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Old 08-17-2007, 10:01 PM   #1
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Reliability of the SMB, service etc

First I post regarding AC or nor AC, then 07 vs 08 and now after looking around and reading the other post I have to wonder about the quality of these SMB. I have read about AC units leaking freon, not working and days in the shop. Now I am reading about leaking transfer cases. How good are SMB and how much problems do you have with them. I don’t want to be tied to a 1000 mile radius from SMB.

How good is the service from SMB
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:36 PM   #2
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You've got to be careful making assessments based on information from forums like this.

People never post to say "hi folks, just want you to know that everything is going great". However, virtually all problems get their own thread.

My SMB is approaching 20k miles and it has been one of the least problematic vehicles I've ever owned. But I realize that stuff can go wrong at any time too. I do my best to minimize the odds of failure, but luck plays a role.

Based on my experience thus far, no question I'd buy another SMB. It has been a real pleasure to own and use.

R
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Old 08-18-2007, 12:46 AM   #3
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Since I alluded to problems that I had with my Starcool, I will say that my intent was really to say that I really liked the Starcool, even with the problems I had with it. In general my van was well built, and I have no problems with the quality or support that Sportsmobile gave me after my problems. I live a good day’s drive away from Fresno, so taking it to them to fix things is not always practical. The wiring errors that I had were connections that were not tightened correctly. Sportsmobile did try to help me resolve my problems with Ford. I would not hesitate to purchase another van from them.


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Old 08-18-2007, 07:39 AM   #4
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I think EMRider summed it up very well, with what you read on this or other forums. That said, highly modified, aftermarket vehicles can be more challenging to get service or warranty work on. Your local Ford dealer's service department will make a significant difference in how happy/frustrated you will be with service on your SMB, just as it will with any Ford vehicle you buy.


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Old 08-18-2007, 09:09 AM   #5
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Love SMB


We love our SMB.
After 30,000 trouble free miles and strict overmaintainance it still performs flawlessly.
We're looking forward to 1,000,000 miles of service from it.
If, for any reason [crash,etc.] I had to do it again, I'd do SMB, only next time more aggressively.

BTW,
We've returned to SMB Indiana twice for minor warranty repairs [Screw thru wiring harness, freshwater tank leak, minor cosmetics] with great satisfaction.

Been to SMB Texas twice too [fridge failure, dust penetration] with the same result.
Prompt courteous service each time.
Haven't had reason nor been in vicinity of Fresno yet but would expect the same there.
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Old 08-18-2007, 09:39 AM   #6
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I agree with R.

For every complaint you read about there are 100 satisfied people without that issue that remain quiet. Just the way the world is.

I may be a newbie owner of a SMB with plenty of options, but I am 100% satisfied with everything about the van. I only had to replace one questionable hose clamp, which was easy to do at home. I am impressed with the quality of build all around.
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Old 08-18-2007, 11:51 AM   #7
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I can be an overly cautious consumer too. I've researched the hell out of each component on our van, what options we want, etc etc etc. I've put in a lot of time on it since the beginning of the year. They finally start my build Monday. I have no hesitation about Sportsmobile. They're good, honest folks. If it ain't perfect I know they'll bust butt to get it as close as humanly possible.

I don't know the numbers for Texas or Indiana but I was told Fresno -- they're doing mine-- turns our 2-4 new vans a week, leaning toward the high end. Thats a lot of vans over the years. I'd take any post here that isn't an complaint or major problem as a vote of confidence.

My only issue to date is lack of instant gratification.
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Old 08-18-2007, 09:20 PM   #8
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Hey I fully understand that some people bitch about anything. I have had numerous RV and trucks and there are always something that needs attention. I was at the plant in Fresno this past week and was impressed with the attention to detail. SMB is not a ford company with billions at their disposal so their reputation is at stake and I think that the try hard to make it right. When I was at the plant I mention some of the complaints on this and other forums and they were very concerned with what people were saying and how it would effect sales. I told them that there is always someone that bitches about anything, some probable don’t even have a SMB or have given SMB a chance to make it right. In summary I have no problem buying from SMB, I expect to have some problems and know that they will do everything to resolve any problems.
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:05 PM   #9
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See, I'm at the exact opposite of that spectrum. I seem to keep stepping in it, no matter how hard I try to be o.k. with the previously owned van and SMB's service. For example the 2nd AGM they added in Texas works fine, but the installation is sloppy. I tried to chalk it up to "after the build" being problematic, but they did leave marks on the van wall and glops of black silicone around. I expected a more finished look as well, but again that can be chalked up to having them do it aftermarket.

Then I took the van to Fresno and they stained my carpet, ruined about $80 worth of specialty order gluten free food in my fridge, put dirt smudges on the ceiling and left all the water stains (which Texas had previously cleaned up). I tell them these things and they say "Oh, we'll tell Leo". I'm sure that I could take it back and harangue them until they'd detailed it, but after a certain point I just give up.

For example I took care of the Texas based pencil and smudges on the wall myself because I spent a half hour having them vacuum up the tiny bits of copper wire they'd left all over the floor. They'd already put a lot of effort into the van, had already spent time tweaking and fixing problems (all kudos) and were clearly "done" with it. After all that, it drives me crazy that the panel was installed crooked and that there is a big black glop of silicone on my floor. Even the saints must give up on me sooner or later!

I'm trying my d**nest to be a good customer and to be 100% sycophantic about SMB and my van- hell, I feel hypocritical because I started this forum and have had many more problems than average, both with the van and info out of SMB. After the engine A/C compressor went out and another $100 went to the dealership and I lost a tire to internal belt failure I'm thinking I might be ready to get rid of it. It's a hard decision to make because I can't justify spending the $100K with Sportsmobile when their answer is always either, "Oh gee, we'll tell Leo" or "Bring it to Fresno".

Did I mention that my 400 Amp Hour (Double 4D AGM) system went down to 10 volts from the fridge and fan after driving all day? SMBs answer was "you have to plug it in every other day". I called a different SMB and got a slightly different answer, but the gist was "you have to plug it in more." Once I got the A/C fixed the problem seems to be gone. The compressor might have been dragging the alternator down, but the miss information was frustrating at best. I put a lot of money in being able to run a toaster in the outback for 6 meals straight, Id like to be able to at least run my fridge over night. (They did test the 1st AGM before adding the second, which is good to know).

Another piece of missing information was about my gas tank- I'm supposed to have the 46 gallon tank, but could only seem to get 33 or 35 gallons in when running it down past the low fuel light. They assured me I had the 46 gallon tank, at least on paper, and said How do you know? as in how do I know Im only getting 30 some gallons. The logical conclusion from talking to two people there about it was that I must have something like 14 gallons AFTER the low fuel light comes on. They didn't tell me that, but then again they didn't tell me anything really except that the paper for my van listed "Replacement Fuel Tank". They certainly didnt mention that all the 46 gallon tanks shut off from foam because the extra capacity fill is at the same level as the fill nozzle and that *that* was common for their customers (maybe its something the go over when you buy new?). Turns out to get close to the 46 gallons you have to stand at the pump and jack the fuel in there, either by restarting the handle 50 times or dripping it in (or a combination).

Since I didnt know this, I ran out of gas. I sputtered to the pump and managed to get 38.127 gallons in, still well shy of the 46. Only when I confronted them with the apparent limited capacity FROM EMPTY did they give me the above information.

So do they try? Very much so! They try way harder than any other company I've ever dealt with. I'm trying to be fair- I expect perfection at this $ level and my van had been thrashed by the PO. I hold SMB accountable for that... they were partners (unwitting I'm sure) in my being sold this van and it's their product, so it's difficult for me to unmix the experience.

But they don't seem to be sympathetic to any of the problems I've had, or to the inconvenience of such things as having to drive hours and hours to Fresno or Texas to have something fixed. Having been to 2 of 3 SMBs, they seem to be harried; and the customer service and pursuit of perfection attitude at the top doesnt necessarily get down to the floor.

And I'm p*ssed about the food. Turning off someone's refrigerator is no small thing, and mine happened to be stocked with gluten free stuff- I can't help but take it personally- the cost and inconvenience of replacing it alone, much less in the middle of a trip... it's like taking someone's insulin away or smashing their epi pen. And even if it had been a few popsicles and some ice I'd expect them to be a little more mollified and want to make amends in some fashion.

I'm just a one man disaster show! Grab some popcorn and see what happens next!
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:51 PM   #10
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Man, I feel your pain. I agree with you, especially on some key points.

The SMB folks are nice and they certainly seem like they mean well, but there is a level of professionalism that's not quite up to my expectations either.
When getting into bed with SMB, I felt that many options I ended up with on my van were due to my research and SMB not filling in the blanks of what my options were. As it was, I think there are some options I would have liked to have and was either told they flat out weren't an option (daytime running lights) or viable alternatives weren't suggested. I really think they need to take a step back and look at how the office is run. The right people seem to be in place, but I think the process is broken.

That's why I think that the forum and the message group are CRITICAL for this community. In many ways, we're on our own. Also, it shouldn't be this way, but unfortunately we are sometimes in an adversarial relationship with SMB instead of a partnership, even through the purchasing process.

At the end of the day, when the issues have been settled, will it be worth it? Heck yeah!
But, if we didn't have these tools as customers, I think there would be fewer happy SMBers.

And Jage, you definitely deserve a gold star for your patience.

Also, they should get into the business of handing out gift cards for camping world when something goes wrong, like your food. $50 here or there is nothing, especially when you consider the overhead they're getting from options.
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