If you've been following Soylamar's info-graphic articles, then you know all the research that took place before making our decision: a 2015 Rockwood Mini Lite by Forest River, purchased from C. Neer RV in Pennsylvania. After three weekend trips to Pennsylvania and one to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, we are finding out that a year of research pales in comparison to everything we are learning in practice!
For instance, did you know that although your air conditioner runs on AC it won't work unless your battery (DC) has enough charge to get it started, even if you are plugged into shore power? or that having your rig not leveled off for long periods of time can stop your fridge (and your entire electric system) from working? This is the kind of information you don't get during the final walk through at your dealer. In fact, during our walk through I was told that since our fridge works on propane, the battery could be turned off to conserve energy during travel only to find out that, without the battery, the fridge can't tell if it is working from propane or electricity and it simply shuts down. Not exactly the kind of experience you want to have after a 5 hour drive under sweltering heat with the fridge loaded!
All things considered, we've had four amazing trips and the Mini Lite appears to be well constructed. Thus far, we've only experienced problems with the DVD player (which refuses to play any of our videos), and the dining table (which became unhinged from the wall during our very first trip).
Although we are blaming the unhinged table to lack of "packing" experience on our part (we found out that the table itself can be easily detached from the wall for storage during travel), the DVD issues is revealing something else that we heard repeatedly from other RVers during our research: the moment you hand over the check to the dealer, they become significantly less responsive to your questions and requests. (Note: it should be noted that C. Neer responded to our DVD question email within a few hours, but not to tell us that we could stop by for them to take a look at the issue. After all, it could be something as simple as a loose connection in the DVD player. Instead, C. Neer requested that we remove the player from the cabinet, send the unit to their dealership where they would in turn send it to Forest River for repair or replacement...a lengthy process that would leave our brand new unit with a hole for several weeks.)
With a long trip to South Dakota and Montana coming up, we decided to delay the DVD repair by using an external player. We have a little less than a year to deal with the RV's warranty. Something tells me that dealing with Forest River directly won't be any easier but we'll have to wait to see what happens. As for the table, the hinge has been screwed back into the wall and we've learned to take it off and turn it over before we travel.
For now, we are learning more and more about the electric system and what to expect from and how to properly charge our deep cycle battery. We are also trying to determine what kind of inverter generator we should purchase to start boondocking. In the process, we are thoroughly enjoying what RV life has to offer.
Update from Zorro
On our way back from Montana, we decided to pay Forest River a visit to see if they could take care of the items that needed repair. With only a one day drive through Indiana, we expected to be told that our best course of action was to visit our dealer, a process that would take a few weeks and a few headaches. To our surprise, Forest River called us back right away and although they couldn't take us the day we called (it was a last minute decision after all), they would take a look at our rig if we showed up at 8:00AM the following morning. While this delayed our trip back by one night, we figured it would be worth it and we weren't wrong.
Nestled in a beautiful Amish community, the guys at Forest River know a thing or two about customer service and they went out of their way to accommodate us. We were in their shop by 8:00AM, and two hours later we were leaving their shop with all the problem items replaced. Of course, we just happened to be driving by the factory and that option is not always available. But if you own a new rig from Forest River, visiting Indiana is a sure bet to get first-class customer service.