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  • Northwood quality and/or factory accountability

    This isn't intended to be a slam of NW but a serious question about NW. I have been doing extensive research for my next purchase and downsizing from a quality 40' DP back to a 5th wheel. The Arctic Fox Silver Fox 5th wheel, specifically the 29-5T has my interest. Size, weight, floorpan. Unfortunately living in the south east there are no dealers within several/many hundred miles and as most here know, used models are very rare. Earlier in the week I had stopped at a rest area in NE Alabama for lunch and an AF 29-5T pulled in. I took the opportunity to try to talk with them. They were having lunch inside, was raining, and answered the door. Rightfully so they were a bit suspicious of this stranger approaching their RV but I explained the situation.

    I was able to step just inside and the layout was as I expected to see. They had the LR slide out part way to give more room to eat and I asked they how they liked the trailer. It is a 2015. Their answer stunned me. They said they had a lemon. Examples were the electric waste dump valves which failed just as the warranty expired along with the black and grey tanks "failed". Their words. I asked a bit about failure and they said they fell out because they were not properly supported, only on the edges. I didn't ask more about the tanks but they volunteered that the factory told them to take to a dealer for replacement of the dump valves but they were on their own, no help, support, nothing. No acknowledgement from NW that they had used substandard products and no help to those who got stuck with them.

    They had been a previous NW owner and got the AF 29-5T based on prior knowledge and ownership but he said he couldn't recommend NW nor would they get another. He did say there were many other defects in the manufacturing of the trailer but didn't go into details and were hoping they had worked out the bugs. They are FT. Reference his complaints, is this a common failure and response from the company? This isn't a "serial dumping" post but I refuse to spend my hard earned $$$$$ on a product or manufacturer that doesn't support it's owners or products. A reputable manufacturer will step up to the plate and make right when they have installed a poor product.

    Next month we will be on a 2+ month trip out west into NW territory and will look at some new models as we travel (maybe a factory tour) and if/when we see some in RV parks we will talk to owners. We are hoping for a positive experience and contacts but this last one had me shaking my head.
    2007 motorhome, 2012 Wrangler "toad", SOB 5th wheel (SOLD and awaiting replacement 29-5T???), 2017 Ram 3500

  • #2
    I'm sorry you had that experience. I agree with you in not wanting to waste you hard earned dollars on a problem. NW is not an innovative company in terms of glitz and glam but they have tried to keep up with the marketplace. The electric dump valves and instant hot water are good examples. They felt the market pressure to provide those, but the products just didn't measure up and NW discontinued. This is where you need a good dealer to work with. NW is like all the other RV manufacturers is that they do not make many of the products they install. Those products have a failure rate and life expectancy and you can't really hold NW responsible for their failure. NW is responsible for the running gear and the box. They continue to have a very good track record in those areas. RV's in general do not have the same OTD quality of motor vehicles. Far too many of us spend far too much and accept far too little when it comes to the RV industry in general.

    The bottom line is when you critically inspect the offerings, NW consistently gives you the most bang for the buck out there. The factory has been very responsive for my questions, but they are attempting to push more onto their dealer network. They are also very reluctant to accept responsibility in many areas, most likely due to the litigious nature of our society.

    Be aware that someone who is dissatisfied tends to tell everyone, the person who is happy will only tell you if asked. I'm sure others will weigh in soon, but for us we are very happy with our 27-5. We've had over 20 various RV's in our married career and I wouldn't hesitate to go with NW again. I can't say that about the SOB's we've owned. Take a look at older NW products and see what their resale value is compared to comparable SOBs. The market in general appreciates NW and rewards them with a significantly higher resale value. Remember, perfection doesn't exist when it comes to RVs. Good luck with your decision.
    Ken and Rita Madsen
    2018 GMC 3500 Duramax, 2016 27-5L AF

    Comment


    • #3
      Itís unfortunate to hear these stories but I have always found Northwoods to be very supportive. If your looking for a great Northwoods dealer check out Niemeyerís Trailer Sales in Albertville, MN and tell Tim, George from NY sent you. Good luck.
      2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD Dually 6 liter Gas, DC, LB, 4.10's, 2016 AF 990

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MtCamper View Post
        I'm sorry you had that experience. I agree with you in not wanting to waste you hard earned dollars on a problem. NW is not an innovative company in terms of glitz and glam but they have tried to keep up with the marketplace. The electric dump valves and instant hot water are good examples. They felt the market pressure to provide those, but the products just didn't measure up and NW discontinued. This is where you need a good dealer to work with. NW is like all the other RV manufacturers is that they do not make many of the products they install. Those products have a failure rate and life expectancy and you can't really hold NW responsible for their failure. NW is responsible for the running gear and the box. They continue to have a very good track record in those areas. RV's in general do not have the same OTD quality of motor vehicles. Far too many of us spend far too much and accept far too little when it comes to the RV industry in general.

        The bottom line is when you critically inspect the offerings, NW consistently gives you the most bang for the buck out there. The factory has been very responsive for my questions, but they are attempting to push more onto their dealer network. They are also very reluctant to accept responsibility in many areas, most likely due to the litigious nature of our society.

        Be aware that someone who is dissatisfied tends to tell everyone, the person who is happy will only tell you if asked. I'm sure others will weigh in soon, but for us we are very happy with our 27-5. We've had over 20 various RV's in our married career and I wouldn't hesitate to go with NW again. I can't say that about the SOB's we've owned. Take a look at older NW products and see what their resale value is compared to comparable SOBs. The market in general appreciates NW and rewards them with a significantly higher resale value. Remember, perfection doesn't exist when it comes to RVs. Good luck with your decision.
        Thanks and yes I know a dissatisfied customer is often more vocal and yes the current state of all RV manufacturers is in decline. I personally don't want the "latest and greatest" gimmicks. Basic and solid and backed by the builder. Last summer I became enthused with a SOB, Vanleigh. Non Elkhart product with Tiffin experience and ownership. But the son and grandson didn't match the dad's experience or determination to to make a quality product. It was a tough thing to accept and I hope I'm not disappointed again. Girlfriend will kill be if I lead her on another goose chase. In many ways getting a used one that has the bugs worked out is desirable but where I live they don't exist and it's not possible to travel 2000 miles to check out a rare used one.
        2007 motorhome, 2012 Wrangler "toad", SOB 5th wheel (SOLD and awaiting replacement 29-5T???), 2017 Ram 3500

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by GeoBoy View Post
          Itís unfortunate to hear these stories but I have always found Northwoods to be very supportive. If your looking for a great Northwoods dealer check out Niemeyerís Trailer Sales in Albertville, MN and tell Tim, George from NY sent you. Good luck.
          The best solution for me is to be at the factory when a 29-5T is built but that may not be possible. NW builds in "runs" based on demand and orders. Right now the next run is probably in June 2019 per the factory reps. It's not scheduled yet but that was their best gut feeling. That said I can only see a trailer that was built in the last run, September 2108. Right now our plans are to see ones in Mesa AZ, Salt Lake City UT, and a couple sites in ID. Of course the stock could be sold before I can get there but that's the best I can do. Flying out to a dealer just isn't in the cards now and we start the trip on 4-8-19. Mesa around Easter weekend and they are open. If we like it, feel comfortable with going that route then we have some hard decisions to make. Depending on how a person views my situation, I either have the advantage or disadvantage of having a quality motorhome with a retail value of around $110+-K. I'm not going to give it away to a dealer in a below wholesale trade so I have to decide if an existing model is appropriate, go home sell the "beast" then buy, trade appropriately, order, ???

          I know I am going to have to travel a significant distance to buy one so the issue of "buying local" doesn't apply. If I have to travel several hundred miles I might as well drive a couple thousand for the best and right deal. I do need to confirm in writing from the factory that they will cover any warranty issues with my local independent RV service facility. Hopefully no major factory or dealer servicing required. Big hope.
          2007 motorhome, 2012 Wrangler "toad", SOB 5th wheel (SOLD and awaiting replacement 29-5T???), 2017 Ram 3500

          Comment


          • #6
            MtCamper (Ken) is exactly right on with his comments.

            We've been Northwood owners for many years - our first AF was a 2001 AF27-5L and in 2017 we sold that rig and bought another AF27-5L. And I will tell you one of the things that helped make our decision - we are close to the factory and we know folks there from the rally and feel we can get support if needed.

            This is just my personal opinion. Northwood quality has slipped in recent years. But in fairness so has the entire RV industry. NW has so many customer (dealers) that quantity has taken over quality.

            Is Northwood a good trailer? I believe for the price point they are about as good as you can find. But they are not perfect. Do they stand behind their product? I would say YES they do a fairly good job of taking care of problems. But as Ken mentioned some of the stuff is really not their fault.

            My advise to you is that if you decide to go with the AF29-5T that you buy new because it's very easy for leaks in particular to hide and you never really know how someone else has cared for the trailer. If you do buy new, go into it know that you are gonna have problems. Don't go in thinking this rig is gonna be perfect or that you won't have to do anything to it because it's new - because you will be disappointed.

            One last comment - on this forum we really try to be honest about our experiences with Northwood but you have to remember you are talking to the choir here and some opinions might be a little bias.

            Bill
            Bill, Mary, and Scottie
            2015 RAM 3500 Crew Cab, Long Bed, 6.7 Cummins/Aisin, SRW, Hensley BD-3 Hitch
            2017 AF 27-5L
            http://badges.fuelly.com/images/smallsig-us/719790.png

            Comment


            • #7
              Ours purchased new had some small issues our dealer took care of. No different than another make TT that had simular small issues repaired during the warranty period. NW did take care of the parts and labor costs I paid for on our second trip, we were in Colorado, a Friday afternoon and 30 miles from the closet dealer and only there a few days. We discovered a bad seal and soaked drum brake assembly so I just contacted a mobile repair outfit that took care of it. I paid them, submitted the bill and photos to the dealer asking they seek reimbursement for us. nW could have easily said they didnít authorize the work, n
              but didnít. I did of few of the small repairs myself during the warranty as it wasnít worth the time and effort to take it on a 150 mile journey.

              If if I was buying any RV from Made where no dealer is reasonably close Iíd buy it from a dealer close to the factory and stay near by using it to see what issues crop up and have the factory deal with those.
              Rolland & Judie, 2 Shelties, Cozmo & Brinkley

              2016 AF 27-5L, 4 pt Leveling, Dual Pane Windows, 10 Cu Ft Fridge, 15K AC, Central Vac, Progressive Dynamics hard wired EMS, Slide Toppers, 2 Fantastic Vents & Covers, TST507s, 480 Watts Solar Charger, 440AH AGM Battery Bank, Titan Disc Brakes, MorRyde SRE4000

              2005 Chevy Silverado 3500, Duramax/Allison, Crew Cab LB 4x4 B&W Companion

              Comment


              • #8
                If you had happened to see us at a rest area you would have gotten a different response. We could not be happier or prouder of our Arctic Fox. We traveled for 5 straight months last year and did not have one problem. (I hope I didn't just jinx us for this year) Everyone that has seen it always has positive comments and many say what a quality trailer it is. For sure we had some problems and some were real head scratchers quality wise, like the factory switching the wires on the solar input so the panels never charged the batteries. Then there were little things that kept coming up and at one time I thought I was going to write a letter to NW and complain.But I never did and in looking back at it, those problems were insignificant in the overall scheme of things. Our experience with both the dealer and NW were very positive. We also were able to get warranty work done at another non NW dealer with no resistance at all from NW. A while back someone on here posted some amazing photos of the poor quality that came out of the NW factory. It does happen. But I think your initial dealer can help you get most if not all of that resolved. Make sure you choose a dealer with a good reputation and make sure you can spend the time to shake everything down when you are in the area before taking it back home. I think it is easier to go back to the selling dealer immediately after purchase for warranty work. The dealer really makes a huge difference, even if you have to pay that dealer a bit of a premium on the price of the trailer.

                FYI, we live in Florida and bought ours through a dealer in Pennsylvania.

                Good luck with your search and travels and I would be interested in knowing what you see and hear about NW.
                2016 Arctic Fox 32-5M, 300 watt Zamp Solar Kit, 30 Amp controller, 2 T105 Trojan 6 volts, 5.5 Onan LP Generator, 6pt leveling system, 2nd 13.5k A/C, Slide Toppers, Fireplace, King Bed, Central Vac. Hardwired Surge Guard Model 34560, rear view camera, clear entry door window,

                2016 Ford F-450 Lariat. B&W Companion Hitch. Remax Bed Roll Cover, Bed Carpet.

                Winter in Florida, traveling during the other seasons.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We've had our Fox Mountain for 6 years this April. Overall it's been very reliable. There were some minor issues of which I fixed myself. One needed dealer assistance. My front cap faded as well as many other dark brown caps from other MFG's. I don't balme NW for that. Problem was I was about 6 months out of warranty. I read many brand forums and saw many of those getting some form of compensation even out of warranty. That has still left a sour taste. A free decal would've been a nice gesture IMO.
                  The DW and I recently went to Apache to look at SOB TT's. We took a peak at some NW Arctic Fox Classic models. One had 3 cupboard doors crooked. I looked to see if it was loose screws and maybe the door was sagging. Nope, they were simply put on crooked.
                  In all fairness most RV's made today aren't problem free.
                  Reading on other brand forums I see that all brands have problems. Each brand seems to have problems related to products used. One SOB uses the Nautilus brand for their city/fresh water fill in the docking port. Owners are having to re-plumb in some instance. Fresh tanks are filling when on city water. NW uses the KISS method. Old school fresh water fill opening. Hard to go wrong with just sticking a hose in a tube vs multiple valve switching for various functions.
                  I won't say NW is better because I've read about a lot of SOB owners having no or very few problems with their trailers.
                  Where I will give kudos to NW is that they don't use OSB or MDF in their construction. Sure they use a soft wood wrapped with vinyl for the face frames, but IMO thats better than MDF. NW builds a better roof system than most. Many taper the rafters down to the edges. NW carries the same thickness out to the edges for better insulation. That doesn't guaranty the insulation will be installed correctly but at least the opportunity is there.
                  They build their own frames as well. Doesn't mean they are welded perfect or that the paint is applied better. But I hardly ever hear of a NW frame failure.
                  Overall NW has all the right products to build a solid trailer. It's the QC that needs to improve. It's on par with the rest of the industry, which is a shame.


                  2012 Ram 2500 CTD
                  2013 Fox Mountain 235 RLS

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                  • #10
                    As I will probably be upgrading to a "semi-bunkhouse" trailer I have been reading various reviews for both Nash and Outdoors RV. I know that Outdoors is on their own now. The quality complaints with Nash are usually minor. Outdoors RV are about 15% more dollars for their comparable trailers (lower tier) and have a lot more quality complaints, but, again, most are minor.
                    Paying the Outdoors RV prices and getting a trailer loaded with quality issues would be upsetting. Mostly just sloppy workmanship and a "move them out" attitude by the quality control folks.
                    Some people are just too picky and overly vocal about small things like pulling out #6 screws and replacing them with #8 screws. I can change 25 screws in the time it took someone to write their long-winded rant.
                    2019 Nash 24B (bunk) located in a city trailer park.
                    Two 6 volt GC batteries
                    Two135 watt Kyocera solar panels (only one plugged in)
                    Zamp 10 amp charge controller
                    30 amp charge controller in June's budget...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We have been really happy with our 2018 32A and with our dealer, Normís RV in Poway (San Diego area). We ordered in May & took possession in August (2017). We have had zero issues. Normís spends 16 hours on a PDI & Iíve had no issues that Iíve read about on this forum. I donít know if the trailer came from the factory this way or if Normís had to fix anything but weíve been really happy with NW & Normís.
                      Ramjet & The Louis
                      Roger & Susan
                      Two Labradors-Shadow & Kanoe'
                      2010 Ford F-250 King Ranch 6.4L Diesel 4X4
                      2018 Arctic Silver Fox 32A
                      -120W Zamp Solar
                      -2 Trojan T-105 6V Batteries
                      -Progressive EMS-HW50C
                      -TST 507 Internal TPMS
                      EazLift Elite 1200# hitch

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Goducks mentioned the NW frame - I wanted to comment on that. You will have to look pretty hard to find anyone who has had problems with a Northwood frame. Yes they do a Yaba daba doooooYaba daba doooooYaba daba doooooYaba daba dooooo poor job of painting the frame and yes there is some discussion about what is called the headboard on their travel trailers. But that is it.

                        Now contract that to the problems other brands have had with their frames - it is night and day difference. Lipperts makes almost all the frames for the other brands. But they build them to the trailer makers specs. So you are really getting what the trailer makers "thinks" is good.

                        We have friends with another brand and they have spent literially years getting their frame fixed. They finally did. Lippert has a mobile team of guys who go around the US and fix Lippert frame problems - that alone should tell you something. The traveling Lippert frame guys did a good job - it took them 1-1/2 days to get it all fixed but they did fix the frame. The frame on the SOB was so weak that it flexed so much the fresh water tank fell out when the owners were driving down the freeway - I can't even imagine. Personally, I would have burned that trailer to the ground.

                        Bill.



                        Bill, Mary, and Scottie
                        2015 RAM 3500 Crew Cab, Long Bed, 6.7 Cummins/Aisin, SRW, Hensley BD-3 Hitch
                        2017 AF 27-5L
                        http://badges.fuelly.com/images/smallsig-us/719790.png

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Welding Guy mentioned Outdoors RV. Have they separated from Northwood or are they still wholly owned by Northwood.

                          I have not looked closely at Outdoors RV products.

                          Question for the moderators - are we allowed to talk about Outdoors RV products?

                          Bill
                          Bill, Mary, and Scottie
                          2015 RAM 3500 Crew Cab, Long Bed, 6.7 Cummins/Aisin, SRW, Hensley BD-3 Hitch
                          2017 AF 27-5L
                          http://badges.fuelly.com/images/smallsig-us/719790.png

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with many of the comments above. Loose screws happen, stripped ones are a pain but can easily be fixed. That's why wood matches were invented. An RV is a house bouncing down the road and stuff will loosen, fall off and rattle. But a black tank falling out isn't minor and in fact dangerous. I hope I can find other AF owners this spring on our trip. We'll be in NOLA, TX hill country, Tucson, Mesa, several places in Utah, and then up to Coeur d'Alene Idaho, then some Montana locations. If you see a grey/silver Itasca Horizon from Alabama, say HI.
                            2007 motorhome, 2012 Wrangler "toad", SOB 5th wheel (SOLD and awaiting replacement 29-5T???), 2017 Ram 3500

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have had three Northwoods products, a 2007 Nash trailer, a 2006 AF 29-5T and most recently a 2019 27-5L, which I have had for one month. Are they perfect. No way. My newest acquisition has some issues. The most annoying, a blackwater tank valve (manual) that clearly leaks. I will have to return it to the dealer for resolution. I guess I could be annoyed with Northwoods but they don't make the valve and anyone who expects a RV to be perfect ought to consider a different mode of travel. Oh wait, I could get on a 737 Max. They are flawless, right?
                              I did not purchase three Northwoods products for their fit and finish reputation. I stayed with Northwoods for their reputation of a quality frame and for standing behind their product. My biggest complaint about Northwood is the paucity of their dealer network east of the Rockies.
                              Tom & Lynn
                              2018 F350 DRW 6.7 Powerstroke
                              2019 AF 27-5L

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