By Brenda Odom
We are still healthy and able, but quickly tiring of changes that have come too quickly thanks to pandemics, road conditions, employment shortages, entitled behaviors, and more than a little bit of greed within the RV community. But if we were to name THE one thing that helped us make this final “Goodbye, RVing” decision, it would be the lack of knowledgeable, experienced, and available repair technicians.
We have experienced worse service over the past 18 months than we have known in our entire 30 years of camping… and we had some stories even back then. More and more shops are new entrepreneurs who believe watching YouTube equates to a manufacturer’s certification. Newly trained techs do NOT need to go into business until they have the experience to back up their education and classes in small business management. And technical colleges need to be able to provide said training within-state.
Here are just a few examples:
- We had to remove our rig from the property of one shop, leaving behind $1,000 in prepaid merchandise that was never delivered. Will likely be years, if ever, before the lien will be satisfied.
- We ordered a new automatic awning to replace the manual one. When we picked it up, it didn’t quite look right so we inquired. Turns out the worker put our awning on another rig. They took it off. We said we would expect to have it when we returned in two weeks. When we asked for the old manual one back to use at home over our patio, they told us someone had run over it with one of the tractors. P.S. Never got the new awning either.
- Another well-known shop tried three times to put Weather-Tec style flooring in the cab of our Class C before finally telling us it was costing them too much (in their own mistakes) and all they could do was install new carpet. Duh. The purpose of the replacement was to NOT have carpet up front. Of course, they threw out the original carpet.
- Still, another shop did pretty decent mechanical work and we were pleased. He also claimed he could do renovation work. It took two tries to fail at re-gluing a vinyl ceiling (the foam backing had eroded from time/heat). It drooped again within a week. So, this septuagenarian got out her portable heat press and upholstery tacks and fixed the ceiling! Not ideal, but not hanging down either. Made the owner aware of the situation. No response, no refund. Just silence.
- Oh, and then there is the one who, as we came to pick up our rig, was sitting on the floor repairing a rather large tear that he made pulling in the slide. Claimed there was a pen or something under there (that we must have dropped, of course). Apologies were all we got. At least he didn’t charge for that repair!
The bottom line
The bottom line is that we have run out of repair shops, patience, and our faith in the industry as a whole.
Crowded campgrounds aren’t a problem when your RV is in the shop for months at a time. Monthly loan and insurance payments don’t get put on hold because you don’t have use of the rig. It just isn’t making much sense anymore. Perhaps we need insurance companies who, like the satellite providers, allow us to do month-at-a-time coverage?
This past week we had a family emergency out of state. No sites were available, so we got an Airbnb. It was a cute little remodeled country house in the middle of farmland and trees. There were hiking trails, and it was peaceful and quiet. No set up and no payment required when not in use. If something didn’t work, we called the landlord; but… and get this… everything worked!
I think we have found our new form of recreational travel. But, hey: Thanks for the memories, RVing!
- Full-time RVing – Plan ahead for “hanging up the keys”
- Several of my friends are quitting RVing. You can probably relate to why they’re doing so
Try tent camping and get back to basics.
This is so sad. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the luxury and benefits of living in Los Angeles California which is a city with “abundant services”. Larger cities have the people and resources to provide “world class” service. This is what really raises my anxiety level of breaking down in a small town where the scarcity of knowledgeable people who are trained to do repairs.
Sure, there’s plenty of reasons not to like a large city, I understand that, but, when it comes to service, they are impossible to beat. Service is the name of the game.
Not everyone is capable of being a DIY. First of all, you might not have the skills or the tools. Everything is easy when you know what to do.
Three years now full time in our Airstream. Have had minor issues all solved/repaired either by DIY, the dealership (warranty) or three great mobile rv repair services. One mobile service was in Tybee Island. Prompt and expert service. The other two were in the general Gatlinburg area. Ask around, use online reviews, talk to other rv-ers. Don’t give up the freedom of this lifestyle.
Sorry for your bad experiences, but almost all of them sound like you have only yourselves to blame. After all that time and the things you listed sounded like either common sense or a saavy one develops over their lives. I am 57, just started full timing and have been RVing for over 38 years. I laugh at articles like this with such pessimism due to their own misgivings.
RVers for 30 years. My husband has a wealth of knowledge and still does. That is how we knew the wrong awning was installed. That is how we knew the repairs were not done properly — and why my husband corrected some on his own.
What we no longer have is the agility to climb on top of our motorhome or the stamina to do large jobs. We are now 70 years old and have no desire to be DIYers. I would love to support new businesses instead of DIYing — I just can’t find reliable ones to do the work. And trying to DIY on an RV under warranty just voided that warranty.
You are fortunate to be so talented, but I think you may be somewhat unrealistic about others’ skills. Not everyone is mechanically inclined (I taught at a local tech college — believe me, the education alone does not make a good mechanic.)
In fact, if we were all able to research, learn and do, then there would be no need for service shops at all.
Not saying that your experience wasn’t horrible but it sounds to me like you never did your homework before you bought your RV. Have you done that some of the stuff you would have known upfront and unfortunately you have to talk. This went up to some user buyer error as well. Good luck on your next adventure.
Agreed. They didnt take time to learn after all those years on their own. I had a house, ailearned how to repair things. Now that I am full time I will take the NRVTA course.
This is our fifth RV in over 30 years. It is not a new rig (owned it for 6 years) and we have had no prior issues. Hubby has quite a bit of knowledge, which is how we caught most of those mess-ups before we got on the road.
We are not naive; perhaps a bit too trusting…or maybe unrealistic in that we do expect to be treated fairly and get what we pay for. Ninety percent of the work noted was for optional upgrades, not necessary repairs (even the AC was an upgrade to larger unit, not a failed unit).
Surprisingly, two of the shops we had used for several years without issue. One shop was under new management of the son (dad retired), the other said they could not get good help anymore.
In the RV Travel Newsletter, there is frequently mention of the shortage of trained RV techs. It is real.
You have been very fortunate that you have not had to experience it. I hope you never do.
Another concern to consider is this whole electric vehicle changeover coming at us in the next 5 to 10 years. For example, I don’t want to spend 200k on a trailer and rig to pull it with only to find out 5 years down the road that EVERYTHING goes electric and NOBODY wants to buy a gas or diesel truck. And the government will jack fuel prices so sky high in effort to FORCE those with like trucks to dump them and go electric but those electric trucks may not be able to pull a 16k – 20k lb. trailer. The RV industry is in for a HUGE change in the next very short coming future. I, for one don’t want to throw away 200k! I worked too hard to put that amount in my pocket!
Just fix it yourself! If you can’t you really shouldn’t be an RVer !
I find that attitude a bit discomforting. As an older female RVer I can do a lot of things but I also know my limitations. I was unaware that everyone who buys a vehicle such as a car, RV, motorcycle or whatever was supposed to be their own mechanic. The DMV certainly failed to mention that to me.
I have been fortunate to have a lot of folks who were willing to help me along the way. I think the good Lord put good people in my path — and I am glad they didn’t tell me to “fix it myself.”
Everytime we think we might replace our 28 year old motorhome, we read or hear a story like this and decide our old motorhome is just fine. My skill set allows me to repair both chassis and coach. If it ever gets destroyed or when I age to the point of no longer being able to repair and maintain, We will be done as RV’ers
We purchased a used R.V so no payments and have a trip planned for June out west…we just had it all checked out and it’s in good working order…Looking forward to our RV adventure. 🙂
Kim, we are on a 7-week “out west” bucket list trip right now. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we are enjoying ours. We are privileged to live in a beautiful, diverse country.
i used a local shop because they could get me in sooner (also probably worked the schedule around since Insurance pays good). they replaced my batteries which of course were really bad. but i couldnt get my fridge to work and found out that the batteries were hooked up wrong. i would say that is one thing that shouldnt ever be a problem but it was and upon tellng them about it, the response was “well it works now” hmmm. wondering if i ever take it back there.
There are alternatives to a large RV or an AirBnb. We have a 13 foot trailer. There have been no serious issues. We have camped in some of the most amazing spots and are very comfortable.
We don’t need the noise of a generator — a solar panel works fine. If we are boondocking away from amenities we can easily set things up to have a hot shower or to use an electric heater. It helps to like the one you are with, but how much space do you need to enjoy travel?
After meeting relatives who have a standard RV, I would not trade places with them. They have had numerous problems with warranty repair and aren’t as flexible as we can be.
I agree about the issues with RVing. That said, make sure you do a deep scan for hidden cameras in those AirBnBs.
We bought ours secondhand with a third-party inspector looked over. We were advised not to buy anything after 2019 because the build quality dropped. And also we bought it in cash, we don’t finance anything that is not a house.
Since we got it, my husband installed solar on the roof and installed a mini split AC. After these two projects he pretty much figured out all the wiring in the RV. He also accidentally drilled through the gray tank and had to learned how to repair it. We’ve never send to a shop to fix anything.
Everything is great only if you are good at fixing things. We travel with our dogs and remote working from the RV. It would’ve been so much expensive with the dogs if we do hotels and Airbnb.
Sounds exactly the same as our experience. Ours was made at the end of 2019. We have never been to a repair shop, if anything comes up I fix it myself. I can’t imagine leaving it somewhere for months on end waiting on someone else to do something I can learn myself on youtube. I would rather be camping, we go almost every other weekend and travel thousands of miles per year. We also camp with 2 dogs, we used to board them prior to the RV, which costs about as much money at the rig costs.
I delivered new rvs since 2003. The quality issue started before that so whoever told you it started in 2019 is mistaken!
Par for the course! I have awesome technical, mechanical skills in ALL fields BUT I’ve aged out. never needed these people to fix anything because I was probably better than just about any of them out there or at least as good. Camping World could NOT believe the extensive renovation I did from a new RV to a permanent live in. They did not even recognize the transition as the same coach. I got a great deal on a closeout that was not engineered properly (couldn’t open the 12vdc fridge far enough to remove shelves!). Unfortunately we age out can’t do the work any longer. But at least I can oversee any work when I hire a “handyman” (such as cleaning the A/C evap coils which is a very messy job that requires both roof and inside access). Yeah these newly designed awnings are nice.. gas springs holds them out under just about all wind conditions AND they never hold water. 12vdc powered too the motor is right inside the forward portion of the roller (some engineer somewhere was smart!).
We sold our MH in 2020 because even then it got to be too much trying to travel and enjoy ourselves. Never had an issue with maintenance because I was able to do everything myself except a new transfer switch and generator drive belt. We now travel by car with reservations being easier to make.
We are still trying to get warranty work done on our brand new camper. ONLY warranty work since the chain RV dealer charges $179 an hour for their shop rate. Sadly the RV dealers have earned a reputation worse than car dealers, and I agree they only halfway do the repairs, if you can get them to do them at all.
We’re in an economic collapse. Peak capitalism was 20 years ago. When people can’t afford the commodities and services they provide, themselves you’re not going to get good service. People are overworked and too stressed to worry about the satisfaction you have with their work. The US citizens have been telling their service workers that they don’t deserve to be able to support themselves on their wages. This is where it leads. People told the workers that it was the corporations and banks that deserved the majority of monies generated and not the workers. The workers responded to the fact that their services weren’t valued, now they don’t value you back.
I’ve owned 3 brand new RVs since 2012. All three required constant attention and small repairs. Luckily, nothing big. But that could be because I kept a constant eagle eye on everything and read/watched a lot of RV related stuff on the net. I did all of my own repairs, maintenance and upgrades. I’m a mechanical engineer, boatbuilder and homebuilder so I’m experienced with DIY handiman stuff. Those who are not will certainly be challenged by RV ownership. All suffer from little stuff loosening up, etc. on every trip.
I agree. you need to know your stuff in electrical (both VAC and VDC), plumbing, A/C, construction fields or you better not purchase one of these things because they’re a maintenance nightmare. and don’t purchase units with slides. yeah look at Airstream I wonder why they don’t have them?? You also need to know something about what’s under the hood if it happens to have an engine. Lastly I’d stay away from fivers. those things are really heavy and suck up the diesel on anything pulling them.
I feel very lucky; my BIL clued me in to a good local RV shop. I have done business with them for 12 years now and always gotten good, and prompt, service. (By the way, both the service manager for the chassis work on the Sprinter and the head mechanic at the RV place are named Jason.)
This article speaks directly toward the reasons for selling our RV last November. It was great fun for many years to RV as our little buggy took us to places that are not easy to get to. We’ll not be buying another — rolling earthquakes always will need repairs.