I receive many questions about maintenance costs. Everyone ought to be aware that there are good and bad months and years. Although, in the long run, everything averages out, costs in some years will be higher than in others, and you must expect it.
Good times while RVing always outnumber the bad, but not every day is perfect, and some will be a bit more costly than others. This is the reason I strongly urge every RVer to have a $5,000 emergency fund so they do not have to use travel funds for surprise repairs ? ours is a zero-balance credit card that we can deal with when we return home in the summer. Having a contingency fund in place that you add to on a regular basis also helps to pay for routine upgrades and unexpected repairs.
I have recently ?spoken? to many RVers by email about maintenance costs of RVing. Some years, like 2003 for us, can be exceptionally costly, but most are not. When we drove gas motorhomes we budgeted $3,500 (CDN$) per year for both vehicles, and it frequently came in well under that. (In 1991 our maintenance reached $9,000 on our eight-year-old Kastle #1.) In 2002 our diesel maintenance was $3,000 CDN ($174 for the car) ? no one thing in particular stood out. Most of the past four years have been similar amounts. (P.S. We did spend $4,200 on extensive renovations but that was our choice to make changes? details and photos are posted on www.rvliving.net.)
Well, nothing in life stays the same ? prices (CDN$) listed below are after taxes. Spring of 2002, we updated our tow car ? the new baseplate and lighting cost us $1,300. During the same time, the furnace motor quit on our 1995 Luxor, as well as a check valve on the water pump, plus other miscellaneous things at an additional cost of $1,100. One week later, the check valve on our water heater quit ($100 more) and then the ballast on two 18?? ?thin-lites? stopped functioning at an approximate replacement cost of $70-$80 each. Routine Class B maintenance (oil change lubrication and overall check-up) plus regular tune-up/oil change and replacing some parts on our generator added another $1,300. The service centre hourly rate was definitely on the low side of things. A few items needed replacement although nothing serious was wrong, but the preventive service contributed to our 2003 maintenance cost. (Our Luxor too is eight years old and 2003 was the year for our house portion to demand a little upgrade.)
Next, our windshield cracked in April with a deductible of $300. This meant we had to add new website lettering (plus we installed an Invisible Bra to our new tow car) at another $250. While at Buffalo, dry camping at the FMCA convention, our four-year-old batteries no longer would hold a charge, so four new golf cart batteries added another $580 when converted to CDN$. (I was shocked when the techs told us that most batteries can only expect a lifespan of four years ? anything more is a bonus.)
However we were not done yet that summer. While the coach was coming to life from under a cloud of oxidization thanks to comprehensive detailing the previous summer (approximately $550 for service and miracle products ? photos and details are also on www.rvliving.net), John cleaned the wheel wells and the tires. He discovered that the cracks on the sidewalls of our four-year old front tires were becoming deeper and he no longer felt safe driving our motorhome. (RV tires too have a life between 4-5 years.) So in August we ordered two front tires at a cost of $409 each plus tax. Another $1,000 went towards maintenance (the other four tires are slated for replacement spring 2004. From the middle of April to early August our maintenance for both vehicles reached $6,550. Since August, we have added another $1,000 in furnace control/switch problems, control panel for HWH jacks and repairs to our Power Line Monitor that was damaged during a power surge from a blown main transformer in our park last fall, plus our wall thermostat also needed replacing. All in all 2003 was a costly year.
Remember to look at the big picture to understand your overall cost of RVing. On the days when things look a little black, don?t forget there really is no journey as joyful as seeing North America in an RV. What better way to explore this great continent? With a bit of advance planning your travels will be outstanding and breakdowns non-existent. Enjoy your journey everyone.
Peggi and John are RV Lifestyle Consultants, plus Webhosts of the information website for ALL RVers: www.rvliving.net.
Peggi is author of Spirit of the Open Road and free e-books RV Living: Facts, Tips, Hints and More. Vol I and II.
Early in 2004, Peggi?s new book RVLiving in the 21st Century will be released. Pricing and release date will be featured on her website. 21st Century includes the best of Spirit plus seven years of updates. Spirit will remain on sale (call 1-800-999-0819 to order) until RV Living in the 21st Century is ready for purchase.