Oct 282009

We got wrapped up in some projects that have delayed our departure for a bit, but with most of the things wrapped up that we wanted to get done before we leave northern Indiana, we hope to be on the road by the weekend. Now we just have to decide where we’re going, and how to get there.

We plan to spend November and most of December in Florida, and as I wrote here before, the plan was/is to go over to the coast someplace and go down the eastern seaboard. But since we’re getting a later start than originally planned, we’re undecided about which route to take.

We would like to go to Washington, D.C. again, and considered dropping down to Interstate 70 across Ohio and into Pennsylvania, and then dropping down to catch Interstate 68 across the northern edge of Maryland. But we may be too late in the season. Getting to warmer weather is a priority. Playing tourist is no fun when you’re chilly.

I thought about going to Lexington, Kentucky, and then taking Interstate 77 east to hook up with Interstate 64, which would take us to Norfolk, Virginia, but again, weather is a factor.

A third option was to go to Knoxville, and then take Interstate 40 east, but a major rockslide has closed the highway near the Tennessee – North Carolina border, and news reports say it could be weeks, if not months, before the road is open again.

Now we’re looking at going all the way to Atlanta, and then striking east on Interstate 20, but we’ll miss a lot of the territory we wanted to see along the coast going that way.

Then, just to muddy the waters even more, we have learned that Terry’s father has some health issues that are causing us some concern. Hopefully everything will be just fine, but we are prepared to scrap our travel plans and head for Arizona at a moment’s notice.

We have also been kicking around getting an extended warranty on our Winnebago motorhome. The Ultimate Advantage only has 34,000 miles on it and except for a contrary electrical side to our water heater, it’s in excellent condition. We’re debating whether the cost of an extended warranty is worth it.

Like any insurance policy, it’s a gamble. If we are lucky and don’t have any major breakdowns or system failures, we’d lose money on an extended warranty. However, a serious problem, such as an engine or transmission failure could easily cost much more that what we’d pay for an extended warranty. So do we bet against ourselves, or for ourselves? Why don’t some of you fulltimers and extended time RV travelers out there pitch in and share your input? Do you have an extended warranty? If so, who with, and are you glad you bought it? Is there anyone out there who decided to play the odds and lost with a major repair bill? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thought For The Day – Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

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Nick Russell

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  24 Responses to “Considering Our Options”

  1. We said NO to the extended warranty when we bought our used Santara, three weeks later the leveling jacks and slide quit working. A trip to Moscow Iowa and $350 fixed the problems, a lot less than the warranty. Thankfully no engine or tranny problems.

  2. We chose not to get the extended warranty. As you stated you are betting against yourself, and a lot of the times when you do need it the Company will come forth and say that part is not covered. So at this point we know that all of the MH is not covered.
    Jon does a lot of the work on the MH and keeps it in running order, and is probably more timely than have outside work done on it. We have a Cumings 350 HP ISC engine with an Allison 6 speed transmission and just sort of hope that it is as good as they say for several hundred thousand miles.

  3. Nick… Not sure of the brand engine and tranny you have, but most are warranteed for 100,000 miles or so. We have never bought the extended warranty and have never felt that it was a mistake nor having one.

  4. Nick: We have never bought the extended warranty and don’t feel like we made a mistake in not doing so. Most engines and trannys are warranted for 100,000 miles, and those two items would be the most expensive. Spend the money on maintenance and Miss Terry.

  5. Your big ticket items are the engine and transmission and they are the most solidly dependable parts of the RV….insurance companies make money…lots of it…betting on fear….let go of yours.

  6. We did buy the extended warranty. To many times I have seen the the engine compartment door open on the side of the road, and wonder what the cost would be to repair the bigger diesel engines. The hourly cost of most diesel mechanics is well over $100 per hour. A good insurance policy keeps me in a good comfort zone.

  7. We purchased an extended warranty when we purchased our fifth wheel. It was a “Wear and Tear” policy from Heritage Warranty and was supposed to cover everything including damage from my stupidity. Well, no insurance policy will cover everything and if it’s sounds too good to be true, it’s most likely is too good to be true. Anyway, we were just hoping that it would cover the major issues. Last year we needed our refrigerator replaced – Heritage would only authorize having the core rebuilt and negotiated a price with the technician and agreed that I could pay him and that they would mail me the check. It’s now been almost year and we have still received no check but, the claim is still approved and just waiting for a check to be cut (how long does it take to cut a check?). Heritage is now telling us it will be January of 2010 when they issue the settlement check – thirteen months after the work was done.

    The hassle just isn’t worth it but, if you do decide to purchase an extended warranty policy do yourself a favor and check the company out with the Better Business Bureau first. Heritage has an “F” rating with the BBB and the people who own Heritage also own several other extended warranty companies – you don’t want to be doing business with any of them (they are out of Dublin, Ohio).

    One last thought – I think Orv did a seminar at your 2008 Eastern Gypsy Journal Rally, what is his thoughts? Good luck on your decision.

  8. We purchased a 5/50,000 warranty on our 98 Damon in Dec. ’02 for $1675 with a $50 deductible. Traded it on the Phaeton in Dec ’05 with payments to us of $3790 with an additional $200 out of pocket. Bought a Good Sam ESP for $907 per year & $500 deductible at the end of three years ownership of the Phaeton. Just peace of mind for the big stuff: engine, transmission, power awning, 4 door refrigerator, power jacks (have replaced 3 already at about $800 each, 2 n/c and one we paid for) and Onan diesel generator.

  9. You may already do oil samples (actually all fluids … trans, rad, etc), but did not find it mentioned in a search of your blogs. If you are not doing samples, I would suggest you talk to a Cummins dealer about the sample analysis. The analysis not only identify wear, but also contaminants (fuel, water, antifreeze, dirt, etc) that indicate problems which require immediate attention.

  10. Following up on Snowbird Illinois. The cost for the test sample is usually under $30.00. We have one done every time the oil is changed.

  11. Do you read the help sections of Motorhome, Highways, etc? Many of the problems people ask for help on extended warranty refunds from the company. If you buy an extended warranty, READ the entire policy. Find out what is covered and what is not. Find out the procedure to get approval for work done on your RV. If you do not follow their procedures EXACTLY, you do not get any money. Personally, I think you are much better off putting money in a special savings account each month for emergency repairs. That requires discipline on your part. But if you put $100 to $200 a month away, there will be plenty of money to get the repair fixed. The benefit is that you do not have to call anyone or get approval to pay and then wait for your refund or go through the problems if the refund does not come. We budget for emergencies and are then prepared to pay and get on enjoying life.
    We have 205,000 miles on our Cummins 8.3L 250 horsepower. We get all the necessary checkups and change oil every 5000 miles. If you take care of your engine, it should last hundreds of thousands of miles. We have not had any major problems so far. This year we replaced the Allison “brain” in our transmission in Connecticut (had to be towed to Allison) $3200 and just had to replace the fuel pump solenoid (near Gainesville, FL). Pete had a spare on board. So only $300 for Cummins service tech to come out and replace it.
    Moral: Keep your engine in good repair with checkups and proper oil changes. Carry spares: all belts, an alternator, whatever is unique to your coach and hard to get. Put money aside for emergency repairs AND have a good tow service. We use AAA RV Plus but there are many good services out there. All this is better insurance than an extended warranty.
    Connie B.

  12. We may be wimps, but we did buy the extended warranty, originally from Star. When that expired we went to Good Sam’s CSP. Yeah, it cost us bucks, but nearly every problem we’ve had has been very well covered, even some things we didn’t know would be covered. Peace of mind is worthwhile, paying it up front, we know what we’re buying and how much it will be. Since we don’t keep a running tab of our costs in front of our eyes at all times, we can’t really compare the difference. It also helps to have a very cooperative and creative RV Service Manager working with us! And we have a great guy. He’s young and we’ll stop driving before he stops servicing.

  13. Connie B. again.
    I might point out that our RV is a 1993. The chassis and engine are from 1992. The replacement of the “brain” in the Allison transmission was the first problem in 17 years with the transmission. And the reason for the “brain” problem was fluctuating voltage due to probable corrosion of the wires. Who knows how long the “brain” would have lasted except for the problem? The fuel pump solenoid was also 17 years old. So we are very happy with the longevity of parts.

  14. NICK: Do you have an insurance policy on your motor home and tow? How about health insurance. . . wouldn’t you appreciate having that at an affordable price? That’s what an “extended warranty” or continuing service agreement is on your motor home: an insurance policy. As with any other type of insurance, there are many typesand service/price ranges. Should you decide that such a policy is appropriate for you and Terry, be sure to select one that is regulated by your state of residency as well as being an “exclusionary” policy rather than an “inclsionary” one. There are various other items worth serious consideration. I might suggest you attend a class on the subject such as I have taught at Life on Wheels with you in the past as well as at your own Gypsy Journal rallys. Of course, I’m always available to be of help. As always, oRV

  15. NICK: A minor correction to my post above: the place where I stated “regulated in your state of residency” should have read “regulated by its state board of equalization or other appropriate state reglator”. As always, oRV

  16. On 2 of my last 3 cars, I bet with the warranty company and won on 2. The first paid over $1,800 on repairs and the truck I have now had the front end completely rebuilt. Insurance paid for it. Both payments were in excess of the premium.
    It only takes one “woops” for the extended warranty to pay for it’s self. With the expense of repair to an engine/transmission or computer system, I’d gamble and buy it.

  17. “NO” to extended warranties. Put that money in the bank for a rainy day. My coach was built in Dec. 1997 and I have had no major problems. Preventive maintenance is the key. I have done the upgrades to keep all current as I intend to keep this coach for many years to come. Beaver/Patriot, w/CAT.

  18. Nick,

    We have an 04 Dutch Star with a cummins engine with less then 31,000 miles. Our turbocharger went out and was not covered by warranty. We had the work done at Cummins and were told the warranty was five years. We don’t have any extended warranty.

  19. We have a 06 phaeton..we really debated the warranty…and then decided to go with it…and we are glad we did we’ve had 2 jacks & the inverter all needed to be replaced.
    It’s already paid for itself (X-tra Ride) is the name of the company…you really need to read the fine print…but look at it this way…..you’re taking your home down the road and 60mph and there are a lot of things that can go wrong with motorhomes…we’ve paid apprx $2000 and they have paid out $3600. and we still have 2 years to go….We feel it was very worth it…and Jake is pretty mechanical and can fix a lot of things himself, like water heater, some electrical’…..If we would ever buy another one…we buy it again.
    Nancy & Jake

  20. Most have said the engine has 100000 mile warranty, which is probably true, however the manufacturer puts a time frame in to, which is usually 5 years. So if you burn the road up you’ll get your 100000 warranty in, in your 5 years. Good luck in your decision, I can’t make my mind up either, I figure if I wait long enough the decision will be made for me, no one will offer it on my old POC.

  21. We bought new a 2002 Winnebago Journey Diesel Pusher from a dealer in North West Indiana. They sold us the RV Shield Policy (Hertiage TPA) at a reasonable price. Needless to say, we used it quite a few times for the jacks, slides, and alternator with no problems about them paying. One time, the alternator went bad again, and my husband replaced it only to find out Hertiage would not pay, as we did not take it to a qualified service center. (Even though my son in law is a certified diesel mechanic). But in April 2008, our air conditioner compressor went out and we played hell getting paid. I called the dealership where we bought the policy, Ohio Attorney General and my lawyer. I was told by OH Attorney General they (Hertiage) were not in good standing and I might not get my money back. Our bill was $1578.09, which Hertiage would only pay $641.59( which we received the check on Oct. 15, 2008. After all the hassle, I decided we were lucky to just get what we got. Now we have the GOOD SAM RV policy and am glad we have not had to use it. BUT I SHOULD MENTION, THAT IT IS A SHAME THAT THE MONEY WE PAY FOR THESE UNITS, THAT WE SHOULD HAVE SO MUCH GO WRONG………WHAT HAPPEN TO QUALITY WORKMANSHIP AND PRIDE. THE MARKUP ON THESE RV’S IS AT LEAST 75%. (FROM AN RV DEALER FRIEND OF THE FAMILY WHO RETIRED YEARS AGO). Maybe the factories should sell direct to the customer! We have looked at new coaches, but we keep going back to the fact our coach is still in good shape (60,000 miles) and well maintained, so why be foolish and waste the money as the depreciation is so so great! We may need that money for repairs to this one later on down the road.

  22. Hi Nick….haven’t read every single comment on the warranty issue, but here is my take. The whole point of insurance (warranties are essentially insurance policies) is to transfer risk for large financial risk to someone else (an insurance company). You pay a “premium” and the 3rd party assumes the risk. You retain a small risk, such as a deductible, and the 3rd party assumes the rest. Many people do look upon buying insurance as a “bet”, or in some cases an “investment”, but what you are really doing is buying peace of mind. If you buy insurance it is because you know you cannot absorb the total cost of, say, replacing your diesel engine, or transmission, etc. These are “big ticket” items, just like your car…in some cases they may cost more than a compact car to replace. Obviously, the key to the whole thing is the insurance carrier, and the policy language. A few bad actors give the whole industry a bad name. I’m sure you never thought of the fire insurance you bought to cover your home as a bet, but a sound financial decision to protect your investment against catastrophic loss…you were buying financial peace of mind. All that being said, I have only bought extended vehicle warranties twice in all the years I have owned vehicles. I have always insured those vehicles for physical damage coverage (fire, theft, collision, etc.).

    That’s my 2 cents, and I’m sticking to it…LOL!


  23. We do have an Extended Warranty service agreement for our 2006 HR-Endeavor. In 2006 it cost us $2500 for 7 years or 70,000 miles with a $200 deductible. This agreement is with Prism Administrative Solutions Inc. So far we are pleased with this company, just this last August we needed to have our front roof AC unit replaced and all we paid was the deductible. We also have had a couple other small issues in which they have come through for us. All in all we feel the Extended Warranties are worth the Peace of Mind.

  24. I think the ext warranty decision can relate to the quality of the product. For example, my wife and I bought a Keystone Cougar 5ver (not ‘rated” for fultiming) and fulltimed for five years putting over 100K miles on it. The extended warranty was a real blessing and we got our money’s worth several times over. The 5ver served us well, as did the warranty.

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