Traveling the country by motorhome is one of the most amazing experiences we have ever embarked on. Taking in the views from the open road, exploring the nooks and crannies of nature’s incredible features, and doing it all from our home on wheels just can’t be beat! We have everything we need with us wherever we go, and we move on our own schedule. Our Vacationer has been our home (and office) for over 2 years now and it has taken us all over the USA in comfort and style!
As with any home, our Holiday Rambler needs periodic service and maintenance to keep it rolling smooth and performing well. Keeping up with these items isn’t the most glamorous part of living life on the road, but it is necessary to help prevent major repairs, keep things operating smoothly, and making sure your family is safe as you travel. Over the last 2 years we have found our rhythm with routine maintenance, figured out how to get some repairs done, and learned a thing or 2 about how upkeep with a coach is different than it is with a stick and bricks home. In this article we’ll explore all the different ways to maintain your coach, where to find service when traveling, and keeping track of all the different areas to pay attention to. So, come along with us as we explore maintaining a coach on the road!
Road trips are the best, I can’t state that enough. Cruising down the highway in the comfort of your coach with your family, amazing views out of the massive windshield, and your own bathroom to use at rest stops. What more could you ask for? Well, life isn’t perfect, and things can and will go wrong. But if you’re prepared, those moments won’t last, and you can get back to the good stuff sooner! That’s why the first thing we did before hitting the road was to get a good roadside assistance program. This is one of those things you hope you don’t have to use, but you’ll be so happy you have it if you do need it. Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance, and of course there are some independent ones too. You’ll just need to be very specific about the fact you are driving a motorhome when selecting your program. This will ensure they send the correct techs to you in case you need roadside service.
Another essential item to set up before your trip is a good maintenance log to keep track of your services and intervals. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and there are a couple apps out there that can help with this task. Or, if you’re like us, you can create your own log in a good ole Excel spreadsheet! I set ours up with multiple tabs including one for the coach, another for our toad vehicle, and a 3rd for our onboard generator. The column headers include things like date of service, service performed, service provider, location, cost, and mileage. Any time we have service done or do it ourselves, we add it into the spreadsheet for our records. It’s a good way to keep track of when regular or scheduled maintenance (oil changes, tune ups, etc.) should be performed next, as well as maintain a record of longer-term items (tires, suspension components) and any repairs along the way. These records come in handy for us and as a reference for any future service providers that may need to know what and when services were completed. It may also come into play should you have a need for a warranty claim on anything requiring service.
We sometimes get asked HOW we get service done when we’re on the road. It’s an honest question, considering the size of our coach, its not like we can just swing into the oil change shop on the corner. And the answer is that there are several ways to have your motorhome serviced, depending on what it is you need done. From minor maintenance to complicated repairs, we have utilized all 5 of these options.
The first way we get service done on the road is to DIY it. I (Spencer) am pretty handy and have a pretty good working knowledge of mechanical things. So, on our gas engine Vacationer, I perform the regular maintenance on it including things like oil changes, filter changes, and wiper blade replacement. I also do the service items on our Onan generator such as oil changes, spark plug and fuel filter replacements. It doesn’t get more convenient than being able to run to the local parts store to get what I need and spend a few hours taking care of the service myself.
But what if you’re not handy, or you just prefer not to do your own maintenance? A good way to get routine level service items taken care of is to find the closest RV dealer that can service your coach. It’s a good bet that if the dealership sells the brand of coach that you own, then they will probably also perform service on it as well. The caveat here is being able to line up your service with where you are, your timing, and the service departments availability to get you in. This can be a juggling act depending on where you are and the time of year, but it’s a good option if you have a flexible schedule. And in our case, our Vacationer is built on a Ford F-53 chassis which means that some Ford dealerships may be able to service chassis level maintenance and repairs. Be sure to call first because not all dealerships have the capacity to service large vehicles.
The next option comes into play when you’re stuck somewhere and can’t get to a service facility. This happened to us recently when we were preparing to leave a campground and head to our next destination. A week before we left, I checked the TPMS (tire pressure management system) and discovered that one of our tires had a screw in it and would not hold pressure. It was one of our front tires on the steer axle and I was not about to risk driving it to have it fixed. So, after a few calls, I was able to find a truck tire center that had the size I needed in stock (2 of them to replace both tires) and had a mobile service tech that could come to me. This was so helpful because even if I had a spare, this is not a job you can do yourself. With a vehicle this heavy and wheels and tires this big, changing a tire requires some specialized knowledge and tools. The tech had our tires changed in an hour and we were set to go! There are also mobile RV tech businesses popping up all over that can come to you and perform any kind of repair or maintenance you may need to have done on your coach. This is also great for things like RV washes as well (especially useful in winter or near beaches with salty ocean air). They save you the hassle of trying to find a place to take it to. And in our case where we live in our coach full time, it saves us from having to find a hotel while our RV is being serviced.
One place we didn’t realize we could get service was at an RV rally! We attended an FMCA rally in Wyoming and learned that, in addition to all the product vendors on-site, there were also service providers of all sorts as well. The REV Group had a team of techs there that came to us to fix a couple minor repairs we needed. Additionally, there were also RV wash services and specific equipment repairs as well. We were able to get our vehicle tow bar serviced while we were there which was awesome. So if you plan on attending a rally along your travels, it can be a good place to have your coach serviced in addition to all the fun you will have!
One of the best options for getting service done on your motorhome is a manufacturer Certified Service Center. They can perform any service you may need and are the go-to option for major or specialized repairs. We had a leak under our shower that I just could not figure out how to access. So, we took our Vacationer to the REV Service and Repair Center in Decatur, IN. The REV Group is the parent company for Holiday Rambler so we knew they would have the expertise to handle our repairs. Not only were they able to fix our leak, but we had them inspect and fix a few other minor things as well while we were there. The best part was that they had 50-amp power hookups in the parking lot of the service center so that we could still sleep in our coach at night and didn’t have to get a hotel! And while our coach was in the shop during the day, there was a lounge complete with work centers, TVs, coffee area, and even laundry machines for customers to take advantage of.
No matter where you may roam, you can find several different ways to keep your coach operating at peak performance. With the popularity of RVing on the rise in recent years, having multiple service options is key to getting things done in a time frame that works for you. Be sure to keep all of these in mind so you can spend more time exploring and enjoying the ride!
Meet Spencer, Kristi and Kade, a.k.a. the Adventurtunity Family! In September 2020, they embarked on an adventure to live full-time in their 37′ Holiday Rambler Vacationer. Originally from Baltimore, they have traveled the country in their RV and are sharing their adventures, insight and tips with others in the hopes of inspiring them to hit the road and explore, too.