Forest River Fails, Denies Responsibility – Part One

A tale of woe and dread. COVID campers are real, and we were sold a lemon. Forest River Fails big, then denies responsibility in this episode of “Things aren’t all fun and games in the RV life!”

We were in the middle of the water intrusion repair when we discovered this new fresh hell. We had developed a crack in the wall of our fifth wheel where the passenger side slide box is located. We had heard many horror stories about what the crack could mean. Was it safe to move the RV? What could we do to stop it from cracking further? Who would be paying for the fix? Would we have to take the RV to Indiana to get it fixed? Would we have to stop traveling?

We made first contact with the manufacturer of our RV – Forest River Inc, of Elkhart, Indiana on February 3rd, 2023 through their online contact form describing what we had found and asking for guidance on how we should proceed.

We received the initial reply from the Sabre, Owner Relations Representative, Cheyenne Clark two business days later. The email tone was pleasant, and Forest River seemed to be interested in helping to resolve our issues. We were told that we would need to take our RV to an authorized dealer or service center to determine the cause, concern, and correction and we were given a list of approved dealers and service centers in our area.

The next morning Brittany began calling every service center and dealership on the list trying to find someplace that could preform the diagnostics Forest River required in a reasonable time frame. Unfortunately, due to the timing of this issue (beginning of the 2023 camping season) we were having difficulties finding anywhere that could get us in before 2 months and we even called a shop which had a 6 month wait. Thankfully after explaining our situation we were able to find a service center from the list who could help us get the process started.

RV Masters, Houston TX

We took the RV to RV Masters, in Houston, TX on 2/13/23. RV Masters was on the list of authorized service centers that Forest River had provided to us. RV Masters did not have time to get our RV into the shop for the repair at the time, but indicated that they had repaired similar failures in the past, and would be happy to start the paperwork for our warranty claim. RV Masters did exactly that – they took pictures of the damage and initiated the warranty claim with Forest River. RV Masters also told us that they had repaired many RVs with issues like ours, and that the most likely cause was a broken weld inside the wall. Why would the weld break? Because it wasn’t welded correctly to begin with.

Forest River must have known the cause as well. They immediately began looking for reasons to deny any responsibility for the failure, or the repair.

Forest River requested additional pictures of our hitch, suggesting that it “looks like a gooseneck adapter”. It isn’t, and never has been. We pull our fifth-wheel RV with a B&W Companion 25K, which is not only the correct type of hitch for this job, it’s arguably the best (pickup) fifth-wheel hitch available today.

Forest River Fails - B&W Companion 25K

Forest River also noticed that we utilized a cargo carrier, and asked for detailed information about the carrier, as well as what we carried on it. It was this one from Harbor Freight, and we hauled a Total Gym on it.

Finally, Forest River requested that Lip Sheet 0104 (Frame Camber Check Worksheet) be filled out and returned to Forest River, who would then pass it along to LCI – aka Lippert Components.

RV Masters replied to this request from Forest River. RV Masters stated that our RV was not at RV Masters as we had left with the RV. RV Masters further stated that they would only be able to provide the information if we were able to bring the RV there and leave it for both diagnosis and repair. At the time, RV Masters’ wait list was six weeks long. For reasons that should be obvious to any of our readers, this was not an option. Fate has a funny sense of humor sometimes though, because we would end up back at RV masters almost exactly six weeks later.

Lip Sheet 0104

Since RV Masters couldn’t provide the information Forest River was requesting, we provided it. We took the pictures that Forest River had requested, and I filled out the Lip Sheet 0104. The procedure is not complicated or difficult, as you can see below.

Forest River did not accept my worksheet because it did not come from an authorized service center. I expected this, but I am glad that I was exposed to the worksheet and instructions before going to the second authorized service center.

Princess Craft RV

The second authorized repair facility we went to was Princess Craft RV in Houston Texas. They had availability to get us in straight away, so we hitched up and drove an hour through downtown Houston to reach them.

Princess Craft RV deals in small RVs and truck campers. Our truck and RV took up as much room on their parking lot as their RV inventory. Perhaps this should have been a sign to us to look for another shop, but we had driven an hour to get there.

The service manager at Princess Craft RV at the time – Gus Guerrero – was friendly enough, and seemed interested in helping us get the rig fixed. We explained what had led us to being there, and what work we needed done.

Forest River had already spoken with Gus as well.

When the technicians came to the parking lot to perform the frame check – because the shop wasn’t big enough, even if it had been empty – we knew right away that something was rotten. The techs measured to the bottom of the axle and made the blocks appropriately, but then clamped them to the frame incorrectly. If you read the worksheet and pay attention to item five, “the bottom of the 2 x 4s must hang below the lowest point of the axles”. Apparently Princess Craft RV didn’t read the instructions. Or maybe they did, but had other direction from Forest River.

The first trip to Princess Craft RV resulted in this Lip Sheet 0104 worksheet.

We knew that the sheet would be rejected as soon as it was handed to us. All four corners of the frame must measure the same. We left Princess Craft RV having accomplished nothing, except to have to pay $150 for a complete waste of time. We expected the sheet to be rejected, and to have to locate yet another service center.

The sheet was rejected, but that was no surprise. We were surprised when we received a phone call from Gus at Princess Craft RV. Gus stated that Forest River was asking for additional checks. Gus requested that we bring the RV back to them for these additional checks. We speculate that the additional checks were not required, and that this was an excuse to get the RV back to them so that they could perform Lip Sheet 0104 correctly. We were only half correct.

When we returned to Princess Craft RV they performed TI-089, which measures the axles for toe-in and alignment. How this relates to the crack in the sidewall is anyone’s guess. In addition to TI-089, Princess Craft RV did perform the Lip Sheet 0104 again. They also performed the check incorrectly the second time.

Since we didn’t want to have to come back for a third time, we spoke with Gus to let him know that we knew his techs were performing the check incorrectly, and asked him to intervene. Instead of stopping the work, Gus informed us that it didn’t really matter, and that they would make sure the worksheet had the numbers necessary to get our claim approved. Gus then admitted what we already knew – that their shop was not equipped to deal with repairs on our unit. Gus assured us that once the claim had been approved he would help us find a shop to do the repairs.

But that’s not what happened. It is also worth noting that Gus is no longer employed by Princess Craft RV, though we do not know why.

Warranty Claim Denied

A few days after we left Princess Craft RV we received an email from Cheyenne Clark at Forest River.

Forest River Fails - Email from Cheyenne Clark <>

Isn’t that convenient? Princess Craft RV provided Forest River with a completely erroneous frame check worksheet, and apparently Lippert made a decision based on that completely erroneous and invalid worksheet. But we don’t have a frame problem, and never did.

We did reach out to the makers of SumoSprings – the “aftermarket modification to the axles” mentioned in Cheyenne’s email. SuperSpring does have this convenient page all about what SumoSprings actually are, how they do not modify the vehicle’s suspension in the way that Forest River suggests, and how it is illegal for vehicle manufacturers to deny warranty claims because of aftermarket modification alone. The FTC has a thing or two to say about it as well.

But that’s all fairly irrelevant since there is no issue with the aftermarket modification, because there is no issue with the frame. There never was an issue with the frame other than the one made by Forest River through Princess Craft RV.

Back to RV Masters

This is what the Lip Sheet 0104 looks like when it is performed by someone who can follow basic instructions. This Lip Sheet 0104 was completed for us by RV Masters in Houston. We returned there in April after Forest River and Princess Craft RV put us in this position. RV Masters checked the frame in every conceivable way and found no issues whatsoever.

The body bolts mentioned in the RV Masters email above are the bolts which secure the body of the RV to the frame. We have a video to explain.

But this is not the end of the story. Don’t miss the next installment in this ongoing drama.

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