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Entegra Problems

We almost purchased an Entegra. It was one of three manufacturers that we seriously considered for our new coach back in 2015. The other two? Newmar and Tiffin. We went with Newmar and, despite a number of issues, we are fine with our decision.

Entegra had a good reputation prior to being acquired by Thor. And there were concerns that the acquisition would have a negative impact on Entegra.

Thor’s stock has been on quite a roll lately.

Thor’s quarterly revenue fell over 21 percent from last year. The stock took a big tumble last week after Thor released poor fiscal first-quarter results. RV sales had a 24 percent drop.

I caught an interview that Thor’s CEO, Bob Martin, did with Jim Cramer where he blamed rising tariffs on Aluminum and Steel for the negative impact on earnings.

To counteract the rising costs of production, Martin intended to cut raw costs and de-content its higher end motorcoaches. De-content means taking ancillary products and features out of these coaches. Less is more.

So what does this mean for Entegra owners?

This thread on the IRV2 forum, Has Thor changed Entegra, highlights the dilemma facing buyers of new coaches. Good product? Good service?

I suspect for most buyers, a purchase that begins to close in on half a million, can influence your opinion in one of two ways: I made a good decision or I made a bad decision. And the reason is simple enough. All of these coaches will have issues. All of them. And when you have a lot of issues, you begin to question your decision.

I am of the view that anyone looking to purchase a coach from Entegra, Newmar or Tiffin, should expect to have issues and should expect to have mixed results in terms of how the issues get resolved. This is part of the ownership experience.

I follow Glenn and Julia over at Our Great Escape. And they posted their experience here. They have a pretty harsh bottom line:

Shame on you Entegra, Bontrager stood up in front of an audience of 100 people who were Entegra owners at the 2016 Springfest and told everyone that you had always been a family business and would always be a family business with family values bla bla bla and then 3 months down the road sold out to Thor Industries. You then through Tadd Jenkins (the then president of Entegra coach) tried to calm the worried owners and told us that there would be absolutely no change apart from the name above the door, everything else will remain the same, same management team etc etc. Tadd was then pushed out closely followed by Chuck Lasley who took over from Tadd and a few other key people. This is a direct quote from Derek Bontrager :

“The day we stop listening to our customers is the day our demise begins and no one understands that better than we do.”

JOKE!

Are they listening??? Do they lie to their owners? You answer the question. I know the answer!

This is their YouTube video that describes their experience picking up their coach after servicing. Sadly, their experience is not unique.

Platinum Award

Our motorcoach dealership, The Hitch House, was honoured by Newmar for achieving a Platinum Service Award. John Summat, Newmar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Matt Utley, Newmar’s Vice President of Service Operations were both on hand for the event.

The Hitch House was kind enough to extend an invitation to Lorraine and I to join the event and we had a chance to meet and chat with both John and Matt.

It was interesting to hear their perspective on the Canadian market for Newmar. John described the past five years as soft for Newmar in Canada which would be in sharp contrast to the explosive sales results for the industry generally in the United States.

For Canadians, the combination of our devalued currency, high taxes on personal income and consumption and a smaller population all factor into the decision-making for such an expensive purchase. Sites are limited to a season which, in most parts of Canada, runs only from May to September. Although there are lots of options for camping in Canada, we do not have the same range of options that you would see in the United States. For example, I’m not aware of a single Class A resort in Canada.

I shared those perspectives with John. Not that he hadn’t reflected on those challenges for Canada but it must seem odd that in one country, sales have experienced nine years of growth and in Canada, flat.

If the Canadian government continues to mishandle economic files, I would not be surprised to see the country go into recession. Doubtful that high-end coaches will be flying off the shelves anytime soon.

Oh well. We had a chance to walk through a King Tire, a New Aire, a London Aire and a Mountain Aire. All wonderful coaches.

We even had cake.

At 11 in the morning.

Retirement. LoL.

Congratulations to the team at The Hitch House. They have been great to work with from our experience.

Well deserved award.

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 outdated 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.

So Many Buses

This is our coach, the Castaway. We are in our second year with the coach and we love it. It is a beautiful machine inside and out. Travelling through Canada and even through much of the U.S., we often stand out in a crowd especially if we are in a mixed park. And by that, I mean a park with other types of RVs like travel trailers and 5th wheels.

At Hearthside Grove, our bus would be in the middle of the pack between older Class A coaches and the high-end motorhomes. Hearthside Grove is a Class A park and they request coaches be 10 years of age or newer. Although they will accept Class A coaches in good condition that are older than 10 years. There are many older Class A coaches in the park right now.

I have never seen as many Prevost coaches in one place. Ever.

Some date back 10 or 15 years. Most are relatively new. The new ones price out in the $2 million range. The buses do depreciate relatively quickly however even a 10-year-old Prevost will fetch upwards of $750 thousand.

Without further ado, here are some of the Prevost buses at Hearthside.

First up, a convoy of Prevost buses leaving the resort for a Prevost rally in Quebec City. Yes, indeed, Canadian buses are the best. However, there are no conversion companies in Canada. If you want a Prevost motorcoach, you will be dealing with companies like Marathon in the U.S.

Here are a number of other coaches hidden away on various sites around the park. I have included a Newmar coach made by the same company who built our Dutch Star. The King Air is Newmar’s top of the line and easily crosses the million-dollar mark when purchased new.

A few more Prevost buses.