RV Shrink: Dealing with a nosy campground neighbor


Dear RV Shrink:
We live in our motorhome full time and have no home base. My husband likes to change the oil himself and always is very careful to catch it all and not to make a production out of it. Last week a national forest campsite neighbor saw him changing the oil and came over and pitched a fit. He said it was illegal to change oil in the campground and accused us of polluting. My husband was very embarrassed and put things away immediately.

I don’t think changing the oil in a campground is illegal. I also know my husband would never think of spilling a drop, and we have to do it somewhere. He has a very efficient system that collects the old oil and we carry it with us until the next town stop and dispose of it responsibly. I think he should have told the nosy neighbor to take a hike, but he doesn’t like to rock the boat. He is a little upset that I had a few words with the jerk.

We do not run into this type of individual that often, but they are out there waiting to pounce. Should I just turn the other cheek in the future, or bite back? —Responsible Oil DIYers

Dear DIYers:
Sometimes people make up laws for what seems out of the ordinary to them. Some people have way too much time on their hands and need to supervise those around them, whether they know them or not.

I agree with your husband on a couple of counts. I consider oil changes the life-blood of my engine and do not care to hire it out to people I don’t know and can’t watch. I can see how someone might take offense at having repair or maintenance work being done in a campground while they are there to camp and relax. It is best to pick your time and place where you do not have an audience.

If maintenance is necessary, it must be done without spilling fluids on the ground or disposing of parts in campground receptacles. Perhaps in the past this neighbor had seen other, not so responsible RV owners leave a mess. Your husband made the right decision to clean up and shut things down and wait for a better time and place.

Your parting shots might have made you feel better, but did nothing but fuel the flames of discontent. It sounds like your bark is worse than your bite, but I would suggest you keep both in the holster. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

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Bluebird Bob

Keep working and ignore him. Finish and make sure not to leave a drop.


The rules are there for the people that can`t seem to keep the area clean when doing maintenance, the oil filter part tends to get messy even with a drain pan then the clean up rags on and on and on. Or should oil changes be ok but doing brake jobs on site are not or doing full tire rotations with an impact wrench. Where do you cut it off. NO maintenance solves the problem for the owners and every bodies happy. Yep one should follow the rules in life and not make them up as you go to benefit you cause your lazy or cheap.


I’ve camped in many national forest campgrounds, and yes, it IS ILLEGAL to do any vehicle maintenance in them. I can’t believe there’s even a discussion about this! Doesn’t anyone here read campground rules?


I have noticed that in some of the campground guidelines and rules they prohibit any and all maintenance including oil changes in their campgrounds. Assume some have the rules and some do not. Two out of the four places we camphosted, all regional county, have prohibited all maintenance.


Maybe they had a bad experience as we did, our campsite had oil all over, downside? It ended up on our shoes and stuff, and pets, my husband spent 2 hours scrubbing and cleaning up someone else’s mess.

Richard Davidson

Poor choice of where to change oil but nosey should get lost. I would have just ignored him or told him to call the police if I knew wasn’t breaking any laws.

Ed & Robin D.

Hey Shrink, I have to strongly disagree with you on this one. As long as this Gentleman is not infringing on anyone else area, I see no reason why he can’t take care of business as it pertains to his RV. Changing the Oil in his Rig is not a noisy job by any means and the nosey neighbor should have minded his own business. If he had a complaint, he should have addressed it with Park Management. If the Park Management thought there was an infraction of their rules, they would have addressed it. In many cases the nosey neighbor would have been put in his place and his rude behavior could have led to a much more serious altercation. I believe that some advice to the nosey neighbor (to mind his own business) would be more appropriate here. The Camper changing his oil did nothing wrong.

Larry H Lee

I generally change the oil and filter while in the parking lot of an auto parts retail establishment. No complaints yet.