MotorHome Repair Service With a Smile

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
    problems.
  • 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.

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