Navigating Unplanned Vehicle and RV Maintenance

10 Tips to Help Your RV travels Run Smoothly
Karen and Lenny Blue family - Airstream Flying Cloud - interior maintenance

Hello nomads! My name is Karen Blue and I have been traveling North America with my husband and daughter in our 2019 Airstream Flying Cloud, towed by our Ram 2500 truck, for the last five years. Traveling the open road has been an unforgettable experience.  We have covered over 125,000 miles, and as you might expect, some unexpected maintenance challenges have popped up. Through these trials, we've gained valuable insights that we hope will help you resolve travel issues swiftly so you can get back on the road.

  1. Pre-Planning Service Visits

    We purchased our truck and RV new in 2018 and had a full warranty when we hit the road. Since we were always on the go, we visited two dealers for regular service and warranty issues: the dealer where we purchased our RV, as well as a dealer near my family in California.  We knew we would be close to both dealers at least once per year and usually at a time when we took a break in our travels, which made it easier to plan service department visits.  If you are not traveling in a new vehicle or RV, planning a service visit to get everything in top operating order should be one of your first priorities.

    Karen and Lenny Blue family - Airstream Flying Cloud - truck maintenance

  2. Extended Warranty or Maintenance Fund

    Since we purchased our RV five years ago, we are now well out of our warranty. We did consider purchasing extended warranties, but opted instead to set aside a maintenance fund for mechanical emergencies. Our fund includes money for hotels or car rentals for times when our RV is out of commission during extended repairs on the road, which has been a lifesaver.

  3. Document Maintenance and Repairs

    Keep detailed records of all maintenance and repairs. This log is your RV or tow vehicle’s health journal and helps mechanics diagnose issues more efficiently. Plus, a well-documented history can enhance resale value if you ever decide to part ways with your RV.

  4. Be Aware of Dealer Service Wait Times

    We have found that over the last few years many dealer service centers have long waiting periods. So, planning your route with routine maintenance in mind can make a significant difference. When we strategize our routes around service centers, we turn it into an integral part of our adventure. If our Airstream is being serviced and we know it will take a few days, we like to use it as an opportunity to mix things up by staying in an Airbnb near our destination. We like to take advantage of the extra space and other amenities we don’t always have in the RV.

    Karen Blue - Airstream Flying Cloud

  5. Local Mechanics and National or Regional Chains

    As you continue your RV journey, local mechanics and large chains are an excellent alternate option to dealer service centers. Just as we had used a few service centers in various locations for warranty work, we have built relationships with local mechanics over the years. Also, seeking a second opinion for us has proven to be a time and money-saving tactic. For instance, when one service center told us recently all four brakes needed replacement, we went immediately to Les Schwab for a free no-pressure inspection and discovered that our front brakes were still over fifty percent and only our rear brakes required immediate attention. This saved us time and hundreds of dollars.

  6. Become a Handy Road Warrior

    While we're not all born mechanics, learning a few basic DIY repairs can be empowering. Prepare an emergency toolkit with essential spare parts specific to your RV or tow vehicle. Familiarizing yourself with tasks like changing a tire, replacing fuses, and handling minor electrical issues can save you time and money when facing simple on-the-road fixes. A diagnostic tool like FIXD has given us peace of mind when the check engine light comes on for noncritical issues that occurred miles from civilization. Alternatively, most major auto parts stores will also run a diagnostic test for free.

    Karen and Lenny Blue family - Airstream Flying Cloud - exterior maintenance

  7. RV Forums and Social Media

    In today's digital age, online resources can be your virtual roadside assistance. Joining online RV forums and building a community on social media enables you to connect with other travelers who may be able to provide advice and solutions for common maintenance issues. When we had a problem near Albuquerque, I posted a story on our Instagram channel asking for recommendations and received more help and kind encouragement than I could have imagined.

  8. Ask the Locals and Read Reviews

    Local campsite hosts are also an excellent resource and often have valuable insights into reputable repair shops in the area. When you call, let the service department know they were referred to you, and that you are traveling. This can sometimes lead to quicker service and personalized attention. If you can’t find a local recommendation, Google and Yelp can help you access real-time reviews for a shop in the area.

  9. Roadside Assistance

    When a fix is beyond your capability and you are stranded, roadside assistance is your best friend.  Enroll in a reliable roadside assistance program tailored for RV travelers. Many programs offer towing, tire changes, fuel delivery, and lockout assistance. When choosing coverage for your RV, check to see if it also covers any tow vehicles or towables; otherwise, you may be stranding a vehicle behind and dealing with multiple tow companies.

  10. Prioritize Safety - Address Urgent Repairs Promptly

    Safety should always be your top priority. If you encounter critical issues with your RV or tow vehicle, prioritize addressing them promptly. Ignoring safety concerns can lead to more significant problems down the road, endangering your family and other road users.

With these practical tips and suggestions, you're now better equipped to navigate the challenges of unexpected vehicle maintenance like a seasoned road warrior. From embracing DIY repairs to prioritizing safety and being proactive in finding reputable mechanics, you're well-prepared to handle on-the-road adventures.


Lastly, remember every bump in the road is an opportunity for growth and learning. Appreciate the honesty and skilled work of a great mechanic, and don't let these challenges overshadow the joy of traveling freely with your loved ones. While maintenance issues can be frustrating, your positive attitude and preparedness will allow you the opportunity to jump right back into your adventures. Cherish every moment, embrace the journey, and keep on rolling!

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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Whether you're new to the world of RVing or you're ready to narrow your search, we're here to help you sort through it all and find the RV that's right for you. Explore RVs based off of your lifestyle and the features important to you.

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