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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A sick View, a wrecker ride and now waiting for repairs at the dealer

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Since the breakdown happened, we decided that it makes no sense for Herman and Sandy waste valuable vacation time hanging around waiting for the RV to be repaired. The taxi took them to the airport at 6:30 AM and they were in the air by 8AM. They'll be sleeping in their own beds tonight.

I am sitting, waiting (at Fisher Dodge in Yuma) for a part (and a mechanic) who can install it. I am told the part (steering column control module) was ordered yesterday will arrive today. However, the manager said there probably won’t be a mechanic on duty today to install it. And, the dealership is closed on Sunday… so, it looks like I’ll be hanging out here for a while. 

The only “squeaky wheel tactic” I can think of... short of standing at the service desk drumming my fingers on the counter... is to leave the fairly loud RV generator running and leaving the slide out. Maybe they’ll get tired of listening to the Onan and just hurry me out of here. Wish me luck.

Yesterday morning, I called Dodge to ask about the warranty and found out that it ran out in July of 2011. Evidently, broken part is a known problem (the part has be redesigned by the factory 3 times already). Because of that, the manager of the service department is covering the entire repair under warranty. That’s awesome since the dealer price of the part is $320. Add labor and I’d expect this repair to cost at least $600.

It was Sandy and Herman’s first wrecker ride. I think it was the Views first wrecker ride too. My dad used to own and operate a wrecker 30+ years ago so, I’ve been in a few wreckers. The driver went 35mph down the freeway and even slower in the city of Yuma. It was a different way to see the city for sure.

The story really begins before the wrecker ride though. When I phoned Good Sams roadside assistance they decided to send me a mobile repairman to fix the RV in the parking lot. The guy was nice enough but watching him work, I knew he didn’t know what he was doing. My dad was a mechanic for 30 years so I have spent untold hours watching mechanics work.

It took Don Gabby (that’s his name) at least 1.5 hours just to take apart the dash. He told me he gets $85 an hour and that the part we needed was $355. That concerned me. When I noticed he was trying to remove the ignition switch is when I finally told him… “Thanks but no thanks. Pack up and I’ll get a wrecker tow it to the dealer” The ignition switch had absolutely nothing to do with the problem and did not need to be removed. EDIT: I found out the next day at the dealer that NONE of the dash parts needed to be removed to swap out the steering colum control module. Our mobile repair guy was a total dumba... ah, nevermind.

Having thoroughly researched the steering column control unit on the internet, I was pretty sure what needed to be done to fix it. This mobile repair guy had no clue. I was even reading him excerpts from the internet on how to separate the bezel and speedometer housing from the dash. If I didn’t, it would have broken the way he was yanking on it.

So now, we have a partially disassembled dash and a RV that won't start. Great !

I call good sam again and explain that we needed a tow to the dealer. They called the only local Dodge dealer who said… “We don’t work on Dodge Sprinters anymore”. Now we’re really screwed! I ended up calling the service department myself and explained the situation to Hector (a really nice guy!) and asked if he could help. He told me to have the RV towed to the dealership but he couldn’t guarantee that they could fix it. I figured our odds for getting a quality repair was better at the dealer than at Don Gabbys shop.

So, Here I sit in the middle of a 3 lane service drop off. Wreckers and flatbeds pulling in, dropping off dead vehicles and then leaving. It’s a busy place but the RVs running generator and TV is drowning out much of the noise. Heck, I am probably making more noise myself! LOL! The squeaky wheel …gets the steering column control module installed, right?!

Rewind to 2 days ago at the Yuma territorial prison museum.

Tigger says… “Where is that mechanic?!”
2011-12-23 09.02.19


  1. So...a Dodge service manager does a BIG favor for you by extending your warranty coverage when he has no obligation to do so and thereby saving you about $600. And you STILL pop your slide and run your noisy generator in the hope of getting him to do you ANOTHER favor by calling in a service tech on a Sunday?

    Message to folks everyone ... no good deed goes unpunished around this guy! What an ass.

  2. Fisher Dodge didn't do me any favors. Trust me on that one. As for running the genny, it is so quiet, you only hear it when you're near it.

    You didn't hear the rest of the story because I didn't print it out of respect for the dealership who I THOUGHT WAS DOING ME A FAVOR.

    The end of the story goes like this...

    After after almost smashing my overcab sleeper into his garage door, (luckily, I was in the RV when he was moving it closer to his shop and YELLED to STOP) The mechanic finally finishes up the work on saturday (they're not even open sunday). He had forgotten or was oblivious to the 10.5 foot RV height and his garage door was only 8 foot high or so.

    The mechanic says he's going to drive the RV around to the service dept and told me to meet him there. I go inside to get any warranty paperwork they needed to give me and I hear them talking about how it's out of warranty. I hope they're talking about someone elses vehicle but I know it's mine.

    The manager that one day earlier, had told me everything was covered under warranty, was off on saturday. So, I'm left to deal with the 2 other managers that are working on saturday. The more confident of the two tells me that my RV is out of warranty BUT they will do me a favor and only charge me $600. I'm floored at that point. WHAT?! I was just told yesterday that it was all covered under warranty and now you want to charge me $600?! NO. Absolutely not.

    So, the mechanic (who I had just tipped $60 cash for getting me back on the road) comes into the office and gets on a computer. The 3 of them are now trying to decide if the part and procedure is under warranty or not. They call thge manager Hector at home and supposedly he says he might have "made a mistake".

    The mechanic (the only honest one out of the bunch) says... "One way it is under warranty and another it's not. It depends on how you look at it." And, then he leaves.

    It appears that the other 2 service managers want to look at it the way that they make the most money from me.

    The manager relents and says they can knock $100 off & best they can do is $500. I say no. No way.

    I offer to split the $600 charge with them. I'll pay $300. He balks at that and after a while says he can come down to $400.

    I feel like they're screwing with me so flipped out and told him to call the police because I was about to drive away. He asks me to wait while he speaks with the lady in the office.

    About 5 minutes goes by and he comes back with paperwork charging me only $200. I agree, sign it, pay and leave.

    In retrospect, I would really like to know what the deal was with the part and the warranty. I am pretty sure that it was under warranty but they thought they'd see if they could get $600 out of me.

    This dealership didn't do me any favors. Especially, not any BIG favors as you mentioned. As a matter of fact, I feel like they hosed me by making me pay $200 for a job that was supposed to be under warranty.

    In the end, I paid $200 to the dealership and $60 cash tip to the mechanic. I didn't get out of their cheaply.

    That's the whole story.