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Old 09-23-2020, 10:32 AM   #1
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No , Texas
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Always something wrong

Maybe we just have bad luck but it seems like there’s always something going bad and needing replaced on our 2015 Airstream Interstate. It’s always the Airstream portion of the vehicle, never the Mercedes portion.

Does everyone else have these issues? We love our Airstream Interstate but it’s really becoming a money pit. Is this true with all RVs? Are the Airstream trailers any better?

I know our vehicle is now 5 years old but we’ve had issues from day one.

Thanks!
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:00 PM   #2
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Green Cove Springs , Florida
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To my knowledge, this is always true of all RV's. In my experience Airstreams are no better than average when it comes to reliability for the RV part of the unit, though they last longer than many because of the quality cabinetry they build in comparison to the MDF, particle board, staples, vinyl, and paper which most other RV makers use for that purpose.

The only thing worse is a boat, where the term, "BOAT unit" came from when pricing a repair (Break Out Another Thousand), as in, "Oh yeah, how many BOAT units is that fix gonna cost me?"

That said it definitely pays to become at least marginally handy so you can personally deal with some of the irritating things that are always either just straight up annoying or going wrong.

For example, yesterday in our new-to-us 2016 Interstate, I noticed the water pump was insanely loud. So, I pulled out a cabinet drawer to find the pump and discovered that (1) the fourth screw holding the pump to the van floor had never been tapped or screwed into the floor and (2) no rubber bushings to help reduce vibration noise transmission to the metal floor of the van. So, I got a set of rubber grommets to serve as bushings, put those in place, and put in that fourth screw. The pump is now as quiet as it's ever going to be.

I also replaced an adhesive velcro strip that had decided to peel away instead of separating hooks from loops when I pulled on that. Next, I applied some grip tape to the underside of a few of the base boards under the teak mat in our shower, which rocks back and forth like the deck of a ship in a high sea. Less rocking now, though still not as stable as I'd like.

My next project is likely going to be related to the take-up reel for the macerator, as it seems reluctant to reel in the hose after a dump session. For now it still works, but there's clearly something going on there. It may be too complicated for me to do myself, but I'm considering the possibility of a DYI or hiring a mobile RV mechanic to work on it in my driveway vs. waiting forever to get service at a local Airstream dealership.

Oh yeah, and the AGM batteries are toast. However, instead of putting good money after bad by replacing them yet again (previous owner replaced them a little over a year ago and then apparently destroyed them), we're going to rip and replace the electrical system, upgrading to Lithium, a 3K watt hybrid inverter/charger, adding some solar, and a battery monitor that will actually tell us our state of charge instead of guessing wildly based on transient DC voltages.
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:50 PM   #3
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Yep. Part of my enjoyment is maintenance. When something dies, I view it as an opportunity for improvement. When we are on the road, there are chores. When at home, there are projects.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:00 PM   #4
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Fort Worth , Texas
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We just got back from a one month trip and everything worked well in our 27í FC. The only problem we had was my wife put something away in the outside storage compartment and tripped the solar breaker.

I will note that I am a mechanical engineer and I am very familiar with maintaining all the systems on our trailer. If you are not self sufficient, I can see RV ownership being very frustrating. While nothing broke on this trip, I usually have to fix something either during or after most trips.

My next project will be to replace the completely inadequate skylights before they start leaking!
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:30 PM   #5
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Fortunately in my 2004 coach, pretty much everything is just standard, off-the-shelf RV stuff... a 6 gal DSI water heater... standard propane furnace... standard plumbing stuff with none of the whiz-bang solar/battery/on-demand/macerator pump/electric everything stuff that breaks. I can still repair or replace most of my systems' parts myself. Those days are passing quickly, and unfortunately many of the new systems are so complex that RV techs struggle to repair them. And then the "state of the art" 'stuff' that was installed when you bought it is now obsolete, and there's no replacements with the same form-factor... or that's compatible.

Quite honestly, those very issues are what keep me repairing my coach instead of replacing it. And other than replacing incandescents with LED lights, I'm not interested in "upgrading" to the latest and greatest. The old stuff is perfectly serviceable.
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:38 PM   #6
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We moved to battle born lion and victron product to replace the inverter and support our 350W Solar array

No issues in the last three years
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:40 PM   #7
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I wish I could say 'never Mercedes'. I've had to replace two wheel speed sensors and an EGR valve (the latter, fortunately, under warranty). And I live in fear of failed Nox sensors and EGR heating system based upon reports of others on the forum.

My beef with the Airstream portion is more based on poor design (shower drain, low LPG fill port, no inside LPG switch, inadequate solar, no temperature compensation on Lifeline batteries, no BMK on Magnum, no built-in surge protector, poor BIM, ...) than failure of parts.
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:02 AM   #8
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My husband and I long to build our own van, mostly so that we could finally break free of the unreliability that we've put up with for six years. All marine-grade and industrial-grade parts, no consumer mass-market junk with its endless failures.

For us with the pandemic, the inconvenience associated with cheap construction escalated into a risk that we might get ourselves into a situation that would invoke criminal penalties. Canada's quarantine procedures required us to drive 460 miles without stopping or coming into contact with any person or place, and then isolate for 14 days, relying solely on the Interstate as our residence. It is not a friggin' joke when a van breakdown would have left us with no option but to break both federal and provincial law in seeking help. Quarantine penalties range from one thousand to one million dollars, depending on the nature of the violation.

The upside:

It's a seller's market right now. One of my Airstream park buddies sold their Interstate a few weeks ago and recouped every penny they put into it, both what they paid for it, and what they spent in repairs (which means that they sold it for more than the original purchase price). They owned an Interstate for years for just the cost of the annual insurance and the diesel needed to run it.
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:49 AM   #9
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I have found that owning an Interstate for the past 13+ years is like owning a house...there is always maintenance and upkeep of some sort needed.

I still love mine, and would have nothing else.

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Old 10-04-2020, 09:02 AM   #10
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2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Cedar Rapids , Iowa
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We worked through the first year bugs which are too long to list. This year, I ran into things breaking. The bathroom vent exploded into pieces, the water heater isnít working on propane, and we had the fun job of replacing the macerator pump. I guess we own these to learn to be easy going because I think it will be an ongoing lesson on letting the stress go when things donít go right. Thankfully we have this forum to learn from people who have been in this boat before us, and also that we are not alone!
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