Is the build quality of new caravans and motorhomes improving?

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  1. Steve Chamberlain says:

    I bought a brand new motorhome almost a year ago.
    So far I have been back to the dealers (which is a 2 hour journey) multiple times for multiple problems and each time I worry about being told that the problem will not be fixed and is not covered.

    So far I have had a rattling glass on the top of my hob where it looked like the enamel and the ruber gromit that should have stopped the rattle and was ok on the other side had been damaged. After three trips of turning up to have this fixed only to be told they had not only received a damaged replacement but on one appointment the wrong damaged replacement. Finally when they did replace the hob I found that the glass was still rattling, now the enamel was not damaged but the rubber grommit was a lot thinner on the right hand side (apparently a fir hazard if bigger) and therefore did not support the glass. The manager of the technician explained to me that they all rattle and most people just put a t-towel under the glass.

    Each time we went to have the hob replaced we had also aquired a list of other things.

    Trip 1.
    Kitchen sink leaking, we were told the hose was too short, had come lose and they had now extended it.
    Detachable rugs had tron away from press studs.
    Damaged and wrong hob (not fixed)
    Bathroom door silver strip insert starting to peel away from the top.
    Complained about scratched brown sink that we had hardly used and was told that the dealer knew from experience that eldis would not replace this and we would have to live with it.

    Trip 2
    The habitation external door would not close without removeing the housing and guiding it into place (fixed with padding).
    Fresh water level indicator had stopped working (Re-calibrated).
    Damaged replacement hob (not replaced)

    Trip 3
    Hob replaced with rattling glass

    We now have it booked in because after 5000 miles we have a dashboard warning that the oild needs changing and also now the AdBlue needs filling.
    We also seem to have a dripping shower (which we have never used).
    Finally the trim/edging has peeled off of the bathroom work surface on the bend.

    For something that has been only a dream of mine for many years and has now become a reality. Something that costs a hell of a lot of money and at least for me is borderline affordable. For something that I would like to think is going to last me longer than the 10 year finance package I have had to take out for it and still be worth something after it has been payed I would expect the quality and the service I have been receiving to be much much better.

    I love my motorhome and the lifestyle it has given myself and my wife, but I hate to think what the build quality was like if it has now improved.

  2. Martin P Wilson says:

    I am in the process of rejecting a 2017 German motorhome bought new in February, it has already spent two months in the workshop and still has a 6+ pages of issues. It is awful but it is generally regarded as one of the better builders. Friends who have had British and French motorhome/ caravans have had similar experience. Most of the problems seem to be built/ designed in and all other owners I have spoken to have had similar problems. Too many accept the poor quality of motorhomes (European and British)rather than demand their rights to appropriate quality (Consumer Rights Act 2015).

    I am starting a journalistic investigation and a dissatisified owner campaign so would be interested in hearing stories good and bad. They can be on or off the record, I will not use your name without permission. Drop me an email to news at if you are happy to talk to me.

    Martin P Wilson

    • Liz @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thanks for the comment Martin and we hope you a satisfactory solution can be agreed with the manufacturer.

  3. Richard perrins says:

    I agree with Mike charlton Bailey have improved their build quality leaps & bounds in my opinion.

  4. Lee Clark says:

    We have now come to our first year in our Dethleffs motorhome and have now been around areas of Germany, France and Holland, and have covered nearly 12k miles, with no problems in anyway, the build quality has been there to see, with no rattles, with the exception of a few on poor English roads!, with great fit and finish, we had the chance to visit the factory and compared to what we have seen in some of the British manufacturers it was more based on automobile type production with the investment all to see.

  5. Michael Charlton says:

    Following a disastrous two years with a new Elddis Crusader, I purchased a 2015 Bailey Cartagena taking delivery in January. Since then I have used the van continually for almost seven months including 9 weeks in France. I must say so far the van has been outstanding in every way with no faults what so ever. Following the Elddis I was expecting problems, but not a one. Well done Bailey.

  6. Mike Jack says:

    2015 Swift Challenger which has developed cracks on the kitchen splashback perspex panel. Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Craig @ Caravan Guard says:

      Dear Mike

      Thank you for your comment via our website. It sounds like something that could be easily rectified. It’s the first we’ve heard of such faults.

      We wondered if you might like some assistance directly from Swift.

      Have you contacted them on the following channels:

      Swift Talk – This is their own forum. I’m told many complaints are resolved via this channel.
      Customer services helpline is 01482 875740

      Kind regards

  7. JD Cropper says:

    The exterior construction has improved but the plastic cladding is no where good enough, the car industry is streets ahead in the finished product.
    The interior finish and construction is very superficial, brackets, cupboard fitting is very poor, and general finish leaves a lot to be desired. On my Bailey Seville the slide out beds collapsed and instead of returning the van to the main agents ( 140 miles, 2 trips, and £40 in fuel costs) I carried out the repairs using basic engineering techniques- cost £8-00. Now solid as a rock. There does not appear to be any final inspection of the finished product, the manufacturer depends on the dubious competency and care of the PDI which the customer pays a not inconsiderable amount. The caravan industry should endeavour to emulate the car industry in its quality, service, reliability and prompt provision of spares.

  8. Lee Clark says:

    I can only go on my past experience recently I went to a Auto Trail dealership in Essex and on no less than three units trim was either hanging off or needed re fixing, could not believe a dealer would allow that so much for PDI. I hold to my believe the Europeans make the better Motorhome.

  9. Alan Rank says:

    I have a friend who has purchased several new MOTORHOMES over the years. He buys them new with lots of faults and spends the next 2 years having them sorted out, he then buys a new model and off he goes again on the same routine of warranty repair. Good for the next owner but a sad reflection on the Industry .Are you sure these vans from France, Italy and even Germany are any better considering their price?

  10. Lee Clark says:

    We have owed a Pilote for two years and over 12000 miles had no problems, however we wanted a A class and purchased a Dethleffs great build quality and good service even when we contact the Company direct in Germany, I have herd so much problems will British motorhomes which seem to be just Caravan shells put on a fiat, European manufacture is the way to go.

  11. Mike Lowe says:

    I have a 2009 Abbey GTS, having resolved a few niggling issues with finishes when I collected it, the van has served me well. I am considering an upgrade to a Lunar Clubman but am concerned that it may prove not to be an upgrade after all and I’ll be left disappointed and £22,400 light of pocket. I almost made the purchase before Christmas but found that the splash back behind the kitchen sink and hob was parting company with the wall. I also looked at a new Eldiss Crusader that looked great at first glance, but I soon discovered latches broken and missing and the tape that makes the joins between wall boards neat were curling up and looked dreadful.
    These are the sort of finishes that are in your face. What standards are observed behind the scenes? Worries about poor build quality and the likliehood of acrimonious meetings with dealers over repairs have put me off taking the plunge. I shall be keeping my money in my pocket for a while yet.

  12. Alan Wakes says:

    My findings on current caravan specs

  13. Alan Wakes says:

    Whereas I think the construction of caravans has been improved regarding safety, rigidity,water ingress and style,I think the layout has been compromised when it comes down to the amount of gas rings offered,sink siting,inefficient ovens. and a lack of kitchen workspace compared to previous models.

  14. tommy says:

    We brought a brand new carthago and have found the build quality poor with rattles and squeaks, hinges and latches dropping off to reveal double holes where the items were misplaced the first time.
    Also latches continually sticking and steps and gaps in the cabinet work.Very very poor response and even lack of one from carthago.
    Would definately not recomend.If car manufactures work in thesame way they would be out of business

  15. ralph steeley says:

    Iast year bought a new coachman VIP and its the worst caravan ive bought, ive had 3 before.
    , it had to go back to the manufacturers due to water ingress, the jockey wheel would not stay in the raised position when travelling, allowing the jockey wheel to make contact with the road.
    The oven door kept falling off when travelling.
    so if this is progress you can keep it

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Hi Ralph, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve had problems with your VIP. Hopefully this is something your dealer and/or Coachman can rectify for you.

  16. robert tams says:

    If the uk companies were to take a good look at the european motorhomes/caravans they would radically alter the building methods and quality checks i have an ALTEA caravan it is lighter better designed and well made,i am currently looking for a motorhome the problems i am encountering is they are too heavy and more thought should be put into the design—why don’t the manufacturers listen to us.
    Why don’t they make a dedicated luxury lighter two berth ,fuel is not going to get any cheaper[apart from occational blips],there ought to be more thoghts into safety regarding recent muggings,gassing events in europe,

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thanks for getting in touch Robert. The general consensus does appear to suggest that more can be done. Good luck in your motorhome search!
      Caravan Guard

  17. David says:

    Regarding caravan build quality I believe that there is still much improvement required. Vans now seem to concentrate on the initial wow factor but when you look deeper into the van when viewing with purchase in mind you still see poor assembly, inadequate fixings and poor alignment of doors etc. I think on some vans the design is again driven by opulent appearance rather than practicality for example wardrobes are now in many vans far too small, less lockers to make space for unnecessary sun roof front windows and minute work space. We are still seeing vans with water ingress which is both design problems and poor assembly, I know body integrity warranties are now much better than they used to be but experiencing damp is so deflating that even the long warranty is no consolation. I believe one area that needs urgent review is the fixing and sealing of windows which I think needs a redesign to solve many leak problems. On a safety point I think all caravans with a shower should have water temperatures controlled to a non scalding temperature by the installation of a thermostatic mixing valve to the bathroom hot water supply. I think the electrical wiring especially 240 volt system should be better and neater installed, maybe within trunking. Water pump manufacturer’s installation instructions should be adhered to reduce the noise of inboard diaphragm pumps, none of the vans I have looked at have pumps fitted and plumbed as the manufacturer’s recommend. Factory quality control needs to be improved even if it means slowing the build process with a knock on effect of a price increase, vans are expensive now but to pay a little more to ensure a van is built and finished correctly would be acceptable. My own van built in East Yorkshire by a “rapid” company came out of the factory with ridiculous faults made even more ridiculous by the 18 months it took to put things right. That’s another point the length of time it takes to obtain spares, I am currently at 4 months and still waiting for a spare. I have started looking to replace my van but the fore going makes me think I may stick with the one I now have but I sometimes think may be after almost 30 years of caravanning the problems you hear of with new vans drives you to thoughts of giving up

  18. Mike CARRUTHERS says:

    Also to add from my last post I am still waiting for the table to be replaced after 12 months

  19. Mike CARRUTHERS says:

    I purchased a brand new Eldiss Autoquest 180 6 berth love the layout I have done over 12,000 miles in the 12months that I have owned it but and this is a BIG but the frame for one of the beds was broke before I even got delivery the table was scratched badly and bowed after the first 3months doors fell off the shower tray leaked the toilet leaked there was a wiring fault with the heating system the number plTe lights were so badly corroded that they had tobe replaced with different ones within 6 months the plastic fitting that hold the shower screen broke allowing the shower screen to swing free and broke the retaing frame more doors fell off the screws that hold the hinges on pulled out within 9 months three of the windows started cracking it took 12weeks without the motorhome to get these replaced and a recall on the retractable step to be carried out. Also the catch for the outside door broke and had to be replaced the two front lights on the body are full of water but after all that we still like the motorhome I think that the pride in what is being built in Britain has gone we should be world leaders instede we lak behind the European manufacturers but I would still buy British and keep moaning until the likes of Eldiss listen to us who support them and do something about the quality on a better note we are off to Italy
    over Xmas and the new year in our motorhome so happy Xmas and a good new year to all

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      That’s a great shame Mike. Hopefully the dealer and/or Elddis will be able to rectify those issues for you.

    • Michael Charlton says:

      I have never owned a motor home as a dedicated caravanner I am perfectly happy. That said, I have owned a Elddis caravan, which over the two years simply fell apart with 32 reported problems, two of which were sufficient to ruin my summer holidays of both years.

  20. Clive says:

    please can moderator remove my surname from the post,

  21. Clive says:

    having been a member of the motorcaravanners club (MCC) for maany years, I have seen literally dozens of members upgrade or buy new vans during those years, and there is an extremely poor reputation attached to the motorhome manufacturers quality control during their manufacturing process, a very common remark being,” if the car industry turned their vehicles out like this there would be a public outcry”, or another remark being, a PDI, does not need to be done, the new owner will find all the faults and return with a snag list for rectification,, and NO these complaints are not diminishing with todays vehicles.,
    all makers all prices, it does not make any difference, we need someone like mercedes fiat ford etc, to produce their own motohomes, and apply their car production assembly line quality control criteria, then we can expect a satisfied customer base.

    • Mark Lomas says:

      Here here Clive. If Volkswagen built their own motorhomes to the same standard of the cars I have owned I would buy one tomorrow. That way I could be guaranteed everything would work and nothing would fall off.

  22. Roger says:

    I have been looking for a new motorhome. Sadly as yet I have been unable to find the layout / spec we would really like. However, I have looked at many makes and types and the conclusion I have come to is that the offerings from UK manufacturers fall well short of those from mainland Europe in terms of quality.

    • Lucie @ Caravan Guard says:

      Thanks for getting in touch Roger! We’d be interested to know which European model you go for.

      Caravan Guard

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