What They Don’t Tell You When You Buy An Airstream Motorhome

July 11, 2019

We had never owned a motorhome before. Last year we paid thousands of dollars for travel, hotel rooms and as much to board our 19 year old cat and our 7 year old Australian Shepherd.

We decided we would spend less in 2019 on airfare and lodging by taking the entire family along and sticking to road trips. We had pondered Class A and Class C motorhomes and thought about pulling a trailer but we wanted to be mobile. We loved the 24 foot Airstream Interstate as it had better gas mileage than other motorhomes and it was easy to drive as a car or truck. Last year when Airstream came up with a shorter version of the Interstate, the 19 foot ‘shorty’ ….we were hooked. The Interstate 19 can wander through tight city streets and can be parked in regular sized parking spots. We loved the Airstream luxury name and finishes.

The Interstate is built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and the short chassis was in demand as Amazon had bought 20,000 in 2018 for their new delivery fleet. It was difficult to find an Airstream dealer with a short model. Many dealers charged the MSRP Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price.

In late 2018, a dealer in Ohio had a 4X4 model at a great price, so we flew to pick it up in December.

Despite quality checks by Airstream and then by the dealer, problems were missed. When doing our walkthrough, the rear bench wouldn’t fold down flat (1) needing adjustment.

On our first night camping the step wouldn’t retract (2) when the sliding door was closed. We had to drive to the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, OH to have the step replaced. On our way home, the Fusion Entertainment center failed (3) so we were didn’t have navigation guidance or a radio for the 800 mile drive home. We sang a lot.

We noticed cold air seeping in when we were sleeping as the rear doors did not close tightly (4). Our local Mercedes dealer adjusted the doors for a better seal and told us that when the doors are removed by Airstream during the build, sometimes they are not hung back properly.

Four months later during de-winterization, our Airstream service center discovered that the black tank sensor was not working (6) requiring a replacement just in time for us to start our 5 week, 8,200 mile trip across the country to Canada and back. The seal on the sliding door was coming apart which required glue (7).

During that trip when the powered side ottoman was advanced for the bed, screws kept falling out (8). After the trip, Airstream service discovered that the screws were coming off the bench – these were screwed back. During our last week of our cross country trip, when washing dishes we noticed the floor was wet but so was the inside of the cabinet under the kitchen sink. The sink drain had fallen apart (9) soaking the contents of the cupboard and the wiring.

Airstream proudly advertises their Coachnet Premier Roadside Assistance and Technical Hotline. New owners get this service for 3 years. We called Coachnet while on the road when the sink pipe broke. Coachnet couldn’t help us until we got home as all the Airstream service centers on our way home were fully booked. I kept hearing how busy Summer is and that no service center kept open emergency slots for drop ins. We called our local service center, Colonial Airstream and we couldn’t get an appointment for over 16 days. We brought our Interstate in to Colonial a week earlier than the appointment day so the proper sink parts could be ordered. During that inspection the loose screws in the ottoman were fixed and they discovered several leaks in the ceiling (10) due to poor chalk in the region of the roof fan and solar panels.

With ten problems with this new unit, we wondered if despite the advertised custom luxury build, that Airstream may have rushed production of our unit. Screws weren’t tightened, the unit leaks despite their renowned leak testing, sensors failed, sink broke, and so on.

A week later on June 10, we brought our RV back for its scheduled appointment. The sink parts had not arrived. Colonial asked us to call Airstream directly to expedite the part delivery. On June 15, the parts still hadn’t arrived. We were told again that Summer is a busy time, that Airstream is building many new units, and that parts and delivery are slow. For such an expensive luxury product, why doesn’t Airstream focus as much on serving present customers as it does on future production. A busy surgeon does not tell a post-operative patient suffering a complication to wait as the surgeon is too busy working on new patients.

The sink was replaced and the leak stopped. During that service appointment, it was discovered that the wood interior on the left rear was soaked (11) due to another yet undetermined leak…we were advised to keep an eye on this area.

Two weeks later while camping in the Boston area and plugged into 30 amp shore power, the nights were cool enough to we only needed an open window and the fantastic fan to sleep.

Every night we were woken as the CZone lit up indicating that the house battery was low (12).

A call to Coachnet didn’t help. The tech wanted to be sure we were running a hair dryer while we were sleeping or draining the house battery in some mysterious way. We told the tech we were plugged into 30 amp shore power – he couldn’t understand why the house battery wasn’t being charged. During the 7 hour drive home, a low house battery warning continued to illuminate.

The Interstate 19 is back at Colonial today as they try to fix the problems – 12 so far if you are counting.

For those thinking about spending extra money for the Airstream name, that name does not make the RV immune to problems. Nor does it get you any faster service. We have owned Lexus vehicles for decades but Lexus has never told us to wait for parts – they are shipped to the service within 24 hours. For a luxury brand like Airstream, this should be no different.

If your Airstream Interstate breaks down while you are on your trip, you are likely to spend the remainder of your time waiting for repairs even if it is a new unit under warranty.

Have any of you owners of the new Airstream Interstate 19 had as many of the twelve problems we have suffered? Let me know. Maybe Airstream should know.

Our RV Journey Begins

E81E0C79-5854-42DC-827D-29E99A45BA4FThanks for joining us!

We haven’t retired yet…but we are close. We spend so much traveling across the US every year. Because we have pets, we pay a lot of money to board them.

So…….we bought an RV. We can now be mobile, we can take our boys with us and save on pet boarding. We can save on airfare, avoid high hotel costs and spend less on eating out.

Two years ago we considered an Airstream Interstate Grand Tour. Despite its 24.5 foot length, we could drive it easily. We were comfortable in it.

This year Airstream introduced the shorty, a 19 foot class B – the Interstate Nineteen. Because it is shorter, it will fit in a standard parking spot. We planned to visit major cities and the Interstate Grand Tour would not allow us to navigate in the city …..but the shorty would do better.

We started looking and the Nineteen was in short supply. Amazon was going to start it’s own delivery service and had bought all the Mercedes vans – about 20,000….there were no Nineteens to be found.

We were lucky because one fell into our lap…..more to come later.

Check out our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNGfi12HYa6qIqADkZOcgQA

We are new to RVs. We have an Airstream Interstate Nineteen, a Class B motor home that we plan to travel across the US.

Do you boondock? Do you want to camp overnight in beautiful quiet spots like wineries or farms? If so, join Harvest Hosts and tell them we referred you:



Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton