Will it ever end? We don't know yet. After over a month lost getting 18 warranty items fixed, we are back to Bullhead City, AZ., where Paul Evert wanted us so that they could fix “the last bug”. And then we discovered the next one: our hitch isn't right. It's always been difficult to lock in, and getting more and more difficult all the time. Friday it was almost impossible. We had an RV mechanic look at it Saturday, and he says we need a new head, this one was made wrong at the factory. So, we're here until they open up on Tuesday, at least.
We've heard from several sources that it is not unusual to have lots of problems in a new RV. It's a cliché that by buying used, you get one with the bugs already worked out. The service manager at one shop said we would be horrified at what he could find, that we didn't know about, if he inspected our rig. One owner said she was relieved when the warranty expired, and they could just fix things themselves instead of losing weeks waiting for warranty work to be authorized and parts to ship. One service rep said that most new RVs have problems that would qualify a car for the lemon law because they are built by people, not on assembly lines, and people make mistakes.
I don't buy that explanation. After doing a job for a few weeks, people acquire skills and don't make ignorant mistakes anymore. After a few years, they become experts at their job, and hardly ever make mistakes at it. RVs must all be built by new hires, without any quality control inspections, to come out of the factory like ours did. I could take a crew of 5th grade dropouts and teach them in one day to use stainless steel screws in the shower, because the regular ones are going to rust. Our RV came with rusted screws in the shower. This is not because someone knew the right thing to do, but “made a mistake”.
My theory is that Keystone doesn't care about quality, they're just after a quick buck. People usually take pride in what they do, and want to do a good job. In a good economy, employers must provide a pleasant working environment, or their good employees will leave for greener pastures. In a bad economy, employers can take advantage of employees, because they have no better alternative. Keystone would have to be consciously making employees as miserable as possible in order for them to care so little that they use the wrong screws in the shower when they know better.
Many people have told us they envy us embarking on this lifestyle. I still think it's going to be all that we dreamed of, but my advice for those who want to follow us is
- Don't put yourself in a bind, timewise, in buying your rig. Let the dealer keep it on his lot while the warranty repairs are done, and don't be dependent on having the RV as a home until you are satisfied that they are all fixed. Leave at least two months for this. About half the time we lost was waiting for parts to ship. Twice they shipped the same wrong part, and the dealer had to cannibalize his sales inventory to get us the right one. (That was a heroic effort on the part of the service manager,for which we are grateful.)
- Have it inspected by an unbiased expert. He will find things that you will miss. Make them fix it before you take possession.
- Plan a short trip and return to the dealer before you take off for good, and before the RV is your only residence. In a couple of weeks of using the rig, you'll find things that looked OK, but don't work right. Our water heater and water pump both failed after very little usage. (I've been told the manufacturers use the cheapest water pumps they can find, so expect to replace it, and when you do, get a better quality pump than the original.)
So, we're in Silver View RV Park this weekend. Going to the fireworks at the casino tonight. The high yesterday was only 74, so we're not so disappointed to still be in AZ. We can survive until Tuesday. This is the view of Laughlin at night from up on the ridge in Silver View:
And on the way out of Bullhead City toward Phoenix, you pass this natural “Welcome to Arizona” symbol: