A Faulty RV?

Say it ain’t so. You spent a small fortune on a brand new RV. You drove it off the lot. And, surprise, things went wrong. Over the first few months, or even years, of ownership, your brand new RV could readily spend more time with the dealer than with you.

Here is an example from a recent social media post.

Awwww… the joys of breaking in a new RV. Kind of like raising a toddler or a teenager. Ya never know what will happen next. 2019 DS 4018 that now has a whole 6500 miles. This is only our second big trip (5 weeks) and we’ve already started a list for service when we get home.

@ Televator is off track and doesn’t go all the way down sometimes

@The dreaded DEF gauge isn’t accurate. Filled it today but it’s showing around 1/4 full. This issue just popped up a couple of days.

@Satellite in living area doesn’t work but the bedroom one does. Swapped boxes but that didn’t fix it. Independence RV installed it so looking to them to fix

@We have A LOT of air noise by the door while traveling. This just started happening.

@The front door awning started going out while we were traveling at 65 mph on the freeway and now have it gorilla taped till we can get it fixed

@Kitchen slide doesn’t come all the way in at first. Have to push retract one extra time to get the slide seated.

All minor stuff and a part of RV life. Wonder what all those gazillion new people that purchased RVs due to Covid are going to handle all the issues that happen because we are driving a house on wheels down the freeway.

So for those of you with a new DS…how many “boo boos” have you had to deal with while potty training your new Dutchess/Duke? Our next door neighbor can’t believe how many times we’ve had our coach in to fix “stuff” with it being brand new.

But she’s beautiful and luxurious and better yet, we can pass semi trucks on a mountain incline.

How many “boo boos” have we had to deal with?

Too many.

After four years, the issues have calmed down somewhat. I am still surprised at how many corners are cut when these units are being fabricated. Cheap components, poor wiring practices, questionable design decisions are all part of RV life. Which is why the industry still pushes out poor quality products. Consumers willingly buy them. In some cases knowingly and in other cases unknowingly.

A Genoa couple say in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday that they unknowingly bought a faulty RV from a Roscoe dealership and they want the company to buy it back from them.

Joseph and Sherry Chavez, who had recently retired from their respective jobs as a police officer and bus driver, bought the 2020 Jayco Greyhawk 30X on May 15 from Camping World of Rockford in Roscoe for $94,758.63, including a $40,000 cash down payment. That’s according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division, which names Camping World RV Sales and Jayco Inc. as the defendants.

Since the day they drove the RV home, the vehicle has had troubles including a faulty transmission, refrigerator, levelers, air conditioner, and electrical system, according to the lawsuit. The couple said that they had possession of the vehicle for 21 days compared to the 98 days that Camping World had it for repairs.

The Chavezes said the vehicle broke down on their first road trip with it and left them getting repairs out of state that took days. They not only want Camping World/Jayco to buy the RV back from them, they also are seeking reimbursement for loss of use of the vehicle and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

In the first example, the poster asked this question: how are all those gazillion new people that purchased RVs due to COVID going to handle all of the issues that happen?

Some of them, like Joseph and Sherry, will sue.

Most of them will have regrets.

And, I suspect, many of them will sell.

If you are looking to buy, take the time to do your research. Experienced RVers come to terms with the inevitable problems that go along with owning a motorhome. The industry should do better but it doesn’t. Issues are handled after the sale either by customer service or by the company’s lawyers. Best to go with a company that has a good reputation for customer service. That is why we went with Newmar.

I have no way of determining whether lawsuits against RV manufacturers are on the rise. The publicly traded companies, like Winnebago Industries, include the following language around lawsuits:

We are involved in various legal proceedings which are ordinary and routine litigation incidental to our business, some of which are covered in whole or in part by insurance. While we believe the ultimate disposition of litigation will not have material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or liquidity, there exists the possibility that such litigation may have an impact on our results for a particular reporting period in which litigation effects become probable and reasonably estimable. Though we do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood that there will be a material change related to these matters, litigation is subject to inherent uncertainties and management’s view of these matters may change in the future.

Angry enough about your purchase to sue? From the manufacturer’s perspective, your lawsuit is nothing more than ordinary and routine litigation incidental to their business.

Hopeless

This pandemic could go on for years. That is the message being communicated by our government and our public health officials. And it is also being played out in the media with scenarios like this one from Nature:

June 2021. The world has been in pandemic mode for a year and a half. The virus continues to spread at a slow burn; intermittent lockdowns are the new normal. An approved vaccine offers six months of protection, but international deal-making has slowed its distribution. An estimated 250 million people have been infected worldwide, and 1.75 million are dead.

Talk of a second wave is making the headlines in our mainstream media, preparing Canadians for more restrictions and shutdowns:

Hope for a return to normal is being deliberately quashed by government and public health officials. There is no hope for a return to normal in the short term.

It won’t happen this year.

It may not happen next year.

The word started spreading last month:

“We’re planning, as a public health community, that we’re going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role. But we don’t know yet,” Tam [Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer] told reporters on Tuesday.

“People might think that if we get a vaccine then everything goes back to normal the way it was before. That’s not the case… All of the measures we’ve put in place now will still have to continue with the new reality for quite some time,” Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said.

“Certainly I think that we need to temper people’s expectations, thinking that the vaccines can be that silver bullet that will take care of everything, and everything we’ve done up to now won’t be necessary in the future,” said Njoo.

Will there be an endemic or just a constant pandemic, ebbing and flowing in waves, resulting in the continued suspension of civil liberties and continued restrictions on social gatherings.

It is within this context that we have made the decision to remain in Canada for the winter. We had little choice. The Canada/US border is closed to all non-essential land travel and it will likely remain closed for quite some time.

In our park, there is talk about how to bypass the restriction on non-essential land travel. A number of followers of this blog have written to me suggesting a similar approach.

The idea is to recruit a friend or to hire a driver to take our coach across the border. Given that there are no restrictions on air travel, we would simply book a one-way flight into the United States, collect our coach, and make our way south.

There are so many things wrong about this tactic and I will cover a few of them here.

The first one is our responsibility as Canadian citizens. Bypassing the land border closure is civil disobedience, a deliberate attempt to circumvent the laws of the land. The land border is closed to non-essential travel because of a public health emergency. Here are the exact words:

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States and Canada are temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across its borders… “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

I do not have to agree with the closure but acting on a loophole to cross the border in defiance of the law is an act of civil disobedience.

The second one is risk and reward. Many Canadians remain unaware of the Entry/Exit agreement between the United States and Canada to exchange data on travellers.

Entry and exit information is used by the CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] to establish reliable and accurate travel history information on all travellers. This enables the Agency to better administer and enforce Canada’s immigration and customs laws where a traveller’s presence or absence from Canada is relevant and necessary to:

  • Identify individuals who do not leave Canada at the end of their period of authorized stay
  • Focus immigration enforcement activities on persons believed to still be in Canada; and
  • Respond to the departure, or intended departure, of high risk persons or goods who may pose a risk to the national security or public safety of Canada

The CBSA discloses entry and exit information we collect in accordance with legislative authorities to:

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the administration and enforcement of immigration and citizenship programs
  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for law enforcement purposes
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) for the administration of the Employment Insurance and Old Age Security programs
  • the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the administration of Canada’s child and family benefit programs
  • Canadian entry data collected at land ports of entry is shared with the US to create an exit record.

The US uses its exit records:

  • to manage its border
  • to verify the travel date, or
  • for any other lawful purpose consistent with its domestic law

The Canadian government will know that our coach was driven across the border, that we took a flight across the border and, upon our return in our coach, that we made a clear and obvious action to circumvent the ban on non-essential travel across the land border.

Some may want to take a chance with Canada customs but really, in the context of this pandemic, with the threat of fines for civil disobedience on something as basic as not wearing a mask, I would not want to have the discussion at the border about why I thought that the ban on non-essential travel across a land border did not apply to me.

Depending on the customs officer, it might result in a ban on future travel into the United States particularly if our traveller’s file was flagged with intent to avoid border control protocols.

As badly as we would like to travel south this winter in our coach, we will do it legally.

A Canadian Winter

Stuck north of a closed border, Canada’s full-time RVers are facing an unfamiliar foe: the Canadian winter.

This from one of Canada’s major dailies:

When Wendy Wood and her family left their comfortable life in Burlington to travel the continent in an RV nearly four years ago, they were hoping to find freedom on the open road. But that road is feeling less free these days, thanks to COVID-19.

Like many other Canadian “full-time RVers” who live in their recreational vehicles year-round, Wood, her husband, and their three kids usually drive south to the U.S. after Thanksgiving when temperatures plunge and campsites in Canada close for the winter. But that’s not possible in 2020 because of the pandemic-enforced closure of the land border with the U.S., and now thousands of RV-dwelling snowbirds are trapped in Canada and struggling to make alternate plans.

The RVers’ annual migration south is about more than sun-seeking — toughing out the Canadian cold in a mobile home or trailer can be unsafe. On-board water and sewage systems are at risk of freezing if they are not winterized, and most recreational vehicles aren’t warm enough to live in during sub-zero temperatures.

The Canada-U.S. land border was closed to non-essential travel in March, and the shutdown has been extended every month since. It’s currently set to expire on Sept. 21, but it’s likely to be extended again as the U.S. struggles to get the pandemic under control. As of this week, more than six million Americans have been infected and 190,000 have died — far more than in Canada, even adjusting for population.

Shane Devenish, executive director of the Canadian Camping and RV Council, said there are at least 50,000 Canadian full-time RVers who usually spend the winter in the U.S. and are now facing winter north of the border, many of them older retirees who could be especially vulnerable.

The number of Canadians that travel south for the winter is significantly higher. Full-time RVers are not the only ones that will be facing a Canadian winter this year.

The Letter

I am so upset right now. So upset.

Greetings from Canada.

Lorraine and I are so very sad and disappointed that the Canada/US border continues to remain closed to non-essential travel by land. Until the border reopens, we are unable to cross into the United States with our motorcoach.

The current “temporary” border closure measures have been extended every month since they first took hold in March. There is currently no plan from the Canadian government to reopen the border and we expect, although we do not know, that the border will remain closed indefinitely due to the consistently high level of COVID-19 cases being reported in the United States.

As you can imagine it has made our planning as full-time RVers exceptionally challenging. We have to leave our site here in Canada on October 25th. Ordinarily we would be looking forward, with great enthusiasm, to returning to our beautiful home away from home, Myakka River Motorcoach Resort.

Not this year.

Unfortunately we have little choice but to make alternate arrangements to remain in Canada because of the border closure.

Lorraine has already reached out to explain our situation and this note confirms that we cannot commit to our site this year. We do not know when we might be allowed to once more travel into the United States by land.

We have made arrangements to rent an executive house in Canada on a month-to-month basis and our coach will be in storage on a month-to-month basis. Should the border reopen and, weather permitting, we can travel south, we fully intend to do so. Unfortunately we do not know when that might be and, should the border reopen, we will be in touch to see if we might find a spot with Myakka later in the winter/spring.

Best wishes to everyone at Myakka. Keep safe and healthy.

We will dearly miss you!

Richard and Lorraine

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.