Editor’s Note: The following column by Mark Polk appears in the latest RV Education 101 newsletter offering tips on mechanical inspection prior to traveling. To view the entire newsletter click here.

Not long ago, there wasn’t a GPS designed specifically for RVs. At the time, I purchased and used a GPS designed for truckers. I remember thinking and talking about the need for an RV-specific GPS. I even worked with a company that was providing information to Garmin for an RV specific GPS. Fast-forward, now the market is flooded with GPS units equipped with every feature an RV owner could ever need or want.

About five years ago I researched GPS units, and ended up buying a middle-of-the-road model from Rand McNally. For the most part, it worked flawlessly. I updated it periodically, and it kept on working. Then, in the middle of one RV trip I noticed it wasn’t very accurate navigating the roadways. It wasn’t a new road, it was an old GPS. The time had come to buy a new model.

Since my last GPS served me well, I went back to Rand McNally in search of a new one. Again, I decided on a middle-of-the-road model. Of course, it had more features and benefits than the old model, because technology keeps moving on. I used the GPS for the first time during an RV trip to Tennessee. It was a nightmare! It kept losing the GPS signal, it randomly changed screens, it kept falling out of the mount, and it kept directing me to turn where there were no roads. I tried relocating it on the dash, but nothing I did improved the situation. I thought, maybe it was a one time thing. It wasn’t, it happened again on our next RV trip with even worse results. The warranty was good for one year, so my plan was to send it back for a replacement as soon as we got home.

I went to the Rand McNally site for warranty information, where it stated: Rand McNally will, without charge, repair or replace (with a new or newly reconditioned unit), at its option. I followed the warranty instructions on the site, and after several days, and several e-mails back and forth I was told to do a GPS repair on the unit. The e-mail provided instructions on doing the repair.

As I am writing this, for the past 3 1/2 hours the GPS is supposedly uploading the GPS repair data. When the upload is complete I plan to take a ride in my truck to test the self-repair results. I personally don’t think it can repair every thing wrong with this unit, but for now I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

The lesson I learned is, sometimes brand loyalty backfires. It happened with my RAM truck, and now it happened with a GPS unit. Next time, I will research more, read more customer reviews and be open to buying the best model and brand available for the money.