Carry these inexpensive items to save time, money and trouble on the road.
Finding an RV repair shop while you’re on the road can be a challenge. While RV repair shops are numerous, they’re not as common as general automotive repair shops and parts houses. It’s not practical to carry an extensive complement of spares due to space limitations, but the following is a list of several that are pertinent for consideration, along with comments on what to do if you don’t have a specific spare.
LP-gas regulator: When a regulator malfunctions, creating excessive or inadequate gas pressure (you’ll notice a difference in flame height at the gas range), it can be a trip-breaker if you’re dry camping and need gas for the refrigerator, not to mention having to take cold showers. A regulator is an easy spare to carry. $25.
Water pump parts: Impeller parts or an overhaul kit can be handy if debris causes malfunction in one of the pump valves. If the pump motor won’t run, check the fuse and electrical source to make sure power is available at the pump. If you choose not to carry spare parts and the pump fails, you can temporarily use the low-point drains or tank drain to get water in a bucket or pan for everyday needs, including toilet flushing, in event of a pump failure. $20 to $30.
Water pressure regulator: This item is important to avoid water system damage from excessive pressure while connected to city water. In lieu of a replacement regulator, just fill the tank and use your on-board water pump. $11.
AC generator filter: Handy if you need an oil change and the local RV repair shop doesn’t have the filter in stock. $10 to $15.
Thermocouples and electrodes: More essential in cold weather, these spares for a water heater and furnace might save a trip. Universal thermocouples are available to fit water heaters as well as furnaces, but electrodes must be specific to the appliance. Thermocouples $7 to $10; electrodes $13 to $40.
12-Volt-DC fuses: A good selection of fuses is essential, because you might blow two or three while testing what appears to be a short circuit. $10 to $15.
12-Volt-DC light bulbs: Carry two or three spares for the most common incandescent lights. For fluorescent lights, replacement bulbs are fragile to store and you might just wait for replacement at the next parts supplier. $8 to $10.
Sewer drain cap: It’s good to have an extra one if you forget to secure it and it flies away. $4.
Oil: Always carry at least a quart of motor oil. A quart of transmission fluid also is desirable for periodic topping off. $3 to $5.
Other essential or handy RV items: Flashlight batteries, nylon cable ties, silicone or other sealant, duct and electrical tape, and a set of tools for the level of maintenance/repair of which you are capable.
To find spare parts, check local RV dealers and parts/accessory houses. Numerous mail-order sources also are available via the Internet by searching for a specific component part.
On the road, dealerships for your specific brand may be the first choice (the only choice if the warranty is still in effect); independent RV repair shops can address many non-warranty issues.
Parts for gasoline-powered motorhome chassis are available at specific-brand dealerships or at RV dealers authorized to perform warranty work. Diesel-powered chassis usually can be serviced at name-brand truck-repair shops (i.e., Cummins or Caterpillar), or at some full-service RV dealerships.
Along with spare parts, essentials should include reference material that could be helpful, such as an appliance manufacturer’s troubleshooting guide and a parts list for your specific water heater, refrigerator or furnace. These usually can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
And don’t forget to perform recommended maintenance on schedule to minimize component failures.