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What to Do when your RV Needs Repairs

Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
May 11, 2021

TL;DR: Dealing with an RV breakdown on the road can be stressful, but being prepared and knowing what steps to take can help ease the situation. Despite the challenges, being prepared and knowing your options can make dealing with an RV breakdown more manageable.

What to Do when your RV Needs Repairs

Traveling in an RV is one of the most relaxing, exciting, and unique ways to travel. It can also be very cost-effective in place of flights, hotels, and eating all meals at restaurants. After all, having a personal home-on-wheels with a kitchen and bathroom is one of the many perks of RVing. Because a motorhome is a hybrid between a car and a home, parts in both the home portion and the "car" portion are keen to breakdowns. When the worst happens, it’s important to have a game plan. What happens if you’re on your way to your next Harvest Hosts location but something on your RV breaks? Stay tuned as we discuss what to do next time you're on the road and your RV needs repairs.

Safety First! 

If you’re unlucky enough to be driving your RV when it breaks down or requires repair, please put safety first. Slow the vehicle down as best as you can and signal to pull off the road as soon as possible. Ideally, this would be at an exit, parking lot, or wide emergency pull-off, but we aren’t always that lucky. Use your best judgement, and park in the safest place possible. Then break out your emergency kit to set up your hazard triangles or flares. 

Roadside Assistance

Having roadside assistance for any vehicle is a lifesaver. Unexpected breakdowns or accidents can occur, leaving you stranded at best. Many auto insurance companies, such as Geico, Allstate, or Progressive, offer a roadside assistance add-on for a few extra dollars per month for your vehicles, including an RV. Check out your policy to see if you’re able to obtain roadside assistance. If not, then check out some third party options such as Good Sam Roadside Assistance, AAA, or Eagle Vision’s Roadside Assistance plans.

If your RV needs roadside assistance, contact your provider to get help as soon as possible, whether that be a battery jump, emergency fuel, or a tow. In the event of needing a tow, be sure to provide as much information as possible to receive the best help. This can include the RV class (A, B, or C), the height, the weight, the length, the drivetrain, and the location of your stranded vehicle. Large motorhome owners can sometimes need to wait longer than smaller RV owners, as it can be difficult (and expensive) to obtain a wrecker large enough to tow a large Class A motorhome.

For towable RVs with a disabled tow vehicle, it may be necessary to obtain a rental vehicle (often covered by insurance) to resume towing your RV. In some cases, roadside assistance may cover separate towing for both the tow vehicle and the trailer, allowing owners to avoid having to rent a vehicle that is equipped to tow their RV. If, for some reason, your towable RV is disabled (wheel or suspension issues, etc), then a flatbed tow may be necessary. 

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Locating a Repair Shop or Mobile Mechanic

Knowing where to take your RV for repairs is the next variable in this equation. RV mechanics are a specific type of mechanic, whether they’re working on the coach portion, the chassis portion, or both. These mechanics are a lot tougher to find than an ordinary mechanic. Class A owners may have an especially tough time locating a mechanic due to the size of the RV and the type of engine their RV has. It’s not uncommon for a repair shop to only perform chassis repairs or coach repairs, and it can be difficult to find a repair shop that can work on both. If you have found one in the past, consider yourself lucky! 

Chassis Repairs for Class B or C

Most Class B or C RVs can be taken to a regular mechanic for repairs, depending on the type of work that may need to be done. Chassis repairs, or anything non-coach related (engine, wheels, etc.) can mostly fall within a mechanic’s expertise, especially if you know the make of your chassis (Ford, Chevy, etc.). Before selecting a mechanic, research the ones in your immediate area for reliability. Contact them before being towed there to be sure to confirm they can work on your RV.

Chassis Repairs for Class A

Finding a repair shop for a large Class A can be a little trickier. Some large truck repair shops can assist with chassis repairs, but not all feel comfortable working on an RV. It’s best to locate a specialty RV shop to ensure they can accommodate the size of your RV and will be more familiar with it. Be sure to mention if your RV has a diesel engine to ensure the mechanic is comfortable working on it.

Coach Repairs

Finding a mechanic that can work on the coach, or house, portion of your RV can be a challenge. Thankfully, someone who can perform coach repairs can oftentimes repair almost anything found in an RV, from the refrigerator to the roof or even the slide outs. Similar to locating a mechanic, be sure to research ones nearby for reliability, and always call before having your RV towed to their location.

Mobile Mechanics

Locating a mobile mechanic to fix your RV can be a lifesaver, especially without roadside assistance. A mobile mechanic often drives a van or truck to bring all the necessary components to diagnose and repair RVs. Sometimes mobile mechanics can be more costly than a repair shop due to travel fees. However, many mobile mechanics are on call seven days a week, which isn’t the case for most shops. Continue to do your research to ensure you find a reliable mechanic who can fix your problem. Keep in mind that if the diagnosed problem is more extensive, your RV may still need to be towed to a shop to have the repairs completed.

Now What?

Where to Stay

If your RV has been towed to a shop, you may be wondering what to do next. After all, your home-on-wheels has just been taken away. Some specialty RV repair shops allow for RVers to remain with their RV and may even have hookups available. Be sure to call and discuss the potential of staying with your RV before having it towed to that location. Alternatively, some insurance, warranty, or service plans will cover or reimburse for hotel or interrupted travel expenses. Consider checking for a nearby hotel or Airbnb to stay in while your RV is being repaired. You could also obtain a rental vehicle to finish traveling to your final destination and pick up your RV on your way back. After all, interrupted plans are no fun, but sometimes folks are still able to make the most of their situation.

Paying for Repairs

Awaiting the final bill is one of the greatest misfortunes of requiring RV repairs. Hopefully your RV just needs a simple repair to get back on the road, but some issues, particularly any serious mechanical failures, are more costly to repair. However, if your RV has a warranty, an extended warranty, or a service plan, your necessary repair may be covered. If your RV falls within the warranty period, the entire repair may be covered. An extended warranty or service plan may require a deductible to be paid, but will still pay for any repairs covered under the plan, as well. Before having your RV towed anywhere, always check your warranty or service plan to see which specific locations would be covered. Are you looking for advice on extended warranties to help cover the cost of potential future repairs? Check out our helpful article on choosing an RV extended warranty.

Experiencing a breakdown in your RV is never a fun time. It can be stressful, expensive, or even dangerous if you were driving when the mechanical failure occurred. The best course of action is to always be prepared and to ensure you are performing your routinely scheduled rig maintenance to help prevent problems. Still, if your RV needs repairs, we hope the suggestions listed here will help you to navigate these difficult decisions and get you back on the road in no time.

Has your RV ever broken down? What did you do? Are you prepared for a breakdown? Tell us about it in the comments!

About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 5,623 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
Sam is a seasoned traveler and RVer of 4+ years. She loves adventures of all kinds and spends as much time on the road as she can. When not exploring in her RV or writing about her travels, you can find her reading a good book, cooking a delicious meal, caring for her plants, or hiking with her dogs.