Repair log for the first six months (updated Jun 2019)

Since we actually took delivery of the motorhome at the end of August, and lived in it full time since the end of September, it’s been five full months before we hit the road full time plus the month of travel in Feb. We had some time to work out the kinks, and as it would happen, break more stuff!

Chassis service

Before purchasing, I wanted to get an idea how well the motorhome was serviced and asked the previous owner to provide as many service records as they had. Unfortunately, they didn’t keep all the receipts so we couldn’t get the full picture. One of the perks of buying used is that the original/previous owner hopefully got all the little things fixed under warranty and everything is working smoothly by this point. We could definitely see early on in the life, the motorhome had been back to Tiffin several times to get long lists of things fixed so while that part seemed good, the chassis was more questionable. The chassis refers to the underlying Freightliner frame, engine, transmission, etc. This motorhome has 50k miles on it, which for a five year old car is about average or maybe even slightly less, but for a motorhome that’s about double what you’d expect. People simply don’t drive motorhomes as much as they do a car that they are using for a daily commute, unless you are full timing and really moving around a lot, which again is fairly rare (most people just use theirs on weekends and holidays). Jeri and I are going to be full timing, with a fuel budget that gives us about 10k miles per year, so we want to make sure this we were in tip-top shape. So after purchase, we looked up reputable Freightliner service centers and took the motorhome directly to Velocity Truck Center of Phoenix/Tolleson who performed the M3 service on the chassis which is first done at 20k but also every 40k miles afterwards so seems like a safe bet to just bite the bullet and get that done. We also opted to replace the oil/filter on the generator which only has about 240 hours on it so probably has never been serviced. The work took a full day so we worked remotely from a Starbucks all day while that was happening before driving back to San Diego in the evening. Barring any check engine lights or problems, the chassis now shouldn’t need much attention other than basic servicing. Rather than just picking arbitrary time/mileage intervals to do future service, we plan on sending oil samples off to Blackstone Labs and let them tell us when the next work needs to be done.

Total cost: $2200 for the M3 including eng oil/filter, fuel filters, lube, coolant service, front hub and rear axle service, air filter, service air dryer. Plus $109 for the generator oil change.

Slide Toppers

When Jeri and I first purchased the motorhome, it was on consignment at a dealer in Yuma. They told us they would be doing their own equivalent of a certified pre-owned type inspection and if they found anything wrong (or we did), they would repair it before delivery at no charge to us. Nice! We still had it independently inspected to have a proper second opinion. Everything came back clean except one of the pop-out slide toppers was ripped slightly, and they said they would order a replacement and install it. Unfortunately, we wanted to take delivery faster than they could receive the parts and do the repairs. The good news is they accidentally ordered replacements awning toppers for all four pop-out slides, which since these are made from the sunbrella fabric were probably not cheap. I found a local guy (Shade Pro) who installed them onsite for $80/ea so we didn’t have to move the motorhome and disrupt the kitties.

Total cost: $320

Outside TV

Our motorhome has three TVs, which is two more than I’ve ever owned! It could have even came with a fourth, but I’m happy the motorhome we bought deleted that option in favor of more cabinet space. Unfortunately, during delivery in late August, it was very hot outside in Yuma and they had the exterior TV cover open so they could show us the outside TV working. Well, by the time we got to that part, the sun had baked the TV into permanent submission and the screen no longer worked. Fortunately, I was planning on getting a new 4k TCL for the main TV and would afterwards use the old TV to replace the outside TV. The dealer said they would cover it, but I didn’t really think it was worth the hassle since I was going to end up with an extra TV anyway that would fit perfectly.

Total cost: $0

Water pump

The water pump makes water come out of faucets, showers, toilet, fridge, etc when you are not hooked up to city water. From my research online, these can last upwards of 10+ years but after five years, this one was toast. Two of the four screws that hold the body of the water pump together in one piece had come loose since the threading has stripped over time (maybe due to vibration?). It was no longer maintaining pressure and while it would still work, would basically run 24/7 if we left it on. Fortunately, it’s easily accessible in the wet bay of the motorhome, which is the storage bay on the outside of the motorhome that contains the fresh water connection, the dump station for emptying your grey/black tanks, tank flush, water filters, etc. The part number was clearly labelled on a big sticker on the side so I checked online and it was easily obtainable on Amazon. I was able to install it myself by just cutting 12V power to it by using the house battery cutoff switch and splicing the 12V and ground wires together, and bolting the new one in the same place as the old one.

Total cost: $50

Rear A/C

Our Phaeton has two 15k BTU combination air conditioners + heat pumps on the roof. They both worked fine at delivery, but at some point in the successive months the rear one stopped working. If you switched it on, you could hear the compressor start, but no air flow so after about 20 seconds it automatically shuts off..probably some protection mechanism. Turning the ‘fan only’ setting to On results in nothing so the blower fan clearly seems to be the issue. We climbed on the roof and removed the cover, but couldn’t see anything obviously wrong. The internet says it is probably the blower fan start capacitor, and the fan is actually in an entirely closed unit so we couldn’t inspect it closely, but definitely no debris or rodents in it because of that fact. The capacitor too is exposed, but hardwired in so not an easy replacement for me, even though that is probably the culprit (I hope so anyway, since that’s cheap and a whole new motor assembly is not). Anyway, probably time to call a professional I’m thinking!

Update: I was wrong about the capacitor. This turned out to be the blower fan self destructed inside the housing and the broken parts got stuck inside (luckily) so it couldn’t rotate and cause further damage. Here is a picture of the broken part. The mobile repair guy who came in in New Orleans to repair it had a used one from a spare parts AC he had so he gave me the part for $20 and came back to install it.

Total cost: $105 (1 hr labor) plus $20 squirrel cage replacement part

Window latches

Already broke two window latches on two windows. One works fine still since it has two latches and only one on it broke. The other window behind the couch still can be opened by removing the plastic cover exposing the thumb latches at the edges of the window which allow it to open.

Total cost: TBD

No 12V power to rear vanity electric slide

The day we left San Diego, we obviously had to bring in all the pop-out slides for travel. Well, the passenger rear electric slide in the bedroom would not retract. A couple Youtube videos later, I was in one of the storage bays where the slide controllers are accessible and determined pretty quickly that one slide controller was not working since the LEDs on it were dead and the manual override was not working. I figured the slide controller was dead, and just moved the power and switch connections to the driver side rear electric slide controller and we were able to bring in the slide. We then went online and purchased a new controller on ebay. Unfortunately, once it arrived and I installed it, it still did not work.. Only then did I bust out the multimeter to find the 12V power lead was dead. The slide had worked fine up until the day we left, and it was then I recalled that on that morning Nacho had known something was up and climbed into a crawl space under the bed where a ton of wiring moves through. It seems highly coincidental the slide stopped working that day, and he was in there. I’ve taken a cursory look down there to see if I can find a loose power wire, or maybe a chewed through one, but didn’t see anything obvious. It’s not easy to access the space and get a really good look so we still need to do that. Fortunately, we don’t move the slides in and out all the time so we’ve been OK with just moving the power back and forth between the two slide controllers to get both slides in/out.

Update: It turns out the 12V power line for the slide that goes into the back of the fuse panel had simply popped out. The whole fuse panel assembly had to be removed to access the back to plug it back in. So we now have an extra slide controller that we did not really need!

Total cost: $205 (slide controller) + $105 for mobile repair to find and repair the wire issue.

Tow dolly

The tow dolly we bought at about 60-70% off new was about 15 years old and needed a little work. We opted to get two new tires, have the entire axle serviced including replacing wheel bearings and repacking them with new grease, new LED lights, and a new wiring harness installed. It was a little more costly since we had a mobile repair guy come to our campsite in San Diego to do it. They did a really great job and showed me a few things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Total cost: $750

Leaky cargo bay

One of the forward drive side bays contains the massive fuse box and acts as a small cargo bay as well. We noticed the carpet liner was getting pretty well soaked after the first rainy day in San Diego before we hit the road and it persisted anytime it rained heavily. A little research shows it is probably just the bulb seal that goes around the edge of the opening to make it water tight is compressed so much from age that it no longer holds its shape well enough and the seal is compromised. A couple minutes with a measuring tape, I found the exact replacement on ebay for $1.50 a foot. 1/16” edge fit U-end, 1/2” bulb seal I also tightened the latch so that it would make a stronger seal. I sprayed the host on it full bore and it seems to be fine now.

Total cost: $15

Leaky entry door

This one didn’t start until we got to Kingman, AZ and it rained all day one day. Water was dripping in through where the swing arm attaches to the top of the door frame. Initially, how water was getting inside the wall was a mystery, but the IRV2 forum help I got indicated it was probably the awning above the door was not sealed well enough anymore to keep water from seeping inside the anchor points for it. That turned out to be incorrect when Jeri did a simple test of pouring a cup of water on the gutter that is directly over the entry door. While most of the water ran off the side of the gutter, some must have found some holes in the caulking and made its way through the door frame. I ordered a caulking gun from Amazon, some high quality caulk, a caulking remover tool, and some solvent to soften the old caulking. I repaired this plus about a half dozen areas where the caulking had some small cracks or worse. Removing old caulk sucks though, even with a solvent that makes it soft and easy to remove it still took most of the day to do these.

Update: It still leaks a little under the heaviest of rain, but I find if I leave the awning over the door out a few inches it protects it enough to prevent it. I talked to a mobile repair guy and he says the frames for the windows and doors almost always develop a leak and they are nearly impossible to 100% fix.

Total cost: $36

Leaky driver window

So the driver window has a drip drop leak that like the entry door only happens when it rains decently. I resealed the window frame on the outside and also had a mobile repair guy touch it up which helped reduce it, but it still leaks when it rains for hours. He says this is a common issue and not much to be done about it due to the design. So if it rains hard, I just tape up a plastic cereal container to the window to catch the drip. Here is what it looks like.

Total cost: $65 to reseal window, but did not 100% solve the issue.