March, 2016 – When my own Norcold refrigerator quit cooling, I started with what I learned from my own problems (Norcold RV Refrigerators), then when I learned of the ridiculous amount of recalls they’ve had for years and the cover-ups or futile attempts by Norcold revealed by just one lawsuit (Norcold Refrigerator Class Action Lawsuit), I was hooked and the research junkie in me would not be satisfied until I detailed and organized what I was learning.
I started research about the frequent problems with these units and never imagined what a rabbit hole I would fall down into and how much was involved in this matter.
This is very important stuff here, folks, and we literally are talking life and death since these refrigerators are not only causing millions of dollars in repairs and untold inconvenience, but fires are way too common and lives of people and pets have been lost.
I’m organizing this massive amount of info in as easy to understand format as possible and breaking out into individual pages with the most important topics. Since so many people with these refrigerators think the numerous recalls Norcold has issued are true fixes to the problem (and they’re not), this page will be all about that issue.
I’ll start with recap of what I could find so far, with supporting info below.
All Malia’s Miles Norcold pages:
I never imagined it would be so hard to get a list of every Norcold recall. You can go to Norcold Recalls on their website, but it didn’t give the kind of details I was looking for. I wanted to know how many recalls issued since x date, what the problem was and how it was supposedly going to be fixed by the recall.
I called the recall line and was told there were too many of them to list, but basically, here were the main recalls: Cooling Unit, High Temperature, Gas Valve, Thermal Switch, Pressure Tap.
So I went to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – the government agency responsible for overseeing these matters and supposedly acts to protect the public.
Recall Info from Original Petition Class Action Lawsuit filed 12/12/12 (Jeffrey Etter v. Norcold)
Cool and profitable scam for Norcold, I’d say!
What’s the Problem and Does the Recall Repair Fix It?
Norcold Class Action Suit Settled: Posts from named Plaintiff Jeffrey Etter (JLE Seminole in RV forum) to set the record straight.
He gives a recap of the problem, how Norcold knew about them for a long time and did nothing, how they admitted the recall fixes did not work, and addresses subsequent fires that have started because of these refrigerators even when all recalls were done properly.
Norcold, A Different Slant (following information from a Norcold Engineer):
If the Thermal Sensor Module receives a high temperature from the boiler tube, then that indicates that the cooling unit is potentially defective and should not be operated again. Thus, the Thermal Sensor Module kills all the control power to the Refrigerator Control Board and shuts down the Refrigerator. This Module is NOT resettable…it is a ONE-SHOT MODULE. Once tripped, it is DEAD. The refrigerator will have power, but it will NOT run or cool and you will see the code. Older models will just shut down. There is an indicator lamp on the Thermal Sensor Module that will be ON if the boiler tube has reached the critical temperature. At this point, there is NO alternative but to REPLACE the Cooling Unit or get a NEW Refrigerator. If the unit is currently under Norcold Warranty, then they will handle it. If not, then it is the customer’s responsibility.
Do you get this? If their bandaid works, hopefully it will stop a fire, but your refrigerator is then useless until you replace the expensive cooling unit or get a new refrigerator – on your dime! This post was from 2010 and maybe they’ve tried other bandaids since then, but obviously still none effective to really protect the consumer.
It addresses subjects like different recalls and their effects, the increasing scope of recalls, the various fixes they’ve tried, and fires that start regardless.
Recall info on Norcold and Dometic (RVCoolingUnits.com)
Even after reading way too much of this kind of material, there’s so much I just still don’t understand – mainly why didn’t Norcold start from scratch and redesign the cooling unit to better specs like the Amish built ones with thicker tubing wall and other improvements. It seems to me Norcold by now could have recouped increased production costs due to changing the design rather than paying for the countless recall fixes (that didn’t really fix anything), as well as attorney fees and lawsuit settlements through all these years. One theory I heard that was particularly disturbing is that the recalls and retrofits are actually profit centers for Norcold (info on that above)!
Per my RVIA certified tech, Marcus: Don’t forget, the recalls, both Dometic and Norcold, are only an attempt to avoid a fire. They fix nothing! If your unit is going to fail, it will fail, just hopefully with no fire. Newer units are NOT on the recall list because Norcold and Dometic are now installing the recall equipment at the factory. Cooling unit failures may still happen.
4/22/16 Update: RV Owners Sue Dometic Over Fire-Prone Refrigerators (RV Daily Report on a newly filed nationwide class action lawsuit against Dometic).
This is the simple fact of what the Norcold Class Action lawsuit is all about. There are hundreds of thousands of people who own these Norcold units. The problem isn’t a matter of someone not maintaining their unit properly, or doing something that causes it to rupture, explode and/or catch on fire. IT IS AN INHERENT DEFECT THAT IS PRESENT IN EVERY UNIT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT HAS HAD THE RECALL KIT INSTALLED OR NOT. As long as those refrigerators have that defective cooling / boiler unit installed, there is a chance that the boiler will leak, rupture, explode and catch on fire.
We RVers need to stick together regarding this issue, so please comment on any (or all) of the related pages linked below. Tell me your story, suggestions, etc. I’ve gotten lots of emails and private messages, but since I intend to share these pages of research with the NHTSA, manufacturers and dealers to ask why more is not being done to protect consumers from these dangers, the more support shown on these pages, the better. Please comment below and/or on other pages and spread the word!
All Malia’s Miles Norcold pages: