We have been fortunate to have avoided any real technical issues with our motorhome until now. Although not serious, I thought I’d share some of the challenges that can happen on the road, even in a new RV.
It started as we prepared to depart from our week long stay on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land outside of Joshua Tree National park south of Palm Springs, CA. BLM land is great because you can stay free! This area is just outside the southern entrance to Joshua Tree and has great Verizon coverage (unlike inside the park). There are no hookups for water, electricity or sewer on BLM land, but there was a campground 6 miles away in JTNP that has a dump station and water. We’ve learned we can go about 7 days without needing hookups. So, as Lisa is pulling in the back bedroom slide she calls me and says “we’ve got a problem.” After coming in 1/2 way, the slide motor on one side just quit. We tried get it to go out, no luck. Tried to bring it in again, no luck. The left side motor was working so if we kept pressing the switch the room would twist out of alignment. Not good.
Fortunately, we were only returning to the Thousand Trails Palm Springs campground about 30 minutes away so we had time to solve the problem without worrying. After some trial and error, we discovered we could manually push the slide in on the broken side while the motor pulled in the other side. This was good news! Soon we had it pushed in and we traveled to our campground. I later learned I should have done something to lock the room in (such as a 2×4 brace) as it could have slid out if the other motor shaft broke during transit. Fortunately, we arrived without incident at our current campground.
I called Winnebago Customer Service and the technician said that although our motorhome is now out of warranty (1 year old as of February), they would cover this repair if I could bring it to a local dealer. This is the challenge as we have learned on this trip. Trying to get an appointment for service work is harder than a meeting with the President! We have a small list of things (nothing serious) that are all warranty issues that we have been trying to get fixed since we stared on this adventure last summer. Each time we try to get into an authorized repair facility, they say it will be 6 – 8 weeks before we can get in, by which time we are somewhere else.
So I wasn’t hopeful when I called the local Itasca dealer, Mike Thompson RV. The service advisor was pleasant, but told me the earliest he could get us in is April 29. Several more calls to Winnebago and attempts with other dealers in a 200 mile area yielded nothing better.
In addition to the slide not working, our propane system stopped working after we refilled our tank here. I searched the online forums, talked to the Winnebago tech and although we tried several things, nothing worked. So, we are without propane until we can get in to a dealer also. We were able to remedy the propane problem by purchasing a small 2 burner electric appliance which, along with our microwave/convection oven, will make things easier until we can get it fixed.
This has been our biggest disappointment from the road – the lack of available dealer technicians to fix things. If consumers had to wait 6 weeks to get their cars repaired, they would be furious but RV customers are just supposed to accept this. I have heard from many fellow RVers that this is normal. While it may be “normal” it is completely unacceptable and I hope things change soon.