Buying a new RV Camper? You should NOT need a “punch list”

I’ve come to a conclusion. Most RV’ers who purchase a new RV camper are WAYYYY too forgiving when purchasing a brand new RV camper. In my opinion, most RV’ers I meet in RV parks feel its NORMAL for a brand new camper to have multiple issues that need to be fixed. They often present their RV dealer with a “punch list” of 20, 30, or even 50+ items after that first camping trip! Some of these repairs require MONTHS to fix!

I believe this is the case because we as Americans are (in general)

  • very trusting of our “fellow man” (or woman!)
  • overall have a positive view of humanity
  • believe that business “professionals” have our best interests in mind

Speaking for myself, I grew up just outside of New York City, so I don’t have these three “challenges” listed above. Perhaps it’s what makes me effective as a Concierge for my clients who are planning to purchase an RV Camper!

My main arguments:

  • Long Punch Lists are NOT normal and should NOT be accepted as the “norm” for new RV buyers
  • There ARE manufacturers who DO build a FAR more reliable camper and stand above others (and YES, they’re affordable)
  • Overall design and engineering, choice of materials, construction techniques, and quality control combine to determine the reliability of the RV Camper each manufacturer produces. Ultimately it’s quality control that determines how much aggravation you’ll have after purchasing a new RV camper.


Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman who took his life savings and dropped it on a brand new Alliance toy hauler. His plan was (is) to live in it. Let’s call him Sam. Several months later, Sam is COMPLETELY disillusioned with the camper, his dealer, and the manufacturer. Frankly, his RV dream has become his RV nightmare.

He called me to share his story and for thoughts and assistance on his current situation. Sam shared that follows my posts here on RV Across America. Sam further explained that due to events occurring in his life, he needed a camper to live in and needed to take action rather quickly. At that time, Sam made the purchase without any assistance and as they say “the rest is history.” Read on for Sam’s story…

Allow me to break down Sam’s story into two sections – self-inflicted issues and RV camper issues.

Self-inflicted issues when purchasing a camper – and Tips for how to AVOID them…

Sam felt pressured to purchase a camper and was in a rush. Try to avoid this if at all possible! Sam did some research and yes, there are folks who believe Alliance to be a superior manufacturer (I don’t.) I’ve seen far too many issues with Alliance to have confidence in their campers.

Sam purchased a ’23 “leftover” Alliance 5th wheel toy hauler late in 2023. Realize this camper was likely delivered to the dealer as early as June 2022, so by late ’23, it had been sitting on the dealers lot for over a year. That’s a lot of time for “mischief” to occur. Specifically, campers get moved around while on a dealers lot, often by forklifts, often with the slides out. This is NOT optimal, but it is what it is. A camper that’s been on the dealers lot for many months or longer deserves a VERY detailed inspection (by you) during the walk-through. I prepared a report HERE on what to look for.

The first morning after…Jun 17…snow on nearby hills – perhaps 500ft. over Anaconda’s elevation – summer starts in 3 days?!

Buying a New RV Camper Tip: Your “walk-through” is VERY important

As I note in my “last chance” post, be sure to set an appointment for EARLY in the day on your closing day and INSIST that all repairs discovered during the walk-through be done TO YOUR SATISFACTION BEFORE entering the dealers “back office” and closing on (paying for) the camper. Sam’s appointment on his closing day was at 4pm, shortly before closing time!

During his walk-through, Sam did find some issues with the camper he was purchasing. He was told it was too late that day to fix them. The dealer promised they would fix them in the “near future.” Sam was trusting, he closed on the camper (paid for it and signed the paperwork) that day – without the necessary repairs being executed.

Since he closed on his camper, Sam was at the mercy of the service department to address the issues he found during his walk-through. Unfortunately, he has encountered many additional issues since.

Thinking of buying (or selling) an RV camper (of any type?) Would it be worth a modest fee to have a “guide by your side, who also has your back?” Honestly, that’s precisely what I do (from soup to nuts.) Want to learn more? Check out my Concierge RV Buying (and Selling) Service, and Thanks!

Camper issues likely attributable to the manufacture of Sam’s camper

During our conversation, Sam relayed to me some of the 75 issues he is facing with his camper. He did this after reaching the “end of the line” with his RV dealer. They wanted nothing to do with his camper or his issues. He bought the camper in Maryland but he called me from Indiana. As we spoke, Sam was just down the road from Alliance’s headquarters. His plan was to try to meet with the CEO of Alliance the following day. They did not know he was coming. I have not heard back from him to learn how that meeting went.

Three Major Issues with Sam’s Alliance…

What he did share with me are three issues that I consider to be very serious.

Water leaks (multiple) that have soaked his floor, walls and ceiling. That alone can (and according to Sam has produced) toxic mold which can wreak havoc with your health! I pointed this out to him, and he shared he now has a respiratory issue that, according to Sam, could cost him his life! Some of these leaks were present from DAY One.

Sam noted that water coming out of the faucet that is cloudy and has an objectionable odor. This condition persisted even after disinfecting his fresh water tank with chlorine! I mentioned that I’ve used chlorine dioxide tablets produced by Safrax to clean my tank. Chlorine dioxide is an industrial strength disinfectant. Safrax makes tablets that are designated for use in RV campers.

Sam did purchase a water filter to filter the water he drinks inside the camper, but beware – many filters sold for RV water filtration are substandard. I wrote an article on water filtration – you may find value in my thoughts HERE.

The third serious issue Sam shared is the fact that he can see daylight from several locations within his camper – and I’m NOT referring to the windows! That tells me at a minimum he may have slide seal issues and potentially he is experiencing frame failure which could cause the walls to separate thus opening the campers interior to the outside world! I’m concerned about frame failure in his case as he has a 44ft. 5th wheel toy hauler. I recently wrote a report about frame failure HERE and Sam’s camper “fits the profile.”

Summary of Sam’s RV camper issues…

We did not get into the 70+ additional issues that he’s identified. For me, the three big ones he shared were enough!

I must note that while the dealer may bear some responsibility in this situation, especially considering the length of time this camper sat on the dealers lot, the lionshare of responsibility (I believe) lies with the manufacturer. Bottom line: It should not be this way and Sam should not have to endure the stress (and health impacts) he’s experiencing.

Buying a New RV Camper Tip: Quality Control – the biggest “thing” missing in the RV industry (IMHO*)

What separates the good guys (better manufacturers) from the rest in the RV manufacturing industry? In my view, it is QUALITY CONTROL.

When I worked for a dealer (about a decade ago), we sold Jayco campers. This was BEFORE Jayco sold out to Thor. The original Jayco company offered a wide variety of campers. Some of their least expensive trailers were VERY affordable. We sold “Jay Flight” trailers for as little as $11,500. Even though these trailers were “cheap”, they were WELL BUILT. In other words, they did come with a long list of issues that needed to be fixed and did NOT fall apart shortly after the buyer purchased one. Incidentally, these trailers are LONG GONE as the LAST run of real Jayco trailers carried 2017 titles.

The biggest difference between THEN and NOW? Quality of construction AND QUALITY CONTROL. I firmly believe those trailers did not get out of the factory without a “QC” person going through them.

There are not many RV manufacturers today who routinely inspect their campers at the factory. When working with one of my Concierge RV Clients, regardless of whether the purchase will be for a new or used camper, we focus upon those that have a reputation for a quality build.

*IMHO = in my humble opinion

Unbelievably GREEN! Cool temperatures and plenty of rain (and snow) are making SW Montana look like North Carolina!

Closing Thoughts on Buying a New RV Camper Tips:

  • Do your due diligence BEFORE plunking down your hard earned money
  • Do a thorough walk-through
  • Know that you’re in the “drivers seat” until you pay for it – and the moment it leaves the dealer, in 99.9% of all cases, there’s no “buyers remorse” clause – and lemon laws make it nearly impossible to get satisfaction
  • Want a “guide by your side” and more. Learn about my Concierge RV Service and Contact me!

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5 thoughts on “Buying a new RV Camper? You should NOT need a “punch list””

  1. Alan, you nailed it on the importance of a walk-through and thorough top to bottom inspection. Buying a new RV these days with the quality issues being reported (built after the COVID issue began) seems a super high risk. I would much prefer a well-built pre-2019 RV that has been meticulously cared for, serviced, and maintained by a private owner (who also kept excellent records of service, problems, etc…).

    • JJ,

      Good points, however, it starts at a more basic level – avoiding the abundance of crap campers built by most rv manufacturers! The ‘good guys’ still make great campers (after covid.) It comes down to design and engineering and a philosophy of building something that is built to last. My camper is a classic example. Al

    • JJ,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Just to clarify, 2020 was the last pre-scamdemic year. Since the nonsense broke out in March 2020, that coincides with the manufacturers building their 2021 models (which typically deliver in june/july/august.) Regardless, yes, you need to go in with eyes-wide-open. Further, the manufacturer matters. SOME manufacturers have ALWAYS maintained high standards and while not perfect, are FAR better than the majority of the crap built in the past decade or so. Al

  2. Good afternoon, Alan. I’ve followed you for many years. I intend to buy a Tiffin Allegro Bus 45FP. In 2025 they finally mastered flush floor sildeouts, went to fully hydraulic slides and enlarged the coach windows. I want one very badly. We will buy our coach in 2026. This means the 2025 models will be 2 years old and we should be able to find a proper deal. I’ve considered using your concierge service. I still am. All the best.

    • Scott,

      I will be glad to help you obtain your dream RV when you’re ready. I will caution you about Tiffin however. Bob Tiffin sold his company to Thor in late 2020. All campers built since then have thor’s “touch” – hence I would encourage you to consider another manufacturer. When the time comes, contact me and we’ll discuss how the RV market looks at that time.

      Alan Sills


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