Do RVs Break Down A Lot?Anthony Day
This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
When people consider buying an RV, one of the first things that they wonder about is whether this type of vehicle will break down a lot.
If you are excited about your next road trip and want to travel in style and comfort, there is really no better way to do it than an RV. However, an RV is quite different from your standard vehicle, which means that you are going to have to approach driving and maintaining it a bit differently if you want to keep it from breaking down on you.
If you take good care of your RV and give it proper maintenance, inspections, and drive it with care - then your vehicle should not break down all that often. However, you can expect your RV repairs to be more dynamic than that of a standard vehicle due to the extra components that it has built-in.
Here in the United States, traveling in an RV is one of the most common ways of experiencing the country - with vast landscapes and stunning scenery, you are going to want to soak in every detail. RV travel enables you to go at your own pace within the comfort of your own home on wheels. However, it is important to understand that an RV is going to differ from your traditional road trip in a normal car. A recreational vehicle needs to be approached with more consideration and preparation if you want it to be reliable for years to come. A failure to give your RV the attention that it needs can result in some serious complications on the road - with your trip becoming a never-ending stop at the mechanic instead of a fun vacation. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how often RVs break down and what you can do to prevent this from happening.
After extensively researching RVs, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how often these vehicles break down. My research has taught me that RVs will break down considerably less if they are looked after and given routine maintenance.
RV Break Down Prevention
Since the RV was first popularized in the 50s and 60s, this vehicle has been a sensation among American travelers, which is why we still see so many of them on the road to this day - some of them from that era! Given the long-standing that RVs have had, it is a good sign that they are quite reliable. Vintage era RVs have had a good run and many people prefer to hold onto their older models than upgrade to something new.
However, this did not come without attentiveness from the owner. For the most part, RVs are like any other vehicle that you see on the road - they have mechanical parts that need to be maintained and repaired in order for them to last as long as possible. The number one reason that RVs tend to break down is due to a lack of upkeep from the owner. If you neglect your RV and do not give it the attention that it needs, you should expect it to die on your pretty quickly.
With that being said, the best way to keep your RV from breaking down is to prevent the common issues that occur with these vehicles. You can expect to look after standard mechanical parts like you would with any other car, but you should also pay attention to other aspects of your recreational vehicle. An RV has significantly more components than a normal car and they all need to be taken into consideration if you want to maximize the lifespan of your vehicle. Keep reading to learn more about how to prevent your RV from breaking down.
The most important thing that you can do to prevent your RV from breaking down is to give it routine maintenance. There are a lot of components in an RV but the things that can result in irreversible damage are generally its mechanical parts.
For the most part, you should expect to give your vehicle the same level of maintenance that you would a standard vehicle. This would include things like:
- Oil changes
- Tire pressure
- Engine maintenance
- Air conditioning
If you are familiar with mechanics and have worked with cars before, then taking care of your RV maintenance DIY is not going to be a problem for you. This will enable you to save a considerable amount of money by avoiding professional assistance every time something goes wrong with your vehicle, but it will also help you prevent major issues from occurring, as you can spot problems early on.
With that being said, if you are not a mechanic and do not feel comfortable doing maintenance and repairs yourself, there are tons of shops that you can take your vehicle to so that you can get professional help. If you have got a newer RV, you will find that your vehicle likely has an indicator that tells you when something is out of order and needs maintenance. When you see a maintenance issue, do not procrastinate and get it taken care of as soon as possible.
However, it is also vital that you recognize that an RV has additional components and features that are different from a normal car and these are often things that are easy to neglect when it comes to proper maintenance. These would include things like:
- Fluid Systems
- Interior Decor
- Roof Maintenance
Identifying maintenance issues with your decor and appliances can pretty much be seen with the naked. However, other aspects of the vehicle such as your fluid systems can be a bit trickier to spot. One of the best ways to avoid issues with any of the components of your RV is to have a professional take a look at the vehicle on annual basis - especially before you go out on a big trip.
To have a professional inspect your vehicle for maintenance issues can cost you as little as $50 to $100 for a basic check-up, which can end up saving you thousands in the long run - seriously mitigate the chance of your RV breaking down on you. If there are any issues found with your RV, typical maintenance generally costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 annually.
At the end of the day, you can be the most attentive RV owner in the world and give your vehicle plenty of inspections before you hit the open road, but if you drive recklessly you can expect it to break down a lot more often.
Driving style is a critical aspect of achieving longevity in your vehicle and avoiding unnecessary repairs. These vehicles are designed for adventures but they still need to be handled with care and the biggest part of this is going to come from you having good judgment when on the road.
Some people tend to think that because their vehicle was designed for camping that it is capable of hitting highly adverse terrains. That is generally not the case with most of the common RVs that you find. Sure, you can expect it to do a bit more than your average sedan but ultimately, RVs can still succumb to the same issues that any other vehicle can.
If you want to prevent your RV from breaking down on you, do not push it to its limits more than you need to. A lot of this is going to come with experience. If you are new to RV driving or have just bought yourself a new vehicle, then you want to familiarize yourself with it before you begin testing its capabilities too much. On the other hand, you are likely going to run into some situations eventually that are simply risky for RV driving. This would include things like:
- Adverse terrain
- Harsh weather conditions
- Steep roads
If you can find a driving style that is appropriate for your RV and gauge situations properly, you can greatly reduce your chances of problems down the road.
Proper Storage & Inspection
Storing your RV can be quite different than parking your average vehicle. Given that you are probably using your RV seasonally, it will likely need to be stored somewhere long-term in between your trips.
You can expect anything with mechanical parts that do not get used routinely to experience issues after a while. Some of this is going to be unavoidable and will simply be a result of natural aging, however, a lot of this has to do with your RV being stored in a way that is not ideal for avoiding breakdowns.
One of the main reasons that RVs experience problems is that they have been parked somewhere for a long time where they are overly exposed to the surrounding environment. Getting battered by rain is going to take a toll and so is prolonged sun exposure. These kinds of storage issues can be easily remedied by simply placing a cover over your vehicle or parking it under a protected area. You should particularly put a focus on this kind of storage if you live by the ocean, as salt is bound to get into the mechanical parts of your RV and deteriorate them.
However, if you park your RV somewhere with freezing temperatures, you run a greater risk of your RV breaking down. One of the most common reasons for this is due to fluid systems not being properly drained. Your greywater and freshwater pipes can freeze in adversely cold temperatures which can result in ruptured pipes. To prevent this from happening, you should ensure that you have drained all of the fluids in your RV before you park it long-term.
Lastly, before you store your RV, always conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle. As we mentioned, you can do this with a professional, however, a pre-storage inspection is something that you should be able to do on your own. Having an inspection checklist for your RV can greatly help you avoid your RV breaking down due to improper storage, as well as when you are on the road.
As you go through your RV make sure that you are looking out for any leaks that could be happening underneath your vehicle or within the interior. If you do not see any leaks, inspect the RV for any holes or punctures - signs of rust are also not a good sign and should be tended to. Lastly, remove any food items that can attract rodents to your RV, as these pests can cause some significant damage as well.
Break Down Issues & Repair Locations
The bottom line is that everything breaks down from time to time - no matter how well you maintain, drive, or store your vehicle. Mechanical things break and when they do, you are going to want to resolve the issues before it gets worse.
When your RV does break down, you need to take it to the right location to get it fixed. If you are driving a Class B or C RV, then you will be happy to know that you should be able to go to just about any mechanic to have it looked at. However, if you are using a Class A RV, you will most likely need to go to a repair shop that specializes in RV mechanics.
With that being said, common mechanics are going to be able to assist you with the mechanical parts of your vehicle. The interior components of your RV as well as its fluid systems will probably require a specialized touch or a DIY approach. Usually, this would involve going to an RV dealer or RV mechanic - provided that you cannot take care of the problem yourself. Here are the most common issues that RVs are known for:
- Engine failure
- Roof damage
- Broken fluid system
Only the mechanical components of your vehicle should result in a legitimate breakdown. However, given that your RV is not only a vehicle that you rely on for traveling but also for living, there are parts such as the fluid system and roof that are going to be vital.
Depending on how much damage has been caused to the RV, as well as its make and model, you could be looking at anywhere from several hundred dollars to $100 to $3,000 (or more) in repair costs - with transmission and engine problems generally being the most expensive.
Used vs New RVs
How much an RV breaks down can also be attributed greatly to how old it is and how much maintenance it has received over the years. If you bought your RV new and have been taking care of it from day one, then you should not have any issues squeezing as much life out of it as possible.
For the most part, an RV with adequate maintenance will last around 20 years or 200,000 miles and will likely have minimal issues with breakdowns. However, an RV that has been optimally maintained and looked after can last upwards of 30 years and will have hardly ever break down.
With that being said, it is not uncommon to buy an RV used instead of new. Buying a used RV certainly comes with more risks of it breaking down. To prevent buying a used RV from breaking down on you - a thorough and professional inspection is going to be a must. If the inspection comes back with positive results, then you should have a solid vehicle on your hands. However, you always run a greater risk of having an RV that breaks down on your when you buy it used.