Newmar Dutch Star Problems

I follow Mike’s blog, The Good, The Bad and the RV. He bought a brand new 2015 Newmar Dutch Star and only a year or so later he had traded it in for a 2016 Newmar Essex.

I’m not sure what motivated his decision to change coaches so quickly. He must have taken quite a hit on the depreciation cost of the Dutch Star even with a trade-in on a coach that was sitting on a dealer’s lot.

He did post about some of the issues he had in the first few months with the Dutch Star:

Our brand new Newmar Dutch Star had the following problems, which took months to fix:

  • The passenger seat had a spring poking out of it (this was noticed pre-purchase and the salesman assured us it was a simple seat replacement. It ended up taking 2 months because Newmar refused to replace the seat)
  • Both the mid and aft floor heat switches randomly turn off after being on a short time (sometimes as short as 30 seconds)
  • The Oasis burner turns on and off constantly, forever. The burner starts up, runs for 1 second, and then shuts off. 5-10 seconds later it repeats this…over and over until I turn the burner switch off.
  • The rear, drivers side leveler jack left a large puddle of hydraulic fluid when I last retracted it
  • The USB port in the dash is not working
  • The fresh water hose has developed blisters between the inner and outer layers and now leaks
  • The passenger sofa bottom fell off when putting the slide out and will not reattach
  • Windshield wiper fluid does not dispense when the button on the steering wheel is pressed
  • When playing DVD audio through the AV receiver (for surround sound), the sound cuts out
  • The sun shade on the passenger window no longer retracts
  • The night shade on the drivers window is coming down askew and sliding towards the front of the coach. It used to come down straight, but now, when unrolling, it ends up 3-4 inches away from where it started.
  • The front leveler jacks sound horrible when extending. Having owned this same system in another coach, this sound doesn’t seem normal.
  • The kitchen faucet is overly loose

Right after buying this unit, we took this coach on a two week trip. It then sat at the dealership for over 2 months! We then took it on a one month trip. Problems on the list still were not fixed so it went back to the dealer for almost another month. So the unit spent 3 of the first 5 months at the shop.

We have had our fair share of issues as well. This is our list.

First, the warranty punch list after the first few months of operating the coach:

  • Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
  • Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
  • Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
  • MCD Day/Night Shades: MCD Day/Night Shades over dining area appear to require reprogramming. Day shade inoperative over main dining area window and night shades over main dining area window and small dining area window out of synch.
  • Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
  • Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
  • Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
  • Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
  • Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat
  • Engine fault light triggered by outdate engine firmware
  • Driver side tire bulge

We had a couple of recalls including the infamous “your coach could catch fire” recall:

  • 467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
  • 472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued). We heard loose mounting bolts on both front slideouts (Full Wall Slideout and Off Driver Slideout) while driving the coach.

And, since then, a few other items which have not been resolved yet:

  • Side radiator lower grill almost disconnected from body of coach
  • Oasis hot water heater pump failure
  • Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed
  • Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid

Along with a few more new recalls that will have to be resolved:

  • 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
  • 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
  • 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (another potential fire hazard)
  • 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and no match the engine ECU odometer value

Well. Quite the list for such an expensive coach.

And, like Mike, our coach has to go to the dealer for an extended stay. Typically 3 to 4 weeks. Which isn’t an issue now since I haven’t retired yet. But when we plan to be in the States for about 6 months of the year, I don’t want to have the coach sitting at some dealer for a month or two.

We certainly expected some issues with our new coach. And given Newmar’s reputation as being one of the better manufacturers, it does seem a bit troubling to run into so many issues after only a few thousand miles on the chassis.

We hope to run the coach for many more years.

I hope this list doesn’t get much longer.

Air Conditioner Drainage Problem

If you are having trouble with the runoff from your air conditioner spilling over the top of your Dutch Star, then this might help.

Ever since we purchased our Dutch Star, we have had an issue with the front air conditioner. It would spill water on each side of the front cap. On the driver’s side, the runoff from the air conditioner would drip over the windows and leave nasty water marks that were really difficult to remove. On the passenger side, the runoff from the air conditioner would drip down both sides of the door and leave really nasty water marks on the finish.

Whenever it rained, water would run down from the roof on the front cap and, yes, you guessed it, leave nasty water marks.

I had read that it was important to keep the roof of the coach clean to prevent streaking. After sealing the roof in July, the front windshield stayed clean after a rainfall. But it did not make sense to me that the runoff from the air conditioner would spill over the rain gutter on top of the coach. Surely there must be a drain?

When the folks from Superior Coach Detailing did the wash and wax, they told me that they would remove debris from the drain gutters on top of the coach and that should allow the runoff to drain properly.

Well, there was a bit more to the problem than cleaning out the drain gutters.

It turns out that the Dutch Star has four drains from the gutters on top of the coach. On our model, two of them are located on each side of the front cap and two of them come down on the passenger side of the rear cap.

This is what the drain looks like:

It consists of a drain tube that is roughly an inch or so in diameter. That drain tube terminates with a pinched rubber hose which you can see in the picture above. I guess they pinch that part of the drain to prevent critters from crawling up the drain pipe.

For whatever reason, my front drains were not only pinched but they were put at a right angle and inserted into the overhang of the bottom of the front cap. So, much like crimping a garden hose, nothing was draining out of the tubes. The drain tube would gradually fill up, the rain gutter would gradually fill up, and the runoff from the air conditioner would spill out over the sides of the coach leaving nasty water marks.

I crawled under the front cap and straightened out the down tubes. A significant amount of water was then released immediately. Perhaps I should not have been as close to the down tube when that happened. The water did not taste very good at all.

And now? No runoff from the air conditioner spilling out over the top of the coach. The runoff drains through the down tubes as it should.

I’ve been told to check the drains at the top of the coach for any debris that might interfere with channeling the water from the roof to the ground. That makes sense.

And I’ve been told to check the pinched rubber hose to ensure that water is flowing freely through the down tube. And that makes sense.

Some people will even use an air compressor to blow out the drain pipe to clear any potential blockages. I would be very careful with that procedure and use very low air pressure as the drain tubes do not look that robust.

And, of course, none of this will be found in any manual for the coach. Thankfully there are forums like iRV2 to find some insight.

On Or Off The Roof?

In July of this year, I made it to the top of the roof of our coach. It wasn’t the first time. I’ve been up there a few times.

I go up to clean the roof and to apply a sealant. It is always a bit of a stretch getting up there. I use a step ladder that can double as an extension ladder. The extension won’t go above the roof line so it requires a leg-over and a pull-over to get my body up and across.

Although I am still fit at sixty, I have found myself wondering about my personal safety clambering up to the top of the coach.

In coming up to Hearthside Grove, I was prepared to wash and wax our coach myself. I decided against doing so. For about $400, Superior Coach Detailing did an awesome job and I did not have to worry about getting up on the roof.

But the question remains: on or off the roof?

We have enjoyed making some new friends at the resort and one person we met had a tragedy happen in her life. When I mentioned that I was planning on doing some work on the roof of our coach, she was very blunt with me. She told me to stay off the roof.

Last year, her husband was doing some work on the roof of their motorhome. He slipped and fell from the top of their coach. He died from the injuries sustained in the fall.

I am rethinking the need to go up there now. Especially if I can hire a crew of younger and more experienced people to deal with any maintenance items on the roof.

Girard Awning Stuck?

Your Girard awnings won’t extend? They won’t retract? Are they stuck hanging outside your coach?

That happened to us a few days ago. And the solution for our coach was not something that you will find in a manual.

I was doing some outside work on our 2016 Newmar Dutch Star 4002. It is equipped with the Girard Nova Awnings.

Everything looked fine.

I went inside the coach and pressed the “IN” button to retract the awnings.

The awnings began to retract and, about halfway through the process, they stopped. They were stuck.

The awnings were partially deployed. They would not go in. They would not go out.

What could be wrong?

I did the usual: read through the manual, jumped on the Girard website, searched Google. And, after a few hours of floundering, I gave up and called the service manager at our dealer.

He knew exactly what to do.

Inside one of our bays are two Girard control devices. Our service manager called them “turtles”.

They look like this:

These two are working normally because the two indicator lights at the upper left are on. Not sure why the Girard engineers chose red LEDs as the normal condition light indicator. Wouldn’t a green LED indicator make more sense?

When our awnings became stuck, both those lights were off.

If you follow where they are plugged in, you will find something interesting marked on the outlet:

Well, look at that! They are plugged into a GFCI protected circuit.

Important to note: they are not plugged into a GFCI outlet. The plug is tied to a GFCI outlet. There is no reset button at this plug. We had to go hunting for the GFCI  outlets elsewhere in the coach.

Our service manager asked us to reset two GFCI outlets. One in our kitchen galley and one in our small washroom mid-coach.

He suspected that there was some kind of voltage issue that caused the GFCI circuits to trip. One of the awnings was tied to the GFCI outlet in the kitchen, the other was tied to the GFCI outlet in the small washroom.

Finding said GFCI outlets is a bit of a trick.

In our case, the GFCI outlet in the kitchen was directly underneath one of the top row of cabinets.

You can make out the two buttons in the middle of the GFCI outlet. It takes a bit more work to press reset than I expected. There is quite a bit of travel and you have to really press down.

The reset button for our outlets is in the top position. The other button is a test button. If you press that one, the outlet may not reset.

In the small bathroom, the GFCI outlet was located inside our medicine cabinet.

We tested both of those outlets to make sure they were working before heading back down to the bay which holds the two Girard “turtles”. The indicator lights on the Girard controllers were back on.

Pressing the “IN” button retracted the Girard awnings. Success.

Filed under “Not in the manual” and “The things they don’t tell you about maintaining your coach”.

Warranty Service

Our coach came out of storage last week and we took the Castaway over the the dealer for some scheduled service and warranty items.

This was our list:

Warranty Items

1. Kitchen Sink Leak: drain pipe leaks where drain meets down pipe immediately underneath the sink.
2. Loose Fabric Trim: fabric trim by pantry drawer leading into bedroom has come loose in a couple of areas.
3. Cracked Floor Tile: cracked floor tile driver side behind the recliner that is closest to the kitchen galley.
4. MCD Day/Night Shades: MCD Day/Night Shades over dining area appear to require reprogramming. Day shade inoperative over main dining area window and night shades over main dining area window and small dining area window out of synch.
5. Winegard Rayzar Digital TV Antenna: Unit is producing an E3 error during operation (motor movement error).
6. Sofa Bed Latch: Latch for inflating sofa bed doesn’t stay closed when inflating.
7. Passenger Side Basement Door: When door side slideout is open, first basement door rubs bottom of slideout (door out of alignment).
8. Front Wheel Vibration: At highway speed, roughly 100km and above, front exhibits a vibration that is characteristic of unbalanced wheels.
9. Driver Side Fuel Cover: Missing clearcoat?

Technical Service Bulletins

1. 467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
2. 472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued). We hear loose mounting bolts on both front slideouts (Full Wall Slideout and Off Driver Slideout) while driving the coach.

Other

1. Trim Edge: Trim Edge popped off door side woodwork. Small piece of trim was placed beside the passenger seat in front of coach.
2. Service of Coach: As required (fluid levels, lubrication, etc).
3. Coach Detailing

The service team at the Hitch House has been hard at work on the coach. We received some good news with respect to the potential fire hazard recall item. Freightliner inspected the coach and our build was fine. We did not have the issue and no remediation work was required.

Given the overall complexity of the coach, we are pleased that we have not experienced a substantial number of issues after our first year of ownership.

One negative though. The detailing team is backlogged and unable to work on our coach.

I will have to do the detailing work myself, which I had done last year. Very time consuming.

I ordered some new product from McKee’s. Lots of positive press on their RV specific products. Once the coach comes home, I will be hard at work detailing the Castaway for the 2017 touring season.