Common RV Repairs
12/1/2022 – Good Sam
Repairs are an unfortunate necessity of RV ownership. Parts break, and components wear out over time. RVs can feel more prone to repairs than autos, but that’s because RVs have far more functional systems and components. Not only are they roadworthy vehicles, but they also include many amenities you would find in a home.
If you’re aware of which repairs your RV will likely face—and roughly when they occur in your RV’s lifespan—then you can identify telltale signs of trouble before the issue worsens and affects other components of the rig. This helps ensure the longevity of your RV.
We’ll separate common repairs into two categories of RVs: motorhomes and travel trailers/fifth wheels. Each type of RV has unique features that require specific repairs, and we’ll cover them here.
A note to those looking to become an RV owner: as you read about common issues and their expenses, this list can help determine which type of RV might be right for you.
Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels
Unfortunately, some of the most common repairs for travel trailers and fifth wheels can be the most expensive. By identifying them early, you know what to expect and how to prepare or budget.
Travel trailers and fifth wheels offer many of the same amenities and perks of motorhomes, but at a more affordable price point. But because both are towables, they’re vulnerable to suspension issues unique to towing.
The suspension connects the frame of your trailer to the axles. It absorbs damaging shocks from the road. But the effects of potholes, road hazards, and wear-and-tear accumulate and can damage your suspension. These repairs are often costly, and ignoring the problem can lead to dangerous scenarios like trailer sway, damage, or accident.
Tire damage is one of the leading repairs for RVs. This is especially true with trailers and fifth wheels. Not only are they exposed to typical road hazards like potholes and other road hazards, but damaged or insufficient suspension can cause additional wear and tear. Plus, if your hitch or weight isn’t set up correctly, you could put extra pressure on your tire, leading to flats.
If you don’t have tire and wheel coverage tire and wheel coverage, consider the Good Sam Tire & Wheel Protection Plan.
Problems with power inverters are more common in travel trailers and fifth wheels, but they’re an integral part of any RV and even motorhome owners should be aware of potential problems. Your power inverter is responsible for converting the type of power most appliances require. Problems can arise with your battery, fuses, wiring, or the inverter itself. The downside is identifying the problem, which often requires professional assistance.
Power inverters are likely included in your initial warranty coverage. Beyond that, you’ll want to examine any extended warranty or service plan to see if you’re covered for expensive electrical issues like replacing power inverters.
Without a running A/C unit, the comfort and charm of traveling in an RV quickly dissipates. Unfortunately, the roof A/C unit is a common repair item for several different reasons.
For starters, the electrical system we just discussed might not be providing nearly enough power for your A/C, which will prevent it from turning on. Roof A/Cs require a lot of power, and if it’s being diverted to other appliances, you may need to turn those off or upgrade your system.
Another common issue occurs when the A/C stops blowing cool air. This can be caused by dirt and debris build-up, but the problem could be more severe and reflect a freon problem or leak. Other common issues include:
- Frozen coils
- Thermostat issues
- Water leaks
- Vibrating fan or coils
In the event you have to replace the roof A/C, the repair becomes far more expensive than many DIY repairs like cleaning or replacing the thermostat.
One of the benefits of traveling in a motorhome is that it’s an independent vehicle. Everything is contained within the same unit. That also means there’s an abundance of systems that can go wrong, from the navigation to the living situation.
Problems with refrigerators are common across the board–travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes. But replacing the refrigerator is a fairly common solution, and that can get expensive with large, residential refrigerators found in many motorhomes.
Camper refrigerators operate with a simple system that heats an ammonia-based fluid that circulates in the refrigerator to remove heat. If an issue prevents that circulation, it could be time to replace the fridge entirely. And the expense gets worse with the labor required to remove and reinstall a new unit.
Some refrigerators are included in coverage that protects RV owners from expensive repairs, like the Good Sam Extended Service Plan. Check your extended warranty or service plans to see if they include refrigerators.
Air Brake Compressor
Heavy vehicles like motorhomes require additional braking capacity due to weight and momentum. That’s why most come equipped with air brakes, which use compressed air to give extra stopping power to your braking system. The diesel engine powers your air brake compressor to fill three-five air tanks with pressurized air. Without it, you won’t be able to operate your motorhome safely.
Repairs for this can range from $2,700 to $6,700. So even at the low end, you’re still facing a pretty significant repair. Pay attention to your air pressure gauge to identify any abnormalities that might indicate air compressor problems.
The primary benefit of the motorhome is also its potential Achilles heel. The engine (and transmission) on modern-day motorhomes are reliable—diesel pushers can run for hundreds of thousands of miles–but when a repair is needed, it’s usually significant.
Engine and transmission repairs are one of the more common types of motorhomes. And repairs of that nature can require highly specialized mechanics, too, so even small tasks can run a high tab. That’s why it’s essential to keep up on routine maintenance and to ensure you have coverage for breakdowns related to your engine.
Fuel Injection Pump
The fuel injection pump is an essential element for motorhome engines and distributes the proper amount of fuel into the engine cylinders. Unfortunately, it’s a common item to have trouble in motorhomes, and it’s one of the more expensive repairs due to the cost of fuel injection pumps and the difficulty accessing their location. Service hours will add up, potentially costing you thousands.
RVs require a significant amount of user awareness and preventive maintenance. They go hand-in-hand with RV ownership. If you’re looking for the most longevity from your rig and want to ensure issue-free trips, you’ll address these repairs before they become a significant problem on the side of the road.
But even then, you risk unavoidable breakdowns, which can have lasting financial repercussions. For common repairs with steep bills, you need a coverage plan that keeps you protected. The Good Sam Extended Service Plan is designed to keep responsible RV owners safe from unexpected breakdown repairs. Learn more to see how you’ll be covered.