealer's service reputation.

Please do check out some other trailers. If you are happy with another, it will save you some money. We couldn't find anything else we would want to spend time in and have jumped in. They all have issues, dont let that keep you from getting out and enjoying this great country!
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:23 PM   #4
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Tampa , Florida
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Don't let the forum dissuade you. It's like walking into a hospital and asking "anyone sick here?" By the replies you'd think there's an epidemic. It's just the nature of where you are. This is a great resource to learn, but know that folks that have issues tend to be more vocal about them, and folks that have no issues are probably out camping and enjoying their Airstream and are not in this forum.

Good luck on your purchase!
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:49 PM   #5
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Southwestern , Ohio
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Welcome to the forums!

Originally Posted by FoilinArnd View Post
1) Are all new trailers like this? Or is it an Airstream glitch.
Most trailers are much worse. I knew one guy who took their white box trailer on the road for its first trip and when they got to their first stop one of the overhead bins had fallen down.

I met a guy at a campground who wondered how come the floor hadn't rotted out in our first Airstream--a 1960 Pacer which was about 45 years old at the time. He had just put his foot through the rotten floor of his 5 year old white box.

2) Why do some folks sail into sunset from dealer with no major repairs for a year while others have trailer in shop 3 days later?
Some people have troubles and some don't. And some people like to complain about minor troubles that others would just ignore. (And the complainers are all on Airforums! )

3) What can we do as new owners to minimize this hassle?
You might consider buying a used trailer. That way you avoid any teething problems a brand new trailer might have had and not feel quite the need for perfection that you would feel paying the astronomical price for a new Airstream.

5) Do all AS leak & have water damage?

Our 1960 Pacer didn't leak at least until the time we sold it, at which time it was close to 50 years old.

Our 1980 Caravelle leaks a little forward when towing it through torrential rainstorms, but not enough to concern us. Haven't found any floor rot yet.

As in all things, Your Mileage May Vary.

Wishing you good luck.
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:49 PM   #6
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Holly Springs , Mississippi
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 200
No problems here...

I'm but a single data point, but here's our story. We bought a new FC25FB-T in March, 2016. We've had virtually no problems. I say virtually because I did replace the lug nuts--not a deal. But electricals, plumbing, mechanicals--all no issues. I haven't updated the converter to a three phase because I don't think it necessary, and neither does Airstream (I keep my unit plugged in 24/7 and just checked the battery--I added a total of about 1.5 oz of distilled water between the 12 cells and this after six months). I did spray all panel cut lines and rivet heads with ACF 50--again not a deal; it took less than an hour.

I do plan to replace the OEM GY Marathon tires, but haven't yet--debating between 15" Michelins, Nokiian , Maxxis or ??.

So yes, if I'd had lots of problems I'd be vocal also. I think most or all RV manufacturers have quality issues. The absence of lemon laws and recent strong demand isn't helpful.

The big pluses of Airstream for us over all other manufacturers include the Airstream cachet, beautifully designed appointments, the strong owner network, great natural ventilation with the wide-opening windows, and the airy feel from lots of glass. Most other RV TT's seemed claustrophobic to us.

But look around and satisfy yourself. It's your money and you need to be happy.
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Old 09-18-2016, 08:03 PM   #7
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2015 28' International
Ofallon , Missouri
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 226
Don't worry, go for it!

As others have said, up you're only reading posts by folks who are complaining about or solving problems. The positives aren't getting posted or getting the attention of the negatives.

I bought. Used 2006, kept it for 2 years, and loved it so much we upgraded to a new 2015 28' International. Minor problems only with both and am very happy. We did get what I consider a great buy on an extended warranty for the new one. It was much cheaper and lasts longer than a car extended warranty (which I've never been a fan of). This will give some peace of mind for big items.

Consider checking out the Airstream classifieds and maybe find yourself a good quality used one for major savings over new. It will still have minor glitches and you will always be making minor repairs and upgrades. Such is life when owning anything including AS.
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Old 09-18-2016, 08:06 PM   #8
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2017 30' Classic
Annandale , Virginia
Join Date: May 2016
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Originally Posted by FCStreamer View Post
Don't let the forum dissuade you. It's like walking into a hospital and asking "anyone sick here?" By the replies you'd think there's an epidemic. It's just the nature of where you are. This is a great resource to learn, but know that folks that have issues tend to be more vocal about them, and folks that have no issues are probably out camping and enjoying their Airstream and are not in this forum.

Good luck on your purchase!
A couple of days ago, a forum member posted an entry that said something to the effect that nothing went wrong ... Xxx miles, great trip and awesome Airstream experience. I thought it was an odd post ... Then realized, holy crap ... I'd been so conditioned to read negative posts because that's the majority of what folks post... Despite the issues, I trust that my dealer will correct any issues. And despite my comfort with being rather handy and having a fully equipped woodwork shop, we opted to purchase the 7 year (2+5) extended warranty ... After all, one problem with the Alde and it will have paid for itself...

Good luck with your decision and welcome to the forum.

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Old 09-18-2016, 08:09 PM   #9
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2016 26' Flying Cloud
Spooner , Wisconsin
Join Date: Mar 2016
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We bought new this year, a 26U, have a couple thousand miles on it and will put another couple on in the next two weeks. Our decision tree was basically this.
We were not sure we'd really like doing this but wanted to try it for a couple years. It looked as though two years buying and selling the AS would cost about $10k for an investment of about $75k. If we put $20k into a "white box" as others are calling other brands, It would be worth less than $10k in that amount of time.
Also, all the others have all these pull-outs and such. There are a lot of moving parts and my limited inspection of them suggested problems were likely. I liked the close, but uncluttered interior of the AS, and not the faux living-rooms of the other brands. The AS lent itself to what we wanted to do. Stop, have a meal or a nap, then move on without having to look like we are camped -- must parked.

So far the issues have been very minor -- a bad latch on a cupboard -- and learning how to opperate the systems. So far, so good. We are enjoying it and don't think we'll have to unload it.
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Old 09-18-2016, 08:12 PM   #10
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
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I had the pleasure to tour the Jackson Center factory about four years ago. I came away knowing they are building a better trailer now than they did in 86 for sure. (The year of my Airstream.) I worked in factories my entire career, and our biggest quality problem was HUMANS! Gee, I've been driving a car for over 50 years, and I still leave the lights on now and then, run the battery down. Modern cars have "error proofing" to help reduce this mistake, like buzzers and automatic shutoffs. I wonder how many Airstreamers have left the steps down when they pulled away from a campsite?

But handcrafting a travel trailer has just tons of chances for error. Did we find all leaks during the water test? Did we crimp every plumbing line tight? Did the people building the air conditioner test it right? Did the engineers get the ceiling vent holding clips designed right? I think the most quality proven product might be an airliner, they just can't fail. Don't ask me about hospital errors. But a travel trailer is in a lower league based on cost and user risk.

The bottom line is the good folks at Jackson Center make mistakes. I'm sure they have systems in place to reduce these. But it does happen, and I'm sure they study the warranty claim reports and take corrective actions. Let's build them a little bit better today than we did yesterday.

I went to an RV show last winter. We walked through many trailers. We came to the Airstream display and were blown away by the design and craftsmanship of these trailers. No cheap cabinets, no wobbly dinette tables, and doors that latched solidly. Airstream's are very expensive because of their aluminum bodies, and Airstream builds upmarket trailers with beautiful interior designs adding more cost. They are special. They tow more efficiently. They last a very long time. And they are a tough sell compared to a huge fifth wheel for the same money.

No matter what camper you might choose, expect to have some "defects" to sort out. But if you choose Airstream, I bet you will just enjoy the heck out of it. We enjoy our 1986 Limited and our 1966 Trade Wind. There aren't just a whole lot of 30 or 50 year old travel trailers in the campgrounds I visit.

Here is my 50 year old Airstream Trade Wind 24 footer. It is ready to travel.

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Old 09-18-2016, 08:21 PM   #11
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All the manufacturers have issues, it's industry wide. Some are worse than others. AS is still among the best out there.A thorough walk through with your dealer before taking possession can help a lot. If they can give the trailer full hookups during the walk through can help. Personally think any dealer that doesn't put a trailer on a pad that they can walk through new owner with hooking up and using systems. Trying filling FW tank, dumping tanks. Good walk through of electric. Is doing a disservice to the new owners, especially when spending this much money. If they know when you'll be taking delivery, powering trailer for 24 hrs to check fridge during walk through should be expected.
The interior design is well above the others. Everyone will have some gripes about things in that realm.

It really helps if you live near a dealer for warranty work. There are definitely fewer options than sob's repair locations.
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Old 09-18-2016, 08:57 PM   #12
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2015 25' FB Flying Cloud
Eugene , Oregon
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 177
Great questions and great answers from folks.

I too read lots on this wonderful forum before purchasing a new Airstream that we have used for one and a half years. My best advice if buying new is to go with a recommended dealer and have your expectations in line with the reality of the industry. Expect minor issues, maybe even a more major issue, keep your cool and let the warranty cover the repairs. After the "shake down" period of a few trips (keep the first one short and close to home) you will have discovered most that needs fixing. Along the way you will have a lot of fun if this lifestyle fits you. One other expectation: Know there will be maintenance, like any material object that is outside.

If you're not sure of the whole RV thing, buy used and try it for a while so you don't take such a big financial hit if you decide you don't like the lifestyle and want to sell the trailer.

Have fun!
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Old 09-18-2016, 09:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AIRHEDS View Post
A couple of days ago, a forum member posted an entry that said something to the effect that nothing went wrong ... Xxx miles, great trip and awesome Airstream experience. I thought it was an odd post ... Then realized, holy crap ... I'd been so conditioned to read negative posts because that's the majority of what folks post... (Snip)



Yup. There are quite a few happy folks out there. I'm one of them. Ours was bought used, and the only issues we are aware of was a blown tire causing damage a few years ago, and the recent personal stupidity that toasted a set of batteries in storage (my fault entirely). Lots of miles by both me and my son, with only few issues that a reasonably handy person can fix easily.

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Old 09-18-2016, 09:22 PM   #14
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2012 27' Flying Cloud
W , New England
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My experience:

I bought new in 2012 - big part of that decision is I'm on a LONG learning curve of becoming "handy" - the 2 year warranty was important to me.

No real problems to speak of. A very minor tick list, and some major redesigns/customizations that were personal choice I was willing to fund.

Quality is also in the eye of the beholder. Do I wish the outlet in my kitchen were perfectly square? Yes. Does it bother me to see it "slanted"? Yes. Is this a problem worth complaining about? For me - no - for others, it would be a quality defect, for others, a source of deep frustration at the horrific lack of craftsmanship. That's all in the eye of the beholder.

A rough "Fermi Calculation". In the 4 years since I bought my trailer, AS has manufactured (roughly 60/week on average - or a total of close to 12,500 units (production is getting closer to 80/week these days). In that same time, perhaps a few dozen folks have reported buying new and being upset at what they view as a lack of quality. Some of these cases strike me as close to lemons (though that law apparently doesn't apply to RVs) and some strike me as just being further down that continuum of expectations that may or may not be realistic.

The vast majority of AS buyers don't post in the forums (there aren't 12,500 new members of the forums over that period of time) so we really don't get a good view of the full population.

We also know and have experienced the phenomenon of anonymous posts which lack accountability. You can create any username and post whatever you want - factual or not - full disclosure or not - fair or not - one sided or not....there aren't good controls over that and the interwebs are far from scientific if you're scanning them for factual evidence and statistics from opinions of such a small sample of actual buyers in a format so skewed toward complaining. Some post dozens of posts complaining about the same incidents as often as they can. Some don't say squat. It just is what it is.

The quality of the product isn't perfect and there doesn't seem to be much evidence of a full blown, Deming-inspired TQM/Six Sigma/Lean Manufacturing culture there (which could only help). There DOES seem to be TONS of evidence that sales are through the roof (Sales just announced in Blue Beret that they just did in a quarter what they were doing in a year back when I purchased) so buyers aren't abandoning the company or their products - they're even adding the Nest acquisition and reintroducing the Basecamp - so times are good at Jackson Center.

This long winded tome is just meant to say - probably not much to sweat about. Quality is in the eye of the beholder, it is not consistent in AS products (and most others) with flaws ranging from minor annoyance to big bummer - the latter likely being fairly rare, the former being perhaps moderately common - whichever you may encounter, a calm dealing with dealer and factory staff can help you tremendously.

And at the end of the day - it's still a phenomenal product that produces endless hours of fun and campathy(TM) (I'm claiming ownership of this new word meaning therapy via camping &#128512.

Happy camping!

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