RV Brakes Saga Continues

So our brake issues on the RV went from really bad to worse!  As you may know if you’ve read our previous blog post here, we had all four backing plates and drums replaced while in Crestview, FL due to me pumping too much grease into the axle spindle in order to lube the wheel bearings.  Well, that expensive lesson continues to get more expensive.

After leaving Crestview, FL, we headed to Mandeville, LA for two weeks.  Since we no longer have auto-adjusting brakes, they need to be manually adjusted every 3000 miles.  The first adjustment needs to happen after the first few hundred miles though.  So I had intended to adjust them in Mandeville but it didn’t happen.  So our next stop, Lake Charles, LA was the place.

Well, pulling the RV through the campground we could hear a loud noise coming from the RV.  I had Misty move the RV a bit so I could hear the noise better and it was something rattling around in the drum on the passenger side.  Later I crawled under the RV and noticed a huge problem.  The passenger side front tire brake assembly had no nuts or bolts showing for the backing plate.  All were missing!  Then I realized that the backing plate had been spinning because the drum had either caught fire or gotten so hot as to burn off the paint from the drum and burn the model number sticker on the drum. So apparently, at some point in the past few hundred miles, the nuts backed off the bolts or they just weren’t installed from the get go.  No way of knowing for sure but all I did know was that we had a problem and damage to the backing plate bracket.  So a simple brake adjustment had just turned into a complete replacement!

So I proceed to jack up the RV and remove the tire.  Once I removed the dust cap and spindle nut the drum and brake plate just fell right off!  The edges of the bracket were worn badly and bent outwards.  So I immediately start calling around to local RV service and parts places hoping desperately they would have the parts we need.

I eventually found a trailer service place in nearby Sulphur, LA that had the OEM Dexter brake plates and drums that were originally on the RV to begin with.  To put it in his words “we don’t carry any of that China crap” referring to the TruRyde stuff I was looking for.  I tell him I’m on my way.

I’m pretty upset at this point by the shoddy install so I call the company who did the work and left a message.  Sean (the owner I believe) called back fairly quickly and surprisingly said would cover the damage.  No arguing or anything.  I was a little shocked based on our last conversation about the crappy parts but happy.  I just needed to send him some photos of the damage.  No problem.

Skipping ahead a bit to keep this slightly shorter I got a Dexter manual adjust brake assembly and dexter drum for almost exactly what I had paid for the TruRyde assembly and drum.  I got it back and installed with a little bit of bending, cursing and more bending, then some drilling to make the holes fit again on the backing plate bracket.  Eventually it went on and all was right with the world.  That is until I went to adjust the other passenger side brake!

Since I had both wheels off the ground it was the perfect time to adjust the other brake.  The problem was I couldn’t find the star wheel adjuster!  I could see a spring and then noticed it was loose in the drum!  Shit!  So that whole damn assembly must come off too to see what’s going on.  Needless to say I’m pretty pissed at this point (not that I wasn’t already).  I get the drum off and the star wheel, a spring and some other parts just fall out onto the ground.  I then see that the back pad is completely loose and the silver bolt or rivet that holds it into place is missing.  This was obviously a manufacturer issue but it still means I’m going to have to replace this assembly too.  Shit.  If I’m going back to Dexter I’m going to replace the drum with Dexter hardware as well.  This is why I prefer the USA made Dexter stuff and got so bent out of shape about them installing this crap to begin with!!

Knowing that I’m now replacing two of the brake assemblies and drums I figure I better look at the driver side wheels and make sure everything is OK there as well.  Driver side rear wheel looks OK but I immediately see that the front driver side wheel has the two lower bracket nuts missing and the damn brake assembly is loose!  I’m cussing at this point because it will need to be replaced too!

So now I’m fed up and realize I should just go ahead and replace all four brake assemblies and drums so I know everything is OK again.  I call the RV parts place in Sulphur, LA again to see if they have three more complete brake assemblies and they do.  He suggests I just go ahead and replace with the self-adjusting Dexter assemblies and that I could bring the the other one back.  There’s only a $3 difference in price!

So I get the parts and I get both passenger side wheels replaced that evening.  What’s really cool about the Dexter drums is that they come with the wheel bearings installed and ready to go.  I literally pull them out of the box and install right on the spindle!  So had these been installed initially I wouldn’t have had to pay for a bearing pack and install as well on the previous job.  Would have saved us almost $200 bucks!  More lessons being learned here.  I truly hope that the previous company didn’t know all of this and just completely screw us.  I’m sure feeling that way!

We get rain the next day but get the drivers side wheels fixed on Wednesday and everything is now back to OEM parts and all brand new and for the second time.

This brake job has now cost us even more and I should have just done the job myself from the beginning but again, live and learn!

I’ll save all of you the back and forth conversations with the company who did the initial work and just say they ended up only refunding us for the one bad wheel (both plate and drum) and the labor for two plates.  So we got a big, whopping $177 dollars back from them!  Well, we’ll see if we get the check I guess!

Overall, it was not a great experience and we genuinely feel like we got a crappy initial install with inferior parts!  The only good thing is that now we are back with USA made Dexter components and I did the work myself so I feel confident they were installed correctly this time!

Jason

Photographer, nature lover and geek. Driver of tow vehicle and setter-upperer of the outside of our RV. Webmaster of this very site.

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