I know many of you will say that I’m being way too dramatic here and I probably am, but I do have to say that I have felt pretty helpless in resolving this whole situation. At one point it did seem pretty dark.
On Tuesday I called Freightliner in the morning and they told me that it was being worked on so I figured it would be ready in a couple of hours since it was only an alignment. Well, I never heard anything so I called back at 3 pm. I was again told that it was still being worked on, but that is all the service adviser folks could or would tell me. They refuse to check with the techs or have been told not to bother them and to just report what the computer says. Well the computer, it appears, is updated at the beginning and end of the job so it is no help on real time updates. She said they would call me when they got an update. However, I have yet to get a call from them with an update the entire time it has been there.
At 30 minutes before closing I called again, and the call transfers to the service dept. but no one picks up so I call back and the same thing happens again. I tried one more time and the parts guy answers and says that they are swamped in service and that it is staffed with only one person right now. So I wait a few minutes and call again hoping that some of the customers have been taken care of but the same thing happens. Now I’m not a happy camper. The parts guy eventually picks up again and he seems like he wants to help so he takes my information and says he will try to find out what is going on. A couple of minutes later Danielle, the Custom Service Mgr., gets on the phone and is very apologetic. I had met her briefly the other day when the big Irish guy and I were arguing about the issue so she knows I’m upset about what is going on. I’m not sure how or why she got involved at this particular time, but she sounded like she really wanted to help resolve my complaint and she continues to apologize for all the trouble I have had. She told me that they are still trying to figure out what is wrong, and that the alignment seems OK. She said that they have been in contact with Newmar and think that it might be something to do with the steering assist, as they call it. I then explained to her all about the Comfort Drive and the dial on the dash.
Comfort Drive is a proprietary system on many Newmar diesel products that assists with steering in difficult situations such as high wind. It was developed by TRW and attaches to the steering column. There is a dial on the dash that goes from 0 to 6 that allows the driver to adjust the amount of steering assist that the system uses.
She took all the information and said that she would get with the service tech and the service manager first thing in the morning and see what they could do. She also said she would call me by 8:30 AM. However, she said that if it was a Newmar component not part of the Freightliner Chassis they may not be able to fix it there.
Early the next morning I called Newmar and explained to them what was happening and went through the whole story from the sway bar on and asked if it could be the Comfort Drive. He said maybe, but he didn’t want to speculate without more information. I ask if it was safe to drive to get it to a Newmar dealer if I needed, and again he said that he couldn’t say without more information. He told me to have Freightliner call them.
I have to give Danielle credit. She called at 8:30 just like she promised. I gave her all the information that Newmar gave me and told her that they said that if the wheel is turned right or left and doesn’t return to center when you let go of it there is something wrong with the Comfort Drive. She said that she would get back to me as soon as she knew something, but that the techs weren’t going to spend a lot of time working on something that was not Freightliner. What could I say, but OK.
At about 11:30 AM I got a another call from Danielle who said, “Good news, it’s fixed.” She said that between the Freightliner and Newmar techs they identified the steering assist as the problem and they were able to “re-calibrate” it and everything is now working fine. She did say that they spent quite a bit of time on diagnostics and had to do the alignment as part of that process, but would charge me the truck rate so the bill would be a total of $250 for everything. At this point I was happy with that.
We left right away to pick it up and when we got there we were taken care of immediately and received another apology. I asked if they had billed Newmar for the repair and she said no, so I’m going to ask Newmar for re-imbursement of the $250 as the work order specifically states re-calibration of the steering assist components which should be covered by the warranty. It wasn’t approved prior to the work, but it is worth a try. She told me the bill would have normally been $750 for all the diagnostic and repair time, but I was not being charged that. I’ll have to take her word on the $750 amount.
In summary, I still don’t know why the Comfort Drive would lose calibration. I guess, at this point, I have to “chalk it up” to a strange coincidence. I also have to compliment Newmar service. I have had to call them a few times over the last 8 months, mostly after hours, and there has always been someone there to help either solve the problem outright or get me help from the right person.
Additionally, I have to say that Danielle saved the day for Freightliner. The situation should have never gotten to the point it did, but her attention to the issue corrected the problem and made me feel a lot better about everything. A lot of this could have been avoided with better communication between the techs and the service advisors and ultimately the customer. If I had known what was going on with my vehicle I wouldn’t have been as concerned about it being in the shop for the length of time it was. The big Irish guy could be a little more friendly too!
Back on the Road. Just a few days till we head out again!!