Unfortunately, it’s rather well-known that some modern RVs and travel trailers are constructed with substandard materials and techniques in order to save time, money, and weight. But, some travel trailer brands have better reputations for quality than others, and in some cases paying the premium prices of name brands can indeed purchase better quality.
In this article, we’ll be looking specifically at Winnebago travel trailers.
So, are Winnebago travel trailers good? Some reviewers point out declining quality control and the recent introduction of cheaper parts and components that may not hold up as well over time. Although some buyers have reported issues with their purchases, Winnebago is still considered a top travel trailer and recreational vehicle manufacturer with a reputation for building quality products that last reasonably long.
The best thing you can do when considering any large purchase, such as an RV, is to do a very thorough inspection and understand the nuances of any guarantees and warranties.
Let’s first look at some common general issues that Winnebago travel trailers have faced, and then we’ll discuss three specific Winnebago travel trailer models and their potential issues in more depth.
Common Winnebago Travel Trailer Issues
Since Winnebago travel trailers have so many amenities in them, there is a lot of potential for things to go wrong, causing minor to major issues. Additionally, since the whole trailer will be hurtling along the freeway at 60 miles per hour and possibly bumping around over uneven terrain at times, things can get jostled, cracked, disconnected, and so forth.
As such, it’s hard to specify ‘common’ issues without making it sound like everything under the sun regularly goes wrong with every Winnebago travel trailer. So, keep in mind that these are all things that can potentially happen and not guarantees of all the things that will go wrong.
There are many different plumbing issues that can arise, including leaks, loss of water pressure, water heating problems, and so forth. These can be caused by loose fittings or pipe connections, loose wires, or issues with your water pump or water heater. If water freezes in your travel trailer plumbing, that can also cause significant problems.
Most Winnebago travel trailers are built so that you can easily access plumbing components like your water pump and water heater, so you can perform basic maintenance and repairs yourself, and fixtures can easily be tightened to stop leaks. However, more serious issues may require professional help.
Electric systems in a travel trailer are complex and there are many parts that can fail or be faulty. Sometimes a certain outlet won’t work, or the entire system may go down if your inverter fails or wires get disconnected or loosened. If you plug something in and nothing happens, first try another outlet to see whether it’s a problem with that one outlet or a problem with the whole system.
Unless you have experience working with travel trailer electrical systems, you will likely want to hire a professional to fix electrical problems.
Towing stability is also always a concern with travel trailers, including Winnebagos. However, you can usually mitigate any potential instability by making sure that your tow vehicle is properly rated for the weight of the trailer, keeping your vehicle maintained and monitoring tire pressure, and towing the trailer only when the weather and road conditions are good.
Finally, things can go wrong with the actual body of the travel trailer. For instance, cabinet or door hinges can break, window screens can pop out, and any other number of cosmetic or functional problems can arise.
Now, let’s look specifically at some of the commonly reported issues for a few of the most popular Winnebago travel trailers…
Winnebago Micro Minnie
The Micro Minnie is 7 feet wide and comes in a variety of floorplans with lengths varying from just over 19 feet to nearly 26 feet long. This travel trailer can sleep anywhere from 3-5 people and some of the larger floorplans include slideouts.
Some commonly reported issues for the Micro Minnie include substandard stabilizers, problems with the black water tank valve, window screens that don’t quite fit, and faulty air conditioners. Owners have also reported issues with propane lines, rear cameras failing, and components that rusted out soon after purchasing the trailer.
Some have mentioned that many pieces of the hardware that was used in the construction of the travel trailer (screws, bolts, etc.) are cheap, insufficiently sized, and prone to rusting out.
However, for the most part, the Micro Minnie seems to have only rather standard, run-of-the-mill problems that can be identified and fixed after a shakedown cruise. Obviously, the folks at Winnebago can’t possibly test out each and every travel trailer that they produce in the context of an actual road trip, so some issues are only going to become apparent when you actually hit the road.
As such, it’s always a good idea to take a low-stakes, short-distance trip as soon as you purchase your trailer. That way you can find any problems while you are still in range of services and can easily head back to the dealership if you need to. And, if there is anything that’s covered under warranty, you will still be well within the window to have it fixed for free.
Here is a very eye opening video demonstrating the potential quality issues within a Micro Minnie. Thank you for the detailed review Jim!
Overall, this travel trailer isn’t plagued with any major issues. It should also be noted in favor of this trailer that despite being awarded the 2021 Lightweight Travel Trailer of the Year, Winnebago has taken the extra step of adding two axles instead of just one.
This means that if you do get a dreaded tire blowout on the highway, the travel trailer will likely continue rolling almost normally instead of the catastrophic crash that could ensue with a single axle. Touches like this show that Winnebago does value the safety of their customers.
More info: winnebago.com
Winnebago Voyage Travel Trailer
The Voyage is a slightly bigger travel trailer at 8 feet wide and with various floor plans measuring from almost 28 feet to just over 34 feet long. This trailer also features the double axles for extra safety. Some commonly reported issues include plumbing leaks, black water tank flush not working properly, cabinet doors not closing fully, molding/window trim/outlet covers falling off, wiring coming loose, and so forth.
Some owners have reported that parts were even left out entirely – one person reported that the fire extinguisher that is supposed to be included in the travel trailer was not there when they bought it.
Many others mentioned poor overall workmanship, with various pieces poorly installed, components not working from the get-go, incorrect wiring, bent or warped doors/door frames, and in one case, part of the roof of the travel trailer actually ripping off while driving down the highway.
Owners have also mentioned that the power slide-outs regularly blow fuses, and leaks (and subsequent water damage) are a frequent concern. But, there are also owners who report being completely satisfied with their Voyage travel trailers, and that they experienced only minor maintenance issues or no problems at all.
However, the fact that a sizable fraction of reviews included mention of at least some significant problems doesn’t bode particularly well for this trailer.
Then again, if you perform a very thorough walk through of the specific travel trailer that you plan to purchase, you can often identify existing issues or even notice potential issues and either have the dealer fix them before you purchase it or look for a different trailer of the same model.
Frustratingly, quality control of RVs and travel trailers isn’t regulated, so you can get one well-made and perfectly functional Voyage that’s sitting on the lot next to one that is plagued with all kinds of problems.
So, physically manipulating and testing out everything in the actual unit that you intend to buy is a very important step in the travel trailer purchasing process and can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
More info: winnebago.com
The Winnebago Hike is 7’9” wide and ranges in length from just over 20.5 feet to 25 feet. All floor plans include one slide-out and depending on the specific layout, it can sleep 3-4 people.
This travel trailer has a roll cage that doubles as a modular storage rack, which sets it apart from many other travel trailers in its class. Since the Hike is relatively new, there aren’t tons of reviews yet, but a few owners have reported leaks in the plumbing where the manufacturers failed to use sealant.
One owner wrote a glowing initial review, only to report back just four months later with bad news – his water heater and refrigerator died, the sewer valve won’t close, a piece of construction debris came out of his black water tank, the back window seal fell off, and the trailer door unlocks and opens itself while in transit. Not a good sign for the new Hike.
More info: winnebago.com
Finally, let’s answer a few FAQs regarding Winnebago in general.
Who makes Winnebago travel trailers?
Winnebago travel trailers are made by Winnebago Industries, Inc., which produces RVs and travel trailers under the following brands: Winnebago, Grand Design, Chris-Craft, and Newmar.
Where are Winnebago travel trailers made?
Winnebago travel trailers are made at the various company facilities which are located in Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Florida. The company is headquartered in Forest City, Iowa where they have a large manufacturing campus as well.
Do Winnebagos hold their value?
Winnebagos do not hold their value particularly well, but that’s because RVs and travel trailers in general do not hold value well at all. Travel trailers generally lose about 40% of their value after 5 years and as much as 70% after 10 years, while motorized RVs lose about 40% of their value after 5 years and 50% after 10 years.
In fact, most RVs and travel trailers lose 20% of their value the second you drive them off the sale lot.
There are some recreational vehicle brands that hold their value better than others, and unfortunately Winnebago is not one of them. Airstream is the leader in value retention, since their campers are essentially cult classics and many people intentionally buy retro Airstreams to refit.
After Airstreams, molded fiberglass campers hold value the best, because they are the least prone to water damage and mold, which is often the bane of other older campers and travel trailers.
However, purchasing an RV isn’t usually an investment plan – it’s more about enjoying the moment and making memories!
If I was to purchase one of the three Winnebago travel trailers we discussed in this article, I would likely choose a Micro Minnie. It’s a tried and tested design, most shops are probably familiar with the model, parts are likely widely available, and I like that it’s only 7 feet wide.
However, both of the other options will likely fulfill your needs, so long as you perform a thorough inspection of the actual unit before you sign any papers.
It’s easy to get swept away by horror stories on the internet, but remember that only those who have exceptionally good or exceptionally bad experiences are likely to take the time to write a review – and honestly it’s usually mostly only those who had bad experiences.
Additionally, it’s possible that there is a certain level of user error, incautious use of delicate components, and so forth involved. So, it’s always a good idea to take online reviews with a grain of salt.
However, it’s also important to be realistic and aware that you likely will run into problems of some kind, at some point during your Winnebago travel trailer ownership.
While it is of course frustrating to have issues crop up as soon as you drive off the lot, you can at least take advantage of warranties – be sure to take a shakedown cruise as soon as you purchase a travel trailer for this exact purpose. There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering an issue just days after your warranty period runs out!
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