Newmar Quality

Quality. The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something. Whenever I see this question raised in social media, I wonder whether any standard of quality exists in the RV industry. The RVIA does list a few standards for things like plumbing, propane, fire and life safety, 12 volt and 120 volt electrical systems. Aside from that, quality in the RV industry is decidedly mixed when compared to the automotive industry.

Let’s take a look at this question.

Folks – How’s the build quality on 2021 Dutch Stars? I’m looking for an idea on any known issues and details of how responsive Newmar has been about those issues. Thanks for your advice.

Here are a couple of videos about the new 2021 models. The first one is a relatively brief overview from Newmar:

Angie, from NIRV, provides a very lengthy tour of the 2021 Dutch Star. Covers just about everything you might want to know.

They do look nice, don’t  they?

You may want to spend a large chunk of coin on this new bus. And, naturally, you will have questions. Questions about quality.

Here are a few thoughts.

Newmar is really an assembler of coaches. And they assemble coaches with remarkable speed. Yes, they do build some of the coach, like the shell, the flooring, and the cabinetry but most of the components in their coaches have been manufactured by some other company such as Lippert, HWH, Dometic, Freightliner, Cummins, Magnum, Flexsteel, Winegard, etc.

Newmar does a good job standing behind their products. If you are measuring the quality of a Newmar against the quality of a Toyota, expect to be disappointed. In some cases, very disappointed.

Recent models have had numerous issues including window delamination, entry doors randomly opening while the coach is in motion, DEF header failures (engine failures), water leaks, slide-out malfunctions and the list goes on and on and on.

With literally dozens of different companies providing components to Newmar, there can be issues with almost anything inside and outside the coach.

Problems? We’ve had a few. Some of them are outlined here in this post from 2017.

Fortunately we have never been stranded on the side of the road. Yet every time I start the coach I worry about something going wrong. It’s just part of the journey and gradually you learn to accept it as being normal.

After four years with our current coach, things have settled down. We continue to have a few issues here and there and we take them in stride.

The industry is not all that transparent about quality issues. In the case of Newmar, they sell a product and they know full well that the customer will discover issues. And then Newmar will either resolve the issues if they can or direct the customer to other manufacturers for resolution. Most Newmar owners, including ourselves, are very positive about Newmar’s customer service. Most, but not all.

Some take legal action. One example:

The Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Newmar (an Indiana corporation) and Magnum (a Washington corporation) on June 11, 2015. The Plaintiff asserts that in July 2013, he purchased a 2014 Newmar Mountain Aire RV from North Trail RV, a non-party dealership in Florida. According to the Plaintiff, the RV “spent more than half of its first nine months of ownership out of service due to defects and malfunctions,” culminating in a “major fire incident that was the result of a defect in the RV and/or its components.” The Plaintiff identifies one such component as an inverter provided by Magnum, a supplier for Newmar.

In addition to the inverter, the Plaintiff alleges the following defects in the subject RV: the air conditioning system, the check engine light warning system, the slide out system, interior cabinets, the satellite system, the driver seat control system, the wind sensor, the bathroom flush control panel, the refrigerator, floor tiles, the DVD player, the electrical system, pantry door, bathroom drawer, other drawers, water overflow system, power day/night shade system, the screen door, and the subwoofer.

And another example:

Patrick and Kim Parks (the “Parks”) bring this action against Newmar Corporation (“Newmar”), the manufacturer of the 2018 Newmar Baystar motorhome (the “motorhome”) that the Parks purchased in 2017. In their state court complaint, the Parks alleged that they purchased the new Newmar motorhome from a dealer in Virginia in December 2017. The motorhome came with a one-year factory warranty (from Newmar) that covered, inter alia, “any repairs or replacements needed during the warranty period and/or due to defects in factory materials or workmanship.” Shortly after the purchase, the Parks allege, they noticed various defects in the motorhome, and returned it for service on at least three occasions. Repairing these various defects has caused the motorhome to be out-of-service for at least forty-five days. And, the Parks allege that, notwithstanding these repairs, the motorhome has never been brought into conformity with Newmar’s warranty and is so unsafe that it cannot be driven (i.e., it is not useful or fit for its intended purpose and not of merchantable quality).

If you like the Newmar coach and the RV lifestyle by all means go for it. We did. We have no regrets.

Expect issues. Plan to make some trips to the factory to resolve the issues that will occur in the first year of ownership. For that matter, expect to go back to the factory repeatedly over the life of the coach. Dealers, for the most part, sell the coach. They are not typically the best resource for resolving issues with the coach.

That is the current business model in the industry.

The market seems to live with it.

Newmar doesn’t seem to have too much trouble getting people to buy their products.

Most have a good experience with Newmar.

Some do not.

7 replies
  1. Tom
    Tom says:

    Never worked there, I worked for a couple competitors. My opinion is they are at least ten times better than Thor or Forest River products.

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      Hard to quantify ten times better. Easier to follow all of the issues that people report on their motorcoach experience. The entire industry is not focused on quality. Newmar is definitely better than Thor/Forest River but that is not a particularly high bar to jump 🙂

  2. Greg
    Greg says:

    Wow this is sobering. Based on your experience is it possible to avoid a lemon with a comprehensive inspection before purchasing? I understand your point about them being primarily assembly plants but so are cars and they have dramatically improved quality over time. Perhaps they are content with x% of production being duds.

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      The RV industry is very good at cutting corners. To be fair, the corners are cut by the various suppliers. There is one absolute with a motorcoach: something will go wrong.

      Go in expecting issues, especially with a new build and be pleasantly surprised if your first year of ownership is trouble free. Don’t worry though. A trouble free ownership won’t last for very long 🙂

      Still a great lifestyle. We loved travelling in our coach.

  3. Gregory Clark
    Gregory Clark says:

    I’m beginning to be aware that the price that they’re voting on Newmar’s new units are highly overpriced for the trouble that you will spend getting the new unit to where it should have been when you first purchased it…

  4. Bill
    Bill says:

    Never buy a new highend coach. Let the first owner work out the issues. After a few years and around 20k miles, many owners get tired of their rarely used bus and sell for a fraction of the initial purchase price.

    Do your homework on which brands have a decent reputation (Thor products are horrible and they just bought Tiffin, which has been one of the better companies – not a good omen). When you narrow your selection down to the one you want, get an expert on that brand and spend a few hours going over all of the systems. When you decide to buy, make sure to get an extensive 3-4 year warranty package.

    We bought a 4 year old American Tradition with numerous upgrades that had 30k miles on it and was stored inside. It was virtually brand new and we got it for about 1/3 of the original purchase price. Since purchase, we have been thoroughly enjoying our experience(s) and have never looked back.


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