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RVs are: ‘holes you shovel funds into,’ ‘earthquakes on wheels,’ and ‘crap’

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:

An RV is a hole on land you shovel funds into

Poor Tony C. has had something go wrong every trip! He shares, “I bought a 2007 Safari Trek with 7,000 miles on it in 2021. Thought I got a great deal until EVERY SINGLE TRIP something would go wrong that would cost me at least $500. First, the batteries needed to be replaced—six at $250 each.

“Then the black water tank would not dump. Luckily, I could do the work so a valve and some ice in the tank to scrub it out fixed it.

“Next, the air conditioner was shorting out, causing the generator to trip a circuit breaker EVERY TIME WE STARTED THE GENERATOR. So, the RV tech replaced the air conditioner but forgot to remove the blocks that had been put in to keep from sending air through the overhead ducts on the old A/C. It was obvious that the unit had been replaced once before. The shop sent the tech who had installed it to my house and he quickly fixed it.

“Then, thinking it was done, we set off for a camping trip only to find out the tech had installed a new thermostat that was set up with the dip switches to only run the A/C and NOT MY FURNACE. This time I had to drive it to the shop.

“When I picked it up, the automatic leveling system no longer worked! So, a level sensor had gone bad and needed to be replaced. Okay, thinking nothing else could possibly go wrong, we had sacrificed enough money to the RV God, right? Oh no, not even close. Going through the coach on a preflight check (which I now do every time before we depart) the toilet started leaking. Well, not just leaking but FLOWING THROUGH THE KITCHEN!

“I was lucky again because I could fix this! So I spent the day removing the toilet, changing all the valves and seals, and reinstalling it. Whew! Must be ready to go now, right? Right. We actually got to leave on time and stayed two glorious days at the beach. Everything worked! At least it did until we packed up to go and the stairs wouldn’t retract.

“It was a hairy ride for two hours back home. Driving on narrow roads that had 4” to spare on each side was nerve-wracking, to say the least. But I did it without ripping the stairs off. So now the coach sits in the driveway waiting for me to change either the motor, mag switch or controller for the stairs but only after I fix the downspout in the bathroom sink that leaked all over the inside of the cabinet. Luckily, though, the 12 rolls of RV toilet paper absorbed most of the water.

“I owned a boat once. I found out a boat is just a hole in the water you pour all your discretionary funds into. So I got rid of it. Apparently, an RV is a hole on land you shovel all your discretionary funds into. Just kidding, I think we’ve got all the issues sorted out by now and it will be smooth sailing after the preventive maintenance program starts!”

Service work is only guaranteed for 90 days

Karen T. had work done on their RV and stored it for the winter. She writes, “In Sept. 2020, we took our 2018 Shasta to Richards RV, Greenville, SC, for repair of water damage to entry side front corner. They completed the repairs including replacing subflooring and regluing the linoleum, which cost $2,700. We took one weekend camping trip after that, then covered and stored the camper for the winter.

“When we uncovered the unit the following March and were out for our first camping trip, we noticed the linoleum had severely buckled and was coming up again. I called Richards RV and explained the problem to see if they could just look at the floor and perhaps reglue. The first words out of the service member’s mouth were, “Well, ma’am, we only guarantee our work for 90 days and that time has expired.” No offer to even have someone look at it. No offer to have anyone in management call to discuss. I will never use Richards RV again and have made sure to let all my RVing friends know of their shoddy workmanship and unwillingness to back their work.”

“Don’t buy crap if you can afford it”

Fran S. upgraded after the dealer didn’t fix the problems. “I had trouble with my RV. I went to a local RV dealer/repair shop and scheduled an appointment and took off part of the day. At the appointment, not only did they not repair the problem, they never showed up or called to offer a reason for not keeping the appointment. I am a busy doctor and it cost me both valuable time and money … and a still broken RV! This was my SECOND experience with them. Three months before, I had a leak from the bottom of the RV near the shower. Probably a cracked or broken pipe on my Forest River Lite. They kept it all day, charged $700, and never fixed the leak.

“I learned my lesson, as this was my first experience with towable RVs. I did my research and bought an Arctic Fox, 35-5 Fifth Wheel, and other than a ceiling fan have experienced NO problems. It’s a tank, and so far experienced no problems and, considering the way it is built, I expect no problems. My advice is don’t buy crap if you can afford it, visit forums and share information, learn the particulars of your RV, maintain it and relax and enjoy your hard work.”

Earthquakes on wheels

Alan M.’s trailer is falling apart and the dealer won’t fix it. Here’s what’s going on: “Bought a Grand Design Transcend new from Youngblood’s RV in Springfield, MO, in June ’22.

“All sorts of things went wrong and the dealer could never fix them or didn’t even try. Left it with them for three weeks. We were in process of moving out of our home and this trailer was going to be our house for the next two years. They only fixed a valance and supposedly ordered parts, which they did not.

“Going down the road, the bedroom walls bowed in and the barn door fell off.
Had to take it all the way to Elkhart, Indiana, to get it fixed. Now one of the walls is coming out again and a window blind fell apart. Hiring a certified mobile RV tech we met to put new parts in and fix walls once we get the parts shipped to us.

“Won’t ever buy a bumper pull trailer again. They are earthquakes on wheels. Will keep you informed as to his quality of work once he gets it done. He put in an oven door for us that we got from manufacturer for no charge.”

Got sold a lemon

Troy D.’s decision to buy used to avoid the new RV blues did not pan out very well. Here’s why: “Late last year we bought a 1997 Pace Arrow motorhome. I was really afraid to buy new and wanted something I can fix, as we full-time RV. We got sold a lemon, pretty much. Had to replace the heads after about a week of owning this RV and come to find out cylinder heads had a manufacture crack in both exhaust ports. We then fixed that.

“Then all appliance parts had to be replaced, all new batteries, control panels, slide out parts. To this day, I have probably spent more than $10,000 on this 40-foot RV and we are not even close to done yet. The roof needs to be redone, as well.

“Odd this motorhome only has 65k miles on it. Yes, spending all this money could have bought a new one, but I’d rather fix it all than buy a new RV that will just break in no time. I know it has all good parts on it. I have heard so many stories and that’s why we don’t want a new RV.

“One of the main issues is propane lines failing, so we have made this RV all electrical—no propane at all. Hope you find this helpful, especially letting people hear what real people deal with RVing. It’s not easy, it’s a full-time job daily.”

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Last Week’s RV Service Centers and Repairs Report

##RVT1087

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JAMES
14 days ago

My 28 year old Jayco 30′ Class C hardly ever has a problem but when it does I fix it myself.

Dennis G.
15 days ago

Tony C. sure had some troubles with their Trek. Unfortunately, RVs that sits long times, can look perfect. But, a rig that has only travelled 7K miles in 15 years means it sat A Lot. I would consider taking care of all kinds of neglected maintenance.

Thomas D
15 days ago

There should be a questionnaire asking various things.
Can you read and understand a digital ohm/voltmeter
Can you reach 4ft into an abyss with both arms and operate wrenches to remove a leaking waterline that you cant see?
Do you have a 12 ton jack and can you change a tire while traffic wisses by at 70 mph
Does the smell of sewage bother you. Do you have an extra ( your number) $ laying around for unexpected repairs. Like the engine water pump failing?
And on and on!
You’re going to need to answer these questions to determine if you should buy an rv of any sorts
And if you decide to buy an rv, do you need a better/bigger truck?
No, that Rav 4 or Ranger ain’t gonna cut it.
Happy Motoring!

Steve Murray
15 days ago

Inspection: Get one!

Ray
15 days ago

Yes there are numerous issues that permeate the RV industry’s products. But the RV industry has an answer for that. From time to time we watch one of those RV shows where a starry-eyed couple are shown 2-3 new RVs by some salesman and are expected to make a decision on their first visit. It’s all part of the industry’s prepping of their prospective customer base, so they know what to expect and how to act. The dialog is terribly scripted and fun to watch. You will not see newbies ever ask any of the really important questions. The script reads; positive comments on the decor, lay on the bed, hop in the shower, open a cabinet and the frig, sit in the recliner, and in the end, get away to “privately” discuss/select which one they choose, all the while a camera man is shoving a camera in their face. What a hoot.

Ron
15 days ago

Did the owners of the used RVs (1997 and 2007) have an inspection done prior to purchasing? If not then no surprise things went wrong especially on the 25 year old RV.

Richard
15 days ago

BOAT…bring out another thousand…RV same

Irene D
15 days ago

One thing I have learned to do is to check ratings for repair places first. I went to an RV show where a main speaker owned a repair shop, said he was an authorized warranty repair place, and he gives seminars all over. Turns out his shop had really bad ratings, lots of complaints. Sad, because I had high hopes thinking I had found a great place to get repairs done.

Dennis
15 days ago

Please, Class A motorhome upkeep is a breeze compared to a 42″ triple engine cigarette boat. I can work on all tasks in relative comfort of my 25 year old motorhome. I keep up on every little detail and it absolutely needs nothing as far as service is concerned. All systems (98% original OEM components still in the rv) are a 100% “go”. No excuses. They did make RVs better in 1998, I understand. Now the cigarette boat for 24 years: Try slapping 6′ Lake Michigan waves at high speed and you’ll truly understand maintenance issues.($$$$$$) That on top of it cost me $1,800 of fuel for 4 hours of operation!!!! I bet your motorhome is looking pretty sweet about now!

Different Chuck
15 days ago
Reply to  Dennis

You got that spot on Dennis. 20 years on Lake Mead with 68′ houseboat, a go-fast and the requisite and nessesary compliment of water toys and jet skis, the weekly fuel budget of $1,200.00 along with beer and food for all the kids and friends of kids for another $400.00 a week all adds up. That math is before the prop repair after cousin Lou hits a rock with the Baja on his way to pick up 6 bags of ice during an authorized detour through some shallows and on and on and on.

RVing is affordable by comparison by a factor of 10. I put $4,000.00 of new L16 batteries in the coach last week WITH A SMILE and though I’ll always miss the lake and the years of making memories I can rest comfortably on the coach knowing that renting a boat at any price on any body of water in any state and be up by LOTS and LOTS and LOTS doing 90% less maintenance than owning boats.

Bob p
15 days ago

I miss the good old days, back in the 80’s and 90’s I bought two new 5th wheels and never had to take either one back to the dealer for any kind of repairs warranty or other. Ah those were the good ol’ days. Lol

Donald N Wright
15 days ago

Gee whiz, when I tent camped there were insects, critters, rain, sun, my backpack was too big to carry but too small for my stuff. Funny, sounds just like my Airstream trailer. My only real complaint about RV repairs is the months in line for repairs.

TexasScout
15 days ago

Same with a boat, it’s a hole in the water you throw money into. Same with a “classic” car, or just about any thing “man made”.

RallyAce
15 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

We did the boat thing, have a classic car and a camper. You are spot on. We knew what we were getting into on every purchase. If you are not handy or cannot afford to have someone do the repairs, find another hobby. Oh, and by the way, if you really want to find an expensive hobby where something is always broken, try auto racing.

Gil
15 days ago

Re:. Tony C, what did you expect for a model year 2007? The “adage” you get what you pay for” seems to apply here.

Bill Forbes
15 days ago
Reply to  Gil

A twenty-five year old motorhome with only 7,000 miles? Either the odometer is going around for the second or third time, or it has been sitting idle for most of that time. Either is bad, either everything is worn out or rusted out from sitting and not being exercised. We always buy used, but look for something about ten years old with 50,000 miles or so to indicate it was used enough to be properly maintained.

RallyAce
15 days ago
Reply to  Gil

Now he knows why it was so affordable. Everything needed to be fixed or replaced.

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