By Nanci Dixon
We bought a new RV with more bells and whistles, electronics and do-dads in it than our previous landlocked home had. In the past, if I couldn’t find the info I needed in the RV manuals, I called the manufacturer’s service center (and often). They have patiently walked me through each issue, step by step. I realized that I was getting more information from the service folks than was online or written in the manuals, so I started my own “how-to” repair notebook. It’s become a lifesaver.
We would always rather try to fix something ourselves than take it to a shop for repair. It can be weeks to get into a facility and weeks to get it back. We live in our motorhome – weeks are not an option!
I now know how to reset the water sensors, reset the air conditioner, adjust and program the door lock handle and remote, keep the motorhome jacks level in cold weather, test and replace a bad USB outlet, fool the slides into coming in, hot-wire a bad slide motor and rewire the spider in the 12v component box when stranded in northern Wisconsin(!).
Should any of those things have happened? Probably not. However, some of the rough roads and boondocking areas I chose could have shaken a tanker apart.
Now I jot down the new information in a notebook of repair how-tos and then transfer it to the computer for easier access. It’s the best way to keep all your information in one place, and in the long run, it’ll save you a lot of money.
But, as adept at some of the repairs as we have become, I still don’t know how to program the radio and TV to go through the surround sound…
Nanci Dixon is a full-time RVer living “The Dream.” She is a Senior Writer at RVtravel.com. 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.
My ever-growing self-generated “manual” has been a serious time & trouble saver. Tips from forums?…copy & file ’em. Good magazine articles?…scan & file them, too. The key is organization. Early on, I took a 4-day outing with the sole goal of figuring out the Dash Stereo/DVD/iPod/Surround Sound/Satellite/2 TVs/4 remotes and what goes to which Speakers and when. Couldn’t do it. I needed more time.
I save downloaded manuals for appliances and electronics to our iPad “Books”. That way if we don’t have cell service, we can still access the info. Lightens the load by not carrying paper and assures access to info. Just need to keep the iPad battery charged.
Do you have the manuals? If you do, I might be able to help.
I retired last year from a career as a heavy truck tech. I’ll do my own work until I can’t get up off the ground any more.
My biggest whine is that I park the coach on gravel at home. I tell DW that when I win the Lotto I’m going to pour a concrete slab so I can freely roll around under there on a creeper! Hah!
Excellent idea to create your own manual. Just know that writers who generate manuals are working in parallel with development and may be missing info because it isn’t known when they are writing. Our information contained inserts from all third-party companies contributing to the RV.
I bought a motorhome 3 years ago that is now approaching 20 years old. It has been to AK and back. I travel all summer. I don’t have many of those gadgets so there is less to go wrong. My motorhome is livable without using the 2 slides so I only put them out when spending the winter in Quartzsite. They should last forever that way.
I really don’t need all of the electronics that are likely to fail. I keep it simple as possible. I went from a D P to a gas motorhome and have no regrets.
I have been doing likewise in keeping troubleshooting and maintenance data on my RV and its equipment. I recommend Evernote for keeping track of just about anything. Very useful and helpful to store lists and notes. Not free, but worth it to me.
I bought a Class C last year. I went through all the manuals and if I did not have one, I went to the items website and downloaded it. I read articles from here, Facebook groups, RV magazines and save what I see is important. I have created an RV “Bible” for the paper copies and have folders on my computer for each part of my RV. I am also taking the RV owners course from a RV tech school. I want to be able to at least try and fix it or at least know the technician is not give me a boat load of crap. I used to work on my cars and love hearing some of these new, younger and some older guys try and tell a 64 year old female they need this or that and I call them out on it.
Our RV came with a briefcase of manuals and brochures for each individual component used, ie; generator, refrigerator, A/C. Almost worthless because most of the owners manuals are generic and cover multiple models of each component. Thanks to Youtube, and of course, RVTravel we’ve managed to keep them functioning.
Reminds me of a rates sign I once saw in a small engine repair shop:
repairs, $50 / hour
If you watch, $75 / hour
If you tried to fix it before, $150 / hour
That was a few years ago.
I would have no problem paying $75/hr because I would learn, take notes, and ask questions knowing that I would not have to pay someone else for that repair again.
How do I get a copy of your book? 😉
I have no patience for any camper who makes a reservation and fails to notify the campground that they have cancelled their trip. We were at Grand Canyon 2 years ago and almost 1/4 of the RV campsites were empty but the campground was full. Many RV’s were turned away. The office stated that if the site is paid for there is nothing they can do. I think parks should institute a 2 or 3 times penalty for no shows. They can always provide an exception for valid reasons.
I’ve found it frustrating hearing people have made reservations for the same dates at multiple state and COE cg’s, especially on busy holiday weekends, just depending on where they feel like going at the moment. Many of these fill up 6 months ahead of time. It would be a simple software fix that would not allow that to happen. Burns me up some are so inconsiderate and selfish.
That’s the ME ONLY world we live in, I don’t blame the people doing it, I blame their parents for not raising them right. I’m 78 my parents raised their children to be responsible members of society and not only think of ourselves but of the people around us.
Boy, that’s certain, Bob. The big three, and I’m not referring to the Trinity or the Big 3 in Detroit … Me, Myself, and I.
I think this is a great idea.
As a teenager in the 60’s I blew the engine up in my brand new Dodge ‘hot rod’. Don’t ask. So I bought a “Motor’s Auto Repair Manual” for my year Dodge (with step by step black and white photos showing how to completely dismantle the engine). I and two of my buddies totally took the engine apart, pulled the block out with a ‘cherry picker’, and took it to a shop where they pulled the crankshaft with the spun bearing out for me. About a month of on and off work, we got it back together, running like the proverbial top. Today? I open the hood on my pickup, look in, scratch my head, close the hood, and take it to the shop. Times, they have a-changed . . .
Those were the days. Now it is oxygen sensors and all that other stuff.
Use to do a lot of maintenance and repairs to my vehicles, also. As time and nature have crept up on me. Most all need to have a computer talk it’s computer, I just take it to the repair shop, Sit in their air conditioned service lounge, drink their coffee. Knowing that technician is getting the bruised knuckles and paying my Social Security. I don’t have try and get out from underneath lower vehicles and buy all the special tools!
I’ve worked on my own vehicles all my life. Now at 78 I don’t want to. About 2 years ago I had an oil filter left that fit our toad so I decided I was going to change the oil and use that last filter. Not having the equipment I once had( gave all that to my sons) I used a jack to raise the car enough to get my arm under it to drain the oil. The filter was on top of the engine requiring a 32mm socket, universal, and ratchet. There are no zerk grease fittings any longer so my grease gun is a nasty paperweight. Two hours and a skinned knuckle later I finished a 30 minute job. After cleaning up, another 30 minutes including spilled oil on the driveway, I told DW No More! That’s it I quit! I’ll take it somewhere and let the young mechanics work on them.
Yup. I’m 75, and I’m right there with ya.
You Tube can be a great resource but with that said, be really careful on using some folks videos methods. Yes, start there but think your project out too. Until you get into the engines and computer controlled systems used today in motor homes as well as tow vehicles, nothing is really mystical. Yes, those repairs take some time to accomplish. They also take tools and a place to do the project – which, luckily, I have. Others don’t. Also some folks, and this is not to belittle them, just do not have any aptitude for anything mechanical.
I agree with Dennis that U tube great place for repair tips. Found 1 lady’s U tube on electric step motor repair to be great. I use it fir our PU & Jeep as well for repairs. Sometimes the U tube even gives pn’s that Amazon has on 2 day prime.
I also find that “You Tube” is a great source of “how to” information. It’s great when a person shows you how. You might even get info on how to program that radio/TV.