Keystone RV Wheel Bearings

On Father’s Day 2018, on our way home to Colorado, our wheel bearings deteriorated. Technically, the wheel bearings deteriorated and chewed up the axle on our six-month-old fifth wheel.

After spending the night in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we headed north. On the ramp to the expressway smoke started pouring from the back axle of our fifth wheel. As a result, we were stuck on the side of the highway for the next six hours.

2018 Keystone Cougar axle damage after six months.

On the side of the road, we found that the wheel was about to come off the axel. We called Good Sam Roadside Assistance. However, our complimentary year was never registered. Read that story here.

Towing was not an option. It took quite a while to find a Santa Fe, mobile mechanic to help. It was Sunday and a holiday.

2018 Keystone Cougar RV wheel bearings deteriorated after six months.

The mechanic found the problem. The RV wheel bearings had deteriorated and destroyed one axle. Ergo, the tire was about to fly off and there was nothing to screw it back on to. Additionally, the bearings on the second axle were deteriorating. Those bearings had yet to do damage to the other axle.

Heading Home

The Santa Fe mechanic ordered a new axle and wheel bearings from the axle manufacturer. Consequently, we left for home without our unit.

It took two weeks for the axle to be delivered from Indiana to New Mexico. The mechanics installed the axle the day it arrived. We drove back to New Mexico to pick up our unit.

In the end, I can say that David Burns and his mechanics were awesome. On the other hand, there was Keystone RV. We paid $1,300 in labor costs. Ergo, I contacted Keystone directly for a reimbursement. That process took several weeks.

However, we got a reimbursement approval just in time for the next fiasco. The roof failed weeks later.

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Keystone RV Roof Failure

There is a prelude to the story that follows, dealing with Camping World on our Keystone RV Roof Failure. Our experience with Keystone can only be outdone by our experience with Camping World. Read that story at

We went to Camping World (CW) for a warranty inspection when our seven-month-old roof fell apart. Their warranty submission required us to sign away our rights to an estimate. We refused and went directly to Keystone. Ergo, was born.

A few days before our CW warranty experience, a neighboring RVer gave me the number to Keystone’s warranty department. Therefore, I felt confident, with the Camping World inspection in hand, that I could get satisfaction. Ha!

The person who gave me the Keystone RV phone number had a close friend whose brand new axle cracked in two. Their Montana had so many problems that they were eventually given a replacement. It took a full year, but they did get a replacement.

2018 Keystone Cougar roof failure

Keystone RV Roof Failure

As soon as I hung up with Camping World I called the Keystone number. It was a direct line to the warranty department. I asked the Keystone rep why I would have to waive my rights to get the RV fixed. She politely said that we didn’t.

I was told to e-mail all of the inspection documents to her. Promptly I scanned everything and sent it on to Keystone. She e-mailed receipt of the inspection. Then, we waited, expecting results.

After two weeks I started calling Keystone. I talked to the same representative. She contacted her supervisor to see where the warranty stood. It was a day or two before I received an e-mail response. Their verdict was “wear and tear” and the RV roof failure was not covered.

Wear and tear?

  • Were we having parties up there?
  • Why did the Camping World inspection read “wrong material”?
  • What did “improperly installed” mean?

We paid for a $60,000 unit and seven months the roof let loose. The manufacturer was telling us that we were responsible. Undaunted, I pursued the Keystone RV Warranty Department for another few days.

A supervisor informed me that any inspection had to be submitted by an authorized service center. Additionally, the supervisor assured me that Camping World would never “screw us” (my words). I “knew” they would screw us in a heartbeat and I assured her of that.

Keystone Authorized Service Center

Then began my search for a Keystone authorized service center. There were several in Florida. Most were so packed with warranty work that they were not accepting more. After quite a few phone calls I found an authorized mobile RV service. Unfortunately, we were out of the service area.

2018 Keystone Cougar roof failure - tarped

They made their soonest on-site appointment, three weeks out. Our seven-month-old fifth wheel was trapped under a tarp. We waited for our appointment. I put together a list of more than 20 additional warranty issues including:

  • bedroom door frame so crooked it would not close
  • no caulk around the shower
  • broken refrigerator door
  • exhaust fan stuck on
  • DVD malfunction
  • window frame crooked
  • roof failure, of course
  • and so on

Inspection #2

Appointment day arrived. We “untarped” and traveled over an hour to the inspection. This was a “mom and pop” shop, literally. It was a family business with excellent online reviews; unlike Camping World or Keystone RV.

The technicians climbed around and took pictures of all the issues, including the roof failure. After descending the ladder, the technician shook his head. We told him that Keystone called it, wear and tear. He laughed.

After about an hour of inspecting they finished. We had to sign the inspection, but this one had no contingencies or waiving of rights. The girl who ran the office said we’d receive a detailed report via e-mail in a day or two.

More confident than before, having already paid for our spot, we headed back to “retarp” and wait. As promised, I received a report two days later. First, the inspection confirmed that the roof failure was due to being improperly installed. In addition, the report included the rest of our warranty complaints.

The inspection was submitted to Keystone RV that same day. After several weeks I got a call that Keystone was requiring an additional inspection. We made another appointment, untarped again and pulled our unit to a second, no third, inspection.

Inspection #3

The technicians had done nothing wrong. Keystone RV was requiring additional pictures, duplicates in many instances. Regardless, the techs apologized. It wasn’t their fault; they were thorough the first time.

Two weeks passed before we got a call that “most” of the broken items were covered; but not the RV roof failure. The office manager suggested that I call Keystone myself.

Back to Keystone

I made many phone calls over the next few months. First, Keystone suggested that they could pull the rubber tighter and pin it under the nose cap. That’s what happened at the factory to begin with. Keystone’s representative said that being rubber, the entire roof could easily be stretched.

The cuts for the bedroom vent and several other openings left a very small area for stretching. Next, they suggested that they cut the roof to create a seam. That would toss their “one-piece, seamless roof” promotion out the window.

We fought Keystone RV for months. Obviously, they were trying to wait us out. Our warranty expired in November. Thank God for the service center owners. They went to bat for us.

After months of arguing I was told that Keystone RV had sent them a video on how to “repair” the roof. It would have held long enough to get us out of warranty. The service center refused. The owner told them that the roof needed to be replaced.

Four Months Later

Keystone finally conceded. The service center, knowing I’d been arguing for months, told the rep to call us personally. It was sweet.

I’ll never forget it. I was walking the dog in the hot Florida sun when my phone rang. I recognized the number. It was a less arrogant Keystone RV representative. He told me that they had decided to replace the roof. It took quite a bit of self-control to be civilized.

Into a Hotel

This ordeal lasted four long months, on the heels of a chewed-up axle. Read about that fiasco here.

To get the work done would take more than two weeks. Rather than go home to Colorado and come back to Florida for our unit; or move into a hotel. The hotel seemed the best option. That $1,300 was not refundable, according to Keystone RV.

Credit must again be given to the service center for the low hotel bill. Florida is very expensive, especially over the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend fell during the repair time and the hotel rates skyrocketed. We couldn’t wait any longer because we were cutting the end of our warranty too close. So, the technicians completed the roof and other major items first.

Finally Untarped

The roof was finally replaced. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving they let us pick up our fifth wheel. We were able to spend the holiday up north with friends. After the holiday weekend, we returned. This time we stayed in a park within their mobile range. They only charged us one mobile service fee and came out twice to finish the rest of the warranty work.

Unfortunately, I hesitate to mention the name of the service center that helped us. Due to my poor estimation of Keystone RVs integrity, I hesitate to name names.

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

— John Stuart Mill, 1867

Keystone RV Still Sucks

In closing, the problem, as I see it is that the company is allowed to operate unethically because they’re so big. I fought for justice when our RV roof failed. We were not going to pay thousands to fix a roof just seven months after buying a brand new RV.

By sharing our experiences we can warn other RVers. Eventually, Keystone RV may be forced to evaluate the way they do business. Word of mouth is still the best advertising.

Share Keystone Experiences is the place to share your Keystone warranty and repair experiences. We need to publicize this unethical treatment. By sharing we can warn other RVers. In the end, the goal is for us, their customers, to change their behavior.

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