That’s the question I’m faced with now on my 2012 Winnebago Adventurer (bought in May, 2013). While I’m the second owner, it only had the 1,500 miles from the factory since the original owner changed his mind before driving it. The factory warranty expired in September, 2013, before the following issue was discovered.
While at Chilhowee RV Center (an authorized dealer in Tennessee) for some repairs (including water leaks), they discovered that besides the fact there never was any sealant applied around the top lights, there are several radiating cracks in the fiberglass on the end cap, some fairly deep. Chilhowee documented and sent the following pictures to Winnebago.
In the 13 years I’ve owned a Winnebago motorhome, I feel like they’ve always treated me fairly, even when sometimes technically the issues were no longer under warranty. And once again, they didn’t quibble about fixing this problem and determined that simply repairing the fiberglass was not good enough – they need to replace the entire end cap.
Of course, I want to have all my ducks in a row and understand everything related to this issue, so here are my notes on decisions I need to make:
- This is not a minor repair. Replacing the end cap means removing the windshield as well. In my other RV, the two times I had to have the windshield replaced, it resulted in my side windows’ seals being broken and that let in condensation, resulting in permanently cloudy windows. It doesn’t matter to me that I was told this “shouldn’t” happen – it did and I have no doubt about that. However, despite this concern, it doesn’t seem like I really have any other choice to get it fixed right.
- It makes sense to me (and several of my RV friends with similar experiences), that I’d be better off taking it to the factory. Not only do they have all the best equipment and experience, ultimately they would be responsible and can’t argue that the work wasn’t done properly at a dealer. Not only that, but they’d check everything out and make sure all was right before I left. This is comforting to me.
- However, this means an almost 1,000 mile trip to Iowa from Tennessee, where I had planned to spend the summer exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Besides the fact that Iowa was certainly not in my plans for this Spring or Summer, we’re talking about $1,000 in gas to/from my current location.
- Since I can’t live in the motorhome due to resulting fiberglass dust, I’ll also need to find alternative housing for the 2 days to 1 week it will take to complete the work.
- Even though I pay dearly for extensive fulltimer coverage that includes lodging, I confirmed with my insurance company that that part of my coverage is known as “emergency vacation expense coverage” – but that only applies for a covered catastrophic loss (collision or comprehensive loss), not mechanical breakdown or manufacturer defects.
- Winnebago said they’d be willing to ship the end cap to Chilhowee for them to do the repairs. This would certainly be more convenient and give me more attractive options for where to stay during repairs. But it would take them longer to complete the repairs (1 week) vs. 2-3 days at the factory.
- I was very impressed with Chilhowee with what repairs they did while I was there. They’ve been in business for over 49 years and have an extensive body shop with an experienced crew who say they can do this work.
- Regardless of that, even they said they’d understand the wisdom of the decision to have the factory do that work.
So at this point, those are the options I’m weighing. When I left Chilhowee yesterday, they said they’d be in contact with Winnebago again after getting a better estimate on what it would cost for their shop to do the work.
I have no idea if Winnebago would pay for the significant gas and lodging expenses for me to take it to the factory. And no matter how much I don’t like it and how it messes up my planned summer, or how much I gripe about fate and that this shouldn’t have happened, it has and I have to deal with it.
Despite the reality of the situation, and my daughter telling me that one of my main problems in life is arguing with reality, I still can’t help but be disappointed in the quality of this motorhome. I won’t even go into all the other many issues I’ve dealt with since I’ve owned it. Yes, I’ve heard ad nauseam that these kind of “shake down” issues are to be expected in all RVs and any manufacturer, but it still galls me to have paid that much money for something that was not right from the moment it left the factory. I understand perfection is too lofty a goal, but come on now, really, shouldn’t we be able to expect better than this?
Oh well, I do understand my choice of fulltime RVing was not going to be a peaceful walk in the woods all the time and that these things do come up. And I’m not in the least bit sorry to have traded the also-normal maintenance and problems of a sticks & bricks home for the benefits my rolling home gives me. I’m just reporting what’s going on and trying to get some perspective from other RVers, as well as sharing information that may benefit someone else down the road.
Please feel free to comment below – I’d appreciate the feedback and the compiled wisdom for others to benefit from.
Afternoon Update: I spoke to both Winnebago and Chilhowee and we’ve reached agreement that Chilhowee will do the work and will be covered by Winnebago. I’m going to plan a trip to SC to visit family during mid March while work is being done, so it should all work out well. Well, that’s what I’m going with – it will be better than new then!
July, 2015 update: After a lug nut flew through my motorhome windshield while I was visiting Yellowstone (RV Windshield Woes), the guy who replaced it told me about some issues with the way he had to get the windshield out. He said it took him about three times as long as it should have because it was so hard to find and access the screws and fasteners from the inside as he normally would.
Apparently, when Chilhowee had the front cap off, they screwed in from the top and it was ridiculously hard to access with the front cap on. I think Chilhowee should have taken this into consideration since RV windshield replacement is not an uncommon thing.