TLC For “The Beast” in Eugene, OR (And Tips On Finding Good Repair Spots)
If there’s one part of fulltime RVing that no-one considers “glamorous” it’s RV repair and maintenance. When you live fulltime in your RV, everytime you take it into the shop you’re basically homeless. It’s one of the most frustrating parts of RV travel, yet it’s also one of the most important. Keeping “the beast” humming is essential to our fulltime escapades which, in turn, is essential to our happiness. If “the beast” ain’t happy, no-one is happy! We do basic maintenance (oil change, chassis lube, check of the systems) every year with more advanced service (transmission, tires etc.) as needed. The $$ are fixed into our budget and they’re always painful, but our hope is that with regular maintenance we can avoid larger nasties down the way.
With that said, the big question is not whether to do maintenance, but WHERE to do it. How do you find a reputable repair service? What if you break down in a town you’ve never been to? What do you do with your pets??
These are all great questions. We do a fair amount of the small stuff ourselves (for example the classic time I tackled the tank valves), but most of the bigger work we prefer to take to the professionals and over the years we’ve developed a set of tips and ways to weed out good service. In fact in our 5 years RVing we’ve only screwed up once in service, and our biggest repair (our big slide which took over a month to fix) led us to some of the best repair folks we’ve ever worked with, as well as one of our favorite States (sometimes disasters DO lead to good things).
Here’s some of the tips & who we work with on a regular basis….
Use Friends & Online Resources
In the RV world word of mouth, RV forums & rvservicereviews are your best bets for good service. Whenever we’re checking out a new spot I’ll usually post on the forums, as well check online reviews. Plus, I always ask other RVers about their fav repair spots. It’s not a guarantee of good service, but it’s a substantial start.
Hit RV Manufacturing Locations
A tried and true method to get decent repairs is to go back to where your rig was originally manufactured. Those places typically have more in-depth knowledge of your model than almost anywhere else, and if the spots match your travel plans, it’s an easy decision. Elkhart County, IN is a very popular location since many manufacturers have resources there. I know a lot of east-coast RVers who make Elkhart a regular stop on their yearly travels.
For Monaco/Holiday Rambler folks the area around Eugene, Oregon (specifically Coberg, just north of Eugene) is one of their original manufacturing spots and a gem of repair goodness. Country Coach also has a big operation here, plus Oregon has the added lure of NO sales tax (oh yeah, baby). In fact, it was Eugene that drew us two years ago when we couldn’t find anyone else to fix our big drivers-side slide. After laboring for over a month with a leaky slide we met the three fabulous guys (Marty, Eric & Mark) at Elite Repair & Remodel. Within less than an hour, these wizards had completely fixed what a shop in Colorado couldn’t do in over 2 days (!!) of work. Think we’re fans??? Oh you bet!!
Seek Out Experts For Specifics
Probably one of the biggest pieces of advice I could give to someone who’s getting repairs is to try and go to the experts for your particular problem. The one and only repair screw-up we ever had was when we used a guy who was a suspension expert to work on our transmission. He advertised the service, and his suspension work was impeccable, so we thought that same quality & attention to detail would extend to the transmission work. Oh me, oh my what a mistake!!
If you’re getting engine work done, go to your engine expert. If you’re getting transmission work done, find the transmission guys. If you’re getting new tires, find a quality tire guy. If you’re getting solar….yeah, you get it. Yes, it may take more than one stop and mean you spend more time sitting on your butt in the waiting room, but believe me for peace of mind it’s worth it. For our rig Cummins offers expert work on the engine, while Smith Power Products is an expert on Allison transmissions. For our solar we used AM Solar. That’s how we roll, period…
Get An RV-Specific Towing Service
If your RV breaks-down fatally, you need reputable towing service. Regular car services do not have the faintest clue how to tow a big rig. I recommend spending the $$ on either Coach Net or Good Sam’s. We’ve always had one (we prefer Coach Net, but it’s a close call), have never had to use it (touch wood), but have many friends who have, and believe me when they needed them it was worth it.
And Don’t Worry About The Pets…
One of the biggest worries of RVers is what to do with their pets if their rig breaks down. Honestly we have NEVER had a problem. Every single repair facility we’ve worked with (every single one) has welcomed our pets in their waiting rooms, even the cats. If the place we’re going is only doing external work we’ll sometimes leave the cats in the back bedroom (and close the door), but otherwise we just bring everyone into the waiting room. If our work takes multiple days we usually stay on-site and move everyone back into the rig overnight. All of the spots we’ve used have offered somewhere to stay, and many have even provided limited hookups. If we ever find ourselves in the situation where we can’t stay in the rig, we’ll rent a room at a pet-friendly motel.
We’re currently on day 2 of a 3-day maintenance run in the RV mecca of Eugene, OR. Our first day we went over to visit our fav guys Elite Repair & Remodel. Word of mouth has spread of their 5-star reputation and I was overjoyed to see a substantial row of RVs at their facility in Harrisburg. We gave each other big bear hugs & had them work some minor slide repairs, fix a few mystifying electrical problems as well as measure us up for a new window shade which we’re coming back for in November. Honestly if you ever need any remodel work, these are your guys. Plus, they know Monaco’s/Holiday Ramblers like the back of their hand.
Today we spent ~5 hours at Cummins getting oil change + filters, new air filter, chassis lube, coolant check, general inspection and a new serpentine belt (our old one was showing some wear). Our man Troy worked on the rig, and he rocked.
Tomorrow…new back tires. But tires are a big enough topic that I’ll do a separate post on them 🙂
What about you folks? Do you have a favorite RV repair spot? Any additional advice? Comment & share below…
- Good RV Repairs & The 80/100/100 Rule – Elite Repair & Remodel, Eugene, OR
- Transmission Service Woes (And Lessons Learned)
- Saving $$ & Monitoring Your RV Transmission With $27 Oil Analysis
- RV Solar Power -> Read my entire series HERE
- Nina Vs The RV Tank Valves – A Gripping Tale Of Plumbing Mastery….