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Old 09-26-2019, 06:22 PM   #1
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Default RV Dealership Servicing question

We've been going back and forth whether to do a van conversion (my preference) or buy a new one such as Travato 59K or Thor Sequence (my wife's preference). We were almost ready to buy one when I started researching warranty and repair work at various dealerships. Literally every dealership I looked at (western coast) had service horror stories in Google and Yelp reviews. Service taking weeks and not getting done correctly or way over priced. Is it really as bad as these reviews indicate? I can see how it would be difficult to find trained service personnel given the quantity and complexity of all these different RVs. One of the main advantages (in my mind) of converting from scratch is I will be able to service (and upgrade) it myself over time. I'm an engineer and completely comfortable with the electronics and plumbing. Newbie (first post) and have never owned an RV (rented a Travato 59G though). thanks in advance for all feedback.
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:50 PM   #2
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We've been going back and forth whether to do a van conversion (my preference) or buy a new one such as Travato 59K or Thor Sequence (my wife's preference). We were almost ready to buy one when I started researching warranty and repair work at various dealerships. Literally every dealership I looked at (western coast) had service horror stories in Google and Yelp reviews. Service taking weeks and not getting done correctly or way over priced. Is it really as bad as these reviews indicate? I can see how it would be difficult to find trained service personnel given the quantity and complexity of all these different RVs. One of the main advantages (in my mind) of converting from scratch is I will be able to service (and upgrade) it myself over time. I'm an engineer and completely comfortable with the electronics and plumbing. Newbie (first post) and have never owned an RV (rented a Travato 59G though). thanks in advance for all feedback.

Welcome to the forum sneval!


Everyone's experience is different, but I've heard the same stories as you state above. Most good dealer experiences I've heard of involve setting an appointment in advance, many times weeks or months in advance.

I bought used, so no warranty to worry about. My first local experience was with an RV dealership that was either incompetent or crooked. Now that I look back on it, they did me a favor taking my $300 for absolutely nothing and having the nerve to ask for an additional $1800 more based on their estimate for work that, to this day, was not needed. This convinced me to tackle my own repairs, saving me money, down-time, and aggravation.

You sound like a capable guy. Sometimes manufacturers (of your van or the installed appliances) will send you parts to replace defective ones. Plan on doing things yourself and saving only major warranty things for the dealership.

As a bonus, you will develop a thorough understanding of your new rig. Good luck.
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Old 09-27-2019, 01:02 AM   #3
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There are a few good dealers, usually small family owned places like Broken Wheel RV in Santa Anna CA. The rest are just thieves taking money from the ignorant.
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Old 09-27-2019, 02:10 AM   #4
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Best bet for my money is be self sufficient and do it yourself! Especially if you are the guy that built the van - in that case absolutely no question!

Remember the old canard - "If you want a job done well, do it yourself!"

We have been RV'ing for maybe 40 years and I have never yet encountered anything I couldn't fix myself. I'm sure there are lots of good techs out there, but many not so swift!

My only concern now is that there are a lot of higher tech things on our current B van that I have no experience with - multiplex wiring etc., - so I'll just have to see how it goes - I almost regret making the move to the new van, as I do like to be
self-sufficient as I have always been able to be in the past! Not so sure now!

The times they are a-changing! Maybe not always for the best IMHO !

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Old 09-27-2019, 02:54 AM   #5
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Best bet for my money is be self sufficient and do it yourself! Especially if you are the guy that built the van - in that case absolutely no question!

Remember the old canard - "If you want a job done well, do it yourself!"

We have been RV'ing for maybe 40 years and I have never yet encountered anything I couldn't fix myself. I'm sure there are lots of good techs out there, but many not so swift!

My only concern now is that there are a lot of higher tech things on our current B van that I have no experience with - multiplex wiring etc., - so I'll just have to see how it goes - I almost regret making the move to the new van, as I do like to be
self-sufficient as I have always been able to be in the past! Not so sure now!

The times they are a-changing! Maybe not always for the best IMHO !

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I agree. Nothing wrong with toggle switches, push buttons, and rotary knobs.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:54 AM   #6
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We decided to convert by ourselves primarily due to lack of floorplan we wanted. Having experience from 2 VW Westfalias (1977/85) we were seeking for a similar layout, very open with 360-degree windows, rock & roll sofa bed, without glossy hardwood furniture, just camper van not an opulent, shiny cruiser designed to attract potential customer.

One of the benefits was a complete freedom to choose materials, appliances, wiring components etc. Another one was full and current wiring diagram, very helpful for changes and almost necessary for troubleshooting. My experience with previous RV repairs wasn’t good, for example battery lugs crimped with a wire cutter. My previous RV had 2 resettable CBs hidden behind cabinets, I had to use a wire finder to locate them and cut hole in cabinet to reach them, insane.
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Old 09-27-2019, 01:49 PM   #7
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I use a couple of local alternatives. Neither sells RV’s. One’s an independent RV repair shop that's been in business for decades. They’re not cheap, but they’re competent, and I can usually get in on fairly short notice except during peak times. One of the techs that used to work for that shop now works out of his home. Cheaper and high quality work, but takes longer.

For warranty work you’re limited to authorized dealers. The nearest one in my state was three hours away and lots of horror stories, so I elected not to have some potential warranty work done there. Turned out to be a good thing, because Roadtrek went belly up a few weeks later, so I’d have probably been on the hook for the cost anyway.

IMO RV warranties are of limited value, especially those from the large manufacturers like Thor. I’d rather buy a good used unit, well cared-for with initial bugs worked out. Then I’m free to get service wherever I want. I prefer local word-of-mouth to online reviews, which tend to attract promoters and complainers. I always test a new repair shop with some simpler tasks before letting them tackle anything big.

Over time you learn the ins and outs of these very complex machines and can take on more yourself. I love the idea of a custom build. Factory units have a lot more features than I really need. But I know my limits. My wife is a saint, but unfinished projects annoy her.
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Old 09-27-2019, 02:58 PM   #8
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Most RV manufactures have poor quality control on finished RV's. You can read horrible RV stories on line and problems of repairs. A lot of people are doing there on RV builds and know the insides and can repair on there on.
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:58 PM   #9
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We also did our own conversion. We are very happy with the results, got exactly what we wanted. We can do upgrades without encountering some OEM's hidden cost-cutting.

And our $ outlay was way smaller than if we had been able to find and afford anything of equal build quality.

We also know where all the bodies are hidden should anything go awry while we're out in the backcountry...


The big tradeoff (for us) was the build time that delayed getting out camping. But probably no worse than the time waiting for an ARV or Sportsmobile custom.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by sneval View Post
...Service taking weeks and not getting done correctly or way over priced...

I wonder how often DIY people post when their work or design or implementation suffers these very problems. Not often is my guess. Just suggesting that way more negative comments get posted than positive ones or at least most of us tend to remember the negative ones.

Someday when I have more time available I hope to do my own conversion. And my guess is that things will often take way longer, will not get done correctly and will have to be redone, and will often cost way more than expected. But most shortcomings will not be posted on Google or Yelp.

In the meantime I’m going to hit the road when I can in my purchased RV that mostly has a good design and that mostly works, fix things when I can and find competent repair when I can’t.

Best wishes on whatever you decide is right for you.
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:19 PM   #11
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In the meantime I’m going to hit the road when I can in my purchased RV that mostly has a good design and that mostly works, fix things when I can and find competent repair when I can’t.
I'm with you. Do you want to go camping or do you want a project to tinker with. There are certainly advantages to fixing things yourself, including deciding for yourself what standard of competence is required, but some of us just want to get back on the road.
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Old 10-02-2019, 05:43 PM   #12
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I have always done all the work myself on our rigs and we have been enjoying rvs for over 35 years. I do not do the chassis stuff, just the rv stuff.

Some folks simply don't want to do any of the work themselves and some don't have even basic abilities so both categories are reliant on dealers and service departments. Recently, we considered a new shiny B and after our research was completed asked ourselves a simple question: Why?

Our 2007 Roadtrek is perfect for our needs and is in excellent condition and appearance. I can work on the stuff myself because it is not high tech and -like many others - I don't thirst for the latest gadgets. To each his own.

Years ago, we converted a Chevy 20 Van to a camper and had a blast with it. When we bought a new regular Class B (Intervec Horizon back in the 80s), we stripped the insides of the Chevy 20 and used it as a hauler for fifteen years! Finally, we gave it to the Salvation Army. I knew where every wire was in that old van and I new what to do when something (inevitably) went wrong.

Now, I can get most of the "stuff" that might need replacing on the 2007 Roadtrek either on Amazon or down the street at a few stores. My friends experiences with rv dealers for both warranty and service work is not pleasant. There are, however, a few really good local independent rv service places within 20 miles of me but they are always stacked up and require a lengthy wait to get in for something.

I always apply the same test with dealers and service centers I used in business before retirement. I casually ask three questions that I already know the answers to and see what I am told. It really helps find out what kind of outfit you are talking with and predicts to a degree their ability and or integrity.

A very revealing threesome, those questions.
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:08 PM   #13
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As the past owner of class c Winnebago, class a Damon I can say I was very happy with the build and design of the Damon but not the Winnebago. I opted to buy a new sunlight because of the build time to do myself, if I had to do over I would build my own both the engineering and quality would be much better, figuring time the cost would be higher.
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:45 PM   #14
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If you are on Facebook. Join the Travato Owners and Wannabes Facebook group.
Very friendly, helpful group of people. You can get advice on Travato 59k repairs and modifications. That group is a world of knowledge.
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Old 10-03-2019, 05:03 PM   #15
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I do all of my own work on the coach section of our Travato. Which is to say I have had virtually zero to fix with only three minor issues after taking possession of our 2018 59K from the dealership. Two of three required replacement parts which I got directly from the manufacturers as warranty replacements so no cost.

The RAM ProMaster has required zero repairs and not even any recalls. I will say that FIAT/CHRYSLER should fix why the needle in the Water Temperature gauges in all ProMasters or at least up to 2019's will not go past center-up, roughly 210 degrees. I use an ULTRA Gauge II to monitor the temp, and alarm me on my smartphone if it should exceed a temp I programmed into the App. That has never happened. I decided to test the App to see if an alarm set for a particular speed limit would actually generate an alarm. that worked fine so I am confident I can actually act on a coolant temp starting to rise to high. Waiting for the instrument panel light to come on could be too late when your dealing with aluminum engine components.
You will have to learn the systems which I think is best done with a few practice overnight trips close to home. Once you really learn the TRUMA furnace and water heater for example, it's an amazingly simple and excellent product. The JENSEN entertainment system provided if you use it, could stand some refinement in setup and operation. Like you have to be really fast using setup or it will time out and you have to start over. It can be maddening to get it to work with the TV to provide better sound. You will want to do that when the AC is running. The JENSEN does provide incredibly good sound. Just make sure when you turn on coach power and decide to use the JENSEN system that you turn off the outside speakers on "C" button unless you really want the outside sound to be on. The JENSEN defaults to A, B and C speakers to be ON when it first gets powered on. If WB uses a different system in the 2020 Travato, then maybe this is no longer an issue. Otehrwise I should think a firmware update could extend the time outs in Setup and could just make the interior speakers on the A button be the only active speakers when Coach power is first applied to the JENSEN.

If you can do your own work, the Travato systems are by and large, excellent and easy to get at and work on if you need too do so. Winterizing on a 59K (no experience on a G) is very easy except for the access to the water filter. That has been solved on the 2020 since WB provides better access with a lift out bin on the driver side bed-deck. On my 2018 59K, I find it best to remove the bed deck for full access to the water filter. Removing the filter through the provided side hatch can be done but you will make a big mess of water and RV Antifreeze through that access. The new access point through the top of the deck is an excellent revision by WB. Don't break that plastic bin, pn 322664-01-01a. It's a $110.80 part through a well known dealer with a rather amazing frame of time to acquire considering their location. I am looking to see if I can find a similar size bin with a flat lip such as the WB part has and then will route a hole in my deck to do the same. Otherwise I can forego the bin and just have a removable deck piece. The FROLI bed "springs" coupled with the thick mattress by the way, is the most comfortable RV bed I have ever used. Frankly I sleep as good on it as I do on the expensive TEMPUR PEDIC in the house. The free air movement under the mattress might also have some positive effect on the warmth or coolness too; I have never had an issue with this bedding "system" being too cold or too hot. Impressive to me anyway!
I think WB decided to maximize the width of the bedding system in the 59K over aisle width. My wife and I are fine with it as designed. Some other twin bed setups have narrower beds which will make the aisle-travel a bit nicer but I vote for how WB did it. Other people might prefer narrower beds. As for using them to sit on for meals? My wife and I have used the driver side bed just fine with the provided put-up table top. Quite comfortable even though your not using any back rest. You just use good posture which is no big deal. We have played games on this table for hours late at night just fine. Typically for faster meal situations, we use the driver and passenger seats and small tables. The driver side pull out table is not a perfect solution but I use it and after the first few times I never really think about it now. Passenger side setup is nicer.
Some people think that the non-tilt steering wheel is not positioned well. I thought that when I first looked at a ProMaster. In real life, neither my wife or I have ever given it a second thought. We set the telescopic once and never have changed it since. She and I are different heights and ratios of upper & lower body. We are perfectly happy with the seats, controls, dash and view. My wife loves driving it so much, I rarely get to drive at all. Kind of a bummer but she is so happy to do it, I am good with it. The "JEEP" V6 and FWD system charge up and down hills just fine and good to excellent mileage for an RV. Our last trip average was 17-something mpg) as long as your not doing a bunch of stop and goes in town.
Ok - not what you asked about but I got the feeling this added info would be good for you. There are a lot of fine Class B's out there. The Travato, K model was our pick for our mostly on-pavement and once in awhile dirt/gravel road traveling. Beyond the discnnected solar connectors, a flaky module in the refrigerator and the blue LED on the cover plate of the AC inlet failed to light up after about 3 months of use and a slight rattle of the Microwave facia panel-to cabinet surface (added a thin gasket to quench that), no repairs needed on anything else thus far. Standard servicing of the coach and chassis/powertrain has been a piece of cake. Engine oil changes with the top of engine access to the not-messy filter element change is wonderful.

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Old 10-03-2019, 05:13 PM   #16
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My husband wishes he had the knowledge to build his own van. We bought a new Crossfit on the Ford Transit last year. We've had 3 recalls and each time had to wait at least a month to get an appt and for each recall they had our van for 2 to 3 weeks.
Because of our frustration we decided to take it to a different authorized dealer for a generator oil change. We started out on our trip and the first time we started the generator black smoke blew out of it. We took it back. They had over filled the oil in it and shoved the wrong filter in it.
Ruined our trip. Yesterday we had the yearly inspection done as a requirement of the lifetime warranty. $650 to check it out. Unbelievable!
So your question came at the right time. We are regretting our purchase because of these issues with service. My sister is on vacation now with her husband in New Hampshire. The electric steps malfunctioned in their new motorhome. Camping world has had their motorhome 4 weeks now. Needed approval for warranty work, then steps on back order so their summer vacation has been ruined. Sorry to be such a downer but we didn't expect this when we retired. My parents full time RV for 10 years after they retired. Bought a new Airstream travel trailer when they retired and traveled with it for 30 years. So our opinion is build your own if possible
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Old 10-03-2019, 05:27 PM   #17
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I read all the comments and totally agree about avoiding RV Repair Places, do it yourself, even if you screw it up.....you learn for the successful repair the next time. Somehow all this made me think back to the early ages of the home computer - they put out terrible software......the customer found the glitches, reported them, and saved the company money. Ron
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Old 10-03-2019, 09:09 PM   #18
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As an engineer I went through the same decision making process in 2015. My wife and I came up with our perfect van layout. She will not drive anything with chassis build outs. I did an estimate for our design on a Ford Transit Van. The estimate was approaching the price of a new Travato, without considering my time and poor carpentry skills. We both realized the 59K layout was better than our design, but we could not find one on the west coast. Finally a 59K came to a dealer in Portland and we bought it.

We planned to use it for long weekends, but we have made three USA round trips going out for several months at a time. I had concerns about the ProMaster van, but the one small front end problem was immediately corrected when we finally found a Commercial RAM Truck Dealer. I am impressed with the small V6 & transmission combination. I can keep up in traffic and get between 16 and 19 MPG @ 8800 LBS GVW. I have not had any significant problems with the Winnebago build inside the van, and I recommend stopping at their plant in Iowa for a tour. The Truma hot water & heat system is better than I have had in any other RV.

As we get older we appreciate having our own clean bathroom even for local shopping, etc. Because of the tight turn ratio, wife would rather drive this RV when she goes shopping than drive my full size pickup.

I tend not to use dealer service centers, but I recently had an interesting thing happen at the local RV service center I did use for warrantee repairs and oil changes. Brazil RV in Centralia WA, very close to my home advised me they no longer service Class Bs, but I found another nearby RV repair place I think I can trust. As I mentioned above, the three closest RAM dealers would not service a ProMaster, making many excuses; but after calling RAM corporate, I was directed to a Commercial RAM dealer that is excellent, even if a little farther away.

I also use the generator when not near hookups without issue, but I would consider the newer battery and engine charging system if I were to get a new Travato, but we are happy with our unit.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:54 AM   #19
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The OP's question was something like, should i build my own van because then i will know the systems better and can fix them easier? I think maybe this is a false tradeoff. You will benefit from knowing and being able to repair your own stuff whether you build or buy something pre-made. I think the real tradeoff is, as someone said above, do you want a project or do you just want to get out in a van? Will you and your wife (happy wife = happy life) be happy with the challenges and delays of that project?
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:12 AM   #20
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The OP's question was something like, should i build my own van because then i will know the systems better and can fix them easier? I think maybe this is a false tradeoff. You will benefit from knowing and being able to repair your own stuff whether you build or buy something pre-made. I think the real tradeoff is, as someone said above, do you want a project or do you just want to get out in a van? Will you and your wife (happy wife = happy life) be happy with the challenges and delays of that project?
Based on 42 years of RV experience, mostly with purchased RVs except the last one I would say I know inherently better my current self-converted van than any previously owned. We actually didn’t want a big project but US camper van market didn’t offer anything close to our requirements (à la old VW Westfalia + toilet). Buying a ready to go camper van was our strong preference. We evaluated local shops like Outside Van and Van Specialties and we were not impressed with engineering, fit and finish, customer relation (Outside Van), prices (Outside Van) or long waiting. We had our van in a “campable” conversion state within the first 6 months of getting the new passenger van.

I recently attended the Adventure Van Expo in Mt Hood Meadows. One gray hair fellow said to his friend: oh, look at this one, a modern Westfalia.
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