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Finding a good service department is one of the most important parts of RVing

We all have our “must-have” lists when purchasing a big-ticket item. We use these lists because they help narrow down our choices when, say, buying an RV. You may not want the same features on your RV that I do. That’s okay. Everyone is different. But one feature that all RV owners will undoubtedly want (and need eventually) is a good service department. Is that “must-have” on your list? It should be!

Great service by default

We’ve owned four different fifth-wheel RVs over the past several years. Our local RV dealer is not owned by a big-name national behemoth. Rather, it’s a mid-size family business and they’ve taken good care of our service needs. How did we choose our dealer and their service department? By default, really. They were the closest store to our stix-n-brix home and seemed to have a good reputation in our community. We knew friends who’d purchased an RV and had service done there and recommended the dealership.

What we didn’t know at the time we purchased our first RV was how important the service department would be. Now we know and are so grateful to have “happened” upon what seems to be a rarity in the world of RV repairs and maintenance. Because of the huge boom in the RV industry lately, there just aren’t enough qualified technicians to service all of the RVs out there these days. Many dealers (like ours) have had to limit their service only to those rigs that were purchased off their own lot. Since we bought a new RV from this dealership in the past, they have graciously agreed to continue servicing our current rig which we purchased from a private owner.

Finding a great service department

I don’t recommend “hoping” you’ll “just happen” to find a decent service department. Here’s what I do recommend:

  • Service bays. Check to see how many service bays the dealership has on-site. This will give you an idea of how many RVs can be serviced at a time. Theoretically, the more service bays, the greater the chance you’ll have less of a wait to get your RV serviced. Don’t base your choice solely on the number of service bays though. We’ve all heard the service horror stories from some of the largest dealerships in the RV industry. And the stories really are a horror!
  • Certified mechanics. Ask how many certified technicians the dealership has on staff. Look for service technicians who have an RVIA Master Certification, other RV certification, and/or have several years of experience working on RVs like yours.
  • Years of operation. Ask how long the company has offered repair/maintenance services. Experience in the RV service industry can help reassure you (though not guarantee) that repairs and scheduled maintenance will be done correctly.
  • Days/hours of operation. Will the service center be available when it’s most convenient for you? Are weekend appointments possible? How late can you pick up your rig in the evenings? All are important questions to ask.
  • Approximate appointment wait times. Many dealerships are months behind in their service department. The problem? Too many RVs and not enough good techs to work on them. Great service may require that you wait weeks or even months for repairs or scheduled maintenance. Ask about this.
  • Services available. What services can be performed? For example, will the shop replace tires on your rig? Do they do their own bodywork, or do they have other vendors for this? Can/will they perform yearly maintenance? Do they handle warranty issues?
  • Costs. Find out the hourly work rate that the shop follows. Compare the hourly price with other shops you’re considering. (Remember: The cheapest shop isn’t necessarily the best or the worst.) Get an idea of yearly costs by asking questions like: What is the cost for a pre-trip systems check? What RV systems need a yearly review?
  • Communication. Can you phone or email a technician with a question, enabling you to troubleshoot issues on your own? Are charges itemized on the repair bill? Will the technician call you for authorization before working on your rig after diagnosing the problem? What happens if you are not satisfied with the work? When you phone the service department will you talk to a real person or leave a message on an answering machine? When you pick up your rig, will the technician go over the service fix to show you what’s been done?
  • Personal reviews. Always check any online reviews to see how actual folks rated the work done on their RVs. Ask around, as well. A personal recommendation can mean a lot when making the important choice of where you’ll take your RV for maintenance and/or repair service.

You don’t always have a choice about who will work on your RV, especially if you break down on the road. But when you do have a choice, do all you can to ensure that you choose wisely.

Related:

Is expecting good customer service in the RV industry too much to ask?

##RVT1037

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Paul
3 months ago

We generally have an appointment for routine service plus any other fixes needed at Redlands Truck and RV in Redlands CA when we head out for our Spring/Summer travels. They have been excellent in getting work done as promised and provide a campsite while waiting. They have always started work on our coach within a couple of hours of promised. On the road we have used nearby mobile techs to get us going several times (20 years of RVing). We have rarely been unhappy with their work, the major unhappiness is that the good ones are very busy and we may have to wait a bit for service.

Drew
3 months ago

I’ve found that RV Service Reviews has been very dependable. Although the site is no longer maintained it has many recent reviews of repair shops all around the country.

Rag_ftw
3 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Ditto what Drew said. Sure would be a good service to the community if some organization would revive this link.

Bob M
3 months ago

After reading todays article about RVIA, are RVIA Master Certification mechanics really worth to allow working on are RV’s?

Neal Davis
3 months ago

We have an excellent service center in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. It is Northgate Parts and the address is Boy Scout Road, Hixson, Tennessee. Yes, odd name, but we have had them work on our motorhome for 4 years now (after a misguided year of using Camping World of Chattanooga) and will continue to patronize them. Harvey is the service manager and we have repeatedly found him forthright, honest, and competent. Although allied with Choo Choo RV (mainly a towable seller), they can and do work on any non-engine/chassis aspect of an RV regardless of where it was purchased.

Bill Richardson
3 months ago

RV City in Benton Arkansas has an awesome service department. It is a smallish family owned dealership that sells only towables. (They usually have a few used motorized units.) They are a Forest River dealer and at one time sold Leprechaun’s. We bought our new Leprechaun last year from the nearest Leprechaun dealer, Reliable RV in Springfield Missouri, about 225 miles away. Rick Muller there was great to work with, but I digress. RV City has repaired our water heater and replaced our GE air conditioner, both under warranty. They got us in promptly and did what they said they would do and got us out. No BS . And, yes, a real person always answers the phone. Look for a locally owned dealer where you are a person, not a “number “.

Henry
3 months ago

A good sign of a good shop would also be several years under the same ownership without name changes.

John M
3 months ago

I found a repair service business that does good work, but small in repair bays. I have had to wait some time for a couple of repairs, and it was hard to call and talk to anyone without leaving a number and have them call back or text them and wait for a reply. Had a problem they couldn’t fix and refunded me some money back as well as recommemded a place to get the repairs done.

Ed D.
3 months ago

In the Central Florida area I highly recommend KA RV in Debary, Fl. Great service and the owner, Andrey, is part of the crew!

Eric Ramey
3 months ago

I found my preferred service center by accident…literally! I had a screw up that needed to involve the insurance company. After the insurance adjuster (who was also an RV’er) finished his work he recommended Atlantic RV in Culpeper, Virginia.

This summer my rear AC quit working. I was only home for 3-days before I had to head back on the road. I called Atlantic they diagnosed it over the phone (not a line item on the bill). They diagnosed it over the phone, had me drop it off when it was convenient for me and had it ready to go before I needed to head back out.

They are all super friendly, the labor costs are reasonable and they are realistic with repair times!

Also I agree a central database of reputable RV repair facilities would be a nice addition.

Leo Suarez
3 months ago

A service and repair database by state based on input from your readership would actually be a helpful service for RVtravel.com to offer. I live in NC and cannot honestly recommend any.

Dan
3 months ago
Reply to  Leo Suarez

I’ve seen this idea mentioned before in RVTravel comments. It’s a great idea. A win for RV owners and a win for good RV service businesses. Actually two wins for RV owners who may need help away from home.

Jesse Crouse
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Ditto, Now I hope the next new regular feature here is what we are talking about.

HappyCamper7424
3 months ago
Reply to  Leo Suarez

Yes, it is a badly needed source of information. Would also be a help to those mobile mechanics that need to get their name out there. Hoping to see it soon.