Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to PA to Dealer Service

We were home from our trip to Pennsylvania for a day and it was time to head back to take the Roadtrek to dealer service for several things that were wrong. This date was determined by the dealer service center who said that they would have their best Roadtrek service technician available to work on our Roadtrek. A part needed to be replaced and the part that had to be ordered would be available as well. So despite having just traveled the many miles to PA and back again, we were on the road again heading back.

As I had said at the end of my last article, we did not just stay the extra two days to Thursday in Pennsylvania was that we had to get back to our real life for at least a day to take care of "business". Sometimes reality leers its ugly head and demands your attention. So it had to be home and back.

The trip to the dealer should take between three and four hours depending on road traffic and construction - and every road in NY seems to be under construction. We decided that we would not take the New Jersey Turnpike as the GPS recommends because that is under major construction as well. We would head north to Route 78 and go through the mountains with the 18 wheelers. I was not sure how the Roadtrek would keep up on this route as my older van has trouble with the inclines. We would see.

Getting to that route - heck, just getting out of NY meant a vibrating and banging ride on the worst roads imaginable. I do not think that Roadtrek had roads like this in mind when they designed the RV because everything vibrates inside as you ride over roads that could serve as a torture test track for military tanks and somewhere inside is something that still goes bang, bang, bang with every bump in the road. We have wedged down the toilet lid. We have cushioned the shower drain plate in the floor and we have used velcro straps to hold the TV solid in its wall mount. Things that we have placed in the cabinets have been cushioned. I know that there are going to be noises when the road is not smooth, but with each bump I cringe as I hear the bang and shake inside.

We set out early so that we would get to the service center at a reasonable time for them to do the work. We had to stop for lunch along the way and we did not know what to expect from the traffic. Our choice of routes was good. Route 78 was fairly clear. The Roadtrek had no problem with the hills going up and down the small mountains that this route passes through, and it kept up with the 18 wheelers. We arrived at the dealer service center just before 1 pm. We all were surprised that we had gotten there that early.

There were several things that needed to be attended to. Since our first night in the Roadtrek - that night of the day of delivery - the monitor panel that shows how much is in the various tanks was not working correctly. One of the LEDs to show how full the black tank is would not light. We had already been back to dealer service that next day to show them this light and the tech insisted it was fine. He never showed us that it actually lit but claimed it did. When we got home we filled the tank and just as before the lights went from 1/3 to Full with the 2/3 light never lighting. This is a small tank - only ten gallons - and not one that you want to be uncertain about. When we called the dealer to say we were coming back with this problem they told us that they would order a new monitor panel and they did.

A big problem that we were having was that the dashboard radio - a Roadtrek installed combination radio/GPS/CD/Ipod/USB/DVD player and back up camera screen - did not receive any AM radio stations and the few FM stations that it received were barely audible and not locked in. I suspected that the antenna on the van was never attached to the back of the radio. This is a simple thing to attach IF you can reach or even see the back of the radio under the dashboard. Cars and vans today are not designed for you to have any access to the back of the dashboard. In the Roadtrek you cannot even see the back of the radio if you stick your head under the dash. It is behind the upper middle of the dash and blocked by the engine cover that protrudes into the cabin. There was a time, way back when, when you could get under the dash and see the radio, move a few screws or clips and pull the radio out, change the radio or change the antenna and it was an easy and quick job. Not anymore. To get to the radio the entire dashboard had to be removed which involved screws and clips and I was warned that a slight bend this way or that and the dash would snap and that would be a major replacement not covered under any warranty. No, I would leave repairing the radio to the experts.

I had contacted Roadtrek about the radio. I explained what I thought it might be and got little advice but have dealer service look at it. They did advise that the service center should have on hand a new antenna and a new antenna wire just in case the antenna was faulty. If the radio was bad, the service center told me that a new one would have to be ordered and that could not be done UNTIL they looked at the current one to see what the problem may be. That would mean another trip back to Pennsylvania.

While we were away for our four days in Pennsylvania a few other things went wrong. One afternoon, I went to move the driver's windshield visor and the clip snapped off from the ceiling of the van. Roadtrek installs a cushioned ceiling in the Roadtrek that comes right up to the windshield and they replace the visors as well. I looked to see if it could just snap back into place of if there was a screw that came out. There was no screw and there was no way to snap it back as I tried. We were going for service so this would be added to the list.

We also discovered while we were driving the Roadtrek on our four day trip that the little cabinet door on the cabinet that contains the front dining table opens - and when it does and you are driving the dining table which is hinged in half comes sliding out of the cabinet and starts swinging. That was a very exciting moment while we were on the road - and it happened more than once. In addition the kitchen drawer despite its two catches comes sliding out as well. Our list for service was growing.

The last thing on the list were the valve handles to the dump tanks. When we picked up the Roadtrek for some reason the salesman demoing the RT had a need to turn the black tank handle vertical from its horizontal position. He decided that it was better that way. Well, with the handle in that position it gets caught on the door and the door covering the valve handles does not open. Turning the handle back to horizontal just resulted in the handle springing right back to vertical. Ah well - I have told you about this salesman in a past article. We wanted the service center to try to correct the position of the handle.

The service center is located about a quarter mile from a small shopping center and it is just across the road from the dealer showroom and RV supply center. My intention was to be around the Roadtrek as they worked on it - to be right there to show them the LED that would not light and that the radio was not tuning in stations. This, however, was not going to be permitted. We were invited to go to the showroom and supply store across the road to wait - but as we expected - it was going to take hours.

We have not really seen any RV supplies stores except the one at the dealer and we never really spent much time in that one before. There were a few things that I was interested in seeing and we were going to have plenty of time to explore this one now. We walked across the road and went into the store. It was nicely cool and a good place to be out of the heat outside. Of course, as we walked in a salesman wanted to help us - we told him that we would look around - and did not mention that we might be looking for an hour or two - though I suspected it would be a lot longer than that and when we had exhausted all of the time that we could waste here we would be heading over to the shopping center down the road. We went up and down the aisles - twice. I got to see things that I had read about and saw in ads. I found a box of one amp blade fuses that the Roadtrek uses in two places on its RV fuse panel. I had been able to find all of the other size fuses needed by the Roadtrek but no auto store or big box store sold one amp blade fuses. I had found out that some marine stores do sell them and eventually I had planned to visit a few in my area looking for the fuses. Well, we had time to kill and here were the fuses I was looking for. We wandered around a little longer and then purchased the fuses. We had spent as much time as we could here and it was time to move on. It was an hour since we had arrived.

The walk to the road that the shopping center is on was slightly up hill and we hiked on up, crossed the road at the traffic light and found a round about way into the shopping center parking lot as this lot had been built with no intention of anyone ever arriving there on foot.

There are a few stores in this shopping center, which is actually two shopping centers adjacent to each other. There is a dollar store, a Staples office store and then across to the other shopping center there is a Giant supermarket and behind that a Home Depot. There seemed to be enough to waste at least a couple of hours. We started with the dollar store. If we were going to be tempted to spend money at least it would be inexpensive.

We actually found a few things to buy in the dollar store - some personal and some related to the Roadtrek. We walked around the dollar store several times, waited to the last time around to pick up the things that we found and went to the cashier before they decided we were casing the place to rob it. It was really a small store. We moved next door to the Staples office store. This is a place with a variety of things that interest both me and my wife (as odd as that might sound) and we could spend awhile there - plus the store is large and they would not realize how much time we were spending inside. About a quarter of the way around the store, my wife's cell phone rang - it was the service center. Could they be finished so soon? Or had they found a problem? I was sure they were going to say that the radio was bad and had to be ordered. No, they needed to show us something and speak with us regarding the tank valve handles. Meryl told them fine, we were at the shopping center and it would take us about ten minutes or so to walk back. What shopping center was the response - odd.

The walk was downhill this time and we were back at the service center. They had not yet started on the radio. They were still working on the panel. They needed to discuss what to do about the tank handle. There was no way to correct the position of the handle. It would not return and stay at the horizontal position. They felt that it worked fine but agreed that the turned handle could stop the door from opening. The suggestion was to install a small metal L bracket that would hold the handle in a horizontal position and not interfere with its operation and it would keep it away from the door. They showed me the little bracket and it would be screwed in. Fine. I poked around the van to see what had been done. The table cabinet was fixed by moving the door catch from the top to the side - they said that at the top it never really caught at all. They said that the drawer was a problem as the catch could not be moved and there was no room on the side to install a second catch. They tightened this as best they could. (The drawer still slides open when driving.) They thought that the visor clip would just need a longer screw but they had not looked at that yet. OK - we gave our input about the bracket for the handle and we were not needed any longer. It was back to the shopping center. We had been here now for about two hours.

This time we went over to the Giant supermarket. It is owned by the same company that owns supermarkets that are local to us and my wife was interested in comparing. This supermarket is also prominent around Pennsylvania and if we needed something while traveling it would be good to know that they carried it.

This was not the first time that we have browsed in a supermarket. As we have traveled in the past from state to state we would always find a time - usually late night - to check out a local supermarket and see what they sold different than what is sold where we live and how the prices compared. There are actually a number of things that you will find in supermarkets in different states that you will not find locally to you. And sometimes the prices will surprise you, too.

We got to know that supermarket extremely well. We wandered up and down the aisles. We were running out of stores to waste time in and we had to make the most of each on that we went in. There is no real waiting room at the dealer - just a counter and about three by seven feet of space to stand in. We were out of the heat in the stores but I was getting tired. There was nothing to do but keep moving along. We spent more than an hour in the supermarket and at that point it was just making me hungry. To avoid temptation we left.

Next door was a chain drug store. My wife wanted to look for something and we went inside. While there she found the exact pair of tweezers that she had been looking for months for at home and around in various stores. Well, those few minutes in this store were time well spent.

It was off to Home Depot. It was almost four o'clock. Home Depot is not my most favorite store but I do find that stores like Home Depot are always much better out of state than they are where we are at home. Stores that are really good tend to come to our area - and perhaps it is the people that they hire, but these stores never compare in both service and quality to that same store out of NY. I won't elaborate, but it continually happens like this when a chain, that we know from out of state, finally arrives in our area.

We wandered up and down the aisles. We had a few projects that we were considering so we spent the time checking out what they had that we would need. I went over to check out the lumber which did not look bent and curved as it does at the Home Depot at home. As we wandered I became conscious of the time and wondered if we should just head back to the service center now, as it was after 4:30 and I thought that the service center closed at 5.

We started walking back. I looked along the road that the dealer is on and saw that past the dealer's location the road takes a steep climb upward. I said to Meryl that it all could be worse - the dealership could have been further up that hill and we would be hiking up it.

We got to the service center door and it said closes at 5. It was 4:45. We went in and we said that we came back so that they would not have to call us and wait as they close in 15 minutes. They said, yes, they do close but they keep working until 8 - and they were just working on the radio now. They had replaced the monitor panel and said that all LEDs work now - and that they filled the tanks and emptied them to make sure. There was some concern about some of the sensors but they believe that they will be fine. For a newly built RT, I hope so...

I wandered in the back where I could see the Roadtrek through an open garage door. There were two technicians inside working on the radio. They said that they also could not get any signals on the AM and FM. I did not want them to rush, so I joined Meryl in the office at the counter to chat with the very nice lady who had been working with us all day and also was helping us on the phone all along since we took delivery. We had a nice chat. It was getting close to six. It had been a long day wasting time but at least the outcome - I hoped would be worth it all.

Eventually, she got called in the back and got a report from the technician. The repairs were finished. The radio antenna cable WAS NEVER plugged into the back of the radio. This was just as I suspected! The trainee crew must have been in charge of the interior wiring on my Roadtrek at the factory because they also screwed up the TV antenna wiring. With the antenna plugged in now the radio was tuning in many AM and FM stations loud and clear.

The sun visor clip did not have a screw to replace with a longer screw. It instals with a bar tab that force fits in. They were surprised to see one like this - as they expected to find a screw hole. They managed to get into the ceiling padding but advised me that the fit is weak and any pulling on that bracket will bring it out again. When I later saw it I found that where it went back in, was just out of line and the visor did not lock in any longer, but it was held in place and would not fall out. If Roadtrek had used a simple and standard screw in bracket clip, this would never be a problem.

We were finished. I signed the completed work receipt and we got into the Roadtrek. The first thing that I did was turn on the radio and was delighted that I could tune in stations loud and clearly. I had stations from NY that were coming in. Perfect! The problem was fixed and we would not need to come back again to have the radio replaced.

It was after six o'clock and we needed to go somewhere for dinner before we headed home. We know a restaurant that is south of the dealer but not close. It is near Philadelphia and we started off on the road to go there. We were driving about fifteen minutes and I reached over to the GPS screen to program in the location of the restaurant. I then noticed a mark on the side of the screen. What is this?, I asked Meryl. She looked and said that she thought it was a scratch. There was no scratch on the screen before. I have been very careful with the screen. I pulled over into a parking lot and looked closer. It was more than a scratch it was a cut. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I asked Meryl to call the service center and hope that they would answer the phone. They did. Come back they said. I turned around and headed the fifteen minutes back north.

We got there and the woman from the office came out with a camera. She took a photograph of the screen and said that she would speak about it with the service manager the next day. She acknowledged that it was a cut/scratch and seemed to believe me that it was not there before. I asked that when she got a replacement, they ship the new GPS to me and I would swap it with this one and send this one back to them. Fine. At least there was no argument and the attitude was positive and friendly.

A bit of the bubble of happiness that I had a half hour before had burst. We drove to the restaurant and after that home. That cut on the screen was now obvious every time I looked over to the radio.

It took a few weeks but a new GPS is was shipped to me with sincere apologies and I am sending them back the damaged one at their expense. Good dealer service and service people are extremely important.

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