By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
In one of our daily doses of advertising from Good Sam was the opportunity to purchase an extended service plan (ESP) for our motorhome. While we have a fifth wheel, not a motorhome, that’s not what caught my eye about the offer. The attention-grabbers were the two statements just below the opening sentence:
“#1 Motorhomes need repairs — often. 1-in-3 current ESP policyholders have a paid claim every year.
#2 Repairs are expensive. And that’s just one of your problems if you break down far from your home.”
Now, to be more accurate, I think the first statement should be modified to include all RVs, but that is not the gist of this rant. What upsets me is both of these statements are true and RV owners just seem to accept them. RVs cost thousands of dollars and they have required frequent repairs for decades. Why do people keep buying something so expensive that requires so much expensive attention?
Spend a little time on the owner forum boards and you quickly discover comments verifying RVs need frequent, expensive repairs. Why has it taken the RV industry so long to get it right? Is it really that difficult to design a roof system or slideout seals that do not leak? Our homes and cars have electrical systems that do not require service for decades. Are they so different from the ones found in RVs? We have computers systems that talk to the appliances in our homes, but the ones in our RVs often fail as soon as we lose sight of the dealer’s lot. Why?
Then we have to ask ourselves: If the need for repairs is commonplace, shouldn’t technicians who perform the work be good at making the repairs? And shouldn’t the repairs be inexpensive? If experience is the best teacher, someone must be sleeping in class — or just possibly the folks at the design tables have no idea how hard it is to repair something when you cannot see or reach it.
Did you know that for most repairs it takes longer for me to locate and reach what needs work than it does for me to repair it? Why do the folks who manufacturer RVs never consult with the fixers of these rolling paragons of complexity? Why do the magazine writers who review motorhomes and towables never comment on repairability? Not long ago I had to reset a breaker. Simple enough repair, right? So simple it surely should not require a technician. Problem was, the manufacturer placed the breaker box behind the fuse panel. There was no access of any kind without unscrewing the fuse panel and pulling it forward out of the cabinet wall.
Here is the crux of this frequent repair and cost of repair issues. Since everyone knows these are such common problems, why doesn’t the RV industry fix the problems rather than push extended warranties at owners? If a brand of automobile was as problematic as RVs, buyers would run to competitors that were more reliable. Maybe the problem with RVs is there is no “more reliable” competitor. I’m not sure, but maybe it is time for someone to focus on reliability instead of paint schemes and drapery colors. I would even go so far as to suggest that the first manufacturer who does so will have a waiting list of buyers!
em>photo: allen34 on wikipedia.com