RV Maintenance – Part Two – Decision Making + A Ticking Time Bomb!

TheRVgeeks Annual Maintenance, Maintenance 29 Comments

How do we decide which RV maintenance tasks we’ll do ourselves and which we leave to the pros, and how much does service cost? And what was the potential fire hazard that First Truck Centre uncovered in our last video!?

Despite the moniker, “DIY RVer” doesn’t mean we perform every item on our maintenance list ourselves. There are so many things to consider, and just about every decision involves more than just price.

In this video, we follow up on our recent visit to First Truck Centre in Abbotsford, BC, Canada by explaining how and why we decide whether to do things ourselves. If it surprises you to learn that RVers who consider themselves DIYers would pay a shop to do something seemingly as basic as an oil change, watch the video to see exactly why!

Since we get lots of questions about pricing, we’ve included details below. Before you look at the cost to replace the air dryer desiccant canister and ask “Why would anyone ever have that done at a shop?” check out the video for a discussion about quality-of-life considerations and see why things aren’t always quite so cut and dry.

While one of the primary reasons we perform any of our own maintenance or repairs is to save money, it’s not the only consideration. So while there are times we do things ourselves, we sometimes decide not to. As mentioned in the video, those sorts of personal budget choices are something we each have to figure out for ourselves.

Following is a breakdown of the jobs we had performed at our recent maintenance visit to First Truck Centre (just click on one to expand it for more detail). Prices are listed in both Canadian dollars and US dollars, using the approximate conversion rate applicable at the time of our visit ($1.00 US = $1.25 CAD).

As we mentioned in the video, we’re including a link (below) to a copy of the spreadsheet we use for tracking the schedule for our chassis maintenance. We’re linking to a ZIP file that contains three versions: Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, and a PDF… so you can use the format that works best for you.

 RVgeeks Chassis Maintenance Spreadsheet

Of course, the schedule included in our spreadsheet is appropriate for our chassis. We compiled our list from the recommended service intervals listed in the owner’s manuals for all of our chassis components. Be sure to review your manuals and make the necessary changes to ensure you are maintaining your RV’s chassis properly.

Even though every RVer’s situation is different, we hope you find this overview of our chassis maintenance service decisions and costs to be helpful.


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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Comments 29

  1. Lots of good info. Thanks. The spreadsheet examples excellent at reminding us to keep track of service and what needs to be done. Sometimes we can forget what was done and when. I guess we are too busy enjoying the RV adventures and forget to record stuff. Now we know better.

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      Author

      LOL! It’s true, Iggy… it can be hard to interrupt all of the “having fun” on adventures and remember that our homes on wheels need some regular TLC! We try to augment the spreadsheet with reminders in our calendar so that we don’t forget! We ARE getting older, after all! 😉

  2. Excellent video as always. Looking at the cost breakdown, similar work in a small, ugly, semi-qualified shop in San Francisco area would cost you about $4k. Just oil and filter change here runs for $1,000. I love First Truck center facilities in your video, I wish they had one in California. This is the only reason I try to do my own maintenance on our 2000 Monaco Windsor. If we had this First Truck center in our area, I wouldn’t touch a thing on our motorhome. I am jealous :-)

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      Sorry to hear about the high cost of service in your area, Ali. I guess being a full-timer in this case is a double-edge sword…. you don’t have a “local” shop to establish a relationship with, but you aren’t stuck with one you DON’T WANT to have a relationship with.

    2. Ali, consider getting some work done in BC (at a huge CAD dollar discount) just ONE of the reason to motor on up for a
      visit. There’s some pretty good scenery and delightful people as well.

  3. Great video guys, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following your channel and actually made a trip down to Tough Top for some new slide toppers based on your recommendation.

    Good to see the tech picked up the bushings and the tag seal, could have been a real inconvenience had it happened on route somewhere. I’m due for the annual maintenance so I think I’ll try FT in Abbotsford, not far up highway from their other location where I normally go.

    Your tail lights look very interesting, they sure don’t look like original equipment, any tips?

    Thanks again for the great video.

    Graeme Arnott

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      Author

      Hi Graeme! Thanks for the nice note. We’ve now been to both the Surrey and Abbotsford First Truck Centres, and we gotta say, there’s something about brand spanking new that’s awesome! Of course the service at both was great. Nice to hear that you’re local and can take advantage of either location. As far as our taillights…. they’re dead stock! We LOVE the look, and it was one of the things that attracted us to the Mountain Aire. Glad you like them, too. :)

  4. by the way, we just replaced the slide out toppers on our RV with the help of your videos. Have to laugh because it took four of us to do it, but the important thing is we did it. the tough top awnings are great, thanks for the video and the heads up on who to order from.

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  5. I must say , if you ever trade this unit in on a new MH, the person who buys the old one will get a like new MH. you sure take excellent care for her

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      John… try right-clicking on it and chose the option for “Save Linked File” (or whatever is appropriate for your operating system… it varies). That should prompt you for where on your computer you want to save the file.

  6. Some excellent information. I do most every maintenance item and repair on my RV. However, there are just some things that require professional eyes, experience and tools. Sometimes I even have routine things, such as an oil change, done at a shop just for mere convenience. Great video as usual.

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      1. Awesome and nice to see a pro do a great job. Back breaking and hard dirty work. I always tip guys like this. If you can give chickee poo 10 dollars for bringing out your Fajitas then its OK to give this guy a 20.

  7. Thanks for the follow-up video that you teased us with a couple of weeks ago. If you have any photos or video of the old inner wheel seal beside a new one it would be great to see. Looking at the old one I see where the mechanic is pointing but can not see any damage.

    1. (Hit return and it posted, but I wanted new paragraph) Also wanted to mention – I like your built in jack. Were jack stands also used?

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        The only reason our jacks were extended is that, since we were standing right there, we offered to jack the right side so they could place the jack stands. Of course they normally would use a floor jack to raise it before placing the stands.

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      Hi John! Sorry we were trying very hard not to interfere with their work, so it was difficult to get as much footage as we would if we’d been doing the job ourselves. The only footage we have of the seal is what was shown in the video. In person, we could indeed see up at the top where the rubber was torn, but it’s hard to see on camera, especially with oil all over it.

  8. I’m sorry if I missed it, but how often is this service due? I understand that you guys are full timers but the wife and I are still deciding which class we want to start at. Thanks for the great videos

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      Hi Jim,

      We didn’t include the details of our maintenance schedule in the video itself… but included in the text of the post (down near the bottom) is a link to a ZIP file that includes the spreadsheet we put together to track the schedule for when things are due for our chassis. Some things are every year (like the oil change & chassis lube), while other items are every 2, 3 or even 5 years. Unfortunately, most RV manufacturers don’t give you a consolidated maintenance schedule when you buy a new rig… so you’ll end up doing what we did: digging through all of the manuals for all of the chassis components (axles, engine, transmission, etc) in order to compile them into one master. Takes a while… but it also helps you to know/understand your RV that much better. Good luck on your RV shopping!

  9. Hmmm, usually these posts contain the video. If it’s out there, I’ll find it.

    If you’re ever out this way, I’m just up the street from Acacia Grove RV park, and there’s room in front of my house for an RV. In August, SB, hosts the Desert Daze music festival so in addition to CP and CN trains going by, there’s live music. :)

    Jon (formerly from Vancouver, BC)

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      Hi Jonathan! The video is embedded at the top of the post as always. It’s possible it didn’t load correctly, so if you try reloading the page, it should show up nice and large right at the tope. Thanks for the invite. We’ll keep you in mind.

  10. I have a 99 37s pace arrow and got stuck in some cold weather and ruptured one of my water lined down in the basement. Have you ever blown out a water line in you RV and fixed it yourself and if so what procedure did you use to find and fix it.

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      Sorry to hear, Scott. We did a video last year about a plumbing repair we did. Although it’s likely a different situation that yours, it goes into some detail about working with PEX, which is what many (most?) RVs use. Hope you find this helpful. You can find it here. We also did a video about looking into difficult-to-see areas that might be helpful as well in this case. That one’s here.

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