Monday, September 25, 2023


It’s checkout time, your RV has a problem, won’t move. What to do?

By Chuck Woodbury
I have wondered what would happen if it were time to check out of my site in a packed RV park, but my motorhome had a mechanical problem and it couldn’t move. What if it were a park where every RV space was reserved for every night: somebody was due in your spot later that day?

What would you do? Could the park manager force you to move? Has this happened to you? It must happen from time to time.

Here is a letter I received today that got me thinking about this. It’s from a reader named Renee Gainey, who wrote:

“I need help. The manager in our park in Crescent City, California, keeps asking us to move, saying she has reservations for our particular spot. We have had some mechanical issues with our Class A and are still waiting for a back-ordered part for our hydraulics so we can’t move.

“She told me a week ago that someone was coming into our spot. We are still waiting for our part but we are supposed to be out tomorrow, no exceptions. I want to know why they want us out so badly. There are plenty of open spots here. My husband is disabled, I am partially disabled and we bother no one. How can a manager of a park pick and choose when we are in a predicament and can’t move our RV yet?

“We offer to pay whatever is needed until we can safely move. I was hoping you could write an article asking if this type of situation has happened to other full timers. I think this topic should get out in the open. It’s not right.”

In this case, if the RV is unable to move, can the RV park force the RVer to leave, perhaps having it towed elsewhere? Of course, as we all know, sometimes there is not another RV park for miles, or there are no spaces. In this case, the couple in the site is waiting for a part to get their RV running again.

Then there’s the RVer who has reserved the site beginning in a few hours. What if he or she arrives and the reserved site, which you still occupy, is not available, or any other site? Isn’t that person entitled to the space? I suspect some people, in our too-angry world, would be very upset.

I have never been in this situation, but I have thought about it. I would love to hear your comments if this has happened to you. If it’s not happened to you, what do you believe is the best thing for both the RVer and the park owner to do?

Please feel free to leave a comment.


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. We had just this sort of thing happen during a recent caravan we were leading. There were 22 rigs in our caravan and we were staying in a campground in upstate NY during the height of the camping season in June. When we were due to leave, one of our group suffered a heart attack. Doctors put a pace maker in our caravaner. The man was unable to drive and had to stay in place for follow-up treatment. No other campgrounds in the area had anything available. The manager of the RV Park found another spot in the campground and moved their Class A MH to that spot, saying it was available for a week. At the end of the week, the couple was still stuck there with medical issues. The manager then rigged up a double hookup on one site. It was at great inconvenience to the RV Park but they understood the situation and helped out as they could.

  2. Before the pandemic hit, we were returning from the Phoenix NASCAR race, and spent a night in Vegas. When we went to pull out of our spot, the jacks wouldn’t retract and we had oil dribbling out of the weep hole of the hydraulics bay. I had to go and check back in, and the park recommended a local tech who came out first thing the next morning due to another job (all three I called were busy). $110 to replace a pair of $0.05 O-rings. The park was nice enough to juggle four other different reservations to accommodate our issue.

    It definitely sounds like this ladies park manager should be able to work with them, especially knowing that there are supply issues. That said, the park could charge a ‘premium’ fee for them taking the spot for so long.

  3. We had similar experience in RV park in Temecula, our MH wouldn’t start after checking in at the office. We had it towed to our reserved spot. RV office had info on a mobile tech who fixed the problem. We had to extend our stay by a day waiting for part

  4. We have never been prevented from leaving a campground as scheduled by a mechanical problem. We did have a family emergency that led us to request to extend our stay by one day, which we had to do twice. Thankfully the campground owners/hosts graciously agreed. As to solutions to being unable to move, towing the disabled RV to an available spot seems acceptable/necessary. In the event that towing is impossible or will destroy the disabled RV, then I think the incoming RV will have to be situated in an unconventional spot in order to provide some or all utilities. Also seems appropriate that the campground AND owners of disabled RV share costs of extraordinary means of providing utilities (e.g., hiring a pump-out service for displaced RV). Really, this is a very tough situation for all and graciousness and flexibility on the part of all three parties is needed.

  5. I have a very good friend that was ready to depart a R V Park near Santa Cruz.

    The slides would not retract.

    The park was insisting he leave and he couldn’t move his coach.

    He was finally able to move his motorhome just a few feet out of his site with slides out at a very slow pace.

    The park charged him $40.00 a day with no hook ups.

    It took 4 days to get his motorhome repaired.

    The park was not very kind.

      • I was once affected by someone who had mechanical problems. A friend and I were traveling together, each in our own RV. I made all the reservations for both of us and went to great lengths to reserve sites next to each other. When we arrived at the campground, we were told that the person who was supposed to be leaving my friend’s site, had a mechanical problem and couldn’t move his RV. She was given another site quite far from mine. I was camped next to the person with the problem who had a pick-up and fifth wheel. Not sure what the problem was, as I never saw anyone attempting to make a repair, and the family was driving the pick-up. It was disappointing but we managed.

  6. A similar situation occurs when one of the party is taken to the hospital for something serious. I saw it happen due to a serious heart attack at a COE campground near East Moline, IL this summer.

    The campground and neighboring campers appeared to go out of their way to accommodate the wife for an extended period of time.

  7. We had this happen over labor day weekend this year. The rv would not start and the cg was completely booked for the weekend. I was able to get the engine running but had to hold my finger on the auxiliary start rocker switch. I limped around to the last overflow spot. We had 20 Amp service there and made an appointment for Tuesday morning at a truck repair garage. After trying numerous things, I was able to figure out the problem, which was a bad relay. I was able to get a replacement at the local auto parts store and canceled the appointment. The owners of the Brattleboro KOA were very helpful and understanding and did not charge us for the overflow spot, can’t say enough good things about them.

  8. We Were in Jefferson City,Missouri waiting for a part for our diesel truck. We had to move to another spot. But what really peed us off , the site we had been on stayed vacant for a week. Finally the day before we were to leave a MH pulled in and was gone before we left. And to top it off there still were quite a few open spots where that MH could’ve parked for the night. Nice park, great river views. But us being told we had to move was ridiculous.

    • What campground were you at in Jefferson City, Missouri. That is my home town. I moved away many years ago but need to go back one of these days. I want to avoid that campground.

  9. I think more info is needed here. I have questions. Are they doing the repair themselves and waiting for a part? or are they using a local repair shop or mobile repair? Because, If they are doing it themselves, they should go through someone else, after all they are disabled. Not sure how being disabled is preventing them from moving, being that they drove there in the first place. People should just deal with their situations instead of playing the victim card for sympathy to get their way, providing that is what has happened here. A plan “B” is definitely in order here because supplies seem to be very limited and getting worse. Unless they come up with another option they could be there for a very long time and that seems unacceptable. I wish them the best.

  10. I appreciate the situation. Camping at a Federal park, they did not give me the checkout date, some charge by the day, some by the night, and the stoned campground host was livid I had not left on time. The contract could not be found, as expected. Oh well, I am more careful now.

  11. A couple next to us in a fully booked KOA in Petoskey, MI, had a similar problem. Park management was accommodating. In my opinion, park management should explain to the incoming “reservist” what the situation is and ask if they would accept an alternative site. For that matter, the owners of the inoperable RV could sweeten the pot by offering funds to reduce the incoming party’s site fees. While it is an angry world, 99% of the RVers I have met over many years I have found to be reasonable and helpful. The other 1% cold be described as having necks with varying shades of red!

    • You are assuming that “rednecks” are all bad, which is far from the truth. Most of them are extremely good people, and some of the most knowledgeable and helpful about mechanical issues. Your 1% comment is very unkind.

      • I do agree unkind but, over the years the term “redneck” has achieved a negative connotation (unfortunately). I believe that Carl was using this derogative term loosely which is unfortunate indeed. I am a Texan (female) and consider myself a “redneck” because I’m out in the sun A LOT and my neck gets sunburned. See, different connotations on the same term! THIS though is the sort of thing we need to learn to NOT say. What is ok for some is hurtful to others! ALL OF US need to learn respect for our fellow man (or woman)!

    • I take the red neck reference as how some people’s face and necks get varying shades of red when they are angry and over the top with rage. That’s my take on the comment!
      I do agree that 99% of us have compassion for a fellow RV’er in a bad situation and will whatever is necessary to help out however it’s the 1% that don’t care until it happens to them!

  12. I’ve been on both sides of this. The hydraulic motor on my 5th wheel failed so I couldn’t retract the slides or levelers. We immediately notified the manager and started scratching our heads. I knew there was a solution but it took some time to figure it out. We asked the manager for the best nearby hardware store because I needed some special tools and she LOANED me what I needed. We departed 3 hours later, 2 hours past checkout time, with profuse thankyou’s and no extra charges.

    Another time around a holiday we got a 7-day reservation but would have to move to a different site half-way through our stay. This involved 4 other rigs because of the site lengths and utilities offered. The 1st RV in this chain reaction stalled for as long as they could while the rest of us waited. Since I was ready, I moved out and for a while I was the only RV without a spot. The manager finally intervened and asked the 1st guy to get moving. Talk about musical chairs!

  13. Does the RV park have a no or limited service area that the RV could be moved or towed to that you could rent till the part comes in. Guess I am asking if some kind of compromise could be arranged between the two parties.

  14. I worked at an RV park for four years. We had a simple policy that worked well to avoid such issues: we did not guarantee any particular site reservation. We would record your preference. We would work to fulfill your preference. But, we would not guarantee a particular site. Period. 99 times in a hundred, you got your preference.

    • Though, it isn’t like that throughout. Particular CG’s have views that people specifically want, reserve and pay for. Besides, why have a site preference you can’t give. Waste of time filling in when making reservations.

  15. We’ve been in the ‘can’t move’ situation several times (jacks not retracting, slide not coming in, motor not starting, air bags not inflating). First thing is to let the campground office know of your situation. We’ve had great cooperation from the office, even if someone is due to come in to our site. They may offer the name of a local tech, offer tools, or other help. As a campground worker, our bosses do all of the above, and try to be part of the solution, maybe even offering a non-camping spot on the property to get towed to for a work space or temporary parking for the incoming unit . If all involved parties work together (even the incoming site renter), a solution may often be worked out to handle the situation without cross words or hard feelings.

  16. This happened to me last year. We had stopped to get fuel and they put gas in my diesel truck. We drove back to the campground before I realized what had happened. I talked to the 1000 trail park host and told them what had happened and my truck was going to be gone for at least 2 days. They told me that all the sites were booked but they would work around my problem, I just paid for the extra nights. Hats off to the 1000 trail campground for being so understanding

  17. I’ve had it happen to us when we had the grandkids along for a trip, yes I was perturbed having to wait a half hour for the other rv to pack up and move on, but I kept my mouth shut, hard to do for a marine. All that I kept thinking about was getting our rv set up along with the kids bike and gear out so the kids could get to the pool.

    • It is heartening seeing you be a great role model for your grandkids. Learning to accept and deal with situations that don’t go as planned is a great life lesson.

  18. similar problem happened to me several times that I can remember. I have also asked on many occasions for a spot I could stay in for an extended period in case something unexpected was found when taking my truck for service. Or service took longer then anticipated, Once I limped into a campground overheating I had no idea how long it would stake to get back on the road . Once got a flat before leaving the spot but that spot was not booked . Three other times I was towed into campgrounds twice on holiday weekends. In two cases they found spots for us and in the other they set us up next to their maintenance shop with water and electric. Once I was towed to a Ford dealer on a holiday weekend and was allowed to boondocks in a corner. Stuff happens I like to think most Campgrounds would want to help work it out. In the the final analysis they cant survive on one time traffic especially with clubs and people like you to out the bad guys.

  19. we had that happen to us twice now where broken down was in our spot. Fortunately state parks where they gave us option to wait or occupy one of the walk up sites. We exercised taking a walk up site in one case & waiting a few hours for the other. We have also had to repair a tire & ended up running over on the site by about an hour – new occupant not there yet when we left.

  20. It seems like we are missing a part of the story.. Anyway I’m working at a large park in Montana for the summer. We are sold out for the entire month of July. That being said we do have a couple of “oops sites” for booking errors or unexpected issues. If this is a small park they may not have a “spare site” or the incoming guest might be a long time guest and the manager is trying to balance everything. Knowing what we do it seems the manager is being unreasonable, but we haven’t heard their side of the story. Getting repair parts in these times can be a PITA . I want to hear the rest of the story.

  21. If the problem was there jacks or jack not being able to retract, someone with a pan could go underneath, crack open the hyd. jack line to release the jack back up to it’s stowed position. Tie it up and be on your way.

  22. Similar situation happened to us several years ago but the disabled vehicle was our K3500 Crew Cab Dually pickup, not our 35′ fifth wheel. The campground had a rally reserved for the weekend and this happened on Wednesday. They needed EVERY space for the reserved rally, very understandable on our part.I had the truck towed to a repair facility for diagnosis, determined it could not be fixed before the weekend, so I paid a friend in our camping club with a similar tow vehicle to bring the trailer 150 miles to our home while we rented a car and waited for the truck to be repaired. Due to parts availability, it required two weeks. Obviously, this is not an option for this couple. They may have to pony up to move the unit to another empty site if the CG operator is up for that. With a Class A, that could be done with a heavy duty pickup and a tow strap. It’s good to have friends. Hope they do. I believe the CG operator has the right to have it towed away at the owner’s expense. Negotiate.

  23. We all pay for insurance for times when we need help. Ultimately, our stuff is our responsibility. I don’t think we have the whole story here, but the RV could be towed out of the park to be fixed at some point. The people have the responsibility to take care of themselves however they can, which may include help from the community. We like to see stories of people helping people, because we know it is not expected and demonstrates character that we hold dear.

  24. I always read all the comments to your articles before I make a comment. Some of the snide remarks that this lady played the sympathy card is why this country is so divided. You can tell these people have never been broken down in a park. We have been, three times for a big slide on a newer rig. I haven’t met a mobile repair that can fix a slide problem or a lot of other repairs without ordering parts. Most all RV dealers are not equipped to handle a slide problem and will send you to the factory. Guess what, two trips to the factory and they can’t fix their own poor engineering’s either. Last time it broke down it took 4 guys to get the slide back in. Left the KOA park three hours after check out and they still charged us for another day when they were 20% full. Oh by the way after six years of praying that the slide would come back-in every time we used it, and 5K +. The €£¥!! rig is in someone’s else’s driveway. 🤓.

  25. After many years, something like this happened to us just this spring. We were grateful to have been in a park with managers willing to help, but we certainly did some scrambling ourselves: we had our Class C towed (after paying for insurance for nearly a dozen years it finally paid off!) to a repair shop where they were able to make the repair. This was after a few days of folks from a nearby dealership coming out to the RV park to see if repairs could be made on site (it was an issue with the Ford engine’s battery, not the coach in this case); the dealership couldn’t take the RV, but referred us to a nearby repair shop that could fix it.

    What’s sad in this case was the long delay in getting the needed part and the inability to have the vehicle towed. If the park has other spots open, perhaps this rig could have been towed to another site? Were they without an emergency fund to help pay for situations like this? Most parks are willing to work with stranded RVers.

  26. Many parks do not promise a specific site to people and this is why. Sometimes things happen and that spot may not be available immediately. Go with the flow. People who are just to lazy to leave on time are the ones that make me mad. I’ve been in a situation where I was broken down and people were always very understanding. Some even offered us money to buy a part we needed! Be those people, not the other kind.

  27. Talk to the incoming people in advance! Owner can let the people there now explain the situation. Then offer a comparable site (as much as possible) for a temporary location. Most people understand and high pressuring the RV owners will not help the situation as they CAN NOT move. Threats are not helpful. Solutions are.

  28. Our tow vehicle was involved in an accident while disconnected from the trailer. The insurance company loaner was a small sedan. Fortunately the campground had an overflow site available for the people scheduled to move into our site.

  29. Iv’e been on the side of the person showing up for our reserved site that has been reserved for many months and having someone in it. Because of our physical limitations we choose specific camping spots for a reason and just any site will not work usually for a reason.  I too am constantly irritated when ” the disabled card is played”. You aren’t the only one in this world that has limitations . That doesn’t excuse you or anyone else from the stated rules. Why do you think that is reason to ruin someone else’s time or vacation because of your personal problems?  We would never use our personal problems to excuse something like this.

    • That doesn’t help the situation. WHAT do you propose they do since they are already in the situation? It’s not like they can move. Give a creative solution. If you can’t do that then you are part of the problem.

      • Yes they can move their rig. As someone stated earlier have someone drain off some hydraulic fluid in that particular jack then it will store itself. I speak from experience as it happened to me last year and I had To drain off some hydraulic fluid in one of my rear jacks to get it up so I could get out of the park. Yes I understand they May have some physical limitations that would prevent them from doing this. But that’s why they have mobile RV technicians. Yes it will probably cost them a little bit but let’s be honest whoever said RVing was going to be cheap.

        • There are certainly many problems that can keep an RV from moving besides jack problems. Sides that won’t go in, transmission trouble, air brake valves that won’t release. Give a fellow RV’er a break. I am sure they would have moved, if possible. Just because you didn’t get to park in that particular spot, it’s NOT the end of the world!

    • Remember what you are preaching now, WHEN and not if you have a problem with your RV and cannot move it. RV’s pick the worst time for trouble. IT WILL BE YOUR TURN SOMEDAY!!

  30. Where has our civility gone? Parks rights, RVers rights… Shame on us. Where is the principle of treating others like you would like to be treated, especially to this stressed couple? Perhaps an option would be to help find someone in the RV park that could help them get “patched up” enough to relocate or if not, help explain to the RV park manager why they are stuck. If I had a reservation there, I think I would have given up my spot. I travel to see the beautiful outdoors and meet great people along the way. Helping others when you see a need is just part of it, just like home.

    • So much for the “Good Sams” that would help instead of {bleeped} and moan because their plans had to be changed

  31. I’m certainly one of the most reasonable people around. I rarely wear a mask, mostly as people like you stay far away. Not a hillbilly but I’m gun toting unless I’m in the shower. As much as it would hurt I’d even protect your sorry butt with it if needed.

  32. So, Claudio when were you appointed to be the judge. Since when are hillbillies 2nd class citizens? Just because you and your type don’t pack, but wear masks to make your self feel better, how does that make you a better person than me and your supposed gun packing hillbilly. by the way…I pack and no one is going to force me to wear a mask…but FYI I wear a mask everytime I am around another person, no matter where. It’s my choice.

  33. Our jacks failed to retract and we could not move. Most parks don’t guarantee a specific site, so that was not an issue. Fortunately the mobile repairmen had the necessary part to fix the problem and we were on our way, 4 hours later than expected. As an aside, I doubt one could ever find a tow company willing to attempt to tow a 5th wheel with levelers extended, too much liability.

  34. Been there, no scars. Had a main DC failure while moving spots in a major park in SoCal. Coach shutdown in the middle of a traffic lane of the park, at 5pm, of a Friday. Owners allowed us to sit in the lane overnite. Mobile service got us fixed next morning. Flexibly.

  35. I’m working this summer in a campground in Grand Tetons NP, just this week we had a class A come in that threw the fan. Luckily we have a large parking area where they could park while waiting for parts. We have been sold out of sites all week, but we are working with the owners. I think that most campgrounds are willing to work with people that have problems.

    • I spent a night in that parking lot due to storm damage and trees down several others were given cabins. I like my own bed. I would post a picture but this site doesn’t have that option

  36. I had a “near miss” on this in Durango, CO last year! My truck had mechanical problems and I wasn’t sure I would be able leave or even have a truck to move my trailer. The spot I had was “a “premium” spot next to the railroad tracks and was reserved for that afternoon.

    As soon as I knew I had a problem, I started talking with the manager. I told him that I could “get by” with what ever he could come up with! He was kind enough that he said he would find me a spot I could stay in.

    As it ended up, I was able to get the truck back and was only an hour or so late getting out of the spot. Luckily the other party hadn’t arrived yet and the manager was kind enough to not charge me for the extra time! Really great people!

  37. A private park has a right to refuse service as well as have you removed, off of their property. IMHO Why are you fighting it? Have it towed yourself as they have already said not to you request. It happen to me in a class A with brake lights on moving day. I drove immediately to a garage and paid even though I could have done it myself elsewhere. Life is full of challenges. This is also why I own an home spot for my RV. Respect the rights of that business owner and have it moved.

  38. why are you so judgmental?

    that so called gun toting hillbilly would be the first person to stop and help you if you have a problem

  39. If the RV park is full and there are no comparable sites available for someone arriving with a reservation, my opinion is that it is incumbent on the person with the disabled unit to do whatever they can to expedite the repairs. This may mean paying for overnight shipping for a replacement part, paying for mobile TV repair or for towing to an overflow area until repairs are made.

  40. We have a towing addendum added to our Insurance Policy for our Class C Motor Home. I highly recommend getting one just for these situations. At least you would have peace of mind, should a situation like this happen. We bought our Class C just 3 Years ago and haven’t had to use the towing portion of our policy as of yet. But just knowing we are covered, is one less worry on our minds. I truly understand the Park Managements position, especially if the Park is fully booked. If the Park isn’t fully booked, than I believe that most Parks will work with the owners of the broke down Rig!

  41. Context is everything in a story like this. I was initially sympathetic to these folks, but when the letter writer adds this excuse they lost me. “My husband is disabled, I am partially disabled and we bother no one.“

    Initially the story stood on its own two legs, but this “oh woe is me” excuse undermined the narrative. I’ll bet you this isn’t the first time this woman has used the disabled excuse to get her way.

    I’d love to hear the other side of the story from the park owner.

    Park owners should have the ultimate say on who goes where and for how long. If you don’t like their policies, find a new park that suits your needs. Don’t burden the park owner or park visitors with your problems. Be a responsible adult and stop using excuses.

    • Will,you must have read the story. They had a mechanical problem and were waiting for parts. She is simply stating that they have disabilities so it makes things a little harder. Many of us are fortunate to have a mechanical understanding of things and maybe could have found a workaround for their problem. In this story I did not read any asking for special treatment, just an understanding that a part delivery was holding them up. A little compassion goes a long way. I hope you never find yourself in this situation but if you do,may someone offer you help to solve your problem. Happy and safe motoring.

  42. This happened to us. We got stuck on the pad at Jetty Park in Canaveral Florida. The leveling system was stuck in the down position and we could not get the rig to drop. This is a high volume park and our spot was due to someone else later that day. It took several hours and a mobil mechanic but we eventually got her down and were on our way. Management was very graceful and only asked that we notify them when we left. We ended up several hours into the “new” day but were not charged for the late departure.

  43. Not everyone books for a week or two nights. Property owners juggle spaces and not everyone is the same. I can park my Aliner popup in almost any site, but folks with the big rigs do not have that option. Some need pull through sites, some need fifty amp or more, some are meeting friends and they want to be in the same area, some have children or dogs.Recently at the Badlands NP I saw dozens of one night rigs every night, as well as folks who stay a week, lots of tents too.

  44. I worked four years (four six-month seasons) in an RV park. We had no long-term customers although one or two came back each year for two or three months and others for a month or so. Our number one rule was, ‘We will book you into the site you want, but we will not guarantee it. Period.’ Everybody – at the time of booking – was told that we do not guarantee which site you will get. Of course we made every effort to accommodate those who had been coming back for fifteen or twenty years. But, nobody was guaranteed a specific site. Probably every two weeks or so, we would get a rig towed in – having broken down on the highway. Rarely, we would have a rig that couldn’t be driven out because of mechanical problems. Simple. Just shuffle – on paper – the expected arrivals.

    And one more thing … the rigs that broke down – more often than not – were new or nearly new. We didn’t get a lot of old motorhomes or tow vehicles but I don’t recall any of them breaking down.

  45. I’ve never had it happen either but with a fifteen year old motorhome the worry has crossed my mind more than once. We do camp a lot in California State Parks and I believe all have what they call “administrative sites” set aside to accommodate goofed up reservations and I suppose problems such as these.

    • Our camping club was at a KOA in Canandaigua, NY. It was time to go home and a member suffered a stroke. He was taken to a certified stroke hospital and was able to make a full recovery. The KOA kept charging for the site. The wife was able to get it towed out a few days later. The campground wasn’t very full. We will never spend our money here again.


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