You know you’ve earned your full-time RVing merit badge when you can consistently maintain a sense of humor when things go wrong. This lifestyle can look like one awesome, ongoing dream but even with several years and thousands of miles of full-timing under your belt, tough times happen. How you prepare for them will determine if you are cut out for a life on wheels.
After eight years on the road, we finally earned our full-time RVing merit badge. We just returned from a long and eventful road trip to the West Coast for our new RVDatasat 840 satellite system and two big family gatherings. In preparation for the 3,500 mile jaunt we had our truck inspected at our favorite Fort Collins, Colorado auto shop – or so we thought it was inspected. . .
Rolling with the Full-time RVing Mishaps
The outbound trip was faster than we would have liked but everything went great and the Universe rewarded us with good times among friends and family. But on the return trip to Colorado, Mercury moved into retrograde and everything went to hell. The day we began our descent into the long stretch of barren I-80 asphalt between Truckee, California and Salt Lake City, the road tripping gods pummeled us with a slew of mishaps:
- Mishap #1: Our truck bed toolbox lid flew open on the interstate. No biggie. It’s happened before because someone forgot to lock the lid.
- Mishap #2: We left a gas station and rolled onto the interstate with our trailer stairs down. Huh?! We’ve never been that absent minded.
- Mishap #3: After passing Carlin, Nevada, we felt a soft “thud” and looked out the rear view mirror to see something black flying away from us. About a minute later, we knew what it was: Our tire!
This is when preparing for full-time RVing travel pays off. With our new Coach-Net roadside emergency plan in place I was anxious to give it a whirl but Jim stubbornly insisted on changing the tire himself. Our Premiere Towable Plan has an unlimited number of service calls we can place, but he had a good reason for not using it: we would have waited a long time for a service truck to arrive on that empty stretch of hotter-than-hell asphalt.
After putting on the spare and buying a new tire at a great shop in Elko, we rolled on. With a sigh of relief we beamed with pride knowing that we survived the ordeal without panicking.
- Mishap #4: The Big One. Murphy arrived.
Just outside of Salt Lake City we noticed the truck and trailer were really grimy. “Wow, that was some road!” we said to each other. Neither one of us thought to run our finger on the surface to see what it was, we were just too tired after a long day on the interstate.
At 6:00 am the next day while checking out of the RV park, things really hit the fan. Jim started the truck and within one minute, the “Check Gauges” light dinged. He flung open the hood, checked the engine oil and discovered – there wasn’t any! That grime covering our rig was our engine oil!
Instinctively Jim walked over to the neighboring truck stop to buy massive quantities of oil but by the time he returned I remembered; “Hey! We have our Coach-Net plan. We’re going to use it!” With a full Coach-Net roadside emergency plan in place, we would avoid driving the truck until we knew what was wrong.
Getting to Know How Coach-Net Works
We dialed Coach-Net to use our plan and were greeted by customer service reps who truly wanted to help. As we worked with them to arrange a tow, here’s what we discovered about working with Coach-Net’s roadside emergency plan for RVs:
- Coach-Net gives you a free tow to the closest authorized service center that will do a same day check on your vehicle. Typically, you’ll head to a dealer. They might need to call three or four shops before finding one to help.
- If you know of a good mechanic but they’re not an authorized center, Coach-Net will do the tow but you will pay for the mileage difference between their shop and yours. It pays to get the cost-per-mile before choosing this option.
- Once Coach-Net pinpoints a shop, they’ll call you back to schedule the tow. However, if you have time on your side and are in a safe location, you might want to run a quick background check on the shop to ensure they have good feedback. We always scan Angie’s List and Yelp for providers.
- Be sure to ask the Coach-Net rep if the shop can get you to and from their location. The one Coach-Net selected had a great shuttle system in place but others may not.
With the truck on a flatbed en route to Salt Lake City, I fretted over the possible scenarios. Had we blown up our engine? What could the problem be? Was it something that Fort Collins shop could have caught? In addition, the truck was going to a Dodge dealer and after being hosed by dealers in the past, we vowed to never use them again. I calmed my mind by telling myself that when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place all bets are off.
Coach-Net Saves Our Rig and our Sanity
The next day the problem was revealed: a main engine seal on the rear crankshaft had blown, spewing oil all over our rig. The service manager indicated that the engine survived intact but that this kind of leak doesn’t happen overnight and was probably going on before we left Colorado.
This leads me full-circle back to the beginning of today’s story: we had paid our favorite Fort Collins auto shop for a pre-trip inspection and they missed the leak. For the second time in less than one year we left Fort Collins with vehicle issues after pre-trip inspections from these guys, so you can bet we won’t be returning to that shop.
If we didn’t have our Coach-Net plan, we would have put new oil in the truck and driven it to a shop. Had we done that, our engine would have seized up. Our Coach-Net plan saved our rig.
Two days later and with a $1600 repair bill in our hands, we were on our way. Looking back, I’m proud of the way we all handled this stressful situation. We could have fought and bickered, cried and yelled, barked and whined, but we didn’t. Eight years ago things wouldn’t have gone so well because when you’re a green full-time RVer you have a vision of what the full-time RVing lifestyle should look like – and it doesn’t include roadside emergencies and massive mechanical failures. Inevitably they happen and you either learn to cope or you park the RV and return to a traditional life.
It Pays to Prepare for RV Emergencies
Hard times are inevitable and usually happen at the worst possible time in the most unappealing location. The added stress of not knowing the shop you’re going to deal with, not having any friends around and the unfamiliarity of the area just adds to the stress. The good news is that you can deal with it by sticking to a disaster preparedness plan that includes:
- being debt-free
- building an adequate cash emergency fund
- maintaining good full-time RVing insurance for the rig and medical needs
- never traveling without an emergency roadside assistance plan with Coach-Net
Maintaining a disaster strategy like this takes discipline – we can all think of many other things we’d rather spend our money on. But for us, whenever a calamity has transpired we experienced far less stress because we had the resources to cope. Knowing that the monetary impact isn’t going to hit you as hard goes a long way toward helping you remain calm. With these key elements in place, any full-time RVer can handle whatever turns the road takes.
If you want to know more about Coach-Net, drop us a line, we’re happy to share more thoughts with you.
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9 thoughts on “How Coach-Net Saved Our Dodge and Kept Us Sane on the Road”
Our experience in an emergency situation in Virginia using Coach-Net was not such a positive one. Our fifth-wheel hitch and Jayco Pinnacle trailer separated early Thanksgiving Day morning at highway speed on the interstate. (The hitch is still being investigated and I won’t use it until I can be assured that the hitch, components, installation, and my hitching procedures are solid.) I somehow maintained control of our Dodge Ram 3500 Turbo Diesel and the Pinnacle, maneuvered them both to the shoulder of the interstate where they came to rest completely separated with the truck about 25 feet in front of the trailer. Nobody was injured, no other vehicles were involved, and the two pieces of our rig were out of traffic, and my heart was racing. I called Coach-Net, having never been involved in such an incident and was unsure where to start. The call to Customer Service was very reassuring. The representative explained that they would first move the trailer off the interstate to a temporary location where it would be safe and the roadway would be safe. They would then locate the nearest reliable service center that could make the required repairs. Since it was a holiday (Thanksgiving Day), they expected that they would have to arrange to move the trailer to the repair facility in the next day or two (Friday or Saturday). The customer service rep said that they had located a facility which turned out to be the dealership from which we had purchased the trailer from a few months earlier. “Coach-Net to the rescue,” I thought. The following Thursday afternoon, I received a call at work from the temporary location, an RV campground near the accident site, that they needed to have the trailer moved. A call to Coach-Net was received by one of the gracious Customer Service reps who had been involved initially and who remembered the frightful experienced. He turned the call over to the rudest person I’ve ever experienced in what one would loosely term a “customer service” call. He informed me that Coach-Net would not move the trailer from the temporary location. He said that I had ample time to have had my vehicle repaired and I could very well move the trailer myself. He said that Coach-Net’s obligation ended when they towed the unit off the interstate. He said that the customer service rep should never have told me that they would arrange a tow to the nearest repair facility. He said he could arrange for a tow, as a “courtesy” and charge the cost of the tow to me. I was shocked and disappointed. Our Coach-Net agreement indicates “Unlimited Towing: No mileage or dollar amount limits–no out-of-pocket expense when towing your disabled vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility.” Coach-Net created a situation that put us into a bind (we live hundreds of miles from the scene.). Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance came to the rescue. Since several days had gone by since the initial accident, Good Sam did not consider it an emergency call, but their Customer Service representative was kind, courteous, located a reliable repair facility to make the required repairs, and arranged for them to move the unit to their facility.
Thanks Rene for the kind words about Coach-Net. We’re sorry to hear you had so many mishaps on your trip but happy to know we were able to help. Check out our Hazard Protect tire & wheel protection plan which would have paid for your replacement tire. That would have helped you with some of your out-of-pocket expenses.
Fingers crossed that Murphy will be on his merry way and Mercury will be out of retrograde soon so your adventures will be uneventful going forward. 🙂
Safe travels to you and your hubby.
Kathy it really did make our bad day better, what a relief to have it as an option. We still have a Dodge because we have Coach-Net!
Have you compared coach net to Good Sam Roadside Assistance? We got the $70 annual plan, and it seems to cover some of the same things yours has. Just curious the benefits of one over the other.
Hey Branndon good to hear from you! You’ll find that warranty plan debates run rampant in the RVer community, everyone has their favorites. Yes, we had GS in the past and found the Coach-Net coverage to be superior in situations like this. They also don’t play games with yearly dues. We really like Coach-Net for our needs as full-timers.
As we begin our planning for the RV life, it is good to temper the excitement with being realistic about what can go wrong. But just so you know your post has not scared me off the RV adventure! 🙂
It’s not all roses but thankfully the good days definitely outnumber the not so good ones. Glad it didn’t scare you!
Darn Murphy anyway! I am so glad it worked out and glad you shared the good, bad and ugly with us. Helps others remember not every calamity is a disaster!
Thanks Sherry. Yeah, I just keep telling myself every one of these experience is a learning opportunity.