RV Warranty - How to Tackle Needed Repairs

We were so happy to pick up our Grand Design RV from the dealership where she was having some warranty work done.
You have finalized the sale and taken your new RV camping a few times.  Now,  you start to notice a few issues here and there.  It happens to every single RV owner at some point.  How you work through RV ownership issues from the beginning will set the tone for the overall experience.  I see lots of angry posts in RV groups about warranty issues and maintenance.  But, what is the best way to handle problems with your RV?

RV Warranty - How to Tackle Needed Repairs

When you buy a car, you know that there will be regular maintenance.  There might be an occasional warranty claim or a recall on something on your vehicle.  Does that keep you from buying a car?  It may form a specific automobile manufacturer, but you will buy something to drive.  We know these things happen and accept them as part of the ownership process.  RV's are no different from owning an automobile or even a household appliance.  It is just on a bigger and more complicated scale.

Sure, there are quality checks before the RV leaves the manufacturer and the dealership.  I think it is nearly impossible to anticipate every little thing that could and might go wrong after an owner takes possession of their new RV.  Before you stop reading or start sending me angry emails, keep reading.  Take a deep breath if you feel your blood pressure going up along with all the bad words rolling around in your head or mumbling under your breath.  I'm not crazy or a sucker.  I think I'm a level headed consumer.

Once you start using your RV, you put it through the paces that are almost impossible to test in a simulated environment.  You are towing up and down the road.  There are bumps, turns and just life in general happening to your RV.   There can also be missteps and mishaps in your day to day operations of your RV.  We don't intend to abuse our RV's.  Without proper use and care, we can damage our investment.  This is easy for a newbie or even a seasoned RV owner to do in a new rig.  RV's have a lot of moving parts, and the operation of one RV to the next can be both similar and very different.  There is certainly a learning curve involved.

The sink had an occasional leak that was fixed under warranty.

Understanding Your Warranty

From the start, make sure you clearly understand the warranty that comes with your RV purchase.  Every manufacturer offers different warranties.  This is the first step to being a responsible owner.  During the time period in which the RV warranty lasts, I encourage you to address any problems or challenges that might incur.  Don't put these things off.  Even if it means changing some of your travel plans, I believe you should take care of these items as soon as possible.  We purchased our RV in July.  At the end of November, we made arrangements to take our RV in for some warranty work.  We knew that we would not be in a hurry for the work to be completed in December.

Write down the dates of your warranty coverage (start and end) for each area of your RV.  Your roof may have different warranty coverage from some of the other features.  So, be sure to understand each component part.  Ask questions if you are unsure.  I encourage you to do this at your walkthrough.  But, you can always contact your dealer or manufacturer after you take ownership of your RV.

There was also a gap under the shower that was repaired.

Warranty Claims Process

Take photos of anything that concern you.  I reached out to Grand Design (our RV manufacturer) and inquired about our concerns to see if they were covered by the warranty.  Grand Design was very responsive from the start.  Your manufacturer can tell you the process of having warranty work done.  I recommend starting at the manufacturer level for two reasons.
  1. The manufacturer is ultimately the one that will work with both you and the dealer (service provider) to approve warranty work that is to be completed.  
  2. A change in personnel at the dealer level might not provide the best or quickest information.  
I also recommend doing everything in writing so that there is a paper trail that you can reference in case you have problems.  Don't anticipate problems or be pessimistic about warranty work.  It is unlikely that you will encounter them, but I think a paper trail is a good check and balance system.  Conducting your business in writing sets the tone for a professional working relationship with your manufacturer and dealer.  I also feel like I can express myself better in writing.

Don't think that I am saying that you can never call the dealer or manufacturer.  But, it is more efficient to email your requests and information.  If you don't hear back in a timely manner, send a second email or make a call.  I recommend calling to make an appointment to have the warranty work done and ask for an email address when you can send the necessary claim information or photographs to the service department before you arrive.

Make a list of everything that might need to be addressed so all the work can be completed at once.  There is no need to piece mill the work in small increments.  We had a window seal that needed replacing, my kitchen sink had a leak and there was a place under my shower that wasn't correctly joined.  We also asked that the antennae for the television be checked since it seemed to have issues.  Finally, we arranged to have everything washed, waxed and winterized.  There was a special on these services, so it was worth the money.  I know this sounds like a long list, but why not just do it at once?

Because I had photos of my concerns and correspondence from the manufacturer to share with the dealership, the process was easy and effortless.  The work was done, and that was it!  When we picked up May Belle, she was as good as new.  And, we may have found the dealer where we will buy our next RV.  Johnny Bishop RV in Columbus, MS was amazing.  The service personnel is polite and friendly.  Even though we purchased our RV from a dealer out of state, they were happy and willing to work with us.

The gap in the window in our living area was another warranty claim.

Communicate Clearly

Stick to your script and the task at hand.  After all, what you want is an RV that is functional and working properly.  Avoid getting on social media groups and blasting your manufacturer or dealer will all of the issues that make you mad.  This will solve nothing.  These issues cannot be addressed if you don't make a list, photograph them and arrange for the work to be done.  No amount of ranting and raving will fix that.  Period.  Just don't do it.  Its a waste of energy.  

If you are unhappy and on the verge of a hysterical reaction, stop.  Make a list of what has happened.  Then, list why you are unhappy or unsatisfied.  Take some photos of the aforementioned items.  Then look back at your lists.  If you are unhappy because you think the dealer or manufacturer is a bunch of buffoons, ask yourself how you can word this in a way to help get your work done.  Some of the best ways to express frustration are to revisit why you purchased that RV in the first place.  For example:
  • "We purchased our RV from your dealership because you are local to our community, and I wanted to support our local workers while having convienient access to service."
  • "We saved for this RV purchase for 5 years.  Our family was so excited to begin our camping journey together, and now we are unable to enjoy a purchase that was supposed to be fun."
  •  "Our RV purchase was been a big disappointment because we feel like more things are broken than are working."
Tact will get you everywhere.  One of the managers at Johnny Bishop told me herself that if a customer is polite, she will bend over backward to help them.  Give the dealership and manufacturer time to work with you and fix the problems.  Because after all, I don't think that dealers or manufacturers set out to sell anyone a lemon or product that won't reflect well on them.  The RV industry is a business that relies on happy campers to continue to support their brands and craftsmanship.

We didn't anticipate finding that our truck's charging wire was not charging our battery, but we were glad we found this out before leaving the dealership last week.

Silver Linings

Sometimes when you take your RV to the dealership for work, there is a silver lining to the process.  For us, this was true.  Our tongue jack wouldn't work when we tried to activate it to hitch up.  The gentlemen at the dealership came out to help us and quickly realized that our charging wire from our truck had not been charging our battery.  Because the RV had been sitting for a while, the battery was dead.  They also went on to explain that because the charging wire was not working that we would need to plug in our RV at home to ensure the tongue jack worked later that day.  This is something that we need to have repaired.  It could be a blown fuse.  I'm glad this happened where we had some knowledgeable people there to help us.  

Look at a trip to the dealer as an opportunity to identify things that you don't even know need to be tackled.  They also informed us that we didn't have a safety pin in our hitch that was required by law to have in place when towing.  One of the managers inside gave me one even though I offered to pay for it.  Again, another silver lining and great service.  Use these needs to help gain additional knowledge from experts.  I feel like I learn something every time we visit the dealership.  That additional help and knowledge didn't cost me a dime.

May Belle back at home on her new parking pad!

Final Thoughts

I didn't want to take our brand new RV to the dealership to have work done six months after the purchase.  But, an RV is like a tiny house on wheels moving down the road.  And when you start towing from place to place, it can and will happen.  Work through the kinks.  Be prepared for that.  Once you sort it all out, your ownership experience should be smooth sailing.  The whole point of a warranty is to address the needs you have as an owner after the purchase.  Take advantage of that service.  It is there for a reason.  Whatever you do, don't procrastinate on having work done while allowing your warranty to run out.

One final step is regular maintenance and proper use of your equipment.  If you take care of your investment, it should last you for a long time.  I find that many of the issues that I read about are where people allowed issues to linger or just simple user error.  If you have a basic question, field it to your social media group.  These groups are great to help you sort out why the furnace smells so bad the first time you turn it on or how to switch your fridge from propane to electric.  But, unless you are expecting your fellow forum members to fix your warranty issues, venting about everything that makes you mad on social media will never make you a happier RV owner.

Until next time...

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