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Top 10 tips for seeking RV warranty work

We recently took our new fifth wheel in for RV warranty work.  Even though we have heard many horror stories of shop visits gone bad, I naively thought that if I crossed all my Ts, dotted all my Is, and was involved in the process, including great communication, that surely our repair visit would be a positive experience.

I was wrong. Now we are currently working on getting our RV back into the shop to have the botched warranty work REDONE.

From experience, here are our Top 10 tips to help your RV warranty work go as smoothly as possible:

1. Communicate your problems with the manufacturer via email so you have a physical copy that you informed them of your problems, and that they occurred within the dates of your warranty coverage.  Include photos of issues, if possible, and ask the manufacturer to attach this information to your file.

2. Make sure your chosen shop is an authorized provider by your manufacturer, check their Better Business Rating for service related complaints, and then make sure all communication with the repair dealership is done via email — or at least confirmed via email.  This way you will have proof of your agreement with them, including anticipated (or requested) date of completion, that the work is covered under the warranty, and a detailed list of what is to be repaired.

3. If you are a fulltime RVer, some dealerships may let you stay in your rig during the time the RV is scheduled to be in the shop.  If  that is the case, be sure that you find out what hours they will want you to be away from your coach so they can work on it. Generally, for liability reasons, you must be physically away from the coach while it is being serviced.  This is actually a great time to explore the town you are visiting!  Ask your techs what to do around town as locals are a much better source of where to go and what to see than Google is.

4.  Remove all valuables, including money, jewelry, electronics, firearms, and prescription medications from your RV. Removing or locking up small valuables, especially medications — which are often overlooked as a theft temptation — while your rv is in the shop is always a good idea, even if you trust the dealer.  It is one thing to lose cash or jewelry, but if firearms or prescription medications are stolen, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands, they they’re both in high demand on the street.  Knowing that your valuables are tucked away safely will make your dealership visit more pleasant.

Somehow, the ladder was ripped off our RV at the service center. Having pictures taken when dropping off an RV helps prove when and where the damage occurred.
Somehow, the ladder was ripped off our RV at the service center. Having pictures taken when dropping off an RV helps prove when and where the damage occurred.

5. Take photos of your RV, and the work that needs to be done, before or while dropping off your RV.  While it is not common, damage can happen to your vehicle while it is in for warranty work.  While our new toy hauler was in the shop for repairs, the technicians somehow ripped the ladder off of the side of the RV.  While the dealership called to let us know, if we had shown up and found it like that, and they had denied any fault, we would have been hard pressed to prove it was not a pre-existing problem without photos taken when we dropped it off.

6. Keep communication open with the service center.  Be proactive, and periodically — and kindly — call to see if your warranty work is progressing as scheduled.   If you are not onsite, and you feel that work is stalling, consider visiting the dealership.

When our dealership called and said that they needed our RV a while longer, after we had been very adamant about our pickup date from the very beginning, we told them no.  I immediately hopped in the van and drove two hours to see how our repairs were progressing.  I was surprised to find that they were not fixing our main problem as they should have been, but basically filling the crack and painting over it.  I took photos mid fix and sent them to the manufacturer, and had them attached to our file.

That is proving helpful as we are now requesting the reoccurring crack be fixed again, and the manufacturer is wondering why it is necessary when they already paid to have it repaired.  It has been helpful that our email to the manufacturer showing the new crack was sent the day after we picked up our RV following a month-long process of having warranty work supposedly fixed.

7. Communicate with your manufacturer if you have any problems!  We were not pleased with the results of our warranty work visit, and called our manufacturer to verify some excuses that the shop had given us.  Our manufacturer shared with us timelines of the shop’s work requests, and we now know that it sat on the lot for two weeks before they even submitted work approval requests to the manufacturer.

When our RV goes in the shop for the second repair, we will be contacting our manufacturer to verify any stumbling blocks that would impede a prompt repair. We will also be communicating, mainly via photos, with the manufacturer to ensure that it is fixed correctly and, hopefully, permanently this time.

8. Examine your coach before you take delivery of it, and take photos of any problems before leaving the lot. Photos should be time and date stamped and, if possible, have the dealership or repair facility in the background.  Ask the shop for an itemized work order stating what was completed. Costs to the manufacturer are not important, just an itemized list of what the dealership fixed for you.

For us, much of our punch list was NOT completed as promised, even though we had stressed our rigid timeline for pickup before we even made the appointment to drop it off. We absolutely had to have our coach back for a prior commitment.  We made sure that our manufacturer was not charged for those items that the dealership did not bother to fix.

9. Purchase a spiral notebook with an interior pocket to keep track of all work done on your coach.  Keep track of oil changes, new tires/rotations, all warranty work, personal fixes, and even wax jobs.  Detailing what was done, as well as the date, mileage and who performed the service will be valuable to you in the future.  Also, knowing the rig’s full service history will make your RV more appealing to any future buyers.

Keep any receipts and work orders, including those for warranty work, in the pocket of the same notebook, making sure that dates are included, and mileage if appropriate. This is very handy if you have repeat issues that need to be addressed by the initial service provider.

10. Thank your shop if you have a good experience!  In an age where work volume speaks louder than quality, it’s important that dealerships understand that consumers notice whether work is done well or poorly, quickly or untimely, and that customers are going to share that information, as well as the company’s name, with their friends and peers.

Also remember to be courteous to your techs. They are simply trying to complete an avalanche of work orders given to them by higher-ups who often have little comprehension of what it really takes to do a good job fixing our rigs.

Many people have great experiences when they take their RVs in for warranty work or repair.  These tips are simply some recommendations for protecting yourself in case you have a less than stellar experience.

If all else fails, you could do what we will be doing when our RV goes back in for service next month to redo the fiberglass crack the technicians patched last time, and to replace the ladder that they mangled.  We WILL be staying in our RV — with eight of our kids — and I will be photographing their work as we go. Yes, I will be very congenial about it!.

Also, the longer we are there, the more likely we will be to use the showroom as our schoolroom, playground, and nap place during our stay.  I’m thinking that our fix will be much more timely this time around than the month they took on our last visit!

May the odds be ever in your — and our — favor. We all need it when it comes to RV warranty work!

About Dana Ticknor

Dana Ticknor and her husband, along with their tribe of 8 gypsy kids (they also have 4 more grown and flown) have been calling the road home for seven years. Traveling with a highly modified toy hauler, their passions are discovering local history and culture, as well as volunteering with disaster relief efforts across the country. You can follow their journey at OurTravelingTribe.com, where they write about fulltime RVing and the family friendly destinations they discover during their travels.

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