After a bloody, lip-biting, teeth chattering drive back and forth to Florida, our lives and emotions are resuming a sense of normalcy. It's with a breath of relief both my feet (and Joe's), are on stable ground now that I can share some of our trip experiences and perhaps help someone planning a motor home venture to avoid the mistakes we didn't, prior to leaving on our trip.
We viewed different styles of motor homes for two years and finally found one that suited us perfectly this January. The living space was to die for (ahem, we almost did), and the undercarriage storage was spacious. In fact, the coach had all the amenities a person could ask for, living-wise. Although we drove it on the local highway a few times, it wasn't until we hit the parkways and interstate turnpikes that we discovered the coach doesn't handle well at all.
The steering has about 2 inches of play to the right and the left, which is very bad. Joe had to grip the wheel with both hands to hold the coach steady so it didn't veer off the road to the right, into the woods or off a bridge. When tractor-trailer trucks passed us at 70 mph or more, the rear of the motor coach got sucked into a vacuum and swayed to the right. Sometimes so far to the right that we got stuck in those groove-things that are supposed to alert drowsy drivers they are going off the road.
We were petrified before we even hit Delaware. Traveling by motor coach has been Joe's retirement dream for years but now it's become a nightmare. But we carried on and hoped things would improve. We hoped it was normal for the coach to handle this way...
We had the motor coach in for service prior to our departure. Joe told the dealership he was concerned about the steering, because the steering wheel was crooked when the coach was in park. While on the road, however we discovered the TV antennae was broken, the left turn camera signal was kaput, and no one ever told us in order to turn the hot water heater on, we had to unscrew a panel under the kitchen sink. This requires a drill. A savvy tech at a sister dealership in Georgia assisted us, so after 3 days of no hot water, we were finally able to shower in our home on wheels.
I called the dealership twice while we were away and was told the steering issues were not their problem, that "they don't do that,” which pissed us off no end, because they told us before we left the steering was fine. We were told to call the company who manufactures the chassis and the engine for repairs once we got to Florida. We didn't. We were already two days behind, because holding the rig steady on the road tired Joe's arms so badly, we had to make frequent stops so he could rest.
With all due respect to the companies involved with our problems, I won't name names. One party manufactures the coach, the engine and suspension, etc. is constructed by another. In addition, we sent emails to the support team who deals with issues regarding the coach, and the passing the buck game continues.
On top of all this, we found two stink bugs in the coach. Where the holy hell they came from, we'll never know, but we suspect they hopped on board while the coach was in for servicing at the dealership. I'm not a bug fan, and I've only seen these critters twice before in my entire life. You can't crush them because they give off a noxious odor, so we had to pull off the road to get the one that was crawling on the dashboard while Joe was trying to drive and I was shrieking. I found the other under the bedspread, which caused my second meltdown that first day.
The point is, know your product before you take it out on the road, people. Inspect every inch of it and ask questions about how your coach works. Drive it around like crazy before you plan an extended trip. Take it back to service, wherever it's supposed to go, until you are satisfied. We were gone eleven days, which was four more than originally planned, with more money spent on gas and campgrounds, not to mention the wear and tear on our psyches.
And bring the Raid...you never know what kind of pests you might encounter!