How To Replace Lights In A Newmar Dutch Star

Let there be light. But what happens if your lights fail to light?

Let there be dark.

A common issue with Newmar coaches is the failure of the ceiling LED lights. We’ve been fortunate. We have yet to replace any of our ceiling lights. I should emphasize the word yet.

Some owners have had to replace all of their ceiling lights. Some owners have had to replace just a few.

I know it is just a matter of time before we have to replace those lights. Like many things in our coach, they were not built to last.

Removing the existing light is a bit of work. This video shows the process:

And this thread on the iRV2 forum gives a bit more detail.

There are many sources for the replacement lights. M4 comes up frequently as a good supplier of replacement lights. For our coach, we would probably go with this specific product.

We have our coach in storage for the winter as we are stranded in Ontario due to COVID-19. I will probably wait until we have a fixture fail before dealing with the ceiling lights. I might do them all in one go which would be a pretty major project.

The Year Of The RV Continues

First snowfall arrived yesterday. Environment Canada was predicting several inches of accumulation and hazardous driving conditions. False alarm. We did receive a light coating of snow and it should all be gone by tomorrow as a bit of a warming trend arrives to this part of the country. By warm I mean somewhere in the 50s Fahrenheit or the low teens Celsius.

And Daylight Savings Time ended yesterday. The long dark days of winter combined with a pandemic may prove a bit challenging for the clipped wings of Canadian Snowbirds like myself. Not to mention a stock market that awaits the political chaos that may run wild as we brace for the unfolding drama of the U.S. election. That begins in earnest tomorrow evening although I expect the unexpected. MAGA, baby, more MAGA. Or a New World Order. One or the other.

Interest rates up here have reached a new low of 1.29 percent on a variable-rate mortgage. The rate of inflation will soon be higher. Free money. The result will be continued inflation of real estate which, in this neck of the woods, is completely unhinged.

Can you name the top ten cities in North America that have the most expensive real estate prices? Would it surprise you to learn that 5 of those 10 cities are in Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam, Brampton?

Canadians pay the highest real estate prices in the world due to excessive government spending and low interest rates.

Canada has one of the highest unemployment rates. In Toronto that rate is almost 13 percent.

This level of real estate inflation is dangerous and it is definitely not normal.

Another thing that isn’t normal?

Newmar asking $1.3 million USD for a King Aire motorcoach. Yikes.

Let’s do a quick check on the Year of the RV.

The RVIA pushed out the latest numbers from September — October numbers won’t be out for a few more weeks — with all of the usual spin about the strong demand amidst the backdrop of COVID-19. People are literally pounding at the doors of RV dealerships: I WANT AN RV AND I WANT ONE NOW!!!

Not surprisingly, the Year of the RV seems to be big for folding camping trailers and van campers.

And some good numbers for travel trailers and 5th wheels.

But for Class A motorhomes? Down almost 32 percent from last year.

Seems to be a bit of a mixed bag for the industry. Better than expected for the cheap rigs (folding camping trailers and lower-cost travel trailers) and not great for the expensive rigs.

There will be some residual production for the balance of the year and October’s numbers should be interesting to review.

Hard to predict where things might go next year.

One would expect a global recession to hit hard.

Except in Canada. We like spending a lot for a little. Like this recent listing in Toronto. It did sell by the way. For about $200,000 over asking.

My, my.

Bottom Of The Barrel

Peeling and flaking fabric. I’ve read about this issue on various RV forums, blog posts and Facebook groups. I’ve done some research into why the synthetic fabrics used in our motorcoach will degrade over time. For some owners, the peeling and flaking happens quickly, within their one-year warranty. For other owners, the problem happens within the first few years of ownership.

Our furniture fabric is holding up well so far. Sadly it may look like this in the not too distant future.

When we had our coach built, we were told that Newmar was using redesigned Flexsteel furniture that featured Strada leather by Ultrafabrics.

Except that Strada leather is not leather at all.

Ultrafabrics describes Strada this way:

Strada is destined to become an instant classic. Delivering a timeless appeal with an enhanced texture to match, this notable style is an enduring polyurethane option at a value price point.

An enduring polyurethane option at a value price point.

There are numerous threads on the iRV2 Newmar Forum about Newmar furniture flaking and peeling. Here is how one owner expressed his frustration:

If I knew I was buying bottom of the barrel components I would have bought from a bottom of the barrel manufacturer.

The composition of the Strada fabric is 100 percent polyurethane surface and 55 percent viscose rayon and 45 percent polyester. Ultrafabrics claims 200,000 double rubs. This is significantly above the threshold for a heavy duty fabric.

Abrasion levels can lead to the faulty assumption that the fabric will be durable and that it will enjoy a lengthy life span. Abrasion resistance is only one component of durability as many Newmar owners are discovering.

Newmar, cost cutting in this area like so many other areas, deployed a fake leather product at a “value price point” that can degrade quickly. Recovering the fabric can be costly, usually in the range of several thousand dollars. I have read reports of Newmar covering the cost out of warranty for original owners with a certain class of coach.

Do I Have To Be A Mechanic To Own An RV?

Do you have to be a mechanic to own an RV? It helps to have a mechanical mindset which, in my mind, means that you do not overreact to problems with your coach. There will be many problems, especially with a new coach, and the vast majority of them can be easily fixed. Except for things like a brand new coach catching fire.

To give you an idea, here are some of the issues we ran into with our coach over the past four years.

Leak under the kitchen sink. Easy fix.

Loose fabric trim. Easy fix.

Cracked floor tile. Required a trip to the dealer. Fixed under warranty.

MCD power shades. Never worked properly. After two years of taking it back to the dealer, we contacted MCD directly. Turns out there was a recall on the motors. Replaced at factory. They work fine now.

Winegard antennas. They all failed. Satellite and Over-the-Air Digital TV antennas. Defective motors. Both replaced under warranty although the satellite antenna was not an easy fix. I had to dismantle, ship and re-install that unit. Not fun.

Sofa bed. Broken latch. Required a trip to the dealer. Replaced under warranty. Incorrect mattress installed. We never use it so we have left it on our list of things to fix whenever we next get to the factory.

Bay doors. Newmar uses an odd plastic ring — it looks look a floral decorative element — on the retaining arm that cracks and breaks off over time. Easy fix. Annoying that they use such cheap parts in the coach.

Engine fault. Required a trip to a Cummins dealer. Easy fix for them. Engine firmware was out of date and required an update.

Defective front tire. Required roadside assistance. Replaced under warranty although it took almost six months for Michelin to finally settle the charge.

Loose lower body side panels. Newmar uses relatively small screws to retain the side body panels to the chassis of the coach. They come loose. Fortunately we caught it before the side panels could detach. Easy fix. Curious design.

Oasis hot water pumps. Not a straight forward fix. Defective pumps that ITR will not recall. Dealer replaced one. I replaced the other two. The newer designs seem to be holding up well. Having to spend upwards of $1,000 to replace defective pumps was annoying.

HWH levelling system. Required a trip to the dealer to replace a bad solenoid.

Magnum Inverter failure. Fortunately I was able to resolve with a simple circuit breaker reset. Easy fix. Just took most of a day to troubleshoot and resolve due to poor documentation. Required an RV mobile tech and a call to Magnum technical support.

Power bed. Stuck at an upright position. Newmar could not resolve over the phone. Service manager at dealer suggested a loose wire underneath the bed. Not an easy fix but it was a wire that had detached. I better appreciate sleeping on a flat bed. Such poor wiring practices in this coach.

Unintended awning deployment. This one stranded us for roughly six weeks. Awning randomly deployed while the service manager at our dealership was driving the coach into a service bay. Awning was crushed by the entrance wall. Took almost five weeks to get the parts delivered.

Latches, cabinet door arms. I keep stock of the replacement parts for our cabinet doors. These components are very poor quality and break frequently. Easy fix.

Flexsteel furniture. Power footrest stuck at an extended position. Repaired at factory.

Step cover. Travels out of track. Haven’t fixed that one yet.

Side radiator grill. Detached from coach. Easy fix.

Tank sensors. Basically useless in our model year. They misread frequently.

Multiple recalls:

467 RSB – Recall 16V 826: Power Steering Fluid Leak (potential fire hazard)
472 TSB – Slideout Motor Mounting Bolts (under-torqued).
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 not match the engine ECU odometer value

I came across this post on the Newmar Dutch Star Owners Facebook page:

Angela: your fun is just beginning.

I sometimes see people defending the poor quality of RVs by saying something along these lines: you are moving a house at highway speed and all that movement will cause problems.

Most of our issues had nothing to do with the coach moving and shaking down the road. Most of our issues were due to poor component quality. Most of Angela’s issues had nothing to do with the coach moving and shaking down the road. Her issues are due to poor component quality.

Pat’s comment says it all:

Comes with the territory, sadly. We’ve spent lots of time at Newmar (and other places) having issues fixed. Yes, it does help to know something about (and then some) about mechanics, plumbing, heating, AC and everything else.

Newmar Quality

Quality. The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something. Whenever I see this question raised in social media, I wonder whether any standard of quality exists in the RV industry. The RVIA does list a few standards for things like plumbing, propane, fire and life safety, 12 volt and 120 volt electrical systems. Aside from that, quality in the RV industry is decidedly mixed when compared to the automotive industry.

Let’s take a look at this question.

Folks – How’s the build quality on 2021 Dutch Stars? I’m looking for an idea on any known issues and details of how responsive Newmar has been about those issues. Thanks for your advice.

Here are a couple of videos about the new 2021 models. The first one is a relatively brief overview from Newmar:

Angie, from NIRV, provides a very lengthy tour of the 2021 Dutch Star. Covers just about everything you might want to know.

They do look nice, don’t  they?

You may want to spend a large chunk of coin on this new bus. And, naturally, you will have questions. Questions about quality.

Here are a few thoughts.

Newmar is really an assembler of coaches. And they assemble coaches with remarkable speed. Yes, they do build some of the coach, like the shell, the flooring, and the cabinetry but most of the components in their coaches have been manufactured by some other company such as Lippert, HWH, Dometic, Freightliner, Cummins, Magnum, Flexsteel, Winegard, etc.

Newmar does a good job standing behind their products. If you are measuring the quality of a Newmar against the quality of a Toyota, expect to be disappointed. In some cases, very disappointed.

Recent models have had numerous issues including window delamination, entry doors randomly opening while the coach is in motion, DEF header failures (engine failures), water leaks, slide-out malfunctions and the list goes on and on and on.

With literally dozens of different companies providing components to Newmar, there can be issues with almost anything inside and outside the coach.

Problems? We’ve had a few. Some of them are outlined here in this post from 2017.

Fortunately we have never been stranded on the side of the road. Yet every time I start the coach I worry about something going wrong. It’s just part of the journey and gradually you learn to accept it as being normal.

After four years with our current coach, things have settled down. We continue to have a few issues here and there and we take them in stride.

The industry is not all that transparent about quality issues. In the case of Newmar, they sell a product and they know full well that the customer will discover issues. And then Newmar will either resolve the issues if they can or direct the customer to other manufacturers for resolution. Most Newmar owners, including ourselves, are very positive about Newmar’s customer service. Most, but not all.

Some take legal action. One example:

The Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Newmar (an Indiana corporation) and Magnum (a Washington corporation) on June 11, 2015. The Plaintiff asserts that in July 2013, he purchased a 2014 Newmar Mountain Aire RV from North Trail RV, a non-party dealership in Florida. According to the Plaintiff, the RV “spent more than half of its first nine months of ownership out of service due to defects and malfunctions,” culminating in a “major fire incident that was the result of a defect in the RV and/or its components.” The Plaintiff identifies one such component as an inverter provided by Magnum, a supplier for Newmar.

In addition to the inverter, the Plaintiff alleges the following defects in the subject RV: the air conditioning system, the check engine light warning system, the slide out system, interior cabinets, the satellite system, the driver seat control system, the wind sensor, the bathroom flush control panel, the refrigerator, floor tiles, the DVD player, the electrical system, pantry door, bathroom drawer, other drawers, water overflow system, power day/night shade system, the screen door, and the subwoofer.

And another example:

Patrick and Kim Parks (the “Parks”) bring this action against Newmar Corporation (“Newmar”), the manufacturer of the 2018 Newmar Baystar motorhome (the “motorhome”) that the Parks purchased in 2017. In their state court complaint, the Parks alleged that they purchased the new Newmar motorhome from a dealer in Virginia in December 2017. The motorhome came with a one-year factory warranty (from Newmar) that covered, inter alia, “any repairs or replacements needed during the warranty period and/or due to defects in factory materials or workmanship.” Shortly after the purchase, the Parks allege, they noticed various defects in the motorhome, and returned it for service on at least three occasions. Repairing these various defects has caused the motorhome to be out-of-service for at least forty-five days. And, the Parks allege that, notwithstanding these repairs, the motorhome has never been brought into conformity with Newmar’s warranty and is so unsafe that it cannot be driven (i.e., it is not useful or fit for its intended purpose and not of merchantable quality).

If you like the Newmar coach and the RV lifestyle by all means go for it. We did. We have no regrets.

Expect issues. Plan to make some trips to the factory to resolve the issues that will occur in the first year of ownership. For that matter, expect to go back to the factory repeatedly over the life of the coach. Dealers, for the most part, sell the coach. They are not typically the best resource for resolving issues with the coach.

That is the current business model in the industry.

The market seems to live with it.

Newmar doesn’t seem to have too much trouble getting people to buy their products.

Most have a good experience with Newmar.

Some do not.