In the following report of our lease experiences with the Apollo VW Motorhome, rental period 21.12.2013 to 4.1.2014
1. Receiving of the VW motorhome on 21.12.2013, even the Apollo sales person (Michaela Mueller) noticed as we did that the motor home was very badly/incomplete/partly not at all cleaned inside: the floor in the main isle was dirty, the kitchen working plate, the side table, the shower cabinet floor, the refrigerator, the black water toilette cassette overrun was filled with dirty water. Emergency wise some re-cleaning was done, this way carry over from us of the motorhome.
2. After 5 km drive, stop at a gasoline station I noticed that the tire pressure of both tires rear axles left side seemed to be very low. I confirmed with an air pressure gauge that the pressure level was app. 30 – 35 PSI (60 PSI required). With this dangerous low tire air pressure the Apollo Company send us on the road. Missing was the 180 deg. steel tube extension of the outer tire valve, this way it took me 20 min to push the pressure hose in a bow form into the inner rim to get access to the valve of the outer tire. Means, Apollo technical could not check/correct the tire pressure as the extension was missing.
3. Some 10 km further on the road dirt water started to flow from the bottom of the shower cell into the middle isle. My wife formed a towel wall around the shower cell to avoid that stinky dirt water was running into the middle isle and under the beds.
4. On 22.12.2013, beach day, vehicle was not moved, no further problems appeared.
5. In the night from 22.12.2013 to 23.12.2013 outside temperatures of < 5 C, inside < 8 C, switching on the AC to use reversed at heat pump failed, no hot air coming out, after some minutes compressor switched off with failure code E4 (later identified as low gas/Frigen level).
6. On the 24th of December pass road in the Grampian mountains, manual shift back to lower gear on a steep grade cause failure code in the dash board, power reduction by app. 50 % (engine protection function), vehicle stopped completely, vehicles behind had to break full to avoid accident. I stopped the engine and restarted it to reset the engine ECU. Failure was reset, in “A” position than automatic transmission was working “normal” (I noticed rather abnormal sliding gear shift). Later in the afternoon on the same day inside temperatures of 35 C, switching on AC to cool down the inner motorhome caused same failure E4, AC completely w/o any function. Tel. call to Apollo directly after this incident, answer was no help possible because of Christmas holidays, but we should buy a mobile AC at Coles in the city of Horsham on next morning. We stopped at Coles next morning, shop was of course closed, Apollo information wrong. The Lady promised to call us back for further solutions – never took place. W/o any alternative we went on in our travel schedule w/o any AC.
7. On 25.12.2013 again complaints to Apollo to find a repair/change solution as we can’t go as planned into the outback w/o AC. Apollo staff promised to call me back – never took place.
8. On 26.12.2013 driving to Adelaide which was not planned originally, just to present the vehicle to an Apollo service station and force the Apollo staff to find a repair/vehicle exchange possibility. Friendly staff exchanged black water toilette cassette, found the rubber sealing was worn out, root cause for “*** water” flow into the inner motorhome. They promised to organize AC repair on next morning.
9. Second unplanned night in Adelaide to go to Apollo on 27.12.2013 again. Now the truth from the Apollo staff, all AC repair shops are closed until January, we would have to life with the motorhome “as is”, no replacement vehicle available in the next 3 days. On base of this information our decision to go on in our travel plan not to spoil our Australia “vacation” completely.
10. On 28.12.2013 app. 7 times gear box shift failures from 5th to 6th gear, 50% power reduction, vehicle stop, engine restart/ECU reset, etc etc etc…….
11. Later on 28.12.2013 new permanent failure code, exhaust system failure, most likely DPF w/o regeneration active or passive, back pressure too high.
12. Later on 28.12.2013 CD player failed, CD is not coming out any more.
13. On 29.12.2013 arrival at Ayers Rock, after visiting the visitor center transmission blocked in first gear, engine start denied from engine ECU, no way to get the first gear out, to start the engine or to move the vehicle.
14. Emergency pick up from shuttle service (outside temperature 44 C!!) to bring us back to the resort, check in into the Desert Gardens Hotel, than again complaints to Apollo about all the problems and the current situation. Answer from Apollo they would send a VW mechanic next day, repair of AC not possible, no replacement vehicle available. I told the lady in charge from Apollo that we are in a desert location and that the next VW service would be in Alice Springs, 470 km away, but the staff ignored my comment.
15. Next morning 30.12.2013 the local mechanic Tony to whom I already explained our problem the day before showed up (not a VW service car) and took me to our stranded motor home. For half an hour he hit the electric actuator motor for the gear shift from the top and the ground with a wooden plank, than the actuator motor started to move into “N” and we could start the vehicle engine. I drove the VW motorhome back to the resort but I noticed very “hard and abnormal” shifting. I explained to Apollo in the next call that I am not willing in this desert and killing ambient temperatures to risk going again on the road with this vehicle (my opinion confirmed by Tony). The staff from Apollo denied my demand for a replacement vehicle and told me she would try to find another solution, offered me a “rental car” instead of a motor home even so rental cars are in Ayers Rock not available in this moment. I denied all these proposals, spoke to her manager Mr. Leigh and explained that I am insisting in a replacement vehicle.
16. After several useless calls/ proposals (driving with a towing vehicle to Alice Springs etc) then finally information that Apollo would book a flight for us from Ayers Rock to Melbourne on 31.12.2013 and that we could pick up a 6 berth replacement vehicle in the afternoon of 31.12.2013 in Melbourne Apollo station.
17. Later on 30.12.2013 we had to throw away all food/meat/drinks/additional bought camping equipment etc because we could not carry with us on our unplanned flight to Melbourne (worth > 150 Dollar).
18. On 31.12.2013 we arrived at Apollo station at 16.30 PM to receive our replacement vehicle. But, according to the records in the Apollo customer tracking system we should have picked up this vehicle in Adelaide. Never the less Michaela Mueller could provide to us the same VW 6 berth vehicle, just a bit newer with only 57000 km (the first vehicle had 145000 km). This time I checked all important functions by myself. We drove with the vehicle in direction to Sydney, found out in the first Camping stop in Benalla some problems in this second vehicle as well:
• that the grey water hose was trapped. I had to flush it with the pressurized clean water hose.
• the flange connector bracket of the grey water hose under the vehicle chassis was loose
• the grey water hose under the vehicle was loose
• the right side rubber sealing of the front wind shield came out and made horrible noise when driving in strong side winds (we pushed it back several times but it came out again).
• the support bars of the sun roof can't get out easily, the rear one only by almost breaking it. The bolt from the main folding arms connection on the outer sun roof cover hits the support bars
• head light right side broken
• rear bumper bended on the left side, tail light directed to the road, not safety compliant
Conclusions as follows:
• The first vehicle was hardly cleaned and not checked at all before delivery to the customer, the AC was w/o function from the beginning on, tire pressure partly dangerous low, autom. transmission with failure codes all the time, manual shifting not working at all, the black water toilette cassette with a leakage. All these functional severe failures could have been found if the vehicle would have been checked before delivery to the customer.
• Our vacation are completely spoiled as we basically were confronted on daily base with new problems and search activities to find a repair shop for the none functional AC. 5 days out of our 14 day vacation we spend exclusively just for searching AC repair, Apollo service station or replacement vehicle.
• Up to the total vehicle failure at Ayers Rock no help from Apollo was coming at all, I never was called back. Visible that main concern/focus of Apollo staff is to spend less than possible money for customer complaints/vehicle failures but not customer satisfaction. Apollo wanted us first to force to go from Ayers Rock to Alice Spring in a tow truck from VW just to avoid the transportation costs for us (vehicle is still under VW mobility warranty).We could have had this flight to Melbourne on 29.12.2013 not to spoil our vacation completely but this was denied, we lost 2,5 more days with doing/seeing nothing. At least, at the very end and after our vacation already were spoiled Apollo accepted to pay for the hotel, the flight and give us a replacement vehicle. Why not doing so right at the beginning of our “nightmare”?
>> don't rent RV motorhomes from the Apollo company.....
Product or Service Mentioned: Apollo Motorhome Holidays Rv Rental.
Monetary Loss: $6000.