Saturday, June 16, 2007

The saga continues: Part 2

I awoke Friday morning and my friend Andrea cancelled her appointment so she could be with me at 11 when the man said he would deliver the RV. She arrived and was available until 2:45 when she needed to be home. We had something to eat. The man called and said his mother was very ill, the doctor was there and he couldn't leave right away. He also said the problem was with the second gas filter and he had fixed it.

We waited. As you can imagine, I was feeling very apprehensive about this transaction. I voiced my concerns and Andrea reminded me that the man already had my money (and probably spent it). We waited.

I rounded up three friends who live in the park and asked them to be available when the man arrived with the RV. They agreed. Then I said, "What I would like you to do is look over the RV and answer this question: would you let someone you care about drive it a long distance alone?" They thought that was an excellent question. If any of them gave the slightest indication of unreliability, I was going to refuse the delivery and demand my money back.

At 2:30, he finally arrived alone. His daughter was driving to pick him up. I asked him to wait while I had my friends examine the RV. Granted, I should have brought one of them with me when I looked over the RV the first time, but they were not available.

The gas odor was still there and everyone could smell it. My friend immediately tracked it to the gas tank and looked under the RV. The tailpipe problem was obvious: there wasn't one. From the muffler to the bracket, nothing was left. No wonder the smell of gas was so strong.

In the state of California, a vehicle needs to be smogged by the seller within 90 days prior to the date of sale. He told me the previous owners who sold it to him in November had done that but he didn't have paperwork. He never transferred the title to his name so he hadn't smogged it.

So my friend asked the man, "When was this smogged and who did it? There's no way this will pass smog."

The man replied angrily, "What kind of a mechanic are you? I'm a master mechanic and I took care of the problem!"

My friend replied, "I don't care what kind of mechanic you are. I care about my friend and whether she is safe. You can't smog this as it is and it's too dangerous to drive."

More heated words were exchanged. Andrea left. The daughter arrived. When my friend threatened to call the police to show them the problem and ask them about the legality of selling a vehicle in that condition, the man backed down, turned to me, shoved the key in my hand, said, "We're gone," got into the car with his daughter and sped away.

I couldn't help it. I just looked at the key, looked at the RV I couldn't get smogged or drive, and I just cried. This was so blatantly unfair. I thought I had done all the right things. I was looking forward to spending the night in the new bed in the new RV and enjoying a hot shower in the morning.

On Monday, I will go to the DMV and have them find out when the RV was smogged last. If it was not within 90 days of the sale to the man I bought it from, the sale was not legal. If it was, where was it smogged so it would pass without proper tailpipes and a gas leak? If he didn't smog it before he sold it to me, who is liable?

There is good news: everything is repairable. First, I will replace the faulty ignition switch. Then my friend knows someone who can take care of the tailpipes. Then the gas leak will be traced (he thinks he knows where it's coming from). Once that's done, we will get it smogged.

The propane tank holds 20 gallons and doesn't seem to be leaking. I haven't checked the water heater yet because the water is not connected. My fingers are crossed that the refrigerator works on electric.

The bad news is I can't move any of my stuff into the new RV until it's been repaired. Otherwise, I will have the smell of gas permeating everything and it's not safe to sleep inside.

Ever the optimist, I will try to put a positive spin on this. I have a newer RV. The current RV will be started and driveable so it can be sold as soon as the new RV is repaired and roadworthy. I have great friends who are honest and caring and knowledgeable. And for the 10 or so miles that I drove the RV, I loved being behind the wheel again.

Positive affirmations: I will be living in my new RV very soon, traveling locally to really get a feel for how she handles in the next two weeks, and celebrate Independence Day on the road.


  1. Oh Adrienne, I feel for you. What a disappointment! But wait, there's more!!!! When it get fixed, it is going to be GREAT!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. You had me in tears while I was reading your saga.
    Better days are around the corner.
    Much Love,

    Sheila B

  2. The good news, it is all fixable, and the RV is worth the effort you put into it to make it yours. I was attracted to it, too, the size, the color, and the floorplan are all great.

    I'm in a similar, though less dangerous situation with my little eBay Scotty. I guess it really pays to get the vehicle inspected prior to bidding. It is an expense, and you have to rely on another stranger. Hopefully, one of the two will be honest.

  3. I'm sorry for your troubles, but maybe your experience will serve as a caveat to others when buying a used RV: *always* have the RV thoroughly inspected by a comptetent, experienced mechanic, and don't take delivery until a complete PDI has been done! This RV will be your HOME, so you should want to be especially diligent about making sure that everything works before handing over the money. The cost of having an inspection done is well worth it to avoid the potential disappointment, grief, hassle, and expense of buying an RV with a lot of (expensive) problems.

  4. Adrienne - was there any type of warranty/guarantee from EBAY on this sale? Remediation process? Perhaps this could turn into an article for women on how not to get scammed on Ebay or elsewhere. I think there is a special place in hell for men that cheat women because they think we are mechanically ignorant.

  5. I thought I was doing the right thing by purchasing the RV from a mechanic (he said). He told me he was selling the RV he bought on eBay in November 2006 because he had been laid off from his job as a mechanic for the county (including the police agencies). Maybe I should have had him prove his skills. I do have paperwork for the work that was done in January and February by a company in his city, and the people who did the work wrote "Needs tailpipe" after all the completed items on the invoice. Silly me: I thought it meant "Needs tailpipe (replaced due to age/deterioration)," not "Needs tailpipe (because it seems to be missing)."

    I continue to believe that RVers are the best kind of people, and if any of the folks who help me need assistance with anything on their computers, I'm happy to return the favor. We trade skills all the time.

    Yes, I have learned my lesson (bring your own mechanic) and I will keep readers informed about what happens, especially at the DMV tomorrow.

  6. I am new to this 'RV' stuff. I have just purchased a used RV and hope that I can figure out how to use it and enjoy it this summer. When I read stories from 'seasoned' ladies it makes me all that much more nervous. I wish you the best of luck with your repairs and hope you have good experiences.

  7. Thank you. It will work out well for both of us.

  8. I sure hope you didn't pay a lot of money for this RV. Get it checked out by a qualified mechanic before you do anymore. You really need Emergency Road Assist, if you have had these problems I am sure there are a few more surprises and you don't want to get stuck in the middle of no where. Never buy anything mechanical before getting it checked by a dealer or a mechanic that works for a reputable company. I hope you enjoy roaming it is a great lifestyle I have been doing it for 9 years now. Still many more years to go.

  9. Adrienne, my heart goes out to ya.
    But like you said it's fixable. Even if it is a pain in the butt!
    You can look forward to somewhere down the road being able to look back and chuckle and tell someone "oh what a disaster it all started out as". It'll turn into one of 'those' stories.