Last month, RVtravel.com reader Peggy E. read an article we published in 2021. The story was how RVers were being affected by an illegal emissions control scheme cooked up by Mercedes-Benz for Sprinter vans. While the company never admitted guilt, they did settle the matter, which alleged the company had installed emissions devices that made it appear their rigs were EPA complaint. Mercedes agreed to replace emissions equipment of affected vehicles. Peggy’s Winnebago Era was one of those affected by the Mercedes recall. Technically, this isn’t a “recall” but a settlement, but for ease we’ll use the term “recall.” Regardless of what you call it, Peggy was having big problems, and wrote a plaintive post on the RVtravel.com website.
“If I do the fix, my RV will no longer be an RV”
Peggy’s 2014 Era was built on a 2013 Mercedes Sprinter chassis. She knew she was having trouble when her Check Engine Light kept coming on, and her rig would go into “limp” mode. When she took the rig to the local dealer for the Mercedes recall, the dealer told her that essentially, when the recall was completed, her self-contained RV would no longer be. How’s that? The dealer said that part of the emissions system was routed around the RV’s holding tanks. To perform the recall work, those tanks would have to be removed, and that after the work was completed, the tanks could NOT be reinstalled. “If I do the fix, my RV will no longer be an RV,” Peggy wrote. “No usable toilet, shower or sinks. Anyone else have this scenario? I don’t know what to do.”
Peggy had already turned to the dealer that sold her the Era Class B unit—Camping World. After contacting someone in the Mercedes organization, the friendly folks at Camping World said there was nothing they could do. The bewildered RVer had already been told that removing the tanks would set her back between Five and Eight Thousand Dollars.
When Peggy appealed to Winnebago’s Owner Assistance group, she was brusquely told that hers was not a Winnebago issue. Maybe, the representative said, she could get help from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. That agency bounced her to the Federal Trade Commission. After a long ordeal of filling out the FTC’s online complaint form, she got to the bottom and found out the agency couldn’t help individuals like her. If there were enough complaints, then maybe, just maybe, they could do something.
Keep paying until the Mercedes recall can be done
Peggy found herself “in the soup.” Not only was her Winnie her RV, it was also her daily driver—she had no other vehicle to rely on. She was also sitting on the loan she took out to buy the RV. She was understandably upset, and felt she had no way out. The only way to keep her rig going until the Mercedes recall was completed was to pay the Mercedes dealership $200 to reset her rig’s computer every time it went into limp mode.
RVtravel.com is “well-connected”
What’s an RVer to do? We think she took a good step in contacting us. It was, admittedly, a problem we’d never heard of. Happily, we have a well-connected group of writers. One of them reached out to Winnebago. Yep, they’d heard from Peggy. And sorry, nope, it wasn’t something that Winnie could help with. But the next call, this time to a higher-up in the Mercedes-Benz organization, yielded some hope. While the Mercedes representative had never heard of a situation where a holding tank system couldn’t be reinstalled, he said he’d look into it.
It wasn’t long before the call came back. The big van building company said it would pay for the Mercedes recall. Further, they’d pay the recalcitrant dealer to either remove the tanks, or would shoulder the costs of doing so. The dealer Peggy had been dealing with near her home was Walser Mercedes-Benz of Wichita, Kansas. But when Mercedes corporate called Walser and asked them take on the tanks, the answer was a flat “No tanks!”
Since the Wichita dealer wouldn’t budge, the next closest cooperative Mercedes dealer was in Kansas City—a three-hour drive from Peggy’s home. Again, her Era was her only set of wheels. So, Mercedes said it would pick up Peggy’s ailing Era and transport it to Kansas City, have the work done, and then tote it back home. Meanwhile, Mercedes would pick up the tab for a rental car as long as the RV was away from home. Total cost for the Mercedes recall work to Peggy? Zero dollars.
“Friends in high places”
Peggy says she got a call about all of this in mid-June. “I received a call from the Mercedes liaison, Joshua, today,” she relates. “He said I must have friends in high places because due to that ‘higher up’ guy you contacted, Mercedes is willing to help me out.” We’re thrilled that Mercedes has done the right thing for Peggy, and we’re just happy that the folks at RVtravel.com were able to have a hand in it. We’re not equipped with a “magic wand,” but sometimes we can rattle the right cages and get things moving.
If you have a seemingly insurmountable RV problem, like Peggy did, let us know. We might be able to help you out.