Group alleges defects in Hymer motorhomes

Listen to this story

LAS VEGAS – SUIET Hacks, a company dedicated to improving RV safety, announced a campaign to get the RV industry to correct what it believes to be significant safety issues with some Hymer-branded motorhomes.

Sam Carswell is leading the effort which is encouraging Roadtrek and Aktiv owners to reach out to their state attorney general with information he said the industry is ignoring.

“I believe in industry self-regulation and I want it to continue,” Carswell told RV Daily Report. “However, the RV Industry Association needs to have a backstop to enforce safety.”

SUIET Hacks has produced a trove of documents its president says proves electrical and plumbing safety problems that pertain to Roadtrek and Aktiv RVs. The units are out of compliance with National Fire Protection Association Standard 1192 pertaining to the construction of recreation vehicles.

However, prior to going into receivership, Erwin Hymer Group North America (EHGNA) refused to acknowledge the problems existed and even went so far as to threaten to take legal action against Carswell if he made the issue known publicly, he explained.

Improper grounding

The electrical issue stems from the inverter/charger installation.

Carswell said that a grounding wire is five times too small to effectively ground the entire RV and prevent a hot skin condition.

Hot skin occurs when the sides of an RV become electrified so that when someone touches the unit, the person becomes the ground and is immediately electrocuted.

“The inverter is supposed to have a very heavy wire to direct the current into the ground,” he explained. “Because the wire is too small to handle the load, when a short circuit occurs, the wire will fuse and the whole vehicle becomes electrified.”

He said the problem is easily rectified by adding six inches of heavy gauge wire to the right place on the inverter.

That’s why Carswell is puzzled as to why the industry seems reluctant to require the simple repair.

Carswell is a retired chief engineer who worked for Zodiac Airspace. One of his responsibilities was investigation of equipment smoke and fire incidences onboard aircraft, many of which were caused by electrical problems.

Product testing organization Intertek certified the inverter was conformed to UL-458, but Carswell said he is dumbfounded over how it is in violation.

“How can an organization certify a product to be in compliance with a specific standard, when a problem is obvious to anyone inspecting the product — and violation evidence is presented citing specific chapter and line of code?”

Illegal bypass

The problem with the water heater on Hymer Aktivs is that Hymer installed a valve on a pipe that is designed to release steam or hot water if excess pressure builds in the tank.

He said consumers can better understand the purpose of the valve by looking at their home water heater. There is a pressure safety valve and pipe coming out of all water heaters that automatically opens to relieve an unsafe buildup of hot water and steam. The hot water and steam are safely released from the heater.

However, in Hymer’s case, the company installed an additional valve on the drain line. If that valve is ever closed, the hot water heater can’t relieve pressure and the device could rupture and release very hot steam, Carswell explained.

“I’m very worried right now that with Hymer in receivership, that nobody will ever take responsibility for these very dangerous situations,” said Carswell.

He estimates that more than 30% of North American Class B RVs are impacted by one or both of the situations.   The Hymer Akitv is the most hazardous.

“We have prepared a parts list and labor estimate to fix the Aktiv’s hazards, and owners can have the work done by a local RV dealership,” said Carswell.

The parts to fix the electrical problem cost less than $1 and require less than 30 minutes of labor to install.

The plumbing problem can be rectified for less than $125 in parts and 1.5 hours of labor.

Full disclosure

Carswell is coming forward with the information now so that whoever acquires the Roadtrek brand out of receivership is not surprised by the prospect of having to conduct a major recall.

“Based on what I discovered, the installations and subsequent coverup by Hymer represents alleged fraud,” he explained.

“So rather than initiate class action lawsuits against the companies responsible, we would rather have consumers submit fraud complaints to their state attorney general’s office with requests that the agencies investigate the problem.”

Carswell said he is working with elected officials in California and others states to enact legislation to make it easier for consumers to report similar problems with their RVs.

“If an RV manufacturer violated safety standards when building an RV, and the RV Industry Association (RVIA) is not enforcing those standards, but consumers can prove that a problem exists, then they should be able to report it to their state fire marshal to impose a remedy,” he explained.

Carswell said that he reported the safety violations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fire marshals, National Traffic Safety Board and RVIA, yet the existing RVs weren’t recalled and newly manufactured RVs were built with some or all the violations.

“The NHTSA accepted the manufacturer’s apparent misrepresentation regarding the danger of the plumbing issue, since no recall was ever required,” said Carswell. “And nothing was ever done to address this electrical issue.”

He said NHTSA generally prioritizes based on statistics. If a lot of people get killed by a product, the government steps in to investigate, he explained. But, until something serious happens, he said regulators don’t assign resources.

“The only way to address situations like these is to get U.S. senators and representatives to put pressure on regulatory agencies to take action before a serious accident takes place,” said Carswell.

For more information about the situation, visit sites.google.com/view/suiet-hacks-llc.

To receive evidence of the safety issues, email hymer.whistle.blower@gmail.com.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at editor@rvdailyreport.com.

Leave a Comment

  • Sue12180 says:

    I wish it stated what years and models are involved in this.

    • SUIET Hacks says:

      Only Hymer can know for sure when or if they complied with NFPA-1192. No inspected 2017, 2018 or 2019 Hymer Aktiv has been found fully compliant. All inspected 2018 and 2019 RoadTrek and Carado were not fully compliant.

  • Former Roadtrek owner says:

    Does this problem exist in other Class B RV’s such as Pleasureway or CrossFit?

    • SUIET Hacks says:

      I don’t know. We’ve found Intertek’s ETL-US safety mark on four inverter/chargers from two different manufactures. Who conformed your inverter to UL-458? We we able to take pictures of the violating wire through the cooling holes. Perhaps you can be as lucky.

  • Joe Osborne says:

    Surely Mr Carswell can give examples of where his personal opinion actually caused problems. The Hymer Aktiv has been on the market for two years. If it’s such a dire problem, then he should have no problem giving examples. If he can’t, then one has to ask if he’s simply acting as a chicken little?

    • SUIET Hacks says:

      Hi Joe,
      Back from the grave? We miss your “witty” feedback in the Hymer groups. Here are links to a few pictures of Hymer’s melted connectors. They sure look dangerous to me. I wouldn’t want those melted loose wires and connectors inside with my family.

      https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IAVnIGxVxbBBgIpkUsqboAHY1PY_5cx8

      https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Q4SzTpAaHb-XQzMxLBx4QgBUwnXyjZ9u

      https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cNUQd32W7hlq7ovaqeyfvsOO9Chggndg

      Perhaps you are looking for dead bodies; ask around Kirchner (ha ha ha). That joke was in poor taste since I don’t know its not true.

      • Bruce says:

        No question that a ground protection wire should be sufficient in gauge to survive a dead short, but in looking at the photos you provide, I don’t think any ground wire would protect against this damage which looks more like the result of high resistance cable connections on the terminal block.

        • SUIET Hacks says:

          The melted white connectors are from heat caused by the UL-458 violating use of that connector and the internal wire. You are right that a dead short will blow the CB. The more common wiring failure is a near dead short that pulls up to 30 amps, the 18-gauge wire heats the connector, disconnects and then leaves the RV ungrounded and live.

          • Bruce says:

            I’m not sure I understand. From what I’ve read in your notes, the only conductor that is undersized is the 18G ground cable. Aren’t the hot and neutral leads 10G and capable of sustaining overloads that would trip the inverter output breaker well before any terminal would overheat and burn?

          • SUIET Hacks says:

            The connector it UL required to have a “wire saver” feature to be used with the stranded internal wires. The example picture are a with a 10-gauge neutral wire. The picture proves how quickly the connection will fail with a hot 18-gauge wire ground wire

          • Bruce says:

            Is there more than one melted connector? Is the burned terminal in the photo on the AC input or output side and does it support hot, neutral or ground?

      • Joe Osborne says:

        Hi Sam,
        I don’t miss your “expert” opinions. Two death jokes in one post isn’t very amusing, either.

        I find it amazing that numerous engineers missed such glaring errors, but not you. You’re the one who finds everything wrong. I wonder why that is?

        Again, though, how many units were built and shipped by Hymer and how many resulted in water systems blowing up/electrocutions/any other dire threats to life and limb you imply are likely to happen? That’s ok, you don’t need to answer. You can continue to make it sound as if Aktivs are rolling death traps, all practical evidence to the contrary.

        Could thicker gauge wire help improve safety? Probably. Could up-armoring the Aktiv with steel panels all around help improve safety? Probably. Are either necessary? Probably not.

        I have no issue with you saying someone can make improvements to their Aktiv. If you’re willing to take on the risk of someone suing your LLC if they hurt themselves or cause problems with their Aktiv, so be it. What I take issue with is your implication that our RVs are inherently dangerous, because the experience of thousands of owners does not support that implication.

        Sam, I’ve spoken my piece with you and responded to your response here. Say what you feel is necessary in response to this, but I won’t continue this conversation with you. I feel I’ve made my points as clear as I can. I will try to check this article in case anyone else has questions for me. Thanks.

        For reference to other readers, I’ve owned my Aktiv for 13 months, living in it full time for 9 months, and have 32,000+ miles (51,500+ km) on it so far. I’ve driven in every weather condition possible; from snow to hail, dust storms to the edge of a hurricane, and going from below freezing to over 100°F in a single day. I’ve used every stock feature, without modification. At absolutely no point have I ever had any issue with the components Sam implies are failures waiting to happen.

        • SUIET Hacks says:

          The departure of EHG-NA execute management and receivership has changed the “experts” opinions. We have a white paper jointed written with the inverter vendor that describes the dangerous failure mode. It seems JimH had a talent for having his “alternate facts” believed. I wish you safe travels.

  • Fritz says:

    Lmao! Yeah Sam Carswell, good luck getting EHGNA to “fix your problems” now. Don’t you feel that Jim Hammill stuck it to you again?

  • SUIET Hacks says:

    I hope the factory reopens soon

  • Get Daily News Delivered

    Get Weekly News Delivered

    Jellystone Parks make sound business investments

    Recent Posts

    Get Daily RV News Delivered

    Every day we send a summary of the most important news via email. Make sure you don’t miss anything.