Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

2002 Fleetwood Discovery 37U
Purchased at Earnhardt RV – Mesa Az

I was a novice when I bought my new Discovery. I had looked at several makes, drooling all over them but not feeling that I could afford the one I wanted. Then I had a friend tell me about Earnhardt RV in Mesa, AZ. I checked them out on line and requested a quote. I immediately received a response from a salesman with an offer that was about 35K less than the local dealer was offering. So although I believe in buying local, I could only swing the deal at the "close-out" price that Earnhardt was offering. So I took off a couple days from work and drove the 640 miles to take delivery as they had said it was ready but when I arrived and asked to see the unit, they told me that they had found that the generator (7.5 kw Quietdiesel) wasn't working but they had taken the coach to Glendale to the Cummins/Onan shop for repair. But not to worry, it would be back the next morning. So my wife and I checked into our motel room and had a nice dinner and dreamed of our new motorhome. The next morning (Friday) we arrived back the dealer but were informed that it wasn't back yet and it would be sometime that afternoon. So we went over to the recommended shop to have a tow bar installed on our car. Well, we were finally told that the parts for the generator weren't in stock and it would be Monday before they could get it finished but that they could reinstall it as-is and we could take it to our local Cummins shop for repairs at no cost to me. So on Saturday afternoon we were very hurriedly run through the pre-delivery inspection and ushered on our way.

We spent our first night at an RV park in Silverton, CO and life was good. The next morning, we made coffee and and when my wife tried to use her hair dryer, the power went out. So with neighbors watching, she stood out at the electrical power pedestal with her hair dryer and a mirror drying her hair. She wasn't amused. I really didn't understand for sure just how the shore power and the inverter/charger were supposed to work together but I quickly learned more about it than I had imagined I would need to know.

I contacted the local dealer in Grand Junction about warranty repairs and was informed that since I didn't purchase from them that their policy was to not honor the warranty. I talked to the Earnhardt RV service dept and was told that the problem was that I had left the inverter on and ran the house batteries down. I pondered that a bit but asked why the shore power didn't feed through to the outlets and he told me that I just didn't understand how to operate the coach. He told me I should come back and bring a video camera so I could record their instructions...

As far as the generator is concerned, Cummins said they couldn't get to it for a month so I made an appointment. I did some troubleshooting on my own (I've been an electronics technician for 35 years and have experience with electrical wiring, etc). I figured out that the inverter should "see" 120 VAC when on shore power and "transfer" from inverter (if "on") and pass through the power to designated outlets in the coach. Also, it begins to charge the house batteries. This function wasn't happening, so I looked "under the cover" and found a blown fuse inside the inverter which when replaced, restored it to what seemed to be normal operation - shore power inside and batteries charging. I was pleased with the results and decided to investigate the generator problem myself. I found the gen transfer relay under the bed and started tracing out the wires in an effort to understand how it worked. I quickly saw that the shore cable and the breaker panel connections were reversed (didn't match the labels on the relay circuit board). Also the fact that the wires were very sloppily connected made me suspicious to begin with. But I could hardly believe what I was seeing so I double and triple checked the wiring and concluded that someone made a serious mistake. I have wondered since if that was what blew the generator - if the shore cord had been plugged in when they tested the generator - BANG!, to say the least. When I asked Earnhardt service about it, the service manager informed me that he had rewired it and it was properly connected and I didn't know what I was talking about. So, I took pictures of it and documented what I found and of course Fleetwood doubted me as well, even though I sent them the pictures. I thought that since I no longer trusted the dealer and I had found a significant mis-wire problem, I decided to change it myself, which I further documented. It didn't fix the generator, but when I did get it in to Cummins, they confirmed that my rewire was correct. Only problem was that they disputed my claim for warranty repair and I had to get Fleetwood to convince them to make the repairs at no cost to me. Unfortunately, the generator failed again the very next year and again the next year... always something different but still with low usage and always maintained. Too bad that we're afraid to use it for fear of a huge repair bill.

The first time we used the furnaces I discovered that although they would both come on, the back zone would not shut off while the front zone would shut off and stay off. I used my wife's hair dryer to prove that the thermostats were reversed. I called the dealer thinking that we would get a good laugh about a simple manufacturing mistake, instead I was berated by him. "it was designed that way, you just don't understand..." I was floored, speechless. He further told me that I needed to return to the dealer for remedial operator training. It's real discouraging when you feel that you know more about the product than the service folks. And that they're knot-heads to boot. I think that it was about then when I realized that my purchase was a big mistake.

I called Fleetwood and they would not admit to the thermostat reversal either although when I called K&C RV in Longmont, CO, they told me that "Yes, we've fixed several of those, it's a known problem". By that time, my front TV had also smoked and Fleetwood said I could take the coach to K&C for repairs, which I did. They seemed to get things fixed and it was about a year later that the Coleman HVAC control failed and I found that the K&C thermostat fix was a jury-rig that had to be redone before I could replace the control. Wires had been cut off at the pig tail connector and butt spliced around it so that it could not be simply unplugged and replaced. I bought a pin removal tool and some crimp pins to fit the Molex 9 pin connector and set about diagramming the heat/cool functions. So far, so good, after $230.00 for the control, again, no help from Fleetwood.

The central vacuum didn't work either. Turned out to be a burned out control transformer - another symptom of a serious power surge.

The roof has leaked around the A/C mounts and I recently had a serious water leak due to a carpet staple shot through the floor into the hot water supply line. Anyone should agree that it was a hidden defect that was present from day one. It took four years to corrode enough to leak but again, no help from Fleetwood.

Other than a leaky wheel seal and a loss of prime on the fuel system, the Freightliner chassis has been great (although the tow light wiring has never been right, I wish I has a wiring detail for that).

For the folks that are happy with your rigs, good for you but please don't think that my complaints are petty and the coach HAS received all regular maintenance. I realize that RV's are prone to problems but that is exactly why good service after the sale is so very important. And I have not been hard to get along with, just upset after being treated in such a shoddy manner. Wouldn't it be much cheaper for Fleetwood to help a customer than to have him "air out" all this dirty laundry? If it causes just one person to purchase another brand, they would have been money ahead and they would have another happy customer.

If Boeing built airplanes like Fleetwood builds motorhomes...Yikes!!!
RE: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Thank you for the info. Be satisfied that your experiences HAS helped at least one person out there to not make the same mistake and buy a Fleetwood! The service sounds terrible. We almost bought the Discovery from Earnhardt a few weeks back. They really bragged about just calling the salesman from anywhere on the road and he will help you through your problem! Now we are shopping for RV's based on after-purchase service. Thanks!

C Nash

Senior Member
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

freedomfighyer you are thinking right by shopping based on after purchase service but, don't let one negetive post turn you against a certain dealer or brand. Just keep researching.
Richardcron, welcome to the forum and don't take this wrong because you post is very informative and well written but, I hate to see the first post blast a dealer or product. Hope to see you posting here regulary because with your knowledge I am sure you can help solve a lot of rv problems here.
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Don't get me wrong, either, but past posting history shows that 'Posts: 1' disgruntled users seldom come back to the forum. They want to let as many RVers know about the problem they had.

Again, I don't doubt the problem, but it would be nice to get some back-n-forth about the complaints. I'm sure there are plenty of owners of similar products that want to know if THEY have a problem that is looming.
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Hi Richardcron,

Sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult time with your Discovery. I have had 2 Fleetwood coaches in the past 10 years and have been happy with both. I had a 1995 Pace Arrow...after 10 years, things started to go bad and it was time to move on...plus, we were going to be traveling A LOT and I didn't want to worry about constant service.

I bought a 2005 Bounder Turbo Diesel! What a pleasure to have a coach where everything worked!!! Right now, however, we are having a slide-out problem, but the defective motor is on it's was and still under warranty.

I will give everyone some info on service around the mid-west:

1. Crystal Valley RV in Island Lake, Ill -- GREAT SERVICE!! Gorgeous facility and VERY accomodating!! They let me stay in the coach at night...hooked up to electric...very comfortable!

2. Holman RV in Batavia, OH -- again, very customer oriented. Older facility, but very friendly and anxious to please.

3. Tom Rapper near Dayton, OH----DO NOT GO THERE! They are great for the sale, but want no part of you after they've taken your money!!!

Hope this helps!! And...Richardcron----you have received a most VALUABLE education!! Congrats!!
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

I will be glad to continue the discussion. One point I'd like to make is that it should be fairly obvious that I got stuck with a lemon and that I have had no luck getting help with it. I'm darn lucky to have some skills to deal with it but after having spent a small fortune on purchasing my coach, it's pretty sad to have recieved so little support after the sale. And it has been my experience that the dealers employ service techs that typically have very little knowledge in electrical matters, which makes them of little use.
Also, it seems to me that whenever a complaint is posted, often we see a reply from what appears to be someone connected with a dealer or a manufacturer with an interest in down playing the damage resulting from a legitimate testimonial.
Many RV'ers are retired and don't have the skills or money to deal with problems such as I have listed in my previous post. I want everyone to know of my horrible experience with Fleetwood and Earnhardt RV. I would hope that people would be up in arms about such lousy treatment and I am irritated by anyone suggesting that my post may be questionable or that it's somehow not the norm in the industry. There will always be a lemon or two but I should have recieved whatever it took to give me what I paid for. As I am still dealing with unresolved problems - after four years, that hasn't happened.
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

richardcron, thank you for disproving the theory that "low posters" rarely come back and discuss their problems further. I've called the RV forums the "shotgun complaint department" before due to this happening.

We do understand your frustrations! I think that everyone that replied to your original post took great pains to keep you from getting "... irritated by anyone suggesting that my post may be questionable or ...." We're not going to get "up in arms", though, just sympathetic, and we'll try to help you through your problems if you'll let us. Berrating us will not accomplish that, though.

Your ordeal started in 2002 and went on for 4 years. There's not much we can do with the manufacturer or dealer other than form an opinion and base our purchases on our opinion.

richardcron, you posted "... also, it seems to me that whenever a complaint is posted, often we see a reply from what appears to be someone connected with a dealer or a manufacturer with an interest in down playing the damage resulting from a legitimate testimonial...." We have a few dealers and dealer techs that post on this forum. Over time we have come to trust their opinions. If you will hang around, read, and post you will have enough info to form an opinion yourself as we have.
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

My response wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, sorry if I gave that impression.
I guess what I like about Internet forums is that there is so much information available in just about any topic you are interested in. Obviously, most of it should be looked at with some skepticism. I don’t usually make a lot of posts but I do recognize the valuable resource that they are. And then some folks like to chat as well but I’m not that social, I guess.
Do I have a bone to pick with Earnhardt RV and Fleetwood Enterprises? Yes, I do. Have I tried to be completely honest in the details contained in my post? Again, yes I have. As a matter of fact, all I want to do is help others to avoid the pain my wife and I have suffered for the past four years. The “Nightmare” story has been posted at other forums before; I have only updated it with our latest experiences. Wouldn’t you think that I might have heard from either the dealer or manufacturer at some point? If I had lied or misrepresented the situation, seems like I would be liable for damages. I’m prepared to defend my statements in court if necessary. The very fact that they haven’t made a peep speaks volumes, if you ask me.
Thanks for listening.
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Thanks for posting here, too, but you might be being a little optimistic if you think that a manufacturer would respond. It has happened, though. It seems that somewhere along your "Nightmare" trail that you have had court case. We all know that isn't an easy trail, either.

C Nash

Senior Member
Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

richardcron, thanks for following up on your first post. I am not a dealer or represent one. Not a tech either. All this information that you gave needs to be posted and followed up. All brands do put out lemons and as long as we keep buying they will keep putting them out there. Very few will not give any problems. I have a HR Vacationer 2002 and it has been trouble free for 23000 miles. yes there have been small problems but none that I could not repair myself. Some dealers have some techs that are not properly trained IMO. Yes, I wish the dealers would come on here and be willing to state their side. I know of one instance where a person was bashing a dealer and product and I happened to meet the product rep at an rv show. When I mentioned the customers name he immediatly knew who I was talking about and told a total different story. No I don't know who was telling the truth just that there is always two sides to a story and I like to hear both. we can learn from post like yours and ask questions and do a better job of selecting dealers and certain products. As Clodhopper said we have dealers and techs here and they have been very helpful and truthful IMO. Again thanks for following up and keep us posted.

DL Rupper

Senior Member
RE: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Hey richardcron, the good news is you saved $35K on the purchase price. Think how mad you might have been if you paid full price. Maybe the Dealer knew up front that the unit was a lemon. As long as you haven't sunk another $35K into the unit on repairs, you may still be money ahead. Notice I said money and not time spent troublshooting. Good luck. Hope the next 4 years will be better. :approve:
RE: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Hi Richardcron,

I certainly hope your were not referring to my post when saying people were pro dealer and/or manufacturer. My late husband and I went into our 1995 37J Pace Arrow in 1996 NEVER having done
ANY camping or RVing EVER!!! Just JUMPED in w/BOTH FEET and all our $$$$!!

The Pace Arrow was ok...worked fairly well most of the time, but had to be in the shop often for little things....mostly electrical problems...as you stated. Please understand, neither my late husband nor I had any hands on experience or knowledge and the only things we knew how to do on the RV was dumping and filling the windshield washer fluid! EVERYTHING ELSE went to the dealer!

When my husband died in 1998, I kept the coach, as RVing was MY dream, too.

In 2000 I had a problem with the brakes. The coach was in the shop for OVER ONE YEAR!!!! No one could figure out the problem and eventually, I had to have the ENTIRE brake systems replaced ($1700+).....guess what? That didn't fix it! Turned out to be the BRAKE LIGHT SWITCH -- a $.50 item!!! AND---my extended warranty did not cover any of this!

In 2004 I went to Bethelhem, PA to participate in the Life On Wheels Program. On the way up, my alternator died. Now, this was your basic Chevy truck engine...do you know the RV dealer I was able to get to REFUSED to help me!!! I was a woman...traveling alone, and they REFUSED to help me! Finally, when the coach just wouldn't start...and I was completely blocking their entrance, they agreed to help me. They would not honor my Good Sam Extended Warranty and made me pay out of pocket for the new Alternator and Labor! It took 5 hours!!!! I knew it was BS, but there wasn't much I could do...I was at their mercy!


Yet, here I am....6 years later....new husband (who also knows nothing about the workings of a coach) and a new coach. We've had our problems with this one, too....fortunately, little things and nothing having to do with the electrical system.

On Monday I have to take it in to have the slide motor replaced on one of the slide-outs. A pain in the neck, yes, but at least that is still under warranty and it will only cost me the time and diesel to get there and back...about 2 hours RT.

I am truly sorry to hear you have had such a bad time with your coach...and I am sorry it is a Fleetwood Product. Since we have been full-timing for the last year or so, I've had lots of opportunity to talk to lots of people about their coaches when we've met in the campgrounds and Wal-Marts.

I can tell you a few things that EVERYONE says:

1. EVERYONE loves RVing -- whether for the weekend or a week or a month or FT.
2. EVERYONE has problems with their coach.
3. EVERYONE has a list of what they will and will NOT do/have on their next coach.
4. No One is ready to give up doing what they love because of a few problems.
5. Everyone is happy and still loving the RV life and just feeling blessed to be healthy enough to GET OUT THERE!

If you feel you have a legal case, by all means pursue it...but only to the point that you can get some satisfaction....not for revenge.

Remember the old saying: "Living Well is the Best Revenge" and that doesn't mean being fiscally rich, it means having peace of mind!!

So, please, don't think we don't care....we've all had our trials and tribulations with our respective coaches, but we are still out here....waiting to meet you and commiserate with you, have a cold drink and a deep breath, and try to get a chuckle out of you.

Re: Fleetwood Discovery Nightmare

Interesting post and I agree with the responses. I have written a few times expressing my dissatisfaction with the RV's that are shoved out the doors of the manufacturers. One of the most aggravating responses that I have received is to be told by the manufacturer, ie Fleetwood, that the Air Conditioner that went bad on my rig was not their responsibility it was the Air Conditioner manufacturer and I would have to deal with them. Say, What? Who installed the darn thing on my motorhome.

It is to bad that the RV industry doesn't have some good strong foreign competition like the domestic auto industry does. I worked for General Motors for 35.5 years and one of our biggest complaints was that we had no control over the quality of the vehicle. If it came down the line with a defect the "Boss" would send it out the door with the term, "Let the Dealer fix it!" already formed in his mind. Unfortunately, that did work because the dealer only wanted the money and didn't care about the product. The foreign competition changed all that. And I will stack domestic vehicles up against any foreign nameplates because of the simple act of letting the worker have some say in what he or she is making. The problem is, once you lose a customer it is hard to get them back. And the unfunny thing is, the foreign companies that are getting all our American dollars for their goods, don't buy things Made in the USA. They buy what they build in their country.

I understand completely what you are talking about with your unit. My Southwind has had so many defects I got tired of writing about them. And I couldn't even get in touch with the dealer. Although I did find a dealer in Fayetteville, NC, small dealership, called Allsport RV Center who took care of a couple problems I had.

And through these forums I have had numerous e-mails direct to me that I have been able to offer solutions to the problems they have had to fix. And I fixed a pesky roof leak in my slide out through a suggestion I received on the forum.

I hope you become a regular contributor. I don't log on as often as I wish I could but am working on a political campaign for a school teacher who is trying to unseat our current lying congressman.

I won't buy another Fleetwood product.