Need to know
- The caravan industry claims its Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Accreditation Program (RVMAP) is an indicator of quality
- Many caravans with an RVMAP badge have had problems, and one longtime industry critic says the issues are getting worse
- We list some of the most common caravan design and quality problems reported in Australia
With the caravanning season upon us, concerns about ongoing caravan quality and safety issues are once again in the spotlight – especially for those getting ready to pack up the rig and hit the road.
CHOICE has heard from more than a few caravan owners in recent years whose vehicles have experienced major design and quality faults, and who’ve been given the run-around by caravan dealers when trying to get the problems fixed.
In late November this year we published an article that included a fresh round of faulty caravan stories.
Meanwhile, the industry portrays itself as one of the few manufacturing success stories Australia has to offer these days.
According to the CIAA, a caravan is manufactured every five minutes during working hours in Australia
In October 2021, the CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), Stuart Lamont, told a federal Joint Select Committee on Road Safety that “building caravans is one of the things Australia does incredibly well – and we need to be, as Australians are much tougher on their RV product than anywhere else in the world”.
Lamont told the committee that caravanning and camping contribute about $23 billion to the economy every year, and that Australia is the third-largest builder of caravans in the world, after the US and Europe.
“We’re now seeing export opportunities in the United Arab Emirates and Africa due to the robustness of our RV products,” Lamont said.
According to the CIAA, a caravan is manufactured every five minutes during working hours in Australia.
But judging from the reports of many caravan owners, the overall quality of these products remains in question.
In late November, the ACCC launched a survey saying it had received 1300 complaints from caravan owners over the previous five years and is “looking for further information from consumers and industry about the issues they have had with their caravans and their experience trying to get their concerns fixed”.
Water leaks, leading to further damage, are a commonly reported defect.
‘Nothing is improving’
The CIAA’s upbeat assessment stands in stark contrast to that of industry critics like Colin Young, who founded the Caravan Council of Australia (CCA) in 2012 and has long called for tighter manufacturing standards.
(Aside from Young’s advocacy efforts, the CCA conducts compliance inspections of caravans for manufacturers, importers and individual owners for a fee.)
In August 2021, Young told CHOICE “nothing is improving – it is most disappointing to continually hear of the same type of design and quality problems still being detected by caravan owners.”
Young, an engineer by training, says he bases his views on the thousands of caravans he’s inspected over the years.
It is most disappointing to continually hear …….