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Mach 8 air conditioner failures – What can RVers do?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A few weeks ago we asked readers if they’d had problems with their Coleman Mach 8 air conditioners. We asked because we’d heard through social media networks of an increasing number of disgruntled Mach 8 owners. Plenty of feedback came in, some of which we’ll share here. We also contacted Airxcel, the holding company of Coleman-Mach, the company that manufactures the Mach 8 units that have suffered what seems like an alarming number of air conditioner failures.

Readers tell us

“We lost one of our a/c units this summer on a trip, a week after it went out of warranty. It just stopped cooling, blowing hot air,” wrote Laura Y. Somehow Laura got Airxcel to agree to extend the warranty long enough to get it to a service technician. “We are now due a new unit from Airxcel under warranty but, there are no units to be had. Patiently waiting and praying the front unit does not go bad.”

Laura has every reason to pray that her front unit holds up. Plenty of our readers had tales of multiple Mach 8 air conditioner failures. Jim D. has a motorhome with three Coleman units up on the roof – and all three failed. The first a/c went bad while his Tiffin motorhome was still under warranty. Jim tells us that Tiffin had so many Coleman air conditioner failures among its customers that they had stocked up on replacements. Under Jim’s service contract, Tiffin went ahead and replaced the other two Coleman units on his coach. Test-firing the replaced units, one of them croaked after a 15-minute run.

Jim’s experience should have prepared us for the story Chuck H. told us. “We purchased our new Thor Vegas last November. The a/c went out while undergoing orientation. Yes, before we drove it off the lot. While waiting on the replacement we’ve made a couple of trips during ‘cool enough’ weather, but had to postpone all trips this summer. Not what we’d planned, for sure.”

Blown travel plans

Mach 8 air conditioner failures also blew up travel plans for other RVers. “Our Coleman Mach 8 a/c unit in our ten-month-old Grand Design travel trailer died in early June,” says Rick W. “It is under warranty, but have been waiting nine weeks now for a replacement they say they don’t have. We live in Florida and have had to cancel four excursions to date that we had booked with friends.” His words echo those of Len S. When his front roof a/c gave up the cooling ghost, he haunted multiple RV repair shops in a vain search for a solution. He wrote, “Unfortunately for me and the many others in the same predicament there are no available units. I’ve been told that it’s a wait of one year or more for any units to become available. I now have an $80,000 boat anchor in storage.”

We could go on – there are plenty more experiences where these came from. Needless to say, there are plenty of frustrated, fed-up folks who’ve experienced the Coleman Mach 8 air conditioner failure syndrome. We reached out to Airxcel, Coleman Mach 8’s “mama.”

So we asked Airxcel

We asked Piar Adams, Airxcel’s vice-president of marketing, about what seems like a high level of his company’s a/c units losing their cool. Adams was quick to point out that Airxcel “does not produce or manufacture any products – it is a holding company of brands.” He did, however, agree to dig deeper into the problem.

We asked about the percentage of failed units compared to the number the company has shipped out. While we didn’t expect we’d get an exact figure back, here’s what we were told. “While I cannot provide specific warranty data I can share that our warranty units and dollars as a percent of shipments have decreased year-over-year for the last five years running,” Adams responded. “That is good news, but we take each warranty case seriously and rather than tie it to a metric, we empathize with our customer and relate to their situation and the urgency to resolve the problem.”

“Our warranty units and dollars as a percent of shipments have decreased ….” That’ll be a tough one to swallow, especially for Mach 8 owners who’ve had multiple units fail. One perhaps jaded observer wrote about this response. “They might be playing a numbers game. If the number of failed units has not increased, but warranty claims have, then more failures occur earlier, in the warranty period.” He added, “That would also support what you are seeing – people are more upset with early failures than they are with after-many-year s***-the-bed’s.” That thought may be supported by folks whose units fail minutes after the first start-up.

“Supply challenges”

Regardless of whether the number of units failing is increasing or decreasing, the result for those suffering air conditioner failures is real. It’s also frustrating. Asked about the seemingly “forever” wait to get replacement units, Airxcel’s Adams responded this way: “To be direct, we’ve had significant supply challenges recently. We know this is becoming a common response throughout the general economy, and specifically with the RV industry – but it is true.”

Piar added, “The Mach 8 is further challenged because it uses a number of unique components. Other models of Coleman-Mach roof top ACs are not experiencing the same, time-delaying challenges.” He added Airxcel may not hear about a shortage of components until the day the parts are due at the factory. “Under normal circumstances our expectation is to ship warranty units within 24 hours.” Evidently, expectations aren’t quite meeting reality – what with some folks being told they’ll be waiting for weeks or months for a replacement unit.

Wait times aside, what’s causing the problems to start with? We’ve had several readers send us photos of their broken Mach 8 units. Included among them were images of broken copper tubing supply lines. We sent one of the photos to Airxcel’s Piar Adams, and asked about it. Response?

“We analyze our warranty incidences regularly and execute root cause analysis as needed for product improvements. In this particular case, while the components and product performance metrics are within specifications and tolerances, we identified some areas where improvements could be made,” says Adams. “As we analyze data across the entire Mach 8 line … we are not seeing consistent failures at a rate that suggests there is a systemic issue or failure. We are, however, pursuing improvements but I hesitate to be specific because there are different component variables that may affect one Mach 8 model differently than another Mach 8 model.” It may be our education level, but we’re not sure if that answer really gets us anywhere.

What’s the solution for overheated RVers?

Does Airxcel really know what the problem is? We’re not sure. Will they have it fixed soon? Maybe Airxcel’s “pursuit of improvements … [among the] different component variables” of Mach 8’s line will lead them to some solution. Sad to say, we’re not holding our breath. What’s the solution for overheated RV owners with Mach 8 air conditioner failures?

Much depends on whether your failed unit is under warranty. If it is, and you’ve already documented the failure and applied for a replacement unit, you may be stuck waiting in line. But for those whose Mach 8 units are kaput and out of warranty, it’s time to consider alternatives.

Mach 8 units are described as “low profile,” as their height above the RV roof level is pretty short. Airxcel specs their height at 8.25 inches. That’s the shortest RV roof air unit we’ve found. Chubby Checker in “Limbo Rock” asked that repeated question in the chorus: “How low can you go?” Better we should ask: “How low do you NEED to go?”

Can you go higher?

If your rig is typical for many with Mach 8 units, it stands fairly high above the roadway. Having a low profile a/c unit keeps you from “bumping your head” on low-slung overpasses. But we’ve noticed that some folks, even with low-profile a/c units, have other stuff on their roof that stands higher than the a/c unit. Think of some automated RV satellite dishes. If you’ve got something that’s higher on your roof than the Mach 8 and you’ve successfully negotiated underpasses or storage shelters, maybe you can go a bit higher with your a/c.

In terms of legalities, most states have a 13’ 6” height limit for RVs. On interstates, you’re generally good up to 16’, as that’s the lowest any typical overpass height can be. You’re experiences will vary, of course, so watch for signs! Get off the interstate, and urban and rural highway overpasses should be no less than 14’ without being marked.

How high are you – and how does it matter?

So how tall is your RV? Don’t rely on the information provided by your rig’s manufacturer. Many use roofline-to-pavement as their “measuring stick.” Vents, a/c units, and other attachments aren’t included in their height measurements. Get outside with a tape measure and determine your height on your own. Be sure to measure to the highest point on the rig. Write down that measured height on a tag and post it in plain view of the driver.

If you can add a little bit more to your a/c height, then there are plenty of a/c units that are presently marketed as being “in stock.” For example, Dometic’s Penguin II 15,000 btu roof air unit (on Amazon) specs in at 11 ¼” inches. That’s just 3” taller than the “failed” Mach 8. RecPro’s Houghton 13,500 btu a/c unit (on Amazon) claims to stand a mere 8 13/16” high above the roof. It, too, is “in stock.”

If you decide to shop for another a/c unit to replace your Mach 8, be clear on both the btu rating, and how the air is distributed inside your RV. Not all brands provide for “ducted” air, that is, where chilled air is blasted through a duct-work rather than directly into the room below the a/c unit. And, mind you, read the reviews. There are plenty of folks who aren’t happy with all of Dometic’s a/c units. Out of the ice box and into the fire? Maybe, but at this point, at least there’s a greater likelihood of getting a replacement unit if your “new” unit fails, compared to the wait times for Mach 8 air conditioner failures.

Related

For RVers, it’s not cool: Coleman a/c fails

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Vanessa Simmons
1 month ago

What a bunch of double speak gobbliegook from the Airxcel spokesperson!

BadWolfe
1 month ago

Thank you for a great article. We will be sure to remember this if and possibly when our Mach 8 causes trouble.

Robert Gray
1 month ago

The statement about higher profile units being “in stock” struck a cord with me. My Coleman Mach 10 failed this summer. There were plenty of websites that advertised replacements as in stock, but when I would try to order one they were suddenly “on back order”. I had the same problem with stores like Camping World. There wasn’t any brand low profile, or not available in the entire New England area. I was lucky enough to find a service company that had a used unit they would sell me with no warranty. I took a chance, and it has been working well since. Perhaps once you get past the apparent infant mortality they are more reliable.

C.P.
1 month ago

Chuck,
First, you are talking to the wrong person (Piar Adams, Airxcel’s vice-president of marketing). Keep in mind what his title is! His job is to promote their products and smooth over/downplay any issues. To get to the root cause of the failures, you need to get to their Technical / Parts gurus.
I retired from a major automotive corporation as a field service engineer. Service and Marketing don’t swap spit
SALES & MARKETING = SALES, LET SERVICE WORRY ABOUT THE PROBLEM

Drew
1 month ago

I’d just get a different brand- maybe even used. Waiting for a/c’s to come seems crazy. Maybe for a few hundred bucks you could change it to a different one, and life could go on.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

We have a Coleman ac unit in our 2012 Arctic Fox. I’ve been reading (for a while) about failures in Colman ac units. We were never able to determine which unit we had (while looking for a cover for the ac when we were parked at home). But here I see that the ac’s in question are low profile. Ours is NOT, by any stretch. And, while stuck in Houston last year for 7½ months, the ac ran for four months SOLID. It never turned off in that time. So, I guess we’re safe.

Montgomery D. Bonner
1 month ago

All – why put on roof, simple, cheaper installation/cheaper work place, easier to replace. In wall, in basement, hard to service, hard to replace. Winne tried this few years ago, quit after two years, too difficult to have it fixed, factory took beating on warranty issues.

Montgomery D. Bonner
1 month ago

All – Let’s make sure you get it, simple really. All the “greenies” demanded that environmental laws be strengthened, they were. That then in turn cause manfacturers to move production to SE Asia, because they have no environmental laws period, and cheaper costs. Now, you have people who never saw copper pipe, flux, solder, vacuum guages, freon (generic term for what is approved in US), plastic covers, etc before. Not only in RV ac units, it’s in every single appliance made today, home and other. Crap production, crap parts, and the consumer just takes it, as what choice do we have. You want this to change, change our government and regulations, otherwise, things are going to get worse. You can have good EV laws, and still produce it here. Stop paying people to sit on butt. Make them work and support themselves.

Ray
1 month ago

Agreed. The current glut of fully loaded container ships off the west coast is evidence of the shear increase in online orders made during the height of the pandemic. That’s going to delay any replacement air conditioners as well. It’s a train wreck and it’s going to take a while to get back on track. The US would do well to reclaim the production of products of a strategic nature, that it can make itself.

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

I keep “beating a dead horse” but why are the A/C units on top of the RV? Why not a built in A/C-Heating unit like your house or business? The little trailer that Tony tested yesterday had the window unit tucked safely into the wall, and LG is a lot better than a coleman A/C. Meanwhile, my Aliner popup has a built in Dometic Cool Cat Heat Pump.

David Lastoria
1 month ago

In the beginning, my Dometic 15,000 btu unit was a nightmare. What made it even worse was their warranty, and the warranty procedure. I went to Camping world in Little Rock. They deemed it bad, and needed a replacement unit, which they had in stock. Cool! …….not so easy. Dometic said ” oh, no! We will send you a replacement unit from Elkhart via LTL”….That will arrive in 2 weeks…smh…talk about inconvenience to the customer, and just plain senseless thinking on Dometic’s part. So, I ask them to send the replacement unit to the ( now closed) Camping world in Ohio, where I live. Because the warranty work order was opened in Little Rock, they can’t send the unit elsewhere….talk about being P.O’d…so far, years later, it’s been doing fine. So Dometic seems fine,, but their warranty and process is the worst. This is a standard height u. In my new van build, I really need a low profile unit, and was wanting a Coleman, but after what everyone is going through, no way!…lol.

Tim
1 month ago

I just set up my “new to me” 2019 Cardinal Limited fifth wheel and the front A/C quit.
Worked a few weeks ago at home. Time to investigate. I will have to get up on the roof and see what brand it is. It is definitely a low profile.

Mike McCormick
1 month ago

Great information for the Mach 8 problem. We have a 2016 Tiffin Phaeton, three 15,000 BTU AC/heat pumps ALL of which are bad. The first failed August of 2020, the second a month or two later, and the third a month after that. Replacement is covered by extended warranty however we have been waiting since August 2020 and our dealer, Wilkins RV cannot even get a date when new units may become available. Our extended warranty runs out March of 2022 and I doubt we will see the replacements by then. I have been assured all three will be covered even after March of 2022 but have some doubts.

I called Tiffin and was informed they have 200 brand new class A units they cannot sell as they cannot get air conditioners. I asked if they have another brand unit that would be compatible and was told none are compatible and Tiffin recommends waiting.

We are using portable floor AC units that vent through a hose out a window. The RV is barely usable often over 99 degrees with AC on.

Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike McCormick

Mike –

Your error is in using portable AC units that vent through “a hose in the window”. Any AC generates cold air and blows it into the living space. But then the unit must get rid of the heat that it pulled from the room, PLUS the heat generated by its own operation. This involves blowing air across an internal radiator (much like a car radiator) to absorb that heat, and then blowing that heated air outside. All good so far. But the question that matters is this. When the unit blows air across that radiator, where does that air come from? A real air conditioner, such as a window air conditioner in your home, uses outside air to do the cooling. Portable units can do this too, but it requires a second hose to bring in that outside air. Single-hose units use inside air to cool that radiator. In other words, they blow cool air into your room, but then use some of that air to cool the radiator, and blow it back outside. You end up with only about half the cooling. Get a two-hose unit!

brian j richards
1 month ago

We bought our new Salem Cruise Lite 263BHXL in October, 2020 Camping World in Jacksonville, FL. Yes we had issues, like most, right off the bat. Long story short, we got our unit back in March, 2021 and had 2 trips planned, 1 in June, 1 in July. Both sites at the campgrounds had no shade and our a/c struggled to keep up in the HOT Florida sun. We had another trip for August to the Florida panhandle, we live in Central Florida so we prepared prior by turning on the a/c to see if it was going to cool down, turned on the fridge for it to cool down, 12 volt only, and assorted other things. The a/c blew NOTHING BUT HOT AIR! We were totally ticked off and called Camping World in Summerfield, FL just down the road from our house. Was able to make an appointment to bring in the unit. From start to finish it was only 3 weeks from ordering a new Mach unit, not sure what model number it was, to getting our TT back and so far the new unit is working. All under warranty!