How Much Do RV Repairs Cost?
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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
- local hardware stores,
- 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.
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.
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.
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Has this article changed your mind about wanting to own an RV?
© 2013 Sondra Rochelle