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  1. Default RV Vacation from hell HELP!!

    The nightmare just wont end. Started out trip in mid July. Spent 8,000 to get RV ready for trip. Had it all looked over and fixed this and that to make it trip safe and ready. Months of planning and all the excitement came to a crashing hault. 3 days into the drive we started to show overheating. About 2 hours of our destination. Stopped and had thermostat replaced while waiting in a very remote place. Drove on the next day and still overheating. Called for tow after hours of panic and feverishly trying to fine a place that would work on particular motor. Towed approx 100 miles. Left at shop which after waiting for days still could not figure out problem. Did not have a credit card ,so no one would rent us a car. STRANDED!! We started in Canada and are now in USA. Tried everything working with our bank and USA banks to somehow allow are debit card to be used. Since our debit card does not have ouor name on it in Canada they would not allow it. To make thing worse main bank saw our debit card being used in States with large amts of cash withdrawals and put a hold on it! Took a whole production and major headaches to get that fixed. Still waiting for progress on RV. No luck. We were running out of time. We only had 2 weeks and had to get back to work. In complete panic mode not knowing what to do. Not knowing how we were getting home and what this bill was going to look like.! Well they finally said problem solved but we would have to wait for part. Well waited it was late .Waited some more. Paid 3000. bill and started out inot the night. Didnot make it out of the driveway. Still overheating. They worked on it next day but could not fix it. Only gave us half our money back. We had to get 3 emergency flights back home. Had no luggage bags of course. Had to purchase that too. Where we were towed from could not take our bikes and bike rack. Could not put them in trailer ,too greasy from exhaust. Thought after fixed we would pick them up on way back. So lost those now.2000 dollars in air fare and had to leave all belongs in trailer behind. It is now September and we have been told they finally figured out that it is the wrong rad for this trailer. Needs new rad .temp gauge and sending unit. Dont have a price on this yet. Looking init towing it home. Scared silly to drive it now even if fixed for fear of breakdown again. Price on towing up to 6,000 dollars. Dont know what to do? Lost our lifes savings and no vacation. My husband has gone white over night. All this to find out need a new rad !! Really???? Our RV days are done before they ever got started. I cant sleep. Cant figure out best move to make here. Anybody have a suggestion. Know any reasonable towing companies?? HELP!!!PLEASE ANYBODY!!!???

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Oh dear.

    I'm so sorry to hear this Betty, what a nightmare !! The first thing I thought of was, what work did you have done that cost $8000 prior to leaving ? Could some of this be their responsibility ? Did they fit a new radiator ? Even then, I would wonder how the vehicle started over heating because of of a small rad being fitted, after 3 days of driving where it was OK. That would leave me with concerns that a new radiator would not fix the problem. It's not to say it won't, the radiator could be in poor condition and/or water ways blocked. The fact that you have already spent so much money on it where it is now, and then it over heated on leaving the workshop would fill me with dread. I can't offer any advice on getting it towed back home, but perhaps you should consider doing some research and find a reputable dealer as near to where your RV is located as possible and get it towed there and get a proper diagnosis, rather than throwing more money at it in the hope that they get it right this time.

    3 days into the drive we started to show overheating.
    When you say "show overheating", I presume that the engine actually showed signs that it got hot and it wasn't just the gauge causing you concern. Even without steam you can tell when an engine is hot by the smell and heat coming off it and heavy 'pinging' as it starts to cool. I know it sounds silly, but with the service you have got so far, you concern yourself that it was a faulty gauge and the 'simple things first' may have got overlooked. It's the fact that you said "Did not make it out the driveway" that raised my eyebrows, as it usually takes a while for the engine to heat up anyway. [Of course it may have been run up for a while or given a short test drive.

    I would go for a reputable dealer, get it mended and road tested and then pick it up if you have the time. The bill overall will hopefully be less than the $6000 to tow it home, good luck !

    There are companies like Driveaway who use drivers to deliver vehicles that might offer good value [?] but the problem having it driven up to you would be the risk of it not being repaired properly [again] and it breaking down or worse still, being driven while overheating and causing more damage.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default cautionary tale

    I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I will thank you for sharing it though, because it really provides lots of warnings other travelers. It won't make you feel any better, but there are several things that can be learned here.

    First, my reaction is much the same as Dave's - what kind of work were you having done that cost $8000 before you even left? You can replace the engine, transmission, and have money left over for most vehicles for that price. That should have been a red flag from the very beginning, because any vehicle that needs that extensive of repairs is likely in such disrepair that it isn't going to be a good choice for a cross country trip, even after the repairs are done.

    Second involves banking, and there are three issues which others can learn from.
    First, anytime you are planning a major trip, you should contact your bank to let them know that you'll be traveling and there will be some unusual activity. That can help reduce the problems, but it won't always eliminate it, which leads too..

    Second, every time you are traveling you should always have a backup payment option. Credit Cards often serve this purpose well, although they aren't the only option. That will give you options in case a problem does develop with your primary method.

    Third, "Debit Cards" in the US are different from those in Canada, and they typically will not work for point of sale transactions across the border. They should work in ATMs and cards with a Visa/Mastercard logo can be used as credit cards, but "pin" based transactions will not work. I know I've gotten caught in Canada at a place that only accepted debit cards, and had to run to an atm down the street to actually make the payment.

    Finally, your situation shows the value of AAA/CAA or other forms of travel insurance. With an auto club membership, not only would your tows have been covered, but it could have also provided some reimbursement for your emergency trip back home.

    Again, none of that does you any good now, but hopefully it can provide good information to others getting out on the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Wish I could help.

    OMG Betty, how awful! I can't imagine how distressed you must be. And no, I really cannot help you, other than sympathise, which is probably not what you want. I was wondering, had you taken out travel insurance? That would cover a lot of it - though not all. Was the CAA / AAA any help? I know the man who towed my vehicle when it had given up, said they get a lot of RVs.

    Dave, with its history, the Driveaway companies would not touch it. Mechanical history and condition is a large part of their contract. It is an assurance the casual driver is given.

    Lifey

    Edit: And adding to Michael's comments, it pays to travel with two or more different types of cards from different banks, on an international trip, and let the banks know where they will be used. It really is essential.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-22-2011 at 04:50 AM. Reason: added info.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default now onto your problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Betty Wirz View Post
    Paid 3000. bill and started out inot the night. Didnot make it out of the driveway. Still overheating. They worked on it next day but could not fix it. Only gave us half our money back. We had to get 3 emergency flights back home. Had no luggage bags of course. Had to purchase that too. Where we were towed from could not take our bikes and bike rack. Could not put them in trailer ,too greasy from exhaust.
    I don't want to sound too hard on you, because clearly you've already had enough misery, but I'll be honest, some of your issues I don't quite understand.

    Like Dave asked, I don't see how you wouldn't be able to get out of the driveway, if overheating was your issue. Typically, you have to be running the engine for several minutes before the engine even gets up to operating temperature, and then more time before it would actually be overheating.

    I'm also just a little puzzled about what your RV actually is. On one hand you are talking about engine issues, but in other references you are talking about a trailer?

    I also don't understand at all why you could not take your luggage home with you. I mean, I get taking expensive flights rather than a cheaper option like a bus, because you are stressed and just want to get home, but even if your RV was being repaired you should have been able to get your belongings off of it. I actually don't completely understand what happened to your bikes? Did you just leave them on the side of the road, and there wasn't any way you could fit them inside the rv? Even if they were greasy, wouldn't getting things dirty be better than just losing them?

    I certainly understand that having a breakdown on the road can be very stressful. I've been there, its not fun at all. But I also get the impression that stress might be clouding your ability to make good decisions. As for what to do now, I'd slow down and really think carefully. Specifically, think it if might just be time to cut your losses. From the sounds of it, you've already dumped $10k into what sounds like a sinking ship, and rather than spending another $6k (which seems also seems insanely high, as if you contacted a regular tow company rather than a company that focuses on long distance transport) maybe its just time to see what you can get by selling it - perhaps even for scrap - and just close this chapter with some very expensive lessons learned.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Joining discussion late, but...

    Joining discussion late, but...Where did you get the RV from? Was this a private purchase? Clearly it's not a rental -- but have you contacted the former owner and seen what they could do?

    Mark

  7. Default

    Thanks for all the replies. The Rv was bought at an auction with a brand new motor. The money spent to get it ready fro travel was for generator, front air conditioning. tires ,brakes and some cosmetic stuff awning etc. It was checked by 3 different RV places to make sure it was trip ready. All was a go. We new when we bought it,it would need some work. We did have CAA and they towed it for us. I was not aware they would help in covering emergency trip home? The RV was towed not to Joes garage but to a most repitable company in the USA. The bikes with custom made bike rack could not be taken. We were in the middle of no where.Nothing to cover them with. They would have ruined the entire interior with heavy grease had they been put inside. Left at gas station . Thought we could pick them up after RV fixed. CAA truck had no room for them either. Called station and they said they would not hold on to them any longer. Ya thanks! Mechanics said they were stumped.Every thing they checked all major things were working properly. Could not figure out overheating. It does turn out that the gauge was not working properly and yes had come from a test drive before we left. 2 months later they figure out that it had a 4 core rad in it insead of a 2 core which is what that unit needed. Gauge not working properly.So the repair now we are told is new rad .gauge and sending unit with I think they called it a water restrictor part. We had CAA and travel medical insurance. thats all we thought we would need.
    Last edited by Betty Wirz; 09-22-2011 at 08:44 AM. Reason: add info

  8. Default tried to add info during edit [did't work]

    Wanted to add we took as much clothes ,shoes etc on the plane but I'm talking about all the big things that you have packed away in a big RV like that ,had to be left behind. Small generator Battery chargers. Barbeque, Tools Lawn chairs. Pillows.Duvets,Tools, Emergency kits. Cleaning agents, books,, movies, the list goes on.....We even looked into U Haul so we could drive home with all our stuff but they wanted 4,000. dollars! To answer above question. We had waited for repairs as long as we could .Had to get home fast due to vacation being long over and job security being threatened.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    As I said, a nightmare situation to be in. If you are to go ahead with the work then hopefully they will agree that if it doesn't fix it, they won't want paying for it. Their reaction should give a clue as to how confident they are that will do the job !

    It still leaves the problem of getting it home. Hopefully they would take it for several short runs and then a longer one to ensure that the problem is fixed on completion of the work. If that is the case then I would think that the least they could do is keep it on the premises untill you can get the time off from work to fly down and pick it up. Not only will it be cheaper, hopefully you will get a little break from it all, it will go well and go towards restoring some of your confidence in it. I would think they must have replaced the water pump with the first bill you had and checked that it doesn't actually lose coolant. Do you know exactly what work they carried out for $3000 ? Head gasket perhaps as it seems a lot of money ? The radiator might not be the right one and is probably worth swapping for the correct part, but it still doesn't explain why the vehicle didn't overheat prior to this. Who knows, maybe the faulty gauge that led to the thermostat being changed led to an air lock in the cooling system that actually led it to overheating !! It just seems odd to me that the gauge and sender unit has now been found to be faulty after doing $3000 worth of work, when these, along with coolant level/leaks, thermostat, condition of rad and flow, plus actual operating temperature [rather than gauge] would normally be the first things to check and eliminate.

    It would be nice to see how this all turns out, good luck !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I'd certainly contact your CAA office to see what your membership includes for Trip Interruption coverage. I believe my coverage is between $600 to $1500 depending upon the specific rate plan and situation.

    Its not going to cover everything, but at least it might provide a little bit of money back.

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