Advantages and Disadvantages of RV Ownership - Part 2 Repairs and Maintenance
Thursday - February 28, 2019
By Steve Froese
Factor in ongoing maintenance and repair costs when making your decision to purchase an RV.
In this second of four installments related to RV ownership pros and cons, I will address a second disadvantage, which is repairs and maintenance. This is arguably one of the most important, yet potentially expensive, factors of RV ownership, and it is often overlooked by owners.
Should you decide to take the proverbial plunge and purchase an RV, do not neglect repairs and maintenance, and don’t try to cut corners either.
If you have ever rented an RV, you have had the peace of mind of not having to worry about repairs and maintenance. If something breaks, it is generally covered under the rental agreement, and obviously, regular maintenance is not an issue for renters. However, many things can go wrong with an RV, and regular maintenance and service are very important. For instance, the simple yearly task of checking and touching up the sealants on the outside of the RV is often overlooked. This can be easily performed by most owners with $10 tubes of sealant and a caulking gun, although this task does require climbing on the roof of the RV to seal up there as well. However, many owners neglect this, resulting in thousands of dollars in repairs a few years down the road when the roof starts to leak. Water intrusion is one of the most common causes of expensive repairs to an RV. Once water enters the walls and/or ceiling, remediation often involves replacing the roof and/or sidewalls, as well as the rebuilding of rotted and damaged woodwork. If you have an RV or are planning to buy one, it is important to be aware of the importance of performing scheduled maintenance and be sure to get any damage or other issues repaired immediately. This cannot be emphasized enough.
While water damage is a notable case, there are many other maintenance issues that must be regularly performed on an RV. Whether you are considering a towable or motorized unit, regular performance of annual and other periodic maintenance will prevent much costlier repairs down the road.
It is important to factor in the cost of regular repairs and maintenance when evaluating and budgeting your RV purchase. Aside from the potential repairs lack of maintenance may cause, failure to address issues also accelerates depreciation of your vehicle significantly. For instance, if your RV suffers water intrusion advanced enough to cause spongy areas of the roof or a sagging and stained ceiling, smart buyers will steer clear of purchasing your unit and you will have great difficulty selling it, and it is likely you will have to price it extremely low. Simple annual maintenance can prevent problems and give you many years (even decades) of reliable use out of your RV. Expect to spend an average of around $120 per month (or $1,400 per year) on RV maintenance and repairs. This should account for issues such as batteries, tires, regular oil and lube services, vehicle registration and insurance, as well as planned or unforeseen minor and major repairs. So be sure to factor this in. It will also depend on what type of RV you purchase, for instance, a travel trailer will not require oil changes or some of the other mechanical maintenance required by motorized units.
The lesson to be learned here is to make sure you understand there are ongoing expenses to owning an RV other than the purchase price, just as there is with your home and other vehicles. When making the decision about whether to purchase an RV, be sure to factor in the ongoing maintenance and repair costs.