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

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

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).


Motorhome Lube Service (LOF or ‘Lube/Oil/Filter’):

[one_half]

This service included:

  • Changing the engine oil
  • Replacing the oil filter
  • Replacing the fuel/water separator
  • Replacing the 2-micron fuel filter
  • Checking belts & tensioners
  • Lubing the chassis
[/one_half][one_half_last]
Motorhome Lube Service Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $230.97 $184.78
Labor $299.00 $239.20
Sub-Total $529.97 $423.98
[/one_half_last]

Coolant Flush & Replace:

[one_half]Flushing the coolant, while not a difficult task, does require catching, handling and disposing of a lot of liquid, so we opted to have this done at a service facility.[/one_half][one_half_last]
Coolant Flush & Replace Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $183.70 $146.96
Labor $217.50 $174.00
Sub-Total $401.20 $320.96
[/one_half_last]

Air Dryer Desiccant Cartridge:

[one_half]While this seems like an item we would always handle ourselves, watch the video to see why we had it done at a shop this particular time.[/one_half][one_half_last]
Air Dryer Desiccant Replacement Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $75.79 $60.63
Labor $72.50 $58.00
Sub-Total $148.29 $118.63
[/one_half_last]

CAC Clamp Torquing:
[one_half]This task is not especially complex to perform. But it’s inexpensive, and extremely important, so we had it done by a pro.[/one_half][one_half_last]

Torquing CAC Clamps Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $0.00 $0.00
Labor $72.50 $58.00
Sub-Total $72.50 $58.00
[/one_half_last]

Ride Height Adjustment:

[one_half]With a copy of the specs from your chassis manufacturer, this seems like an easy item to tackle yourself. But the ramifications of an incorrect adjustment can be dire… and expensive. As you’ll see in the video, it’s more than just the adjustment itself. A professional tech’s ability to spot hidden problems make this job worth having expert eyes on it.[/one_half][one_half_last]
Ride Height Adjustment Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $17.87 $14.30
Labor $319.00 $255.20
Sub-Total $336.87 $269.50
[/one_half_last]

Tag Axle Wheel Seal:
[one_half]Spotting a leak is a prime example of the benefits of having a professional inspection. First Truck Centre caught our leaking wheel seal on our passenger-side tag axle early, preventing it from leaving us with a more expensive repair… or stranded on the side of the road… or homeless!
[/one_half][one_half_last]

Tag Axle Wheel Seal Replacement Costs
$CAD $US
Parts $51.30 $41.04
Labor $290.00 $232.20
Sub-Total $341.30 $273.04
[/one_half_last]

TOTAL COST SUMMARY:

[one_half] Keep in mind that this list only includes items that were due at this particular service stop. As mentioned in the video, other items (such as transmission and hydraulic system service) were not due this year. We’ll try to cover those in a future video.[/one_half][one_half_last]
Summary of Costs
$CAD $US
All Scheduled Maintenance $1,488.83 $1,191.06
Repair Leaking Wheel Seal $341.30 $273.04
Miscellaneous Shop Supplies $120.70 $96.56
Sales Tax (PST & GST) $234.10 $187.28
GRAND TOTAL $2,184.93 $1,747,94
[/one_half_last]

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.

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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Jeff

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

Thank you

Jeff

Monday 6th of May 2019

I have a Newmar Mt. Aire 4305. It has a Onan 7.5 diesel generator. The inverter board in the generator is bad. Does any one know where I can have it repaired rather replace it for $2000.00 ?

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

Hey Jeff. Sorry to hear about your inverter board failure. Unfortunately, we don't know of a place that can repair those kinds of things. We hope someone else will chime in here with their experience.

Mark Cater

Thursday 31st of May 2018

I am a newbie to RVing, but the wife and I are hooked. We tent camped for years and poo pooed rving as "lazy" way to camping, but we were wrong! The convenience of having to take only five to ten steps to use the toilet at night has paid for the cost of our rv already. Thanks for the informative videos, so much to learn and so much to do!

Jacque Mertz

Monday 12th of August 2019

John and Peter, first a huge thank you for all of your how to videos. I have learned so very much from you two. I also have learned that because you guide us so well, I can find a way to do much of it myself, or if I have to have someone else do the actual work, I know if it is being done correctly or not. I can not say how much you have saved me in labor costs as of yet, but know it is in the $$$$. Allowing me to be able to speak up with knowledge when a shop is trying to take advantage of a female RV'er thinking that I wouldn't know the difference. Also in giving me the courage to follow my normal instinct of doing it myself like so many other things that I know I know how to do.

So thank you again for all you do,

Jacque

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 31st of May 2018

Hi Mark! Thanks for the nice comment. It's always great to hear we've been helpful. So happy to hear you're not taking extra steps to "poo poo" RVing any more! ?

Iggy Konrad

Thursday 17th of May 2018

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.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 17th of May 2018

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! ?

Ali Gokay

Wednesday 16th of May 2018

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 :-)

JOHN SCHRETLEN

Thursday 17th of May 2018

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.

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 16th of May 2018

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.

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PLEASE NOTE: 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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