CAMPER TRAILER REVIEW
I’ve decided to do a review on my offroad camper after purchasing it new in 2018 from the Brisbane office. Now to get a few things straight - this IS NOT a smear campaign, it is my experience with my van. I have had multiple emails and personal messages where other owners with the same vans have had the similar, the same and even worse issues than mine. THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS VAN
My van is a 2018 Lifestyle Breakaway Ultra. Originally when we first saw the vans it was at a 4wd and camping show in Capalaba ( Brisbane ) in late 2017, and was told by the senior salesman that they were all made in their own factory in Brisbane. Apart from him being extremely rude to my partner it sold us and I put down the deposit to get one. This was September 2017 and expected delivery/pickup was just before xmas. I made the choice to do pick up in the new year and with this came a ‘new updated 2018 model ‘ which was a new sticker design on the trailer. Now we aren’t too sure and no body told us - is when the company changed from the Aussie build to the Chinese build, but I did notice after we paid the final payment and signed the paper work, on nearly the last page it did state it was an imported model.
Upon pickup we did notice and point out a couple of issues where there was bubbling under the paint ( the body of the Ultra is Aluminium so it probably is oxidation ), but was told by the person doing the handover - “this is how we got it from the overseas factory”, we thought it was a strange thing to say.
Another thing we ( along with others ) was the heavy tow-ball weight. Now on their brochure, it claims a great and reasonable 150kg ( dry spec in standard form ). But with this, throw in clothes, water, food etc and expect to climb over 200kg and more. A bonus buying at the show - there was a few extras that get called ‘show specials’, they included a second battery, second wheel, a front water tank, rock sliders, 4 shocks instead of two, front bra thing and extra annex walls.
Over the next few months we did a few weekends away and it worked well BUT the problems started, and I’ll get to those later. The trailer now ( Feb 2022 ) has done around 40,000 km, a mix of sealed highway miles, designated dirt roads including the PDR to the Cape, and western NSW dirt roads, and recently up the guts to Darwin. While these km’s are not HARD and the roads definitely not hardcore stuff, all care is taken with tyre pressures lowered, speed is reduced and general care taken while driving ( over 30 years of offroad experience, comp experience, and towing, )because at the end of the day the trailer was not cheap and I def don’t want to damage it for any reason. It is a good looking trailer and it does turn heads behind my 4wd, people constantly ask about the trailers ins and outs and for a while, I was so happy to do a show and tell and pass on the companies details, in the hope it might generate a sale for them. I try to keep my trailer in tip-top condition, washing and polishing with Australian products ( Bowdens ) and not only does this make it look good, can keep onto of the issues.
Before I start - like I said this has been my experience with my trailer and problems with it, some have been resolved easily with the company and others have been dragged out, plus other problems where because the trailer is now out of warranty I have just had to suck them up - BUT they are so bad that even my insurance company rejected claims for the trailer as an independent accessor saw fit to say that the trailer has been built wrong. There are so many problems ( and some just unfixable ) that the trailer can’t be sold ( I couldn’t dump this on anyone ) so I am stuck with it.
So within a few months the problems started to appear with the trailer going back to the head office ( 5 hour drive one way ) multiple times and gracefully the owner and his team picked it up once on their way back from a camping show in Sydney where I met them and showed them some of the issues. On this occasion problems included Internal drawers out of alignment and couldn’t be opened, scissor springs bent, we had a long spring snap, the front water tank couldn’t be filled as the capped was broken, external doors and drawers were out of alignment and the water taste from the rear tank was horrific. Outcome for these was the long springs fixed, internal drawers realigned, the front filler cap could not be replaced or opened as a new one had to be shipped from China and water pipes replaced to the rear tank as they were not food grade. One note on the water taste /tank issue, I called into the office one trip and talked to the head salesman about the taste, I even offered some water to him but the smell was over powering he refused to drink the water - it was that bad. When the company rang to say that the camper was ready, I asked ‘has anyone tasted the water ?’… answer no. I said I wouldn’t drive 5 hours to pick it up without it being tasted. So after another week, they called back to say it was finally ok - strange.
Talking to one of the warranty guys he even said he couldn’t believe some of these things - I commented about the filler cap 9 re coming from china ), he called BS and found me one across the road. While we were there I was given two LS T shirts. The external doors weren’t fixed - but was told there was a 6mm allowance to adjust doors, but mine don’t have this and now rub on the frame causing paint to come off. Another issue at this time was the alloy stone guard had dropped nearly 40mm to one side.
We went away for a weekend, cleaned the van ( as we do after every trip inside and out ), could hear water sloshing around in the rear ( wasn’t the water tank) - turned out to be the spare wheel carrier frame had filled up with water somehow. After drilling holes into the frame - black water poured out - no idea how long or what damage it has done inside the frame.
Decided to do a 3 month trip around QLD, a mix of highway driving, NP’s, western town caravan parks and free camping - for what the trailer is designed for. On this trip we arrived at a western town and I noticed that the rear shocks were hanging on the ground. The bottom shock pins had snapped ( a few months later I replaced the shocks with a much better brand ) and found 3 out of 4 were leaking oil and had stopped working. Also noticed that there was a lot of paint flaking off where the doorframes are - some sections were 300 mm long where paint is and still missing.
Next thing we noticed was cracking of the body outside. These cracks have run from frames to a light, around the kitchen, most drawers, above a side door, inside the camper and door lips. Emails were sent to the company and it was suggested that I keep an eye on them as we were away, but unfortunately it was out of warranty. One explanation for the cracks I was told by the company was that I have a bent roof due to a heavy awning on one side. This awning weighs 17 kg and is always propped up and poles are always used. The roof does look bent but it is from front to back, not across ways. I can see the kink in the roof near the entry door, def not caused by any awning weight. I did have a 4 bar roof rack system install professionally along a track to spread the weight.
Other issues on this trip included;
Snapped bolts off the scissor lower frames leaving gouges in the camper's body, snapped bolts off the scissor upper frames, snapped bolts off the camper lock down clips, zippers broke on the front bra making it totally useless to use, and the body cracks opening up more. With the cracks opening up even more water has now got inside the walls of the camper swelling the front, several sides and now the rear internal walls. Contact was made with the company to book the trailer in to get done through their maintenance side, after my insurance company deemed the camper wasn't their problem.
The trailer was booked in and it was only going to take 5 - 7 days to fix some of the severe paint bubblings, replace the front internal wall and to WELD the external cracks up - note WELD UP the cracks. The work ended up taking many weeks after many emails trying to see what was going on and where my trailer was, I found out that the trailer went off-site to another workshop for spraying where there were issues.
Emails and calls from the workshop manager stated it was TOTALLY FINISHED. When the due date arrived to pick the van up we drove 5 hours for pick ups on sat morning.
Upon arriving we found that it wasn’t anywhere near done for a quick 10 min pickup. THE TRAILER WASN'T EVEN FINISHED. FFS !!.
So after a few dummy spits a workshop employee spent an hour running silicon around all the joins ( he couldn’t believe it wasn’t done and gave me two extra tubes of their stuff - saying, - ‘you’ll probably need this !) ‘, a new jockey wheel was given to me ( as I said they have already replaced two ) and a bill. I offered to only pay half as only half the work was done, this did not go down well. A quick call to the boss and the bill was squashed as long as I shut up. All good I thought as it was stated to me on the phone by the owner/boss that the cracks had been welded up and it's all good. We get 2 hours down the road ( tar highway ) stop for a coffee, I inspect the crack and WTF !!… they had opened back up again.
Guess what ?…, only bogged up and painted over - NOT WELDED AS I WAS PROMISED BY THE OWNER AND WORKSHOP MANAGER!!.
Pics were sent to the salesman, owner and senior workshop manager along with an email stating the other issues I had that morning. I was behind a schedule to head away for a few months and had to leave altho I marked where the cracks had stopped on the day in thick black marker so others could see. They got worse and I had to silicon them up as water seeps in. I tried an insurance claim but it was rejected after they and an independent accessor claimed there are build issues with the trailer.
Since returning home other issues arising have included,
Suspension pins broke inside trailing arms, have found that the internal frame is not welded like other Ultra’s only siliconed together, water leaks into back wall causing warping of the wall ( when it rains we have to put a towel in the corner near the bed to soak it up before it runs into the power fuse box ), water is running down through wiring causing shorting out, window blind cords snapped making the blinds in-operable, window glass fell out on driver side, major paint issues on front panel around 600mm long, internal drawer runners have broken, rubbing of doors on frame down to bare metal, could smell gas and found broken gas fittings ( have now had the gas lines re done and new fittings replaced with new compliance ), water pipe fittings only pushed through camper floor using silicon as holder - no clamps as it was broken, front water tank filler pipe was siliconed to the inside of the water tank - no outer fittings used, water tank gauges don’t work, the pole tube badly fills with water, major water leak at side door leaving pools of water on floor- discolouring floor leaving it spongy and soft with distorted covering, several major paint distortions at rear of camper ( look like rust but its an aluminium body ), severe cracks in the alloy stone guard, tearing of the vinyl where the scissor lifts grab it, water leaking at side points running to the rear and dripping internally at rear.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Now while some may say ( and some certainly have ) that I am smearing, slandering the company - I really don’t think I have as this has been MY EXPERIENCE with this trailer. I have taken the trailer back multiple times ( 10 hours round trip at my expense ) to have things addressed, some fixed and others not. It beats me to know why this trailer has so many issues, like I said I look after my gear, serviced every 10,000km ( have receipts ) by an authorised dealer, I do checks every week while away and it is meticulously cleaned. I am guessing it might be one of the first imports and boy has it got issues. I've offered to send the trailer back to the company and they can just have it ( have this and everything else documented in emails ) but to date - no response. But with a complaint and report to the ACCC, it's only a matter of time for some good news.
Stay tuned for more updates
Soon after other issues included; stainless steel was starting to rust ( trailer has never been on beach or through salt water ), blemishes on the paint externally like rust bubbles, pins fell out of the main door, water and dust coming in at the main door ( found two large holes at base of door ), leaking gas from hot water unit ( had the hot water company come around to my house and they found the wrong fittings on the trailer for their system ) and water pump was struggling to work ( this turned out to be the filter on the back of the water pump had been screwed on to tight then somebody had tried to fix the cracks with silicon but it still kept sucking air into the lines.
I dropped the trailer off in immaculate condition, polished to the max and was hoping it might be the same but I was gobsmacked the way it was. The sprayer ended up spraying the whole side of the van plus silver overspray across the rear tyres, the stickers down the side were not replaced ( was told by the senior salesman on the day that they don’t do the stickers, but then was told by the head of the workshop on the same day that they do the stickers ), only the front internal wall was replaced not the internal side, the bunks were not put back in, all bedding had to be re-washed and inside the van had to be cleaned due to the amount of white and workshop dust inside, sealant was not used where the panels joined plus the jockey wheel had a bend in.