Saturday, May 27, 2023


Reading the owner’s manual, NOT trusting social media, will solve many RV problems

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:

Blue Angel mechanic watching over his RV

Dan I. had much better luck at Camping World than others we have heard from. He shares, “My rear air conditioner in my motorhome quit on me and nobody seemed to have one. Lo and behold, Camping World had one not far away, but no time to install it. They held it for me and I bought it at a good sale price. I had a friend help install it for a grandkids’ trip and all went well. We went out again and the A/C burned up big time. Back to Camping World I went to get another unit. They informed me the unit was fine, it was the converter under the bed that burned up, so we replaced that unit. Unfortunately, my starter went out in their shop and I was left hanging. They agreed to install the starter for no charge if I bought a new one. All went fantastic as the mechanic was a former Navy Blue Angels mechanic and really knew his stuff. That’s been over two years ago and all still works as it should.”

It never should have left the factory

John W. spent a lot of time fixing what never should have left the factory. He writes, “We bought a little-used 2018 JAYCO then spent close to two months repairing sloppy workmanship and upgrading wiring that should have never left the factory. Every cabinet had sawdust and splinters from drill holes through the floor. All wiring was draped bare across and through framing with connections exposed to road salt. Holes in the ceiling for A/C were mislocated and did not have airflow. Water lines for the shower were pitched against the cabinet wall. It’s been repaired but still has very low flow. I never had high expectations, but a decent product at a fair price shouldn’t be too much to ask.”

They charged for the time to not repair!

Kathy S. has her slide coming out while driving (YIKES!) but no repair yet. She writes, “Slide comes out while driving. Maybe 4 inches, but you can hear the wind noise when it does. Took it to three different major repair shops. Nope! They charge for the time to NOT repair. Frustrates me more than a little. I can use a holding jack for short trips but common sense tells me this isn’t going away or improving on its own.”

Treated royally

Richard S. was on the road and welcomed by a dealer they didn’t even buy their RV from. He says, “When the cooling unit in our one-year-old Jayco 5th wheel failed, we were on a three-month trip. We went to Cunningham Campers in Jeffersonville [now in Clarksville], IN, a Jayco dealer, for help. Although we were not a customer and would likely never be, Cunningham treated us royally. Because it would take several days to obtain a replacement unit from Dometic and we needed to be several hundred miles away for a family event, they worked for hours trying to find a Jayco dealer somewhere along our route who would help us. All the while they were making the arrangements, we were made to feel welcome and comfortable. We highly recommend Cunningham’s to anyone looking for a good, honest, hard-working dealership.”

Read the owner’s manual

Rick S. is one of the very lucky RV owners who has had no problems with three of his RVs. Here’s why: “We have owned three Class A coaches: one gas and two diesel pushers. All three have been problem-free. Both diesel pushers came from Independence RV in Florida. You couldn’t ask for finer sales and maintenance service! We have also had outstanding service from Gaffney South Carolina Freightliner service and Newmar in Nappanee, Indiana. Many owners create their own problems by not reading owners’ manuals and depending on social media for advice versus contacting true experts. Instead, they start tinkering with systems resulting in additional damage.”

Bent axle repaired quickly under warranty

Karen T. was going down the road when motioned to pull over by another driver. “I bought my 2022, 13′ Scamp new in August ’22. I was heading out of town after leaving a park and another driver pulled alongside me yelling to pull over. Long story short, I had a severely bent axle (under warranty). I called Bennett’s RV (on a Saturday) in Granbury, TX, who made me an appt for Tuesday. By the next Friday, the new, heavier, sturdier axle was on, and I was back on the highway. I boondock and was so glad it got taken care of before being stuck out in the middle of somewhere.”

Work professionally done

John D. goes with the service facility, not a dealer, for expert results. “I had a great experience at Queenstown RV in Beltsville, MD. They do not sell RVs. They service RVs and various specialty vehicles, plus they have a retail parts and accessories store nearby in College Park, MD. In March 2022, I purchased a pre-owned 2020 Pleasure Way Plateau TS. I found a water leak dripping outside behind the hot water filter. I had them replace a valve that had cracked during a late-March freeze. Also, I had them install a much quieter Houghton A/C unit as the original Dometic was so loud you could not sleep. I had that unit drop-shipped directly to them. They had the van for just one week and the work was professionally done. I tried to get an appointment at RV dealerships, but they’re only working on their customers’ RVs.”

A one-year warranty should tell us something

Max S. does make a pretty good point about warranties: “When buying an RV, you know you’re getting screwed. A one-year warranty should tell us something.”

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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Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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1 month ago

There is absolutely no reason not to trust what is posted online. After all

“I saw it on the internet so it must be true”

is the line that far too many subscribe to, RV related and beyond~~

Don N
1 month ago

I went on line and down loaded the 2003 Ford E-450 V-10 chassis manual (on a 2004 build) then the Tioga owners manual. Lots of information in both of them They stay in the motorhome all the time. You never know if you will need them until you have a problem. I also keep a computer and paper record of what has been repaired with parts numbers and dates and where they were purchased. This was all done in 2013 when i bought the coach.

1 month ago

People that have issues with their RV’s and ask Facebook for repair advice, as Greg stated many don’t have a good answer but that doesn’t stop them from commenting.
my reply is
1) find the model number & manufacturer of the problem item
2) google the problem ( with the information gathered in step one)
this most likely take you to YouTube.
3) look at as many videos that pertain to our exact situation & model
4) now armed with some knowledge you can proceed with repairs OR at least if having others repair you know at least what is involved.

things I have direct experience with I have tried to explain in the past .
now I just say google & YouTube are your friend

1 month ago

Owners manual? What’s that? 😁 We’ve owned 4 RVs now and our current Grand Design is the only one that came with an owners manual, and it’s pretty vague. I think we can access more information online, but doesn’t it always seem when something breaks you are always in the middle of nowhere with no cell or internet service!

Edward Wilkinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Suru

I think that a vehicle specific, written owners manual should, by law, come with every type of vehicle made. In my situation, I camp in the middle of nowhere and almost never receive a signal for cell or internet of any kind. And the screen on my phone is not conducive to reading while trying to accomplish an operation or a repair, in any case.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Newmar provides a model-specific spiral bound volume with somewhat specific operating and trouble-shooting instructions for all aspects of that particular model. Additionally, they provide a briefcase-like container with all the documentation that accompanied each component when Newmar recieved them. These are arranged by category (e.g., electronics) within the container. Finally, Newmar maintains a website for owners. Inserting an RV’s build number returns links to all the component information available for that particular RV as it was manufactured. The links include web pages and files originally provided by the various component companies on their websites. To prevent the loss of historic component information Newmar adds these pages and files to their own website so owners can retrieve them. Thusly, Newmar does a pretty good job of giving owners all available information about all aspects of their RVs.

Last edited 1 month ago by Neal Davis
Cheryl Robinson
1 month ago

It would be nice to have an owners manual. We bought a 2019 Forest River Mesa Ridge. There were no manuals except how to install the toilet. Called the dealership Camping World was told to call Manufacturer. Called Forest River their answer no dealership should have those. Called Camping World back with Forest River’s reply. They then replied you can go online and download to your computer and print off. When I told them we full time and have no computer nor a printer. There was silence. Then do you have a smart phone? Yes, I do. Well you can download to your phone. No I replied I want a paper copy of my manuals. I don’t see very well and squinting at my phone without blowing it up larger to read is not an option. Now 3 years later I still have no manuals. Lost my TV antenna on our travels and I don’t even know how to order a new one as I don’t know what brand it was. What ever happened to customer service??? I understand saving the trees but could they use recycled paper?

1 month ago

Owners manuals are generic, and one step away from being useless. Thankfully we have the internet. It is unfortunate that so many people that don’t really know the answer give their advice. Just have to sort through the posts.

1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

My daughter just negotiated for a farm tractor for the place she manages and had the deal all set up. She told the dealer that she wanted the manual for that particular tractor, not the generic for that model line of tractors, with parts and part numbers. She was told that it was on line for that model line. She told them here is our contract and here is the check. You will get the check when I get my paper copy of the manual and parts manual for THIS tractor. SOMEHOW the tractor was delivered with the full paper manuals for that tractor. I thot I taught her well, but even I cannot out negotiate her. As others have stated: “Do your homework”.. As one of my first bosses said: “Know who’s buyin’ and know who’s sellin’.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  KellyR

Good for your daughter, Kelly! Sounds like you raised her right. Reminds me of many years ago (before computers, etc.) when I “called” the IRS on something. I had filed my tax return and they sent me a notice saying I did it wrong. I knew I had done it correctly, checked again just to make sure, and wrote them a letter saying, basically (and quite bluntly), “No, I’m right and you’re wrong. Let me know when you figure it out.” A few weeks later I got their apology and admission they had made a mistake. The fact that they were wrong wasn’t what surprised me about that scenario. It was the fact that I stood up to them like that, being the very shy wallflower that I (still) am. 😂 Have a good evening/night. 😀 –Diane

1 month ago
Reply to  Diane McGovern

Citizen vs IRS. I’d say “wallflower” (my hind leg) with guts!

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  KellyR

😆 Thanks, Kelly. 😊 Take care. 😀 –Diane

Jim Prideaux
1 month ago

My problem with service manuals is they are too general. Go to water heaters and it will start out saying “you may have a unit that looks like this or something similar.” I’d rather plug in the precise model number into Google that tells be what to do on my unit.

Roger V
1 month ago

Re Max S. comment. A one year warranty also tells you not to schedule any long trips during that first year. That’s what we did except for one long winter trip to Florida. Since that warranty expired, we’ve travelled for 6 more years with no more visits to any RV dealer.

1 month ago

We bring all of the RV’s service manuals we have on every trip. The 20 tab expandable binder is about 8 inches thick and includes all service records as well. It proves itself invaluable, saving time and money.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

We do the same, Ray. Our binder is at least 4″ thick and contains every manual and installation instruction we’ve ever gotten since buying the trailer in 2012. As things get fixed or swapped out, so do the accompanying manuals. We even have the original sales brochure for our model trailer!

1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I do the same Tommy. Except I have 8 1″ binders for the various manauls and receipts etc. Two of the manuals are unit specific articles from Jim Freund from the former Motorhome Mag. I also have the original sales brochure and owners manual in Vol !. I keep them on-board our class A in the former cathode tube Tv cabinet in the bdrm. I also have GM service manuals and Dave’s Rv Repair manual and some electrical articles from Mike Sokol. Whoever ends up with our motorhome will be well informed!.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

We carry ours with us too. We use a plastic briefcase that came with the RV, but I like the expandable binder idea. Gotta try it. Thanks

1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

Sounds like we are not the only RVers with all the books from the things in the RV.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

Great idea!

1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

We do the same. We had the general manual that was for an earlier model. I called the factory and they sent the correct, updated manual. Each appliance from transfer switch to refrigerator had its own manual. The factory PDIs for each part of the RV came with the RV, with the check list and initials of each inspector – believe it or not. (Roadtrek when it was the original Roadtrek) A couple of specific items did not have a manual so I contacted the part manufacturer directly and asked for their data sheets, like for parts like the battery isolator and other “incidental” parts. All is in the RV all the time. I think I have more info than the RV dealer.

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