Why we Decided to stay put and what prompted us to rent our coach
As some of you know, we decided to get off the road around the time the pandemic hit. We were full time RV’rs for just about 3.5 years and loved it. Prior to Covid, we wintered in Tucson for the two years and discovered we really loved it here. We had talked about making Tucson our home base in September, renting a home and traveling in the summer. We started looking at rentals and found a casita apartment (free-standing apartment) that was available April 1. Due to the unknowns of the pandemic and our health conditions that made us high-risk, we decided to hunker down in Tucson for the summer and rented the casita.
What to do with the coach while we are renting an apartment became an issue
When we decided to pause full timing our coach was in the best condition it had been in since our purchasing it. Things were updated, and nothing was wrong except a front passenger slide-out room that had intermittent problems remembering to slide out or in. We didn’t want to sell the rig knowing we wanted to travel during the summer. But we needed to figure out a plan for the RV when we weren’t traveling.
We thought about finding a place to store the coach but RV storage is expensive in Tucson and very hard to come by. No place had openings when I checked. The Casita complex had no extra parking for recreational vehicles or boats.
The idea was hatched to rent the coach through outdoorsy but….
I read the successes and failures that this process brought through Outdoorsy. After reading the reviews, and the problems that doing this could bring. I knew I didn’t want to be prepping the coach before and after a rental. I had no experience with this; and what would I do if it broke down 200 miles from Tucson? Yes, I found out that insurance riders and other options were available to protect us. But it didn’t feel right and I didn’t want the burden of being the “landlord.”
Looking for a secondary alternative to storing the Coach
After nixing Outdoorsy, we began exploring companies that specialized in accepting consignment RV’s for rental. This was more attractive. You signed a contract with the company that would rent your recreational vehicle. They vetted the renters, offered the insurance or required an insurance rider on the renters own insurance policy. They assured us they would be able to rent it at least once a month, and we were hopeful that their care and the regular rentals would keep the RV in good condition, as well as help us make our payments.
The consignment rental company also had us empty the RV of everything personal including dishes, bedding etc. They in turn provided “packages” that included these things in addition to the rental fees should the renter want a carefree experience.
Consignment rentals also included regular walk around before renting to the renter and after the RV is returned to insure that any damage was found and repaired quickly on the renters insurance.
Mechanical issues were a different animal. These would be addressed by the rental agency who would facilitate the repairs but we would be responsible for the repair costs including labor and parts. This was an option that I thought I could live with because the coach was in such great shape. I didn’t anticipate what followed.
AS an admitted perfectionist I didn’t anticipate what happened next
I am a perfectionist, when I fix something I pay attention to detail. I learn from past mistakes and do my utmost to avoid them again. Our coach was gone through with a fine tooth comb, it was in great shape (I thought).
Our First Rental
So what happened? About a month after dropping the coach off, the first rental was scheduled and when the renters got there, the rental company discovered that the television lift would not extend upwards fully. A call to me talked them through using the wired remote to get the lift to work during this rental.
When we dropped the RV off and did a walk-through with the staff, we informed them that loss of power to the lift would erase the pre-programmed extension of the lift. They assured us that the RV batteries would remain charged and that they would ensure that power wasn’t lost while the RV with sitting. They admitted that during the absence of staff at the rental company during the first surge of Covid, our coach batteries were not being charged as promised. This failure depleted our batteries (five year old at the time). After them admitting not charging them during their absence from their physical business place, they checked the batteries for electrolyte levels, topped them off and recharged appropriately. they charged back up to a resting voltage of 14.4 volts. The problem was resolved (we thought).
Our Second (almost) Rental
After this fiasco, a second rental was scheduled. During the preparation of our coach for this rental it was found that the slides would not operate (an hour before the renter arrived). Not one of the four slides would come out. The renter was redirected to another RV. And an RV Tech was dispatched to trouble shoot the problem. He checked the controllers and they would not operate because no voltage was present. None of the four operated. The rental company had tried to operate the rooms using battery power.
The tech found the batteries down in charge but not completely discharged so he again started charging the batteries. This told me that the whole time was at the rental place, it was not plugged into shore power as promised. No trickle charging at all as far as I can determine.
What is going on?
The RV tech decided to see if the rooms would operate using our generator. This time they worked but the power to the controllers was abruptly cut off when the Generator shut down. This happened on multiple occasions with multiple tries. After almost two weeks with the RV being out of service, the RV Tech still could not correctly diagnose the problem so, the rental company decided that the coach needed to go to La Mesa RV in Phoenix for further analysis and repair. Once there, it was found that the generator problem was more complex. It required a new water pump, belts, and new breaker switch. The abrupt shut down was caused by the generators heat cut-off switch which sensed the unit’s overheat condition and turned it off prior to damage.
The required parts took three weeks to obtain and another week to schedule the repair. La Mesa staff also found that our five year old batteries were done; they hadn’t been maintained (something I did religiously). I had no choice at this point but to agree to a complete change our of all six deep cycle batteries along with the generator repair. I know the generator’s age was a contributing factor to the broken parts; however, I also believe that my weekly maintenance kept things lubricated inside and out of the gens set and if that had been kept up, the problem might not have occurred, or at least would have been found out during PM, not during prep for a rental.
La Mesa tried the slide-outs and all of them worked when it left their shop. They concluded that the slide-out issue was due to insufficient voltage from the depleted batteries. The one thing they didn’t check that I told the RV rental company about prior to the unit being taken to La Mesa was that the passenger slide hand an intermittent problem that I believed was a wiring issue in the storage bay. This was not checked.
The repair bill for these two items was over $3000 in total.
What happened next?
The 2nd – second rental was scheduled. During these pre-rental checks it was found that the passenger slide was inoperative.
Well duh! Go figure (I did tell them).
Once again the rental was aborted, an RV Tech brought in and he found and rewired the problem per my previous instructions and admission that there was an intermittent problem. I even told them specifically where it located. I haven’t been billed for this yet.
Third time is the charm? sadly, nope!
When a third rental was finally scheduled, the pre-rental check revealed that all of the slide out rooms worked, the batteries were in good condition and charged fully and properly. The generator went on line and was operating properly without thermal cut off.
The renters took off on their adventure and on the second day of their trip Murphy’s law kicked in yet again. Yep, they come in threes folks!
what the hell happened this time?
The coach overheated this time. Mind you, temperatures from Phoenix southward were in the low triple digits during this attempted rental.
The renter diligently (I’m assured) pulled over and allowed the coach to cool before resuming the trip, but the problem reoccurred. This time he shut off the engine, called the rental agency and the coach had to be towed back to Phoenix (yes, they disconnected the drive shaft). It was towed back to the rental agency and then from there to a diesel repair shop in Phoenix.
After the RV sat for a week or two, the repair shop finally test drove the unit. It took them two long test drives (at $$$ per hour) to diagnose that one of the two engine radiator thermostats was bad. Parts were ordered promptly, but some of the parts took nearly three weeks to arrive due to Covid having the supply chain heavily bogged down. Once repaired, the rental company collected the rig and test drove it themselves to insure the unit is fixed. This repair cost a bit over $650.
The overheat problem just boggles me.
In the summer of 2019 we had our own overheat problems. We were in Iowa near Des Moines when we experienced severe overheating problems. I had to drop to third gear and under 40 mph to give the radiator fan enough speed to cool the radiator and inter-cooler. We took the rig to a Freightliner dealer and they found an immense pile of debris wedged in between the inter-cooler and radiator presumably a pack rat nest.
That repair cost for this was $2000+ for removal of both the inter-cooler and radiator all the hoses and belts for steam cleaning the two radiators and replacement. At that time we had belts, hoses and thermostats replaced. I can’t help but wonder if they truly replaced the thermostats.
Is renting our coach worth it?
If you have read this far, you already know that the answer is most likely no. Almost $4000 dollars in repairs against $675 dollars worth of rental income.
Would these problems have occurred during my care? Yes, no, maybe? The coach is a high quality 2005 Newmar, with a reliable Freightliner chassis and a Caterpillar 350 HP engine. It shouldn’t have experienced all of these problems. The slide-out rooms problem was one of wiring issues, battery issues and generator problems. These may have all occurred under my care. They may not have. I am meticulous in my care for this vehicle. Almost to the point of obsession.
My opinion is that if the coach had remained in a trickle charged condition the batteries should have easily lasted another year. It did not.
Exercising the generator may have prevented the eventual need to replace the water pump gasket from drying and cracking and leaking (this is what clued the tech that the generator had a problem. exercising the generator would not have helped the impellor on the pump from deteriorating, this is an aging issue.
I also told them of the intermittent passenger front slide from the very beginning when we dropped it off. They did nothing to resolve the problem until months later.
our view on the pro’s and con’s of letting a consignment rental company manage your rv for rental – And Questions to ask prior to entering an agreement to rent your RV.
PROS: Marketing, renting, storing, maintaining and inspecting the RV is out of your hands. When things go right, this is a blessing.
CONS: Marketing, renting, storing, maintaining and inspecting the RV is out of your hands. When things go wrong, all you can do is stand by and watch in horror.
- For references from other RV owners.
- For records of maintenance being done.
- For detailed information about how they handle repairs and insurance claims.
We want your feedback
I would like your opinion. What would you do? Would you leave your RV in a rental agency’s care hoping to recoup some or all of cost of owning an RV or perhaps covering your payments? Please leave a comment in the comment section. We will post up your opinion using only your first name in our next blog post.