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Rant - getting someone to work on a Class C motorhome

wenglish
Explorer
Explorer
I automatically rejected motorhomes built on the Sprinter because of limited availability of MB dealerships that will service them. Buy Ford or Chevy, everyone said, dealers are everywhere. Umm, yeah, right ...

Well, last week our catalytic converter was stolen. No problem, thought I, I'll call the selling dealer (Poulsbo RV in Sumner WA). Their response - "we don't do chassis work". Fair enough, I suspected that would be the case, but out of a mis-placed sense of loyalty figured I'd give them first dibs. "Who would you recommend?" "A Ford dealer". "I have a Chevy". "OK, then a Chevy dealer". Not "oh yeah, we send work like that to xxx down the road", just "can't help you". I don't think I'll be going to Poulsbo for even the kind of servicing that they are able to do, based on that.

Multiple Chevy dealers (including those that sell and service the exact same vehicle this motorhome is built on) say they don't have a lift that can handle it. None can suggest who might be able to do it (well, a couple referred me to local independent shops, but all were a hard "no" as soon as they heard motorhome).

I did find a local independent muffler shop who says he can handle it, and will probably go with him if I can persuade him to provide an estimate without me having to tow the motorhome to him (insurance will pay for the tow to repair it, but not a tow to get an estimate).

This whole thing makes me wonder what's going to happen when something goes wrong with the Chevy it is built on.

This is a 24'4" motorhome built on a Chevy Express 3500 van. Not some monster RV.
24 REPLIES 24

magicbus
Explorer
Explorer
Yes that’s really the point. My mechanic stepson taught me all about the flat rate book. I don’t think dealers even do time and materials anymore. Given the “maybes” with an RV I can see why a dealer wouldn’t want to touch one.

Dave
Current: 2018 Winnebago Era A
Previous: Selene 49 Trawler
Previous: Country Coach Allure 36

drsteve
Explorer
Explorer
magicbus wrote:
Part of the problem for dealers is the add on items blocking standard chassis parts. For example my Sprinter has a fresh water tank, two batteries and a generator hung underneath. The exhaust is routed around some of these. During a recent Sprinter recall involving the exhaust system there were reports of people having to get “someone else” to remove a water tank then Mercedes would fix the recall. Hard to blame the dealer for that call.

Dave


Dealers like to go by their flat rate book, and the book is of no use in that situation. For a recall, they are getting a set amount for the repair, and you can bet that's based on a standard van.
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wenglish
Explorer
Explorer
That's a good point Dave.

magicbus
Explorer
Explorer
Part of the problem for dealers is the add on items blocking standard chassis parts. For example my Sprinter has a fresh water tank, two batteries and a generator hung underneath. The exhaust is routed around some of these. During a recent Sprinter recall involving the exhaust system there were reports of people having to get “someone else” to remove a water tank then Mercedes would fix the recall. Hard to blame the dealer for that call.

Dave
Current: 2018 Winnebago Era A
Previous: Selene 49 Trawler
Previous: Country Coach Allure 36

wenglish
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks for all the responses everyone.

I didn't intend this rant to focus on the catalytic converter specifically, it's more a rant about how Chevy dealers won't work on motorhomes even though they work on equivalent vehicles, and RV repair places won't do "chassis work".

I don't *want* to use a dealer for this particular problem, but they were part of the ton of places I called.

I also was not trying to get an estimate, the shop I chose (and will probably be using) *insisted* I bring it in for him to see first. He won't give me a repair appointment until I have done that. I would have been happy for him to order the parts based on my description (and charge me up-front for them) and schedule the work.

Oh, and yeah, he may not have a lift big enough either, but at least he's willing to look at it so long as it's not raining too much that day 😄

ItsyRV
Explorer
Explorer
I've found that by checking with GM (I'm on a Chevy van body) for commercial vehicle dealers usually result in having a facility with the equipment to handle light and medium duty trucks. If they can work on a box van, they can work on an RV. I also found that size (as in length) is another factor as getting service for 21 footer isn't that hard compared to a vehicle needing a longer lift or bay.

What has become an issue isn't finding a facility capable of service an RV, but finding a facility willing to do the service you need done. Seems many RV dealers and service centers are no longer interested in diagnosing and repairing issues and want to just replace with new items.
1994 Itasca SunDancer 21RB - Chevy G-30 chassis.

BruceMc
Explorer III
Explorer III
When dealers tell me they don't work on motorhomes for chassis work, I bark back and state it's a Chevy (or Ford) van - the chassis is the same on the MH. They always roll over and say ok, and then do the work.

When we took our Ford into the nearest dealer for brake work when the front rotors seized, they said they didn't work on motorhomes. After trying the van explanation and still getting resistance, I retorted that I'd go to the CHEVY dealer a few blocks away, and that they'd most likely help me. The service writer changed his tune and they did the work with floor jacks just outside the service bay.

When I had a couple of chassis recalls on our Chevy 4500, I got the same pushback. After explaining that it's the same chassis as a VAN, they fulfilled the recalls. Now I get regular service notices on my Chevy Cutaway!

You gotta push them, with statements they understand. IGNORE the motorhome part, FIX your chassis!
2016 Forest River Sunseeker 2250SLEC Chevrolet 6.0L

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Tyler0215 wrote:
If you have only found one shop that will repair your MH, why mess around getting an estimate? Put in some ear plugs and drive it to them and get it fixed.


Bingo. Don’t over complicate the issue.
And last I checked, a lift is a convenience not a necessity to do simple exhaust work.

OP, I can understand your “want” to use a dealer, and if insurance is covering it, why not? But take reassurance in the fact that going to a dealer doesn’t mean you will get a more qualified or competent mechanic.
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Veebyes
Explorer II
Explorer II
The dealerships & garages are so up to the eyeballs in work they do not know what to do. So easy to to say "Nope, can't help you." when the pickins are so good.

We had a major breakdown in MT last year. GM dealer did the diagnostics & we were told at least six weeks & that was without availability of a major part needed. The estimate was $12,000, maybe up to $20,000.

Did some research around town & found a garage, recommended by competitors, to go to. Same diagnostics. Same problem with parts availability, a turbo, but they were able to find a re manned turbo.

It took 5 1/2 weeks but the bill was $8,500. A long 5 1/2 weeks in a town with not alot to do, not that we were inclined to do much knowing a big bill was coming our way.
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Tyler0215
Explorer
Explorer
If you have only found one shop that will repair your MH, why mess around getting an estimate? Put in some ear plugs and drive it to them and get it fixed.

Bobbo
Explorer II
Explorer II
I live in Memphis, TN, where there are a plethora of Ford dealerships. When I had my Ford chassis Class C, there was only one Ford dealership in Memphis with a service bay large enough to take the MH. It was the Ford dealership that worked on ambulances, fire trucks, and such.

Not every Chevy dealership has the facilities to work on something as large as a MH. However, calling one dealership should get an answer when you ask which dealership in the area can work on it?
Bobbo and Lin
2017 F-150 XLT 4x4 SuperCab w/Max Tow Package 3.5l EcoBoost V6
2017 Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB

Tvov
Explorer
Explorer
wenglish wrote:

....
I did find a local independent muffler shop who says he can handle it, and will probably go with him if I can persuade him to provide an estimate without me having to tow the motorhome to him (insurance will pay for the tow to repair it, but not a tow to get an estimate).
....



You need to get it fixed, you found a shop that will fix it, just tow it to the shop and pay the bill. What's the point of going through the whole "getting an estimate" when you are going to have that shop fix it anyways?

The Big truck repair shops around me always seem to have a Class A or two in the bays getting worked on. Those repair shops have the buildings and lifts designed to work on large vehicles.

Smaller shops simply can't justify investing in buildings and equipment for working on vehicles that they don't repair regularly. Heck, most small shops don't even have enough land and/or parking lot space to turn a large vehicle around in.

I have had small repair garages have difficulty working on my F350 size trucks, when I had caps or large box beds on them.

Smaller shops that will go out of their way to help you are worth returning to and giving them positive reviews.

It is disappointing that dealers you talked to weren't straight forward with you about where you might need to go to get work done. If you do the online review thing, certainly post those responses.
_________________________________________________________
2021 F150 2.7
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magicbus
Explorer
Explorer
I always used independent shops for my Class A, my DP, and now my Sprinter. I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would go to a dealer for non-warranty work. You’ll find that many independent shops have people who are simply great mechanics who can fix most anything on an RV.

Dave
Current: 2018 Winnebago Era A
Previous: Selene 49 Trawler
Previous: Country Coach Allure 36

msmith1_wa
Explorer
Explorer
I do most of my own vehicle repairs so I don't use shops much. I have not used this shop either, but work down the street from them and they have motorhomes in their lot all the time. They also have the service contract for one of the area laundry services.

Automotive Specialties
2003 Silverado 2500HD 4x4 8.1l
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