No RV Trip Is Complete Without Something Breaking

Motorhomes are reliable. Reliable in that something will break almost every time you take it out on an extended trip.

I’ve learned to just roll with it. It used to stress me out, but… why bother?

Plus, when you think about it, obviously if something is going to break, it’ll be when you’re out having fun. That’s the only time you use the RV! It isn’t as if you use it as a daily driver. Something of this complexity that you only use for fun is going to show any issues when you’re out on vacation.

For this trip, we had our awning rip apart. Of course, that’s no fault of the RV. We had a freak storm hit us. Mother nature does what she does.

But, as we drove north of Atlanta and began hitting some more hills, our engine began making some weird noises.

It was louder. And when under load while climbing the hills or accelerating, it was much louder than usual. Almost sounded like a lawn mower.

Not normal at all.

I suspected it was something exhaust related. The engine was running fine, but it lost a little bit of compression and required more throttle to climb the hills. Plus, it was only on one side.

These engines (we have the GMC Vortec 8.1) are sorta known for a few different issues. Things like burnt spark plug wires. Blowing a manifold bolt. I inspected the engine with a flashlight after we were parked in Blairsville and I didn’t see anything standing out to me. But, again, I’m no mechanic.

We left Blairsville and drove to Cherokee, NC. The whole time, the engine continued to sound like a lawn mower under load. If we were flat and level, it sounded normal.

As I pulled into the Flaming Arrow, it was almost a little embarrassing. The road going in is hilly and I came barreling in there and announcing myself with this loud engine. Ugh.

So, I made some phone calls.

And finally came across AAA Ridgecrest and I set an appointment for a Tuesday morning. They see a fair number of motorhomes coming in, so they’re no strangers to working on a big vehicle.

Tuesday morning, we left the campground bright and early. Even skipped breakfast in order to make good time. And, of course, climbing out of the campground that early with my big, burly engine had to have raised a few eyebrows. 😉

Pulled into AAA Ridgecrest and parked the rig. We went out to breakfast nearby.

As it turns out, the issue was what I was suspecting…. the exhaust manifold donut gasket on the passenger side. It was blown out. This is a gasket where the manifold from the 4 right cylinders combines and enters the exhaust pipe.

I suspected that gasket, too, because when we pulled into the Flaming Arrow, our gas alarm inside kept going off like crazy. When sitting still, exhaust fumes were making their way into the cabin. Not good!

In addition to the gasket, I also had them change out all the spark plugs and spark plug wires.

While the job was simple, it still took all day. AAA Ridgecrest was busy and getting the gasket in took awhile. They kept getting the wrong part and it wasn’t until about 5:30pm that they finally got the right gasket.

I ended up throwing down about $450 for the job.

Drove out of there and it ran a LOT better. Engine was quiet again and it ran smoother. Mission accomplished!

Then, we ended up driving back over to the Flaming Arrow to stay a few more nights. That wasn’t the plan, but it’s a nice place.


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