When is Leaking more likely?

Mel

Mar 17, 2007
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A question to discuss:

Is a Caravan more likely to leak and become damp due to faults during manufacture or is it more likely to leak due to age and wear and tear.

Hence is it better to buy a 3 year old van that is not damp, on the grounds that faults in manufacture cause more leaks, and therefore if it was going to leak, it would have by now.
Or buy a new van on the grounds that it is more likely to leak later through age and wear and tear.

Not buying a van so the answer has no impact on me but the debate may help someone. I guess there is no definitive research or body of evidence, so your guess is as good as anyone’s. :cheer:
Mel
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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There's no doubt that some brand new caravans have been prone to water ingress, although anecdotal evidence would suggest that most faults on new caravans are not water ingress related.
Wear and tear, poor maintenance, overloading, towing regularly over rough ground or potholed roads plus heavy awnings on the awning rail are certain to add some strain to joints between panels, so on balance I'd suggest that although a brand new caravan could be faulty the used model is more likely to leak.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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Parksy said:
There's no doubt that some brand new caravans have been prone to water ingress, although anecdotal evidence would suggest that most faults on new caravans are not water ingress related.
Wear and tear, poor maintenance, overloading, towing regularly over rough ground or potholed roads plus heavy awnings on the awning rail are certain to add some strain to joints between panels, so on balance I'd suggest that although a brand new caravan could be faulty the used model is more likely to leak.
Excellent analysis!!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I too think Parksy has offered a good argument, but I would add some further thought on the subject.

For the reasons Parksy gives every caravan will deteriorate as it ages and the rate and extent of the deterioration will be affected by how much it is used, but also it will predetermined to a large extent on the design and how it has been assembled.

Good design with good assembly will last well
Poor design with poor assembly will have a much greater probability of failure
Good design with poor assembly may fail before poor design with good assembly

History shows that even the marques that have a better reputation have some poor products.

Customer satisfaction surveys are often difficult to believe, because its human nature to only make a fuss when something goes wrong. This is likely to bias any results. Also they don't usually reveal the detail nature of faults so as consumers we can't identify which makers might have the best history with regards water ingress problems.

So until manufacturers get to grips with effective management of quality to improve consistency of manufacture there really no way to predict the reliability or longevity of any individual product. Edit:- except to say it's most likely going to be less than it should be.
 
Jun 26, 2017
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ProfJohnL said:
So until manufacturers get to grips with effective management of quality to improve consistency of manufacture there really no way to predict the reliability or longevity of any individual product.
Or, perhaps they’re so busy with focusing on trying to run a business in a high unemployment, low-skilled labourforce area, sticking polystyrene walls and ceilings on trailer chassis with interiors that they hope will appeal to their target audience (many of whom who since retiring have taken up complaining as their number one pastiime) that they have absolutely no interest in your management reccomendations Prof.

I’m curious, just for the record, since many of your posts seem to be offering advice at senior management level to sizeable manufacturing organisations, would you like to enlighten us as to your credentials and proven track record as CEO of all of the medium to large companies you have controlled over the years ?

At least then everyone will know that you are actually qualified to make such statements, and that it’s not all just hubris, and attempts at “back-seat driving” as they say ...
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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For what its worth, having been to all the UK makers and two in Europe I have the following to offer.
I will start with European makers, namely Hobby and Hymer.

In both manufacturing environments the factories are spotless, almost clinically clean with very focussed assemblers in company uniforms and every single part of the build process is very carefully quality checked with a final full inspection before any unit rolls out of the doors.

Now to UK makers.
Most of the manufacturing environments are unsuitable, in leaking roofed "sheds" and are very untidy, with assemblers wearing anything they want with no thought to their safety.

Regardless of what machines make various panels and CAD cutting etc , all the assembly is by hand of unskilled workers on piece time, and with that comes the almost mandatory mistakes.

Lack of sealant as a tube runs out, varying thickness of sealant beads, lack of care applying sealants etc, and none of the stages are quality checked and rely on the operator stating that all is well.

For open days when members of the public are admitted a massive clean up operation is done beforehand !!

In the UK each van is on a particular work station for 10 minutes for whatever job is being done, for instance, all plumbing and gas have to be in place within 10 minutes or the van just moves on to the next station.

There is no final detailed inspection before the van rolls out of the door.

So, leaks and ill fitting items etc will be a combination of poor workmanship, our wonderful road network, lack of maintainance and asking more of the van than it is physically capable of, with things like heavy awnings, bagged awnings hanging on the rail whilst the van is in motion, overloading, and of course wear and tear.

There is no "one answer fits all" it is a mish mash of many things.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Just as an aside, we no longer have our caravan serviced every year, it is well out of warranty and we haven't (yet) done hundreds of miles on trips to Europe, we stay in the UK.
Our caravan, an Abbey 620 Vogue, is now 12 years old and was bought brand new in October 2007.
Any minor faults were rectified on the first service, we had the caravan serviced to maintain the warranty but since then every two years has been a sensible service interval compromise for us.
Our approved mobile caravan engineer, Dazz Mobile Caravan Services (highly recommended if you're in the Kidderminster / Severn Valley area) serviced our caravan this morning and the highest damp reading on a grey damp Autumnal day was 15% by the washhroom window above the sink at the back of the caravan. The remainder showed less, so it's not all doom and gloom when you buy and keep hold of a caravan.
If ours had been falling to bits or showing real signs of water ingress I'd have considered an upgrade to a newer caravan, but ours keeps soldiering on, it is very spacious for just the two of us and it pretty much ticks all of our boxes, so it will be around for a while yet.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Icaru5 said:
ProfJohnL said:
So until manufacturers get to grips with effective management of quality to improve consistency of manufacture there really no way to predict the reliability or longevity of any individual product.
Or, perhaps they’re so busy with focusing on trying to run a business in a high unemployment, low-skilled labourforce area, sticking polystyrene walls and ceilings on trailer chassis with interiors that they hope will appeal to their target audience (many of whom who since retiring have taken up complaining as their number one pastiime) that they have absolutely no interest in your management reccomendations Prof.

I’m curious, just for the record, since many of your posts seem to be offering advice at senior management level to sizeable manufacturing organisations, would you like to enlighten us as to your credentials and proven track record as CEO of all of the medium to large companies you have controlled over the years ?

At least then everyone will know that you are actually qualified to make such statements, and that it’s not all just hubris, and attempts at “back-seat driving” as they say ...
I would question your facts. Bailey are sited in an area of very low unemployment where companies such as RR, Airbus, BAE are sited as well as many othe manufacturing and service companies. Perhaps Bailey may have problems recruiting skilled and conscientious workers because they are not seen as a good company to work for. WHY?
 
Mar 8, 2017
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wandering.me.uk
I think manufacturing faults are more likely to show up early on in a caravan's life. We have bought two secondhand caravans, both Lunar and found them very good, certainly no water ingress problems.
We sold our first because we found the layout unsuitable even though at the point of purchase we were sure it was. Our second, now seven years old but owned by us for nearly three, has been free of major faults apart from a spongy floor, which was easily fixed. Certainly no damp problems.
Given the state of the industry and static design I can see little incentive to change, and if there were I would certainly not buy a new caravan or motorhome.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Dodger524 said:
I think manufacturing faults are more likely to show up early on in a caravan's life. We have bought two secondhand caravans, both Lunar and found them very good, certainly no water ingress problems.
We sold our first because we found the layout unsuitable even though at the point of purchase we were sure it was. Our second, now seven years old but owned by us for nearly three, has been free of major faults apart from a spongy floor, which was easily fixed. Certainly no damp problems.
Given the state of the industry and static design I can see little incentive to change, and if there were I would certainly not buy a new caravan or motorhome.
I think you are right as our only brand new van was a 2005 S5 Bailey and that required new front panel in year2 and a rear in year 3. Apart from the panels caused by poor assembly by Bailey we owned it for nine years and it was trouble free just until I had it damp checked prior to sale. It had a small leak around the front nearside window seal. Cost £200 to fix. Other than that the pre sale damp readings were all very low.
 

Parksy

Moderator
Nov 12, 2009
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Icaru5 said:
ProfJohnL said:
So until manufacturers get to grips with effective management of quality to improve consistency of manufacture there really no way to predict the reliability or longevity of any individual product.
Or, perhaps they’re so busy with focusing on trying to run a business in a high unemployment, low-skilled labourforce area, sticking polystyrene walls and ceilings on trailer chassis with interiors that they hope will appeal to their target audience (many of whom who since retiring have taken up complaining as their number one pastiime) that they have absolutely no interest in your management reccomendations Prof.

I’m curious, just for the record, since many of your posts seem to be offering advice at senior management level to sizeable manufacturing organisations, would you like to enlighten us as to your credentials and proven track record as CEO of all of the medium to large companies you have controlled over the years ?

At least then everyone will know that you are actually qualified to make such statements, and that it’s not all just hubris, and attempts at “back-seat driving” as they say
...
The Prof has as much right to express his opinions on this forum as anyone else.
If you read the blurb on The Prof's signature statement he wrote that opinions expressed are his own, so if you don't like his or anyone else's opinions don't read them.
There's really no need for sarcasm or antagonistic comments, let's keep this forum friendly please.
 

camel

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Sep 5, 2016
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I'm afraid the caravan industry suffers from lack of manufacturing inspections all the way through manufacture , years ago I worked for a company that manufactured industrial alternators right up to a 1000 kva and when they went onto the test bed if there was a fault it went bak to the person who was responslble and they did it in their own bonus time, if there is no inspection during production then rubbish is turned out,
 
May 7, 2012
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I doubt there is any right answer to the question asked. In the early years poor construction and sealing can be responsible for leaks. As the caravan gets older other things become more relevant.
Usage and a lot of towing over rough ground, potholes and the like can damage the integrity and the sealant can start to deteriorate are probably the main causes on older caravans.
To me you can get a leak in a caravan of any age and I would not like to say which is the most risky. The very oldest caravans are probably the most at risk but otherwise it could be close.
I take the Prof,s point on the unhappy owners being the most likely to complain but as no maker has got under 70% for satisfaction a lot of happy customers do contribute but possibly the unhappy ones are in reality not quite so high as the statistics would suggest. What they do show is that there is no room for complacency.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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20 to 30% fault rates on new caravans, can anyone tell me their happy with that?

It is costing all caravan buyers as the manufactures load the selling price to cover the costs of warranty repairs.
Based on information I received from an industry insider in about 1995, one manufacture was loading the selling price by several hundred pounds to cover the warranty costs over the first 2 years.

If the manufacturers were able to get failure rates down to below 1% then it's probable they could reduce caravan prices by £500 or more, and still be making more profit than they presently do. And they'd have happier customers.
 
May 7, 2012
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Prof, I do agree on that. Our last caravan leaked twice so two warranty repairs. I was not told of the cost, indeed we traded the caravan in before the repair was done but there would certainly be no change out of £2,000 in my book.
The dealer could not have been more helpful though, but as both repairs were carried out late in the year when they were not busy, they might have been happy to keep the money coming in when they were quiet. Not sure if things would have been the same in Spring.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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ProfJohnL said:
20 to 30% fault rates on new caravans, can anyone tell me their happy with that?

It is costing all caravan buyers as the manufactures load the selling price to cover the costs of warranty repairs.
Based on information I received from an industry insider in about 1995, one manufacture was loading the selling price by several hundred pounds to cover the warranty costs over the first 2 years.

If the manufacturers were able to get failure rates down to below 1% then it's probable they could reduce caravan prices by £500 or more, and still be making more profit than they presently do. And they'd have happier customers.
As a comparison, I worked for an automotive group in the mid 80's, and ran a Volvo dealership. There were British Leyland dealers in the same group... Our % of hours booked to the different sources was about 60% to retail (customers paying for servicing and repairs) 30% internal (new car PDI's and accessory fitment) and 10 % warranty. Our BL colleagues were averaging 78% warranty... this was in the just post Marina days...
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Guzzilazz said:
ProfJohnL said:
20 to 30% fault rates on new caravans, can anyone tell me their happy with that?

It is costing all caravan buyers as the manufactures load the selling price to cover the costs of warranty repairs.
Based on information I received from an industry insider in about 1995, one manufacture was loading the selling price by several hundred pounds to cover the warranty costs over the first 2 years.

If the manufacturers were able to get failure rates down to below 1% then it's probable they could reduce caravan prices by £500 or more, and still be making more profit than they presently do. And they'd have happier customers.
As a comparison, I worked for an automotive group in the mid 80's, and ran a Volvo dealership. There were British Leyland dealers in the same group... Our % of hours booked to the different sources was about 60% to retail (customers paying for servicing and repairs) 30% internal (new car PDI's and accessory fitment) and 10 % warranty. Our BL colleagues were averaging 78% warranty... this was in the just post Marina days...
B) Ah the good ol day's B)
 
May 24, 2014
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Its that old chestnut about the end user having to do the quality control. They bank on a % not bothering to come back.

The caravan industry will not improve until somebody in a "position that can" takes a serious interest in their day to day practices.

As for BL, I remember, not fondly the Austin [strike]Allegro[/strike] Aggro. Was that possibly the worst car ever built, beating the Orion? Of course, you would have to put the Rover SD1, Princess and Montego in the same category.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Coming back to the original question. I think you could find customers with leaking problems in both the new category and the somewhat later category, but on balance its more likely later in a caravans life, but whether is due to poor constructions or just wear and tear is not easy to establish.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Really interesting starter post; caused quite a discussion which I love. We bought a brand new Bailey Spring 17 and it was absolutely fantastic. Apart from an excess of sealant-probably a good thing, we didn't have a single Bailey caused defect; we had faults, fixed brilliantly by our dealer but they were all third party bits; the fridge handle broke-Thetford, the toilet cassette was leaky when emptied-Thetford and a tap chrome bubbled! All were replaced simply and efficiently.
No leaks no droopy doors, just a lovely caravan.

Before that we had an Avondale Argente which we also loved. Same-no leaks though a repair had we are told been carried out previous to us. We had qutie a few third party bits go wrong-exploding taps, disintegrating toilet pump(manual) etc with that as you would expect but again no manufacturing faults other than one solid wooden door coming apart gradually due to the glue drying out with age! Simple fix!
SO it would be interesting if there were more drilling down in to data. You can't blame the manufacturers for third party parts and those suppliers are VERY few! Caravans are essentailly a kit of parts assembled by a maker-the shell is really all they do!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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JezzerB said:
Really interesting starter post; caused quite a discussion which I love. We bought a brand new Bailey Spring 17 and it was absolutely fantastic. Apart from an excess of sealant-probably a good thing, we didn't have a single Bailey caused defect; we had faults, fixed brilliantly by our dealer but they were all third party bits; the fridge handle broke-Thetford, the toilet cassette was leaky when emptied-Thetford and a tap chrome bubbled! All were replaced simply and efficiently.
No leaks no droopy doors, just a lovely caravan.

Before that we had an Avondale Argente which we also loved. Same-no leaks though a repair had we are told been carried out previous to us. We had qutie a few third party bits go wrong-exploding taps, disintegrating toilet pump(manual) etc with that as you would expect but again no manufacturing faults other than one solid wooden door coming apart gradually due to the glue drying out with age! Simple fix!
SO it would be interesting if there were more drilling down in to data. You can't blame the manufacturers for third party parts and those suppliers are VERY few! Caravans are essentailly a kit of parts assembled by a maker-the shell is really all they do!
The caravan is no different to a car or even aircraft. The maker is the designer of the total system and is responsible for ensuring the total product works as designed. After all you wouldn’t expect Airbus to slope shoulders if the engines are unreliable would you.
Just saying that it’s the fault of the individual equipment suppliers isn’t good enough. After all if anything requires replacing or rework after delivery who do you think is paying for the poor quality or workmanship. It’s us, the customer, by increased sales prices.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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MMM may be I am different to others but I pay a lot of interest in who makes what for who; if an engine fails in a plane I look to Rolls or GE etc, if it falls off then it's Boeing or Airbus! When our tap started to dechrome I blamed the maker and it was them directly that our dealer sent it back to for examination-which I thought was good-hopefully they'll check their quality control. Same with the toilet cassette-Thetford directly sent us a new one. Yes I agree that the makers have to then nag the suppliers-all part of the chain and for eg BMW had a spate of faulty timing chains due to hammering the suppliers down to a price but with caravans they don't appear to have much choice-we all know, even in continental caravans who supplies fridges, loos etc. not much choice.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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JezzerB said:
MMM may be I am different to others but I pay a lot of interest in who makes what for who; if an engine fails in a plane I look to Rolls or GE etc, if it falls off then it's Boeing or Airbus! When our tap started to dechrome I blamed the maker and it was them directly that our dealer sent it back to for examination-which I thought was good-hopefully they'll check their quality control. Same with the toilet cassette-Thetford directly sent us a new one. Yes I agree that the makers have to then nag the suppliers-all part of the chain and for eg BMW had a spate of faulty timing chains due to hammering the suppliers down to a price but with caravans they don't appear to have much choice-we all know, even in continental caravans who supplies fridges, loos etc. not much choice.
With aircraft engines the plane maker can exercise choice between three major jet suppliers and a number of turbo prop units, as well as in many other systems too. As you say with caravans the maker basically has very little choice as gradually the range of suppliers has been whittled down by M&A, closures etc such that in a number of key areas choice is nil. There's little incentive for caravan makers and their suppliers to make improvements as better quality could lead to reduced after sales income, which may not be compensated for by their reduction in warranty costs.
 

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