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Old 07-27-2021, 01:22 PM   #1
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Are you ready for a mechanical breakdown

I haven't seen this topic posted anywhere so I thought I'd create a thread.

As some of you have read my recent posts we are currently experiencing our second mechanical breakdown during this trip. The second breakdown being approximately 400 miles after the first. Luckily our rig is still under the manufacturer's warranty (Freightliner) so no expense with repairs (to date). There have, however, been considerable lifestyle changes as a result of the breakdowns.

Prior to setting out on an adventure have you considered what you would do in the event of a breakdown?

Do you carry the resources needed if you are required to relocate from the RV to a hotel for what could be an extended stay while waiting for parts?

If your RV is in the shop for three days to a week how are you going to handle food that is in the rig to include refrigerator and freezer?

Do you know the dimensions of your rig for towing if asked by roadside assistance? This can include, but not limited to, height, width, length, weight, distance from front axle to front bumper, distance from rear axle to rear bumper, wheelbase etc...

Do you have the patience to wait 4 hours or longer for a tow truck to arrive?

How will you handle being told "There are 12 truck drivers that were here before you and they come first"? and then the countdown to your spot which might take one or two days?

Do you have a TOAD or some other means of travel while the RV is being repaired?

How will you handle pets during an extended breakdown?

Do you have the flexibility in your schedule to alter timelines and continue the trip or will you have to eliminate scheduled stops, cancel reservations and readjust as necessary?

How will you react when campgrounds tell you that you do not get a refund of the deposit because you didn't cancel prior to 48 hours out and they don't care why you are not going to be there?

And most importantly, do you have the mental capacity and attitude necessary to survive an extended breakdown without going totally bonkers on all of the nice folks that are doing their jobs to the best of their ability trying to help?


Just thought I'd raise the topic.

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Old 07-27-2021, 01:35 PM   #2
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Great topic Dave! And one that has been on my mind the past year.... especially as we plan our trip to Alaska in 2023 when a major mchanical breakdown could be a nightmare.

I am fortunate that through my career I was able to accrue millions of hotel, airline and car rental points that I have saved for retirement for general travel and also dealing with an RV breakdown on the road. That can certainly help with some of the unforseen expense of having to put the rig in the shop without having a choice during a trip.

I have a lot of tools and spare parts that I carry but there can be an issue that I will just not be able to fix myself and that is the real challenge.

You raise some other good points as well such as the food in the fridge / freezer.

We have our dog so I already knew it would be challenging finding hotels that will take pets. I also know there is a good chance that I would have to eat the cost of some campground reservations we could not make..... and changing the schedule could be a real challenge.... especially these days.

We leave in 3 weeks for a 7-week, 6000 mile trip so I am going to put more thought into this one sooner rather than later.

Ultimately... if the coach can't be fixed in a couple days, we would load up the Wrangler with the essentials and head home. Then I would fly back to pick it up if it was more than a days drive away from home base.

Occassionally we take the Can-AM Spyder so that presents more of a challenge. I would just leave it with the trailer and fly back home or rent a car depending on the distance.

One of the reasons I gravitate to the Magnitude was the F-550. I figured I had a better chance of finding a Ford Dealer or shop in the vicinity who could work on a major mechanical issue quickly.... parts not withstanding.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:46 PM   #3
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Those who can handle it will handle it.
Those who will read, yet not act on your well constructed and pointed questions...are legion.

We will
Set up our grill, transfer all if the food to ice chests and tell the service shop to enjoy what they can and to take home/throw away the rest.(feed the crew, get benefits )

Rent a car and carry on the adventure locally(we did this for four days outside of boise. It was one of our best adventures. We rented a truck and went on a road the locals said due to a bypass no one had used in 50 years they knew of. We showed them maps they'd never seen, homesteads they never knew the name of.) A sensor went out in the intake manifold if our 5.3 Chevy. They fixed it, it went 20 miles and another sensor failed. We think they knicked a wire putting the intake manifold on and grounded out the sensor. It was really two breakdowns in four days.

We've lost deposits in the thousands of dollars in the past. We knew the job was dangerous when we took it.

But
I am a bit of an odd duck.
House burns down, car stolen, four days for repairs...I'm ok with it.
But man when a pencil lead breaks twice in a row and it did it just to be a jerk...I.am.on.fire.

Yours is an excellent post. I hadn't thought about the food but we had experienced and whooped all the others.

I hope your post makes others prepare.
I hope My post makes them think of easy and happy void fillers.

Aside:
Yesterday while Going up a steep hill outisde of casper wyoming my cruise control kicked out.
It seems catastrophic when it happens. Rpm goes to idle, engine roaring at 4100 stops, you're on a big hill(or it wouldnt have kicked out).
First thought: pull over
Second thought: where, the sides are steep
Third thought: ham sandwiches and lawn chairs, a ride with a tow truck driver and we'll rent a car and loop back for the rv in a few days or a few weeks. New adventure, no worry at all.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:46 PM   #4
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Great points for both newbies and seasoned RV's to think about

Given we have a home base our plan is to give away food to shelters and head home in the towed if were in for an extended repair

All the points raised are great and would be good to write or digitally store some of the info
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:51 PM   #5
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Dave, I have thought about most of these issues many times over the years.

Our preference is to stick to KISS principle at all cost. Simplicity improves chances of staying on the road. Does not guarantee it, just makes it more likely.

I know there are benefits to added slide room, diesel torque, EcoBoost power, and so on. But for me, if I can do without, it adds more value in peace of mind to keep it simple than what I would otherwise gain.

Risk taking involves personal decisions, and while I enjoy taking chances in other ways, there is no way Iím going to increase my chances of breaking down in the middle of nowhere, or at the worst time possible.

In context of RVing, I am definitely risk adverse.
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:41 PM   #6
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Excellent write up. When we bought our 2021 FW 28A, there were other MHs on the lot that were rentals. 30k+ miles on them. We decided to go with new since the price difference was only about 20k.
I like to be prepared and have loaded items I might need. One thing is a spare tire. That will be in before our 2900 mile trip in September. Tool kit, fuses, clothing all a part of our life on the road.
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:48 PM   #7
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I agree with everyone in here: GREAT topic!
(Even if it happens to be the one that nobody wants to talk about...)
Since I have the mechanical aptitude of a hamster: I leave the tools at home.
I keep a cellphone a Platinum Mastercard, Good Sam's phone number, and my extended warranty info with me.

If it breaks: I'll make a sandwich, and wait for the Cavalry to arrive...
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Old 07-27-2021, 02:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynetaylor55 View Post
Excellent write up. When we bought our 2021 FW 28A, there were other MHs on the lot that were rentals. 30k+ miles on them. We decided to go with new since the price difference was only about 20k.
I like to be prepared and have loaded items I might need. One thing is a spare tire. That will be in before our 2900 mile trip in September. Tool kit, fuses, clothing all a part of our life on the road.
All those things you mention are good, however, what are you going to do when you breakdown and all that prep, spare tire, fuses, flashlight is all useless weight that helps you in no way shape or form.

In our case, in a 2020 rig with 11,000 miles all the fuses and spare parts are nothing more than useless weight. Carrying all of that stuff may be nothing more than a false sense of security.
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Old 07-27-2021, 03:11 PM   #9
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I guess we’ll just agree to disagree.
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Old 07-27-2021, 03:52 PM   #10
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The way I see it...
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Old 07-27-2021, 04:18 PM   #11
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We bought a 1968 UltraVan in 1993 and traveled in it for 14 years. With 109 hp in a 3,200 lb class A coach, we did not tow. We got our first cell phone in 2002. The club's saying is:" When you break down, and you will break down, at least you know where you will be spending the night". We had numerous problems, breakdowns and adventures. The drive train is 1968 Chevy Corvair and Chevy dis-owned the Corvair in 1976. I am happy to report that the UltraVan #388 (Beau388) only once came home on a rollback. An all aluminum semi-monocoque coach has no frame; thus cannot be towed conventionally, but requires a 21 ft roll back or 86 inch wide wheel lift that can extend under a coach with 9" ground clearance to be transported. Neither is readily available. Only once did we not complete a planed trip and usually on schedule. There were several long nights of searching for a 245/45-17LT tire (destroyed 4 and only carried a space-saver spare tire). I could go on, but ....
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Old 07-27-2021, 05:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EA37TS View Post
All those things you mention are good, however, what are you going to do when you breakdown and all that prep, spare tire, fuses, flashlight is all useless weight that helps you in no way shape or form.

In our case, in a 2020 rig with 11,000 miles all the fuses and spare parts are nothing more than useless weight. Carrying all of that stuff may be nothing more than a false sense of security.

Your post was not directed at me, but I carry a few tools and zero spare parts.

My priority by far is on being able to drive the vehicle. I feel that as long as I can drive down the road, everything else is extremely minor by comparison ó more inconveniences than anything else. I can deal with those on the fly.

I feel for your situation. Getting stuck on side of the road, or even at a campground, is a pain in the neck. I only experienced that once when I was starting out over 20 years ago in a rented motorhome and it taught me an invaluable lesson. And it was only a minor tire failure. Still, having to wait for hours on I-70 with nothing to do seemed like an eternity. The next morning the repaired tire had failed/leaked and we were once again stuck, at least it was in a campground.

When I purchased a motorhome I made certain I could change tires myself in an emergency. Fortunately, never had to. With E-350 van, I also carry spare and tools, and was back on the road within 30 minutes after a blowout. I definitely want a larger van/motorhome next, but would appreciate having only four equal-size wheels and tires I can change myself. I also like idea of having many dealerships that could work on it.

Because we now travel so light, our plan is to fly home if it will take days to repair vehicle. If or when we go back to having a dog or two (which complicates matters in many ways), we would rent a car and drive home if close, otherwise tour the area while staying in hotels. Stuff like food would go in trash ó no big loss since we carry little and much is shelf stable anyway.

We actually rented a car and drove home for two days twice, but both times it was while flying, not RVing. We got stuck at airports and drove home.

I like having options, and feel the more ďstuffĒ I have with me the fewer choices I will have if things go south. Having a grill to cook burgers on side of I-70 doesnít solve much of a problem for me.

It may be a false sense of security, but I feel the more my motorhome is like a car I sleep in, versus a house on wheels, the fewer problems Iím likely to have along the way. And while itís extremely important to have a plan for when things go wrong, I prefer to minimize things going wrong in the first place. Granted, it comes at a cost in comfort and amenities, but thatís probably why we all drive different types of RVs even when costs are similar.
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Old 07-27-2021, 07:18 PM   #13
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There's an old saying: "The best fight to have; is the one that you don't fight..."
I'm a firm believer is proper maintenance and attention to details.
Do your best to keep the problem from happening, and you're much better off!
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Old 07-27-2021, 08:10 PM   #14
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The point of my post was not to discuss carrying spare parts or tires(I have spare parts on board) or performing Preventative Maintenance before a trip but rather to get folks thinking about what happens when you have a mechanical breakdown beyond your capabilities or the spares on board.

We are going through our second breakdown in a week and under 400 miles. There isnít a spare out there that is going to prevent a rig to derate with a def issue or one that decides to blow a trans or engine in the middle of no damn where.

Simple things like how much water is in the fresh water tank or how full are the blacks and grey tanks when you are residing in a broke RV on the road or in a parking lot can be critical.

Now I am not talking about RV house related items such as slide issues or AC not working. Those types of things are an inconvenience and not necessarily a trip disrupter.

Just think about how a mechanical breakdown would impact you on the road.
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Old 07-27-2021, 09:27 PM   #15
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OK, and will stay out of this thread.

In closing will add the one thing I see very differently are slides because while they are part of the coach, an RV canít legally drive down the road with a slide stuck out. It might as well be an engine or transmission failure if the RV canít be moved until fixed.

Good luck with your motorhome repairs.
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Old 07-27-2021, 09:29 PM   #16
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Great write up Dave and others. Been there, done that. We had a problem that was kinda pricey. Driving north on I-95 first day out for our 2 mo. trip some years back in 95+ F. temps. I heard a loud bang, the AC stopped working and we had a rattle in the engine area. We limped into a Dodge dealer who was listed as a Mecedes service center.
According to the mechanic, the little 6 cyl. Mercedes diesel in our RV must have picked up a stone on the road, just the right size, in just the wrong place which got between the belt and pulley on the AC compressor. The stone caused a sudden overload which snapped the pulley shaft and clutch off trashing the power steering pump also. All this happened at around 60 mph.
The mech showed me the parts and mess. Said it would take 2 days to get parts and fix. They had a loaner car, so we packed up a few things and got a motel nearby. When the dust settled, the bill was around $4k. I think the price of the loaner car may have been in the price.
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Old 07-27-2021, 09:41 PM   #17
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
OK, and will stay out of this thread.

In closing will add the one thing I see very differently are slides because while they are part of the coach, an RV canít legally drive down the road with a slide stuck out. It might as well be an engine or transmission failure if the RV canít be moved until fixed.

Good luck with your motorhome repairs.
Don't need to stay out. In most cases a slide that is stuck out can be manually pushed back in or a mobile tech can come out to a campground to repair. That is what I meant by it being an inconvience because you can continue to use the RV. I have a slide right now that cannot be extended but it is not causing a disruption to our trip. It will go in for repair when the trip is over.
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:02 PM   #19
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Great write up and good responses too. Lots of ideas to process.
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducksface View Post
Those who can handle it will handle it.
Those who will read, yet not act on your well constructed and pointed questions...are legion.

We will
Set up our grill, transfer all if the food to ice chests and tell the service shop to enjoy what they can and to take home/throw away the rest.(feed the crew, get benefits )

Rent a car and carry on the adventure locally(we did this for four days outside of boise. It was one of our best adventures. We rented a truck and went on a road the locals said due to a bypass no one had used in 50 years they knew of. We showed them maps they'd never seen, homesteads they never knew the name of.) A sensor went out in the intake manifold if our 5.3 Chevy. They fixed it, it went 20 miles and another sensor failed. We think they knicked a wire putting the intake manifold on and grounded out the sensor. It was really two breakdowns in four days.

We've lost deposits in the thousands of dollars in the past. We knew the job was dangerous when we took it.

But
I am a bit of an odd duck.
House burns down, car stolen, four days for repairs...I'm ok with it.
But man when a pencil lead breaks twice in a row and it did it just to be a jerk...I.am.on.fire.

Yours is an excellent post. I hadn't thought about the food but we had experienced and whooped all the others.

I hope your post makes others prepare.
I hope My post makes them think of easy and happy void fillers.

Aside:
Yesterday while Going up a steep hill outisde of casper wyoming my cruise control kicked out.
It seems catastrophic when it happens. Rpm goes to idle, engine roaring at 4100 stops, you're on a big hill(or it wouldnt have kicked out).
First thought: pull over
Second thought: where, the sides are steep
Third thought: ham sandwiches and lawn chairs, a ride with a tow truck driver and we'll rent a car and loop back for the rv in a few days or a few weeks. New adventure, no worry at all.
Hope the view was killer!
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