Your RV brings you and your family countless hours of enjoyment and you likely intend to enjoy using it for years to come. Taking good care of your investment is a good way to prolong the lifespan of your RV and make your camping and road trips fun and safe. Just like your car and home need routine maintenance, your RV needs to be properly cared for to remain in good condition.
RV Repairs are a costly part of RV ownership. But, regular preventative maintenance can help reduce the chances of these expensive repairs from happening. It’s far easier to prevent a problem than to repair it. Stay ahead of the repairs and stay on the road with my tips every RVer needs to know.
This handy RV maintenance guide will help you learn about general RV maintenance and specific tips for using RV service centers, mobile techs, and roadside assistance.
1. It helps to be handy
If you love heading into the great outdoors on an RV road trip, you know that not every camping adventure goes smoothly. Mechanical and functional issues with your RV can quickly bring your road trip to a standstill. With a little knowledge and preparation, you can make many minor RV repairs yourself to get back on the road sooner.
Many RV repairs will be small issues. These could range anywhere from a loose piece of trim to broken door hinge or even a leaky outside seal. These are things that if you are able-bodied can be handled with a quick trip to a hardware store and a bit of your time.
Carrying basic tools with you is important for any RV repair project. Also, a variety of screws, drill bits, sockets, and wrenches are recommended. And, never travel without duct tape and Rhino tape.
2. The waitlist at any RV service center will be long
The RV industry experienced a major boom during the pandemic. More rigs were sold than any other time in history. This also means they have been built faster than usual for the manufacturers to meet demand. Faster almost always means a drop in quality; therefore, many new RVs are now requiring repair.
Many turn to their RV service center and shops authorized by their manufacturer’s warranty. Because there are more RVs and potentially more issues than in the past, the wait times for an appointment at an RV service center can be weeks or even months.
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Also, bear in mind that even when you do get in for service your RV may not be repaired in a day. The service center needs to communicate with the manufacturer to authorize repairs and reimbursement. The onsite RV tech will have to confirm and/or verify the issue. Parts have to be ordered and received.
Meanwhile, more RVers are lining up to get service. If you do opt for an RV service center, check online reviews thoroughly before choosing a shop. Not all service centers are created equal.
3. Mobile RV techs can save you considerable time
If your repair isn’t warranty-based, a mobile RV technician can be very helpful. For starters, they come to you. Many RV techs aren’t allowed to perform warranty repair based on a variety of state laws. Check with your manufacturer if you’re under warranty and if your RV and location allow for certified mobile techs to help you out.
Mobile techs are usually experienced on a variety of RV types; they are often great troubleshooters and it is in their best interest to be quick about the work so they can get to the next customer.
4. Parts might be hard to come by
Having extra parts on hand for common issues can save time, money, and frustration. In addition, if you have an RV service center or mobile RV tech do repairs for you, having those parts in advance can mean a huge difference in time if you cannot get them ordered quickly.
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5. Does warranty coverage work?
There are countless anecdotes on the internet about how a manufacturer’s or third-party extended warranty didn’t cover the repairs someone needed. Read through these warranties in detail and ask questions for clarifications.
Always get the name of who you spoke with and have a copy of the details forwarded to you in an email or a text for future reference and proof. The warranty industry is in the business of not paying when they don’t have to or can get out of it, much like insurance.
There are worthwhile warranties and there are others you’ll want to avoid. Check online rviews and discuss with other RVers before signing on the dotted line.
6. Utilize family and friends with expertie
If you can wait and it isn’t a critical repair, the next time you visit with friends or family, perhaps they can assist you. They may have more experience, skill, tools, or even just more strength! There’s no shame in asking for help. That’s what family is for, right?
7. Roadside assistance can be useful
Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one—and we wouldn’t be without it—despite the fact that in our 20+ years as RVers we’ve only very rarely used it.
There are many sources of roadside assistance available. You may even have multiple roadside assistance packages that you aren’t aware of as they can be offered by your RV insurance company, RV manufacturer, cell phone plan, or even credit cards in some cases. And you can purchase additional coverage through a number of avenues.
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Having a good roadside assistance package can make the difference between spending the night beside the highway and arriving within a reasonable time to your destination.
Bear in mind that like insurance policies and warranty coverages there are details and fine print to examine when comparing these assistance packages.
Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best because it’s the plan we use.
8. Have your manuals, diagrams, and build sheets handy
RV parts change from year to year and even have different build-outs within the same model year. The maufacturer should provide you with a parts list of what is installed including model and serial numbers. If not offered at time of sale, ask your dealer for one. Knowing which model of refrigerator or furnace you have can help you find the right parts faster.
9. Your insurance might be helpful
Since RV repairs can be very costly, assistance from your insurance company will be helpful. Class A motorhome windshields, for example, can cost thousands to replace.
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An RV roof that is damaged can also be costly to repair but often an insurance company will require a separate policy or rider to your current policy to cover a roof. Discuss your policy in detail with your insurance agent to ensure you have the correct coverage for your RV type and budget. When possible use an insurance company that specializes in RVs.
10. Preventative maintenance is your best friend
Many repairs can simply be avoided by performing routine RV maintenance. Be sure to check the caulking around windows and seals and strip and replace it when you see flaking or gaps.
Periodically check every screw you can find. Ensure you lubricate things that move. Check your roof for worn-out lap sealant around vents and fans. Catching symptoms early can help you avoid costly future repairs such as leaks. Check deep-cell batteries monthly and add distilled water as required. Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs. Keep all of your documents in one place.
Have you put…
—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground