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Master RV tech says, ‘It’s a wonder any [RVs] function at all’

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 RVtravel.com. 

Here’s what you had to say:

Camping World kept ALL of the insurance money

Christina P. complains of Camping World not returning the remainder of the insurance payment. She writes, “We had an accident with our Cougar where something hit our awning. We took it to Camping World in Marion, IL. Got an estimate to fix it for $1,800. In the meantime, pictures were sent to insurance and they sent a check for $4,300 made out in Camping World’s name. When repairs were all done it was $1,700. We gave them the check, and asked for the difference to be returned. They said to give it a week. We called two weeks later but they kept it and only gave us a bunch of lame reasons they paid in full. So service at Camping World is terrible. They did it again to us for $1,600. The problem is bought at Camping World and no one wants to work on units if didn’t buy from them. Next time we will never be there.”

So many horror stories, so they built their own

When all else fails… build your own! Sarah E. says they decided to just build their own RV. She says, “We have heard so many horror stories about RVs. When we decided to travel full-time we opted to build our own out of a school bus—one of the safest vehicles on the road. We didn’t use any particle board or drywall like RVs use, and our appliances and plumbing are homeowner quality, not the terrible stuff they put in RVs. We have live-edge walnut countertops, too. Even though it took longer to have than just buying something at a dealer (took us over a year), it’s a much better quality, so much cheaper than a new RV and we love it! This is our website.”

55 warranty issues!!

Now this isn’t something you hear every day… Mary S. had to flush her RV toilet with a stick. “We purchased three different units from General RV. The first was a Class-C Four Winds. We took it in for 55 warranty issues. The worst was flushing the toilet. If it was solid we had to use a stick to get it to flush away. There was a flat piece of plastic about one inch past the end of the tube to be flushed. Primetime said that’s the way they’re made. I’m the RV owner that had to use a stick to flush the toilet. The first trip was to KY. When it was time to empty the black tank it was impossible to attach the hose to dump it. It was installed facing down an inch from the cabinet doors the tanks are emptied from. We were nowhere near a service center and couldn’t find anyone to come out. My sister said she would try and fix it. She did get it fixed but not before she was totally covered in black water. Primetime did pay her for the repairs. That was one of the 55 warranty items that were fixed. We kept it for one year and traded it for a Sanibel fifth wheel. That’s another story….”

Get your hands dirty every single trip

Gerald H. did a lot of work on his unit to fix poorly made items including when the dealer-supplied hitch gave way. “We bought a new Forest River travel trailer (Vibe 25RK) at the start of 2020. We knew we were buying an economy unit, as most bumper-pull trailers are. I’ve improved about a dozen things that were done poorly or cheaply or were just irritating. The drawers under the dinette were built without glides, so I rebuilt them with slides. I put hinged hatch covers under the dinette seats and added support so it wouldn’t feel like it was about to collapse. I added doors to the front of the under-bed storage so we wouldn’t have to lift up the bed anymore. The step up into the bed is too high so I made little storage footsteps for each side. We kept banging heads on the bubble LED fixtures so I found some tiny LED spots and wired them in (a bigger job than it sounds).

“Our trailer came with no connectors for solar on the roof (cheap!). It had a solar connector on the outside wall, but none where you actually need them. I added solar panels and a connector on the roof and ran wires to the converter inside the walls.

“We blew a tire and took out the wheel skirting, and I found sidewall damage on another tire. The final two tires just didn’t hold up and were down to the steel belts after only 9k or 10k miles. Now I have Goodyear Endurance.

“The RV dealer supplied an inexpensive anti-sway weight distribution hitch and that just didn’t hold up to the wind in Wyoming. It would be hard to explain what I had to do to hold it together to get back home. I put on a 4-point anti-sway hitch. This doesn’t even get to the damage I’ve done all on my own. This is not a thing for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty once in a while. And by once in a while, I mean every single trip.”

Photo credit Gerald H
Photo credit: Gerald H.

Replaced his own A/C compressor on the engine and saved lots of $$$

Jim E. saved a lot learning about and doing his own work on his engine. He explains, “I fix my own RV. It takes me a while but not months and months. The longest was replacing the A/C compressor on the (gas) engine. Took me a month to work through figuring out which compressor to buy. Some came without a clutch. Others were 3 bolts instead of 4. I found a site that had pictures and ordered one 2 years after the build date. Apparently, they changed parts mid-build. Not uncommon now. I was quoted $3,500 to have it done. I bought all parts, gauges, etc. for $500. Took 6 weeks total but only 3 days to get educated and make the change. Cools great now.”

“No more Jayco products for me”

Bobby R. had to have a frame built for his trailer. “In 2014 my wife and I purchased a Jayco Eagle fifth wheel. It was our dream camper until six months later. One day my wife mentioned that the tires were wearing unevenly. I crawled up under it to find several of the crewmembers were broken loose from the frame. The dealer wouldn’t fix it and when I called Jayco factory they told me that I had probably hit a pothole. REALLY???? I wound up paying a welding shop $2,000 to build a subframe and add crewmembers. No more Jayco products for me.”

It’s a wonder any of them [RVs] function at all

George P. is a Master RV tech and knows what he is talking about. He explains, “As a retired Master RV tech for many years (30+) I’ve seen it all! My working goal was to educate owners as to what they have bought and how to operate it. Quality is not a consideration during assembly. No two are ever built alike. They are sticks and glue, parts and pieces, smoke and mirrors… going down the road at breakneck speed! It’s a wonder any of them function at all. There are few qualified people to fix them, fewer parts, and no guarantees.”

Editor’s note

Note from RVtravel.com: 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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Joe
1 month ago

Response to your questionnaire. What is a service center? They should be called frustration center? The people you see waving in your rear view mirror when you drive your new RV off the lot a waving a goodbye don’t come back.

John Dravis
1 month ago

I bought a new 2005 class C from Coachmen it was a Leprechaun 31.7 . It had no adjustment for the toe in ,out on ,the front steering . A $12 part when I went to get the unit lined up . It cost Me $300 .00 to get the unit lined up . I previously took before to Byron RV and they said that it was nothing to fix . I had paid for the repair insurance also . I have not received any compensation from Coachmen or the people that I bought it from in Byron Georgia .

Tim
1 month ago

Christina P’s comment hit home- literally. I live in Marion, IL and while I was glad to CW set up shop here, it has gone downhill rapidly. We almost bought a new Jayco class C there, but on the test drive the coach batteries were dead. Their own service dept couldn’t even get it working within 5 days. We had a deposit down, and it took 10 days to get it back. Rumor is they are closing this store after 2 years, and moving to Cape Girardeau, MO.

tom
1 month ago

Start with an antique. First 2 RV’s were 1975 GMC Motorhomes. Wonderful vehicles, and parts are down at Autozone or O’Reilly.
Rightly tighty, lefty loosy and you are good to go. No, your local GMC dealer will not work on it.

Roger V
1 month ago

This is one of the main reasons we bought a Winnebago camper van as our first RV 7 years ago. Yes, it has all the basic functions of an RV and it’s small, but it is far simpler than any of the larger RVs. The whole thing is contained in a metal automotive quality chassis as well. No fiberglass or rubber roof. No add-on box constructed out of sticks and glue. We had a grand total of 2 repair visits to the RV dealer during our warranty year – trailer wiring harness and an electric step inop. Have had a few engine issues, but they were fixed by RAM or my local shop post warranty. Almost 100K miles on it now and going strong. Simple is a good thing.

Don H
1 month ago

I’ve got to wonder about Mary S buying THREE RVs from General RV, after the first one was such a disaster. Flat learning curve???

Traveler
1 month ago

Christina P needs to go to her insurance company fraud division. Maybe her state insurance commission too.

Bob M
1 month ago
Reply to  Traveler

Or take Camping world to the small claims court.

BigAl
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

Good luck with getting all your money back from cw even with a judgment!

Spike
1 month ago
Reply to  Traveler

Yep. It’s amazing to me how many people roll over and allow frauds and crimes to be committed upon them with barely more than a whimper!

That said, that whole insurance situation seems very, very strange. Why would an insurance company cut the check to Camping World without a final bill or at least an estimate??? Usually if it’s the insurance company’s estimate, payment is made to the insured. I’ve never had an insurance company cut a check to a repair shop in advance.

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