Ever consider a Winnebago? You are probably wondering if it is a good brand, if the Winnebago quality is good, and, if you should invest your hard-earned money into this RV company.
Well, after our bad experience with Winnebago, we figured it was only fair to share our experience with you.
If you are reading this, you likely are trying to research an RV purchase decision and considering a Winnebago.
We wanted to share our experience with a new 2021 Winnebago Micro Minnie and at least give prospective owners an opportunity to see an experience beyond the marketing and sales pitches.
Quick Disclaimer: Hi there corporate nerd attorneys ???? . The information in my article here is strictly my personal opinion of this unit, based on my personal, real user experience with the Micro Minnie 1700BH. Rather than trying to sue me, maybe pressure your executives to make a better product for their customers. Cheers, Mike ????
Why Am I Sharing This?
Because people work hard. They save money and try to spend it on a quality product that can operate as advertised and expected.
Too many companies don’t care anymore, and well, they don’t have to. The little guys and gals don’t have much recourse or endless wallets to play legal games with corporations.
All we can do is honestly share our experiences with each other and hope in some way it helps someone else.
Why We Chose The Micro Minnie
When we were shopping for a travel trailer, we wanted to avoid getting a “budget” RV so we didn’t have to deal with crappy builds and cheap parts.
So, the Micro Minnie was substantially more expensive than cheaper brands like Coleman or Grey Wolf, Viking, etc.
In hindsight, I should have gone cheaper. Buying Winnebago did not pay off for us at all.
Towing and Pulling the Winnebago Micro Minnie
Another big factor for us buying the Micro Minnie was the Aluminum frame making the RV very light at only 3,000lbs dry, something super easy to tow that can be towed by most vehicles.
While the Micro Minnie 1700BH does pull easily due to its lightweight, it’s also a bit scary to tow.
With the single axle frame and high suspension, potholes and curbs cause a huge amount of wobble and sway in the RV that rocks the tow vehicle and just adds to anxiety when driving.
Now, if you are on a flat, smooth, road surface, it tows great. Toss in a couple of bad roads, curbs, and turns and you are in for a wobbly towing experience.
Our Micro Minnie Problems and Experience
In September of 2021, we purchased a new Winnebago Micro Minnie 1700BH at a local dealer.
After taking delivery, we loaded the Micro Minnie up and hit the road headed out from Florida to Yellowstone in Wyoming for what should have been an epic trip out west, something we do often.
On the same day we left, we were a few hundred miles north in Georgia and pulled off I-75 for our first gas fill-up.
Upon exiting the vehicle (at the pump) I immediately smelled something burning.
At that same time, a woman at the next pump yelled “you are on fire”.
You can imagine how shocked and confused I initially was, after all, this was a brand new RV and we had done nothing to it, not even slept in it yet.
I looked back at the coach and saw the trailer frame with heavy smoke and a few small flames.
I immediately pulled the Micro Minnie away from the gas pump, yanked off all the trailer wiring harness cables, ensured propane was off (it was), and shut off the master battery kill switch.
Once the smoke cleared, I was able to crawl under the coach and see along the frame where the wiring harness enters a junction box, there was some sort of short that caused a fire.
Still in shock and just frankly relieved that we were all safe and unharmed (2 kids and our dog). We were now stuck in middle Georgia on a Friday afternoon at a sketchy interstate gas station with limited resources.
Fortunately, we remembered the new RV came with a 1-year roadside assistance program from Winnebago.
Awesome, right? No. Here is how that went:
I called the 800 number listed on the coach door. I was on hold for a bit and eventually transferred to a person.
They tried looking my info up but had trouble due to the fact that the purchase was so recent, there wasn’t any info in their system yet.
Once we gave VIN and the dealer we bought from (and a lot more hold time) the folks on the roadside assistance line were able to confirm we had coverage.
But, it was useless….
We were told to wait in a safe area and expect a callback, this was roughly noon.
About an hour later, we get a call from the Winnebago Tech line who wanted to see if the problem could be fixed by me at the gas station, once they learned what happened (the fire) they said they would have to contract out a local repair guy to come to us and fix the issue to get us back on the road.
We waited for another 3-4 hours in the gas station parking lot and finally got a call from a “local” tech.
The tech asked what happened, we explained, and he said, he could come out and “take a look” but it would be 4-5 hours before he arrived. He also advised that he would most likely not be able to fix it on the side of the road.
He further explained that we would be responsible for paying him and then filing a repayment claim with Winnebago if he did come. Uggh…
I told him not to come if he “most likely” could not fix the RV and we would still have to pay.
I then called Winnebago back and explained the lack of assistance.
They said there was nothing further they could do and I would have to take it to a certified service center and that closest location was 2 hours away in Columbus, GA.
Keep in mind, we now have no trailer lights since the wiring harness was fried on the coach.
So, we were stuck. We ended up having to drive the RV back with everything unplugged (no lights, no trailer brakes, etc).
We had to make this choice based on the lack of options from Winnebago and useless roadside assistance.
Once back in Florida, we got the RV in for service.
Fast forward one week, we got the coach back, yes, the wires were fixed, but the burned-up underbelly was still there exposing the underbelly (that’s supposed to be sealed) exposed to elements if we hit the road again.
So, we sent it back in for more repairs and it was good to go a few days later.
So, let’s take some inventory here, we are now out the following:
- Camping reservations
- Gas Money to Turn Around to Florida
- A new Trailer with some repairs that has never been slept in.
- Kids going crazy because, well, we were supposed to be going to Yellowstone.
Did we file a claim for lost funds, time, and reservations? No, we expect and understand that some RV’s just have things go wrong, and thankfully when you buy, you get warranty work to cover it.
So, we chalked it up to an unfortunate event but no big deal.
Oh, how I wish it ended there…..
We now make new camping reservations, head out again towards the west and stop off our first night in Panama City at a State Park with beach camping.
We were pumped to be headed out again!
Well, the first day, the hot water heater died (later found out the thermocouple was bad).
Then, as I was sitting outside the RV typing up content for my blogs, I noticed water seeping out of the sidewall of the RV, and NOT where water is supposed to drain.
I ran inside and learned my wife was doing dishes, I looked under the kitchen sink and saw water EVERYWHERE and leaking into areas I cannot access between the sink and exterior walls.
But, I do know it’s flooded there.
Upon further inspection, I see the sink plumbing was put in place, but not secured tight and ultimately leaking when used. See below:
Ok, that’s irritating, but let’s just call the dealer, have it documented, tighten the P-trap myself and carry on with the trip. After all, we don’t want to miss yet another trip for issues that can wait a bit.
No hot water, and water leaks with potential damage to the interior walls.
This sucks but we can deal with it later. It’s summer and hot out, everything will dry and we can get a warranty claim to fix it when we return.
Onward! Right?…..No…..we have more issues….
We get the water cleaned up, pipes tightened, and I get back in my chair typing away next to the RV.
My wife says she is going to take a (cold) shower. About 5 minutes into her shower, water starts leaking from MULTIPLE areas around the sidewalls, the underbelly, and other various cracks in the underbelly.
Shocked (and now just pissed off) I jumped up, told her to turn off the water and I started trying to find the problem.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the problem as it is coming from somewhere inside the sealed-up areas of the RV and it’s not something I can quickly fix to hold off until we get warranty work.
Ok, we’re done with this damn RV at this point.
Here’s the deal, will this get fixed under warranty? Yes, and that’s great. But, it doesn’t account for deep moisture build-ups and the huge potential for mold and mildew which is dangerous for my children to sleep around.
I called the manager at the RV dealer we purchased from, explained everything, and sent him an email with pictures and videos supporting my claims.
I pack it up, disappoint the kids again, turn around and take us back home to get the RV serviced again.
After the RV is serviced for a week, I get a call to come in as they pull the underbelly to show the extent of damage and give me peace of mind it can be repaired to new condition again.
The service techs did open the belly and we could see that most of this could be fixed. It turns out a pipe under the shower pan was not secured and leaking a lot.
I pointed out where the water was coming from, which was about 4 inches higher than what we could see from the underbelly.
I asked to have that area opened to make sure it doesn’t have damage too, I was told that they could cut that area open but not fully rebuild it back, but rather place like RV duct tape over the area after we inspect.
That’s not gonna work for me, I can’t change the mold, mildew, and potential for warped side paneling in a year after seasonal expansion and retraction of the wood, even further ruining the value and outside the warranty period.
However, now I want an exchanged coach, I don’t want a brand new $25k asset that’s already depreciating to have bandaid repairs.
The General Manager was helpful and decided to contact Winnebago on our behalf to get a remedy for either a new coach or a refund/buyback.
We wait….and wait….and wait. About a few weeks in (now in October, still haven’t had a single successful camping trip) we get a call from “Danielle” at the Consumer Dept of Winnebago Corporate.
Daniell requests photos and videos and says she will get this sorted out, just have patience.
Another 3 weeks pass, we don’t hear anything, and finally receive a single paragraph email that states, basically, “our legal dept denied a buyback or assistance, we will ensure your RV gets repaired and returned to you asap”. See below:
So, let’s a recap.
We have multiple leaks, multiple areas of water damage, certain areas we cannot confirm are even repaired without doing further damage to the RV, a broken water heater, and various other problems of less importance.
On a brand new RV, we still have not had a single successful night in.
Are Winnebago Micro Minnie’s Any Good?
Our Winnebago Micro Minnie was not good. From day one, we had significant build quality issues, failed parts, and a dangerous roadside issue where the Winnebago Roadside Assistance program was no help at all.
Does that mean that in general terms are Winebago’s a bad brand? No, some could be great, but based on our experience below and some follow-up visits to look at other Winnebago units, we feel that the quality of Winnebago is on the decline and not worth our money.
During our fiasco with Winnebago trying to get our Micro Minnie exchanged or returned, we learned from several dealers that due to RV manufacturer staff shortages, the quality has been rapidly declining.
While we have no way of knowing if that was in fact true, it did match our experience with the brand.
It’s an anecdote, but, while shopping for a new RV (yes, we are trading out of this crap hole), we did tour a few new Winnebagos and found them to have substantially more “things” falling apart on the dealer lot.
Small stuff like bathroom towel holders falling off and bad trim cuts left us feeling that what we heard about staff issues at the manufacturer to be potentially true.
Is Winnebago A Good Company?
From our experience, Winnebago is not a good company and did not stand behind their product aside from some bandaid repairs that would have likely led to mold and warping down the road.
It would appear the Winnebago Legal Dept was more concerned with short-term profit over long-term customer retention. It’s short-sighted, but their choice nonetheless.
RV companies are only required to honor their warranty, and in this case, they will.
But, this was too much, and the value was already tanking (more than normal) due to damage and repairs.
The real kicker is that these issues are a result of their own manufacturing process, not user error.
It would make sense for them to take this back and realize it was just a bad apple.
But, they don’t have to, and I don’t have to say nice things, or buy Winnebago again.
We all have choices. Vote with your dollars, folks.