Motoring Discussion > Motorhome fettled Miscellaneous
Thread Author: tyrednemotional Replies: 17

 Motorhome fettled - tyrednemotional
....I think I've mentioned before that I service the motorhome myself - i) because there aren't any of the standard requirements that are beyond my capabilities, and ii) because "Fiat Professional" dealer costs are extortionate. (I use only Fiat parts and Fluids, and can't get them to be anywhere close to their costs). (there is really a iii) Over the years I've been singularly unimpressed by any of the local Fiat outlet's work)

With the wheels off at 4th year service a month ago, I noted that the OSF front caliper had a torn piston boot. MOT brake performance figures were exemplary, but I didn't fancy leaving it. Said "Fiat Professional" dealers wanted over £100 just to look at it and diagnose (I know what's wrong, I have a picture!). I found a (nearly) local garage that I could speak directly to the mechanic (invited to by the receptionist/owner) who gave me two viable options i) remove and specialist refurbish - about 7 days wait, or ii) fit an exchange refurbished one same-day (slightly more expensive, but much more convenient).

Done today for less than £250 incl. The genuine Fiat part (actually Brembo, the same part number as the exchange fitment) is North of £500 unfitted.

Other than the steering being (very) out of alignment on original delivery, it's the only out-of-course cost in 4 years, so not too bad (though absolutely no reason why it should be torn). (The guy who aligned the steering wouldn't believe me when I demonstrated how far out it was. He took it out to test and came back saying "That would do my head in". One side of the steering rack showed no signs of being set-up at the factory - no paint tell-tale that side, and the motorhome dealer reimbursed the alignment cost).

Anyhooo, net effect is that fixing it has prompted myself and SWMBO to head of sur le Continent at the weekend, courtesy of Tesco Vouchers and Eurotunnel, for 3 weeks bimbling around following our noses.

She's largely recovered from June's hip operation but still has a broken arm in a cast, and I've still got a "glass back. What could possibly go wrong?

First time "over there" for three years, and we're really looking forward to it.
 Motorhome fettled - Bobby
Well done you.
If we didn’t live at the other end of the UK from the tunnel, that would have been our holiday this year. Tent in boot of car and go to where the forecast was good.

Spent many a holiday in France when the kids were young at various campsites and even now I crave that Tunnel crossing then sitting outside your tent or caravan with the French baguettes from the local boulangerie, a load of cheese and a cheap bottle plonk. And a bottle Port for later on!

One day!
 Motorhome fettled - Zero
Am planning to take the crossover camping vehicle abroad for the first time Sep next year. Departure Portsmouth, Destination Normandy. Bit of WW2History hunting for me, Sur la Plage for both of us and in reach of a day trip to Monets Garden @ Vernon Giverny for her.

Our first trip out the country since covid will be Spain in November, and a cruise in May 23

As far as main dealers go (spit) I have settled into a good indy - Genuine BMW parts, Online BMW diagnostics, only deal with one marque, approachable guvnor (we had a good chat about how to and when to change the gearbox fluid (BMW says sealed for life - ZF says 80K -)) and 60 quid (plus vat) an hour labour charges.

 Motorhome fettled - legacylad
Several friends have motorhomes...all shapes and sizes. Some stay local, within the U.K., others venture to France and Spain, whilst two other folks I know venture to the lands of far far away.

One couple are currently on their way home from Croatia via Finisterre, and another pal is in Romania at the moment in his knackered old camper. I’m meeting up with him in Spain next month...if he can afford the diesel to get there.

In the meantime, I’ve a choice of tents....but still tempted to get a little VW Camper thing at some point in future.

 Motorhome fettled - tyrednemotional
...the walking is, of necessity, rather limited at the moment LL, but having a motorhome has provided us with a base for walking much of the continent, from Finland to Italy and all points in between. Even when we had the kids they've enjoyed it.

In the (hopefully temporary) condition we are now, touring the continent with a motorhome really suits us. Given the plethora of simple, official, overnight and longer stops (often close to interesting towns and villages), there is no need to book, we can follow our noses, and stay as long as we find it interesting (half-day walking about the limit at the moment), or move on.

I have a few vineyard pitches I'd like to revisit ;-)
 Motorhome fettled - R.P.
We had an excellent Fiat based Auto Trail from new in 2014. It was a fine beast, but I was rather taken aback by the cost of routine work at the Fiat Professional dealer, we sold close to what we paid for it two house moves ago in 2017 as there was insufficient space at the house. I've often regretted selling it, especially during various lockdowns when it could have been used as a "spare" living space. Since moving to where we are now (a village sized city) we have questionned the need for two cars and I'm tempted to go for a VW based camper and sell one of the cars. There are a couple for sale locally...
 Motorhome fettled - sooty123
Are these Fiat professional dealers ones that only deal in motorhomes/know what they are doing with them?
 Motorhome fettled - tyrednemotional
>> Are these Fiat professional dealers ones that only deal in motorhomes/know what they are doing
>> with them?
>>, it's the Fiat commercial vehicle dealers. Most/many of the largely separate car dealers won't touch the commercial stuff (particularly the Ducato-sized ones, and more particularly if they have big bodies on them). They don't do any work on the conversion, just the base vehicle.

They all know how to charge. Top-whack labour rates regardless of location. I'll use them for the first service at two years, which coincides with end-of warranty, in order to retain potential of another two-years goodwill. If it's relatively low-mileage, you often get away with just a "low-mileage service" at that point. An oil and filter change which is still eye-wateringly expensive, though easy and quick to do, and about 1/3 the price if done by myself even with expensive Fiat oil (which the dealers never use: it's usually bulk Fuchs, which is about 1/2 the price retail).

The "Professional" dealers are often multi-marque commercial as well, and I've encountered a lack of Fiat-specific knowledge at every one. I had to take one van back after it's first oil-change to have the service counter reset. It has two - one general interval, and one condition-based for the oil. The latter is important since it will eventually send the van into limp-mode if it trips the condition. At the mileage most motorhomes do, the general service interval and an oil change generally synchronise at two years. I had to tell the Fiat "expert" that it had two values to reset, and eventually show him how/where to reset the (untouched) oil one (It's in a different ECU). I now have the software to do all that myself.

The first service on the current van (at two years, as per Fiat spec) had the head mechanic at a different dealer insist Fiat's requirements for oil-change were annual (they're not, they're condition based with a maximum of 2 years, though I do an oil and filter change annually). They're also an Iveco dealer, and Iveco's service schedule for essentially the same engine is annual.

It doesn't inspire confidence.

Conversely, I had a van based on a Ford Transit. The local Ford dealer who serviced my Mondeo was also a Transit specialist. Absolutely excellent service, and book in at the commercial end of reception and the labour rates were around 2/3 of the car end!
 Motorhome fettled - sooty123
>> >> Are these Fiat professional dealers ones that only deal in motorhomes/know what they are
>> doing
>> >> with them?
>> >>
>>, it's the Fiat commercial vehicle dealers. Most/many of the largely separate car dealers won't
>> touch the commercial stuff (particularly the Ducato-sized ones, and more particularly if they have big
>> bodies on them). They don't do any work on the conversion, just the base vehicle.

I did wonder if they were van dealers or they were places that dealt with m'homes. I know there are places that deal with caravans and do some sort of service. A chap I know gets his serviced at the supplying dealer, they certainly know how to charge.

I wonder how much of it is thinking people who own these have a bob or two and charge accordingly.
 Motorhome fettled - Bobby
I have often craved one of these VW type campers and also using it as a daily driver instead of car (don’t do much daily driving) but when you actually mark out on your house living room floor the actual living space one of these gives you, and then chuck in a yellow lab to the equation, you then realise it’s about the size of a normal rug!
Yes I know you take an awning and use outdoor space but maybe you wouldn’t use that for single overnighters or en-routers.
 Motorhome fettled - Zero

>> Yes I know you take an awning and use outdoor space but maybe you wouldn’t
>> use that for single overnighters or en-routers.

You would be surprised at how useable they are. Specially for one nighters, I mean how much space do you need for an overnight? Even with the dog. Think about it, if its an overnight en route you probably eat out at the boozer with the dog. Its just a place to crash, the dog loves being close to you and finds a place to curl up anywhere.

For longer you throw up an awning. You like to camp, in those circumstances the van just becomes the bedroom.

 Motorhome fettled - R.P.
They're usuable, especially in Californioa spec. Looking for an used one and would use a local specialist.
 Motorhome fettled - MD
From some of the tales I hear they are not without their issues.
 Motorhome fettled - tyrednemotional

>> For longer you throw up an awning.

Awnings are OK for caravans, but with a campervan (driveaway) awnings are an abomination. (That is, of course, predicated on the assumption that one has bought a caravan or a campervan for the type of use they are best suited).

TBH, we used a driveaway awning with the first two VW-based vans years ago when we had young kids (and we used to stay put a bit longer). Never since. They are one of the most commonly advertised used accessories as people tire of them.

>> You like to camp, in those circumstances the van just becomes the bedroom.

...and the kitchen, and the "bathroom", and a dry sitting room when it rains (not to mention a milk and beer cooler).
 Motorhome fettled - legacylad
I’m becoming increasingly tempted to buy a small VW camper....maybe a few years down the line. I’d like to think I’ve a few more years backpacking left in my knees....ultra light gear, mountain huts, longer days valley hopping between 2* hotels once I’m fettled, plus the absolute delight of wild camping far from the madding crowd.

A VW California is definitely on the cards when the knees start creaking.
 Motorhome fettled - Boxsterboy
This talk of VW campers brings me out in a cold sweat. DON'T whatever you do buy a T5.1 version of these with the 180 BiTDI engine. The engines WILL wear out at about 60,000 miles as parts related to the aluminium EGR valve corrodes and bits of it get ingested into the engine. I had ours from new and changed the oil/filter annually, didn't thrash it, etc. but even this didn't help. The only solution is a new engine. "They all do that, sir".
 Motorhome fettled - legacylad
When I was in business I ran a succession of VW Transporters.

My first, back in the Dark Ages, was a rear engined 1.6 TD Synco on an H plate. The last, my 4th, was a P reg High Roof LWB with the 2.4 5 cyl. It proved so bullet proof I ran it for 9 years into a high 6 figure mileage. It never missed a beat, and I sold it far too cheaply ( with hindsight).
 Motorhome fettled - tyrednemotional
..after three years away we still hadn't forgotten how much we enjoyed this.

We managed about the same numbers of nights in the 'van in the UK during this period, and though it was a godsend post-lockdown, the UK simply isn't the same motorhoming experience as the Continent (more like short-stop caravanning).

We crossed on Eurotunnel around midday Saturday. As I'm not a fan of northern France we've been wont to overnight in the UK, and get an early train so we can head well South, but this time circumstances dictated different.

It was actually OK. An early start (we could tune an hour or so off) meant we could take our time and still be bumped forward 30 minutes on the crossing. Our target was to fill with fuel (cheap in France at the moment), and stock up with supplies at a supermarket, (in theory you can take little in with you at the moment, practice, given the complete lack of checking, is different). Both were possible at our first overnight target of Bergues (inland from Dunkerque), and we were on the Aire de camping car there by 15:30.

The Aire lived down to expectations (which is a bit unfair). It's a large, red shale "car park" with no facilities other than overflowing rubbish bins, and space for 25-30 vans. Plenty of space when we arrived, full by nightfall. It's also free.

The upside is that it abuts the town wall of Bergues, which is a surprisingly attractive town, accessible by a 3 minute walk. We had a good late afternoon stroll, followed by a similar evening. Despite a Jazz/Pop/Festival in the centre, with multiple sound stages, the night was entirely peaceful.

It proved a very useful transit stop, and one we would probably use again. Five minutes walk on the Sunday morning to the Boulanger/Patissier, and we were on our way.

First night over, we assumed our usual "follow your noses and the weather". Accordingly, we ended up on the Franco/Belgian border on an aire de camping car in a little town on the banks of the Meuse. Fantastic location with quiet grassed standing direct onto the river, and electricity, water and dump for €10 per night (plus an extortionate 22¢ tourist tax).

Mucho chill-out, and a good walk today up to a Roman encampment and viewpoint followed by an evening BBQ has rounded things off. (We're both still a bit challenged for distance).

It's the complete freedom (compared with the UK) that attracts. The weather tomorrow, and further out, may be a bit challenging, but we have a great amount of flexibility.

Germany is calling!
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