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RV Maintenance – Part One – First Truck Centre

RV Maintenance – Part One – First Truck Centre

As a full-timer, how do you establish a relationship with a trusted local RV shop? After all, when you’re nomadic, “local” kind of loses its meaning. But even those of us who don’t have a fixed home base often find ourselves gravitating toward our favorite parts of the world year after year. This provides ample opportunity to patronize the same businesses repeatedly, allowing us to establish trusted relationships with “local” companies.

Even though we can go anywhere we want, any time we want, it makes sense that after 15 years on the road, 55 US states and Canadian Provinces (with new ones to be added this year!), we’ve figured out the places we like the most. Since we grew up in the East, it’s understandable that reaching escape velocity allowed us to search out the most dramatic natural beauty we could find. So you’ll most often find us roaming from the Rockies to the Pacific.

Our typical snowbird path takes us from beautiful British Columbia to the Desert Southwest. During that time, we’ve had service work performed at lots of places. A few of them have become favorites that we return to when we’re in the area, mostly in the Desert SW, such as Massey’s Diesel in Phoenix, where we’ve had great work done many times.

But until last year, we hadn’t identified a favorite shop in the northern part of our most common travel area. So what to do when we want to get service work done in the summer? Head to Phoenix?! Not bloody likely!

We had a great experience last August with First Truck Centre in Surrey, BC, right outside Vancouver. So when we heard that they were opening a new facility in Abbotsford (which is close to a place where we often spend time in the Fraser Valley), we thought:

  1. We already had a very positive experience with First Truck, so the new shop would likely be a winner, too
  2. Abbotsford is convenient to anywhere we stay in the Fraser Valley and the US border
  3. New facility = super clean

We were correct on all counts! On the “close to the US border” front, First Truck Centre is exactly a 1/2-mile drive from the Sumas, WA border crossing. Hard to get much closer to the States and still be in Canada!

We made an appointment for routine chassis maintenance, and we share all that was done in the video above, which is Part One. In our next video, Part Two, we’ll cover one of the most common questions we hear: What maintenance items do we handle ourselves, which do we leave to the pros, which can go either way, and how do we decide which are which… and why?

If you’re planning, or thinking about, RVing in BC’s Lower Mainland, we LOVE and highly recommend the area. Vancouver is our absolute favorite city in North America, and the Fraser Valley all the way out to Hope is gorgeous and well worth a visit. First Truck Centre is a great shop, so if you’re due for maintenance, consider checking them out.

We’ve only been to the two locations, but they’re run by the same company as their other locations in Alberta, so we assume that they all provide service we’d be happy with. If you look at their pricing, remember that as of this writing, the current exchange rate means you’ll get about a 25% discount on your US dollars. So don’t get sticker shock if the prices look 25% higher. That means they’re actually the same!


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Gerald

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

You 2 spend quite some time in BC Canada. I am planning to travel to BC next year and was wondering if you can recommend some RV parks near Vancover. My rig is simular ro yours.

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

Hi Gerald,

There aren't a whole lot of options around here... so here's what we can tell you:

Capilano River RV Park: on the north side of the Lion's Gate bridge, it's the closest place to downtown. Sites are narrow and the place books up fast in the summer. If your RV is over 40', there are limited spaces you can fit in. And since you have to cross the Lion's Gate bridge to get to downtown Vancouver, traffic can be an issue. But it's CLOSE! Burnaby-Caribou RV Park: outside of Vancouver in Burnaby, this is a bigger place (although, again, the sites tend to be tight and there are limited number available for 40+' RVs). It's about a 12-mile/35-minute drive into downtown from there. Or, you can walk about a tenth of a mile (uphill) to get to the Skytrain station... and 45 minutes later be in downtown. Dogwood Campground: even further out (about 21 miles / 40 minute drive), we stayed here for a month back in 2005. More basic, open place (not luxurious by any means... definitely more of a "campground" vibe)... but if it's not full, you'll have more "breathing" room (we had no immediate neighbors when we were there). If you don't want to drive to downtown from here, you can drive about 5 miles to Surrey Central Station and catch SkyTrain to downtown (about a 45 minute ride). Eagle Wind RV Park: The newest RV Park in the area, it's also the furthest out... about 35 miles and a 50 minute drive. If you didn't want to drive all the way to downtown, you'd still need to drive to Surrey to catch SkyTrain.

Hope this helps! There's lots to do in the immediate Vancouver area... as well as the whole Fraser Valley. It's beautiful here!

Gary Jones

Wednesday 16th of May 2018

Just a quick question. We have 2009 Holiday Rambler Neptune. It sits on the Roadmaster chassis which according to Monaco only has 4 service centers. Going to Canada for the month of June. Do you know if First Service Truck center will service this chassis? Would love to make an appointment and drop by on the way home. Love your videos.

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 16th of May 2018

Hi Gary! We can't imagine that the components on your chassis are so specific that they can only be serviced at one of those four locations. After all, a Cummins engine or Allison transmission, etc are the same no matter what chassis they're in. Same thing with the cooling system, fuel filters, air dryer, etc... should all be pretty standard issue equipment (the engine air filter, too, which we do ourselves, so it wasn't done at First Truck). The thing that will likely require special information from the chassis manufacturer is the ride height. Even the location of the zerks for lubing the chassis should be findable by a professional, but maybe ask Monaco if they have a list of those as well.

We'd suggest two things: 1) Call First Truck Centre (the one we went to in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley, is here: http://www.firsttruck.ca/abbotsford/contact/ and their phone number is 778-752-0100). They also have a location in Surrey (which they have listed as "Vancouver" since it's pretty close by). 2) If they say they can service your rig, contact Monaco beforehand and request the ride height specs. That's how we got ours from Spartan, and we keep them handy to be sure the tech has the correct specs wherever we go. And of course be sure you know what services are due that you want First Truck to handle, so you can list them all when you make your appointment. If you need things like coolant flush, transmission service, etc, those take longer and they'll definitely want to know what you're having done ahead of time. Hope this helps a bit. Please let us know how you make out. And be sure to tell them you heard about them through the RVgeeks videos (never hurts). ;-)

One last thing... the "Holiday Rambler" that built your rig went out of business a while back. The resurrected company (owned by the REV Group) might have difficulty providing your ride height specs. If so, their guidance on helping you track them down could be very important. Neither the shop nor the tech will know what it should be without the spec sheet.

Rodney N.

Thursday 10th of May 2018

Always interesting to watch your videos as they are a wealth of information. I have always done my own maintenance on our 2001 Dutch Star as it keeps me involved with the motor home. The closest Freight Liner shop is over 3 1/2 hours away and I would love to have a thorough maintenance check. Maybe someday I'll take the trip to the shop.

One thing I noticed on your video was the zerk fittings after they were greased. It seemed they still had some grease left on the outside. I've always heard to wipe the zerk fittings off after greasing as the grease will accumulate dirt and grit while traveling. If they are not wiped off before greasing there is a chance of the dirt/grit being pushed into the part being greased. Have your heard of this concern?

Gerald Tocher

Thursday 10th of May 2018

Hi Rodney. Good eyes on the video. A recommended practice for any industry is to wipe off grease zerks before greasing. That eliminates any dirt buildup from being pushed into the zerk and contaminating the component being greased. Bearings, u-joints, king-pins, etc. will last longer as a result.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 10th of May 2018

Hi Rodney! Thanks for the comments and question. Always great to hear from a fellow Newmar owner. Since it was hard to see what the tech was doing in a lot of places, we're not 100% sure, but we think he was wiping off the zerks before greasing, for the reason you mentioned... to avoid pushing accumulated road grime into the fittings. We'll see if we can find out more and let you know.

john mitchell 2503923840

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Superb video. I just replaced my tires - 10 years old- that 'looked' good. I found that pushing my thumb from the inside caused separation of the fine cracking on the outside of the tire. Glad to change them out. (2007 coach). Due to health reasons I just downsized my motorhome and found the tires on the 'new 2009' rig were 'rotten and are being replaced today. I believe the unit was stored in the sun - due to sun burned logos and some exposed paint on one side.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Hi John! Congrats on your new-to-you RV. Hope you have many years of great travel in it! But sorry to hear the tires needed to be replaced (we know that's not cheap!), although it's not a surprise based on what you said about likely being stored in the sun. Without proper care and protection from UV, RV tires are doomed to an early demise. We got 10 years out of the tires on our RV... but that was due to having owned the RV since new so we knew every aspect of the tires' care. We knew they'd never been driven over- or under-inflated... had always been protected from excessive exposure to the sun... and had been regularly used so they weren't just sitting, rotting. Plus, we'd had them inspected by professionals after the 7 year mark, to make sure there wasn't something we were missing. On the bright side... now you'll know the condition and treatment of your new tires, so we hope you get lots of good years of life out of them!

Douglas

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Great video thanks. Would like to find an organization like First Truck

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