The HIDDEN COSTS of Buying a Used RV

RV Repair Costs

In the biggest surprise to no one ever-RV’s require a lot ofrepairs and maintenance.   We wanted topresent a quick summary of the costs of repairs and maintenance (excludingregular anticipated costs like oil changes, lubes, etc).

In the most important of disclaimers- we bought this RVpreowned from people who took great care of their vehicle.  This was not a forgotten RV rotting away insomeone’s backyard- this was something that was cared for.

Broken-down RV Repair Costs

Ball Joints, Rear Axle Seal, Brake Job: $1578.30

My good buddy Dwayne is a master mechanic who helped us getthe RV road ready as possible before our trip even started.   What we had thought was grease on the rearrotor turned out to be oil from an axle leak.  While the brake pads had plenty of pad on them they were in Dwayneswords “hard as a rock and too cooked to work well”.   Finally, the ball joints were justshot.   The RV was squeeking around withevery bounce up and down.  

New Front Tires: $1,097.93

While some might trust their RV to Chinese made tires whenit comes to betting my life I’m going top of the line for steer tires.   Michelin XRV’s are not cheap.   Is there a more cost effective option?   Sure. Would I be willing to make that gamble for a few hundred dollarsdifference?  

There’s some old saying somewhere about never going cheap onbeds, shoes, and tires. I’ll stick with the XRV’s.

Automatic Stair Step Motor and Linkage: $94

Two months in the florida salt air turned our step stairsinto a rusted chunk.   I broke thelinkage smashing the stairs back into place so we could actually driveaway.  The stairs never worked terrificto begin with but a new motor gave them a little more gusto.

Replacement Wiper Assembly: $60

This fell apart and while zip ties worked to keep ittogether they didn’t inspire a whole lot of faith.  It’s nice to be able to see when driving inthe rain.  Ordered straight fromWinnebago.

Replacement Fluid Cap: $7.57

After stopping at three different auto parts stores anddetermining that the cap for a 2005 workhorse didn’t fit our RV, I just gave upand got a radiator cap that fit good enough. Modern problems require modern solutions.

Tranny Fluid for Hydraulic Jacks: $8

Finally!  A non-specialized solution!  Our jacks were having problems extending/retracting properly so we had to top off the fluid reservoir with transmission fluid.  Guess how happy I was that this cheap solution fixed the problem?

Windshield Chip Repair: $112 + $92.99

If you ever go to Alaska in your RV be prepared for trucksto just be tossing rocks at your windows like crazy.  We had to have safelite come out and visit uson two separate occasions just two months apart.   They can fix bigger cracks then you mightexpect so give them a call before the crack runs across your entire windshield.

Generator Repair: $719.35

Before we even got into RVing I always thought that RV Onangenerators looked like a huge pain in the ass.  No surprise when I was proven right. Our generator crapped out when we needed it most- during the Arizonasummer when AC was necessary.  We got anew solenoid, control board, voltage regulator, and some troubleshooting aswell.

Hood/ Engine Cover Repair: $34.84

Winnebago mounts their hoods using adhesive for thebrackets.   Why not just bolt it on?   I followed suite and got the heaviest dutybonding strength JB Weld and after a lot of work with a wire brush to prep thearea managed to reattach the hood bracket.  It was so fun I did it twice after my first repair failed. 

Engine Repair Costs

Throttle Body: $651.50

Just into our second week we had a problem starting the RVand operated under REDUCED ENGINE POWER.  We managed to limp our way to a mechanic who installed a new throttlebody for a hell of a mark up price. Better than being stuck on the beachthough!

Tune Up, Spark Plugs, Spark Plug Wires, Knock Sensor andIgnition Coils $2280.87

We didn’t actually end up paying any of this as we disputedthe charge through Chase this was the total for the bill.  The super shady RV mechanic told us that hadfixed another problem we had as well but lied through his teeth.  We also had a check engine light onimmediately after leaving the mechanic.  What a dirtbag.

Exhaust Repair: $216.64

Our exhaust burnt through a gasket in the last days of ourtrip and sounded like a racecar.  Ithought it was cool but would have gone deaf driving it from Wyoming back toIL.   Easy fix but required a specializedgasket that would have been REALLY hard for me to find.

Interior Repair Costs

Fan for Bathroom Exhaust: $7.34

Little plastic fan for the bano had turned to dust.  This made our exhaust work again.

Propane LP Leak Detector: $87

You’ve never known the joy of waking up in the middle of thenight was the LP detector goes off simply because its super old.  RV LP detectors typically are good for 5years until they aren’t anymore.   Simpleenough to replace but man- the sound of that thing going off is etched in mynightmares.

Electric Box $11

This came off the wall. Boring problem and boring fix.

Water Pump: About $100

Toughest problem about replacing a RV water pump is matching up new model numbers to old ones.   In my opinion it isn’t worth the time or potential damage to fix an old water pump though many people do.

Total RV Repair Costs

That's how easy it is to spend a little over $7000 within your first year on the road. Granted, we put a few miles (20,000) on some rough roads on her, but most of her repairs happened within our first 3 months in the lower 48 states through Texas, Arizona and Utah BEFORE we reached the tough roads of Canada and Alaska.

We hope this article is helpful in planning your budget if you are new to RVing and looking in to buying a used RV.

RV LifeTIMRV Renovation