Saturday, December 9, 2023


RV Manufacturer Warranty, Part 3: Why you are getting the runaround from your RV dealership

Two weeks ago, I shared reasons why I would love to offer an RV manufacturer warranty at my independent repair facility. Last week, I shared the keyboard with my wife, who gave multiple reasons why we still refuse to do it. (Make sure you read parts 1 and 2, linked there, before continuing here.) There are plenty of other reasons, which are now spilling over to this week. These reasons play major roles in why consumers get the “runaround” with the service department at their RV dealership.

Above all else, SELL!

Overall, the dealership’s main focus is to sell the next unit. Selling the next unit trumps everything else. This includes performing RV manufacturer warranty owed on a unit that was already sold. Should there be a sale that is left hanging in the balance, the service department is on notice. They will move Heaven and Earth to ensure that unit makes the sale, and it’s done at everyone else’s expense.

As mentioned in Part 2, labor for RV manufacturer warranty work is often undercut by the manufacturer. At a selling dealership (specifically those big box stores), the service department and parts department each have to make their quotas to meet their corporate standards. Helping someone with an RV manufacturer warranty will just slow them down. They have absolutely no skin in the game to hurry up and get you in for repairs. The only reason they would act with any type of urgency is if your unit had something critically wrong with it (sewer, power, water) and they felt some pressure from the RV manufacturer. Should your issue just be cosmetic, get ready to wait and wait some more.

Obtaining parts

Outside of the service department either being too busy getting the next unit ready for sale or their lack of urgency, when they do start working on RV manufacturer warranty repairs it takes too long to obtain the parts required. When a unit is in for manufacturer warranty repairs, they can’t just order parts available through their various part distributors, many of which parts can be received by the next business day. They have to use the parts supplied by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer has the part required in stock, the following has to happen:

  • The repair has to be authorized by the warranty department.
  • The warranty department then submits the part order.
  • The manufacturer’s parts department will then pick the part, package it up and ship it out.

The time frame between all three bullet points listed all depends on the manufacturer and how far behind each department is.

If the manufacturer doesn’t have the part in stock, they aren’t going to order “onesies” or “twosies” of parts from the actual part manufacturer. They will order large quantities to have the best price break. However, before the above list can happen, they now have to wait for the part manufacturer to produce this large quantity of parts for the RV manufacturer. The RV manufacturer will then break down that order and then ship the one part. This process can take several months.

Receiving the wrong part

Heaven help you if the manufacturer sends the wrong part, because then the above process starts all over again. One of the reasons why the 13-month-old invoice I mentioned last week continued to drag on is due to the RV manufacturer’s parts team. One of the line items on the invoice was to remove and replace a cabinet door because the original door was warped. I have now received three different cabinet door replacements that are either the wrong color or the wrong size. The last door we received was actually the right color and right size, but it arrived warped far worse than the original door!

We provided the RV manufacturer with the vehicle’s VIN, measurements, and pictures. If it’s this hard to obtain a single cabinet door, can you imagine the difficulty of something more expensive to repair or a repair requiring multiple parts?

1, 2, 3, 4! I declare a finger-pointing war!

RV manufacturer warranty also turns into a finger-pointing war. Last year we worked on a fifth wheel that was still under RV manufacturer warranty and the unit’s leaf springs were flat as a pancake. We quickly became stuck in the middle of the largest finger-pointing war.

The RV manufacturer was pointing their finger at:

  • The customer:
    • Did the customer overload the unit?
    • Did the customer drive through some rough roads that damaged the springs?
    • The springs were fine when they left the plant because our inspectors would have caught them. The transport company didn’t report anything. The dealership didn’t report anything.
  • The maker of the leaf spring:
    • Did the manufacturer use inferior metal?

The maker of the leaf springs was pointing their finger at:

  • The customer:
    • For the same reasons listed above.
  • The RV manufacturer:
    • Did the RV manufacturer overbuild the unit?
    • Did the RV manufacturer install them correctly?

The outcome

At the end of the day, our facility and the customer were left in the middle of what should be a simple 3-hour repair. The RV manufacturer declined coverage for both labor and parts. The maker of the springs provided new springs at no cost—and the springs sent were a carbon copy of their originals. We anticipate these would flatten out just like the originals. They also offered to reimburse the customer for labor, but the customer would have to do the following:

  1. Get his unit weighed to ensure he did not overload the unit and provide documented proof.
  2. Ship all four springs back for testing.

The cost to ship four leaf springs would have been astronomical and the maker’s “testing” seemed very subjective. With no real promise of reimbursement, the customer ended up footing the bill for us to put on leaf springs that were rated for far more weight and also upgraded their suspension. The 4-5 hours of administrative work we completed between the customer, RV manufacturer and the maker of the leaf springs went unaccounted for. Not to mention the small, light and fragile leaf springs I wouldn’t even put on Barbie’s dream trailer are collecting dust in my shop.

How the RV manufacturer can make things better

With service departments focused on the next sale, their corporate quotas and not wanting to deal with the headache of parts and authorization, it’s no wonder consumers are receiving the runaround. While I don’t have all the answers, I do believe there are things the manufacturer can do to make the process better.

Make sure you subscribe to so you don’t miss our plea to RV manufacturers in next Saturday’s issue.


More from Dustin

Dustin owns and operates California RV Specialists, an independent RV repair shop located in Lodi, CA. He thrives on sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of RV repair and maintenance with his team, customers, and virtual friends.

Be sure to check out his YouTube channel where he shares what’s going on in the shop and the product offerings in the store. Dustin is also very active on Facebook. Join his group, RV Repairs and Tips – What’s in the shop!

Dustin proudly operates the business alongside his wife, Ashley; but the true pair that run the show are their Boston Terriers, Arvie and Hitch. [Editor: Do you get those names?]


Dustin Simpson
Dustin Simpson
With over 25 years in the RV Industry, Mr. Dustin Simpson has worn many hats. From an RV Technician, Warranty & Parts Administrator, Parts & Service Manager and Business Owner. Outside of these typical roles and responsibilities within the industry, Dustin enjoys being a Content Creator, Brand Ambassador, Author, and Expert Witness. He has served as an expert witness in multiple cases in California, Washington, Idaho, and Texas. His 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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Dennis M. (@guest_203133)
1 year ago

When the microwave died on our new ’17 Thor I had to remove it to get model & s/n so they could ‘authorize’ warranty work, then reinstall, drive 1hr to the CW location and wait for replacement. Next the water heater died, then the radio/backup cam quit…. Never again.

Dick Butler (@guest_202735)
1 year ago

Here’s a good story on manufacturers warranty. Had a problem with our 5th wheel only 6 months old. Discovered a gap in the floor and wall. Had the phone # for head warranty guy(that’s a funny story) I call him explain problem tell him I’ll be in Elkhart Thursday,He said I’ll call you Friday. Yup 6am he calls can I be at plant by 10. Ok we get there intro our selves he has us pull up to check it out. He and shop foreman ask did we have an accident, yup a Tesla wanted to drive under us while stopped at a traffic light,mostly cosmetic damage we thought. All of a sudden Foreman has 6 guys come out and start repairing the damage and things they didn’t like the looks of like an Awing arm. So we figure we got a hefty bill to pay and then collect from insurance.
All said and done they shake our hands pat the dog and say come back and see us if you have other problems! Ok what do we owe their reply NOTHING.
If you would like the I’ll send it private.

Maurizio Taglianini (@guest_202717)
1 year ago

Thank you Dustin and good luck with your business!

Does anybody know of any reliable RV “chassis-powertrain” brand ranking lists?

I know business customers from vans to planes prefer reliable business tools.

Drew (@guest_202652)
1 year ago
  • Unbelievable- but I believe it. Dustin, hats off to you and your wife for enduring these messes. I don’t live far from your shop so we’ll see you if the need arises…..and don’t worry, we are far, far out of warrantee.
Spike (@guest_202602)
1 year ago

Dustin….you should check with National Indoor RV Centers (NIRVC) top management to understand the new service model they have implemented with Newmar (as a start) and their service process tracking systems they are developing. While not revolutionary in terms of what many non-RV industry companies might do, what NIRVC has already accomplished and is continuing to work on to speed customer warranty and non-warranty service is revolutionary in the RV industry.

This article explains the program which should become the model for the RV industry if they really care about customers for longer than the initial sale!

Spike (@guest_202773)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Simpson

Glad to help. The embedded link in that article gives more info on the service tracking application they are developing that will be able to advise the exact status of a client’s RV repair while in the shop. It also gives senior management visibility to the processes and how well they are working…or not. To me, this is more critical than anything…change can only come through visibility to measurable facts.

They mention that on average there are EIGHTY-EIGHT touch points in one service visit. Egads!

M D-B (@guest_202591)
1 year ago

After 3 trips 90 miles away we still don’t have the radio/tv fixed nor the light that won’t turn off. The last time it was there they changed their minds that it wasn’t a non functioning antena but was a coaxial cable they didn’t have in stock. As we had reservations to camp we picked it up and will take it back for the 4th attempt to get it fixed. All repairs are under warranty and at the business we bought from.

Gary (@guest_202697)
1 year ago
Reply to  M D-B

Start naming names. Unless the word gets out about this brand or that brand it’s just another anecdotal complaint.
Dustin can’t necessarily name names but we as consumers can. Not libel, just the facts.

Kathy Niemeyer (@guest_202580)
1 year ago

We purchased brand new in February of 2020. We waited 16 months for a small plastic piece for our screen door.

Bob M (@guest_202572)
1 year ago

The best thing we as consumers can do is provide reviews of our problems with the RV manufacturer. If potential buyers see bad reviews. Maybe less people will buy that manufacturer’s RV’s or the company will improve the quality of parts and manufacturing.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_202549)
1 year ago

Same line of “CRAP”- an edited version of what I really wanted to say- in the Plumbing & Heating business.

Tom (@guest_202546)
1 year ago

RV manufacturer having to ordering in large numbers is what makes the surplus stores near Elkhart so much interesting stops.

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