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:
Rubber seal gaps and rotting pressboard totally destroys floor
Thomas E’s. slide gaps let water in and it ended in a soggy mess. He writes, “Yes, it is normal to have ‘gaps’ in the slide outs. The problem comes when those gaps allow water to leak into the trailer and rot the floors out, as it did on our 2016 Coachmen 5th wheel. The bedroom slide’s pressboard became saturated with water and started to sag. We didn’t discover this until the slide wouldn’t fully retract on one side.
“Upon removing the bed and slide mechanism I discovered the left side was only held by one screw at the top because the two bottom screws had pulled free of the rotting pressboard floor. Only one of the two bottom screws was in ‘solid’ wood on the right side. So only three screws were attached between the bed assembly and the slide structure.
“When I removed the seven screws that held the floor up in place to the slide walls, the whole thing came crashing down, forming a mound of broken, soggy wet particleboard pieces. So yes, there are gaps in the slides that allow air, bugs, and water to get into the RV. Seems the bottom left rubber seal was 1/4″ short of making it to the bottom. That 1/4″ gap ultimately destroyed the bedroom slide floor.”
Why did they think changing a pneumatic valve would fix an electrical problem?
George U. is the consummate do-it-yourself friend that everyone with an RV wishes they had! He shares, “I’ve always been a DIYer. A technical background and watching relatives’ DIY helped. People often ask me where to get their car or RV worked on, to which I reply I am the worst person to ask because I use none of them and have no experience.
“Last week I diagnosed a problem with the park brake alarm on an elderly friend’s older diesel motorhome. He had paid to get it fixed somewhere and they apparently changed the pneumatic brake control valve but not the pressure switch just below it. It started working correctly, but after a few days, the problem came back.
“I did some research online and found the pressure switch was prone to intermittent failure. I proved it was the problem by disconnecting and starting up the rig and exercising the brake and transmission. Then I gave him some links to order the part and will see him again in a month or two. I don’t know how the repair people he hired thought changing the pneumatic valve that operated the brake would fix an electrical problem.”
So, George… Are you available for hire? Wink.
Pricey but exceptional work
Michael M. does a lot of his own work, too, but when he needs an RV shop these are his go-to folks. “We own a 2006 Excel Limited 35FLR. I do much of the work and upgrades on our rig, but at times need an RV shop to do the work for us. We were on the road for nine years, and two of the best people who have helped with our rig are MORryde in Elkhart, Indiana, and Excel Service Center in Smith Center, Kansas. Excel is on the pricey side, but do exceptional work and are very friendly. MORryde has helped us with suspensions, hitches, and steps. The quality of the work is outstanding.”
There is hope!
Lee A. is a happy camper! He writes, “Believe it or not, my 2017 Starcraft Autumn Ridge, purchased from Camping World in Mesa, Arizona, has never returned to the dealer for any kind of service. The few minor issues I fixed myself, and after some 20,000 miles of travel it still looks like new. One of the first things I did was replace the made-in-China tires for a set of Goodyear Endurance tires. This trailer has been a pleasure to own and the best out of four previous RVs.”
Shady add-on to RV loan?
Olivia L. was certainly upset when she found additions to her RV loan that she did not authorize. She explains, “Camping World in Woodstock, Georgia, added $12,000 worth of warranties to my loan that they never told me about or got my approval for. I was in a rush at the time and didn’t expect them to do that to me on the paperwork. Nobody helps when I call and am stuck with a huge unexpected bill.”
Didn’t inspect the one thing that is now wrinkling
Cathy and Gregg P. warn us to inspect absolutely everything when purchasing an RV. Here’s why: “Purchased a 2023 Apex Nano (Forest River product). Inspected everything except the roof before it left the dealer, RV Specialist, in Goshen, IN. Wouldn’t you know it, the Dicor membrane is wrinkling up on the roof. Forest River and Dicor say it’s normal; however, that membrane has only been used for three or four years. They have no clue if it will actually hold up and that is why they only warranty it for one year. Save yourself a headache and inspect every roof and its warranty. Ours is still under warranty and I still cannot get them to fix it!”
Quality lacking—service hit and miss
Herbert D. says this will be his last camper and maybe last RV season. “I have owned two travel trailers over the last ten years, the first one was a Jayco Jay Flight, and the current one is a Venture Sonic Lite. What I have learned is the quality is lacking in most of the brands I’ve looked at, but I suppose it is sacrificed for the sake of weight.
“Service is hit and miss, and forget trying to get a fast turnaround. Dealers have had so much business that if you are unhappy and suggest you will go elsewhere, they really don’t care.
“I had issues with Jayco not wanting to stand by their warranty regarding my black water valve freezing up. Their solution was to buy heat tape! I am currently trying to get the decals replaced on my Venture Sonic because the air conditioner drains water down the front of the camper and the decals are peeling off. I just checked with the dealer and he was unsure if it is warranted, but he said they are only about ten bucks apiece and an easy DIY project!
“I’m pretty sure this will be our last camper, but with the campground crowding and reservation difficulty, it may be our last RV season!”
Whenever not on a trip, RV was in the shop getting fixed
Linda B. now has a new warranty and they are finally enjoying their motorhome. She writes, “We purchased a new motorhome in 2017 from La Mesa RV in Tucson. From day one there were big and small issues. Anytime we weren’t traveling it was at La Mesa getting fixed. We would go on a trip and take it in. Pick it up to go on the next trip. Even had to cancel trips because it wasn’t fixed. For five years! You name it and it was a problem with this place.
“Now out of warranty, we purchased a warranty through RVtravel.com-recommended Wholesale Warranties. We take it to Freedom RV Marana. Both have proved superior in every way. We’ve now had the RV at home so we had time to make a bunch of upgrades and are finally enjoying our motorhome. Freedom RV is the best!”
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
We’ll continue to 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:
Thank you, Nanci!
RV owners just have to get used to the idea that shoddy workmanship for manufacturers like Forest River really is normal. It’s either that or learn to do the homework needed to make an informed decision, not influenced by wishful thinking, and be prepared to pay the money necessary to buy REAL value.
Forest River has been a problem for years and years. Good, good friend bought a new pull trailer and had wall paper peeling from the roof. Spend weeks at F.R. getting fixed. Right away the paper on the walls started to peel. Long story short, F.R. said they had mistakenly built the trailer with wet wood! Took a year of legal hastles to get satisfaction, and F.R. would still not replace the trailer, even though it was new and their screw-up. That’s not good customer service of any kind.
Thanks Nanci. I always learn something new from reading this column every week.
Olivia L has learned a hard lesson.
ALWAYS read every word of what you are signing, and understand every number.
It may seem a bit uncomfortable to sit there and read through pages of various documents shoved at you and “explained” as “oh…that’s just standard boiler plate.” Or “That’s required by law.” They don’t shove anything at you that isn’t designed to protect them. READ IT ALL. If that takes a half hour or more, so be it.
Good advice. She said “I was in a rush at the time…”. If you’re buying an RV, you cannot be in a rush!
The floor’s been replaced and with the bed unit removed, I went ahead & replaced the cheap matted bedroom rug with vinyl plank flooring. I also bought and installed slide out skis. In a couple Youtube videos showing replacing the slide floor, I found out higher end units use these skis along the lower slide out edges to both help the slide move in and out easier as well as add additional waterproofing at those locations prone to water intrusion. I bought 3 more sets of skis and will install on the other 3 slides.
So on my 7 year old 5th wheel, this year, I’ve replaced all 4 springs, added an axle alignment kit and shock kit, added a mini split AC/heater to replace the failing roof AC unit, replaced the furnace, and now tore down my bedroom to replace the floor, added slide skis.
My next big project will be to tackle the failing roof membrane. But first I’ll pull off ALL the trim pieces and butyl caulk and cap seal. The slide lower trim piece was missing caulk.
Side note: When reassembling the bed unit I discovered the two wheels that are supposed to support the base are suspended 1 inch above the floor. The wheels are too small. Seriously! All this time the entire bed assembly was cantilevered off the slide – until we climbed into bed and those suspended wheels made contact with the floor. This would put a lot of stress on the slide structure – and what I discovered – pulled the screws right out of the OSB slide floor.
I’ll now be replacing those two small wheels with larger diameter – and wider wheels so the base of the bed is not suspended in mid-air. WOW!