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Old 06-18-2020, 03:48 PM   #1
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2016 25' International
Corona del Mar , California
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The Not So Relaxing Zip Dee Power Awning

Fixing my Zip Dee Relax Power awning on my 2016 Airstream International 25FB is turning out to be a nightmare. The awning has never been reliable. In February of 2017 my dealer, Airstream Orange County, replaced the awnings circuit board under warranty. The swap-out seemed to fix some problems with the awning, but it never reliably opened and closed. During our 2019 trips, the awning reliability decreased. Finally, on a trip in May of this year, the awning stopped functioning altogether. It would roll out 2 feet and stop. I searched the forum for ideas on how to resolve the problem but was unable to find any solutions that would fix the problem.

I gave up on fixing the problem on my own and took the Airstream to the dealer. The dealer concluded that the rear awning arm motor failed and they said that the whole rear awning arm would need to be replaced. The arm alone is priced at $1900 and labor to install was estimated at $700. With the only other option being having an Airstream with a non-functioning awning, I approved the repair. However, it seemed like a poor design choice by Zip Dee and Airstream to install a motor that could not be replaced.

I reached out to Airstream customer support to confirm if what my dealer was telling me aligned with their service guidelines and they haven't been able to provide an answer. They said they would call the dealer, but they have not followed up.

The dealer called today to say that they installed the arm and the awning is still not functioning. They found a part on the front awning arm that was stripped and a wire that was shorted out. They fixed both the additional issues and said the awning would still not function correctly. Now they are telling me the circuit board needs to be replaced again! The circuit board is $800 - I'm going to spend more to fix this power awning than it cost as an option when I purchased the Airstream. I really wish I had the standard awning. This "relax" awning has only provided stress and financial burden, not relaxation.

Does anyone have advice on how to handle this situation? Do I just pay the $3500 + repair bill? Is the awning just going to fail again?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:31 PM   #2
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Our first Airstream had a manual awning and subsequently we had two with power awnings including our current Globetrotter. Horror stories like yours make me wish that I had still had a manual unit but I've not experienced any problems with the powered ones to date so I can't offer specific insight.

Just on spec, though, have you contacted Zip Dee directly regarding your issues? They might be able to offer some advice or even financial compensation. Also, although I don't know how practical this suggestion is, rather than spend $3500 to repair an awning that already has a problematic history, it might be worthwhile to find out what would it cost to retrofit a manual unit to your Airstream. Just a thought....
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:35 PM   #3
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Power Awning not so power

How much to have the "Relax" (Really?) Power Awning completely removed and a good old reliable manual Zip Dee awning installed?

We had a 2017 International Serenity 23D with the full awning package but the awnings were manual. When we went to upgrade 2 years later to a 25' AS the Internationals only came with the "Relax" (what a joke) power awning. That took it out the running. We switched to a Flying Cloud 25 RBT and never looked back. We actually glad because the Flying Cloud we wound up with has been flawless and has great fit and finish.

Get a quote on throwing the whole pile of junk out and getting a manual awning installed. Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:50 PM   #4
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I agree the awings are a bit overengineered, and more complicated than ideal. Ours had been flawless so far. I would definitely contact Zip Dee about the dealer experience. I'm sure the dealer is trying but they don't seem to know what they are doing. It's as if they are grasping at straws... It's this, no, it's that, er no..... You should not have to pay for their lack of knowledge. Zip Dee should be able to tell what was wrong and what should have been fixed. Ask the dealer to save the removed parts and be prepared to demonstrate each was broken.

Changing back to manual will be difficult because the mounts are completely different. You want to get this fixed but you should only pay for what was actually wrong.
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Old 06-18-2020, 04:54 PM   #5
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We ordered our 2017 25 Serenity with a manual awning after two friends had their power awnings fail on our 2016 Alaska trip. As long as you keep the manual unit's arms lubricated with silicone they are a snap for one person to set up and take down. I timed my spouse and myself doing both functions solo in under two minutes.
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Old 06-18-2020, 05:23 PM   #6
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For reference, Main Arm motors are indeed available separately for $354, the complete arms for $1187 the controller for $534 and the entire awning for $3680 at Sky High RV so I would also talk to the dealer about their markups....
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeinca View Post
Our first Airstream had a manual awning and subsequently we had two with power awnings including our current Globetrotter. Horror stories like yours make me wish that I had still had a manual unit but I've not experienced any problems with the powered ones to date so I can't offer specific insight.

Just on spec, though, have you contacted Zip Dee directly regarding your issues? They might be able to offer some advice or even financial compensation. Also, although I don't know how practical this suggestion is, rather than spend $3500 to repair an awning that already has a problematic history, it might be worthwhile to find out what would it cost to retrofit a manual unit to your Airstream. Just a thought....
I did email Zip Dee but they did not respond, I’ll try giving them a call. Good point about replacing the electric awning with a manual awning, I thought about it but based on what I read it’s not feasible as the mounts are different.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
For reference, Main Arm motors are indeed available separately for $354, the complete arms for $1187 the controller for $534 and the entire awning for $3680 at Sky High RV so I would also talk to the dealer about their markups....
Great info! I will certainly share this with my dealer!

Thanks.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:44 PM   #9
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I certainly wish I would have went with the manual awning from the start.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWind View Post
We ordered our 2017 25 Serenity with a manual awning after two friends had their power awnings fail on our 2016 Alaska trip. As long as you keep the manual unit's arms lubricated with silicone they are a snap for one person to set up and take down. I timed my spouse and myself doing both functions solo in under two minutes.
I certainly wish we would have gone with the manual awning when we purchased it.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
I agree the awings are a bit overengineered, and more complicated than ideal. Ours had been flawless so far. I would definitely contact Zip Dee about the dealer experience. I'm sure the dealer is trying but they don't seem to know what they are doing. It's as if they are grasping at straws... It's this, no, it's that, er no..... You should not have to pay for their lack of knowledge. Zip Dee should be able to tell what was wrong and what should have been fixed. Ask the dealer to save the removed parts and be prepared to demonstrate each was broken.

Changing back to manual will be difficult because the mounts are completely different. You want to get this fixed but you should only pay for what was actually wrong.
Zipp Dee will be my first call in the morning. I thought Airstream Corporate would have assisted further.
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Old 06-19-2020, 04:12 AM   #12
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Bummer of a situation IMO.

Welcome to the forum . . . sorry for your baptism by fire!

You might want to send a PM to the following user, ostensibly AS itself, who posted this recently in another thread:

[click on orange arrow to go directly to the other thread]
Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamInc View Post
Hi MTB Basecamp,*

We're very sorry to learn about the issues you are having/had. Please send us a direct message with your contact information, email and the last 6 digits of your VIN so we can learn more and share it with our Customer Service and Technical Support team. We look forward to helping you get these things resolved.

Thank you.*
As you will see when you go to that post, the signature says:
_________________________________________

"Official account for Airstream, Inc.
Airstream Customer Service and Technical Support can be reached at 1 (877) 596-6111, option 1."
_________________________________________

Good luck,
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Old 06-19-2020, 06:20 AM   #13
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Thatís a good suggestion Iíll PM Airstream.
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:32 AM   #14
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if you have a Zip Dee relaxed awning on your AS, you basicly have two options.

1. Have a Zip Dee technician accompany you on your trip.

2. Have one of these with you.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/319001-Zip-...1dRJPg&vxp=mtr


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Old 06-19-2020, 07:36 AM   #15
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For those with working Power Awnings a good way to know if the arms remain in good shape is to hand spin the motors from time to time. there is a hex shaft inside the bottom of the arm. Just use your fingers to turn it a few times. I should be easy to turn. As long as it stays easy you know the arm and motor are not binding or dirty. Also frequently lubricate the arm extensions with dry lube like silicone spray or similar.
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:44 AM   #16
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The Relax awning is great when it works. When it works. Our's has failed twice and both times it was the controller board. If you have ever manually retracted one of these so you can travel somewhere for service you'll know what a pain it is.

I think initially our coach had voltage problems, perhaps a bad converter (there were a lot of AS units shipped out with bad converters). We had a number of voltage related problems (low voltage) and I think it fried the board. Our coach was rewired for robust solar by Lew Farber (lewster on this forum) which included replacing the converter and our voltage problems went away. But I had to tow the trailer a couple hundred miles away to a dealer that could fix the awning. That was the first time.

The second time was at last year's Alumalina. We were all having an open house. Someone's "unescorted child" (read parent not paying attention) found the USE/STORE button fascinating and turned our power on and off about 15 times rapidly to see the red light go on and off before my wife could stop her. As a result the board was fried again. Had to head directly to JC to get the board replaced. I don't know why that most important switch is put right at a child's height. Bad design AS.

Steve
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:53 AM   #17
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Oh dear, what bad luck! Those cheaper digital controllers are very sensitive to voltage fluctuations unfortunately. If they don't have a well designed shutdown mechanism to protect the Eproms (memory that stores the software) They loose the program and stop working. Perhaps they will get their supplier to improve this some day.
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Old 06-19-2020, 09:34 AM   #18
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They are expensive and a pain

We have a 2016 Pendleton. Almost immediately we had both arms and the circuit board replaced under warranty. A little later we had one of the arms replaced under warranty. Last fall one of the arms failed. I learned how to extend and retract the awning with the power cable and flexible fitting. Not fun. Once at home I contacted Zip Dee. After several conversations it was decided the front arm was bad. I could have it rebuilt for about $100. So I removed it, mailed it to them and they had it back to me in less than a week. I reinstalled the rebuilt arm and all it would do was blow the fuse. After service calls and some testing they decided there was a short in the rebuilt arm. They sent me another rebuilt arm, I installed it, returned the original rebuilt arm and everything has been working fine ever since. Despite all the problems I really like it when itís working. Like anything else once you have replaced one arm doing it again is a lot simpler.
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Old 06-19-2020, 09:47 AM   #19
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You are correct the power awning is a real pain, I had a power awning on my 2017 25FB.
The repair was $5K plus to replace it when the roller folded in halve, my fault for leaving it out when a unexpected rain storm appeared. After the repair by the dealer I had unreliable operation. As you said roiling in or out was a problem. I now have a 23FB with the manual awning, the only way to go. I still have the old arms(with motors), don't know what to do with them. I contacted the manufacture with a suggestion to prevent the collapsing of the roller but no one is listing.
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Old 06-19-2020, 09:51 AM   #20
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It would seem Airstream should provide the purchaser the option to choose either a manual or power awning, rather than forcing them to accept (and pay the price for and reliability issues of) what appears to be a problematic power awning.
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