Thursday, June 1, 2023


RV Manufacturer Warranty, Part 2: RV repair shop owner explains, “Why I refuse to honor your warranty!”

In my last post, I shared multiple reasons why offering an RV manufacturer warranty would benefit my independent RV repair shop. These aren’t just thoughts and feelings. What I didn’t share is the fact that I’ve had extensive experience. I’ve done it not only within my business but also during my days of working at dealerships.

Here’s why I refuse to do it

The history

If I am being honest, RV manufacturer warranties left a bitter taste in my mouth. In 2007, before the economy collapsed, my business did RV manufacturer warranties for multiple manufacturers. As I mentioned before, it was so easy for me to obtain new customers. So much so, that about 75 percent of my shop’s workload consisted of RV manufacturer warranties.

Payment for this type of work comes several weeks to several months later; but at the time, I was able to float the business with the amount of constant work. Once the economy started to crumble, RV manufacturers started closing their doors, and I went unpaid on completed work. At the time, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $150K. I did my best to pivot and restructure the business, but the damage was done. I had to close the business for some time and file for bankruptcy.

Like a cat with nine lives, it didn’t take me long to reopen. I knew I had to operate differently this time, and it would be without an RV manufacturer warranty. I did just that for multiple years. But as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” RV manufacturers claimed they’d changed their ways and consumers continued to be desperate for assistance. So I gave it another shot. And this is where I need to pass the keyboard on to my wife, Ashley…

Ashley’s response

I wasn’t in Dustin’s picture during his 2007/2008 saga, so I didn’t live that nightmare. When I married into the industry six years ago, I truthfully didn’t understand this hot topic in its entirety. I listened to all of Dustin’s reasons for wanting to offer it again and I acquiesced. This is when I learned one of Dustin’s best qualities is he forgives and forgets. I’m like a jaded cat. I remember what you did to my favorite catnip-laced toy in the spring of 1992.

I’ve now been married to Dustin for six years and have learned to simply choose my battles. But this is one I will choose every time.


One of the biggest reasons why we currently don’t offer an RV manufacturer warranty is for the simple fact that it takes too long to get paid. In 2021, we got brave and offered an RV manufacturer warranty for two different manufacturers with the caveat that we’d only do 1-2 units per month. This was to protect the business from what happened in 2007/2008. For the units that had just a handful of basic repairs and the stars aligned perfectly with no hiccups, we would receive payment within 1-2 months of the repairs being completed. For the units that required a bit more hand-holding, on average it took eight months to one year to be paid.

As it stands right now, we still have one open invoice that has aged to 13 months old, and we are still pending payment from the manufacturer. What kills my soul is the fact that this invoice totals a “whopping” $335.41 due. By the time I paid my staff to make the appointment, check in the customer, battle to get authorization and parts from the manufacturer, do the repairs, and all the follow-up required to track down this payment for over a year, it cost us money to do this customer’s warranty work. It’s because of jobs like this that I often ask my husband, “Are we running a business or a charity?” whenever he starts to re-entertain the idea of offering RV manufacturer warranties again.

Time is money!

We often find that offering an RV manufacturer warranty turns the check-in process into a therapy session. As Dustin explained in Part 1, we do care. But, without trying to sound cold or callous, we didn’t build the unit and we didn’t sell it to you. We are simply here to fix it. To date, we have yet to do a single RV manufacturer warranty repair where we didn’t have to hear the drama.

We spend more time going through the play-by-play of what happened when you bought the unit, how quickly something broke and it ruined your trip, the runaround you got from the service department at the dealership, and then the back-and-forth when dealing with the manufacturer rather than actually doing the repairs. A dealership makes its money by selling units; as a repair facility, we make our money by selling our time. At the end of the day, the RV manufacturer does not pay us to hear the horror stories. They only pay us to fix it.

Double the trouble!

When I compare the amount of time spent on RV manufacturer warranty repairs compared to regular customer-pay repairs, the difference is staggering. Once a customer-pay work order has been dispatched to one of my technicians, the unit is moved to a spot where the unit can be plugged in to power and/or water depending on what type of repair is required. Most likely that technician will need to open the unit’s slide out(s) to access the issue at hand. He will diagnose it, make some notes and snap a few pictures. The service writer can now make contact with the customer to gain authorization for any additional time and parts required.

Typically, the unit remains in that spot, powered on and slide out(s) opened because the service writer will gain authorization the same business day. Depending on parts, the repairs will be completed the same day or the next day. The unit is then closed up, powered down and parked in a designated pickup area.

In comparison, RV manufacturer warranty repairs are dispatched out to a technician, they’ll park the unit and plug it into power/water and open required slide outs. They’ll diagnose the issue, take multiple pictures at every possible angle for the manufacturer and make detailed notes on the point of failure and time requested to fix the issue. Between the time it takes for the service writer to gain authorization and obtain the parts required for repair, we are forced to close the slide out(s), unplug the unit, and park the unit out of the way. The process is so long that, in most cases, we have the customer pick up their unit and return at a later date when all required parts are received.

This alone doubles all of our time spent with the customer, which includes:

  • Appointments
  • Check-in procedures
  • Porter’s time parking the unit at drop-off and pick-up
  • Technician’s time gathering his tools along with opening and closing the unit

All of that extra time goes unaccounted for with the manufacturer—they only pay us to fix it. I’m also sure the customer doesn’t look forward to bringing their unit in twice for the same repairs.

To fix it, or fix it the right way?

The lag time in obtaining authorization for repairs is not only dependent on how far behind the RV manufacturer warranty department is at the time, but it’s the “dance” we do with the warranty department in order to get items covered. We certainly aren’t here to “bite the hands that feed us.” But time and time again we ran into scenarios where not all of our requested time was approved.

It would sure be easy to throw a screw and some sealant on a repair to get it quickly out the door, but we like to sleep at night. There have been plenty of times where we know in 1-2 months the item will be broken again. We know there is something extra we can do on the repair to prevent that from happening (tear something apart, inject something to prevent water damage, beef up support, etc.). This additional time is often declined because “production can do it in X time.”

The RV manufacturer leans on whatever their book time allows for repairs. If our requested time is above their book time, we have to do that “dance.” This dance includes anything from providing several additional pictures, phone calls and an endless amount of emails back and forth. In the end, there is no guarantee we will have this additional time approved once the music stops. We simply don’t have an assurance that the manufacturer has our back. We are taking care of the customer 100%. It’s our name and our reputation on the line. And if something goes wrong, we now have the liability of being sued, yet the manufacturer doesn’t want to pay us to do the job the right way.

So why are you getting the runaround from your dealership?

There is more I could have added here. But, then again, those reasons also play into why you are receiving the runaround from your dealership. There are so many layers that play into the runaround you receive from the service department at your dealership.


Make sure you subscribe to so you don’t miss Dustin and Ashley’s additional knowledge on this topic in next Saturday’s issue.

Read more from Dustin and Ashley here, and please be sure to visit their Facebook and YouTube pages.


Dustin Simpson
Dustin Simpson
I have worn many hats in the RV industry through the years. From an RV Technician, Warranty Administrator, Parts Administrator, Parts Manager, Service Manager and now Business Owner. I have even been deemed an RV Expert by the California court system, working on behalf of the customers, dealers, and manufacturers. My repair facility has been servicing customers at the same location since 2003. What sets us apart from the dealerships is we are here to fix and maintain what you have, and not sell you a new one. Whether you own a million-dollar unit or an entry level, my message to you will be the same, it needs to be maintained.


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8 months ago

In the ’70s and ’80s, the combination of lower tariffs leading to competition from high quality Japanese and West German manufacturers and Ralph Nader’s pressure on Congress and state legislatures concerning the need for Lemon Laws changed new car ownership in the U.S. for the better. Unfortunately, the so-called Chicken Tariffs prevent RV competition from Europe or Japan; the lack of enforcement of anti-monopoly laws has decimated domestic competition in the RV industry; and Congress and state legislatures are more worried about political donations from the RVIA than they are protecting consumers. I agree that fixing the RV quality and warranty issues will require a multi-layered approach, but a dose of free-market capitalistic competition combined with access to civil actions like lemon laws would ultimately be good for the industry, no to mention for consumers.

Terry Dody
8 months ago

I’m sure there is a response to this idea that I’ve not considered, but what If you went through the normal process to get the manufacturers approval for repairs, but advised the customer that they had to pay you upfront when the repairs were completed and then they would be reimbursed when you received payment from the manufacturer?

Rose Darby
8 months ago
Reply to  Terry Dody

It took me three years to get a
refrigerator replaced under warranty with Dometic. they to this day have not and did not
fix my 3 month old refrigerator.
had to hire an attorney and never got anywhere. My advice,
don’t buy an RV, BOAT OR ANY
THING WITH A DOMETIC PRODUCT. I have heard from many RV owners, “OH, we have not had ANY PROBLEMS WITH
THE MOBILE RRV REPAIR. ( newer to Yuma) cut a lower cost with Dometic to get the job. The name of the repair
Company was five star something. Husband and Wife
from the Foothills. They cut rate the warranty with Dometic and gave band-aid fix which did not work. I had to pay out of pocket to get the refrigerator fixed. The Rv Repair Mobil owner negotiated
a cheaper rate and therefor gave me cut rate service. Consisted of a band aid fix.
When I called them to confront
them, they did not want to hear from me. Said they had given me enough Time and they had to negotiate a lower price originally to get paid for
the original order. If the repair
persons are so needy they have to negotiate warranty
costs, they are enabling the
warranty Companies, IN this case Dometic to cut their

Kevin D
8 months ago

I can relate to the phrase ‘runaround you receive from the service department’. We are new to RVing and our used RV needed a $2 drain plug/valve. At time of purchase they stated they would order and repair the part. Weeks later the service department called and left an inaudible message about an appointment (guy was eating). When I called back the service desk asked if I had a warranty and how I’d pay for the service. I tried to explain the situation and she just played dumb. I can get the part on Amazon and will fix myself.

Dan F
8 months ago

The elkhart region has to many protections for RV .They drag the warranty out with intention of hoping the person just gives up. What be better if laws were passed allow a purchaser a stop payment until the warranties were fixed. What also would be helpful would be a simple coding system going back to area of repairs. For a repair facility this would allow less long writes and pictures .There are very specific areas to all rvs and areas prone to failure.

Matt Kunkel
8 months ago
Reply to  Dan F

I’m not sure what you think a “stop payment” will do? You would be penalizing the institution which loaned the money for the unit and this institution is not the RV manufacturer.

Bob p
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt Kunkel

Yep many people think their unit is financed through the manufacturer or the selling dealer. In reality the manufacturer got paid when the dealer took possession, the finance company loaned the money when you bought it relieving the dealer of financial responsibility. The loan company only knows what it says on the paper and has never even seen a picture of what you have. So that idea flew out the window weeks or months ago. Lol

8 months ago

While I agree with and understand your plight, I would like to have seen repair facilities and dealer service centers sue manufacturers when payments weren’t received in a timely manner, thus causing financial hardship for the folks doing the repairs under warranty. If enough repair facilities, dealers and service centers were to do this, it might convince the Mfgs to be more responsive with payments, especially since it’s for services they had approved in the first place. Strength in numbers.

Jim Harvey
8 months ago
Reply to  RUSS W

Spend thousands of dollars for an attorney (I is one 😁), wait a year or three for a trial date, maybe lose for some weird reason, if you win spend more money-time-trouble collecting – if you’re lucky?

That’s why I advised my clients to simply avoid this kind of work. Sounds like the author here is doing exactly the right thing.

But feel free to spend thousands of your own dollars on an attorney to sue the manufacturer and dealer. Let us know how that turns out…

Bob p
8 months ago
Reply to  RUSS W

This goes back to getting our representatives in congress to introduce and pass legislation to bring manufacturers under similar laws the auto industry lives under. The problem lies in the fact that RVs are not considered essential but optional vehicles, plus RVIA fights anything that might make manufacturers liable for their mistakes.

Justin Moore
8 months ago

Is an ” extended warranty ” or more accurately an extended service plan any better for you?

8 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Simpson

Extended warranties should be called what they really are….Maintenance insurance policies. You pay xxxx amount of dollars for x years of maintenance insurance with the deductible you choose, just like collision insurance.

8 months ago

I guess there really isn’t any reason to consider buying a new RV if it is impossible to get warranty work done is there? Better to buy something used at 1/3 the price and put the rest towards eventual repairs. Good to know!

8 months ago

Quit selling the manufactor vehicles. Cut into there business and you’ll get them to rethink there process.

Don Nedrw
8 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Simpson

i worked for a Chevrolet Dealership in Beaverton Oregon. when the Citation car came out, they were known to have power steering leaks. GM Paid 3.2 hours repair time. It took 10 + hours to repair the problem, especially if the vehicle had an air conditioner. Guess who did not get paid for the time it took to do the repair? the dealership would not request a revaluation to the time needed to make the repair because they were afraid of loosing their dealership.
After leaving the dealership and starting my own repair facility, I would send the Citation’s to the dealership so they could loose money rather then me. I would quote a customer the amount of time it took to make the repair, they would fall out of their chair. If they said to go ahead and do the repair, when finished they would call me all the names they had in their vocabulary, i would tell them “I told you to take it to the dealership!”. Can’t win either way!

Neal Davis
8 months ago

Very interesting and eye-opening information. Thank you for informing us/me.

8 months ago

I’d sure like to read about the many more ‘layers’ you mention. It would be excellent transparency of the RV maufacturing process I’m sure!

8 months ago

On the IRV2 forum, Newmar subforum, National Indoor RV Centers (NIRVC) announced a program a while back they developed and implemented with Newmar to skip the “dance.” Each NIRVC location carries the most common warranty parts and a central location stocks virtually all parts that can be shipped overnight to other locations. NIRVC can diagnose and quickly proceed with warranty repairs without the usual pre-repair dance.

It took the owner of NIRVC, an RVer himself and avid advocate for the customer, to develop and push this program with Newmar, who I am sure is also seeing reduced costs for warranty management as well as increased customer sat. Clearly NIRVC’s substantial Newmar sales helped get this done, but Newmar also needed to trust that they would not be taken advantage of. Net, I’m sure this is a rare win, win, win program.

Now if only the rest of the RV industry could get behind a program like this and spread it.

Don H
8 months ago

You should offer to fix the problem at the customer’s expense, then reimburse them when (if) the manufacturer pays you. Voila – problem solved. If the customer doesn’t like this system, they have the option of doing the “warranty dance” with another partner.

8 months ago
Reply to  Don H

I completely agree with Don. Takes the burden off the repair facility and puts it squarely on the manufacturer. The longer it takes the manufacturer to pay the bill and the customer to be reimbursed, the more reviews we can all be aware of and the better initial buying decisions we can possibly make.

8 months ago
Reply to  Don H

In today’s environment I’d be thrilled to pay more OOP than the manufacturer reimburses for to have the job done correctly and relatively quickly vs losing months of time using my RV.

Bob p
8 months ago

I thoroughly empathize with you, after my son’s graduation from auto/diesel college he had a few jobs at auto dealers. The automobile manufacturers are like RV manufacturers in that warranty work pays much less than customer pay. Usually the “new” mechanics get the warranty work as the dealership doesn’t want their older mechanics to take a “cut in pay” working on warranty repairs. As a result he was being paid much less than other mechanics doing the same caliber of work leaving him looking for a better paying shop. Strangely Ford shops seem to have more warranty work than GM shops.??

8 months ago

Thanks for this very educational look at the unseen hassles of your business. It answers alot of questions. I appreciate your honesty.

8 months ago

I’m going to share your story as far as I can. I get so sick reading all these complaints from new RV owners who think because they have a warranty, everything will be rosy.
We have had a few rigs over the years. We have also had warranties and extended warranties.
We once brought our new travel trailer in for warranty repairs. It sat for three months. At least it was over winter but they forgot to winterize it as we asked and they bought new faucets and repaired the freeze damage.
Years later, we bought a barely used 2 year old fifth wheel and the finance manager berated us for not going with his “greatly discounted” extended warranty at $6,500! How could we be so bold? so stupid? ha.
Maybe we are lucky but most repairs have been easy for us and we have had luck with our dealer on service. Pricing is reasonable and years later, we have not found a need for an extended warranty. By now the warranty would be expired and to date, total repairs have been less than $300.

8 months ago

Very enlightening. I already knew many of the problems with doing warrantee work but now I got the back story too. I sympathize with Dustin and his wife as they continue to keep their business.

Jesse Crouse
8 months ago
Reply to  Dustin Simpson

54 years in the Plumbing & Heating business. Same thing happens in my world.

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