Apr 052011

For fulltime RVers and those who spend months at a time on the road, one challenge can be finding a place to do routine maintenance on our vehicles.

I know a lot of RVers who are perfectly capable of doing their own maintenance, but finding a place to do it can be a challenge. Very few RV parks that we have stayed in will allow guests to do things like oil changes on their vehicles, and some will not even allow you to wash your RV. And if they do allow it, where can you discard your waste oil?

If you cannot do your own maintenance, or can’t find a place that will allow you to do so, your alternatives may be to take the RV to a service center, or to call on a mobile service company approved by the campground where you are staying. We have used Michiana Mobile Lube when staying at Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana, and have been pleased with their work. It’s also very convenient to have them come to you, instead of having to pack up your home on wheels and drive to a service facility, then sit around in their customer lounge, waiting for the work to be completed.

If you travel with pets, this can be a major hassle. Do you leave your animals in the RV and hope some careless service tech doesn’t leave the door open and allow your pet to get out, or do you take it into the customer lounge, where it may be scared by strangers in new surroundings?

For those who pull a trailer with a pickup truck, it’s easy to get set up in an RV park, and then go to any quick lube type of place, or a WalMart service center for routine service. Folks using medium or heavy duty trucks are usually better off going to a dealer or truck shop to have such work performed.

For diesel motorhome owners, service centers operated or approved by the engine or chassis manufacturer of your RV can be a good option. The Cummins Onan Coach Care website lists service centers nationwide, with trained service technicians who know our equipment, and have the tools to do any repair job we need.     

The Freightliner Oasis Network is made up of more than 90 select dealerships in North America, and is growing. Each service location has a dedicated motorhome facility, with trained motorhome service technicians, a motorhome service area, secure parking for motorhome customers, and additional amenities specifically for motorhome owners.

We also know several motorhome owners that have their oil changes and chassis lubrications done at Petro truck stops, and report good service with them.

For small repairs and maintenance, such as replacing an RV water heater’s anode rod, or repairs inside your RV, you can usually get away with it at most RV parks, as long as you keep a low profile and do not disturb your neighbors. If you need repair work that is beyond your abilities, the campground’s office can usually suggest a nearby shop, or a mobile repair service.

What happens if you are in a strange area and need service or repairs, and can’t get any references? Having been ripped off at more than one repair shop across the country, we know how important it is to find a shop you can trust. The website RV Service Reviews is a great resource for finding service nationwide.  We also publish our RV Good Guys guide to service on the road. Nobody can buy an ad in the guide, the only shops we list are those we have dealt with ourselves, or those who have been recommended by our readers. The printed version of the guide costs $7.50, and is available at our online RV Bookstore. If you would like a digital copy of the guide, I am offering them until midnight Friday only for just $5. To order your copy, log onto www.paypal.com and make payment to Editor@gypsyjournal.net. You will receive the guide in PDF format, delivered to you by e-mail.

So what about you? Do you do your own maintenance and small repairs, and if so, where do you do them? If not, what shops, service centers, or mobile services do you use?

Thought For the Day – Be careful with your words. Once they’re said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.

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Nick Russell

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  9 Responses to “RV Maintenance, Where & How?”

  1. In an emergency I would use RV Service Reviews. Will not go to a total stranger without some sort of feedback from customers. Fortunately, we’ve been able to have emergencies done at places like Cummins or others where the service was recommended.

  2. I know that Cummins Onan Customer Care has their name on it but I have had much less than satisfactory service both in promptness (they kept my coach for over 4 months just because I did not exert heavy preasure to get it out) and in carelessness (they burned up my generator and charged me for the replacement) at the center in Elkhart. I have found my experience there is not unique.

  3. We use the Mobile RV Service folks for the tune-ups we need. We have used them in Texas and California. We were pleased with the work they do. We had Onan folks fix our generator in North Dakota when our broke down, we got excellent service from them. I guess it just where and when you need the repairs. Maybe we just got lucky but who knows.. Our park now allows the mobile service folks to come out here to do the rigs. It is nice and convenient for everyone.

  4. When I am home (central Iowa) Plaza RV in Bondurant, IA does all our work. I don’t believe they are set up to work on motor homes; you should check first. When we are in western North Carolina, I would (and have) drive several hundred miles to have Tom Johnson Camping Center in either Marion or Charlotte do the work. We have been there twice in a little over two years. We have always gone to Marion where they have many bays (12 I think) and work on all RVs. They have a huge lounge where they allow pets, have free wireless and a small food service. They also have two each washers and dryers. They do good work which is reasonable. A great place.

  5. We’ve had good luck with Speedco for oil changes and lubes. I do provide them with instructions for all of the lube spot including the steering area. They don’t go in to the motorhome at all, and I’ve talked to other RVers who have had good results. You can find locations on their website, speedco.com. I’ve used the one in Eloy and in Oregon.

  6. We travel prox 10 to 12,000 miles per year. While wintering in Yuma we use Al’s RV service, for Aqua hot service, air conditioning service and related items that we are not comfortable in performing ourselves. During our travels we have our RV serviced (engine and generator) at Speedco. They are located near Flying J fuel stops in major cities on the interstate. Their work is thorough, and the price is less than half that one would pay at a Cummins dealer. Service time for us has been less than one hour vs most of a day at dealer. Hope this helps all that travel and enjoy the road as much as we do.

  7. We just had a need for some expert attention to our newly installed SMI Braking system. SMI recommended Texas RV Supply, on the north edge of San Antonio. They had us on the road in very short order, but while I was there I watched the techs working on all manner of coaches and trailers. My conversations with the shop Foreman John, the service writers and parts guys inside and the other folks working at this location left me with the feeling that I would not hesitate to go back to them for any type of repair or service, if I was in that area. Two guys, diagnosing and working for 1 1/2 hours … charged us for 1 hour of shop time + parts. Very fair and very competent.

  8. Over our years of RVing and full-timing for nearly 2 1/2 years, we’ve established a card file of the service places to which we will return. These include a couple of dealerships, independent sercive centers and quite a few mobile technicians. Still, we must use our own due diligence when seeking out service: as a service center in MO was recommended by Tiffin, our motor home’s manufacturer, as well as by the RV Service Reviews on-line. This particular service center was outrageous in its cost. No matter where we go, their’ll be the good, bad and the ugly. We do, as an absolute, stay out of Camping World Service Centers. . . toooooo many screw-ups! As always, oRV

  9. Does anyone ever use Truck stops or Greyhound Service centers? They may not be able to fix rv issues but engine and transmission problems….Paul

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