I was a novice when I bought my new Fleetwood Discovery Motorhome. I had looked at several makes, drooling all over them but not feeling that I could afford the one I wanted. Then I had a friend tell me about Earnhardt RV in Mesa, AZ. I checked them out online and requested a quote. I immediately received a response from a salesman with an offer that was about 35K less than the local dealer was offering. So although I believe in buying local, I could only swing the deal at the "close-out" price that Earnhardt was offering.
So I took off a couple days from work and drove the 640 miles to take delivery as they had said it was ready but when I arrived and asked to see the unit, they told me that they had found that the generator (7.5 kw Quiet Diesel) wasn't working but they had taken the coach to Glendale to the Cummins/Onan shop for repair. But not to worry, it would be back the next morning. So my wife and I checked into our motel room and had a nice dinner and dreamed of our new motorhome.
The next morning (Friday) we arrived back the dealer but were informed that it wasn't back yet and it would be sometime that afternoon. So we went over to the recommended shop to have a tow bar installed on our car. Well, we were finally told that the parts for the generator weren't in stock and it would be Monday before they could get it finished but that they could reinstall it as-is and we could take it to our local Cummins shop for repairs at no cost to me.
So on Saturday afternoon we were very hurriedly run through the pre-delivery inspection and ushered on our way. We spent our first night at an RV park in Silverton, CO and life was good. The next morning, we made coffee and when my wife tried to use her hair dryer, the power went out. So with neighbors watching, she stood out at the electrical power pedestal with her hair dryer and a mirror drying her hair. She wasn't amused. I really didn't understand for sure just how the shore power and the inverter/charger were supposed to work together but I quickly learned more about it than I had imagined I would need to know.
I contacted the local dealer about warranty repairs and was informed that since I didn't purchase from them that their policy was to not honor the warranty. I talked to the Earnhardt RV service dept and was told that the problem was that I had left the inverter on and ran the house batteries down. I pondered that a bit but asked why the shore power didn't feed through to the outlets and he told me that I just didn't understand how to operate the coach. He told me I should come back and bring a video camera so I could record their instructions...
As far as the generator is concerned, Cummins said they couldn't get to it for a month so I made an appointment. I did some troubleshooting on my own (I've been an electronics technician for 35 years and have experience with electrical wiring, etc). I figured out that the inverter should "see" 120 VAC when on shore power and "transfer" from inverter (if "on") and pass through the power to designated outlets in the coach.
Also, it begins to charge the house batteries. This function wasn't happening, so I looked "under the cover" and found a blown fuse inside the inverter which when replaced, restored it to what seemed to be normal operation - shore power inside and batteries charging. I was pleased with the results and decided to investigate the generator problem myself. I found the generator transfer relay under the bed and started tracing out the wires in an effort to understand how it worked. I quickly saw that the shore cable and the breaker panel connections were reversed (didn't match the labels on the relay circuit board).
Also the fact that the wires were very sloppily connected made me suspicious to begin with. But I couldn't hardly believe what I was seeing so I double and triple checked the wiring and concluded that someone made a serious mistake. I have wondered since if that was what blew the generator - if the shore cord had been plugged in when they tested the generator - BANG! to say the least. When I asked Earnhardt service about it, the service manager informed me that he had rewired it and it was properly connected and I didn't know what I was talking about.
So, I took pictures of it and documented what I found and of course Fleetwood doubted me as well, even though I sent them the pictures. I thought that since I no longer trusted the dealer and I had found a significant mis-wire problem, I decided to change it myself, which I further documented. It didn't fix the generator, but when I did get it in to Cummins, they confirmed that my rewire was correct. Only problem was that they disputed my claim for warranty repair and I had to get Fleetwood to convince them to make the repairs at no cost to me.
Unfortunately, the generator failed again the very next year and again the next year... always something different but still with low usage and always maintained. Too bad that we're afraid to use it for fear of a huge repair bill. The first time we used the furnaces I discovered that although they would both come on, the back zone would not shut off while the front zone would shut off and stay off. I used my wife's hair dryer to prove that the thermostats were reversed. I called the dealer thinking that we would get a good laugh about a simple manufacturing mistake, instead I was berated by him. "It was designed that way, you just don't understand..." I was floored, speechless.
He further told me that I needed to return to the dealer for remedial operator training. It's real discouraging when you feel that you know more about the product than the service folks. And that they're knot-heads to boot. I think that it was about then when I realized that my purchase was a big mistake. I called Fleetwood and they would not admit to the thermostat reversal either although when I called K&C RV in Longmont, CO, they told me that "Yes, we've fixed several of those, it's a known problem."
By that time, my front TV had also smoked and Fleetwood said I could take the coach to K&C for repairs, which I did. They seemed to get things fixed and it was about a year later that the Coleman HVAC control failed and I found that the K&C thermostat fix was a jury-rig that had to be redone before I could replace the control. Wires had been cut off at the pig tail connector and butt spliced around it so that it could not be simply unplugged and replaced. I bought a pin removal tool and some crimp pins to fit the Molex 9 pin connector and set about diagraming the heat/cool functions.
So far, so good, after $230.00 for the control, again, no help from Fleetwood. The roof has leaked around the A/C mounts and as in a previous post, I recently had a serious water leak due to a carpet staple shot through the floor into the hot water supply line. Anyone should agree that it was a hidden defect that was present from day one and took four years to corrode enough to leak but again, no help from Fleetwood. Other than a leaky wheel seal and a loss of prime on the fuel system, the Freightliner chassis has been great (oh yeah, the toad light wiring has never been right, I wish I had a wiring detail).
For the folks that are happy with your rigs, good for you but please don't think that my complaints are petty and the coach HAS received all regular maintenance. I realize that RV's are prone to problems but that is exactly why good service after the sale is so very important. And I have not been hard to get along with, just upset after being treated in such a shoddy manner. Wouldn't it be much cheaper for Fleetwood to help a customer than to have him "air out" all this dirty laundry? If it causes just one person to purchase another brand, they would have been money ahead and they would have another happy customer. Thanks for reading this post.