Sunday, January 29, 2023


Service Centers and Repairs Report: RVs… not meant for the great outdoors!

In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs (we asked you to submit your stories here). We’ll tell you all: the best, the good, the bad and the ugly. At the end of this article, you’ll find a place to submit your own comments. I encourage you to do so.

Keep in mind, we typically only present one side of the story in most of these. Also, any remarks about service centers and mobile techs mentioned are the opinions of our readers and not necessarily 

Here’s what you had to say:

Remember when cars fell apart, too?

Bob L. remembers the old days when cars fell apart, too. He writes, “I’ve RV’d for 50 years and never bought new. My local service center is great, and never requests the unit for weeks, much less, months. I think folks have no memory of the way things were in the auto industry. We took a cross-country trip in 1961, driving a 1957 Chevy Station Wagon that stopped in every larger city for another water pump. The RV industry is just catching up since hundreds of millions of cars have been built (and you can still find a lemon). Do your due diligence, and don’t fall in love with looks or amenities. Buy old—most of that one has fallen apart, been put back together by then.”

Purchased “Nothing Fancy” and avoided problems

Paul C. is happy with their no-frills camper. He says, “Here’s how I avoided having problems with our now six-year-old travel trailer that we continue to be happy with: We did our research before purchasing our camper, which we named ‘Nothing Fancy.’ Hint: No slides with all of the necessities needed for a comfortable camping experience. Ours has a walk-around queen bed, range/oven, microwave, fridge, A/C and furnace, dry bath, and a rear-facing dinette with a 270° view. We are a retired couple that enjoys our month-long camping trips. So far these months-long trips have included WDW Fort Wilderness and dry camping the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. I guess the key to our happiness is realistic expectations of what a camper is and being a DIY kind of person when it comes to maintenance and repairs.”

It’s just one thing after another

Allen R. does indeed have a book to write! “Boy, I could write a book. Purchased a 2000 American Tradition two years ago. A newbie as far as a motorhome owner goes, but I had an older Nomad travel trailer for several years. Boy, did I get suckered in by the salesman, but that’s on me. Only used it for a short trip before I became ill and couldn’t use it.

“It sat for two years, but my wife would go once a month and run it and the generator. My son-in-law brought it to my home to power wash it and as soon as he parked it, water was pouring out from the engine compartment. Had it towed to a service center. By the way, we did purchase a 3-year extended warranty. So they diagnose bad freeze plugs.

“Then it won’t start. My wife never had an issue with it not starting. So we replaced the starter… didn’t work. Replaced the ignition… didn’t work. After that we replaced the starter AGAIN, but it still didn’t work. Replaced batteries. I then turned the claim in to the warranty, but it was not covered due to rust. It did cover the starter and ignition, but took them 8 months. So I paid them $400 to make sure the coach is roadworthy for a trip.

“Our windshield became loose so you could see daylight between the coach and the windshield. We tape it together, and continue our trip. At the next stop we’re ready to leave and my wife checks the jacks to confirm they are up, and the LP tank is laying on the ground. Fixed that. But then we started having coolant leaking again. We made it to our destination and made an appointment to fix the windshield and coolant leak.

“So, a VERY reputable diesel repair facility diagnosed leaking freeze plugs… but only two of them. What? There are 19 of them. Who replaces only two? Did the repair center think that the rest wouldn’t be rusted also?

“After that, more issues: a blown head gasket and we had to install another starter. Had them change out all belts and hoses too. $16,000 later and it’s ready to bring home. Out of two years of ownership, it’s been in a shop for 10 months. We paid the dealership $2,500 for initial repairs that weren’t done. It’s a nice coach and drives like a dream, but I’m done!!!”

Number 40 on waitlist and ready to go back to a tent

Susan M. has been waiting … waiting … and waiting! She explains, “We have been number 40 on the waiting list at the dealer to get our awning fixed since March of 2022. Here it is November 2022 and no call. Still waiting on the call for the price since the first Monday in March. No call. At this point, I’m keeping the appointment just to see how long it will take them to call. Also been waiting since May for an axle replacement from a private repair person. The actual manufacturer will not repair and the other manufacturer is trying to make a bigger one but still waiting on a price. At this point, I’m ready to go back to a tent.”

RVs… not meant for the great outdoors!

Randy R.’s RV was not covered in the weather and ended up with cracks everywhere. “I bought a new 2015 Thor Citation Mercedes Sprinter back in 2016, the last of the 2015 models. The problem with RVs is them being out in the weather. Decals crack and you get cracks on the bumper. The seats crack, the couch cracks… the whole coach is made cheap. It has cheap cabinets and wallpaper. The floor was coming up so I had to glue it down. The furnace never worked because there was water coming into it. It seemed like l was always fixing something. It had only 17,000 miles when I sold it. And I can’t believe what one costs now. If you don’t have somewhere to put the RV out of the weather, think again.”

Editor’s note

Note from If hiring a mobile tech, a small or mega service center, make sure that they are experienced in the issue and have insurance in case something goes wrong. Also, check their warranty policy on the work they perform. Check reviews too and read between the lines—if the review sounds way too good to be true it might be. Compare with several reviews and not just the ones on their website.

Questions for you about RV service

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share stories of your RV service experiences. We want to know:

  • Have you had good luck with great service or not so much?
  • Did you get good service from knowledgeable technicians?
  • Are you waiting to get into a service center or have a mobile tech come out?
  • What has been the average time to get an appointment?
  • Has your RV been in a service center for a while?
  • Are you able to get any mobile techs to come out?
  • Are the service centers able to get parts?
  • When you do get the repairs done, is the price reasonable?

Please fill out the form below and tell us what your experiences have been like. It can be a horror story, an opinion about what’s going on, a positive experience, or anything else related to the topic. We want to know the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Check back next week for more on RV service centers. See you then.

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Gary lincoln
1 month ago

No such thing as “bad freeze plugs”!!! You had no antifreeze in it.. thats on you amateur!!!

Bill T
1 month ago

WRT to Randy R’s comment above. I believe that the issues he had with his rig have more to do with the rig than weather. I have a 2015 Jayco C class, bought new and it is stored outside all winter. With proper and consistent maintenance, and using windshield, AC and tire covers she is good to go.

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill T

Ditto for us too Bill. Our 40 QSH Tiffin Phaeton is kept uncovered all year except for the tires. We take a short 1 hour trip every month to keep all things mechanical in working order and do an inspection of the outside of the coach is ok. I do wash and wax several time a year as I feel this is a necessary evil of RV ownership. Don’t have an extra $100 K laying around for an RV garage building at the house.

Bill T
1 month ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

I agree with you on the wash and wax thing. I do a few times a year also.

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