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Old 01-02-2020, 11:36 AM   #1
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Poor Quality in new Flying CLoud

Had I read this forum before spending over 90 K to purchase a new 28' FC, I would not have purchased a new unit, but rather an older unit. There seem to be a lot of quality issues with the newer airstreams. I have sent the following to the CEO. I am sure he is aware of the issues, but just to remove the "..but no one told me.." excuse I sent this anyway.
Airstream Inc
Robert Wheeler, President and CEO
419 West Pike Street
Jackson Center, OH 45334

Re: Issues with quality control
cc: Lawrence J Huttle, Paul Justin Humphreys, Mollie Hansen, Airstream of Tampa Bay
Dear Mr. wheeler:
We purchased a new Airstream in October, 2019 and over-all are satisfied with the trailer. That said, we have had to take it back to the dealer to repair defects in manufacturing. None of them were serious, other than one incident where the door latch failed locking both of us in the trailer. That required my wife to exit via the rear ďescapeĒ window to open the door from the outside. We belong to some of the Airstream groups on Facebook and between posts there and a comment from one of the service people at the dealer, these issues with quality seem to be occurring with greater frequency . The problems we have encountered and the recent recall of over 2000 trailers due to a hitch that did not meet specifications have caused me to call into question the effectiveness of your quality control department.
We had issues with:
1. A fire Alarm that alarmed when the battery was put in and stayed on. The first night camping we had to remove the battery to silence it. Repeated tests of the unit indicated it was defective.
2. The fire alarm was missing a screw, which caused the unit to rotate.
3. The dinette table has a slight delamination. The dealer notified you of this issue six weeks ago and repair has been authorized but no replacement has yet been received by the dealer.
4. The electrical outlet under the dinette only had one screw in it and was out from the wall.
5. The door latch for the entrance door was missing a screw, which ultimately caused it to fail.
6. A door latch for the wardrobe was missing a screw.
7. A window in the front of the unit opens easily but is very difficult to close.
8. We received notification if the hitch recall affecting our unit on December 27th, 2019, with the date of October 31st.
9. We have issues with Airstream connect. Not with the functionality but with the fact that AT&T will no longer be providing the one year unlimited data contract. When the contract is up, and it has another 11 months to run, I will be asking you to unlock my router so I can use other SIM cards. I will follow up on that issue as my contract gets closer to the expiration date.
The dealer has been very good at repairing these issues but it does not reflect very well on your quality control. In the case of the hitch, which was provided by a third party, how are you inspecting component parts which are used in your trailers?
I would suggest that you re-evaluate your quality control systems and consider systems used by the Japanese and Ford in their manufacture of vehicles. Your reputation for quality is already suffering and there really is no excuse for some of the issues we have noted. It simply indicates poor quality control. Please do not use the excuse, which I have heard put forward by the dealer, that each unit is constructed by hand and use a large number of components from other manufacturers. That is common in any vehicle assembly system and there should be processes in place to mitigate third party issues. The hitch issue, in particular, indicated lack of oversight. If you need help, The American Society for Quality is a great source of information. If your quality manager does not belong, they should consider joining it.
I would like to finish with a note of praise for your dealer in Tampa. They are fantastic at following up on repairing the defects due to your, to be blunt, shoddy quality control systems.
Regards

Nicholas Coblio PhD, CSSBB
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:52 AM   #2
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To truly have a quality product, the product quality needs to be built in as apposed to inspecting it, reworking it, and inspecting it again.

I think you will find world class companies follow this model.

In addition electrical caused fires are a big deal. In a metal skinned trailer small electrical distribution issues are very serious and can easily promote a fire or electrically caused fatalities. When an outlet is not properly enclosed a falling object could interfere with the the circuit. The question becomes how do you know that all the other electrical connections are safe?
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Old 01-04-2020, 11:01 AM   #3
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The demand for airstreams is greater than the factory can meet. As long as this is the case I believe that our whining about quality control issues will fall on deaf ears.

Mike
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:21 PM   #4
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The first time I remember reading about poor quality control at Airstream was circa 2004. You can most likely still search this forum for some of the posts.

In that time frame production was very low compared to recent years.

...just saying
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:42 PM   #5
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Airstream is currently moving the factory to the new building. Your letter is timely and to the point. Sometimes I think our forum group has more knowledge about quality issues than the management at Airstream. but sadly, that probably is not the case. It's just that Airstream just sometimes thinks it's good enough.

Our steps have failed after one year. I ask Airstream customer service if there was anything I could do. They replied, "Oh probably not. The bolt holding the steps on the left side has loosened up. You have to drop the pan to get at it. Best you just take it to a dealer." I think some of Airstream's problems are in their design. Cabinets coming off the wall, electronics failure, and shower doors, sub-woofers, and a mirid of other issues are happening more and more. I try to fix what I can and I encourage everyone to get involved and learn the product you bought. It is the best way to get things operating again.

Airstream still has a good product, but it could be better. I hope with the new factory that new procedures are added to improve design and quality control.

I'm gonna take another look at my steps. Maybe I can improve on what Airstream has provided. At least add some thread locker!!@
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:57 PM   #6
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Keep us updated, please. A great deal of money spent ... possible problems ... still the best "paint can shaker" on the road ...
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:00 PM   #7
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Keep us updated, please. A great deal of money spent ... possible problems ... still the best "paint can shaker" on the road ...
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Caffeinated View Post
The demand for airstreams is greater than the factory can meet. As long as this is the case I believe that our whining about quality control issues will fall on deaf ears.

Mike
I believe this to be accurate. They canít pump new units out fast enough. People will continue to pay top dollar for an Airstream regardless of these quality control issues, IMO.

Iím having some quality control issues as well. One that Iím sure is a design issue that has been known for a few years but yet to be corrected.

Overall, I love my new Airstream. Iím still very happy with the purchase and I do believe the trailer will last decades if I take care of it. But I guess thatís why so many Airstream OGís push the ďshakedownĒ or break-in period being of such importance. It sounds like Airstream, for the most part, is willing to work through the issues on new units with the owners while in warranty. Itís just unfortunate that one has to put in that much work and effort to repair defects item by item over time. Cars have their own set of issues when purchased new, itís just a lot easier to drive the vehicle into a dealer than it is to tow an Airstream a great distance to a dealer over and over until itís all worked out.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:00 PM   #9
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After a few years, you will have a PhD in Airstreams, too ...
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:38 AM   #10
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Try not to be too hard on yourself. I know we all work hard for our hard earned dollars for our airstreams but I do believe we still have a superior product. I've towed mine about 8k miles in about a year that I've owned it, am about to take a 3600 mile roundtrip adventure and have had very minor few issues that my dealer promptly repaired. Can't say enough about them. Just use the heck out of it during your warranty period to have all the kinks smoothed out and I'm sure you'll be very pleased with it in the long run. Not making excuses for airstream but unfortunately the rv industry as a whole has quality control issues. I can say airstream has been much more ready to please me as a customer than my previous SOB travel trailers I have previously owned. Good luck!
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Old 01-14-2020, 06:50 AM   #11
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It gets better...

Nicholas, as a fellow Airstream owner we're all saddened to hear when someone has a poor first experience with their new trailer.

In your list there are assembly and component failures. Consumers in today's market find neither acceptable. Without making excuses for Airstream, they're as susceptible to bad components as anyone. We could get a bad smoke detector from any retailer. Those are easy to replace/correct.

The assembly mistakes are not acceptable. As Turk mentioned, we are *hopeful* Airstream will improve the assembly process once in the new plant. They have a golden opportunity to involve employees and take corrective action through process change.

All that said, the reason we purchased an Airstream is because it's unlike any other trailer out there. That means we love them warts and all. Plus, the Airstream community is truly unique. I hope you get your punch list of failures corrected and get the chance to enjoy the trailer as we have.

Good luck!
Jeff & Caryle
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by turk123 View Post
I try to fix what I can and I encourage everyone to get involved and learn the product you bought. It is the best way to get things operating again.
Dad and mom raised a family of five and we traveled in three successive Airstreams (1966; 1972; 1985). The '72 was the longest-owned and logged thousands of miles and wore out three tow vehicles.

We did ALL of our own repairs with common hand and power tools in the driveway. We never took any of the trailers to a dealer for ANYTHING.

Anyone who owns one of these beautiful machines and does not know how to figure out how things work, and how to repair basic systems, should reconsider ownership (I was surprised, disappointed, and somewhat humored to camp beside another Airstream owner last Summer at an Airstream-only campground who did not know how to operate a pop rivet gun).

Hotels do not require any consumer maintenance.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:14 AM   #13
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I am continually amazed at the rose-colored glasses by owners. I do not consider the following basic system problems repairable by owner:
1. Roof caulk needed to be replaced at year two, not warrantied as "wear".
2. FW tank needed to be replaced at year 5 because of poor method of installing fittings by AS
3. AC wiring to water heater fried because of poor installation job. On my model the water heater is not accessible from inside(although it could have been built with a removable panel), requiring removal from the outside to access wiring.
4. Bed frame failed because staples were used instead of screws.

There is a much longer list of items I have repaired because I can do repairs, but do I love this piece of aluminum? NO. What I love are the Airstream friends we have made. If I did not have to give up Airstream rallies, I would gladly try an Oliver instead.
Larry
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:25 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by PA BAMBI II View Post
Dad and mom raised a family of five and we traveled in three successive Airstreams (1966; 1972; 1985). The '72 was the longest-owned and logged thousands of miles and wore out three tow vehicles.

We did ALL of our own repairs with common hand and power tools in the driveway. We never took any of the trailers to a dealer for ANYTHING.

Anyone who owns one of these beautiful machines and does not know how to figure out how things work, and how to repair basic systems, should reconsider ownership (I was surprised, disappointed, and somewhat humored to camp beside another Airstream owner last Summer at an Airstream-only campground who did not know how to operate a pop rivet gun).

Hotels do not require any consumer maintenance.
I'm with you here. I'm not planning on returning to the dealer unless there are problems with the appliances or infrastructure:
- Stove/AC/Water heater/Furnace
- Sewer pipes, water pipes
- Roof/walls

For little things like door latches and hinges I'll take care of them myself. Mine was a 2019 and it sat on the dealer lot for a year before I picked it up. There were a couple minor issues since it was "old stock", I expected this and also paid a much lower price for the trailer!

The OP bought a 2020 trailer, it should have been in decent condition from the start. I'll spread the blame around:
- AS for not doing proper check before leaving the factory
- Dealer for not spotting missing screws before delivery (supposedly a tech spends 8 hours prepping the unit... I highly doubt this based personal experience)
- Buyer for not spotting these during the delivery walk through

We considered our first camping trip a "shake-down" as suggested here. I expected to return to the dealer and have them fix a couple things but fortunately nothing showed up.

I have previously owned an SOB and it set my expectations for an RV. That thing was FAR worse than an Airstream and yet I was quite happy with it. Everything worked and the roof didn't leak, it's what I needed.

This is not a car or an airplane. A loose screw? I'll tighten it. Missing screw? I'll replace it. Broken light bulb? I can fix that. I'm not going to spend my life shuttling the trailer back and forth to the dealer.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:23 AM   #15
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These trailers travel over roads, some smooth, some very rough. Things work loose, screws loosen or fall out and sometimes dissapear. It is not a house on a foundation!! I don't inspect every screw or hinge or whatever in my house on a regular basis. I do check things on my unit and replace or repair as necessary. Things can fail, sometimes things get missed, and sometimes parts are missing. If you never use your trailer, nothing will shake loose, nothing will break, and nothing will need repair or attention!! Nothing is perfect, even Rolex watches fail and Rolls Royce cars need repairs. JMHO
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:18 AM   #16
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I'm not going to spend my life shuttling the trailer back and forth to the dealer.
This is pretty much my mindset. Iím definitely feeling overwhelmed by how many Ďissuesí Iím having with a brand new, factory order, 2020 Airstream. Being my first ever trailer or RV, and knowing the reputation that Airstream has in the community, Iím disappointed in how much I need to fix only weeks after taking ownership. But I do put a lot of blame on myself for not doing a better job checking things out before leaving the dealer. Some of my issues were staring me in the face at delivery walkthrough but I was too star struck by my new Airstream to have any feelings other than ďOMG THIS IS MINE?!Ē Lol

Iím personally not interested in going back and forth to the dealer. Lifeís too short to stress the imperfections on my Airstream. Even if I did spend my life savings on it. I plan on making one trip to the dealer, dropping it off with a punch list, and not taking it back home until Iím satisfied. Some on the forums insist on a trip to Jackson Center. But thatís 1000 miles from home. If I can take enough time off of work and come up with enough money to make a fun road trip out of it, I would love to.

^^ with that said... does anyone know if I need to make the dealer/factory warranty work trip a priority or can I wait about two years into the three year warranty. I canít help but feel like if Iím going to go in for warranty work I need to do it ASAP but I really donít feel like itís an urgent need and would like to wait a year or so before dealing with warranty work.
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Old 01-15-2020, 11:17 AM   #17
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Poor Quality in new Flying CLoud

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasper Ash View Post

...snip...



^^ with that said... does anyone know if I need to make the dealer/factory warranty work trip a priority or can I wait about two years into the three year warranty. I canít help but feel like if Iím going to go in for warranty work I need to do it ASAP but I really donít feel like itís an urgent need and would like to wait a year or so before dealing with warranty work.

Youíll get lots of opinions on this. Too many x-factors for there to be a single answer.

My $0.02 - unless you have a major leak, defect, or safety issue, just keep compiling the list, keep it updated by email with the factory, and then bring it to the factory about 6 months before the end of warranty period for a once-over.

I know itís a pain. In an ideal world you wouldnít have to deal with it. Sadly - like the rest of life, Airstreams arenít always ideal.

Iíve made a few trips to the factory for both warranty and custom work. I still work, so scheduling vacation for that is a bit of a sacrifice for me living about 700 miles from the factory. But we make the most out of it knowing in the long run weíll benefit from that inconvenience far greater than the inconvenience itself.

One guyís view. Ask 10 people youíll get 20 opinions. Do what works best for you. Good luck!
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:49 PM   #18
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Just as a point of reference:


https://www.bbb.org/us/oh/jackson-ce...301/complaints
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jasper Ash View Post
I believe this to be accurate. They canít pump new units out fast enough. People will continue to pay top dollar for an Airstream regardless of these quality control issues, IMO.

Iím having some quality control issues as well. One that Iím sure is a design issue that has been known for a few years but yet to be corrected.

Overall, I love my new Airstream. Iím still very happy with the purchase and I do believe the trailer will last decades if I take care of it. But I guess thatís why so many Airstream OGís push the ďshakedownĒ or break-in period being of such importance. It sounds like Airstream, for the most part, is willing to work through the issues on new units with the owners while in warranty. Itís just unfortunate that one has to put in that much work and effort to repair defects item by item over time. Cars have their own set of issues when purchased new, itís just a lot easier to drive the vehicle into a dealer than it is to tow an Airstream a great distance to a dealer over and over until itís all worked out.
I know that Airstreams from the ole days last 40 years or longer but I am concerned about the modern times Airstream... will they last that long? There is no proof of longlivity of modern Airstreams.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:09 AM   #20
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I know that Airstreams from the ole days last 40 years or longer but I am concerned about the modern times Airstream... will they last that long? There is no proof of longlivity of modern Airstreams.

Then again we don't see evidence to suggest that they _won't_ last 40 years.



Most of the 'quality concerns' I've seen during my short time on this board:
- Sawdust and metal shavings behind walls or under appliances
- Loose or missing screws


These seem to indicate shoddy workmanship or poor dealer prep rather than bad design, incorrect construction or subpar materials. Things like leaking seams or cracking frames could affect long term life, but that's not what this thread is about.
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