RV Repair Near Me: Tips for Finding a Trustworthy RV Repair
12/6/2022 – Good Sam
There are few things better for an RV owner than finally finding a reliable, affordable RV service provider. It’s a relief to know you have someone who knows your rig, knows the level of quality you expect, and has an understanding of your RV’s history of repairs and potential for a breakdown on any given component.
But where do you turn when traveling, and you aren’t familiar with the shops in the area? Finding reliable service providers on the road is one of the more exhausting problem-solving you’ll do as an RV owner, but it doesn’t have to be.
Try these tips to save time finding a decent RV repair shop when traveling and away from your hometown shop. This should help you identify the duds and the winner shops to get you back in good working conditions.
Before reading reviews or learning what a repair shop charges for service, there are some quick, easy ways to evaluate a repair shop based on your first impression—to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Cordiality or directness when talking on the phone. Clear communication regarding the shop’s process. Professionalism when discussing prices. Transparency when describing their work. Each of these is a characteristic of professionalism we expect from our repair shops. Identify what professionalism means to you, and stick to that expectation. If they can’t meet it, find a different repair shop.
If you get the chance to visit the repair shop before handing over the keys, take a look around. Keep in mind it’s a repair shop, not an upscale hotel lobby. But you should still be able to tell if it’s organized, tidy, and relatively clean. If not, don’t expect them to treat your RV any better than they do their own work environment.
Even great repair shops still overextend their capacity and promise untenable deadlines. So push back if any shop promises you a quick turnaround before even diagnosing the problem. Sometimes, a reluctance to promise a hard deadline signifies they want to be as honest with you as possible. (You should be able to get a ballpark estimate, though).
Go with your gut
Typically, when we go with our instinct, our gut feeling isn’t unwarranted: we pick up on small indications of whether a person or place is trustworthy. In the case of repair shops, you might pick up on tell-tale signs, like a service worker who doesn’t seem familiar with your RVs layout.
If you don’t feel good about a shop for any reason, go with your gut. You’ve likely picked up on multiple discrepancies that might be indicators of a sub-par shop.
Read the reviews
One of the easiest ways to learn about a new repair shop is to read through online reviews from past customers. Except for service shops that only have a few reviews, you can at least get a baseline first impression of what to expect. But don’t just take the word of any person who leaves a review: do some vetting of your sources.
For example, take note of reviews that come off as especially dismissive or wildly enthusiastic. Everyone, at some point, will have a bad experience with a shop, and the review doesn’t always convey the surrounding circumstances. If a review seems “hot,” take it with a grain of salt. Similarly, you will see some positive reviews that aren’t authentic. Be wary of reviews that overly praise a repair shop.
Have questions prepared
How many years have they been in service? What’s the experience level of service members? How often do they service RVs? Are they affiliated with any RV roadside assistance provider or insurance? Do they have any relevant certifications? Do they offer any kind of guarantee or money-back guarantee? Is their company insured?
While you don’t need to turn the conversation into an all-out interrogation, you should have a few common, relevant questions prepared to ask your service provider. This is a chance to build a rapport with the service provider: it allows them to tout their experience, and you get to make sure they can provide appropriate answers.
If you’ve purchased any kind of extended service plan, extended warranty, or RV coverage that might apply, be sure to discuss with the mechanic or shop owner. Know your coverage and be prepared to ask questions about how they’ll apply those rates. Don’t get stuck with confusion once work has already been completed.
Like a lawyer, doctor, or auto mechanic, RV repair shop mechanics will sometimes focus on a specialization for repairs. Powertrain, collision, heating and air, frame and alignment—this doesn’t necessarily mean they only provide this service, but it gives you a good idea of their specialty.
So if you’re dealing with an engine that’s overheating and you end up at a shop that specializes in powertrain, you might just get an assessment and ask for a recommendation for a better shop. At the very least, a good repair shop will tell you what they’re capable of, but also what additional service you might need further down the road.
Make the mechanic’s job easier
You can help the repair process move faster by following a few quick steps to make it easier for mechanics to assess the problem and determine the next steps.
For starters, have all your proper documentation available and centralized in an organized booklet or binder. This should have a record of all previous work done within the last five years, records of standard maintenance like oil changes, alignments, filter changes, etc. And along the same lines, make sure you keep up with all recommended maintenance so the mechanic can eliminate those variables.
Get familiar, too, with the language you need to describe any kinds of changes in the steering, acceleration, towing, or engine noises. This comes with time and experience, but if you’re able to describe to a mechanic that the movement in the wheel doesn’t feel like an alignment issue, they can begin to troubleshoot more accurately
Keep up on maintenance
You reduce the chances of ever needing an emergency repair shop on the road if you keep up with recommended maintenance. Replace filters, fluids, and belts according to your manual or dealership, and create a checklist before any departure where you evaluate some key indicators of potential trouble, like worn tire tread, low antifreeze levels, leaking oil.
Research your location
It’s not a bad idea to plan on the unexpected. Before traveling to an area outside of a cell signal, or as you drive through the nearest town on the way to the campsite, do some preliminary research to see what shops are open in the area, what services they provide, and what recent reviews are available. Not only is this preemptive, but it’s going to reduce your stress when a problem occurs.
Stock easy replacement parts & fluids
As a capable RV owner, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have replacements for everyday items like belts, filters, and fluids, specific to your RV.
This benefits you a couple of ways: first, you likely can perform some of the more simple repairs yourself when you bring along the right parts and tools. Secondly, if it’s a broken item you can’t fix, at least you can provide the service provider with the correct replacement part if they don’t happen to carry it in stock.
Some common items to stock include:
- Water pump parts
- AC generator filter
- 12-Volt DC fuses
- Light bulbs
- Sewer drain cap
- LP gas regulator
It’s also a great idea to carry jumper cables, standard tools, plastic zip ties, and a roadside emergency kit for RVs.
When shopping for a repair shop, approach new prospects with equal parts humility and confidence. Hopefully, this approach will steer you in the direction of mechanics and RV service providers who are willing to help and won’t try to pull any punches when it comes to getting your rig back on the road.