Should You Fix Your RV Yourself? Or Hire an RV Technician?

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You might think this post would be a thinly disguised advertisement for why you should always choose a mobile RV technician for your service needs. But the truth is, as handy people ourselves, we totally understand the desire to fix our own problems! Thankfully, we live in a world where there’s room – and need – for both.

RVs Are In Need of Fixing!

It is a well-known and unfortunate fact that the RV manufacturing industry is facing some significant design and quality control hurdles. It is also a well-known fact that there aren’t enough RV service centers, dealership service bays, or even RV techs to keep up with the demand for repairs and retrofits. By one estimate, there is one RV tech for every 2,000 RVs! Hence the old quip, “The only thing that works on an RV is the owner.”

Regrettably, this state of affairs has put many RV owners in a tough position. Either wait months for a service center appointment, hire a mobile RV tech, or learn to do it yourself.

All of these choices have pros and cons.

  • An RV service center may specialize in certain systems, such as chassis repair or generator replacement, and these skills can be hard to find somewhere else.
  • Hiring a mobile RV tech is often the fastest way to get things done, but not everyone will work with factory or extended service warranties.
  • Doing it yourself seems like the least expensive option, but how much time do you want to devote to repair work?

The DIY Route: Fixing the RV Yourself

Many RV owners have learned how to do basic maintenance and repairs themselves. This is great news! An educated RV owner is a happier RV owner. You can find learning resources such as RVTravel, NRVTA, AskTheRVEngineer, RV Repair Club, and other websites. You can also attend virtual or in-person training at programs all over the country hosted by groups like Escapees and FMCA.

Now, we would caution you to carefully sift through the crop of recent RV blogs. With the COVID-era boom in RVing came a lot of RV blogs, too, many of which post content written by AI software or human bloggers that simply summarize information – often incorrect information – from around the web. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true! Similarly, always vet information you read on RV forums, which may be misguided, out of context, or outdated. Unfortunately, many new RVers receive inaccurate guidance from their peers, and deciphering fact from fiction can require a lot of time.

We encourage all RV owners to educate themselves. You should know when to replace your A/C filter, and if you want to climb on the roof once a year and clean the evaporator and condenser coils, knock yourself out! But you should avoid throwing something at the wall to see what sticks. That’s a rabbit trail that leads into the sunken cost fallacy, where you keep throwing time and money at a problem because “you’re in too deep.” Don’t do that to yourself!

But some problems require in-depth knowledge. If you find yourself memorizing propane vaporization tables or analyzing the absorption refrigeration thermodynamic cycle, dare we suggest you’ve gone too deep? Unless you’re the sort of a mathematical masochist that enjoys the Ideal Gas Law (hey, so do we!), you’re well past the point of DIY return.

Reasons You Might Want to Hire an RV Technician

As we said, we recommend all RV owners learn the basics of how RVs work. Most importantly, learn about important preventative maintenance like resealing, winterizing, and insect-proofing. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

But there’s room and need for both DIY and professional work. Here are a few reasons you might need to hire a mobile RV service tech:

  1. Something expensive is broken. For instance, you don’t want to mess around with an air conditioner, generator, slideout, or refrigerator without knowing what you’re doing. You could easily damage the appliance, which would put you back to Square One: Calling a technician, who will now charge to fix the original problem AND your mistake! (And a mistake with a generator can quickly balloon to a four-digit expen$e!)
  2. You don’t understand this stuff. Hey, not everyone is mechanically-minded, and that’s OK. You don’t understand Ohm’s law; we can’t read sheet music. To each their own. You shouldn’t have to be a plumber/electrician/carpenter to enjoy owning an RV, and that’s where we come in.
  3. You don’t want to abandon your RV to a dealership. Rather than quarantining your RV at a service dealership for weeks or months, you can hire a mobile RV tech to fix many issues on the go. At Sterling RV Services, we want to keep you where you belong – on the road!
  4. There’s no time to waste. RV problems often happen before or during a vacation, don’t they? While you COULD cancel your travel plans and spend three days researching hydraulic leveling systems, wouldn’t it be better (for your RV and your marriage) just to have it fixed right away?
  5. You can’t move the RV. Got a stuck slide-out or a blown tire? This is where a mobile RV technician service really shines, because we come to you, not the other way ’round!
  6. Don’t throw money at good parts. If you’re struggling to diagnose the root cause of a problem, it’s tempting to throw money at suspect parts hoping the replacement fixes the problem. If this strategy works for you, might we recommend moving to Las Vegas? For the rest of us, this rarely works out as we hoped. A skilled RV technician can quickly deduce and diagnose the root cause and, if necessary, replace the correct part[s].
  7. Specialty tools are required. Thankfully, many RV problems can be fixed with common hand and electrical tools. But sometimes, specialty tools and equipment are required or simply make the job much, much faster!
  8. There is a danger to life or limb. When working with propane or electricity, there’s the potential for serious injury or death. If you suspect a propane leak or a high-voltage hot skin condition, now isn’t the time to save a few bucks – get expert help now!
  9. You want to see the world, not fix stuff. RVing can be a wonderful, wonderful experience! It’s an exhilarating, inspiring way to see this great American country. Don’t let mechanical problems ruin that experience. If you just don’t like fixing stuff, there’s no shame in having someone else do it for you. Most of us pay someone else to cut our hair, file our taxes, fix our computers and haul our trash to the dump. Life’s too short to do everything yourself.