The process of getting service done on your RV is different especially if you are traveling. While you likely have experience with scheduling and then having service done on your car, it’s very different with an RV. There are three primary types of places that provide RV service…
- Factory service centers
- Mobile service technicians.
All of them can provide excellent service. All can be iffy based on reputation and work ethic. The main advantage to the factory service center is they typically have better access to more parts. The number of factory service centers seriously declined due to the economic recession of 2008/2009 as did the number of dealers. You must deal with those that are still in business.
RV dealers may have to order parts and these are shipped in by various methods ranging from overnight delivery to someone paddling a canoe upstream. Another difference—but not an advantage—is that a dealer (an authorized service center for a specific brand of RV) generally must follow more “rules” than the factory service center. Rules include having to call the manufacturer for approval on some types of
work—especially warranty work.
Whether a new or old RV, they are all going to need service at some point. Assuming you cannot perform the necessary work, the first step is to call for an appointment. Surprise! You may have to wait several weeks or months for an appointment. I called one (very large) dealer in October and was told they had just a few appointments left the following February! Seriously.
The second surprise is that if you are on the road (actually traveling), most dealers and factory service centers will do just about anything to help you solve your problem so you can continue with your trip. We have had excellent service on problems that just “popped” up during various trips. I definitely appreciate the efforts and results of those that helped us.
But first, plan (if you can) for service. If you are going to leave on an extended trip at some date and know you will need service at some specific time (for example, one year), then if possible, go ahead and schedule it. You can always cancel. You should always get the unit serviced before you store it for the winter, not when you pull it out of storage and want to leave on that big trip next week.
Arriving for Service
When you arrive for service, patience is the answer. It will generally be slow and they may not even look at, much less start on your coach for a day or two. One of the reasons for this is that typically, other RVers that show up for service come with an additional list of work that they need done. Of course, they had a repair list when they called and made the appointment but they typically show
up with a second list—an additional new list—of those things that stopped working between the time of their initial call and the actual appointment—but now needed fixing. This “amended” list can become quite lengthy especially if there was a long lead-time and lots of RV usage between the initial call and the actual appointment. I have had RVers tell me that they had 60+ items on their repair list. That’s a bunch!
When you make the appointment, the service center will estimate the time needed to do the work from your list and will allocate that time for you. Let’s assume they estimated three full days to do all your repairs and set your service appointment for a Monday. When you show up, you casually mention that “By the way…” and show them five or ten or fifteen other items that now also need fixing. For my example, let’s assume it would take two extra days to complete the work on your amended list. If the service center agrees to do everything (accomplish both lists), you will likely be there for a week—maybe longer.
The problem lies in that if they have another coach scheduled for that Thursday—your original work list was to be finished on Wednesday. The “Thursday” person is now pushed forward (because of you) until the following Monday! Plus, that is assuming they really do get you out of there on Friday. When you multiply this type of problem by 10 or 30 or 50 service bays, it becomes overwhelming. Patience is the answer.
What about needing an emergency repair? “Emergency” service will get you in the door in, maybe, 2-3-4 days. Emergency service is generally defined as any work required to continue to actually use/live in the RV (water, electrical, driving/towing, leaks, or safety problems). You may even need a motel during this time. Cosmetic or numerous other issues (regardless of your perception of “serious”) are not considered
emergencies. These range from paint scratches to your microwave not working.
If you are getting your work done under an “extended warranty” contract, then you must follow protocol established by that extended warranty company. Most require a call PRIOR to the work being started to receive approval. Your service center will need to know if you are planning to use an extended warranty to help pay the costs so make this known when you set the appointment. The service center can help with the call, explain the nature of the planned work/service, and discuss the time estimated on the various repairs.
If the estimated repair will exceed some predetermined amount (one extended warranty company uses $1,000.00), they will require that a company “inspector” comes out to actually view the potential repair. The assumption is that their “inspector” will verify what the dealer or service center estimated on more expensive repairs. This is not optional if it is in your policy. Also, requiring an inspector will add to the overall repair time since no work can be started until the inspector makes their report. This can
literally add a few days to your completed repairs.
This means that the service center must have a good idea of the problem and the solution before they call. When they call, they must explain what they plan to do and agree with the extended warranty company on the time and parts allowed. Only then, will approval be given. Rarely does an extended warranty pay for diagnostics (searching for the cause of a problem) or maintenance. Communication between the service center, the extended warranty company, and you will help eliminate problems with final payment for service. However, the responsibility for paying the bill is yours.
We All Need Service
If you are that person who has the skills and tools to do most of the ongoing work on your RV, that’s great. Most of us do not. For RVs just a few years old, most owners can call the Tech Support number at the respective manufacturer. Usually, Tech Support can answer most of the questions and can often guide you through whatever checks or testing is needed to fix or verify a problem. Otherwise, you will need to call and make an appointment at a service center somewhere.