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MotorHome Repair Service With a Smile

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

204517_bearing1.jpgTaking your vehicle in for repairs can be a real hassle, but the following tips can make
it a lot more tolerable.

  • Find a good service shop before you need it.
  • Ask friends where they go and check with local consumer organizations. Look for a
    clean, well-organized shop with modern equipment, plus a courteous, well-trained and
    helpful staff.
  • Check for technician training and certification diplomas.
  • Labor rates, warranties and payment methods should be clearly posted.
  • When dealing with an unknown shop, start with a minor job whenever possible.
  • Once you find a good shop, stick with it. Don’t chase advertised specials.
  • If you are stranded somewhere, ask a local campground host to recommend a shop, or
    check with local RVers.
  • Follow manufacturer’s regular scheduled maintenance to avoid breakdowns.
  • Purchase a factory shop manual and wiring diagrams.
  • Read the owner’s manual thoroughly.
  • Maintain a service logbook, a receipt-and-warranty file.
  • Keep service records (or photocopies) with the vehicle.
  • When possible, make an appointment and avoid peak periods.
  • Keep a written list of things that need repair.
  • Communicate when and under which conditions a problem occurs as clearly as
    possible, and tell the service writer all the symptoms.
  • If the problem isn’t obvious or continuous, ask to speak to the person who will be
    working on your vehicle. Often, a test drive with the technician is best.
  • Be positive and reasonable in your expectations.
  • If the Check Engine light is on, ask to hae a scan tool connected to download
    trouble-code information. For intermittent problems, as for a “flight recorder,” which
    captures and stores diagnostic information.
  • Read any and all warranty coverage.
  • Ask the shop personnel to check for recalls and technical service bulletins.
  • Sometimes manufacturers will offer some help for a major failure that occurs
    prematurely, but after warranty coverage has expired.
  • Ask for a written estimate.
  • Reputable shops will allow you time to think it over and get a second opinion.
  • Sometimes money can be saved by using rebuilt or used parts.
  • Ask to be shown the problem while the components are apart, and save the old parts
    for inspection.
  • Skipping over diagnosis and jumping to conclusions can lead to wasted parts and
    labor far exceeding any “savings” on diagnosis.
  • Check the repaired area, looking for replaced parts, tidiness, leaks or any other
  • Inspect the vehicle for any new body damage, grease on seats and carpets, etc.,
    before paying.
  • If there is a problem with a franchised shop or dealer, contact the main office. If
    there is warranty coverage involved, contact the manufacturer’s claims department.
  • There may be lemon-law coverage or a safety recall.
  • Sometimes, MotorHome’s Hot Line or the Better Business Bureau can help you reach a
    fair resolution. Many states have consumer-protection agencies and bureaus of
    automotive repair where you can file a complaint. Small-claims court may offer redress,
    or, in complicated cases, it may be necesary to hire an attorney.

For more information about how to get service with a smile, pick up the December 2002 issue
of MotorHome on the newsstand. Then subscribe to MotorHome
so you can stay informed on the latest motorhomes, products, technical information and
travel destinations.

Subscribe to Wildsam Magazine today, Camping World and Good Sam’s magazine of the open road.

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