Worst 5th Wheel Brands To Avoid

Many people choose to purchase fifth wheels for extended traveling or living in full-time. These RVs offer more space than smaller travel trailers and they’re great for larger families or luxurious living.

However, not every fifth wheel brand offers the same experience, and some of them should be avoided for various reasons.

Even some of the best fifth wheel brands on the market have problems that they’re known for having, and if it’s not something you want to deal with, you should avoid them at all costs.

5th wheel brands to avoid

What Are The Worst 5th Wheel Brands To Avoid?

I’m certainly not trying to scare you. In fact, I’ve lived full-time in several of the brands on this list, and didn’t have any problems at all.

However, the following brands are known to have certain issues and are what I would consider the worst 5th wheel brands that you may want to avoid;

  • Dutchmen
  • Winnebago
  • Jayco
  • Coachmen
  • Keystone
  • Hurricane
  • Coleman
  • Fleetwood

Each one of these brands is known for different issues, whether that’s plumbing problems, leaks, rust, or something else, so be prepared to deal with the problem they’re known for if you buy one.

1. Dutchmen

dutchmen voltage

Dutchmen is a well-known RV manufacturer, and one of their most popular models is the Voltage. This brand was popular in the 1980s and 1990s when RV innovation was practically nonexistent.

The materials they chose for their fifth wheels was questionable, and you were lucky if you got one that held out for very long at all.

However, this was a period of time when people didn’t live full-time in their RVs like they do now, and Dutchmen marketed themselves as a great entry level camper for first time RVers. This was a smart move, until it backfired.

Dutchmen Voltage specs

  • Length: 35-47 feet
  • Dry Weight: 14,000-16,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 10 people
  • Floorplans: 10 options
  • Axles: 3
  • RV type: Toy hauler

Why You Should Avoid The Dutchmen Voltage

This is an affordable RV, but it’s also known for having some serious plumbing problems.

In fact,  in addition to being made of cheap materials, one of the most common complaints about Dutchmen fifth wheels is that the pipes freeze and burst in cold weather.

If you live in an area with cold winters, or if you plan on traveling to colder climates, this is definitely something you’ll want to avoid.

Even if you don’t plan on going to any cold places, the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting is always there, so for many, it’s not worth the risk.

For those who plan to stay in warmer climates, freezing pipes may not be anything you’re worried about and the Dutchmen may be a fine choice. Just be aware that this is a problem that has been reported time and time again.

It used to be that as Dutchmen RVs aged, they developed a reputation for being leaky, drafty, and just plain falling apart.

The company has changed ownership several times since then and they’ve made efforts to improve their quality, but they still haven’t managed to shake their checkered past.

2. Winnebago

winnebago

Winnebago is one of the most well-known RV brands in the world, and for good reason. They’ve been around for decades and have built a reputation for quality RVs.

In fact, some of the most common older campers you still see on the road today are from Winnebago, which is encouraging.

Their RVs have come a long way since then, and they’re now known for making some of the best Class A, B, and C motorhomes on the market today. However, their fifth wheels don’t always fit into the category of reliable.

Winnebago specs

  • Length: 36-45 feet
  • Dry Weight: 13,000-15,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 8 people
  • Floorplans: 12 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: All-purpose

Why You Should Avoid Winnebago Fifth Wheels

Although Winnebago has come a long way, they’re still known for having some issues with shaking, especially in newer models.

As a matter of fact, you can’t even buy new Winnebago fifth wheels anymore. It seems that rather than fix the problem, they simply stopped making them.

Winnebago fifth wheels are known for things like bowed boards, uneven floors, and walls that are not plumb. This results in an RV that feels shaky, dangerous, and just plain uncomfortable to be in.

Of course, this isn’t the case with every Winnebago fifth wheel out there. Some people have had great experiences with them and haven’t had any problems at all.

But the risk is definitely there, so it’s something to be aware of if you’re considering this brand.

This may not be a problem if you don’t plan on doing any serious travel in your RV. If you’re just looking for a weekend getaway camper, then a used Winnebago fifth wheel might be just fine.

However, if you’re looking for something to travel cross-country in, you might want to look elsewhere.

3. Jayco

Jayco Eagle

Many people will be surprised to see Jayco on this list because they are one of the largest manufacturers of fifth wheels in the world.

They’re known for making high-quality RVs, so it may come as a shock that their fifth wheels aren’t always up to par.

I happen to love some of Jayco’s more luxurious fifth wheel models, like the North Point. Even their Seismic toy hauler model is a fantastic option for full-timers.

I lived in one for two years, and it was one of my favorite floorplans and experiences.

In fact, Jayco RVs can be modern and luxurious, as well as easy to customize. However, not every model is treated equal, and one you might want to stay away from is the Eagle HT.

Jayco Eagle HT specs

  • Length: 29-37 feet
  • Dry Weight: 8,000-10,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 10 people
  • Floorplans: 4 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: Half-ton fifth wheel

Why You Should Avoid the Jayco Eagle HT

This entry level camper is meant to be a more budget-friendly option, but that doesn’t mean it should sacrifice quality. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you get with the Eagle HT.

There have been reports of water leaks, flooring issues, and even mold growing in this RV. This is definitely not something you want to deal with when you’re on the road, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.

One of the most common complaints with the Eagle HT is wiring issues, which is more than just a little annoying.

This can be a major safety hazard, and it’s not something you want to deal with when you’re trying to enjoy your RVing experience.

Another thing you’ll find on these bottom tier Jayco RVs are electric slides rather than hydraulic. Jayco is notorious for having slide problems, which is something you simply shouldn’t have to deal with.

If you’re looking for a Jayco fifth wheel, there are definitely better options out there. Their Seismic and North Point models are both great choices that won’t leave you regretting your purchase.

4. Coachmen

Coachmen Chaparral

Coachmen is another well-known RV manufacturer, and they make a wide variety of RVs, including fifth wheels.

Much like Winnebago, they’ve been around for a long time, and you’ll see a lot of older models on the road that seem to be holding up quite nicely.

However, their newer models have been known to have some serious issues, particularly with water leaks. In fact, one of their most popular models, the Chaparral Lite 30IKEB, has been recalled due to water leaks.

Coachmen Chaparral specs

  • Length: 34-42 feet
  • Dry Weight: 12,000-15,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 6 people
  • Floorplans: 7 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: Fifth wheel

Why You Should Avoid the Coachmen Chaparral

The most common problem with the Coachmen Chaparral is build quality. There have been reports of poor craftsmanship, particularly with the water lines and plumbing. This can obviously lead to some serious issues down the road.

Another problem that has been reported is electrical issues. This includes things like faulty wiring and problems with the 12V system. These sorts of issues can be quite dangerous, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid.

If you’re considering a Coachmen fifth wheel, I would recommend avoiding the Chaparral models altogether. Instead, opt for something like the Cross Country, which has been known to be much more reliable.

5. Keystone

keystone cougar

Like Jayco, Keystone is one of the largest RV manufacturers in the world, and they make a wide variety of RVs, including fifth wheels.

They’re known for making some pretty good RVs, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. In fact, there are some definite Keystone fifth wheel brands to avoid.

One of their most popular fifth wheels is the Cougar, but it’s definitely not one of their best. In fact, it’s been known to have some serious issues, particularly with being assembled in a hurry and not necessarily correctly, either.

Keystone Cougar specs

  • Length: 35-41 feet
  • Dry Weight: 12,000-15,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 6-10 people
  • Floorplans: 12 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: Fifth wheel

Why You Should Avoid the Keystone Cougar

The most common problems with the Keystone Cougar are poor build quality and shoddy construction.

Because of pipes not being connected correctly, there are small leaks in the sinks and toilets. These may not seem like a big deal, but they can actually lead to some serious problems down the road.

Another problem that has been reported quite often is electrical issues. This includes things like flickering lights and problems with the 12V system.

Electricity isn’t something you want to rush, so it doesn’t bode well that these models were thrown together without too much concern for these types of connections.

If you’re considering a Keystone fifth wheel, there are definitely better options out there. Their Avalanche models are great choices with plenty of floorplans, options, and upgrades to choose from.

6. Thor

thor hurricane

Many people have never heard of Thor, but they’re actually a pretty popular RV manufacturer.

They make a wide variety of RVs, including fifth wheels. And while they do have some good models, there’s one in particular that will shock you with how bad it is.

Thor is a huge umbrella company that has many subsidiaries you probably have heard of, like Airstream, Dutchmen, and Four Winds. They make a lot of RVs, but they definitely have some that are better than others.

Under the actual Thor brand, there’s a model called the Hurricane. And to be frank, it seems like maybe it was either built in one or went through one before it was placed on the lot.

Thor Hurricane specs

  • Length: 34-43 feet
  • Dry Weight: 12,500-16,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 6-10 people
  • Floorplans: 12 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: Fifth wheel

Why You Should Avoid the Thor Hurricane

You need to be sitting down for this. The Thor Hurricane is often assembled with used parts.

That means that the frame, the walls, the ceiling, and everything else is put together with parts that have already been used on another RV. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Another problem that has been reported quite often is that the slides on these models tend to break quite easily.

And when they do, they’re very difficult and expensive to fix. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to understand why things might break, especially if they already have some wear and tear.

So, if you’re considering a Thor fifth wheel, I would recommend avoiding the Hurricane model at all cost. Instead, go with something like the Windjammer or even one of their Airstream models.

They may cost a bit more, but they’re definitely worth it in the long run.

7. Fleetwood

fleetwood bounder

Fleetwood is another pretty popular RV manufacturer, and they make a wide variety of RVs, including fifth wheels.

They’re known for making some pretty good RVs, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. In fact, there are some definite Fleetwood fifth wheel brands to avoid.

One of their most popular models is the Bounder. You may even see quite a few of these older models on the road.

That’s because Fleetwood’s manufacturing process used to be second to none. They didn’t let anything escape their quality checks before rolling it out to the lot.

A lot has changed since then, and Fleetwood is one of the worst fifth wheel brands you can buy, no matter which model you choose.

Much like Winnebago, you can’t even buy new Fleetwood fifth wheels anymore. That’s how bad they got.

These fifth wheels contain interior materials that show wear and tear more quickly than nearly any other brand. Your RV will look aged after your first trip.

Only, you’re buying a used one now, which means it’s already very used, even if it’s relatively new.

Fleetwood fifth wheel specs

  • Length: 34-43 feet
  • Dry Weight: 12,500-16,000 pounds
  • Sleeps: 6-10 people
  • Floorplans: 12 options
  • Axles: 2
  • RV type: Fifth wheel

Why You Should Avoid Fleetwood Fifth Wheels

There are plenty of reasons to avoid Fleetwood fifth wheels, but the main one is that they simply don’t hold up over time.

Even if you take excellent care of your RV, it will start to show its age very quickly. And once things start breaking, they’re extremely difficult and expensive to fix.

The other big problem with Fleetwood fifth wheels is that they have a very high number of recalls.

In fact, there have been more than 100 recalls on Fleetwood RVs in the last 10 years. That’s an average of 10 per year. And many of those were for serious safety issues.

So, if you’re considering a Fleetwood fifth wheel, I would recommend that you avoid it altogether. There are plenty of other brands out there that will give you a much better experience, without all the headaches.

What Are Some Good 5th Wheel Brands?

Now that you’ve been thoroughly scared off from the above fifth wheel models, let’s set the record straight. Not all of these brands are bad overall.

Everyone makes mistakes, and for many of the brands I’ve already listed, they simply made an unreliable model or two.

However, there are still some great fifth wheel brands out there that you can buy with confidence. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Grand Design
  • Forest River
  • Heartland
  • Redwood

These fifth wheel brands offer an all-around great experience. They’re well-made, reliable, and offer a wide variety of floorplans and features to choose from.

So, if you’re in the market for a new fifth wheel, I would highly recommend that you start your search with one of these brands. You won’t be disappointed.

1. Grand Design

Grand Design Reflection

Grand Design is a relatively new player in the fifth wheel game, but they’re quickly making a name for themselves as one of the best fifth wheel brands on the market.

In fact, they were even voted “Manufacturer of the Year” by RV Business magazine in 2019.

Grand Design fifth wheels are known for their high quality, luxury feel, and wide variety of floorplans. They have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a large family RV or a smaller, more affordable option.

Grand Design is one of the best fifth wheel brands for combining quality with affordability.

2. Forest River

Forest River Salem Hemisphere

Forest River is another great fifth wheel brand that offers a wide variety of floorplans and features. They’re one of the largest RV manufacturers in the world, so you know they have the experience to back up their products.

Forest River fifth wheels are known for their high quality construction and luxury features. They offer a wide variety of floorplans to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.

This is one of the best options for families, with plenty of sleeping arrangements and comfortable amentities.

3. Heartland

Heartland Landmark

Heartland is actually owned by Grand Design, but it’s worth mentioning all on its own. They’re toy haulers that offer a unique fifth wheel experience.

If you’re into outdoor activities like biking, hiking, or ATVing, then a Heartland fifth wheel is the perfect RV for you.

Heartland toy haulers are known for their durability and storage capacity. They have plenty of space for all your gear, plus all the amenities you need to make your trip comfortable.

And, since they’re made by Grand Design, you know they’re built with quality in mind.

4. Redwood

Redwood is known for their luxury RVs, and their fifth wheels are no different. If you’re looking for the height of luxury and comfort, then a Redwood fifth wheel is the perfect option for you.

If you’re looking to save money, you won’t do that here, but for many full-timers, it’s well worth the cost.

Redwood fifth wheels are known for their high-end features and luxury amenities. They offer a wide variety of floorplans to choose from, so you can find the perfect one for your needs.

And, since they’re built with quality in mind, you know your Redwood fifth wheel will last for many years to come.

Who Makes The Most Reliable 5th Wheel RV?

There’s no easy answer to this question, as there are many different factors that go into making a fifth wheel RV reliable. However, I can give you a few brands that I believe are the most reliable on the market.

Grand Design and Forest River are both great fifth wheel brands that offer quality construction and plenty of features, especially when it comes to full-time living for families.

They’re both experienced RV manufacturers that have been in business for many years. Heartland toy haulers are also a great option if you’re looking for a fifth wheel RV that’s built for durability and storage.

They offer plenty of space for all your gear, plus all the amenities you need to make your trip comfortable.

And, like I mentioned previously, manufacturers like Jayco and Keystone offer plenty of reliable models, as long as you don’t buy their entry-level options.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to do your research and buy from a reputable dealer.

Should You Buy A 5th Wheel From A Dealer Or Private Seller?

Many people have success purchasing fifth wheels from a variety of places, but I always recommend buying from a reputable dealer.

Not only will they typically offer a better warranty, but they also stand behind their products in the event that something goes wrong.

You aren’t restricted to new models with a dealer, because many dealers have used models on their lots as well, but what you may find is that the markup is a bit more than you were expecting, which can make it difficult for those on a budget to get into the fifth wheel they want without financing it.

If you decide to purchase from a private seller, just be sure to do your research and inspect the RV thoroughly before making any decisions. There are plenty of great deals to be had, but you don’t want to end up with a lemon.

You’ll likely save a lot of money purchasing your used RV from a private party, but you have to keep in mind that people will do a lot of things to sell something they want to get rid of, and RVs are notorious for breaking down quickly over time, no matter what brand you choose.

The most important thing you can do when shopping with private sellers is get an inspection done, and make sure you understand the RV’s complete history before making any decisions.

A qualified inspector will be able to tell you if there are any serious issues that need to be addressed, that way you can make a better decision about whether it’s something you want to tackle or walk away from.

Conclusion

There are plenty of great fifth wheel brands to choose from, but there are also a few that I would recommend avoiding.

In general, you want to stay away from entry-level models from manufacturers like Keystone and Jayco, as they’re known for having quality issues.

You also want to avoid brands that don’t make fifth wheels anymore, because there’s a reason they don’t.

If you’re looking for a durable and reliable fifth wheel RV, I recommend checking out brands like Grand Design, Forest River, Heartland, and Redwood.

These manufacturers have been in business for many years and offer quality construction and plenty of features, especially if you’re looking for a full-time living 5th wheel.

Just be sure to do your research and buy from a reputable dealer to get the best deal possible.

Madeline Cooper
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