Whether you are on the road or enjoying stationary life in your motorhome, the absolute last thing you want is for your RV to suffer a major breakdown. A serious mechanical or electrical failure is not only a massive inconvenience—especially if you’re in a remote location—but repairs can be costly. Amidst rising RV repair costs, protection and prevention are essential. It’s important for RVers to know what the most common RV breakdowns are.
Unfortunately, RVs are bound to experience breakdowns. That risk only increases over time. Statistics show that 3 in every 10 RVs will suffer a major breakdown by only their 2nd year on the road. This jumps to 8 out of 10 by the 5th year in service, and nearly every single RV by its 8th year. Because of this, it’s best to know what kind of protection is available to you. Get a free quote for RV coverage from Wholesale Warranties so that you can enjoy life on the road with peace of mind!
We want you to be as informed as possible so that you can be prepared for the inevitable. Here are some of the most common breakdowns, how to prevent them, and how to protect your finances in the event of a major failure.
Although extra space in a compact format is a desirable luxury, RV manufacturers have yet to perfect slide-out technology. The potential price for repair is rather high, as it could cost you up to $5,000 out of pocket. No one wants to spend that much money, so it’s best to know how to avoid that.
With slide-outs, damage is often incurred over time from water, corrosion, or just regular wear and tear. For preventative care, we suggest lubricating the mechanical arms frequently. This reduces the friction between moving parts, decreasing the likelihood of corrosion damage. It also increases the lifespan of these parts. This can be accomplished with WD-40, which is much more affordable than the cost of repairs!
Water is no friend to mechanical components, so regularly check areas that may be vulnerable to leaks. Check for any water where it shouldn’t be and for weaknesses or even gaps in seals. Seals tend to harden then crack over time. Keep your seals fresh by lubricating them with a UV protectant, such as 303 Aerospace UV Protectant Spray. This will keep your seals nice and soft, preventing cracking and fading caused by exposure to the sun.
Hot Water Heater
Something you want to avoid having to repair or fully replace at all costs is your hot water heater. Not only is this a common issue, but it is incredibly expensive: up to $10,000! This would put a serious dent in your travel fund.
Most water heater failures are the result of either a leak or sudden rupture. These typically occur with the fill and relief valves, which deteriorate over time. Other issues are caused by freezing and corrosion. To avoid damage from freezing, drain the water tank while your RV is not in use. Just don’t forget to fill it again before using it! It might not be a bad idea to winterize your pipes too. Also, consult your RV’s owner’s manual to see whether your water heater has a bypass valve to use while your rig is in storage.
To prevent corrosion, check the anode rod every so often. If it looks worn, it costs around $20 to replace. Occasionally replacing the anode rod will lengthen the life of your water heater and is considerably cheaper than having to replace the entire unit.
Having immediate access to a sink, shower, and toilet is a luxury that RV buyers are eager to invest in. Plumbing blockages or failures can mean nasty business. Not only is it an expensive fix, but it can be a very unpleasant one. Losing water access might just ruin your trip. If you’re a full-time RVer, this is a huge inconvenience.
Our good friends Marc and Tricia from Keep Your Daydream recommend doing research on which toilet paper is septic safe. You should only use septic safe toilet paper! Many health-food stores and organic groceries carry it. To prevent issues, it also doesn’t hurt to add water to the black tank after each flush.
When a problem arises, the first step is to check if there is water in your tank. If the pump still isn’t working, you need to check the water lines that feed into the pump for any leak sites or loose connections. Then, you have to determine whether water is running through the pump. If the line is dry, then the problem has something to do with the water line rather than the pump itself. A lot of RV water pump problems occur after people have chosen to winterize their pump. If you want to winterize your pump, make sure you do so correctly. Remember to get everything running properly again! Sometimes people will simply forget to open the shut-off valves. Being able to identify issues has the potential to save you a lot of money on inspections and repairs.
Wiring and electrical issues can range from a minor annoyance to a serious inconvenience. Electricity powers your lights, air conditioner, microwave, and outlets. When you can’t see what’s going on, addressing electrical failures can get tricky. Our proud affiliates and friends Rae and Jason of Getaway Couple recommend monitoring your power usage to avoid overloading your outlets.
Because your RV runs on both AC and DC batteries, it can be challenging to locate the source of the problem. One of the best methods of ruling out specific problems is whether your air conditioning is working. For example, if your air conditioning is running, your microwave should work too. If the A/C is functional and the microwave isn’t, then you should check the breakers in case they’re switched off. If the A/C isn’t working, this could indicate a problem with the power source. This may seem obvious, but always check to make sure an appliance is actually plugged in first! Following steps like these has the potential to save you both time and money.
A common—and very frustrating—issue for towable trailers is a malfunctioning leveling jack. There are a couple troubleshooting tricks to try before calling a mechanic. Fortunately, if all else fails, most hydraulic leveling jacks can be manually retracted if necessary.
See if you can hear anything when you press the button. If there’s no sound, the issue is likely power-related, such as a blown fuse. If the jack is making a noise, you’re probably experiencing a mechanical problem. First, make sure it isn’t frozen to the ground. That can easily be resolved with some warm water.
If freezing temperatures aren’t a concern, check to see if any hydraulic fluid is leaking out. Then, consult your RV owner’s manual for more detailed instructions and information about the components. The manual should also tell you how to manually retract the leveling jacks. Once retracted, keep the release valve open until you can make it to a mechanic.
Refrigerator Cooling Unit
You don’t want to face a breakdown while you’re hangry. Unfortunately, RV refrigerator cooling unit failures are common. The very first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that you are parked on a flat surface. To maintain the health of your fridge, keep it level! Bubble levels are a handy little tool—and they’re cheap! Prevention is key.
Protecting Your Travel Budget
Even if you have gone through all the preventative measures, you will always run the risk of a major (and expensive) mechanical or electrical failure. There will be some things you just can’t fix yourself. So, you may be wondering: how can I best protect my wallet when something goes wrong?
At Wholesale Warranties, we provide RV extended warranty packages that meet your needs. You can’t fully enjoy all that life on the road has to offer when you’re worrying about costly repairs. A warranty from a reputable online broker will guarantee protection for covered components in the event of a significant breakdown. Securing protection for your home on wheels may save you thousands of dollars and give you the peace of mind you deserve.
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