Standard of Australian Caravan Manufacture

Submitted: Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 07:04
ThreadID: 129854 Views:3688 Replies:12 FollowUps:14
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Good morning all
A few weeks ago I scratched the side of my caravan $2500 worth 10 side panels and a new window required. Watching what someone else was doing and not concentrating on what I was doing. My fault entirely.
Yesterday the repairer called me and asked me to come to the workshop as he had found a major problem. The caravan manufacturer (who has since sold out and the new owners now build them in WA) had installed the 3 way refrigerator without drilling a hole in the floor to let out excess water from it. Result the overflow pipe was just left to let the water onto the wooden floor. EXCESSIVE DRY ROT.
Is it possible that many Australian made caravans have the same fault?
My van was manufactured in July 2007 so my chances of getting the new owner of the brand to rectify a major "FAULT IN MANUFACTURE" is remote. But I will try, hence not naming the van make.
To rectify the problem I have three choices:
1. Rebuild the van from chassis up to replace the floor. Mega dollars to do that.
2. Cover up the problem and sell the van as suggested by the repairer.
3. Cover up the problem, drill a hole for the overflow hose. Continue to live & travel in the van until the van expires. All the time knowing my original investment of $72000.00 is devaluing at a massive rate.
Have you checked your van to find out whether there is a drain hole for your refrigerator? Probably not!
Stay well and stay safe
PeteM Qld
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 07:26

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 07:26

Of course, you had your $72,000 Van insured didn't you?
If so, let the Insurance Company resolve the problem.

Personally, I don't like option 2. May fix your immediate problem, but some poor bugger is going to wear it after he buys it unsuspecting of the known problem.
Kind of leaves option 3, or the Insurance Company.


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Follow Up By: Member - Peter M (QLD) - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:40

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:40
Thank you Bill
I had discounted the Insurance Company because I thought they wouldn't cover a fault in manufacture.
But I'm going into town this morning to see them and get their take on it.
PeteM Qld
FollowupID: 856627

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 10:01

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 10:01

Sorry to hear about your problem. Would definitely leave a bad taste in the mouth. I guess the choice of options is entirely up to you. Thanks for posting, I will have a look at our van today, although probably not much I can do now seeing as how our van is 8 years old.

I tend to agree with your take on the insurance companies possible stand regarding covering accident damage and not a build created problem.
Having said that an ask couldn't hurt.

FollowupID: 856629

Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:06

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:06
Me three. I would doubt any insurer would want to know about a day 1 manufacturing issue. They would be very interested however, in knowing that you have repaired the issue and returned the van to the condition it should be in.
FollowupID: 856646

Follow Up By: Geepeem - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:28

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:28
Hi Peter,
Sorry to hear about the issues with your van.
I would think carefully about discussing with by our insurance company. I very much doubt they will cover it as its not accidental damage BUT once they are aware of it they may insist you repair immediately at your cost as they may feel it could lead to other issues and put them at risk.

FollowupID: 856649

Follow Up By: Slow one - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:11

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:11
Just a note of encouragement. The van repairer I talked to said, most of the water damaged vans were insurance jobs.
FollowupID: 856652

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 11:54

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 11:54
Good day Peter,
just a quick question does your van insurance cover water damage, if it does then you should be ok with insurance, that is my thoughts, also you have given me something else to check on our new van
thank you.
Broodie H3
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Reply By: Grumblebum and the Dragon - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:33

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:33
I am sorry you got a lemon - it must be even more frustrating that the manufacturer has fled the coop. How long is a piece of string? - Aussie caravan manufacturing covers the full range from 'brilliant' Bushtracker and one or two other manufacturers to the bottom of the barrel where near enough is good enough.

My advice has always been - stay with the long established brands that have a sound reputation for both quality build and service. Talk to experienced owners rather than salesmen at the shows or the dealerships.

AnswerID: 588833

Reply By: TomH - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:52

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:52
The fridge in our van had a plastic pipe that came out the bottom vent for the overflow.
Can you do it like that.
AnswerID: 588834

Follow Up By: Member - Peter M (QLD) - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:43

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:43
Yes, ours had a plastic pipe but it was just directed to the floor. Maybe it was supposed to go the vent but it was looped around the fridge mechanism at the rear and no way was it going to ever get to the vent
PeteM Qld
FollowupID: 856628

Reply By: Slow one - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:52

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 09:52

Sorry to here of your problem.

I was talking to a local caravan repairer and his take on vans was.

It doesn't matter which brand or how much you pay, they are pretty even across the board when it comes to faults, both minor and major.
AnswerID: 588835

Reply By: Kenell - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 10:45

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 10:45
I sympathise with your position. Your insurer is unlikely to be able to assist. The trigger for caravan / motor claims is accidental damage i.e. sudden, unforeseen and fortuitous. Rot, rust, oxidisation etc don't tick that box. I am no lawyer but just because the business has been sold it doesn't necessarily mean you no longer have recourse. Given the amount of money involved it is worth getting professional advice I would suggest. If your initial approach to the current manufacturer proves fruitless I would ask the current repairer to prepare a report on his findings and the cause. Make an appointment with a lawyer who has experience in the area of consumer quality (sale of goods act) and test the water. At least you won't be left wondering.
Good luck with it.
AnswerID: 588836

Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 14:50

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 14:50
How big is the affected area? You didn't give any idea to how much damage or where it is damaged in relation to other cupboards or structural members.

The notion of rebuilding building from the chassis UP is unlikely to be needed. ie, gross overstatement.
It is only a house on wheels and the area, most likely, can be cut out and replaced with suitable Doubling at the edges to ensure sealing and strength is restored.

Not a big issue I wouldn't have thought, although it does highlight the normal quality of caravan production in Australia. Many have a p1ss poor attitude to correctness and construction in unseen areas.
AnswerID: 588842

Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 15:19

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 15:19
Good point - but I would actually check that it has rotted - certainly the floor in my Jayco campervan is marine ply - the underside is only protected by paint and other campers I have seen have either marine ply or outdoor grade particle board.

So if the floor has failed dur to water from the fridge - what is happening underneath where the flooring material is exposed to water from wheels etc.

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Follow Up By: Slow one - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:08

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:08
Caravans are a whole new ball game when compared with house construction. They are entirely different.
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Follow Up By: GREG T11 - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 21:01

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 21:01
Pretty similar actually if you think about it . They use silicone to seal joints for one, the downside to this is that a van flexes a hell of a lot more . The cabinetry inside uses domestic type hinges fastened with the same screws you can put in your DIY at home, they employ the same techniques to put it all together . It's on wheels that's all, and just like your spec home it is luck of the draw who is employed to do it .
FollowupID: 856715

Follow Up By: Slow one - Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 06:14

Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 06:14
it is an entirely different method of construction to a house and that brings a lot of problems when repairs are needed.

We are not talking about hinges or screws here but how to repair when something major happens. Pretty simple to pull the roof on your house, not easy on a van. Most items are built in unlike a house. Say there is a problem with the shower cubicle on a house, it can be removed fairly easily. On a van there is no room to remove and reinstall so things have to be cut and shut to do it, even to the point of removing a bulkhead or the external wall, which means all the ali sheeting and some studs.

Vans are built from the inside out.

BTW. My van uses full length s/s piano hinges on all cupboards.
FollowupID: 856728

Reply By: Geepeem - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:33

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 18:33
That sort of problem could happen to any van even the expensive off road ones if they have a ply floor. We researched for over 12 months before buying and decided to get one with a fibreglass composite floor that will never rot or decay. Also heavy duty fibreglass sides (instead of aluminium) that will withstand minor scratches and hail without damage.

Sorry to hear about your issues Peter and hope they can be resolved to your satisfaction.
AnswerID: 588847

Reply By: 671 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:24

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 19:24
Is it possible that many Australian made caravans have the same fault?

Unfortunately it is possible Peter and the problems are not just confined to dry rot. Have a good look through this.
AnswerID: 588848

Reply By: 322 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:36

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:36
Sorry to hear about your predicament. I have also been through a similar scenario. Obviously the seller I bought from had the same advice from his repairer and I coped the very expensive fix. We had to rebuild the whole front of the van. Unfortunately our previous insurer would not cover the cost so we had to for out over $5500. The insurer insisted it was a maintenance issue even though it was proven to be poor quality control and workmanship. I thought they would cover this but to no avail. I changed insurer immediately as a protest. But still had the bill to pay. Hope it works out better for you!
AnswerID: 588850

Reply By: Member - Berky51 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:51

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:51
Its a sad story but oh common as we travel around and talk to other van owners.
We bought a Seachange about 3 years ago. For about 2 years and 10months it sat in the shed, then we decided to do some long distances and touring. To cut a long story short,
1. It got full of dust because the floor did not meet the wall.
2. Two drawers fell out on the floor and smashed the hinges.
3. The ceiling is falling in.
4. The bench flap over the stove fell off onto the floor'
5. The electrical cupboard got water in it from the outside light which was never sealed. The wiring is just a mass of spaghetti, with the fuses hiding behind it and almost impossible to replace a fuse.
6. A number of cupboard striker plates have fallen off due to screws being too short
.....and on and on.

When I complained to Haines - guess what - the van is 3 years old.

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Reply By: Tim F3 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:50

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:50
Peter,sorry to hear of your problems. Re insurance you may well be covered for more than you think.
In my case my hard floor camper was written off (this week) as the brackets connecting the body to the A frame and other welds had broken.No other damage.

When the flat top tow truck arrived to pick up my camper it was towing what looked like a good late model camper with minimal obvious damage. I asked the driver what the problem was and he advised water has penetrated the side walls on one side swelling the panel,apparently no spare panels are available so it is a right yours possibly...

If you look at major auction house sites (pickles etc) you will see many vans auctioned for parts etc because they cannot be COST EFFECTIVELY repaired and in some cases also have to pass an engineers inspection for re registration so they are scrapped...

All the best,talk to your insurer.
AnswerID: 588859

Reply By: Member - Peter M (QLD) - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 10:16

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 10:16
Thank you all
I spoke with the RACQ yesterday and they believed I am covered and have instigated the claim process. The Townsville branch called me this morning telling they had asked the repairer to prepare a quote for the assessor.
The repairer showed me the damage and the rotted wood floor he explained that the van sat on top of the floor which is attached to the chassis and that it would be impossible to just cut out and replace the rotted part.
I'm hoping that the insurer will authorise the repair rather than write the van off as we would end up with an older van due to whatever the insurer says is the market value. That is the pessimist in me coming out.
Stay well and stay safe
PeteM Qld
AnswerID: 588872

Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 11:53

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 11:53
This highlights - never insure for market value - agreed value only. An insurance company will always determine a market value that is favourable to them.

FollowupID: 856679

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 13:22

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 13:22
Guess what.
Insurers will still decrease the agreed value each year, agreed value covers extras fitted, which you list up and get priced into your total insured.
I only discovered this on renewal in my 3rd year for the Ranger.
Initially it was covered for 30k + 5k extras, didn't read renewal through 2nd year (assumed it would be the same), but this year did so.
The 'agreed value' was now 24k and 5k extras !
Rang them and was advised std practice, the base value still decreases (depreciates) each year, accessories cover remains stable.
I said that * I * certainly didn't 'agree' with the value the insurer decided, and my premiums decreased slightly 2nd year, increased slightly this year.
You can ask for a higher agreed vehicle value, but they said usually goes on age / avg km (they never asked me km though), can probably get another couple of grand on it, but no way would they go to 30k + extras.
FollowupID: 856685

Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 16:33

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 16:33
Yes the agreed value does not last forever - has to be renegotiated at each renewal.
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