Taking 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
- 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
- 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.,
- 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