How Much Do RV Repairs Cost?

Updated on July 12, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who understands that my life and my safety depend on the condition of the equipment in my coach.

I have been an RV enthusiast for more than 50 years, and during that time have seen that my fellow recreational vehicle owners are paying far too much for parts and labor when their coaches need repairs and upgrades.

This happens because most people don’t realize that what you pay to purchase a motor home, travel trailer or camper is only the beginning of your ownership expenses.

Repairs are constant and can be extremely expensive, so it pays to learn about potential costs before you purchase of an RV.

Repairing an RV can cost a great deal of money.
Repairing an RV can cost a great deal of money. | Source

Average Labor Costs

If you take your unit to a big dealership for repairs, you'll pay a minimum of $129 per hour, but this price can rise to as much as $189 per hour if you own an expensive rig. Some dealerships have the attitude that if you can afford to pay several hundred thousand dollars for a coach, you can afford whatever they want to charge to repair it!

Smaller sellers will charge as little as $65 per hour, so if you shop around, you can easily reduce your labor costs .

Some will give you a break and instead of charging by the hour, will offer you a flat rate per job.

If you can get them to do this, you'll save a bundle.

How to Cut Costs

Many of the items used in RVs are no different than the ones you can purchase in stores or online.

Certain things, such as specially sized plumbing parts, cannot be bought this way, but most others can.

Furthermore, there are many talented workers around who are willing to do jobs for cash "on the side" to earn extra money.

For example,

  • TV repairmen can fix your television set,
  • people who work in carpentry shops can upgrade cabinets,
  • upholsterers with RV experience can redo your furniture,
  • tailors can make curtains and
  • flooring experts can carpet your coach.

These people charge far less than RV dealerships do, and the quality of their work is just as good, if not better.

Sometimes people who already are employed in a dealership will also hire themselves out when they are off duty. Employing them can easily reduce labor and parts costs by half.

Dealerships would like people to think that they are the only places where consumers can find RV parts and services, but this simply is not true.

Owners have all sorts of options for cutting costs if they will just take the time to ask questions and let workers know they are in the market for less expensive services and parts.

The bigger and more complex the coach, the more expensive it is to fix.
The bigger and more complex the coach, the more expensive it is to fix. | Source

Typical Large RV Parts Replacement Costs

Here is a short list of items that many owners may eventually need to repair or replace:

  • A refrigerator can cost upwards of $1,000 . Large ones can cost as much as $2000.
  • Air conditioners run about $600 .
  • New tires will cost between $250 and $900 each depending on size and brand.
  • Entry stairs will cost upwards of $300 depending on the type and size of step.
  • A good quality inverter will be $2,000 or more. (Check out the savings in the ad I show below for the one we purchased from Amazon recently. Same product, lower cost. It's a "no brainer".)

However, people who own luxury coaches can pay significantly more for parts and labor. I just met a couple that paid $20,000 to replace a major part in their diesel engine. Awhile back another couple told me they had to pay $17,000 to replace their windows!

The good news is that Good Sam Club offers warranty insurance that will pay the bills to repair or replace most items if you own a newer coach.

You might be wise to buy that coverage if your rig qualifies.

Xantrex Technology Inc, 81-2010-12 Inverter/Charger Freedom 458
Xantrex Technology Inc, 81-2010-12 Inverter/Charger Freedom 458

We recently saved $176 by buying this 2000 watt inverter from Amazon instead of purchasing it from our local RV dealer who claimed he had it "on sale". It works great and is just one of many RV products Amazon sells for less than RV dealerships.

 

Where to Find Prices for General Parts

To get an idea about prices for general parts your best bet is to go online and do some quick cost comparisons at sites such as Amazon, Camping World and Ebay Motors.

However there are many other sources you can use such as

  • Craigslist,
  • local hardware stores,
  • Walmart,
  • local thrift shops,
  • online parts sellers,
  • RV salvage companies and
  • plumbing supply shops

You can also call or visit repair shops to find the information you seek.

RV repair costs can empty your bank account in a hurry.
RV repair costs can empty your bank account in a hurry. | Source

Older Vs. Newer Units

Some people think that buying new protects them financially from the high costs of parts and labor, but this is not always true. New is not a guarantee against the need for repairs.

  • One example of this occurred when an elderly couple bought a new luxury motor home. Problems began on day one and continued until the warranty ended five years later.
  • Immediately after that, the floor joists gave way. It was going to cost them $6,000 to fix them.
  • When the couple asked the manufacturer to pay half, he refused and advised them to trade the unit for a different one. They did, and some other poor soul eventually purchased that same coach and got stuck with his own set of headaches!

The rule of thumb has always been that the simpler and more well constructed the RV, the less costly it will be to fix it. However, what you pay for repairs depends more on the specific coach you purchase than on its age.

  • Generally speaking, older units will have more problems than newer ones. However, those that have been well maintained may actually be better because their issues may already have been addressed.
  • Conversely, new coaches often have myriads of issues, some of which can be quite serious, as in the example I just cited. If problems appear within the warranty period (and you have a good warranty), repairs will cost nothing, if not, they can cost plenty!

If you buy a new RV from a dealership, they usually will offer a 5 year warranty for all repairs, but these warranties are not always as good as people think they are. How to Avoid RV Contract and Warranty Problems explains why.

The bottom line is that no matter what you buy, you should plan on spending a great deal of money to maintain and repair it.

It cost us thousands of dollars to repair this Safari Sahara, and we still took a loss when we sold it!
It cost us thousands of dollars to repair this Safari Sahara, and we still took a loss when we sold it! | Source

Make Sure You Can Afford to Pay for RV Repairs

As with all things, it is up to you to do your homework.

RVs are luxury items, and should be seen as such.

How much it will cost to repair will depend on what you buy, how well you care for it and where you take it to be serviced.

Unfortunately, even when you take steps to reduce expenses, the price is never going to be cheap. However, The Best Ways to Reduce Your RV Maintenance Costs provides some good cost cutting ideas that can help.

Motor homes, travel trailers and campers are wonderful to own, but before you buy one, you need to make sure you know how much it will cost to keep it repaired.

RV Fridge Misdiagnosed This is a Must See Video

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Questions & Answers

  • What is the cost of flooring? We have a 2008 R-Vision 28’ travel trailer. Everything is in great shape except for the flooring under the linoleum. It has about a 6’x 5’ soft spot. The linoleum looks fine; it’s the flooring underneath. We want to price the trailer as is to get rid of it. We would like to give an estimate of the repair cost.

    It is likely that the soft spot is wood rot in the joists. This would require more than a "spot" repair. Friends a few years back had joist problems, and the repair cost was $6,000. You'll have to take your coach to some RV repair shops to get estimates because your coach is smaller than theirs was and is also a trailer and not a motorhome, which means a replacement will likely cost less. However, it's going to be expensive. I doubt anybody would want to buy a unit with this type of problem, even if you lowered the price because wood rot leads to all sorts of problems...including termites!

  • I'm in Arizona. Is there a continuously updated list of qualified RV mechanics who are honest?

    I doubt it. The best way to find a qualified and honest RV mechanic is to talk with other owners to learn about their experiences and who they have used. You might want to go onto some of the online RV owner forums to get this type of info, too.

  • What is the average cost to replace an entire slide on a camper?

    It depends on the size of the camper, but can range anywhere from around $4,000 to $20,000. I'm not sure if this includes labor, but it is very costly to do.

  • I have a 33 foot, 2003 Prowler. How much would it cost to replace wall and floor around leak from roof?

    That depends on the size of the leak, who does the work and how far the leak has spread in the roof. You need to take your coach to a few dealers and get estimates, but you may find that making this repair could cost more than it's worth.

  • How much does a new roof on a 27-foot travel trailer cost?

    That depends on the materials and the person doing the work. Roofs are quite expensive to replace, though. You could easily be looking at $6,000 to $9,000. Call around to some repair shops to find your best price.

© 2013 Sondra Rochelle

Comments

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    5 months ago from USA

    David Clinton-Reid: Before you do anything, prepare a cost estimate of all the work that needs to be done. Generally, this is not the type of work a handyman can do because RVs are so specialized. If you can find a good RV mechanic who does "side work" and can get him to allow you to assist him to save money, this would be a better bet. Old RVs however, are tricky because many of their parts are fragile. You'll have to decide if the cost of making repairs is worth the risk of damaging your coach.

  • David4arts profile image

    David Clinton-Reid 

    5 months ago from Cathedral City

    I have a really nice "vintage " motorhome that is in need of an overhaul with brakes and hoses etc. I have an excellent workshop which is top of the line and labor costs to match. I don't want to scrimp but some of the jobs could be done with local handy man? i do not have the skilled capability to do the jobs myself but can assist a competent person.

    I love the vehicle and just have the dilemma of investing or walking.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    5 months ago from USA

    David4Arts: Anytime you purchase an older RV you are bound to face continuing costs for repairs and upgrades, even if it appears to be in good condition. If your investment is small, I'd suggest using and enjoying it until repair costs get to be too much. At that point you can either trade it or park it an live in it full time. I agree...don't rent it. It's just too old for that. Engines and generators can be replaced as can tires and appliances. If you love the coach, only you can decide what it is worth to you to keep it.

  • David4arts profile image

    David Clinton-Reid 

    5 months ago from Cathedral City

    I bought a 1991 Fleetwood Limited for very little. It's in great condition and there is room to invest for safety and general maintenance.

    My concern is that if I encounter big expense, In will be stuck with a good looking mill stone around my neck.

    Some friends suggest I rent it out. This might accelerate deterioration and bring expensive repairs closer.

    It's not buyers remorse. I love the motorhome and so does my wife. It's only got 36,800 miles and has been cared for but it is nearly 28 years old and brakes, suspension are possible weak areas.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    7 months ago from USA

    A soft spot on a floor could mean that you have water damage which means fixing it could be a much bigger job than just replacing the one spot. You need to take your coach to a certified RV repair shop (Camping World has them) to find out how extensive the damage is and to get an estimate for repair work. Most RV dealerships have repair shops that would handle jobs like this, but all will want to make sure about the seriousness of the problem. It could be that you have termites, wood rot or any number of issues. Good Luck.

  • profile image

    Norman Sills 

    7 months ago

    Can someone tell me where I can have a soft spot in a floor replaced? There is a Camping World near me, but I have looked on their website and cannot find where they do it.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    5 years ago from USA

    tillsontitan Thank you so much. I've been at this for a very long time so experience (the best teacher) had taught me plenty. I'm only sharing to save others a lot of grief. So glad I met you!

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    5 years ago from New York

    This is really great information for people who already own an RV and for those thinking about buying one. You're right on point with your great RV articles.

    Voted up, useful, and interesting.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    5 years ago from USA

    mperrottet Thanks so much. Yes, this is a big problem for RV owners and it can cost them thousands more than they should be spending. Make sure to watch the video...it is very telling.

  • mperrottet profile image

    Margaret Perrottet 

    5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

    Good article, and you are so right about finding a good mechanic or handyman to do repairs if you can't do them yourself rather than taking the RV to a big dealership. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing.

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