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Old 06-21-2024, 09:39 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Aria 3401
State: Maryland
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THOR #31930
Angry Thor Aria Design Malpractice?

We purchased a 2024 Thor Aria 3401 at the end of February. It's about time for the generator break-in oil change. However, there is a piece of angle iron that is bolted in place preventing anyone from opening the cover on the generator that provides access to the oil filter.
So far, dealer and our outreach to Thor has generated notes back saying that owner maintenance is not their issue or a recommendation to unbolt the generator, disconnect the exhaust, and (somehow) jack up the generator in order to open the access cover to change the filter.
We're working to talk with someone responsible from Thor to understand if this is design malpractice or ours was assembled incorrectly.
(Attached photo is inverted, but you can see the access panel covered by the angle iron that is bolted to the generator and supporting its weight.)
Anyone face similar issues?
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Old 06-21-2024, 09:53 PM   #2
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How many hours on the generator?
When does oil filter need changed per the specs?
Are you going to change it yourself?
Are you absurdly sure this is the only access to the filter?
Maybe go to onan(or whoever made the generator)for this first change and watch or ask about how they did it.

While frustrating it's a jack and a bit of modding to get it where it's no longer an issue.
I would be very angry, then I'd decide if the anger had value or if I should just have it made right.
Take a few pictures from farther away so we can see what's where. It may indeed just be an unbolt and you're mountaineering this molehill.

The entire cab needs pulled off of some ram trucks to access a $12 transmission gasket.
Intake manifold needs pulled to change the starter on a common car.
Find out about heater cores since about 1959. 15 hours labor for a commonly failed $39 part.
Big block Olds and fords from the mid sixties required the engine be partially pulled to change plugs(drill holes in fenderwells for the Ford, Olds you're just pretty well screwed.)
Specialty tools have been a nonconsumer thing for 125 years.

Things happen in engineering that are inexplicable.
This is just a thing.
Wait until you want to change sparkplugs yourself on your rv.(It's the same type of complaint)


This is a fair thing to miss during pdi.
No foul anywhere by anyone.
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Old 06-21-2024, 10:29 PM   #3
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Can you unscrew the cover plate and slightly slip it off without having to remove the angle bar? Have you looked at the generator schematics to see if that is the only spot to access the filter?

Paul
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Old 06-27-2024, 01:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakkasan Aria View Post
We purchased a 2024 Thor Aria 3401 at the end of February. It's about time for the generator break-in oil change. However, there is a piece of angle iron that is bolted in place preventing anyone from opening the cover on the generator that provides access to the oil filter.
So far, dealer and our outreach to Thor has generated notes back saying that owner maintenance is not their issue or a recommendation to unbolt the generator, disconnect the exhaust, and (somehow) jack up the generator in order to open the access cover to change the filter.
We're working to talk with someone responsible from Thor to understand if this is design malpractice or ours was assembled incorrectly.
(Attached photo is inverted, but you can see the access panel covered by the angle iron that is bolted to the generator and supporting its weight.)
Anyone face similar issues?
I’m in the process of buying a new Aria 2024 built after 10/1/2023. I still need to write a check for the down payment and schedule my PDI. Thanks for your post. I will be checking to see if this is going to the same issues for me and will let you know what the dealer technician says about it.

Other than this challenge, Sounds like you have been enjoying your Aria 3401. Anything else you can share about your experience would greatly appreciated.

Joe
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Old 06-27-2024, 07:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakkasan Aria View Post
We purchased a 2024 Thor Aria 3401 at the end of February. It's about time for the generator break-in oil change. However, there is a piece of angle iron that is bolted in place preventing anyone from opening the cover on the generator that provides access to the oil filter.
So far, dealer and our outreach to Thor has generated notes back saying that owner maintenance is not their issue or a recommendation to unbolt the generator, disconnect the exhaust, and (somehow) jack up the generator in order to open the access cover to change the filter.
We're working to talk with someone responsible from Thor to understand if this is design malpractice or ours was assembled incorrectly.
(Attached photo is inverted, but you can see the access panel covered by the angle iron that is bolted to the generator and supporting its weight.)
Anyone face similar issues?



i had to look at a few times
thor has to be kidding
they specked the space for the genny
f/L just complied..

is it s 7k or 8k watt?
that is pure NUTS
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Old 06-27-2024, 07:33 PM   #6
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If it were an option to not mount it that way
How much would you pay for that option?


We don't know if the bolts are removable and if that cover will slide to the side to access that oil filter.
All we know is that the op took a fairly bad picture and hasn't tried to see if it is even a problem.
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Old 07-02-2024, 07:30 PM   #7
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Paul-

Unfortunately, that approach won't work. One of the screws is covered by the angle iron that runs along the edge of the generator. The cross member is so tight to the cover that, even if I drilled a hole to access that screw, the cover won't drop far enough to clear the two finger squeeze latch on the other end.

I've looked at the schematics and the cover is the only method Cummins endorses to reach the filter. (That's based on discussions with authorized Cummins service persons and those who work on Onan generators.)

The good news is that, while Thor has been less than helpful (see my response to Joe), Cummins was very helpful once I got one of their technicians on the line. I MAY be able to remove the front cover of the generator while it's still mounted in the vehicle and then MAY be able to access the filter that way. We'll see how that goes this week.

Thanks for your interest and offer of help.
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Old 07-02-2024, 08:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe@theporters.net View Post
I’m in the process of buying a new Aria 2024 built after 10/1/2023. I still need to write a check for the down payment and schedule my PDI. Thanks for your post. I will be checking to see if this is going to the same issues for me and will let you know what the dealer technician says about it.

Other than this challenge, Sounds like you have been enjoying your Aria 3401. Anything else you can share about your experience would greatly appreciated.

Joe
Joe-

I'm sorry to have waited so long to respond. I wanted to wait until I'd heard from Thor, again, and talked to Cummins.

My strong recommendation to you is to ask the dealer how to solve the generator oil change challenge before you purchase. (For your sake, I'm hoping that mine is somehow a one-off error.) You may want the selling dealer to certify what they'll charge you for routine maintenance.

Here's the bottom line:
1. We like the layout and design of the Aria 3401.
2. The significant design flaw and Thor's unwillingness to address it would have kept me from purchasing this model of RV.

Details.

The design flaw.
We took this to a General RV dealer (we purchased the unit from another General RV dealer) nearest our home for warranty work (see below) and asked that they change the generator oil and filter as our generator was within about 10 hours of the break-in oil change. The shop foreman was surprised by the fact that his team couldn't access the oil filter access panel on the generator. He tried to work this with Thor's inappropriately titled "Customer Service" personnel.

>After describing the issue, he received from Brittany Braun on Thursday, May 30, 2024 4:53 PM, an email saying, "Unfortunately, the best way to service that filter on that unit is by un-bolting the generator and raising it with a jack an inch or two to get to that plate. You should also be able to slide the generator front to back a few inches if you disconnect the exhaust pipe."

(This is, in fact, unfortunate, since there isn't an inch or two of clearance at the top of the generator. It's equally unfortunate that the generator isn't on a slide, so moving it back a few inches is non-trivial.)

>The foreman wrote back the same day, asking "...will Thor cover this as a manufacturer defect?" The reply came from Brittany Braun on Friday, May 31, 2024 2:41 PM, stating that, "TMC’s warranty does not cover owner maintenance."

>I contacted Thor directly about the issue through their web site. On June 14, 2024, 9:34 AM, Kyle Prater wrote me back. He said, "Unfortunately, we will not have information on the chassis oil filer. Please contact Freightliner at 800-385-4357 for further assistance."
"As for the generator, we cannot advise on replacing the oil filter. Please contact Onan at 800-286-6467 for further assistance."

>I sent a note back to Kyle that said, in part:

Thanks for your note, but it's not really helpful.

The issue is how Thor built the unit, not Onan's clear instructions on how to access and change the oil filter.* Thor built this Aria 3401--for Thor's sake, hopefully not all Aria 3401s--such that*owners cannot perform routine maintenance*without disassembling and modifying various elements of the RV.* (See the attached picture.)

I think one of three things is true:

1. This particular unit was built incorrectly
2. Thor knew constructing 3401s this way prevents routine maintenance and developed work around that should be provided to owners
3. This is design malpractice and Thor either negligently or willfully constructs and sells motorhomes that cannot function as intended and advertised

If #1 is true, I'd like to discuss how Thor will remedy this.

If #2 is true, I need to know the work around you have developed.

If #3 is true, I suggest that someone in authority at Thor work with me to discuss a remedy and that you redesign the bracket that is causing this issue.* (I can offer some approaches for you to consider.)

>Kyle Prater resonded on June 24, 2024, 1:30 PM, stating, "As I stated in my last email, per Onan’s instructions and due to liability, we cannot advise you on the process to replace the oil filter on the Generator. We advise taking your coach to an Onan authorized service facility, a Thor Motor Coach authorized service facility, or contacting Onan directly at 800-286-6467."

>I placed a post on Twitter/X with a short description of the issue and including @ThorMotorCoach. Cody Smith responded July 1, 2024, 8:31 AM, saying, "The angled metal piece would need to be removed in order to complete the oil change. If you are unable to remove that piece then my only other suggestion would be to have your local Onan dealership complete the oil change for you." (To Cody's credit, he said he'd tried to call me.)

I should note that all of these emails came above the taglines:

Thor Motor Coach Will Produce the Highest Quality Recreational Vehicles.

NOBODY Will Build Them Better.

>When I discussed this with the Cummins authorized service center nearest me, the person with whom I spoke said that the access panel on the bottom of the generator is the only way he knows of to change the oil filter.

>As opposed to Thor's approach to customer service, Cummins was very helpful. I was able to get Andrew, a Cummins generator technician, on the phone today and described the problem. After stating that he was incredulous that someone would design and build an RV this way, we discussed approaches. He looked at technical drawings he had and stated that the bottom access panel was the appropriate method to change the filter. However, he said that I MIGHT be able to remove the front cover (he said that would be tricky with the generator mounted in the RV) and access the filter that way. He assured me doing this would not void the warranty. I'll take a shot at this later this week and let you know if it works.

I deliberately list all this before addressing your question about the RV overall as this is a significant design flaw, not indicative that Thor Motor Coach Will Produce the Highest Quality Recreational Vehicles nor that NOBODY Will Build Them Better, and a rather transparent attempt to avoid taking any responsibility.

OK,...
Layout and Other Aspects of Design.

Again, we like the design and layout of the 3401. We travel with just two of us and the 3401 meets most of our needs and wants. This is one of the shortest diesel pushers we saw. That shorter length only has a few drawbacks, from our perspective.

The design drawbacks we've found and knowingly accepted are:
>Limited counter space. Other models use different approaches to provide more counter space, with pullout cabinets that offer some additional counter space or flip up counters. I may add a small amount of counter space with a bracket I install.
>Bathroom that is average sized. We previously owned a travel trailer with a rear bath. This gave us a "two butt" bathroom that we appreciated. The 3401's bath is fine; it's just a bit smaller than we had.
>You get tremendous living space with the opposing slides. You give up space while the unit is driving. You can get into the fridge and freezer, although you want things you need to access on the road at the front of the shelves. You can get into the bath. You can get into the bedroom, but just barely and not while carrying much. You won't have true access to any of the drawers in the bedroom.
>There's only one space underneath the unit that provides significant storage. (There's another under-unit bay that has space that's about 2 feet deep.) All-in-all, it has the storage we need underneath, but don't plan to put bikes or other things in that storage space beyond what I'd consider "standard" things carried with an RV.
>Not surprisingly, we have to run the front A/C unit at a low setting and the dash fans when driving in hot weather. This puts hours on the generator, but makes the cab comfortable.

We discovered that our Aqua Hot version (250D) will only either heat water or heat the cab at one time. This isn't that big a deal, but it did surprise us. (We purchased a small fan that offers electric heat. That and the installed heating has worked for us down to about 20 degree F.)
Issues We Had and You May Want to Check.

Here are the issues we found in our first four months:
>The toilet was mounted offset by about 1/4 inch from the black tank connection. The selling dealer resolved this by moving the toilet to where it mounted correctly, dealing the PVC, and lining the base of the toilet with caulk.
>Three of the metal roller plates you'll find on the bottom of the wall slide have begun to come disconnected from the slide. It appears that the screws were either incorrectly inserted or pulled out from their insertion point.
>Our cab heater and car A/C don't offer heat or cool. Our servicing dealer told us that's a chassis issue, so we've got an appointment with a Freightliner dealer near us this week to assess the issue. I'm hoping that Freightliner and Thor don't each point at the other on this one. We'll see.
>The windshield seal began to come unmounted at one corner.
>Our fresh and gray tank sensors didn't function.
>The AquaHot has malfunctioned twice during freezing weather. It only required a reset to resolve, but when that happens in the middle of the night, you figure it out when you wake up COLD. (The heat pump works down to about 40 degrees F, so you only need the AH heating when you're out in pretty frigid temps.)
>The wall slide cover collects water whenever it rains, so ensure you give that water a chance to drain so that the slide cover isn't caught between the slide and frame when you bring in that slide.
>The screen on the kitchen vent was torn when we took delivery.
>The bedroom TV had a vertical black line when we took delivery.
>The outside TV is not a smart TV like the ones inside the unit. Ours doesn't connect to the antenna, either. We bought a Roku device to address this and it works fine.
>Our generator controls in the cab and at the control panel aren't working. I think it's a connection bracket, but haven't been able to resolve it, yet.
>The microphone for our hands free phone connection was not connected to the system. That was a simple fix, but a disappointing indication of inspection. You won't want to use it while driving as it's way too far from the driver or passenger and the vents generally blow air across it. I may reposition it after the warranty period, but have no issues using a headset now.
>There was a large area where the fresh water drain exits the outside water hookup bay that caused that bay to fill with a few inches of water when driving in the rain. The dealer fixed that with some spray foam under warranty.
>We found out by accident (fortunately, at about Day 85 of ownership) that the first 90 days of ownership offer expedited "adjustments." Apparently, that means the servicing dealer has fewer requirements to seek authorization for warranty work during that period. Keep that in mind.

Other Things, Mostly Good.

The Freightliner chassis (with the exception of cab heating and A/C) works great. A friend who's spent a career working as an executive in the trucking industry told me the tires are 100k+ mile articles and the drive train and chassis are 1 mil mile.

The passenger and driver seats are great. Both swivel and the passenger seat has a foot rest. These allow you to have a conversation with up to about six people in the living area.

The seat height at the dinnette is low and makes you feel like you're back in 3rd grade. We added a cushion and that resolves the issue easily.

We'd had a few people sleep above the driver and passenger seat in the drop down bed. The feedback is mixed. (We added a topper that seems to help.)

We've not had anyone sleep on the dinnette. Thor provides some nice cushions to that as a bed, but they are sized such that storing them is a bit of a pain.

The lighting and their controls are great. They have placed remotes for the lights all over the living areas. You also have generator start in the bedroom and water pump on/off in the bathroom and outside at the water hookup.

The convection oven and induction stove are good. You'll need the right kind of pans for the stove, but it's worth it. We had a few issues getting an F3 error on one burner, but that's apparently just an overheating warning because of the pan we were using. The convection microwave is a lot better than the propane ovens we've had on other RVs, but keep in mind that there's still a preheat time when using the convection function.

Let me know if you'd like me to send you anything direct.
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Old 07-02-2024, 08:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by powerboatr View Post
i had to look at a few times
thor has to be kidding
they specked the space for the genny
f/L just complied..

is it s 7k or 8k watt?
that is pure NUTS
powerboatr-

Agreed. See my discussions with Thor in another post.

The design flaw is bad enough, but how they've responded doesn't display anything positive about their approach to customer care.
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Old 07-02-2024, 08:58 PM   #10
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https://community.cartalk.com/t/wors...igns/186347/23

Contribute your pictures to the above site.
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Old 07-02-2024, 09:20 PM   #11
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I understand the frustration. It's probably not something one would think about checking before purchase.

I would consider modifying the supporting bracket - make a section that unbolts to allow access to the panel covering filter access. Patent it and sell the idea to Thor...
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Old 07-02-2024, 11:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ghnl View Post
I understand the frustration. It's probably not something one would think about checking before purchase.

I would consider modifying the supporting bracket - make a section that unbolts to allow access to the panel covering filter access. Patent it and sell the idea to Thor...

I have actually not bought cars because of having to remove a bottom engine cover to change the oil, or if I did not like how hard it would be to clean the will. There are so many options.

I wish the OP had better pictures, it is hard to grasp the craziness of what he is saying because you want to think something is missing. I do remember some RV where you had to jack the rear up to take the battery out. it was incredibly difficult.

With that said, this may be a real design issue and if so; it is a really poor response from TMC. I change my oil once a year. While pictures would help I am 99% sure if I had that RV, I could call my Mobile Tech over and he would modify something for me to change oil myself going forward. My guess is he charge $200.
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Old 07-03-2024, 12:09 AM   #13
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My understanding is changing the oil (e.g. draining it) is not the issue. I can see the drain port clearly in the picture. It's changing the oil filter that has been blocked.

Which model generator is that, anyway? Our ACE has a Cummins-Onan RV QG 4000. It doesn't have a filter.

And so we can all stop standing on our heads, here's the picture flipped downside down.
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Old 07-03-2024, 12:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghnl View Post
My understanding is changing the oil (e.g. draining it) is not the issue. I can see the drain port clearly in the picture. It's changing the oil filter that has been blocked.

Which model generator is that, anyway? Our ACE has a Cummins-Onan RV QG 4000. It doesn't have a filter.

And so we can all stop standing on our heads, here's the picture flipped downside down.
You mean right side up?
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Old 07-03-2024, 12:25 AM   #15
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I said downside down and that's exactly what I meant.
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Old 07-03-2024, 12:54 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ghnl View Post
I said downside down and that's exactly what I meant.
Damn man, I fell down when you flipped that picture downside up. Next time warn us before you go flipping things around

If I follow, that can be easily fixed for $200. A good Mobile RV Tech can simply cut out an opening where the filter is, then take a new piece of steel plate with same cut hole that be welded back on the the two structured pieces. The support may actually be stronger.
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Old 07-03-2024, 01:27 AM   #17
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Can you loosen or remove the mounting bolts then using a jack raise the generator far enough to remove the oil filter cover plate?

When raised mark the location of the hidden bolt and then drill a hole in the mounting brace so the bolt can be accessed in the future.
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Old 07-03-2024, 02:52 AM   #18
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I just don't understand why the generator is mounted in such a way. The bottom side of our 3901 looks nothing like that, and changing the filter is an easy task.
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Old 07-03-2024, 03:21 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by m1noel View Post
I just don't understand why the generator is mounted in such a way. The bottom side of our 3901 looks nothing like that, and changing the filter is an easy task.
Iím taking a wild stab but I would think that the OPís 3401 is what, 5í shorter than a 3901? So things are squeezed and perhaps compromised. And stuff happens. However thatís not an excuse for the screwed up access or for the lame lack of accountability.
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Old 07-03-2024, 03:40 AM   #20
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Iím taking a wild stab but I would think that the OPís 3401 is what, 5í shorter than a 3901? So things are squeezed and perhaps compromised. And stuff happens. However thatís not an excuse for the screwed up access or for the lame lack of accountability.
That is good assumption, a wild stab would be if you said 500' shorter...

We had a 29' boat that we had out of water 2 months waiting for some service ( no it was not a TMC Dealer) but when they finally finished and put the boat back in the water it was leaking at the transom. Turns out the water was seeping at the steering pin. It was a $20 part so I was pretty happy, then they told me they had to lift the engine to get to it it was a $3,000 job. Never crossed my mind to find a Chaparral forum and take them to task. That seal had shriveled up dry with the heat being out of the water. When they put back in the water it never had a chance to seal. For a while I was a $30 bilge pump from a sunken boat.

I am sure someone at TMC was fired for this. They should offer complimentary modification for any 3401 owner upon request. Not a good look for TMC, people wil never forget that type of issue.
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2019 Sunstar 29ve; Toad Lincoln Navigator; RVi Brake 3 & Command Center; Roadmaster Nighthawk Tow bar & Baseplate; Sumo Springs; Safe T Plus; Onan EC-30 AGS; Vmax 250ah AGM; T-Mobile Internet; H/W Heater / Chassis Disconnect Switches; Southwire Surge Guard 44270 & 34951 w/Monitor 40301; Jet Flo Macerator; Alpine SPE500 Speakers; Visio M21D-H8R
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