Life is about learning lessons, making mistakes, and sometimes having to pay more than you anticipated. Whether it’s a small choice or a major life decision, it’s inevitable that along your journey something is bound to go wrong. This year has been a tough one for all us, some more than others, but it’s important that we focus on the road ahead.
Abbas Gokal reminded us of this after his recent adventure in his new RV. Here’s his story in his own words:
“I have learned a great deal about RV purchase, operation, and maintenance recently. I’ve definitely made some expensive mistakes along the way. Much like a boat, the cost of purchasing the RV is minimal compared to the cost of maintenance, service, and operation. After all, you are driving a large heavy house, and all that shaking and rattling will cause things to break.
With that said, the adventures we have embarked on have definitely been priceless, and the freedom of picking up and going (that is when the RV is not in the shop) is a lot of fun.
As far as purchasing, the first and most important thing that needs to be decided is the layout. For us, we wanted to purchase one with a bunk bed so our kids would not have to fight about sleeping next to each other or where they sleep. Turns out they still fight! The next thing was size. We ended up purchasing a 31 footer. In retrospect, I’d prefer a smaller one. Smaller would be easier to maneuver, easier to find parking. On the other hand, we like the ability for everyone to have space and spread out, since we have a five plus a dog. I guess there is no perfect solution. We went to a number of dealers, to learn about the various models, layouts, etc.
We ultimately found the Jayco Greyhawk that we liked. Jayco makes a Redhawk and Greyhawk. The difference being similarly to that between a Toyota and Lexus. We liked the amenities of the Greyhawk, but we were uncomfortable buying new or spending a ton for it. Jayco quality seemed to be better than some of the others. So we decided to look at older, low mileage Greyhawks to try to get the best of both worlds. I also decided to buy private party to avoid the dealer markups. Pennywise, pound foolish. Maybe.
There are RV websites and apps, that help private and dealers post their inventory. We found ours on RV Trader. The RV was located in Denver, Colorado where I had a friend, who lives there and is knowledgeable in vehicles, inspects it for me. Everything seemed fine, as it only had 17,000 miles. I figured, what could go wrong?! I flew out there to pick it up, inspected it, drove it back. I was OK with purchasing it from Colorado, for it added to the adventure of bringing it back. We stopped off in Vail for hiking and Moab for biking on the way back.
We got back without any major issues. We were having some problems with the inverter and decided to get an oil change and have the RV overall inspected. What I quickly learned is that anything with RV repair takes a long time. Unlike a car, you don’t get your vehicle back in a day or two. It takes several weeks each time you bring it into the shop. Also due to COVID, there is a serious shortage of parts. So this seems to be adding to the already slow repair process. We had the inverter replaced, which cost a bit of money.
We drove it on our first big trip to Zion and had an amazing time! We made it back without issue, or so we thought. Apparently on the way back, probably not too far from home, we blew the transmission fluid pump. On a short trip to the beach, the fluid all leaked out, and the RV started showing signs of problems. We were able to put fluid in the system and get it to the shop, but not before damage to the transmission was done. This necessitated a rebuild, several thousands of dollars, and another three weeks of repair time.
After I got the RV back, I immediately drove it to Mammoth for a long weekend trip. On the way up to Mammoth, I realized that on the uphill, the RV would not go above 45 mph. On really big hills it was even slower. Unfortunately, since the way up to Mammoth is all uphill, it was a SLOW ride. We really got to enjoy the scenery. Once we got back, I brought it back to the shop, and they took another two weeks to tell me that they could not recreate the problem I complained of.
Earlier this week, I took it for a test drive with the mechanics, and they finally recognized the problem. It feels like the transmission is not downshifting to provide the torque it needs. They are having the folks that rebuilt the transmission look at it again. I imagine it will be several additional weeks until I get the RV back for my next trip. I’m planning the next big trip to northeastern Utah (Moab) in September. I’m hoping all the bugs will be worked out by then, or at least the major ones.
I’ve heard this is not unusual with RVs, new or old. They have problems and take time. I guess, with a secondhand RV, there’s no telling how much deferred maintenance there was. Anyway, it has certainly been a learning experience. We plan that in about a year or two we will either upgrade the RV or exit out of the RVing world. It’s too soon to tell.”
We’ll keep you updated on Abbas’ next adventure, until then remember to enjoy the journey — laughs, bumps, breakdowns and all.
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