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Old 10-14-2015, 05:49 PM   #1
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Airstream Dealer and battery knowledge

Took my 2015 AI Grand Tour Ext in to have the awning checked ... not working. They said they took it all apart, looked at connections, cleaned / brushed things off, reconnected, etc ... and it's working now ...so there's that.

While on the phone, I asked the Service MANAGER: how do you make sure to keep my batteries above 50% charge while you have the vehicle? He said:
"We don't" ...and he seemed pretty proud of that answer.

So I said I was a little surprised about that since I had read in the manual, and in that Airstream book, and on the forum, how important it is not to let the batteries drop below 50% charge. He was adamant that wasn't true and he had never heard that. He said things like: "oh no, these batteries are great. They're like all RV batteries. You can let them go to 0% and then just re-charge them back up. The mistake most people make is not charging them all the way back. That's where the problem is"

When I kept at it, he put the phone down and I heard him say:" this guy says he read on a blog or something that you're not supposed to let the batteries go below 50%" Then he came back on the line and said no one had ever heard that.

So I called Airstream in Jackson. Got Gretchen in tech support. She said things like: the batteries will be damaged; their life cycle will be cut short; their ability to hold a charge will be impacted, etc. When I told her about the dealer's service MANAGER she got very quiet and kind of passive and her attitude was like "oh well, they're independent operators and some are more knowledgable than others."

So I called the service MANAGER back and relayed the information. We discussed leaving it plugged in; putting it outside (where it can get sunlight) after they've finished working on it, etc.

But I really found this whole transaction and conversation pretty astounding.

Any thoughts, comments, or similar experiences?
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:03 PM   #2
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Not surprised at all. The tech in the shop more often than not can give you better guidance. Mine did, but then proceeded to screw up my battery monitor......so I research before I visit now.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:19 PM   #3
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The service manager is just the head service advisor and most are not very knowledgable.

I try not to leave mine in their possession for more than a couple days at a time if I need work done.

Take in for technician to look at an verify, then I pick back up while they are waiting for warranty approval or parts. Then I take it back when they are prepared to work on it. If you are in a rush multiple pizzas have proven helpful.

I ordered my van in early 2014 and upon arrival made sure delivery was expedited. I have protected my batteries very carefully since.

IMO a lot of Interstates have damaged batteries upon delivery to the customer after sitting on dealer lots. Of course owners who don't take the time to learn how to protect them is another issue.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:30 PM   #4
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The last sentence describes exactly what happened to my 2013 AI. Fortunately, the dealer did not hesitate to replace them once my tech confirmed the batteries were beyond help.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:32 PM   #5
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Lots of people are entirely clueless about batteries. One would hope that service personnel would know more, but what should be and what is are often different things.

My neighbor, a programmer for an aerospace company, asked me if I could jump-start his daughter's car so he could "leave it running for a while to charge up the battery." When I offered the use of my automatic charger to actually try to charge the battery he couldn't quite understand why that was better, dismissed my advice that he get another battery because it was dated 5 or 6 years earlier and measured under 11V and his teenage daughter would be driving it around, etc.

I think he let it sit on the charger less than half an hour before the first time I heard him try to start it, and it couldn't have been 2 weeks before I saw him putting in a new Wal-Mart battery in the thing.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:02 PM   #6
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So far I have been to three Airstream dealers and have not been satisfied with their knowledge.. They also seem to have a "I don't really give a crap about your business" attitude..
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
Lots of people are entirely clueless about batteries. One would hope that service personnel would know more, but what should be and what is are often different things.

My neighbor, a programmer for an aerospace company, asked me if I could jump-start his daughter's car so he could "leave it running for a while to charge up the battery." When I offered the use of my automatic charger to actually try to charge the battery he couldn't quite understand why that was better, dismissed my advice that he get another battery because it was dated 5 or 6 years earlier and measured under 11V and his teenage daughter would be driving it around, etc.

I think he let it sit on the charger less than half an hour before the first time I heard him try to start it, and it couldn't have been 2 weeks before I saw him putting in a new Wal-Mart battery in the thing.
Unless the alternator was shot, I doubt your charger would have "fixed" his five or six year old battery as that's about the life span of most automotive batteries.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:34 PM   #8
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Unless the alternator was shot, I doubt your charger would have "fixed" his five or six year old battery as that's about the life span of most automotive batteries.
Hence my advice after looking at it that he get a new battery up front, rather than waiting until it wouldn't start again. Modern automotive alternators aren't sized for bulk charging anyway, just for replacing the start-up discharge and running the lights and ignition.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_CA View Post
The service manager is just the head service advisor and most are not very knowledgable.

I try not to leave mine in their possession for more than a couple days at a time if I need work done.

Take in for technician to look at an verify, then I pick back up while they are waiting for warranty approval or parts. Then I take it back when they are prepared to work on it. If you are in a rush multiple pizzas have proven helpful.

I ordered my van in early 2014 and upon arrival made sure delivery was expedited. I have protected my batteries very carefully since.

IMO a lot of Interstates have damaged batteries upon delivery to the customer after sitting on dealer lots. Of course owners who don't take the time to learn how to protect them is another issue.
A couple of thoughts to these responses:
1) I get that the service mgr wouldn't be as technically proficient as his/her "techs," but really...handling a vehicle while being serviced in order to protect the battery should be part of the standard "process flow" e.g., plugged in or not; under cover or outside, etc. This seems just so basic. And he did ask others (or at least one other) while I was on the phone and got no confirmation

2) agree w/ the concerns about buying a vehicle that's been on the lot a while. We took possession of ours about a day after delivery from the factory. Not sure about handling from factory to dealer, but at least it didn't sit on the lot long.

3) the relationship between mfr / brand and independent dealer is very weak. I've worked in a variety of "franchise" organizations, some weak and some strong. This one seems to me to be the weakest of any I've ever experienced. Which, when you compare to auto brands (which may be unfair, but it's an understandable comparison) is so surprising. This comment kind of goes back to point # 2: dealers are some combination of under-knowledged and uncaring.

4) oh ... and given it's over an hour's drive away from the major city I live in (another weakness of the dealer system) ... I do arrange to take it down only when they're ready to look at it right away. The standard response of the Svc Mgr is something like "Oh God, we're swamped. I couldn't even begin to tell you when we can get to it." It usually takes several phone calls, sometimes one to the gen'l mgr, to get them agree to work on it. If I owned or managed a dealership, I would target service as a revenue and profit driver. Apparently not these guys.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:01 PM   #10
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...........and speaking of Service Managers........... (a bit off topic)........

Several years ago I was offered the Service Manager position at a rather large .........wait for it..............CAMPING WORLD!!!!!! This was totally unsolicited and had to do with some service work that I was called in to do for a component manufacturer, as I happened to be in the area, was an authorized service center and CW was not and the customer was raising all kinds of hell with both establishments.

Anyway, after I smoothed out the client and got his rig fully operational again with parts from my stock, he went to the general manager with a glowing report and wanted to know why they couldn't do what I did for him.

Well, that lead to several meetings with the GM and an eventual job offer, which I was quite shocked to receive. This led to another meeting with the GM and the Regional Manager, and that's where things fell apart!

We were diametrically opposed in our views of what a service department should be; theirs that it should be a profit center based on thru-put, getting as many rigs in and out as possible and not worrying about the quality of the job......'just fix it!' and my view of standards, fix it right the first time, no come backs, make the customer happy at any cost, retain the customer..... etc.

It showed me just why the service departments at the majority of RV dealerships are rated so low. Profit is king and don'y worry about tech training, certifications, or even customer satisfaction. Fix it and chances are you won't see them again...........REALLY?????
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:31 PM   #11
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One indirectly-related piece of data: Called an RV dealer in Michigan as I was driving through to investigate their service capabilities. Also asked them about Leisure Travel Vans Class B or B+, which they carry. They said you can't get one in the US until next year some time, they're that popular. Not sure how much of that was BS/PR, or true. Just saying.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:38 PM   #12
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Great story Lewster! I'm afraid the same is true for most auto dealers where service is their major profit center.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:46 PM   #13
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One indirectly-related piece of data: Called an RV dealer in Michigan as I was driving through to investigate their service capabilities. Also asked them about Leisure Travel Vans Class B or B+, which they carry. They said you can't get one in the US until next year some time, they're that popular. Not sure how much of that was BS/PR, or true. Just saying.
It's true. It's been the subject on several threads in the LTV section of the Sprinter-Source Forum. LTV even stopped making their Free Spirit Class B Model to focus on their more popular B+ Class C models.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:51 PM   #14
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Going back to the OP's concern about maintaining the batteries while the unit is at the dealer for service: this seems another great argument for having at least some solar on your unit. We have that, and as a result we don't worry about what will happen to our batteries at the dealer. They are always at 100% when we pick up our RV after it's been serviced.
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