Do you ever wonder what happens to your RV once the RV repair facility has your motorhome or camper in their possession? After reading this, you’ll really want to think about what to do with your RV or camper before handing over the keys. Because what we’ve learned about some RV repair shops will absolutely astound you!
Being totally honest, one of the biggest reasons Dan does most of our RV maintenance, repairs and upgrades himself is a pride thing with a wee bit of distrust. We’re super apprehensive with handing our keys over to a RV repair facility that will not take care of it like us.
Because we’ve been there. We’ve had BAD THINGS HAPPEN to our RV!
We’ve also read several claims and heard horror stories of RV owners dropping their motorhomes and campers off at the RV dealership or RV repair facility only for it to come back worse than it was. Or, that one hour warranty repair took 3 months or more to complete?
But worse, several have even come forward to tell us that it’s apparent that their RVs were used, slept in, toilet crapped in, questionable mileage, bedding soiled, or the RV left dirty and lived in.
There are claims of personal property and valuables being stolen. From prescription medications, bottles of liquor, electronic gadgets, gift cards, even food missing from the refrigerator that mysteriously disappeared during possession of the RV repair facility.
In one instance, I’ve read where an RV owner who picked up his motorhome after his RV warranty repair found a syringe on the floor behind the toilet.
It’s no wonder that I felt compelled to put this article out there to alert RV owners what could happen to your RV while it’s in for repair.
So, if you have an RV that you will be taking in for repairs, upgrades, inspection, etc., grab a beer and sit down because you need to read this!
What Happens to Your RV When It Goes into a RV Repair Facility
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Recently, I read a post by a woman who was touting about decorating the inside of their RV. It was adorable. But what she said in that post raised my eyebrows and literally felt like a gut punch.
Not quoting her exactly but it rang in like this:
“my husband works for an RV dealership. The employees are allowed to take ANY RV off the lot to take camping trips.”
After reading that, I didn’t think much of it until she was asked by commenter, “RVs that are for sale, I hope”. Whether that was a tongue-in-cheek response of sarcasm or a sincere response, it was hard to tell.
But dang! It got me thinking really hard about that woman’s post. And the more I got to thinking about it, it made me realize something gross and inept.
I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories of RVs going in for warranty repairs that end up sitting for several months; even up to a year at an RV dealership. They’re supposedly ‘waiting on parts’.
In fact, I remember this very conversation with another RV owner who was in for warranty service for SIX MONTHS.
Of course, I blurted back, “SIX MONTHS! And you’re STILL waiting for it? For what?” I asked.
The couple disgustingly said, “the kitchen faucet was faulty, window leaked, and something else”.
But here’s the thing that got me pissed for them. Their brand spanking new fifth wheel was in the back of the sales lot with all of the ‘used’ RVs that were supposedly for sale. Ready for the next gut punch?
On the day we talked to them, they had to go get something out of their fifth wheel only to find it UNLOCKED on the lot…next to the other RVs that were for sale.
Since we had our own big fish to fry, I sort of discounted our conversation. Until I read what that woman posted on that RV Facebook page about the RV dealership allowing employees to take RVs and campers out to use for personal use.
Now, without me being accusatory, because I do believe RV dealerships are honest, her post and that couple who were waiting for their RV to be repaired just freaking struck a painful nerve with me. Can you imagine?
So, let’s just make this a hypothetical assumption that this could happen at the dealership or RV repair facility you take your own motorhome or camper in for a warranty repair or RV component installation.
How can you deter THIS from happening to YOUR RV?
Well, let me count the ways. Because I’m being really honest here, I’ve been in enough situations in my life where I’m not the most trusting when it comes to handing the keys to ‘our home’ and being told ‘we’ll call you when it’s ready’. Yeah, that doesn’t work for us.
First, it can’t because we are RVers living in our RV full-time. And second, after reading and learning of these horror stories, Dan better be taking an RV tech course himself.
So, without further ado, here’s a helpful list of things you should do BEFORE you take your RV in for service; especially if it’s going to be in the shop for warranty repairs or upgrades. Because, if you’re not going to be proactive and protective of your property, you can bet your sweet keys they won’t either.
RV Repair Facility Tips for RV Owners
Communication is key!
While phone calls are great, start a paper trail through email communication. That way, you have everything in writing should something go awry with your RV repairs, installations and upgrades.
Get the RV repair facility Service Manager’s business card that has his or her email address. Communicate everything from what’s being done on your motorhome or trailer, parts ordered, timeline of repair or upgrade, estimated completion, etc.
When to take your RV into the RV repair facility?
Don’t take your RV or camper in UNLESS the parts and RV components are in the shop and you have an actual install date.
Make certain that’s clear at the time of scheduling your repair appointment and prior to taking it in. Especially if you’re living in your RV full-time or away from your home base.
Repair timeline and deadline
Always get in writing what the prognosis and repair(s) of your RV will be. Require the dealership, RV repair facility, or repair shop to list in the contract what exact repairs will be completed and by when.
Again, if the parts aren’t in, do not give them the keys. DO NOT allow them to hold your RV hostage. This is a common practice to say that ‘parts are on the way’ when in reality, they may not even have been ordered or shipped.
This happened to us TWICE. Learn from our experience and headache.
Require daily progress reports
State in your contract that you expect daily progress reports. Be available either by phone, email or text of how your repairs or upgrades are progressing.
If there seems to be a lag in communication on their behalf, call them. Back up with a short email to get their responses in writing.
Plan to visit EVERY DAY to get an in-person update.
Verify with your RV insurance company that it’s in for repair and location of shop or RV dealership
I guarantee that there is a sign in the RV repair facility lot that they are not responsible for lost or stolen items. So, in the event that there is theft, make certain your RV insurance company will cover it.
Just be aware that personal items such as computers, clothing, jewelry, firearms, etc. inside your RV usually require a separate renters insurance policy.
Install a GPS tracker
A GPS tracker will give you piece of mind knowing exactly where your RV is. There’s a bunch of them out there.
Now here’s another tip if you’d rather not install a GPS tracker. If you have an extra smartphone and tether it off of your existing cellphone provider plan, you can actually turn it into a GPS tracker.
Check out this article by TrackSchoolBus: 27 Best GPS Tracking Apps for Android and iOS
Video and Photography your RV exterior and interior
There’s that saying, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’ that will help you should there be discrepancies in your RV after they return your keys.
When videoing, do not turn off your video feature off anytime until you are completely finished videoing. In other words, do not start and stop your videoing.
Video all working parts such as slide operation, working water faucets, toilet flushing, lighting, microwave, gas stove igniting, furnace and air conditioner working, etc. Also video all of your exterior driving lights condition and working as well as the condition of your RV’s fiberglass.
If any of your RV components operate on electricity, works off of fuel, propane or hydraulic, video all moving parts, video it all showing everything working correctly.
Also, take photographs showing contents including your glove compartment, inside your refrigerator, and your RV’s basement compartments. Don’t forget to take photos of the component or part that is being replaced, repaired or installed.
This way, if something comes back broken, you have proof that it was not that way when you handed in the keys to your motorhome or camper.
Go over your RV with the RV Repair Facility Service Manager
Make sure you go over your RV, inside and out, with the repair shop foreman with a fine tooth comb; noting any previous damages, scratches, dents, upholstery, etc. Show them that everything works correctly such as slides, plumbing, toilet flushing, electrical, etc. Have both, you and the RV repair facility sign it acknowledging that everything worked before handing them the keys to your motorhome or camper.
While this may seem like overkill, you’ll thank us later as if something happens to your RV, they will be held liable.
Remove license plate
I know this seems as an afterthought however, it only makes sense to remove your RV’s license plate.
Why, you ask? Because in the event that the RV repair facility employees take your motorhome or camper for a test drive or ‘borrow’ it (like mentioned earlier), you will not be held liable for speeding, running red lights or other traffic violations that are recorded on ‘your’ RV or vehicle registration.
Empty all holding tanks
Typically, RV repair facilities and dealerships will require you to empty your tanks before arriving. This helps prevent unforeseen accidents or biohazard leaks, etc.
So, before dropping off your RV at the repair shop or RV dealership, go to the dump, empty and flush your gray and black tanks thoroughly.
Also, empty your water tank as well to prevent irresponsible mistakes like ‘oh, I bumped the faucet handle’. Meanwhile, you’re RV just flooded.
Set your RV up for ‘no use’
I’m a stickler when it comes to the employees of the RV repair facility or RV dealership using our toilet, water faucets, etc.
So, we put breakaway tape to seal the toilet shut. We also tape all drains to ensure no one is dumping cokes, chemicals, chew or drops objects down your drains. Dan will put that tape over switches and components that should never be touched or tampered with.
Also remove bedding because…well…because.
Recording your motorhome’s mileage is self-explanatory. The RV dealership or RV repair facility will most likely record the mileage anyway on your motorhome right after you give them the keys.
Take a photo of your mileage with your newspaper’s date before handing in the keys. While there will be a mileage differential if you’re getting a brake job, tire rotation and balance, or engine work that may require them to test drive your RV. There’s no excuse for your mileage to increase to over 10 or 20 miles.
It’s a no brainer to not leave your diamond rings, expensive computers and other valuables out. Either take them with you or lock them in a locking safe. Even simple things such as an external hard-drive, battery banks, cash, credit cards, check books, prescription medicines, etc.
Oh, and don’t forget to remove any restaurant, RV memberships and fuel discount cards from your glove compartment.
Remove all keys, no matter what they go to. This will help avoid duplicating them.
And lastly, remove or lock up any papers that have sensitive information like your social security numbers, personal information, credit card numbers, bank statements, etc.
If you have no way of taking all of your valuables, consider getting a lockable trunk to keep on the bed, on the dinette seat or in the bathtub during your RV’s repairs.
Install locks and safe
As listed above, you need to remove valuables. But sometimes, you may have bags upon bags of your valuables. So, we recommend installing locks on some of your cabinets and installing a bolt-in safe to keep your jewelry, firearms and sensitive material in.
Clean out your refrigerator
The dealership or shop may require you to remove everything from your RV refrigerator depending on repairs or upgrades. They may not be able to plug your RV into electricity or keep your propane on.
But, to avoid food tampering or theft, clean out your freezer and refrigerator as best you can if you’re RV is going to be in the shop for a short period of time.
However, if your motorhome or camper is going to be in the shop for a few days or longer, you’ll need to completely empty all contents. After you empty your fridge, put a charcoal-activated deodorizer to keep it smelling fresh.
Getting your keys back from the RV repair shop
When you get the keys back to your motorhome or camper, do another thorough walk-through with the shop supervisor. This ensures everything working correctly just as you ensured when giving them possession.
Pay particular attention to the interior and exterior of your RV. Note any prior damage (in writing), aftermarket RV component installations, things to look out for, etc. Make sure all your aftermarket RV components are intact, your TPMS sensors are all intact, RV SnapPads (if installed) are all on, solar panels are not broken or have been stepped on, etc. CHECK EVERYTHING!
If there is damage or discrepancies, meet with the Service Manager to to take necessary steps to rectify the issues.
Lastly, I can’t stress this enough! GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING and get those photos and video!
Your RV Repair Facility Takeaway
I know all this may seem as overkill. But your RV is your property that you entrusted them with; and in some cases, your permanent home. The repair shop is responsible for everything that happens to your motorhome or camper while it’s in their possession.
We’ve been through this with a bad experience. We’ve had stuff tampered with, stolen, and damaged. Believe me, we appreciate that it’s unnerving to hand the keys of your home (on wheels) to someone else. But if you act on these tips, it will lessen your problems or hardships down the road.
Look, we all want to think good thoughts of having a great experience at the RV dealership or repair shop. Most RV repair facilities are responsible and do care about your RV. However, you just never know who is dishonest, has ill intentions or just doesn’t care about your property. Why make it easy for them?
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