40,000 55,000 mile ownership experience update!
January 14, 2009
We have now owned our Horizon for about
3 1/2 5 years and have put 40,000 55,000 miles on her. We've been from Florida to Alaska, the East coast to the West coast; we've been on good roads, we've been on horrible roads; stayed in fabulous campgrounds and a few dumps here and there. We have driven in beautiful weather and we have driven in sleet and snow; gone up 10% grades doing 30 mph, gone down 10% grades doing 30 mph!
Overall, we continue to be very pleased with our choice and the wonderful support Winnebago Industries has provided us. We did our pre-purchase due-diligence quite carefully and we are enjoying the fruits of that research. We have zero regrets with our choice made
40,000 55,000 miles ago!
Update May 2010: Yup - zero regrets about our choice of the Horizon - great coach :-)
Okay - so much for the 'touchy-feely' gushing - we have had to deal with several mostly minor issues in our ownership, a couple of more significant ones, but in most cases, the problems have been with vendor-supplied stuff and not the Winnebago-built house. For example:
- A slow retraction problem with our HWH jacks. Twice Winnebago factory service addressed the problem with no resolution. It finally took a trip to the HWH factory to fix the problem - they replaced all four jacks. Now they are retracted (even in cold weather) within five minutes or less
- The A&E Weather Pro patio awning - it would never dump water as advertised. Finally it turned into a twisted pretzel one day when we left it open in a gentle rain (long story - here's a picture.) Dometic stepped up to the plate and replaced it with a new one with fabric about one inch 'deeper' (extends out one inch farther which increased the angle relative to the ground) and now it works great! Thanks Dometic!
- Slow fuel fill -
Winnebago has to get the finger pointed at them for this one. My guess is the slow fuel issue was primarily the fuel tank design - a Freightliner responsibility. This situation has driven me absolutely bonkers ever since our first fillup. The fuel fill nozzle will click off with about 20 gallons capacity left in the tank - doesn't matter if it is a high flow truck pump or an automotive one. The last 20 gallons has to be filled at a rate of no faster than 0.1 gallons per second. The last five gallons literally needs to be trickled into the tank. The fix depends on the serial number or chassis number of your unit. In about 400 cases, the entire tank is replaced, in all others an improved filler neck is the cure. We will have our filler necks replaced around the end of this month or early Feb - hooray! (for more information, see this thread on rvforum.net) < Feb 9, 2009 - Filler necks installed>
Update May 2010: The new fuel fill necks did not solve the problem, but a new fuel tank certainly did! Thanks Freightliner for finally taking care of the problem!!
- Our in-motion satellite King Dome has been replaced twice - we are on our third dome and I have had the current dome off the roof and on my workbench now twice in the last six months! Last summer the screws that hold the mounting tabs to the bottom of the base worked loose and we kept hearing a thumping noise on the roof. We stopped for fuel and I climbed on the roof and looked around - nothing was obviously wrong. Just for the heck of it, I grabbed the dome and gave it a tug - to my utter astonishment I could lift the entire thing about one inch off the roof. I unbolted the mounting tabs from the roof and turned the dome upside down and tightened the screws that held the other part of the mounting to the base (each of the four mounting 'ears' consist of two tabs - one tab with a stud that sticks up is mounted to the roof, one is screwed to the bottom of the base.) Water has somehow been driven into the base of the dome and caused a problem with the two LNB outputs - my signal on output #2 would come and go and then finally stopped working altogether. The problem was due to crud/corrosion/fuzzies growing on the circuit board that the mini-coax terminates into before it goes to the rotating part of the dish. After cleaning up the board and resoldering some connections, it's working again - but for how long?!
Update May 2010: We are now on out 4th dome. King Controls send me a refurb dome and control electronics. The dome was okay but the controller they sent turned out to be defective. We wound up overnighting parts back and forth last summer while we were in Maine. So far so good for the dome. This will be the last season for the dome - it will be replaced with a Motosat HD stationary dish.
- The solenoid that operates when the engine is running (or when you operate the "Battery Boost" switch) to bridge the house and chassis battery banks together for charging has failed I think two or three times. I suspect the causes of failure are 1) the coil is designed for 12 volts and not the 13.9 or 14.1 volts the engine alternator is cranking out, and 2) heat in the electrical compartment. In the summer, we have seen the compartment temperature get to about 120 degrees due to the inverter operating and a lack of ventilation. Also, the solenoid is in a fairly small metal 'box' near the bay ceiling which just aggravates the situation. I added a marine bilge blower to ventilate the compartment which has dramatically lowered the heat - now the compartment is usually at ambient temperature (more details here)
Update May 2010: The 4th Trombetta solenoid failed last year and I replaced it with a Blue Seas high-dollar smart model. See the RV page for a complete write-up of the replacement.
- Front axle - for the 2004, 2005 model years of the Vectra/Horizon, the front axle is rated at 12,000 pounds which turned out to be inadequate for the usual load we carry (starting in 2006, I believe the front axle for the Vectra/Horizon was rated at 14,400 pounds.) When we fulltimed, we had to be careful how we loaded the front and even at that we were always right at 12K. This is not all bad news, however. Rudy Morris of the Freightliner Chassis Owner's Club did extensive research and determined the front suspension (ZF) was actually rated far higher than the 12,000 pounds (I believe he said 16,000.) The basic differences in the 12k and 14.4k rated front axles are the tire load rating (G to H) and the steering box is different. When it is time for new tires, I will be going to a load range H and then I won't have to worry about running over 12k on the front (I would not feel good about taking the front axle to 14.4k pounds, but I certainly would be comfortable loading a few hundred pounds over the 12k limitation)
Update May 2010: Last fall we replaced all six tires with Michelin XZA3 in a load range H - no more worries about weight on the front axle.
- For the first two years of ownership, our air conditioner would intermittantly blow ambient temperature air instead of cold air after being on the road all day. Winnebago factory service replaced the thermostat and the freeze switch and we still had the problem. RVP (the manufacturer of the unit) replaced the control board - we still had the problem. Finally, Winnebago and RVP agreed to replace the entire unit - viola - problem solved! This was an expensive solution to our intermittent problem, but a big tip of the hat goes to Winnebago and RVP! (more details here)
- One very minor problem that has become evident as the coach ages is the cherry interior is darkening (like wood does) but the colored putty used to fill nail holes is still matched to the color of the wood when new. Now we have dozens of noticeable little plugs of putty all over the place - the fix will be a little time consuming since I will need to change the putty color
- Our original captain and copilot chairs we thought were very uncomfortable primarily due to the lumbar support being completely mislocated. The support hit both of us (Jane - normal stature, me - long back) way too high to be useful. Not only was it non-functional, it always pressed into our spine even in the fully retracted position. We replaced the chairs with Flexsteel models and we are extremely pleased with the new ones
Such is the life of owning a 'house' that bounces down the road - you are dealing with problems from the moment you take delivery. However, with the right attitude, determination, and available time, you can work through the issues. It also helps to have a dealer that will take care of you and a motorhome manufacturer and vendors that will stand behind their product.
It is with great pleasure to say that we have worked through most problems and
the only remaining issue on the list is to get the new filler necks installed. The slow fill problem is completely resolved!! Whoo-hoo!! Then our good coach turns into is a great coach!
Jane and John