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It's Hot in Onan Heck

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  • It's Hot in Onan Heck

    Hi everyone. Been awhile since I was on here. I'm having generator issues. Again. Sorry this is long...

    I will have had my van for two years as of next month (brand new when I bought it from WNT). Onan now has about 3600 hours on it. Some of you may remember I have had problems with this thing from the beginning. We went through eight fuel pumps in the first few months I had it. We've replaced the choke twice, and last month two days after I had it serviced preventatively, it died and they had to fix something called a fuel stop solenoid plug connector. We have serviced this Onan religiously every 100-150 hours ourselves, and taken it in to the Onan tech for service every 500 hours like clockwork.

    Anyway, last thursday it up and died while I was in the middle of a newfoundland. I plugged in to finish cause it would not re-start. It cranks, tries to start and backfires a ton, and won't stay running. The guy who looked at it also said fuel was spewing through the air filter and he was concerned that the oil sending unit may be malfunctioning. It has always used a lot more oil than it should... more than our other van's generator that is one year newer.

    What is worse is that my tech at Cummins Rocky Mountain is off for this week and can't see it till May 7th. Yes, we only have ONE Onan tech for the entire region unless I feel like driving out of state. No other RV tech people will touch it because it's under warranty (for TWO more WEEKS) and they say they can only fix external stuff and this is a major problem I'm having.

    So... I tried the first time around with the eight fuel pumps to get Onan to give me a new generator because I suspect this one is a lemon. But they would rather throw parts at it forever than do that for me. (Like I said, our other van and generator have had no problems like this!) Do you think there is anything I can do or should I just keep taking the risk and having to fix it all the time, or should I suck it up and buy a new one myself?? The warranty is only good for two more weeks. I do believe that Onan makes good products that last, but I feel this one was built poorly. It happens in factories. But can I afford to keep this up if it's just a lemon? Can anyone ever get through to the higher-ups at Onan with a problem like this??

  • #2
    Must have been made on either a monday or friday lol
    If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!


    • #3
      Wow, sorry you're having such trouble. It's definitely a lemon. My unit has similar hours and while I had some trouble in the beginning it's been fairly (knock wood!!!) trouble free. It needed a new fuel pump within the first hour of use; some stalling and trouble restarting in hot weather the first summer, but that seems to have resolved itself.

      Anyway, IMHO, you have grounds for getting a new one from Onan, especially if you have all the documentation regarding the fuel pump issue and all the other issues. Stressing the problems that occured during the time it was still under warrenty.

      If this was my unit, my primary concern would be keeping myself working. I would, as you say, suck it up and buy a new one. But I would not give up on Onan. I would write them a letter enclosing copies of all the work that has been put into the generator and its maintanence records and I would tell them that you want to discuss your compensation options with them.

      You may or may not be able to get 100% replacement (it does have more than 3,000 hours on it, after all) but if you can get them to negotiate with you perhaps you can get some sort of compensation for all the trouble and expense you have gone through and to offset the cost of the new generaotr you have to buy. If you get no response, get an attorney. All you might need is a "lawyer letter" sent to them that threatens litigation if they do not respond and deal with you. You wouldn't happen to have any relatives who are lawyers?

      More often then not something semi official like that will get you some satisfaction, especially since it's a relatively small amount of money for Onan to make you go away. Also, the lawyer can advise you as to whether it would be worth your while to actually hire him or her should Onan call your bluff.

      But if you still get no where, you need to try to make peace with it and try to enjoy the tax deduction for the new generator next April. Sometimes s*** just happens, and once you have exhausted all means to gain some justice you just have to strike it up to bad karma and hope for the best with your next genset.

      Good luck!!



      • #4
        Has anyone ever hear of using a "fogging oil" on their generator? Jamie at WNT told me today to spray some of that into the carburator every time we change the oil and it will make the engine last longer. Anybody know about this or what kind to use? I think he said look for something called C-4, but I can't find that anywhere...


        • #5
          I think you should ditch the onan and get a Honda generator. bow wow wheels has one and she says she loves it! quiet too!


          • #6
            thats terrible....i have a honda generator and it runs flawlessly...gets about 1 hour of use per half gallon..and runs everything (a/c, stand dryer, hv dryer, water pump, lights etc.... Haven't had a problem in eight months...Perhaps you should try Honda Next..I've heard several bad stories from onan owners...
            good luck


            • #7

              Try out an inverter, if you can. If you're going to have to spend the money, it might be worth it for you at this point.


              • #8
                If I were you I would demand that onan give you a new generator since it is still under warranty and you can prove that you have had problems since day one. It shouldn't be your responsibility to have to buy a new one when you have had problems since day one.


                • #9
                  Two Things I noticed....

                  First, I have an Onan 3500 or some such #. Commercial generator. The first one tested died before I ever received it! I waited til January to get new gen installed (none in stock end of year) It has been fine since. It has had a short block (heart of gen) due to hrs. I have approximately 2,500-3,000 hrs left. You still have 2,000 or so hrs left. I agree with Meesh, you deserve a new generator. When that dies at 5,000 then consider an inverter. Onan won't give you your money back. Second, I believe you change the oil every 150hrs. spark plugs are important so you don't build up carbon. there are sprays to decarb. Valves and valve work cost a lot of $. I didn't look up your location. Hot states such as Arizona are hardest on generators. I hope yours is mounted on the side of van and not underneath as they used to be. Worst hot friction place to mount.Gotta get tuff with Onan.I do think it must be commercial grade, as we run them for so many hrs. Don't turn off between clients, especially when you need a cold van with A/C soon.Your gen also has depreciation til one yr. bus expense, you know all that. I wish you the best....such a PAIN. Stick w/ onan certified guys.


                  • #10

                    google "fogging oil" ams oil has it.


                    • #11
                      Didja ever notice...

                      That when I say something about Onan POS generators I always call them Onan POS? And that is for a good reason!!!!!!!! Onan POS won't make it right with you no matter what, period. My genset had 917 hours on it after 1.5 years and the Onan POS rep asked me what they could do to "make it right" with me because I was having soooo much trouble with my genset. It was in the shop longer than it was in my van and I stressed out so much over the genset not running after I paid so much money for it that I almost sold the van to go back to a shop!! I told him that I wanted a new genset, one that would stay OUT of the shop and out of my pocketbook every time I turned around. He flat out told me that THAT wasn't going to happen, period, dot, dot, end of story! They think they have a lock on the industry and that is why they don't care what you do-they already have your money. They DO NOT make a quality product judging from my experience with experience and that of so many others I hear about almost weekly. My Onan POS died with 2611.1 hours on it after 4 years of sheer H E double hockey sticks with it. Get a Honda and be done with it.

                      You might ask WNT if they'd go to bat for you with Onan POS but I doubt it... None of the van manufacturers seem to want to change their little cozy relationship with Onan POS. If just ONE of them would refuse to install their shoddy product and go to bat for their client it might change but I don't think I'll see that day in my lifetime <sigh>


                      • #12

                        So are you saying you dont like Onan? lol


                        • #13
                          Patty, it's O'CAN POS. Geez. LOL


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doug View Post
                            So are you saying you dont like Onan? lol
                            Gee, Doug, what ever in the world gave you that impression?? ROFL!! No, I don't like them. I've heard so many horror stories about Onan POS generators not working or working half ---ed that it isn't funny. You either swear by them or at them. And most I've heard swear at them LOL!! I've only ever heard one good Onan POS story and that was my friend Denise. When her van burned to the ground around her she managed to salvage her Onan POS genset because it worked well for her for years. She's had it for a while now and it is still going strong for her in her new(er) van. She's the only person I've ever heard of who had a good experience with Onan POS. I know that there are others out there who have had positive experiences with them but they are very few and far between. It is far more the norm to have a horror tale than a good tale.

                            You'd like to think that with a quality Cummins engine in them they'd work a little better but they don't for the most part. It might not matter so much to someone tooling around the countryside on a weekend camping trip in their RV but this is a vital piece of equipment for a mobile business and there are quite a few of us who can't, for one reason or another, run an inverter system. I know I can't because of the climate here-too hot and the inverter would heat up too much in the space that I have for one. Plus I'm told that it won't run an AC unit like the one I've got Trust me, if I could go inverter and do away with the genset entirely, I would in a skinny minute!


                            • #15

                              Tempting. It will be 4 a gallon soon enough.Not a penny less.