Those that have had a problem with their recreational vehicle know that it can be a trying situation. RV's require special towing, do not fit in most automotive repair shops and are generally harder for a mechanic to repair, all of which translate into higher repair costs. Higher costs, straying from your travel itinerary and having a greasy stranger in your living room are just a few of the inconveniences that you are likely to encounter while getting your RV repaired.
We find over and over again that batteries are seldom checked and rarely serviced. Many 12-volt DC electrical problems can be traced back to the batteries. These problems range from frequently blown fuses to erratic system operations to failed converters, the latter of which is very expensive for something so easily avoided.
As the owner of a transmission shop, I offer these few tips to keep your RV on the road:
Install an automatic transmission fluid temperature gauge. The transmission in your RV is most likely nothing more than a heavy-duty pickup truck transmission. Yet, RV's require more of their transmissions than the pickups do. The increased load on your transmission usually translates into more heat. As the temperature of the transmission fluid rises, the risk of serious damage to your RV increases. By installing a temperature gauge, you will be able to monitor your transmission fluid temperature and possibly prevent repairs, ranging from changing your transmission fluid to replacing your entire transmission.
Don't ignore your check engine light. When the check engine light comes on, you should be concerned even if your RV seems to drive normally. With the use of modern computers, a mechanic should be able to easily discern whether or not your check engine light is a cause for concern. If you routinely work on you RV, then consider purchasing an OBDII code reader for less than $250. Used in conjunction with a code definition manual, you may save time and expense.
Maintain and monitor your transmission fluid level and condition. Leaks are one of the primary reasons for transmission failures. Your owner's manual can tell you how to verify proper fluid level. Many manuals suggest checking fluid while the engine is running at operating temperature and the RV is in park or neutral. When you check the fluid level, also look at the color. Transmission fluid should be red and does not smell. Dark fluid with a burnt smell could be indicative of a serious problem or a clue that a fluid or filter change is necessary. In addition to recommendations on the proper way to check fluid levels in your RV, the owner's manual will also suggest the frequency of fluid changes.
Have you faithfully maintained and serviced your RV but still find yourself on the side of the road, waiting for a wrecker? If you are taking your RV to a mechanic, the following hints may ease the pain:
1. Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure your mechanic maintains goodbusiness practices.
2. Call or use the Internet to check for a shop with a convenient location or if you are towing a car, consider driving it to the shop to check out their services. Unless the RV is covered by warranty, you should expect to spend more than $2000 for a quality overhaul.
3. Talk to the shop's manager or owner about your problem.
4. Does the shop have a warranty that accommodates your traveling? Consider
using a nationwide franchise chain or a remanufactured transmission
from an original equipment dealer for enhanced protection.
So before the next time you turn that ignition key, you might ask yourself, do I feel lucky? If not get out and check those fluid levels.
Chuck Stasny, Owner
Houston Astrodome Location