It’s liberating. It’s exhilarating. And in many cases, it’s a lot more affordable and stress-free than traveling by airplane (especially when you use your Passport America membership to score 50% off your campsite accommodation fees every time you camp).
But RVing still has some expenses involved, two of the biggest being service and repairs.
After all, your rig is a big, complex vehicle. Not only does it have the regular engine systems like an around-town car, but it’s also got complicated extras like a generator, an auxiliary battery system, and even appliances. In other words, there’s a lot that can go wrong — and all of it can be expensive to fix.
That’s why savvy RV owners find ways to minimize their repair costs by performing regular preventative maintenance — and thrifty, self-reliant ones find ways to perform even significant repairs themselves.
Here’s how to keep your RV repair costs low so you can keep on truckin’ with a smile on your face.
How Much Do RV Repairs Cost?
First things first: if you do outsource your labor, what kind of money are you looking at?
RV repair costs vary depending on a variety of factors, from the damage (or maintenance item) that needs doing to the specific market you’re in. Costs for the same service can range widely just depending on where in the country you call home — or where in the country your rig decides it’s time to break down.
1. Do your research.
Of course, you don’t want to wait until you’re on the hook for repairs to figure out how much to set aside in your travel budget for unexpected surprises. That’s why it’s a good idea to check around with local RV repair shops in your area for simple services you may need, like regular tune-ups, oil changes, or tire rotation.
Keep in mind, though: if something goes really awry with one of your RV’s major systems, you’re likely looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repair bills. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your regular preventative maintenance schedule… and also to set aside a hefty emergency fund before you set out on your travels. Yes, it can be difficult to wait until your finances are in order to take the trip of a lifetime, but you’ll thank yourself when you don’t have the added worry of how to pay for repairs if you have a roadside uh-ho. (Psst: Here are some great ways to save money on the road.)
On Site RV Repair
When emergencies happen, you might also return to emergency on-the-spot RV repair services, which allow for mobile RV repairs no matter where you are.
Of course, these services can be extra costly, totally eclipsing the estimates you get from regular brick-and-mortar repair shops. They know you need services right now, and they know they can make you pay for them.
2. Shop around for a mechanic.
That’s why it’s a good idea to read up on a mechanic’s reviews and reputation before you call them up. Even in a time-sensitive emergency, you likely have at least a few options to choose from. Take advantage of your right to vote for the best, most reliable and friendly service, with your wallet! Here are some tips on how to find a trustworthy mechanic when you need one.
DIY RV Repair
Of course, a great way to deal with the high cost of RV repairs… is simply to not pay them. By learning to do some DIY RV repair, you can go a long way toward off-setting that budget line item.
3. Do it yourself.
Some campers even take on massive do-it-yourself RV restoration projects along with their regular maintenance and repair. But if you’re not sure how to do simple RV repairs, let alone make massive structural changes, don’t worry. There’s lots of information out there to help you.
You can find books and manuals to help you with everything from how to repair your RV’s fiberglass siding to fixing up your outdoor awning. Here are some of our best recommendations from Amazon:
- RV Repair and Maintenance Manual by Bob Livingston
- The RV Handbook: Essential How-To Guide for the RV Owner by Dave Solberg
- RV Electrical Systems: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement by Bill Moeller
- Camper Rehab: A Guide to Buying, Repairing, and Upgrading Your Travel Trailer by Chris Peterson
- Average Joe’s RV Refrigerator: Troubleshooting & Repair Guide by Roger D. and Onna Lee Ford
As you can see, there’s a guide or manual out there for pretty much every RV repair and maintenance item you can think of. Doing the work yourself guarantees you get quality RV repair — what mechanic could you possibly trust as much as you trust your own judgement? It also makes your rig feel more like your baby, a personal project you’ve invested your own time, energy, and work into.
But even if you don’t want to get super technical with your rig, you can offset regular costs and prevent many larger repair issues by performing simple tasks yourself, such as checking and changing your RV’s oil and other fluids as well as regularly scanning your rig for any signs of leaks and water damage.
Keeping your rig clean goes a long way towards ensuring all its systems work as well as possible for as long as possible, too. Here’s how to rid your RV’s canopy of dirt and debris, and here’s our guide to giving your holding tank sensors a good scrub.
Emergency RV Repair
The unexpected happens on every road trip — it’s part and parcel of travel (and honestly part of the reason we love it so much. It’s all an adventure, after all!).
But by keeping up with your regularly scheduled maintenance and learning how to do even just a few simple repairs and maintenance items on your own, you won’t have to worry about refinancing your rig just to afford to keep up with its repair needs.
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