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Around the Campfire: RVers debate: Are RV warranties worth it?

Another evening sans campfire, due to the heat. We gathered around a cooler instead. After a bit of griping about the hot temperatures, someone brought up RV warranties, and suddenly “heat” wasn’t the hot topic anymore. Grab a camp chair and listen in…

Joey and his wife plan to purchase an RV this fall. They’re hoping to snag a good deal at one of the upcoming RV shows. They have already chosen the manufacturer and know they want a fifth-wheel RV. The problem? Joey thinks they should purchase an extended warranty and his wife doesn’t want the added expense.

What is an RV extended warranty anyway?

At the outset of the discussion, someone wanted to know just what Joey intended to purchase. “Is an RV extended warranty the same as an extended warranty for a car?”

Most campers around the cooler said, “Yes.” An RV extended warranty is essentially a company’s promise to make repairs (or pay for repairs) as detailed in the warranty’s contract. Minus a deductible, of course.

Tom argued, “It’s not really a warranty at all. An RV extended warranty is just a service contract. For it to be a warranty, the cost would need to be included in the RV’s purchase price.” Hmmm. That’s interesting because service contracts and warranties often fall under a different set of state regulations, depending on where you purchase the RV warranty. It really pays to read the fine print to make sure you’re actually getting what you think you’re buying.

Two types of contracts

Joey had done his research. He explained that there are basically two kinds of warranties: exclusionary and inclusionary. An exclusionary contract will cover every item except for those listed (or excluded) in the contract. Inclusionary contracts list all of the components that are covered. If a part is not listed, it will not be covered in the warranty.

Joey admitted, “I know the exclusionary contracts cost more, but they cover more parts, too. I think it’s worth it. Do you know how much an RV repair shop charges per hour? It’s astronomical! And RVs can have lots of problems.”

Tom added, “My extended warranty saved me lots of money—on my slide-out repair alone. But even better, it gives me peace of mind. I don’t worry about unexpected or untimely bills.”

Third-party or dealership warranty?

Many RV dealerships will offer their own warranty protection option. The cost of the warranty is often added to the cost of the RV itself. If this is the case, you’ll pay interest on the warranty as well as on the rig.

Dealerships aren’t your only choice for RV warranties, however. America’s RV Warranty (ARW), Wholesale Warranties, Eagle Vision, and Good Sam Extended Service Plans are a few of the more popular RV plans available.

DIY instead

“If you’re halfway knowledgeable about the inner workings of your RV, you can save yourself the cost of a warranty and repair bills, just by doing the work yourself!” Mike declared. “You can find most ‘fixes’ on internet videos, or post your question/problem on an RV blog.”

Kevin added, “Unless you have some mechanical expertise, I’d say you shouldn’t buy an RV, period!” A few RVers offered that perhaps a warranty could make up for the lack of expertise. “Either that or a big bank account,” Kevin joked.

Are warranties worth the money?

“Probably not,” Mark stated. “Companies have done the math. If they weren’t making more than they were paying out, they’d stop offering warranties.” Everyone around the cooler agreed.

“But how do you put a dollar amount on peace of mind?” Jan asked. How, indeed!

What do you think? Do you have a service plan or extended warranty on your current RV? Explain why or why not in the comments below.

More on RV warranties

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CLeeNick
7 hours ago

We’d purchased used until 2018, so no warranty and I always fixed things myself. When we bought our new 2018 Passport the salesman talked us into a “premium extended warranty, the only kind he sells.” I was on the fence but my wife said she didn’t want me to have to work on it. What a scam. I’m sure it put premium commission money in the salesman’s pocket, but it’s done nothing for us. Turns out it’s a “service contract”, NOT a “warranty”. First indication it was garbage was when our step broke after the manufacturer warranty expired. I called the “customer service” number and the lady on the line literally said “We don’t pay to fix things that break.” After much hassle, the dealership finally replaced the step at their expense. It’s been all downhill from there. I honestly feel Keystone/Passport treated us well under their warranty, but I’ll never buy an “extended warranty” again.

Michael
1 day ago

No extended service plan on my 2016 Grand Design Reflection 303RLS as we are second owners. We use it more than half time. Perhaps we’ve been lucky personally or because we bought a Grand Design. From Oregon we’ve traveled to Alaska and back, New York and back, as well as to Arizona and back multiple times. We’ve had occasional issues that either I’ve addressed or Grand Design has addressed for us. Perhaps not everyone gets the support from GD as we have, but I can’t speak highly enough for the company.

Bruce Perens K6BP
1 day ago

You get peace of mind – until you try to file a claim. One big tell that the contracts are not in your interest is that they are not online and it’s difficult to even get a look at them until it’s time to buy and you are under pressure to buy your RV or the contract. The ones that I have actually gotten a look at limit the payout for each piece of equipment, and it’s too low to actually pay for the service.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 day ago

Thanks for the info, Bruce. BTW, my grandpa’s amateur radio call sign (many decades ago) was K7SD. I loved to watch him about 65 years ago with his very speedy Morse Code. Have a good night. 😀 –Diane

Gene Cheatham
1 day ago

We bought a 2018 Jayco Eagle 5th wheel used from a private party that purchased it new from Apache Village, a dealer in the St Louis area that we’ve done business with, and happily so. We purchased an extended warranty from the dealer to cover this rig, and exclusionary type, for about $1700. A do it your selfer that knows his limits, I fixed out water heater diagnosing a bad control board. Our dealer covered the part completely, no deductible, even though I provided my own labor. A few weeks ago one of our A/C units shot craps and they replaced it with zero out of pocket money on our end. Too, with getting service so difficult, especially if you did not buy the rig from them, our purchasing just the warranty from them was enough to keep us in the fold with this rig as their customer, else we would be left out in the heat. So far, we would do the same thing again. We probably would have had more things come up but we’ve not been able to get out very often.

Gene Cheatham
1 day ago
Reply to  Gene Cheatham

Oh, I forgot this on my post above: This was a Route 66 contract. We also bought, from the same dealer, a new 2016 Jay Flight, bought a transferable Route 66 contract that made it so easy for us to sell it privately. They way rigs breakdown we believe a good company and contract is worth the peace of mind. So far we’ve just about broken even with the cost of the contract for our fiver.

cee
2 days ago

I threw away money on a bumper to bumper ‘covers everything’ policy from Wholesale Warranties. Every claim I filed was denied. Lesson learned.

Barry
2 days ago

I purchased a 5 year exclusionary warranty when I purchased my 2007 Tiffin MH. I paid $5,000.00.
While the cost seemed high at the time, I have since had a refrigerator, combo washer dryer, 13.5k AC, water heater, awning motor, and turbo charger replaced. The turbo alone was $6500.00.
While it may not be everyone’s experience. I’m certainly way ahead on my choice.

Mike
2 days ago

Each person has to decide what works best for their situation. Some people write checks, some turn wrenches. For us, “ I am my extended warranty “.

Sharon N
1 day ago
Reply to  Mike

I have the same extended warranty (my husband)!

Spike
2 days ago

This is a very personal choice that only each individual can assess for themselves. Emotions and personal risk tolerance are key factors. We all know that ON AVERAGE buyers of such policies will lose money. OTOH, a few will make out big.

Personally, I don’t buy these policies. I put money aside each month to pay for repairs that I mostly have done myself for decades. I am WAY ahead for not buying policies. I could easily have a complete diesel rebuild done with my savings over the decades.

But, we were camped next to two wonderful elderly ladies with a used 45′ DP loaded with all the gadgets. In our conversations they mentioned their extended coverage package. For them, it made sense and they had come out ahead since every issue involved taking it in for repair.

Jace P
2 days ago

After replacing 1 transfer switch, 3 converters, 2 central vacuum motors, 1 fireplace, 2 expensive power surges, a buss fuse, a furnace, and the 50amp outlet into the rv over a period of 4 years I’d say no doubt we were glad to have the extended warranty. Our total cost was around $500 for deductibles and our warranty company, Route 66, has been awesome throughout this frustrating ordeal. The culprit, it turns out, on our 2018 3791RD 41’ 5th wheel Montana was a cross wired 50amp outlet into the RV. Faulty workmanship when the camper was built. After 4 years of frustration everything is now working as it should. Being full time rv’ers and on a fixed income I am more than thankful we decided in getting the extended warranty.

Spike
2 days ago
Reply to  Jace P

Your cost was $500 PLUS the cost of the warranty. Was probably a good deal, in your case, but the initial upfront cost must always be included along with deductibles and any “denied claims” to make that determination.

Jace P
2 days ago
Reply to  Spike

Agreed. In this case. The cost of all the labor, repairs and replacements has exceeded the cost of the warranty plus deductibles with a couple years to go on the warranty. If anything more happens only then will it be worth it. The reason we took the warranty was due to the horror stories of buying new. Since we full time and having to call out a repair tech to come to each of the parks we were at, plus being electrically ignorant, it happened to be the right choice. However, if I had to do it all over again I would just do what other posts suggest…put money aside for emergency’s.

Bob p
2 days ago

The dealer you bought the RV from is the only dealer who is going to honor your warranty, everyone else will put you out in their lot until all their customers are taken care of. If you are buying an extended warranty make sure you can take it to any dealer to get it fixed. RV warranties are not like car warranties where you can take it to any dealer selling that brand and get it fixed. Factory warranty work doesn’t pay as much as customer pay so dealers don’t like warranty work and if they have customer pay work they do that first.

Kenny G
2 days ago

If you purchased an multi-year extended warranty on your RV from a dealer, what most people do not know is that you can cancel it for a partial refund. I did this after two years on a warranty that we $4,200 for on a travel trailer, and received a refund of several thousand dollars. That dealer knew we were first time buyers and basically ripped us off.

Mike Noel
2 days ago

Believe me when I tell you an extended warranty from a dealer or manufacturer on a new rig is different than after market on a used RV…. especially on a Class A. I am an insurance rep, personal lines…no RV lines, and we have benefited tremendously. A fridge in our Class A is $3000, for example. If you have owned a used RV, there are usually problems. Our warranty covers our diesel engine. If you actually use your RV and are far away from home frequently it’s, the after market warranty, peace of mind. Again, I’m not talking about a dealer or manf warranty on a new rig.

Betty Studzinski
2 days ago

I have Eagle vision and only a year into it I have already had to replace my air conditioner, so it’s already paid out as far as I’m concerned. I had Good Sam on my last rv and replacing the refrigerator paid for that one as well. I’ve had other smaller fixes but those are the two big ones plus my peace of mind is a big one too.

Warren G
2 days ago

We purchased a 7 year warranty for around $2,000 when we got our TT. Only used in 3 or 4 times for issues that probably totaled just several hundred dollars. I almost cancelled it a few times. Then we had a slide motor burn out and short wiring in the underbelly of the trailer. Wiring had to be replaced from the front of the trailer to the switch toward the rear, which required removal of part of the underbelly. That incident alone ran $2,000, so we’re now ahead on the extended warranty. Not sure we’d do it again, especially if we had something with no slide, but it worked out well for us this time.

Iggy
2 days ago

If you pay for a warranty during the “new warranty” period you are paying for something you already have. I think a lot also depends on how much you will use and how far you will go in the RV. One thing I can guarantee, almost from the minute you buy your new RV, you will get offers to buy a warranty. My camper is now going on 3 years old…I might actually consider a warranty before embarking on a cross country trip, and I am waiting to see the results of surveys of satisfaction with road service and warranties so I will know which ones are the better ones to buy. I do all my preventive maintenance and carry tools so in most cases I can handle repairs – I hate the idea of being helpless on the side of the road.

Ron
2 days ago

No.

bob
2 days ago

Never buy extended warranties on anything. Paying for repairs before they happen.

Kim P
2 days ago

I purchased one from the dealer when I bought my new to me TT. For the first two years the trailer sat due to the pandemic but in the last year the warranty has paid for itself and I still have two years left. I am glad I purchased it.

Larry Lee
2 days ago

Our waranty was purchased through the dealer when we bought our Class A 40′ Thor DP. Everytime we needed it our service company had difficulty getting the repair covered. It usually ended with me having to take over, make photos or videos to document the problem and get the repair approved. They were especially difficult to work with when we had two repairs in the last two months of the 7 year waranty.
So if I had it to do over, I would not buy it at the dealer with the RV purchase. Instead I would go to a reputable independent RV repair/service company and ask them which waranty company they find easiest to work with and buy that one. They are not “All the same”. The dealer will point out that if you buy it at the time of RV purchase you can include it in your loan and just pay it out over 10, 15 or even 20 years with interest!
Or the other option is to calculate how much that waranty is going to cost you WITH INTEREST and start putting that equivalent monthly amount safely away.

Ron T.
2 days ago
Reply to  Larry Lee

Aircraft owners are familiar with this last method as it’s recommended practice to regularly put away money for a future engine rebuild/replacement. When TBO (Time between overhauls) is reached you have the money at hand. You could just start a savings/investment account for your RV and if you seldom or never need to use it, you still have your money not the warranty company.

Herman
2 days ago

No warranties on our two trailers, one class A, or two class B’s (in that order) over the years.

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