We have a 36' Fifth Avenue 5th wheel trailer made by Thor Industries, Dutchmen Manufacturing facility in Indiana, which we purchased new in June of 2000 from Pontiac R.V. in Pontiac, Illinois.
Pontiac R.V. had it for almost three weeks in the summer of 2000 and then again for better than two weeks in March of 2001, then it went to the Dutchmen Warranty Repair facility in Goshen, Indiana for 3 weeks in April and May of 2001 and then again for 6 months in Nov. 2001 until April 2002.
The first trip to the dealership, there was a list of eighteen things to be repaired. They managed to fix only four of them successfully. A list of these problems is attached. (Attachment 1)
The second trip to the factory was for 8 things of which 0 were successfully corrected. The dealer could not solve the problems and informed us it would have to go back to the factory for repair. The one thing they did finish was the new material on the footrest of the recliner, however it was put on with the pattern running the opposite way as the chair. When we got to the dealership to pick it up, we found that the kitchen slide-out was so far out of adjustment that the corner trim was caught in the awning track. I had to get someone from the dealership to adjust it before I left so that it could even be opened. A list of these problems is attached. (Attachment 2)
It was then taken to the factory because the dealer could not solve some of the problems and actually created more problems trying to do the repairs. The factory had it for three weeks in late April and early May. When we picked it up we were told, by Vickie Secor, that it would have to come back in the fall, because the kitchen floor they replaced was not done right and that they could not match the material on the old chairs, so they agreed to replace them, this was fine except now we will have three patterns of furniture in one room of the camper. They agreed to replace both chairs so that the patterns would be the same, at least on the 2 chairs. Then when we hooked on to the unit to pull it home and found that the landing legs were bent and would not retract. We waited 3 hours while they worked on the legs and when they finished they had used parts from the old legs, the new legs, and some parts from somewhere else. Copies of the problem list and work orders are attached. (Attachment 3)
After 2 weeks, we contacted the factory to find out what the problem was with the chairs. They told us we would be receiving them in a couple of days. We got them 2 weeks later. When the chairs arrived, they looked like a pair of used furniture store rejects. (Pictures available by e-mail) We contacted the factory and sent pictures and they agreed they were not properly made and said they would send 2 new ones. 3 weeks later we got them and they were much better than the first ones.
On our first trip out after getting the unit back from the factory, we found several more problems including, a leaking roof, frayed carpeting, staples coming out of carpet, water pump still not working properly, glue all over countertop and carpeting from repairs, cabinet doors warped and won't stay closed, travel straps which won't do their job, kitchen slide-out still not working properly, living room slide-out not sealing up when open, glue all over outside of camper around door factory replaced, non-matched glass in cabinet doors, a large dent in road side skirting, just to list a few.
On our second trip out after returning from the factory, the landing legs locked up and would not go up or down. I had to drive 50 miles home and back to get tools to take them apart. I found the problem and repaired them so they would work. This is the same trip where we lost electric power and after some searching and testing, found the shoreline plug had burned up inside the wall of the trailer. I had to rewire it direct into the junction box to get power back to the trailer.
We ended up with a list of 27 items to be repaired when it went back to the factory in the fall of 2001. Some are original problems, which are still not solved satisfactorily, and some are new ones that keep showing up every time we use the unit. Some original problems still have not been successfully repaired. A copy of this list is attached. (Attachment 4)
When we went to pick the unit up at the Goshen facility in April, it was not ready. Upon talking to Dave Balser, I found they had not done anything about the problem with the landing legs. While we were talking, one of their employees, who had worked on the legs the previous trip, walked in and I ask him about them and he agreed they needed to be replaced. So I had to wait another 2 hours while they replaced the bad landing leg. While we were waiting, I asked questions about several of the repairs and was assured by Dave that everything had been checked and double-checked. He explained how they had tested the slide-outs to make sure they were all adjusted correctly after replacing the padding and seals. He said he even had them seal down inside the antenna around the cable to make sure that leak was stopped. He assured me they had resealed the awning track to the trailer to stop the water running down
the side of the trailer. He told me they had cleaned the tank level probes and they were all working, and explained how they had waste built up on them that was causing false readings. We talked about several of the repairs and he assured me they had been completed. I also talked with Kelly Green to make sure they were going to extend the warranty for 1 year as promised, and he said they were and he would be sending me a letter stating the dates of the extension. I also asked about having work done someplace other than Pontiac R.V. and they said I could have it worked on anyplace as long as the dealer got pre-approval and agreed to Dutchmen's warranty repair terms.
When we got home and tried to extend the kitchen slide-out we found it would not go all the way out. I spent about 2 hours working on it trying to figure it out, and found that the 2x4 down the front side frame, which the padding attaches to was catching on the plumbing of the kitchen sink and stopping the front end of the slide from traveling all the way out. I had to get a saws-all with a long blade and reach through the under sink cabinet and cut about 1 inches off the bottom of this board. Once that was done the slide went out correctly except the carpet all pulled loose across the front of the entertainment center and is now curled out in the floor instead of under the edge of the slide. (Pictures available by e-mail)
On our first trip out with the trailer after it's return from the Goshen facility, we found several problems. The roof leaks worse around the antenna than it did when we took it to the factory and we now have 2 slide outs that leak and leave wet spots on the carpet. The new window cranks they installed makes it almost impossible to raise and lower the day-night shades, you have to twist them to more than a 45 degree angle to get the handle to go over the cranks. The bedroom drawer still will not open properly, it catches in the travel latch and is very hard to get open. The floor still sounds like an old oil can when you walk across it between the furnace vents in the kitchen/living room floor. The lag bolts in the front awning arm bracket were totally loose, I checked them and found they are stripped out and will not tighten. The water tanks showed Gray 1/3 full and Black 2/3 full with no water in them yet and after 4 days the Fresh water tank still showed full.
I have copies of repair orders from the first trip to the dealership. However, I was never given any work orders or paperwork from the second trip to the dealership. Kevin the shop foreman said there were no papers, because they had not finished the work and had made arrangements directly with the factory to perform the repairs. I also have the papers from the first trip to the factory, but have not yet received the papers or the warranty extension information from the second trip. They said they were very busy and had not had time to get them filled out, but would mail a copy as soon as they were complete. It is now 5/24/2002, 4 weeks after we picked up the unit and we have not gotten the paperwork. I contacted them last week about these papers and was informed they were sending them, but I have not yet received them. I have copies of all the e-mail correspondence between, the dealer and myself, and between the factory and myself. I have dealt with Kelly Green, Vickie Secor, and Dave Balser at the factory repair facility in Goshen.
There is also a list of monetary expenses and compensations attached, which needs to be taken into consideration while dealing with this issue.(Attachment 5)
When you pay $48,000.00 for a trailer, you expect it to be useable, and not spend 37% of its useable life in the shop, the first 22 months you own it. There has to be something that can be done with this lemon. It needs to be replaced. When you have this many problems this soon, it is not going to get any better. When the warranty runs out, we are going to be stuck with a piece of junk that is unusable without continual expense. With all the problems we have had, the trade in value of this unit has already dropped $10,000 to $12,000 below book value.
I am getting tired of trying to work this out with Thor. They are very helpful and willing to do the repairs, but they are just doing what they have to do to get by until the warranty runs out. Then it is my problem and my expense. I really believe they know this trailer has severe problems and if they were to be totally truthful and honest, they would agree something more than patches needs to be done to correct this situation. If they were really concerned about these problems, they would have already done the right thing and replaced the unit. I have tried to contact someone at Thor's corporate offices and can get no response either by phone or e-mail. They have very limited contact information available, and after owning this unit for 2 years, I can see why. I am just about to the point of saying, I give up, it now belongs to the manufacturer or the dealer or the bank or whoever and I really don't care which one.
I believe that continued repair is NOT an option. I feel that is pointless. We are past the point of no return on repairs. There have been so many problems that they are now repairing over the repairs that were done to the original unsuccessful repairs and things just keep getting worse. The value of this 2000 model year trailer is below that of a comparable trailer that is a 1995 or 1996 model year.
This unit is now out of warranty and the company has washed their hands of it. They got my money and worked their way through the warranty period without fixing anything correctly. They did enough to slip by. There are more problems developing every time we use it. They even tried to say that these problems were being caused because we use the unit too much. Well, when you pay $48,000.00 for a trailer, you would expect to be able to use it.