It’s been the talk of the motorhome town for months now, and a big bone of contention for many motorhome owners with vans still under a year old; the Fiat Recall. It started life as a simple-sounding recall due to a faulty EGR pipe back in November, but it soon transpired that vans could have significantly more damage and that a new heat exchanger might also be required.
Here’s where the trouble started in earnest… Owners were phoning garages to get booked in to get their vans fixed but many garages didn’t have any parts at all. For many owners, the earliest they could get in was January but there were still no parts. Lots of stories about lorries with parts being sent back to Italy for whatever reason, plenty of mix-ups – chaos reigned supreme.
As the weeks passed, the garages were building up long waiting lists of van/motorhome owners wanting to get their vans done. And still… No parts! Some garages were giving out advice not to drive the vans at all, while others said owners could carry on using the van. It was all very baffling, and this conflicting advice led to some owners being without their vans for months.
Our original garage appointment was on the 8th of January at Alan Kerr in Paignton as we had expected to be renovating a house in the area. None of that happened in the end, and our appointment was put back due to lack of parts. It was clear the chaos continued as the garage was trying to find the best way to handle the situation, all the while no parts were forthcoming at all.
In the end, we insisted on bringing the van in, as it seemed the parts were never going to be there, and apparently there was a tiny chance our van didn’t need any work doing. So we finally got our slot on the ramps on the 22nd of February, 6 weeks after our original appointment. On the 20th, we managed to speak with a Fiat rep at the CCM show at the NEC in Birmingham, who checked our chassis number and suggested it was likely we would need the work to be done.
One the ramps, it was soon confirmed that we needed both the EGR pipe and the Heat exchanger, as well as the second recall of the coolant clip which was freely available and a 15 minute fix. The order went in to Fiat, along with photographic evidence of the broken heat exchanger, and eventually we ended up on a spreadsheet… At this point, we were on the phone to Fiat on a daily basis, which led to us being assigned a case manager from the motorhome customer services team. We also got back in touch with the rep we spoke to at the NEC, all with the view to source parts asap due to our unique situation as the van is our home right now, and without it we are essentially homeless.
Even with all this effort, it still took 4 weeks for our specific parts to arrive at the garage. That’s 4 weeks on top of the several months since the recall first came out. Speaking to several people on our facebook page and on the various motorhome forums, some waited 12 weeks for the parts, with 5 or 6 weeks seeming to be the norm.
All in all, this recall was an utter shambles! I can only imagine Fiat rushed to get the recall issued in case something catastrophic happened to a van, but surely the part situation could’ve been managed much better! Why did it take so long to start production? Did they not recognise they didn’t have enough parts? Better communication should also have been had with the garages, and perhaps publicised so that everyone had the same information.
I can only hope that we won’t find ourselves in a situation like this again. We bought our Rex new to try to ensure it was reliable and we wouldn’t have any problems… That clearly didn’t quite work out.
We are now hopeful that we will have our Rex back in the next few days. We daren’t get our hopes up anymore, having been let down so many times in this process. The parts are at the garage and Rex is back up on the ramps.
Finally and importantly, as much as I believe Fiat handled this recall appallingly, still credit where credit is due: our customer service Case manager and the Fiat Rep we met at the NEC were both great with their communication. They did what they said they would do, they chased, checked and got back to us in a timely manner. It’s a shame that none of this got the parts to us any sooner than 4 weeks, but it may still have saved a few weeks. I guess we’ll never know, but it’s worth saying that we couldn’t fault their customer service, their commitment and work ethic. So here’s a big thank you to those two individuals; Dawn and Allan.
We’re planning to be back on the road within some 24 hours of getting Rex back, having loaded him up again with our entire life, and checking all his vital functions. We can still get a month on the road before the next part of our adventure at the Canterbury C&CC.