In the RV mecca of Mesa, Arizona and surrounding areas, several thousand RVers flock to spend one to six months in the warm climate and fun atmosphere from November to March. Due to the rapidly changing COVID safety restrictions placed on the traveler, this year millions of vacationers are switching to the RV lifestyle instead of traditional ocean voyages, mountain retreats and beachfront condos. This leads to possibly millions of first-time RVers flooding the highways.
Just as the joy of living and traveling in an RV is rising to new heights, greed steps in to bring down the experience. If there is one overall challenge to living on the road, it is rig maintenance. Every month more travelers are complaining about the cost of staying on the road. Just as advertising is killing the podcast and blog scene, the high cost of maintenance is killing the RV adventure.
With new RVers hitting the road every day, there is much to learn so you can relax and enjoy the experience. We are here to help. Dedicated to informing RVers about the potholes in the RV lifestyle, MovingOnWithMargo.com is at the forefront every month passing on information you need along with my podcast, RV Lifestyle Expert.
RV repairs can be an expensive by-product of life on the road. In the past year as we are crawling out of despair with COVID-19, greed raises its ugly head in the maintenance industry. If you can get into a dealer repair facility, prepare to pay $150 per hour plus a flat rate per job, like auto repair shops. If the job takes 10 minutes or 10 hours, you pay the same. As a rule, these technicians are trained and insured to have the skills necessary to do the job.
However, should you call a local mobile repair company to come directly to your site, the lack of know-how and high rates may shock you. Yes, sometimes the response is quicker, and it is convenient, but you need to choose wisely. Very few of these technicians are certified in any of the popular RV disciplines. How did we let this happen?
Take for instance, ASAP Mobile RV Service, a local 2-person mobile service in the Mesa/Phoenix area. In 2021 with so much unemployment and hardship, this is the year they decide to raise their rates to take advantage of all the newbies on the road. They charge $85 to show up, then $125 an hour based on the same flat-rate charge as dealer shops. The plus side is that they do show up, but don’t expect any handholding or updating by phone. The shop has no NRVIA certifications (I asked for comment, but no response). If your problem is not a common service area requiring a simple repair, expect to spend many dollars with no fix.
Their website states “ASAP Mobile RV Service is currently enrolled in on going Recreational Vehicle Industry (RVIA) approved training in all areas of repair and maintenance.” There is no sign that anyone there has actual passed any of the training. No mention of any NRVIA certification. If motorhomes, trailers, and fifth wheels were all manufactured to the same standards, this would not be a major factor, as experience would eventually do the training. But, as we know, this is far from the reality.
Your RV toilet is not holding water, plan to pay $500 + to fix this problem. The ASAP Mobile Service flat rate is 2.55 hours at $125 per hour plus parts. This is not a complicated repair, no electronics involved. A simple take it apart, clean it, replace the gaskets, put it back together again. This is one of the commonly found appliances in all RVs (at least right now). With composting toilets and a few other innovations introduced by European manufacturers, toilets may become a more complicated appliance. Right now, however, one hour is a generous time period spent for this repair (called a “re-build” in the industry if you also replace the simple ball valve while the toilet is disassembled anyway).
National RV Inspection Association (NRVIA.com) is the leading training facility in the USA. Before NRVIA there were no standards set for the industry. Certification from this organization guarantees that the technician at least has some specialized knowledge needed to properly fix your rig.
If you have a mechanical aptitude and like to tinker, NRVTA.com has a training class for you too. This training (home study or onsite) can save you literally thousands of dollars each year as you avoid the high prices and incompetence of mobile and dealer repair shops.
Here are a few suggestions should you decide to use mobile repair services.
- Always request a quote. If they need to come to you first for an appraisal, at least you only spend the $85 on-site charge if you decide to shop around. You may be able to negotiate a better price, if not, at least the bill will not shock and anger you.
- Ask for their NRVIA certifications. If they have none, move on to the next choice.
- Get a commitment on arrival time and inform them of your departure date. Some mobile repair people just never show up, or leave before the repair is finished, promising to return later.
- Never make any payment until the job is finished regardless of the story presented. There are many fly-by-nights in this business.
- Find out if replacement parts are required and get a quote. These mobile services rarely keep parts in stock. Get the part details and buy them yourself if possible as these services always mark up the cost. RV meccas usually have several part stores locally. There is always overnight or 2-day delivery by Amazon.
Once you find reliable mobile service wherever you roam – that has reasonable rates – PLEASE share their name and rate information with free forums like RVillage.com (click Group Search: Mobile RV Repair), Escapees forum RVNetwork.com and other RV-related discussion groups. Help us keep the greed down and the enjoyment up.
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Margo’s 3-eBook Collection contains everything you need to know before you start the adventure of a lifetime… all in one volume. Interested in traveling solo, need information on maintenance, or how to save money, it’s all in here.