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  RV Living in the 21st Century 

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Heads-up On RV Maintenance

updated 29 November 2003





I receive many questions about our maintenance costs.

I relay this so everyone is aware to expect there are good and bad years, although in the long run everything averages out, most years will be within reason and quite low, but expect some to be higher than others.

RVing good times always outnumber the bad in this lifestyle but not every day is perfect and some may be a bit costly. This is the reason I strongly urge every RVer to have a $5000.00 Emergency Fund so you do not have to use your travel funds for emergencies – ours is a zero balance credit card that we can deal with when we return home in the summer.  Consider setting up a Contingency Fund while you are at it.

I have recently ‘spoke’ to many RVers by email about maintenance costs of RVing. Some years, like this one for us, can be exceptionally costly, BUT most are not. When we drove gas motorhomes we budgeted $3500.00 (Cdn $) per year for both vehicles and frequently came in well under that. Last year our diesel maintenance was $3000.00 Cdn$ ($174.00 for the car) – no one thing in particular stood out. Most of the past four years have been similar amounts. (PS we did spend $4200.00 on our renovations in 2002 - see details on The Space of a Slide from the Inside)

Well nothing in life stays the same – prices (Cdn$) listed below are after taxes. This spring we updated our tow car- the new baseplate and lighting cost us $1300.00, the furnace quit on our 95 Luxor, as well as a check valve on the water pump and other miscellaneous things at additional cost of $1100.00. One week later the check valve on our water heater quit ($100.00 more) and then the ballast on two 18" ‘thin-lites’ stopped functioning at an approximate replacement cost of $70-$80.00 each. Routine Class B maintenance (oil and filter change, fuel filter change, lubrication and visual check etc) and regular tune-up on our generator added another $1300.00. The hourly rate of the service centre we used was definitely on the low side of things and not much was wrong or had to be changed but the service contributes to this years maintenance costs.  Prices may be slightly lower in the USA but available (pension) income may also differ,

Our windshield cracked in April with a deductible of $300.00. This meant we needed new website lettering that spans both windshields (plus an Invisible Bra on the tow car) at another $250.
While at Buffalo dry camping at the FMCA convention, our 4-year-old batteries no longer would hold a charge, so four new golf cart batteries added another $580.00 when converted to Cdn. (I was shocked when the techs told us that most batteries can only expect a lifespan of 4 years).

However we are not done yet this summer. While the coach was coming to life from under a cloud of oxidization due to comprehensive detailing last weekend (approximately $550.00 for service and miracle products) – see photos about our shimmering Kastle, John cleaned the wheel wells and the tires. He discovered the cracks on the sidewalls of our four-year old front tires were becoming deeper and he no longer felt safe driving our motorhome. (RV Tires too have a life between 4-5 years). So last Wednesday he ordered two front tires at a cost of $409.00 each plus tax. Another $1000.00 goes towards maintenance for 2003 (other four are slated for next year.) From the middle of April to the first of August our maintenance for both vehicles is at approximately $6550.00. Guess this will be a costly year.

More as of November 2003

On our route south this fall our furnace stopped blowing hot air - the motor was replaced last spring so we know that was not the problem.  At the same time the fan and A/C controls were operating in reverse as well. So the tech determined that our 8-year old thermostat needed replacing - cost $299.00 US ($388.00Cdn) plus 1/2 hour labour and in-park service call of $25.00.  However this didn't solve the furnace problem, It will be looked at next week.  The culprit may be a $15.00 part or a $110.00 part plus labour of $45.00 per hour - time will tell. 

 Before we left Canada we were hit with a power surge when a transformer blew; it damaged our expensive 50 amp Power Line Monitor.  Finding the replacement part ($56.00) was a challenge but that repair too will be completed next week.   Total bill for repairs will be approximately $700.-$1000. more. (If we had replaced the PLM it would have been an additional $400. US plus labour).

We are aware that many RVers do not have this accessory on their unit but with the damage our PLM received, for certain we would have lost many appliances due to that surge.  Our PLM also stops us from operating in brown-out conditions as well. 


On the good side of things all these items  will be considered new and problem-free for another 8 years.  From this point forward we expect to enjoy 3-4 years of minimal maintenance. The good days definitely out number the bad in this lifestyle and a streak of costly repairs happens only periodically.  Make it a point to ride the wave.

Remember; look at the big picture to understand your overall cost of RVing. On the days when things look a little black don’t forget there really is no journey as joyful as seeing North America in an RV. What better way to explore this great continent? Happy Travels P&J