The day I brought the Leisure Travel home I was excited that all it needed was a new battery and possibly tires. The seller promised, it was ready for camping. I’d be on the road in a few weeks or less. She had tears in her eyes watching her baby go. Please, if you are considering the purchase of an RV have it checked by someone competent. I can’t say finding that person/shop will be easy. My little RV was not considered a “real” RV by many of the RV shops and not considered a van by many auto mechanics because after all it was an RV. In a case of a Class B it’s necessary to find both a competent mechanic for older vans and an RV shop. The mechanic must have an available bay that can handle the weight and clearance, not all shops have this and when they do, prepare to be patient for that bay to become available. When you take it to an RV shop don’t expect it to be there for any less than a week.

A year before I bought it, I took it for an inspection – to his credit the mechanic was capable and kindly but I think the conversation that day revolved more around me as a ‘hysterical female’ who didn’t recognize a good thing when she saw it. The feeling expressed to me by my friend who was involved in the purchase was that I was pushing the envelope to question the vehicle’s condition or to doubt the word of the seller. That inspection in July of 2009 cost me $60. The mechanic said it was in great shape except maybe it needed tires. He wouldn’t hesitate to buy it and suggested the same for me.

June 2010 I purchased the Leisure Travel. I thought it was hard to drive, it was nosy and bumpy, it certainly couldn’t do off-road, I didn’t like the limited space for the passengers legs due to the engine placement into the cab, it was older than I wanted and it only had one bed but my search was becoming hopeless… prices were astronomical and competition was furious. The Leisure Travel was close to the NADA value and believing it was in good shape I figured I could buy it for my cross-country trip, then keep looking for what I truly wanted.

Other things were going on, which to save face for those involved I’ll only say broke my heart and left me devastated—this was compounded by health troubles which made it impossible for me to see well or to even walk, let alone drive across county which was my fervent desire yet I plugged away at what became a daunting battle to ready the Leisure Travel.

June 17, 2010 I smashed the tail light trying to squeeze out from the curb. I was depressed with troubles and then in tears at ruining my RV! It wasn’t ruined but it cost $119 for a new right side tail lamp and lens. My housemate kindy drove me limping and broken to the dealer and even paid the bill. During this time I was only very barely eating, drinking or sleeping… I was a mess. There’s a scratch on the upper body where I hit the tree to remind me of my foolishness.

My housemate, Frans installed a new house battery and cleaned the cab battery.

I took it to 5 tire shops before finding Ian’s. The others either couldn’t help me….the beginning of, it’s not a car, it’s not a van, it’s not an RV. . .or I balked at the incredible prices I was quoted.

While I was searching for the tires I took it back to the Dodge dealer–t was now early August 2010–for a compete inspection. The service engine light was on and it had trouble starting. Mostly it was hard to drive. Curves were terrifying; no matter how fiercely I gripped the steering wheel I’d be buffeted out of my lane. Pain would shoot through my back and into my neck; my arms would tremble in exhaustion attempting to keep it up to speed. How was I going to drive across country? Anything under 40 mph, no trouble, maybe I could do back roads??? I figured it had to be something simple.

I wonder what my face looked like when I picked it up from the Dodge dealer. BTW the dealer closed up and vanished shortly after I received the list of troubles. It was long. For a bit less than $4,000 they could rev it up to par, they didn’t know what was wrong with the handling, and yes, it would need tires; the current ones were cracked from sitting in one place too long.

It took 2 weeks longer than expected for the tires to arrive – but the tire shop owner himself used the tires I decided upon, Open Country A/T by Toyo with better traction than the standard Michelin for dirt roads and cheaper! The LT needed new shocks – Monores were the choice of the shop… in hindsight I’m sorry I didn’t opt for the more expensive Bilsteins, but I really can’t compare – might not have made any difference. I complained that the steering wheel had too much play – they wrote it down when they returned the vehicle – they kindly noted it as a problem.

Tires, shocks and alignment were around $1000, but it might have been more I can only find the estimate not the final price and I don’t see the shocks on the invoice – I vaguely recall they were around $400. I contacted Leisure Travel in Canada about the handling problem; they told me, that, yes, they knew about this and had stopped using the Dodge Ram because of it (oh great.) He suggested I install wheel spacers as other customers had found these helpful. The rear tires were inset about an inch and half from the front tires causing front and rear to follow different tracks on the fwy. Crazy. Ians didn’t approve of wheel spacers saying they would weaken the wheel support but they did try to find someone in town who might help. They stuck out. Here was the line I was to hear over and over . . . this is the way these big vans handle, it’s fine you’ll just have to get used to it.. . . I must have had my girl sticker on.

Next time Part Three… the hunt for wheel spacers and a real mechanic.

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