Other than a few local errands, our E-trek was parked for nearly the entire month of August; however, we did have a few issues to resolve with our unit before the end of August, since we were planning several trips for September, including driving to Boston on September 1st. We also hope to attend the Hershey RV Show in mid-September, and possibly combine that with a trip to Gettysburg.
Originally we had planned to take a trip earlier this summer with our son, so in anticipation, we decided to set-up one of our front mattresses to make sure everything worked as expected. One of the primary reasons we selected the E-trek with RS Adventurous floor plan was the ability to sleep more than two people, which you can read about in our very first post. However, we had never actually set-up the front beds, so imagine our surprise when we found that we could not rotate the captain seats as pictured in our E-trek Owner’s Manual. According to our manual, both the front and second row captain seats were supposed to face the side doors; however, it was not possible to rotate the front captain seat, as it was blocked by the B pillar. We tried various other configurations, but nothing worked, so we promptly e-mailed our friends at Roadtrek.
The Roadtrek/Erwin Hymer folks responded quickly that we could possibly have the wrong instructions or the wrong mattresses or both. In keeping with our “what could possibly go wrong?” theme, it was both. Apparently the pedestals on the captain seats had been updated on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, which made the instructions in our manual obsolete (i.e., some 2015 E-treks were still built on the 2014 Sprinter chassis). Although there were a few miscommunications along the way, we finally received the correct mattress and set-up instructions. The very nice customer service manager even refunded us for the mattresses we originally purchased to compensate us for our troubles. As it turned out, we were unable to schedule the trip with our son for different reasons, but we were looking forward to trying the new mattress on our upcoming trip to Boston.
One lesson I learned from this experience is that is definitely worth checking the manufacturer website periodically to see if there are updated manuals. I discovered not only was there an updated E-trek Owner’s Manual from the website that had the correct instructions for setting up the front mattresses (although we still would have been out of luck with our original mattresses), there is an E-trek Supplement as well, with additional details about the electrical system. There are also new instructions for VoltStart–apparently you need to reset the counter by running it for one cycle. This provides insurance that the doors are closed and nothing will prevent the VoltStart from engaging if necessary. Roadtrek responded quickly to our inquiries; however, I could have saved myself (and them) some trouble if I had just checked their website http://www.roadtrek.com/support-contact/.
The second issue was that sometime after our trip to Boston in May we discovered that our GPS had stopped working. Typically we have all of our navigation systems activated when traveling–Google Maps, Apple Maps, as well as the Becker Navigation system that came installed in the E-trek Even though we were back in New Jersey, the Becker system seemed to think we were still in Boston. We were hoping to avoid yet another trip to Mercedes-Benz, so we tried troubleshooting the removable module by hooking it up to our PC and updating the firmware, but still no signal. So finally we decided to schedule service with Mercedes-Benz the day before we were due to leave for our September 1st trip to Boston.
Karl waited five hours at Mercedes-Benz (hence the photo of the original Benz Wagon), but the technicians had difficulty diagnosing the GPS problem. Then the display lights started going haywire and Karl had to drive home in a loaner car. We were in the process of figuring out a Plan B for our trip to Boston (Ryan had taken the train up a day earlier, but he was waiting for us to bring his belongings), when Mercedes-Benz called and said they did a master reset and the unit was okay to drive. It did however, need a new antenna for the GPS, which they would have to order. After driving back to Mercedes-Benz in the loaner, we were back home with the E-trek–eight hours later, but still no operable GPS, plus we had to pack up for our departure the next day. Fortunately, we had already sanitized the fresh water tank, so later that evening, we drained and refilled the fresh water tank. Since the battery was fully charged due to the hour-long round trip to Mercedes-Benz, we turned on the battery disconnect to start cooling the refrigerator in preparation for our September 1st trip.
The Plot Thickens
Tuesday after Labor Day, Karl drove the E-trek back to Mercedes-Benz to replace the antenna, and the courtesy car driver took him to work. When Karl finally heard from the service tech late that afternoon, the technician said the antenna had been sheared off at the base. This seemed very strange, since we didn’t see how we could damage the antenna without also hitting the top of the E-trek (i.e., the air conditioning unit), even considering our tendency to drive through low clearance tunnels. Furthermore, we were convinced that the GPS had stopped working during our trip to Boston in May, and when I looked back at some photos of the E-trek from April (our trip to Antietam), the antenna looked exactly the same as it did in May. To make matters worse, the new antenna was not covered by warranty and would total more than $600 for parts and labor. So now we really wanted to get to the bottom of this.
I went back through my pictures and I saw that in a picture from December 2015, we definitely had an antenna.
The next pictures of the E-trek were from February, and the antenna was gone.
We did not take any trips, but we did have a huge snow storm at the end of January, so we can only assume that something must have happened.
It still seemed strange that the antenna was sheared off at the thicker base (not just the thin antenna mast). Even stranger, the service tech said another Sprinter he had serviced recently had the same problem. Why he couldn’t determine the problem last week is also a mystery to us, since all he had to do was look up. Since so much of our time had been wasted waiting and making two trips, Mercedes-Benz agreed to reduce the bill and charge us cost for the new antenna (no labor) and for topping off the DEF, which for some reason cost $143. So the money refunded to us from Roadtrek, was promptly spent at Mercedes-Benz!
Our lesson from this experience is now that we know what damage one snow storm can do, we need to focus on purchasing some sort of storage unit for our E-trek. Although the January storm was certainly one of the biggest in recent memory, we don’t want to risk more costly damage. At a minimum, we will find out if the antenna can be removed for the winter, because even if you have a cover, I imagine the snow could still pile up and put enough pressure to bend/break the apparently fragile antenna mast.