RV “Frame Flex” (Our Opinion)

First! The RV above does NOT have frame flex. It's just our home and we think she's pretty! 😊

Why We are Weighing In

Many have asked us to make a video on the “frame flex” issue, and we completely understand why those who follow us might want our take on the issue. However, we only make videos about our first-hand experiences, and we've never had a frame issue in either of our RVs. While a “frame-flex” video would be good for our channel and get a lot of views, for us to make a video based on hearsay and speculation would be irresponsible and only feed the mob mentality of social media. But, we do want our viewers to know where we stand on this issue, hence this post.

Our History and Relationship with Grand Design RV

Many assume that because we're brand ambassadors for GDRV, that we're paid by them and not allowed to speak negatively about the brand. Both of these assertions are patently false.

If you've watched our channel for a while, you might know that we've produced MANY videos about RV problems with our Grand Design RVs. We cover EVERY issue we've ever had, and there are 22 videos of those issues being addressed organized in their own playlist here.

While we respect our relationship with our friends at Grand Design, they have ZERO control over what we say.

We do not have a relationship or partnership with Lippert.

The Basis of Our Opinion

We've seen many of the frame-flex videos posted on YouTube. But, for an unbiased view of the issue directly from the frame manufacturer, we recommend you check out our friend JD's (@BigTruckBigRV) videos on the topic. He has spoken directly to Lippert and has a lot of great information on the subject. For convenience, he has put them into their own playlist here.

We have also spoken to our contacts at Grand Design RV and they have also put out a statement here.

Our Take

Frame issues are very rare, with less than 1% of fifth wheels over 17K GVWR (not all fifth wheels) having a problem. A very small fraction of a small subset of fifth wheels out there. That information was directly from Lippert via JD's video. We don't know what percentage of fifth wheels on the road are over 17K GVWR, but we would guess it's a small percentage. If we can find solid numbers on this, we will update this post. But we think it's a small fraction (1/100) of another small fraction. But, as tends to happen on social media, a few loud voices (and those who pile on) tend to make the issue seem more widespread than it is.

Another bit of information gleaned from JD's interview with Lippert is that the overall RV super-structure from which an RV's total rigidity comes is a combination of the house frame (built by the RV manufacturer) and the underlying chassis frame (Lippert's frame). When the bond between the two is weakened, the overall structure is weakened. While all RVs are designed with some needed flexibility, when this bond is weakened, the frame can flex excessively, which just exacerbates the damage to the RV. It's this excess flex damage that carries into the house frame and can be visible from the outside and/or interior.

The underlying cause behind the weakening of the house/chassis bond and the resulting frame-overflex and can be from any number of things.

Manufacturing Causes

Frame issues can be caused from the RV manufacturer not properly securing the house frame to the chassis frame (improper lag bolts, missing lag bolts, etc.) It could also be improper welds in either frame. Once one part breaks, the damage only gets worse when traveling. All RVs are built by human hands and mistakes can (and do) happen.

The underlying cause can be owner-caused from things like overloading, improper weight distribution, rough driving (too fast) on bad roads, using an unapproved after-market pin box, etc. JD also has some videos coming out that he says will show the testing process for after-market pin boxes. Lippert has many after-market pin boxes that have passed testing and are approved, and some that have failed and are not approved. The pin box is an integral part of the frame structure as soon as you hitch it to a truck, and it's impact on the frame when towing can be substantial.

The underlying cause can also be from previous damage to the RV that was not properly remediated at the time of repair. One thing that stood out from JD's interview with Lippert was that water damage can weaken the super-structure by damaging the critical bond between the house frame and the underlying chassis (frame). In particular, a leak in the upper deck of a fifth wheel can weaken this bond where the frame is under the most stress when towing.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line, in our opinion, is that frame issues are rare and the causes (and liability) of those that do break are varied. We feel there is no single root cause or villain when it comes to these frame flex issues.

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