All vehicles somewhere down the line will require some repair. Which each click of the odometer, there’s more wear and tear, and eventually, something will break or reach the end of its lifespan. Expensive RV repairs are inevitable for those who own older motorhomes or trailer models. RVers who like to rack up miles could experience costly RV fixes more frequently than the casual adventurer.
If you’re driving around in an RV older than ten years and on a budget, you’re probably curious about the most expensive parts to fix on your RV. Since older RVs are prone to problems, knowing which parts are most likely to fail is good.
What Are the Most Expensive RV Fixes that Are Not Worth the Investment?
With the passage of time and miles, many RVs will reach the point where their repair costs can be so expensive that it may be time to sell them. Unfortunately, unless there’s a deep sentimental attachment to your motorhome that justifies the expense, sometimes the best financial choice is to junk it. For as unfortunate as this sounds, not all RV owners have the means to repair their beloved home on wheels.
No matter how much maintenance and TLC you put into yours, older RVs will likely live out their usefulness. Of course, it’s impossible to predict which high-cost repair it’ll need, but the most common problems are not worth fixing.
1. Old or Blown RV Engine
An RV’s engine is a powerhouse, and justifiably so. However, pulling a heavy RV or motorhome requires a lot of muscle. As you put the miles on, an older engine has to work harder and is more prone to mechanical breakdowns. Inexperienced or low-budget RVers may not take the time or have the resources to stay on top of every small engine issue, but it’s crucial if you want to extend the engine’s lifespan. In truth, deteriorated or blown engine repairs can easily make junking your RV your only option.
2. Broken RV Transmission
Once your older RV has transmission problems, it may be time to throw in the towel. Transmission repairs or replacement rarely justify their cost, easily costing at least the value of your vehicle. Transmission issues are the kiss of death for older RVs and motorhomes with lots of mileage. This can be one of the most expensive parts to fix on your RV.
3. Broken RV Slide-Outs
RV slide-outs can be an expensive fix. They are subject to various issues, from mechanical to electrical. Repairs or a full replacement are expensive. Many RVers have had theirs get stuck in the open position when camping in a remote location. The cost of having a mechanic come to them to repair it or towing the broken trailer to get it to a garage only adds to the already expensive RV fix.
4. RV’s Waste and Freshwater Systems Failure
An essential part of all RVs and motorhomes is their ability to supply fresh water and a system for collecting gray and black water. Over time, this system can fail. Improper maintenance and the lack of proper sanitizing of the tanks can lead to leaks and system failures. Replacing the waste and freshwater assembly systems is more expensive than you may think.
5. Broken Fuel Injection Pump
Fuel injection pumps, especially for diesel-powered RVs, commonly fail in older vehicles. Once it fails, you’ll likely be stuck on the roadside or in a campground. Either way, you’ll have to pay not only for the part and for it to be installed but quite possibly for a tow or for a mechanic to come to you.
6. Deteriorated Roof Mounted Air Conditioner
Many people like to hit their favorite park or campground during the summer months or to drive to a warmer climate. A functioning A/C unit is key to having an enjoyable adventure. If the air conditioner breaks down, RVs and motorhomes can quickly become a sauna.
Replacing or repairing an RVs air conditioner can be costly, especially for roof-mounted systems. In addition, the largest RVs require more powerful units, which can be incredibly expensive to replace.
7. Blown RV Auxiliary Generator
How much does it cost to replace an RV generator? Well, the answer might not be to your liking. Your RV needs a generator to run the appliances, lighting systems, water pumps, air conditioners, and other components. This piece of necessary equipment provides power to all the items that make your RV an RV by providing you with the comfort of home.
Portable generators can be less expensive and typically run between $300 to $600, depending on their power and features. However, permanent generators, enclosed and vented, are significantly more expensive. They can hit your wallet for $3000 or more.
Most RVers use auxiliary generators when boondocking in their travel trailers and depend on them for almost everything. So when the generator gives in, you should be ready to spend a lot of money. Such repairs could take over $12,000 out of your pocket for large motorhomes.
8. RV Electrical System Failure
Motorhome and travel trailer owners heavily depend on their electrical systems. As a result, you frequently stress the various parts that make up the RV’s electrical assembly for driving and camping.
It can be expensive to troubleshoot RV electrical issues. For example, the power inverter, which transforms and transfers 12 DC electricity from your RV’s batteries into 120V AC electricity to power your appliances, is one of the most typical RV electrical difficulties. Repairs for power inverters can cost between $1500 and $8000.
What Are the Most Common RV Problems That Need Repairs?
Long-time RV and motorhome enthusiasts are well aware that every bump and jolt your rig takes brings it one step closer to a necessary repair. Unfortunately, this is all a part of the lifestyle and cannot be avoided, even with the utmost care. While newer vehicles won’t encounter many problems, as the miles and the years add up, most RVs will require fixing something.
Older, used RVs and trailers all experience the same issues as they age. Unfortunately, these necessary repairs can sneak up on owners of older RVs and can easily outweigh the vehicle’s value. When the cost of repairs doesn’t justify keeping it, it’s probably time to consider selling it to a specialized dealer who buys older RVs.
Here are some of the most common RV problems you can expect to encounter.
RV Water Intrusion and Water Damage
At some time during their lifespan, RVs will suffer some water intrusion, which, in the worst-case scenario, can lead to delamination. Although motorhomes and trailers are built to take the jarring experience of bumpy, gravel roads with dips and the occasional obstacle, they aren’t tanks. As a result, small cracks are bound to appear and can quickly turn into bigger ones. Once you have cracks, water is sure to enter your vehicle. Water intrusion is most common in two areas of your RV.
- Roof – RV roofs are notorious for leaks. Wind, rain, ice, and even the sun can weaken RV roofs, causing them to allow water to seep in. A leaking roof will cause water damage to an RV’s interior and lead to mold and mildew problems.
- Windows – Another common entry point for water are an RV’s windows. Although they’re built to accommodate rough roads and vibration, over time, leaks can occur. In addition, window seals can become dry and brittle, allowing water to enter. This can cause mold, mildew, and other interior water damage.
On the other hand, a fully flooded RV is a significant problem for owners because the water damage can be extensive and costly to repair or restore, often exceeding the value of the RV. Therefore, selling it to a professional junk RV buyer may be a better option since the repair cost will likely outweigh its value.
Just like all vehicles, an RVs tires will need to be replaced periodically. However, since an RV or motorhome is commonly driven on less-than-kind roads, they can wear out much quicker than the ones on your family car. In addition, improper weight distribution or RV suspension issues can cause them to wear out faster. Therefore, having a spare tire, the proper tools, and knowing how to change one is crucial for any RV owner. This goes double for those with older, used RVs.
Damaged, Broken RV Appliances
RV appliances are built to handle the jarring experience of rough campground roads. When installed properly, they’re quite secure. However, over time they can become loose, and microwaves and refrigerators can break down once that happens. Although replacing a small appliance may not hit your wallet too hard, the reality of replacing multiple ones can add up. A high-quality RV refrigerator can be very expensive to fix or replace.
Motorhome Toilet Issues
One of the awesome conveniences of owning an RV is having a private bathroom. But, unfortunately, this much-valued RV component commonly has problems. For example, bouncing and bumping can crack porcelain toilets. Other all-too-common toilet issues are rubber seal and valve breakage, clogs, and plumbing leaks.
RV Waste Water Leaks
Leaking waste water valves are common RV problems with older vehicles. You shouldn’t see much water leaking when emptying your gray or blackwater tanks. When this happens, it usually indicates that the slide valve needs to be replaced.
Is an RV Extended Warranty Worth It?
When purchasing a new RV, your salesperson will likely try to up-sale by offering an extended warranty. However, they may be pushy when offering this option, which could leave a bad taste in your mouth. Are they trying to squeeze more money from you or offer a valuable product?
Given that RVs have their fair share of issues, purchasing an extended warranty may not be a bad idea. If you have the resources to include it, there is a high likelihood that it’ll save you some coin. On the other hand, if you’re good with a wrench and know how to work on an RV, you may want to pass. But since most people buy RVs and motorhomes for enjoyment and not for fixing, an extended warranty is the right choice, especially when dealing with some of the expensive motorhome repairs.
What Do You Do with an RV Broken Beyond Repair?
If you own an older RV that has lived out its usefulness, or maybe it’s broken beyond repair, you may be lost as to what to do with it. Abandoning it in a back alley or somewhere hidden off the beaten path is illegal and unethical. You may be wondering what other options you have.
- Scrap or junkyard – One option is to sell it to scrap or junkyard. Most will take any vehicle and will convert it to scrap metal. The downside is you won’t get your money’s worth, but it is an option.
- Specialized dealer – A much better option is to sell it to a dealer who buys junk RVs and motorhomes. You’ll get a fair price for it regardless of age or condition. It’s a hassle-free way to get some cash for your broken-down RV.
What Type of RV Holds Its Value the Most?
All vehicles depreciate cars, trucks, motorcycles, and RVs. So the second you drive that brand-new RV or motorhome off the lot, it immediately begins to lose value.
Class B motorhomes, over time, tend to hold their value much better than Class A or Class C. Having a good mix of luxury and practical features, they are highly popular with all RV enthusiasts.
Some of the best RV brands that hold their value best include Airstream, Jayco, and Winnebago.
How Much Does Average Motorhome Maintenance Cost?
Owning and operating an RV or motorhome has many hidden costs. There’s not only the expense of vehicle insurance and costly gas, but you’ll also have to dish out money for its annual maintenance.
Experienced RVers report that the annual maintenance cost of a motorhome can run anywhere between $1000 to $2000. This expense can be slightly reduced if you’re handy enough to do what’s required, but if not, it’s best to let the experts perform the work.
Are Your RV Repairs Too Much To Handle?
An RV can bring joy and the spirit of adventure into your life. But once they’ve racked up some miles, they can also be a hole in the wallet. With many different components, parts, bells, and whistles, some lots can go wrong and need replacements or repairs. But, unfortunately, even with preventative maintenance and care, parts will fail. This is especially true once your RV has celebrated a decade’s birthday.
If you’ve been faced with expensive RV repairs, you may want to consider selling your trailer to a specialized dealer who buys undrivable RVs. They’re easy to deal with and will offer a fair price for your broken-down camper or motorhome.