By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Imagine you’re enjoying an RV getaway. You’ve parked your rig in a quiet campground and enjoyed several days of relaxation. Alas! Like “all good things,” the time has rolled around for you to roll out. You push the button to bring in your slide-out, and instead of the reassuring rumble of the slide coming in, you get a “crunch!” and the slide won’t budge. Your relaxation has ended – there’s no way you can head out with an extended slide-out. Is a mobile RV repair service right for you?
In this case, a mobile RV repair service may be the ONLY solution to your problem. But there are other times when having the repair tech come to you will beat having to take your rig to the shop. For fulltime RVers, who don’t have any other “home,” being able to stay settled in the comfort of your rig is a blessing. But there are some things a mobile tech may be great for, and others not. What are those? And how do you find a mobile RV repair service tech? How much will they charge? Let’s tackle those questions.
What they can fix – and some maybe not
Like shop-bound RV technicians, most mobile techs can handle the common issues that strike RVers. Leaky plumbing. Air conditioners that lose their cool. Furnaces that won’t heat. Lights that refuse to. Additionally, many RV techs can help with the motive-side (engine, power train, etc.) of your motorhome – those times when the key clicks, but the engine won’t start. Stuck slide-outs should be a specialty.
But on the subject of slide-outs. You may run into an issue where the tech can get your slide-out back in. At the same time, a complete repair may require the slide-out to be removed from your rig. Yes, that’s a big ugly job, and something that normally can only be handled with a well-equipped shop. And if your engine problems run deep, a tow to a standing shop may be the only answer.
Are they allowed where you are?
Sometimes where you’re located can have an effect on whether a mobile tech can or can’t serve you. Some campgrounds (even some on public lands) may not allow a mobile RV repair service to set foot on the place. Happily, common sense causes many to bend their policies if you’re just plain stuck with a problem that won’t allow you to move out. You’ll need to check with camp hosts or park managers to see if you can have a service tech come to you.
There may be another limitation you’ll find with some repair issues. As an example, an RVtravel.com reader, Bud L., had this issue crop up. When his Dometic water heater went on the blink, he couldn’t find a service tech. So Bud ordered a new unit, and hired a licensed plumber to do the change-out. When the new unit only provided lukewarm water, the company essentially told Bud, “Sorry, we’ll only refer to our authorized dealers for follow-up.” Happily, Dometic’s customer service guys were able to help Bud diagnose and solve the problem over the telephone. Not every mobile service tech will be recognized as an “authorized dealer.” So if your project involves installing major parts, best ask in advance.
On a related note: Despite “supply chain issues,” many fixed-location RV shops have parts often required to get you going in fairly short order. There’s a limit to how much in the way of parts a mobile tech can carry on their service vehicle. This could mean a bit of a wait once a diagnosis is made. The tech might have to make a run back to civilization to get the parts required.
And the cost?
All this leads to the next question: How much does it cost for mobile RV repair service? Like the old geezer says, “That depends.” There’s something to be said about the convenience of having a mobile tech come to you. You might expect you’re going to pay more for the convenience factor. And while hourly labor rates might be comparable to those of a fixed-location shop, don’t be surprised to find you’ll have to pay mileage rates for the tech to come to you. On the other hand, some mobile techs will charge less than their bricks-and-mortar competitors, simply because they don’t have to pay for the overhead of a bricks-and-mortar location. Ask questions before you commit to a visit.
One more thing: The quality of work done by ANY RV service technician is critical. A certified RV technician is a better bet than a complete unknown. Ask any tech you may think about hiring if they are indeed certified. The convenience of a mobile tech could be outweighed by their lack of reliable experience. See our “related” section below for a story on why certification is important.
Find a mobile tech
But how do you set up the visit in the first place? How do you find a mobile RV repair service? Sad to say, there isn’t a national clearinghouse of RV mobile techs. We’ll be including mobile service technicians on our reference list of repair facilities readers recommend. But lacking any information there for your particular location, here’s where to start looking:
First, fire up the old internet and do a search for “mobile RV repair service” followed by your location. Another? Look in the yellow pages for “RV Repair” and see if there are any listed. What are other ways to find a service? These could also prove helpful. Ask RV park management or campground hosts if they know of any mobile techs. You can also contact RV part retailers – they’ll likely provide you with names of mobile techs who they sell repair parts to. Armed with this set of resources, we’re hopeful you’ll find a mobile tech near you when you need one.
And if you’ve had experience with a mobile RV repair service and would like to recommend them to fellow readers, let us know. We’ll include the referral in our RV Consumer database of repair services. Please use the form below, and include “Road Helpers” in the subject line.