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Is service on new 5er limited to dealership?


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We are looking at a new 5th wheel to purchase in Jan 16. The dealership with the best price, by far, has a terrible service reputation. There is only one other dealer within a 4 hour drive and I don't really want to go there. My question is: If we purchase at this dealer will we have to have any and all warranty repair done there? What are our options? I'm nervous about this because I had one bad experience with promised warranty work that never happened many years ago at another dealer :angry: . Once burnt ....

 

Thank you for any advice you have!

 

Beth

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Get the number to the manufacturer's warranty department. Then call the number and ask your question. Each manufacturer has different ways they handle warranty service.

 

When I had a Heartland, they were a PITA to work with. With my Lifestyle, they are allowing me to use an independent shop.

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We had a Heartland and, once authorized, you could use anyone. I will say worrying about warranty and dealer just isn't worth it. In all you years of Rving we have had very few warranty items that we needed to go back to the dealer with. The warranty is generally only one year and each of the components is warranted by the component mfg. the the MH/trlr mfg though they would do the work if asked.

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X2. Call the manufacturer's warranty office and find out what their policy is. We were pleased with our dealings with Heartland, but the only warranty work we had done was either at our selling dealer or at the National homecoming rally.

 

I'm a bit confused, though, about your statement "There is only one other dealer within a 4 hour drive and I don't really want to go there." Do you mean that you don't want to buy there, but you are willing to go there for service or that you don't want to go there at all?

 

Many people wish that the RV industry would behave more like the automobile industry. I currently own a Jeep and I can take it to any Jeep dealer for service and be treated just like anyone else. When it was under warranty I could have taken it to any Jeep dealer for warranty work and gotten in just like any other customer. That is NOT the norm for the RV industry. Some popular brands, with lots of dealers nationwide, want to you take any warranty problems back to your selling dealer. If you need work while on the road you may be worked in after the dealership's own customers. Other brands require you to go to the factory.

 

The problem is that many manufacturers reimburse dealers less for warranty work than what the dealer gets from paying customers. Dealers are in the business of making money, so if they are going to get less for warranty work then they want to make it up on the sale. There are dealerships that have no or minimal service facilities, focusing instead on sales. They get people from 1000 miles away to buy from them because those people think they are saving a few dollars.

 

Personally, if I was buying new AND was working from a home base I'd buy from a dealer that is reasonably close to me who has a good reputation for both sales and service. We're full-timers, though, so our needs are quite a bit different. For one thing, we won't be buying new, so that isn't an issue for us. If we were able to do so, though, we'd buy from a dealer that was reasonably near where we frequently are, and hope that nothing happens when we're far away from there.

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Any factory-authorized dealer should be able to perform warranty work. The rub comes when customers who bought from a dealer come in for warranty work and you have bought elsewhere. It's not unusual for your unit to be last in line when there is a waiting list for warranty claims.

That said, we bought a new 5er in April 05, and immediately left for a 4 month trip. Two weeks into the trip the closet rod pulled out of the walls, I phoned Dutchmen customer service, described the problem, and asked where the closest dealer was located. After a few minutes on hold, the rep informed me of the address and said the dealer had been contacted and is expecting our arrival.

When we arrived that afternoon, we were told to overnight in the county park across the street and return in the morning when they opened. The repair was completed, and we were back on the road that afternoon.

I would not hesitate to buy here and have warranty, or any other work performed elsewhere.

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As Ray said, any authorized dealer can do work on your appliances and added third party equipment, such as the furnace, water heater, leveling jacks, or chassis. But any sort of structural problem will need to go back to the dealer you bought from, unless you are out of that area. Some dealers are reluctant to do warranty work if the RV was not sold by them, but you can check with local dealers to see what their policy is when it comes to your appliances. With our motorhome we did have two repairs that were a factory problem and which had to go back to the selling dealer. We only had one such for our current travel trailer, one structural issue, all else appliance related and very little of that. It may be that we have been lucky, but that was our experience. A great deal of the determinant of warranty returns seems to be from good pre-delivery preparation, or lack of it.

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But any sort of structural problem will need to go back to the dealer you bought from, unless you are out of that area.

 

This is simply not true. It depends on the manufacturer's policy. Evergreen will work with any RV repair facility that will work with them.

 

The OP needs to contact the manufacturer they are considering and ask.

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It's all well and good, but the RV industry IS a completely different animal from the auto industry. Regardless of what 'any' RV manufacturer may tell you about their "nationwide service network"... the bottom line is that it is up to the particular dealer to decide to take on any warranty/repair work. It's "authorized to sell" not "required to service" like the auto industry.

 

It's not the norm, but it can't be taken for granted to get service on your rig at an authorized dealer.

 

That being said, there are MFG's that are much more willing to go to bat for you at an alternate service center than others. Calling their 1-800 can't tell you that.. only due diligence on the internet from actual owner feedback.

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It's all well and good, but the RV industry IS a completely different animal from the auto industry. Regardless of what 'any' RV manufacturer may tell you about their "nationwide service network"... the bottom line is that it is up to the particular dealer to decide to take on any warranty/repair work. It's "authorized to sell" not "required to service" like the auto industry.

 

It's not the norm, but it can't be taken for granted to get service on your rig at an authorized dealer.

 

That being said, there are MFG's that are much more willing to go to bat for you at an alternate service center than others. Calling their 1-800 can't tell you that.. only due diligence on the internet from actual owner feedback.

Absolutely correct. One manufacturer being willing to allow shops not authorized warranty centers (mostly dealers) to do warranty work for them does not mean that any dealer other than the selling dealer is required to do so, There are very few manufacturers who will allow you to get warranty work done at a shop not "factory authorized" except in rare situations. There are some manufacturers who do have authorized service centers that are not dealers but do service only. I have seen mobile RV service and also some service only RV shops who are "authorized service" for several different RV manufacturers, but it is a good practice to always ask them about such work before you go there, or to get authorization from your RV manufacturer first and then confirm that said service shop is willing to do that warranty work. Clearly experiences will vary and there is typically an exception to every rule, in my experience this has been true.

 

I would not buy anything from anyone who had a poor service record!

There are two situations when I would do so. If you plan to sell the house where you are not and to go on the road full-time and so rarely or never return to the location where the selling dealer is nearest to you, then the service department doesn't matter. The second case where I would ignore a poor service record is if you are buying a used RV that has no warranty at all. Since the question was about a new purchase, only the first applies.

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Thank you all for the great advice. I will respond to the questions I see here. We are going to be fulltiming after the purchase which adds to my concerns. I have read so many horror stories of people purchasing a new RV and then having it in a repair shop for most of the first year. I thought a thorough inspection testing everything would help prevent that. I then read some dealers won't do a thorough walk through or test the water systems. One local dealer charges over a $1000 to do a two hour instruction and test! The 2nd option dealer is the dealership renamed where we bought our first TT. The owner there looked me in the eye and shook my hand that the warranty repairs would be done. They put them off repeatedly until it was past the warranty period. I don't know that he is still there but just can't stand even going there. I do like to support local businesses but the only RV dealer nearby is Camping World. I'm not impressed with the selection and their parking lot is always backed up with RV's waiting for service.

 

It seems the general consensus is to call the manufacturer and since we will be away from our home area more often than not, we shouldn't worry as much about the dealer. We've narrowed it down to a few options so I think that's a plan. We're now open to traveling anywhere in the US that there's an honest dealer who values their customers and gives a fair price. I think it's a shame there isn't more regulation on repairs and structural integrity. We need an RV lemon law!

 

Thank you all!

 

Beth

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I have a suggestion that may get you both improved service, but also perhaps a better price. Since it seems that you already know the make and model that you want, contact the manufacturer and ask them for contact information on all dealers who sell this unit in your state, or region. You can then contact any of them in reasonable travel distance and see who will deal best with you.

 

Like you, I've heard the stories of how new RVs spend most of their time in the shop, but in all of our experiences, that has never been true. Our last two RVs were both purchased new and one had two warranty repairs, the present one only one. Warranty work can be an issue, but if you buy from any of the better quality manufacturers, the probability is that you won't have much warrant repair.

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"Since it seems that you already know the make and model that you want, contact the manufacturer and ask them for contact information on all dealers who sell this unit in your state, or region. You can then contact any of them in reasonable travel distance and see who will deal best with you." Before you start contacting them, do a search for them and see what sort of reputation they may have. I'd suggest a search of any rv forums you are a member of (like this one). Also, since you know what brand and model you want, join that brand's owners' forum and ask some questions. If you have to have a VIN in order to join and ask questions I'd pick another brand.

 

Just because you don't find any comments on a dealer doesn't mean they are bad - or good. Most people complain loudly about any perceived problems but say little or nothing about a dealership that simply does what is expected.

 

It is getting a bit late in the year, but go drive around some campgrounds looking for someone with a coach and license place that may indicate they purchased from one of your dealers. Try to talk to them about the dealer's reputation.

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I'll add an off subject comment for you to think about.

 

Since you will be buying new AND you have decided on the floor plan and brand.

 

If you are willing to travel too pick the RV up then go to the manufactures website and find dealers in different parts of the country .

You will be surprised at the variations in price . This especially true if you will be paying in cash.

We have a dealer within 2 miles that had the exact unit we purchased for nearly 7K less by driving to

Ohio from TX.

 

Sorry to high jack just some food for thought.

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I have a Heartland 5th wheel I purchased from ExploreRV in Dallas TX. At the time I lived in San Diego, CA. My local dealer La Mesa RV could not match the price I got from the dealer in TX. The few times I needed warranty work my local dealer in San Diego was more than happy to work on my rig. Heartland approved the work. One time while traveling I needed a warranty repair, I was in Washington DC. Called Heartland and got authorization for a mobil mechanic to do the work. Heartland reimbursed me for the cost less the $50.00 travel fee the mobil guy charged. I was happy because the warranty was 3 days out of the one year but Heartland still approved the work.

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Tex points out something that is important. Many people drive long distances to save money. It sounds like his trip was well worth it, but I wonder if he would have made the same trip if the savings had only been $2000. Before you head across the country, figure out your costs for the trip. Spending $2000 on fuel, lodging, and meals in order to save $1000 on the purchase price doesn't really make sense.

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You know over the years needing to go to the "selling dealer" or to your "local dealer" for repairs to your RV is absolutely ridiculous. I know since 1974 when we first started RVing we bought our RVs to travel. What are the chances of a warranty problem happening while it is sitting in the driveway. Most of the issues that I know the folks are on the road. This is one of many reasons that the RV industry as a whole is held below whale do-do in the ocean. Two years ago there was a gal came into a park in Coeur d Lane, ID. and the front jacks quit on her fiver as she was getting it off the truck. Another guy and I went over and got the rig off the truck. She was in unfamiliar territory as she was from Medford, OR. and bought the fiver from her "home dealer". Found a dealer that sold her brand in Liberty Lake, WA. just several miles from where she was parked. There is whole series of stealerships along I-90 in that area. She goes into the service dept. and the service writer said "we won't work on that since you didn't buy it here". And it was still under warranty. Just very poor customer service!

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Howdy!

 

"You didn'the buy it here and we don't want to work on it"! But they will put you on a list and call you in a few months.

 

I have been told that by RV dealerships on more that one occasion when our 5er was in warranty out of warranty and even when we were shopping for our new 5er a year ago.

 

"Happy Trails"

Chefneon

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A lot of good advice. One other tip on getting the best price is to look at dealerships as close as possible to your chosen MFG's. facility. Transportation costs can eat into a dealers profits so it's reasonable that a West coast dealer won't be able to match prices on a dealer in say.. Indiana.. where the mfg is located. Transpo may only be $100 for an Indiana dealer whereas a dealer in CA may have $2k into it. They are also more likely to cut you a deal since their stocks are more readily accessible whereas a dealer in CA may not be as inclined to part with an in stock "hot seller" since a replacement may be several weeks out. Just food for thought when shopping.

 

With the caveat that I'm a full-timer, I do subscribe to the buying 1 year olds theory. If I was in a S&B, and my RV was just a weekend thing I might not be as concerned about lengthy warranty repairs, but being on the road, even one warranty repair could take a month or more to schedule and another month or or more to affect repairs at a "home" dealer. (YMMV, but that's 'sop' on the West coast.) I don't have any data to support that belief, but my last three rigs have been lightly used 1 year olds, and aside from the tire shop, none have seen the inside of a repair bay since I purchased them.

 

In my current rig I do know that the original owner had her in for a misaligned axle (and subsequent tire replacements), a short in the slide mechanism, an LP line had to be relocated off the underside of the frame (recall), and the skylight in the bathroom was replaced (recall). I was fortunate enough to miss out on all the 'good stuff' and have been trouble free the past 3 years (knock on wood). Not to mention saving a pretty penny off dealer prices.

 

I 'am' kind of particular though and know going in I'll be looking at $300 or so for a good steam/upholstery cleaning, another $500 or so to replace the mattress, and a good couple of three days flushing, sanitizing, screening, sealing, etc. Ya know.. 'cooties'. :P:lol:

 

Even a couple of weeks without a 'home' would severely cramp my style so I've been fortunate going the pre-owned rig route.

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