I purchased my 1996 Freedom Wide LTV from my fiance’s aunt in 2010 after joyful talking how this rig was in perfect condition and well cared for, only needing a new set of tires and a battery.  My fiance took the RV to his mechanic and for $60 I was told there were no problems and was advised what a great deal it would be.

I erroneously thought that the difficult handling and sloppy steering would be “fixed’” with some new tires, I knew nothing about RVs; the existing tires were in poor condition as the rig had spent too long sitting in one place. I believed my partner, I believed my partner’s mechanic and I believed this dear aunt that everything was good and I was getting an incredible bargain. Aunt was eager to unload as she could no longer make the payments due to medical bills and although she had been “trying” to sell for a very long time, it was explained that this was because she had little time to show it.  So even though the LTV wasn’t exactly what I wanted I made the purchase based on the low cash price feeling that the rig would stay in the family and being my first RV I would enjoy it.

If you’ve followed this blog you know how I suffered for my ignorance! You also know those people in my life are gone, but I’m still here and so is My little LTV. Here are some of the repairs, I know I’ve left some out . .  but you’ll get the gist. .

June, 2010
Dodge Dealer (Santa Barbara)
Tail lamp replaced $119

I requested a full inspection upon purchase: Dealer estimated $4,500 min for repairs only on the vehicle, the Dodge Ram Van 3500 itself (not including tires and battery.) Overall condition was discovered to be poor. I declined service.

August, 2010
Ian’s Tire & Auto (Santa Barbara)
Tires:  Coopers, $774 plus stems, weights, installation
Alignment, $80

On request Ian’s refused to install wheel spacers saying there were not recommended. They went as far as to tell me I was crazy in nice terms to even think of such a thing…  according to them the wheels would fall off… no kidding! I’d called Leisure Travel Van in Canada and asked for help; they were very friendly in 2010 explaining that there was a reason they no longer used this Dodge van… After a brief lecture on weight distribution it was their recommendation from others with similar trouble to install wheel spacers.  This turned out to be one of the simplest and best fixes for the horrible handling, but not all that was needed.

Ian’s also installed Monroe shocks, cannot locate receipt for this.  I learned at this time that my van based RV was neither a “real” RV nor was it a van. RV shops did not want to touch it and the majority of car repair facilities would not touch it.

August 2010
Automotive Technician Group (Goleta)
Oil Service & 21 point inspection
Oxygen Sensors replaced
Throttle cleaned
Spark Plug Wires replaced
Cooling system flushed and cleaned
Water Pump, Thermostat and Timing chain replaced
Total: $2,060 including tax

August 2010
Ventura RV Service (Ventura)
Repair leaking water heater (hot water for the coach)… discovered to be corroded:
Installed new water heater tank, door kit and cone seal:
Parts & Labor $743

August 2010
Associated Tire & Brake (Ventura)
Installed 2 rear wheel spacers ($140)
Alignment ($70.00)
$221 total

 

September 2010
Serna’s Central Truck Service (Nipomo)
Installed rear sway bar after inspection of handling problems.
Total with tax $954   Sway bar cost $593 plus $42 shipping.
Advised replacement of malfunctioning air conditioner … unable to be serviced.

 
October 2010
Windshield was in terrible condition, very limited visibility…  it was scratched in large circles as if someone had taken a scrubbing agent and tried to “wash” it with heavy grit. Finally had it replaced… had to be done twice, first replacement windshield was defective.
$250

 

September 2010
Front End Service Big Brand Tire (Goleta)
No charge … checked alignment and adjusted tire pressure.
In spite of improvements, still having trouble with handling

 

October 2010
Figueroa Brake & Alignment (Santa Barbara)
Replaced Ball Joints (upper and lower)
Installed front end steering stabilizer Shock ($124)
Alignment
$1,305

 

May 2011
Bruce’s Auto Repair (Goleta)
Replace water pump pulley and water pump (again)
Vehicle overheating.
$334

 

June 2011
Bill’s RV Service (Ventura)
Remove Old Cell phone antenna.
Replace coach fresh water filer.
Oil change and service generator, generator will not start.
Repair Sewer Leak and gray/black tank valve.
Install New Sewer Hose. (Sewer was leaking.)
$570

 

June 2011
Automotive Technicians Group (Goleta)
Wiper blades
Turn front brake rotors and resurface
Install brake rotors and caliper, repack wheel bearings and install new seals
$316

 

June 2011
Automotive Technicians Group (Goleta)
Replace Tensioner Pulley and Serpentine Belt (other, not so old belt kept as spare) fix for high pitch whining noise when pressing accelerator.
$186

 

August 2011
Bruce’s Auto (Goleta)
Install AC Power converter.
I purchased the converter as the original converter would not run modern electronics. Bruce kindly installed it. This was very difficult as he had to work all cramped up on the floor due to bad placement of the converter box.
$400

May 2012
Ian’s Tire (Santa Barbara.)
Install front pads (brakes.)
Rear Brakes, brake lining, machine rear drums
$390

Ian’s botched this job and the brakes had severe trouble after work completed. I eventually was able to receive partial refund after much argument from Ian’s but not without crying, shouting and who knows how many visits. This woman will not be told off by know everything but completely wrong bully mechanics…  so there. Don’t go to Ians.

June 2012
Superior Brake & Alignment (Santa Barbara)
Inspect and determine cause of brake trouble
Reinstall quality front brake pads (Ian’s had put trashy pads on the LTV)
Alignment
$279

Brakes pulled and rig did not drive straight, would barely stop and was very scary to drive… hand brake not engaging.  Took it back over and over, Superior was very nice about it and they tried lots of different fixes…  brakes got better but handling was terrible; I was limping along to shop after shop, eventually I got tired of it. It was a terrible experience as I’d intended to drive out to Michigan to take part in the UKC (United Kennel Club) invitational.  Olympia was #3 Lagotto in the country for that year and was invited to compete. We never did make it…  all my money was wasted on mechanics.

June 2012
Dal Pozzo Corp. (Santa Barbara)
Finally adjusted alignment correctly!!!
Rebalanced tires
$80

June 2012
Bruce’s Auto
Trip check/ oil,  fluids, including fixing sewer hose
Repaired rear window   Note window broke again a few months after repair
$165

February 2013
Lara’s Auto Repair
Decided to try a new place… as rig was STILL overheating going uphill and losing power., unable to run air-conditioner and it was hot….  had to abort trip and limp home.
Oil and filter
Spark plugs
New Thermostat (again)
Differential plug
Ignition wires
Distributor cap and rotor
New Radiator and cap
$1543

Had to bring it back for new coolant temp sensor for the computer (Bruce advised)
$70

In this period of time… my LTV was actually running and handling ok.  Had it serviced just for normal maintenance / oil change / trip checks etc. Or else I tossed out bills from 2014   ????

 

I do know I had it trip checked at Bruce’s and then it needed servicing as soon as I arrived in Placerville.

May 2015
Master’s Automotive (Placerville)
Vehicle overheating up steep grades
Replaced fan clutch
$117

February 2016
New LT M/S 2 tires (4) from Costco!
Balancing and installation
Price not listed on receipt, think it was around $840
March 2016
Bruce’s Auto
Trip check / oil change
Check brakes
Fix seat level
Lower Driver’s side seat belt
Service generator
$260
Repair rear window regulator, shim
$78

 

Currently waiting for new shocks (Bilstein’s) which will be delivered today?

Well shocks are supposed to be here by 8pm and it’s 7:50…  probably will not arrive and I paid extra for expedited shipping. <can you see the face I’m making>

There are major items not on this list as Frans has provided his engineering genius to all kinds of fixes including (but not limited to):

Installing coach battery on/off switch within cabin, easily located under rear view mirror
installing lots of 12 Volt power plugs (much-needed and used!)
Replacing house air conditioner.
Reinstalling closet door including door strip.
Repairing doors, cupboards and locks.
Troubleshooting refrigerator failure (works now.)
Removing original 1996 tube TV and installing 12 Volt TV and rotating mount in rear of coach.
Installing wiring and easy switch for cable vs on air TV reception and (more) auxiliary DC power plugs in newly created storage box where old TV used to be.
Remodeling for easier access: water, power and TV connections for house hookup at campgrounds.
Installing backup camera. Love my backup camera!
Installing mounts for modern electronics and onboard equipment as needed.
Attaching mount for a little outside table.
Writing schematic for new house power unit (Converter.)
Troubleshooting electrical failures and fuse troubles.
Assisting in figuring out the many mysteries of this particular RV.
Took off bolts holding back and side windows from opening.
Giving rides back and forth to mechanics, in and out-of-town.
And providing emotional support when I was ready to give up.

 

Also not on this list is the work that Gabriel of Quality RV did in repairing the damage from a hit and run to the side of my vehicle.  In addition to repairing the fiberglass body and paint, he removed most of the rust and replaced the cracked white molding strip and also cleaned and painted the engine.  Gabriel came up with a work around for the broken passenger seat lever (I have not been able to find a replacement but his team fabricated a repair.) His team also cut out the dip in the gas line to the generator; the dip was causing faulty starts to the generator.

I’ve repaired or modified lots of little things including for insulation and comfort. The side view mirrors continue to be a problem and will likely need to replace.  Some interior touch up painting is needed. Most if not all, screws, bolts and so forth including door fixings have been replaced. I’ve added high quality floor mats to the driver and passenger sides although I am not pleased that they can still hold a stain.

 

 

A song for you my little LTV

Love my baby – Wizkid

 

I didn’t give up on you!

 

 

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