Skip the repair shop; do it yourself with a “how-to” notebook


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 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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Jef and Brenda from Savannah, Georgia
1 year ago

How do I get a copy of your book? 😉

Joseph Weinstein
1 year ago

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.

Gene Cheatham
1 year ago

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.

Mark Wilson
1 year ago

I think this is a great idea.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

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 . . .

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Those were the days. Now it is oxygen sensors and all that other stuff.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

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!

Dave W
1 year ago

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.

1 year ago

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.

1 year ago

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.