Friday, September 17, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021

Frustrating shortages continue: Broken AC, no new units to buy and no parts for fixing

Our air conditioner had been working on and off for a few months. Well, actually, it hasn’t been working well since it was brand-new three years ago. But, just like taking a car to get serviced, the on/off problem stopped as soon as it was at the RV service department. I think they stared it into submission.

Finally, it started making a huge clunking, grinding noise as soon as the fan was turned on. Didn’t even get to the compressor kicking in before we had to shut it off. My husband investigated and, yup, the wheel package blower (commonly called squirrel cage) was in several pieces and the motor shaft was spinning wildly out of tune. Thank you Dave Solberg for your sleuthing advice.

OK, we knew the problem and just needed to buy new parts for it. Well, there were no parts to be found. No new AC units, either, and we have an extended warranty! We called several dealers, RV repair shops and the manufacturer and found nothing in stock and nothing to order.

Used RV parts

Finally, one of the RV repair shops called back and said they had a relatively new Coleman Air Conditioner that had a bad compressor. They told us we could buy the used blower fan and motor. Guess that air conditioner is now toast.

Buying used parts from a broken air conditioner seemed risky. Perhaps it might be easier to just burn the money as to do the work to install the parts…

We gave up the search and bought the used parts. They actually looked a lot newer than what we had.

We installed them and they work better than ever!

What is happening to parts?

Short answer: Because of COVID, fewer parts were being produced. When parts were produced, international shipping couldn’t happen: Transportation avenues and shipping were delayed and, in some cases, non-existent. If a shipping container can’t find space on a vessel or even a vessel to transport, no parts or very few parts actually ship.

Double ordering

Much like the self-fulfilling toilet paper shortages that came about as a result of shortage fears, dealers and manufacturers anticipating a surge and/or delays, pre-ordered and sometimes ordered double. Ordering double won’t help if the parts can’t be manufactured or shipped, though…

Too rosy a picture from the RVIA?

The RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) paints a rosy picture of meeting RV sales demands (up more than 75% in 2021) and supply chain issues.

“What our member companies have accomplished over the past year has been incredible,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “They have continued to find solutions to meet the growing demand for RVs. The proof is in the numbers. Month after month, our members have built a record number of RVs, proving their ability to address and mitigate the various supply chain issues they have faced.

“The RV industry is not unique in having to face supply chain issues over the past year. Nearly every industry has significant supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic. But the RV industry is unique in its ability to succeed in the face of these challenges.” 

Hmmm…

For the hundreds of people waiting for their new RVs, air conditioners, furniture, door knobs or for the other hundreds waiting for a single part – the RV industry does not appear to be succeeding in the face of the challenges.

##RVT1015

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Mike A Schwab
19 days ago

Had my rooftop A/C die after 10 years. Getting by with a portable A/C in the shower to drain the condensation and a hose to exhaust the hot air.

bwodom
19 days ago
Reply to  Mike A Schwab

Same here. Had an awful noise suddenly appear, had it “fixed.” Had another problem and had the unit replaced. We are scheduled to leave tomorrow for a volunteer commitment, and the rig is in the driveway with water running out of the vent! Repairman said to bring it back. We said — not! This time you can come to us. Still waiting. Got the portable A/C going and will try a mobile repair service when we arrive at our destination.

Seriously considering this as our last outing. Between reservation issues, repair issues, et al. RVing is becoming less and less enjoyable.

Drew
20 days ago

The root of the problem is that we make nothing here anymore- and even if we did, we might still be faced with a population that doesn’t work anymore. These problems last nearly forever. We made our bed so now we sleep in it. Learn as much as you can about everything you own and try to fix it yourself. Sorry, there has to be a culture change but like other things it won’t happen either. Buckle down-it can get worse.

Joe
20 days ago
Reply to  Drew

Totally agree with you! For the life of me I cannot figure out why we let our adversaries solely produce products that can bring our country to it’s knees. Just look at the electronic chip production, yesterday I saw a photo of thousands of Ford trucks sitting in the parking lot at a Kentucky speedway waiting for chips. Greed has pushed the production off shore!

Alain T.
20 days ago
Reply to  Joe

If not, you and many more would probably be the first to complain about markets falling, shares dropping of so-called american companies who all have their production in asia to maintain greedy results of your 401K’s, etc. Sad to say, the american way has now become making a quick buck on someone else’s hard work and then complain they don’t work hard enough to keep your profits coming in. Have to wonder which generation started this in the 80’s and 90’s to live the good life… !!

Joe
19 days ago
Reply to  Alain T.

Actually Alain most of my stocks are companies that the products are made in America, I would say around % 85-90. Those stocks have done rather well however 1 or 2 did take a slight hit with the Trump tariffs. One of my best stocks over the last several years has been Thor Industries and boy has that one been paying off for the last 2 years or so.

Alain T.
19 days ago
Reply to  Joe

Great to hear! Good quality american-made products do seem to pay off, as we read week after week in this and other websites about Thor, Forest River and more Us-based RV products. Isn’t it great…”I rest my case your honor”. ‘Nough said from my side, have a great day, and keep on living the dream!

Robin Kelly
20 days ago

As in everything else shortage of this and that in all aspects of our lives like cars, RVs, food parts for anything, construction materials. The list goes on and on and on. People we are witnessing the beginnings of Socialism. Don’t believe me? Look at Venezuela.

I rest my case.

Tommy Molnar
20 days ago
Reply to  Robin Kelly

Yup.

Thomas D
20 days ago

When looking for an ac part like a fan motor or blade, check out Graingers. Motors are pretty much universal and usually not made to one manufacturer s oem specs.
They also have a variety of blades.
And there are salvage yards. Just last week they showed how many rv’s that rolled or tipped over now junk.. I looked at Colaws .com and you can get parts and salvage appliances from them. Lots of options if you look rather than take a dealers word for it.

Joe
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas D

You beat me to the punch!
Years ago Grangers saved me with a squirrel cage fan! Their’s was metal and not plastic and perfectly balanced. One from Coleman was 1-2 weeks (we were moving on in 4 days), Grangers had it for me in 2 days using expedited shipping something Coleman would not do.

George C
20 days ago

Ran into a similar issue when the toilet seat on our Dometic-Sealand decided to separate from the hinge bracket. Easy to find the part number and identify any number of vendors, all of whom listed it as “back-ordered”. One strung us along for 10 days with “arriving any day now” messaging, in anticipation of selling us a $157(!!!) part. Temporary repair with Gorilla Tape holding up just fine.

But this is one area that I won’t be looking for a used replacement…

PS: I wonder how much these RV supply issues are caused by manufacturers intentionally designing parts that are different than traditional residential ones, just to be able to charge more for RV-specific parts?

robert gardner
19 days ago
Reply to  George C

WE found a replacement for our Sealand toilet seat at Walmart for about 1/4 the price!

Susan J Lundquist
17 days ago
Reply to  George C

Exact same problem. 2nd seat for our 2000 Class A. Nothing available at RV shops, RV online parts, Lowes, or Home Depot (or the many small Ace and independent hardware stores we checked out in Texas, AZ and CA). Finally found a new soft close seat online that fits our older round toilet. Solid wood and metal hardware. Should last another 20 years…

John Massengale
20 days ago

I can relate to the AC problem, I have an Onan generator that I have been trying to get fixed since April. Hopefully it will finally happen next week.

Bob M
20 days ago

They claim one of the shipping ports in China is closed because an employee had/has Covid. They also said the US ports are backed up and the cost of shipping the containers has gone up drastically. I’m not impressed with RVIA when I hear on the different RV owners group issues with Quality, fabrication, Assembly and parts / materials put in RV’s with their Seal. As a retired inspector my reputation was on the product which had my inspection stamp and number.

Donald N Wright
20 days ago

I have listened to RV technicians, A/C’s, heaters, pumps and electronics are not built to be repaired. Stacks of broken units next to the dumpster, they cannot get parts, and they are not allowed to use parts salvaged from other broken units. I wish there was an RV wrecking yard where they disassembled RV’s, and stored the reusable parts in a warehouse.Maybe Camping world should build one, it would be profitable.

Jesse Crouse
20 days ago

From a Plumbing/HVAC guy. When I see a 2nd hand unit I see a possible solution for a good long term customer. If I salvage parts and use them I tell my customer where they come from. I have to charge something for my time and expertise to salvage them and get someone out of an EMERGENCY. Do what you have to do when you got to do it.

Diane K
20 days ago

There are RV salvage yards around the country. I have purchased and been to Colaw Salvage and Sales in Missouri and West Coast RV Recycling and Sales in Washington. They are out there just have to track them down.

tom
20 days ago

RVIA job puts the “lip stick on the pig”. His position is to “sell” RV’s and the lifestyle, not keep them rolling. It is going to get worse, and probably never return to pre-Covid days.

Jim Thomas
20 days ago

They ARE succeeding because their goal is to sell RVs, not to service or support them after the sale.

Dan
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim Thomas

True. And that makes them part of the problem. It’s pretty short sighted to not promote better service in their industry.

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