Posted by: cstrohmeyer | August 27, 2010

Siskiyou RV & Onan Review; RV Quality and Maintenance Issues

RV Quality and Maintenance Issues; Dealers such as Siskiyou RV
Updated 7/26/12

I am/was the owner of a 28 foot Winnebago Class C of which I am the original owner since 1992.
Although many components of the Winnebago Coach could have been either better designed or better placed in the coach, I am generally quite happy with the Winnebago aspect of my RV.

The problem has been the after market care of the two aspects that have been a lemon since day one;
The Ford Chassis and the Onan Generator.

With the Ford Chassis, we have replaced the CPU four times, the exhaust system has been repaired 3 times, the fuels system has had many problems, & the Dash Air was repaired 3 times and in fact I just totally had the AC replaced and the local repair shop noted that the last Ford dealer used “putty” to make a repair that did not last one year.
I should note that this is the first time I used this shop (AutoSmith), but I was impressed with their service unlike Bridge Street Auto which I later found from others that my terrible experience was not unusual.
The Transmission has been a nightmare since day one with Ford giving me “the run around” from day one as well. We have had transmission problems on about 80% of trips since the day we have owned this RV.
On a positive note, since I started using the Lucas Transmission treatment 3 years ago, our problems have lessened.

The Onan Generator (emerald 4000) has been even worse; this junk lemon generator is noisy (it could wake the dead) and has constantly broken down.
We have taken this generator to authorized dealers dating back to our very first trip. These dealers could not correct the problems (generally mechanical, not so much electrical). Admittedly it appears that I just got a “bad one” from talking to others or just camping by others with Onan Generators (that were much more quiet).

One such trip was when my son was very young, where he had to be on a machine 24/7 that monitored him and keep his stomach pumped (he was born very ill and the first year of his life was very difficult on the entire family, so getting away on a camping trip that was OKd by his Doctor was very important), well although the inverter worked beautifully, the generator once again failed, so without it our trip was over and quick return home was required.
SADLY, Onan did not answer the letter I sent after this trip asking about help for our lemon generator.

Later we finally found one authorized repair shop some distance from home about 15 years ago and even he stated that we could not figure out why the RV industry uses the Onan Generator versus the better Generators such as the Koeler that he felt were better built.
After we moved I have yet to find a good repair shop to keep up with the constant break downs of our generator.
I should note that I have followed ALL recommended service schedules from day one with my generator and this includes running it every month with a load (either the roof AC or an electric heater).

2010 “took the prize” as knew that there was a fuel system problem based on monthly generator exercises (experience from previous problems told me what needed to be checked). However we attempted to have local repair ships look at this generator dating back to May of 2010, as we had a long trip planned for August that I knew this generator would be important for both roof AC and the fact that we boondock camp often.
I ended up getting put off and when one repair person finally looked at it, he replaced the fuel pump which I knew was not the problem (but I did not argue giving respect to the mechanic despite what the Siskiyou RV Sales might think).

Our local Onan authorized shop is Siskiyou RV World (Grants Pass); they have repaired this generator before, for a rather high charge that did not last but one year, they too gave me excuses for this lemon generator. I will note that this was for a piece of RV equipment that was a lemon from day one that I cannot expect any RV Shop to fix it completely, but know one can fault me for trying, although sadly Siskiyou RV World did!!

What was also very sad and frustrating is when the latest breakdown happened on our trip for both the Ford Chassis and generator, I could not find even one RV dealer willing to help me on the road for a problem I knew would take only 1-2 hours to fix for a professional with the correct equipment.
For me this was a life lesson as I spend 12 hours per day to answer person’s aquarium and pond questions online such as connecting a UV Sterilizer, often lazy aquarium lighting questions (I use the word ‘lazy’ because most of these questions are already answered in the extensive article I have published and continue to update), or troubleshooting UV Replacement Bulbs (often getting nasty emails for not answering questions or taking phone calls late into the night even though this is done for free!).
A few of my in depth aquarium/pond keeping articles:
This is easily the most in depth and researched article on the subject of aquarium lighting anywhere on the Internet today!

This article deals with trouble shooting your UV bulb or sterilizer

As with my lighting article, this one about the use of UV Sterilizer in aquariums or ponds is second to none!

When I ask for help from others for $$ I cannot get any real help!
This is mind boggling especially when I consider the hours every day I spend helping others for free and I cannot get any RV help even for a fee, instead I get criticism from the human debris at Siskiyou RV!

To me this is a real black eye for the RV industry and although I am considering replacing this RV, I am loath to spend any more money on an RV that may be of questionable quality and where service is non existent. As well all I see anymore are Class C motorhomes built on Ford Chassis (although I understand Ford has finally fixed their transmissions) I will note however that I have seen pricey and small Class C RVs on Sprinter Chassis.

Most RVs I see now are equipped with Onan Generators with little choice.
I have been told that the top notch Honda Generator made an attempt to get their “foot in the door” in the RV generator business only to have this door slammed by the RV industry. I do not know if this is 100% true, but if so, this is a very sad statement for the RV industry.

Before a reader thinks I am simply just a complainer as to this issue, I would say that one should note that I have diligently spent literally thousands of dollars in repairs (without a complaint I might add) for my Onan Generator only to have trip after trip ruined by this piece of equipment.
In fact the approximately $5000 spent in repair of this generator could have easily purchased another!!

So for persons such as an extremely rude and insulting sales person at Siskiyou RV (in Grants Pass OR) to state that “people like me” are what makes products expensive is utterly ludicrous (not to mentions this guy does not even know anything about me and has not right to judge me). I should also note that I do not expect 100% perfection in anything I purchase, however I do feel I get treated with respect by sales and service staff when attempting to get repairs for defective or simply worn equipment/parts.

I had one person suggest that I write Onan again and request a discount based on the amount I have spent in regular repairs from day one (after expiration of the warranty) of what is obviously a lemon of a generator, but when I noted this to the rude sales person at Siskyou he made condescending comments as to Onan owing me nothing and the “persons like me” comment (which he also applied to persons who are to cheap to buy a Class A motorhome?).

Sorry but if the RV industry as a whole thinks like and sadly defends sales managers such as this despicable person at Siskyou RV, this industry has some serious issues (which I know not all think or act this way such as the two smaller RV outlets in this town). While I would not go so far to say Onan owed me a discount, I do think this would be a good business gesture as I know in my industry I have given free supplies for customer that have had issues with their aquarium equipment (such as a recent customer that was not even using his Aquarium Cleaning Machine correctly, but since we wanted him to be happy with his expensive purchase we provided him with some free replacement cartridges).

Sadly when I emailed the authorized Onan representative in Medford Oregon about the purchase of a new Onan and requesting that some sort of trade in could be granted; ONCE AGAIN I WAS NOT EVEN GRANTED THE COURTESY OF A RESPONSE FROM ONAN!

I should also comment that while respectful persons can disagree as to how to run a service business, condescending to prospective customers about this is no way to run an RV sales department.
As well I have been in a service related business for 30 years now, and that service businesses and other professionals well know that a profitable service business can and is run that that places gaps in the service appointment schedule for emergency walk ins or over runs. For instance about every Doctor I have had as a client (that I have discussed this with) has told me that they always leave gaps in their schedule for just this reason.

This said my wife works at BiMart (in Sporting Goods) and has heard almost 100% negative comments about Siskiyou RV World and many of the complaints are similar in nature to my experience.

Hopefully some in the RV industry will wake up and provide better quality, and especially better service and sales departments that give a damn. As well to insure that the parts used can be serviced by qualified persons who give a damn about others.
Dealerships should train their sales staff to have more respect for others, even if they disagree, as for many persons the purchase of a $80,000 Class C Motorhome is a major non-essential purchase.

Being treated like sh## for not buying a class A or a new RV every few years as Siskiyou has suggested is clearly out of line (sadly insulting customers is even defended at Siskiyou RV!!!).
Maybe manufacturers of RVs, parts, etc. will wake up and realize that places such as Siskiyou RV are destroying their industry (again not just my opinion) and cut these clowns off so that another more reputable business can take their place.

Sadly in this economy and the way people have become so self centered of late, I have my doubts as to many RV equipment or sales businesses, however on a positive note (at least here in Grants Pass), we have two good RV supplies/sales outlets in Jim Clarke’s Consignment (sales) and Caveman RV (sales/some service/parts) who are respectful and honest.

We are thinking about a trailer instead of our Class C at this time, but based on what I have read and the extremely rude, dishonest, & careless attitude of the remaining service and sales RV establishments, we are now thinking we might have more pleasant vacations and trips traveling by vehicle or plane.

Update 10/07/10
We decided on a used Wildcat Travel Trailer from Jim Clarke’s Consignment Country after much questioning whether or not to continue RVing after the issues we have seen with many aspects of the RV industry, especially in recent years.
While I have discovered some issues (such as altered freshwater pipes that were exposed possible damage and cold weather, we winter camp), we are pleased with this trailer and Jim Clarkes. This RV allows us to use our vastly more reliable Toyota Tundra and to purchase a Honda Generator vs. an Onan generator.

I should also note in this update that for the second time, Onan failed to even respond to an email simply asking if we bought a new generator, could we get any trade in from our old Onan, especially since we have had nothing but trouble from the day we purchased the original. As with the first mailing (by USPS years ago), Onan could not even bother to write back as they could have at least bothered to reply; what a disgusting company (Onan) IMO and a black eye on the RV industry!


  1. […] Siskyou RV & Onan; Quality and Maintenance Issues […]

  2. […] break down within a few years. In our case even repairs have yet to yield a complete fix and so if Ford (or maybe others too) cannot get an electric window right, what is to convince me they can get this […]

  3. […] This last incident really sums it up, because this is the most basic of customer service courtesy; Returning calls or emails! I know with my business, that even emails/calls from persons that are rude need to be returned (& if anything I have been “patsy” according others who know me well in putting up with this type of treatment for a long time before finally taking action (as exemplified in my post about problems with my Onan Generator Problems and rude treatment at Siskyou RV World […]

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