In many areas, you have the option of getting RV repair or upgrade services right at your campsite or home. The aptly named mobile RV repair or mobile RV service has been growing in popularity due to its convenience.
These mobile RV services are convenient for the RV owner and sometimes less expensive than moving the RV to the shop and perhaps having it tied up there for several days.
Plus, when the repair tech comes to you, you have his full attention and you know he will be working on your rig alone from the moment he arrives.
The downside of a mobile RV repair service, however, is that they may be hard to find if something goes wrong, and they may be a one-man organization, with no one else to appeal to if there is a dispute.
Types of mobile RV repair services:
- A regular RV dealer or repair shop that makes house calls when requested. These include motorhome engine and chassis repair services that will come to you if needed.
- Mobile specialists that only do a specific type of service.
- General RV repair and installation services that are mobile-only, i.e. the truck is the shop.
Some RV dealers, RV repair shops, and chassis repair shops will send one of their technicians to you on request, but usually only on an emergency basis, i.e. you are unable to move the RV or it would be unsafe to do so.
Expect to pay handsomely for this extra service, probably paying the regular shop hourly rate from the time the technician leaves his shop until he returns, and perhaps a premium for mileage.
If this is truly an emergency, check with your insurer or roadside assistance provider—you may have some coverage that applies. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.
Some types of mobile RV repair services are often done at your site, either because it is often necessary anyway or because it is just as convenient to do it where the RV is as anywhere else. Common examples are windshield replacement and flat tire repairs, but there are an increasing number of specialist services available to RVers.
Other mobile RV repair services include:
- Window blind and shade repair
- Carpet replacement
- Oil & filter changes
- RV detailing (wash & wax)
- Holding tank clean-out
These services are often charged on a per-job basis and there may be no extra charge for travel unless you are outside of their normal service area.
In many areas, an RV service technician has gone into business for himself and essentially runs his mobile RV repair business out of his truck, using a cell phone as his business number. The techs who do this are often the more competent and energetic ones who don’t need a shop staff to back them up.
They load up a van or pick-up truck with their tools and commonly needed parts and they are in business.
They can fix many common RV systems or appliance problems, such as repairing leaks, locating and fixing electrical issues, upgrading equipment, or installing accessories.
Mobile RV repair techs usually have a limited geographic area they will cover and they may or may not charge an additional fee for travel time or mileage. Where there are multiple customers in a campground they may be able to move from job to job with little loss of time or extra cost (great to poll your neighbors before calling the tech for negotiating power), but if they have to drive a ways to reach you and have little hope of another job in the same locale, they will probably charge travel time and/or mileage.
Getting parts for mobile RV repair
One of the shortcomings of a mobile RV repair service is the lack of the parts department that dealers and brick and mortar repair shops often have.
The mobile tech usually carries some common items and may even have some good used parts he has salvaged, but some repairs are going to require that parts be obtained elsewhere, either a local dealer or ordered from a distributor. That involves an extra trip and likely an extra expense for the travel involved.
On the plus side, mobile services usually don’t charge a big mark-up. Dealers and repair shops have a huge overhead to store, maintain, and organize parts and service items.
You may, however, want to pre-plan for the parts you are likely to need and order them ahead of time, both to save money and to get the job completed quickly. Even if it means buying a part that may not actually be needed. If you shop around you can usually find the discounted parts you need on Amazon.com or at a local store.
Finding a mobile RV repair service
There are a couple of ways to find a mobile RV repair service, but one of the best is to ask at the campground office or talk to fellow campers.
It’s hard to beat a personal recommendation from someone who has used the service or a campground owner who sees and hears a lot of reports on the tech’s work. Mobile RV repair services also often advertise on campground bulletin boards or those maps they hand out at check-in.
Another way to find a mobile RV repair service in your area is via the internet.
Mobile services often have a web page or a Facebook presence that can be found quickly via a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search. Telephone Yellow Pages are also good (if you can actually find one these days). Again, the campground office is likely to have business phone directories if they exist in the area.
As a last resort, you can inquire at a local RV dealer for the name of a mobile service. The sales or parts people often know who they are and don’t have any reason to steer you away from them either. Even the service manager may help if you ask politely and explain that it is impractical for you to bring the RV to his shop.
The chances are good that your tech probably buys parts from them anyway!
You will find that some campgrounds do not allow work to be done on their grounds. This may be a result of past abuses, e.g. spilled fluids or trashed parts left behind, or it may be out of concern for liability if someone gets injured.
There isn’t much you can do about it except to move on to a more accommodating place. I’ve even heard of some people who simply left the campsite for the day and met the Mobile Service elsewhere nearby. The mobile tech will likely be familiar with places that restrict his access and alternative locations that can be used.
The best way to be informed about what maintenance needs to be done is to track it with a program like RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all your maintenance records and documents in one place, you’ll receive timely reminders via email when maintenance is due.
You can easily hand the mobile RV technician your detailed reminder email to explain what needs to be done, and you’ll be less likely to fall prey to unnecessary repairs. Whether you have a small camper or large class A motorhome, RV LIFE Maintenance can keep track of it all.
In a perfect world, you would never have a need for service, because your RV would never need repair. Alas, that is rarely the case. It is ultimately up to you to weigh the costs, risks, and convenience of mobile RV repair services.
Some RVers find these services invaluable. Others prefer to take their rig to a shop. Regardless of your decision, hopefully, this guide offered you some perspective on the nature of mobile RV repair services so you can decide what is best for you.
And remember, always be sure to perform routine maintenance on your rig to minimize your chances of a problem. Safe travels!