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:
Stop-start-stop the repairs
Brenda O. had to tell techs to stop the repairs then start again at a later date and says is just done with RVing completely! Here’s why: “We have been RVing for over 30 years, first with a small used TT, then 5ers, then a diesel pusher, and now a Class C. We have never had the perfect RV.
“What we couldn’t fix, we were able to get fixed fairly easily. In those 30 years, we used only three local repair shops. During the past three years, we (1) left one shop never to return (and left $$ behind that we will never see); (2) we returned to our original repair place (who had simply gotten way too expensive) and received the worst service we have ever experienced; and (3) last year we found a newly opened shop recommended by friends.
“Over those three years, our RV has been in the shop more often than not—even though our current rig has been the most dependable and trouble-free RV we have ever owned. Just normal maintenance and optional upgrades take forever. We settle for whatever color/brand/size we can get, whenever we can get it.
“During the past year we have twice said to the tech: “Stop when you finish A, and when we get back from the trip you can proceed to B.” Needless to say, this is not the way we used to travel, nor want to travel.
“Hopefully, after March, we will no longer have to worry about such things. Our personal auto and a cozy B&B or rental cabin will allow us to keep traveling with much less hassle. Some things we will miss but we have gotten to the point where there are more things about RVing that we will not miss. So, keep an eye on Marketplace for a really nice, well-loved 2009 Winnebago Class C complete with toad and integrated systems: I promise it will be a great deal!”
“Lots of promises, but nothing else”
Kempton H. shares yet another miserable experience with Camping World: “Bought a new 2022 Thor Chateau 25V from Camping World. Had a ‘We Owe’ list at delivery including doors, trim, hardware and key fobs. Fast forward 13 months and NONE of this has been delivered or resolved by Camping World. We get lots of promises, but nothing else.”
Support small businesses
James H. received valuable service from this small RV center. “My wife and I have a 2000 Nomad 32-foot 5th wheel. We have been blessed for the last 23 years as far as repairs go. We live in Napa, CA, and we have a local RV repair center where we go. Dean and Sandy at Advantage RV. They are the nicest people and have the greatest service.
“About 10 years ago my trailer had a tear in the roof, took it to the shop. Not only did they put in a brand-new one, but he saved me $5,000 by telling me it was covered under my homeowners’ insurance. So I only had to pay a $500 deductible. You tell me another repair shop that will do that for you! I will always support small businesses.”
Use a reliable bus mechanic
Rick W. feels so fortunate to have minimal issues with his Newmar and uses a bus mechanic rather than an RV service center. “Every time I read these horror stories I am reminded of how fortunate we were to get a lightly used, well-built RV. We have a 2011 Newmar Bay Star, bought in 2016 with 9,000 miles on it. We have since driven over 30,000 miles and only had to do normal preventive maintenance.
“RV shops are booked out 3 to 4 months, so we use a reliable bus mechanic for oil changes. Bought new tires due to age, not wear. Newmar is great at providing or referring you to manufacturers for small parts like faucet washers, exhaust hangers, etc.
“The worst issue was the dreaded peeling ‘ultra leather’ by Flexsteel (now out of the RV furniture business) on the front seats. Had my local upholstery guy redo them with marine-grade material that should last forever. In short, don’t buy lightweight junk. The quality will be remembered long after the purchase price is forgotten.”
Next RV “will be one I build”
Lynn S. had to use a pry bar to open the door! Yikes! She writes, “The first hint I had of things to come was when the dealer I bought my Salem trailer from did not do a safe, legal hook up, then when I got it home, the door would not open without the use of a pry bar. Every time I used it there were things to fix. Some minor, some hundreds of dollars. Sold it to Camping World in disgust. Got a fair price, but they did not give me a check for it for five weeks. If I get another RV it will be one I will build.”
Tech wanted money upfront before showing up
Jim H.’s slides wouldn’t go in and Good Sam was not much help. He says, “Could not retract the main slide on my 2001 Safari Zanzibar diesel after overnighting at Two Rivers campground in Nashville, TN. Called Good Sam road service and after talking with their online tech, agreed we needed on-site repair. Two different service companies called two hours apart, each promising 90-120 minute response (if we prepaid $370 on our credit card for labor)—but no assurance they could fix anything.
“Gave up on them showing up at all. The campground office recommended Mr. Neal Stewart (615-390-3851). He said he would be by after finishing a call before going home for the day. He found and fixed the problem in about an hour at half the other quotes. Good Sam another disappointment, but Neal Stewart was SUPER.”
RV service centers are not the solution
Dana E. likes trailer repair shops rather than RV service centers. “I don’t believe RV service centers are typically the solution to RV problems. A local (usually family-owned) trailer repair center might be the solution. Personalized attention, much faster service, at a more reasonable cost to you, is a win-win situation.
“We highly recommend Pine Ridge Trailers in Batesville, IN (recommended by a mobile tech and across from the KOA). They literally saved us a cross-country trip, with only a 4-hour delay in our travel plans! We’ve also had an amazing experience with JD’s Auto & Trailer Repair in Maple Park, IL (near St. Charles). If we had to rely on an RV service center, I shudder to think of the wait time, the quality of the repair, and the cost.”
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 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.
Last week’s RV Service Centers and Repairs Report:
Reader’s RV security cameras tell the real story behind service and repairs
Why would you sign the papers to buy a new camper without everything on it and ready to go? When they brought out a “We Owe” list, I would’ve walked out and told them to call me when it’s all done and I’ll see if I still want it.
Id like people to define the troubles they’ve had with the rv. Maybe help understand why they need service. There are people that can’t/ won’t change a light bulb.
I’ve had rvs of all sorts except an A and the only money I paid out in labor/ service was a waterpump on the 85 Ford E350. That was bought as a previous rental and we gave it to my daughter and it’s still on the road after 38 years. About 6 years ago my son in law and I put a new roof on for if I remember about $350. A new refrigerator 11years ago. Oh, we put brakes on, new batteries. New toilet of course new tires twice? My fifth wheel had 17 minor faults and rather than dealer fixing and taking FOREVER, did it myself. If you can’t fix stuff perhaps you shouldn’t own an rv
As always, so many interesting and sometimes horriffic stories. Thank you, too, to those sharing specifics. I add them to a database I am compiling in case we break down while traveling. 🙂