1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel

The day I brought it home

No buyers guarantee with this baby – I bought it from a friend with only her good word. Right now it’s back at my mechanic ATG. Two people told me it shouldn’t be making the clicking sound like it’s doing and frankly since the new serpentine belt the handling seems off, wagging again although Jamie at ATG told me the belt could not be related to the power steering even though I’d been told by a few people that it could indeed be caused by a loose belt……so who’s a woman gonna believe? It’s not only my namesake I saw at the mechanic but I spotted a Dodge 3500 Freedom Wide Coach House in the lot! It’s a little newer than mine but has the same seats, layout and looks uncannily like mine. I left the owner a note–hope they call, would love to chat with them!

Asked again about the loose steering, this time I was a told there is a way to tighten it but it’s not standard procedure. Am keeping my fingers crossed that they will do it!!!!

So back to the story….

Frans would complain that I rarely drove or started up the Leisure Travel. In the Fall and Winter  of 2010 -11 this was true—I considered my purchase a nightmare, a pocket drain—why oh why had I bought this  @#$%$$$$. It wouldn’t start half the time I needed to move it. Parking on my street is enforced, with us neighbors needing to move our vehicles twice a day on school days for the kids to ride their bikes (in 20 years I’ve only seen a handful of kids on bikes; it’s far more dangerous with the huge empty buses speeding on our narrow street every 20 min and parents picking up and dropping off kids and us neighbors shuffling cars than to simply leave things be, but it’s the way it is. Good intentions and bad planning is the norm.) So the LT was parked around the corner where I only had to move it twice a week for street cleaning although I’d move it Fri evening to claim a spot in front of the house…no way would it fit in the driveway. Frans devised an interior battery switch so I wouldn’t have to go into the rain to flip the battery on/off with the pulley switch in the outside battery compartment. His first creation sported flashing lights and dials—it was driving my bad eyes crazy and draining the cab battery. (I received a new jumper cable as a gift.) Fortunately he re-did the switch box. I love it now, nice and simple. I insisted on a new cab battery—Frans put that in.

NAXA TV mounted in a Class B RV

TV secured to the wall for driving

Frans likes to be creative as he’s a retired engineer. When he’s done tinkering he always asks, “Where is my RV?” Believe me many times I would have liked to be free of it but I was rapidly approaching the point where a sale would put me in the red with more money invested than I could recoup. Under protest he took out the old 13-inch tube TV. It was a mess having to saw off the protruding portion of the wooden box where it was nestled on the ceiling in-between the driver and passenger seats. I’m so glad it’s gone, I was constantly hitting my head on it. I replaced it with a 15.5 Naxa LED 12 V DVD flatscreen and a articulating mounting arm installed in the back near the bed/couch. It’s good except for one little white stuck pixel… still have to fix that. The space of the old TV is now storage for my electronics. Frans also installed extra DC jacks.

Took it to a body shop to have the door seals replaced and to find out why the windows wouldn’t open and to have the privacy door fixed. They kept it for 2 weeks burning $50 of gas on road tests. I called every day, nothing. Finally went to pick it up for my Phoenix trip. The service rep spent a few min explaining how they had taped it here and there and driven on the fwy—the noise starts at about 50 mph—and the noise would still be there. He motioned the mechanic over to explain it to me. The mechanic readjusted the driver door… took him about 20 seconds as he was talking to me; with a straight face he looked me in the eye and said, “you know the door seals really should be replaced.” I crocked; they wanted $185!!! My screaming moved them. Not good to have a middle-aged female standing in their lot with arms waving around looking reckless. They rescinded the bill. Just before I left it was pointed out that there was a little locking pin holding the windows shut.

I had Frans cut the locking pins off all the windows with one of his mysterious tools from the garage.

Drove the LT to Phoenix for a dog show with Olympia and Mason. Traveled great and the cabin noise was somewhat reduced, but very hard to handle in the high wind.

I had filled the water tank but nothing would come out.

March 30, 2011 Bruce’s Auto Repair: water pump replaced.

June 9, 2011 Took it to ATG for an oil change and a trip check. $316… needed the front brake rotors resurfaced. Complained about the wind noise and asked if they could do the door seals. Also asked, if they could, please…please…. please tighten the loose steering. They made a note.

Called the recommended body shop, was told that door seals were no longer made for the 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 van – this was only on the drivers side. I took the bait, well, I asked, what do you suggest. Nothing! That was the answer… I said things that weren’t very nice and hung up.

Took it Master Motorcrafts after calling half-dozen other body shops with no luck. The fellow at Motorcraft inspected at the door seals, taped the wing windows and went for a test ride with me. No, it didn’t need new door seals since these were still soft, he didn’t recommend them because the new aftermarket ones caused problems. Maybe the white exterior body trim that was puckering loose might be causing the wind noise. He suggested I try that first. Amazing, no charge!!! And a very nice guy – he really liked my old Dodge van; said the chirping noise was probably the serpentine belt or the pulley. I’ll definitely return when I need them.

Took it back to ATG on June 22 2011; the noise I’d told them about (but they had ignored other than writing it on the intake sheet) was getting louder… Needed a pulley and I agreed to have a new serpentine drive belt installed: $177 (the old belt is safety tucked away for emergencies.)

At last. . . Bill’s RV…. Had the water filter replaced, the generator serviced and the sewer hose replaced. Trim never arrived. Still no awning but today I found a better idea than a $400 bluetooth radio … I ordered a wireless device for $35 (thank you Amazon) that will allow me to plug in my Droid for wireless music and hands-free phone calls. It will be here in a few days… and then I’m off.

I received the wireless transmitter yesterday. One has to find in a station with no interference but it works great. I tuned in Folk Alley on my Droid, climbed in the bed in back and relaxed.

Next….   Packing