Dear Action Line,
I have a 2006 Monaco Diplomat with a three-point Power Gear leveling system. While on a trip last August, we needed to extend the jacks to level the coach. I set up the coach, placed 2″x8″ boards under the jacks, turned the leveling system on and pressed the auto down button. The coach reached a point at which it was almost level, then suddenly the right rear jack fully extended and would not retract. The coach was now sitting with the right wheels off the ground and lifting severely to the left. Auto retract retracted the front and left rear jacks but not the right rear jack. Disconnecting the hydraulic line did not help. Reinflating the air bags corrected the issue of the wheels being off of the ground. A call to Coach-Net brought me two technicians who were able to force the jack up with a 10-foot pry bar and their combined weight of over 500 pounds. We determined that we could continue our trip if we did not extend the jacks.
When I called Monaco, they recommended that I take the coach to Apalachee RV Center in Auburn, GA. We took the RV to Apalachee on September 28, 2010, and left the coach with them to diagnose. Four weeks later, they called to say the jack had to be replaced and Good Sam Extended Warranty would pay $1,000 toward the repair. However, it would take more than three weeks to get a new jack from Power Gear. On December 15, 2010, we finally got our coach back, presumably with a functioning leveling system. We were in a hurry to avoid Atlanta traffic so we made a fatal mistake. We did not test the jacks before we left. However, Apalachee assured me that they had tested the jacks several times. My extended warranty paid $1,000 toward the repair, leaving me to pay $515.
In January 2011, we headed to Florida to escape Georgia’s unusually cold winter. The first night out, we decided to extend the jacks to stabilize the coach, even though we were on a concrete pad that was essentially level. The nightmare of August was repeated. This time, by reinflating the airbags, we were able to achieve a somewhat level condition. When I called Apalachee RV, they asked me to find a local mobile tech to get the jack up and they would pay the service charge. Coach-Net again helped with finding the tech. Once we had the jack retracted, Apalachee’s representative asked if we wanted to take the coach to a nearby shop for repair. We discussed the pros and cons and agreed that it would take three to four weeks to get another jack, and our previous experience had taught us that we could travel with the leveling system disabled. We opted to continue the trip without a leveling system. A stack of 2″x12″ boards was purchased as added insurance.
We continued our trip, and when we returned the coach to Apalachee, the nightmare intensified. They removed the jack and determined that it had overextended, breaking the retraction spring, which gouged the shaft, rendering the jack inoperable. As to why the jack overextended, they had no answers. Their attempt at a diagnosis was limited to “The jack was overextended so we need to replace the jack,” and “Do you want us to contact Good Sam Extended Warranty to see if they will pay for the jack?” They offered no explanation as to why the jack overextended, nor did they indicate that they were looking for a solution. I felt that they simply did not believe my explanation of what happened. I took my coach home, left the jack in case Good Sam needed to inspect it and waited for a response. Good Sam promptly denied the claim.
The discussion then centered around Apalachee’s assertion that the site must have had severe slope and I should not have used the jacks. I sent them pictures of the RV site to show them it was level. They offered no advice on what was wrong, and if they called Power Gear or Monaco, they did not provide any comments as to what suggestions they made. Their solution was to put another jack on the coach and see what would happen. I would, of course, be responsible for the repairs unless they determined that they were at fault. When I talked to Power Gear, they said the most likely cause was not reprogramming the controller to the base level position.
When I contacted them to ask them to set my jack aside so that I could take it and my coach to another repair shop, I received an abrupt communication from the owner of Apalachee RV with numerous factual errors.
The overextension occurred twice: once before the Apalachee RV repair and once after Apalachee RV replaced the jack. The first time was at Lake Gaston Americamps on a gravel site that was not level and required jack extension for leveling. The second time was at Carrabelle Beach RV Resort, and the site was completely concrete and virtually level. In neither case did I “park off the pad.”
We made the mistake of assuming that Apalachee RV warranted their work for at least 90 days. The leveling system failed on the first use and only 36 days after picking up the coach. Apalachee refuses to take responsibility for the second jack failure, and I am not willing to risk a mechanic’s lien on my coach if we disagree on the cost of the repair. Therefore, I am looking for another repair shop that has the expertise to resolve the underlying problem that is causing the overextensions.
I would like Apalachee to reimburse me the $75 mobile service charge that I incurred and ship me a new jack at their expense. I can then find someone who can fix the underlying problem.
Steve Stark, Hogansville, GA
Dear Action Line,
Thank you for your assistance. Apalachee RV contacted me after you wrote to them, and they have been superb in resolving the problem. Not only did they cover the cost of the replacement jack, they also covered the deductible on the extended warranty for the final resolution of the problem. At no cost to me, they put my leveling system in good working order. Kudos to Apalachee RV and Action Line.
Steve Stark, Hogansville, GA
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