Thursday, July 28, 2011

RV Woes Update

Photos from happier Serrano times.

Well, Bloggers its been quite a week or so. We discovered more things wrong with our Serrano since my previous post.

We had thought if Danny could dismantle the automatic steps that we could drive it over to Seffner (85 miles) to Lazy Days for repairs. It took Danny two trips to the storage facility and several hours under the rig to disable the steps. Then, he discovered the instrument panel was dead. He checked the turn signal and lights which still worked and decided that using his iphone to monitor speed and just filling up with fuel prior to hitting the road, he could still drive to Seffner. Cranked the engine to drive to nearest gas station and low and behold, it made a horrible screeching and rumbling, the Serrano bucked and refused to go more than a couple miles per hour despite pushing the pedal to the floor. Obviously, it was not drivable. Our appointment at Lazy Days was the next morning.

We called Good Sams/Camping World roadside assistance and they said the would send a tow and meet us at our storage unit the next morning. We would meet the tow driver at Lazy Days. Tow driver quoted me a price of $190.00 overage charges since they only cover 25 miles to nearest repair facility. Nearest facility in Orlando can not repair our rig; we already checked. The overage wasn't too bad so I gave the go ahead and we hit the highway.

About twenty miles out, the tow company called and said, "Oops the charge is $310.00. Driver quoted you the wrong rate and we take cash only. I had twenty dollars in my wallet. Color me unhappy. Finally I agreed to the highway robbery charge and they agreed to accept Master Card.

Lazy Days was great. They gave us a free lunch in their cafeteria and a nice place to wait for the driver. We looked at similar sizes and types of motor homes on their extensive lot and dreamed of switching. They had already contacted Thor Industries on our behalf on the warranty and repair issues. Thor called Danny and said they were sending someone down from Indiana to look at our rig since we had listed 12 items that needed repair and it isn't drivable at only ten months old. We went home.

The manufacturer's rep found more than fifteen things that need repair or replacement and green lighted lazy days to do the work. Thor is so far really trying to make it right. I don't know how long the process will take but at this point am hopeful that we will get a better than new unit back.

Here are some of the problems we found:
Unusual and excessive wear and tear to leatherette driver and co captains chairs, pantry door falling off, a/c unit drips onto the bed, nonfunctional cruise control, non functional steps and instrument panel, engine issues, leaky windows in cab area, computer tray table sticks from warping after roof leak, one outdoor bin doesn't lock properly, missing radio antenna. I don't know what else the folks at Thor and Lazy Days found yet but will keep you posted.

We do love the smooth way our Serrano drives (when it drives). The interior is very comfortable and spacious and we like the floor plan. We love the outdoor storage. We like its size at 31 feet. It has plenty of 'pick up'. We like the fuel savings of a Fred engine. So, if it is fixed and we have no further issues with it we will keep it. Thor has, so far redeemed themselves with their customer service. I recommend Lazy days. The dealer, RV One (Orlando, Des Moines and Buffalo) is still on my s--t list. I will never ever do business with them again, not no how, no way.

Hoping for a nice leaf turning jaunt to NC. Its too hot for a vacation anywhere on the east coast now anyway.

Happy trails to you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

King of the road deposed

Well my blogging friends, our long anticipated summer trip to Gettsysburg and the West Virginia mountains is not going to happen. Before I tell you our story, let me warn any of you thinking of purchasing a new RV to choose not only your model but your dealer very very carefully.

I fell in love with a pretty thirty-one foot Four Winds Serrano 'Fred' rig that seemed very reasonably priced for a 'Fred' at RVOne (Orlando RV) in Winter Park, where I live. I traded in my used Winnebago View for the Serrano, even though I was not familiar with the product. Once the dealer had me on the hook they reeled me in and things never went quite the way they should. The RV cost more than it I was told originally, the finance manager having danced a few really slippery dance steps. He tried to cheat me on my trade in , too. The repair department was never terribly efficient or caring about the problems that cropped up post delivery. The unit was in the shop more often and longer than it should have been for new RV, although the warranties were honored.

The cruise control never worked. We were told that was not a dealer issue and nobody in Orlando was certified to fix it under warranty. We could travel without it, so we just kept putting off dealing with it. We could not put off dealing with the broken shower head since we could not shower. We waited several weeks for the dealer to replace it and then Danny bought the right kind himself and installed it using the internet directions on his iPad! The roof leaked badly a few months later and the cab was flooded. Back to the dealer who said they couldn't be bothered with it for the better part of a month! Danny drove it to the lot and parked it in their driveway and they took care of it in two days.

There was other stuff like an air conditioner that leaked condensation over the bed soaking the mattress and a cabinet door that came apart from the wall. The radio antenna fell off in a windstorm. Another window began to leak badly with the summer rains, flooding the dash and floor in the cab. The battery compartment wouldn't lock and the weather stripping fell off the door. The leather seats in the cab began to crack and rip as if they were years instead of months old. But it was usable and we decided to make an appointment to have all fixed after our vacation.

Then a few days before scheduled departure, we had a seriously severe storm, went to the storage facility to check the window leak and discovered the steps were stuck in the down position and the instrument panel was non-functional. Went to the dealer who said, call the Workhorse chassis people. We called them and they said it was a Manufacturer issue. We called Thor who said 'is not our job, man'. They told us to call the dealer. The dealer said 'we can't see you for at least eight weeks'. Now, we have a warranty but nobody who takes responsibility for repairs. Nobody gives a rat's ass, we can't use it and more and more water damage as it sits unused outside in the storms will be a major issue.

I've been reading about Serranos online. Quality seems uneven. Some folks have had no problems, others have had experiences much like ours. Would I buy another Thor product. Uh uh. Not with the lack of customer service. Would I ever deal with RV One again? What do you think? If you said NEVER, you'd be right.

Well, we called Lazy Days in Seffner, Florida near Tampa and they said, 'sure we can fix it all if you can get it to us'. We made an appointment in two days. Danny figured out a way to detach the steps and how to monitor speed with his iPhone. We can fill it up and be sure there's enough fuel even if we have no way to check it via the dash gauge. The turn signals work and so do the break lights, so we will manage.

It's a three hour round trip drive. Even though I hate highway driving I will follow in my Volvo. If I decide to sell the rig and/or when I am ready for trade, you can bet your britches I will go to Lazy Days first before any other dealer. My advice to you again is to avoid RV One whether in Buffalo, Orlando or in the midwest. Its all one company. Management seems only to care about volume sales, not satisfied return customers.

That's my story. I guess my summer vacation will be spent at Universal Studios which is 45 minutes away and driving the hour to the beach for an afternoon in my car. Give my regards to the mountains. Next year, hopefully I'll be there.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Overdue Update

Photos: (1) Ma and Pa at a WallMart parking lot (2) Danny installing safety device to start the generator (3) Dog is always our copilot, in this case, Ginny (4) PJ enjoying the St. Augustine Pirates Museum (5) Bailey chilling out on board in St. Augustine (5 and 6) at our favorite beach parking place, Beverly Beach Camptown in Flagler County

Sorry folks that it has been so long since I've visited with you. I'd come up with an excuse if I could thing of one that was really entertaining and still true. Its not that we haven't spent time on our RV, cause we have if week ends and day trips count. Just haven't posted. That's the fact, Jack. No excuses. But, we are getting ready for our summer vacation trip in a few days so I thought it was high (way) time to check in with you again.

Aside from some beach weekends and day trips from late winter to now, we took a whirlwind drive to Atlanta in mid May when Danny's youngest brother had a very serious accident which required airlifting him to Grady Memorial hospital where he had to have immediate brain surgery. Danny's mother and sister had driven down to see us here in central Florida the day before and their car broke down on the highway and was in a local shop for repair when we got the early morning call about Brian's fall from a roof of a building. We quickly drove them to the airport and a day later, having picked up their repaired car, we rented a trailer thing from uHaul, hitched the toad to the back of our Serrano and towed it to Atlanta. A grueling 10 hour drive in one day. Aside from the tiresome trip, towing turned out to be a breeze. We'd never done it before. Gas mileage was half of what we're used to though: about eight miles to the gallon instead of 13 to sixteen. Ouch.

Anyway, we parked the RV in Danny's mother's driveway and hooked up to her household current. The next morning we turned on the a/c, left a window or two open slightly for the dogs
and drove downtown to meet the family at the hospital. While we were gone, the temperature outside soared up to nearly ninety and something tripped the breaker in the house and our RV power went off. Our dogs were locked inside an RV in the sun with very little ventilation.

We were lucky. We must have returned at just the right time. We opened the door to find to our horror that the power was down and the dogs were seriously panting. I looked at the thermostat which read 95 inside. I got the dogs off, into the shade on Charlotte's back porch, turned on the ceiling fan and gave them water. Went back on board and in the five minutes that had passed the thermostat read 98. I took the dogs into the house, we all cooled off, and we left for home an hour later.

After that almost horrible and heartbreaking experience, I ordered a part for the RV that automatically turns on the generator for back up power if something like what happened to us occurs when plugged into shoreline power. I further replaced a ceiling fan and outside vent with one that has a thermostat control so it also automatically comes on if the temperature in the coach gets to a preselected level. Together these two items cost about a thousand dollars, but Danny was able to install them himself which saved some further bucks. There is also a RV/boat nanny device which calls your cell phone if the RV power goes out. Its very pricy but one day I will get that too. We also have an outside Genturi system that vents the generator fumes overhead so they don't come in the windows if they are open while running the generator.

We are a little nervous about traveling in the heat with the dogs even with these precautions so if anyone out there has any other safety addition suggestions please let us know.

After that tiring two day trip, we spent a nice long Memorial Day week end at the KOA on Anastasia Island near St Augustine with my daughter and family, which includes a two year old and an eight year old. The 'kids' stayed in a cabin and we drove into the old city in their car, returned to the campground for cooking out, swimming, and s'mores. If you go to St Augustine, I recommend the new Pirates Museum just opposite the Castillo De San Marcos. It was fun for all ages.

As a sidelight, we've had a lot of annoying stuff go wrong with our still almost new RV. Sone of the windows still leak in Florida's bad storms, the a/c over the bed drips water on us, the pantry door hinge is stripped, cruise control doesn't work, and the captain and mate's Flexsteel leatherette chairs aren't wearing well. "Fabric" is ripping and splitting. I am told that is par for the course with RVs. Should all be under warranty, so I guess we will send her into the shop when we return from our summer trip to Gettysburg, Pa. and West Virginia.

We're leaving in a few days. I will report post trip. Happy trails.

PS: 1. We are doing podcasts called, All Things Overnight Parking. Check us out.
PS 2. Danny's brother has made an almost full recovery.