The True Cost of RV Ownership: How To Save Money on RV Maintenance Costs


If you love to take on adventure and see the country, RV ownership may be the way to see some incredible sites. However, the cost of RV ownership can be a significant financial responsibility since maintenance costs can add up quickly. The good news is that there are tips to follow that can help you keep your RV maintenance costs low.

Why Are RV Repairs So Expensive?

If you want to see the country without sacrificing any of life’s modern comforts, consider the RV life. Remember that convenience comes with the hidden cost of expensive RV repairs. Finding RV technicians who are adequately trained and have the specialized knowledge that it takes to diagnose and repair complex vehicles can take time and effort.

Since these techs are hard to find and in high demand, they typically charge more for their specialized services. RVs also sometimes require high-grade and more expensive parts than the typical automobile. This means that you are not only paying more than usual for your labor costs, but you’ll also see an increased cost for the parts.

These costs may catch you off guard if you don’t have an extended warranty. However, by researching and comparing the cost of an extended auto warranty, you can decide whether CarShield cost would benefit your budget.

Average Labor Costs for RV Repairs

Before purchasing an RV, it’s essential to consider the total investment cost of RV ownership. It’s easy to calculate a loan payment and insurance, but many people need help to plan for the cost of repair. For an RV owner, these costs are high, and failing to prepare for the high RV maintenance costs can cause significant setbacks in your budget.

Whether you’re buying a pre-owned unit or the newest model on the market, you’ll want to ask your service provider about the average repair costs for your RV model. Many variables can affect pricing, including your location, the type of RV, and the severity of the repair.

On average, RV labor costs are between $65-$189 per hour. Once you know the average price of labor, you can multiply it by the time it will take to complete the repair. Each repair is different, and faulty spark plugs will cost you significantly less than rebuilding your transmission.

Typical Large RV Parts Replacement Costs

Though RVing has become an increasingly popular way to explore the world, owning an RV comes with its own set of expenses, including the costs of new parts for repair or replacement. According to experts, typical replacement costs for large RV parts can be anywhere from $300-$30,000, depending on the part needed.

The Average Cost for a New RV Engine

The average cost for a new RV engine is anywhere from $1400- $30,000, depending on the extent of the repair or replacement required. Of course, this will vary depending on the brand and size of the engine you need, as well as any additional parts that may be necessary.

Be sure to consult a reliable RV technician to help determine what is needed to bring your RV back up to speed. In addition to a new engine, other components such as filters, spark plugs, wires, and fuel lines may need to be replaced as well.

When it comes time to replace or repair your RV engine, it is crucial to hire a qualified technician who can ensure that the job is done correctly. A good technician will also provide advice on how to extend the life of your engine and keep it running smoothly for years to come.

The Average Cost for a New RV Transmission

The average cost for a new RV transmission is $1900-$12,000, depending on the type and size of transmission that is needed. This huge price gap is due to the fact that in addition to the new transmission, other components such as filters, seals, and gaskets may need to be replaced or repaired along with the transmission.

As with the engine, it is important to work with a qualified technician who can ensure that your new transmission is installed correctly and properly maintained.

The Average Cost for a New RV Paint Job

The average cost for a new RV paint job can be anywhere from $3,500-$9,000, depending on the size of your RV and the type of paint you choose. A qualified technician will be able to provide an estimate for the amount of work needed and can suggest the best paint type for your vehicle.

If you are considering a custom paint job, it is important to discuss this with your technician as they may be able to offer additional services, such as airbrushing or detailing, that can add to the cost. In addition, you may need to consider any other repairs that may be needed for your RV before painting, such as rust removal, sanding, and priming.

Common RV Repairs and Their Costs

If you are planning a trip to explore the great outdoors in your RV, it is essential to know that common repairs exist and what their costs may be. While many of these repairs are minor and can generally be taken care of quickly, they still require attention and funds.

These could range from something as simple as an oil change – typically around $30 – or a more complex issue such as repairing fuel lines which could run up to around $900.

Here are some common parts to be repaired in an RV and what you can expect to pay for them. The prices greatly vary due to the type of RV, the extent of the issue, and the varying cost of labor in each state:

  • Slideouts – $500-$1,700
  • Refrigerator $600-$3,500
  • Roof A/C- $600-$3,500
  • Transmission – $1,900-$12,000
  • Dash air – $700-$3,800
  • Engine – $1,400-$30,000
  • Fuel system – $600-$3,400
  • Braking components – $500-$2,500

Older vs. Newer Units

When buying an RV, you’ll need to decide between purchasing a new model or an older, pre-owned unit. With a newer model, you get the benefits of state-of-the-art technology and superior construction that ensures your RV is built to last. However, they often come with a hefty price tag and require a larger budget.

On the other hand, opting for an older rig can often save you money upfront. It can also alleviate worries about taking on hefty warranty fees and depreciation costs. However, older models typically come with more maintenance and repair needs, and you’ll need to be prepared to pay for the repairs or learn to complete them yourself.

Make Sure You Can Afford To Pay For RV Repairs

Before committing to an RV purchase, it is important to consider what potential repair costs may look like so that you can be prepared to manage them. These repairs might include engine maintenance, new tires, or bodywork. You should budget for repairs necessary to your RV’s function by creating sinking funds for things like new tires, oil changes, and inevitable maintenance.

How To Prevent Major RV Damage

When it comes to preventing major damage to an RV, the best offense is a great defense. Being proactive is key, and there are many measures you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing large-scale damage!

  • Keeping your RV’s tires properly inflated and regularly checking their treads is a simple measure you can take, as well as making sure that any towable parts like hitches and trailers remain secure.
  • Inspect all components—from brakes to hoses—regularly, so that any potential issues are caught early.
  • Checking fluid levels, power supply connections, and sealing vents for winter storage can also help avoid costly repairs in the future!

By completing routine RV maintenance, you cannot only prevent damage from occurring, but you can also catch minor damage before it can turn into something worse.

How To Prepare a Personal RV Budget

As exciting as it is to think about owning an RV, you need to make sure you have the funds necessary to carry out your plans. That’s why creating a personal RV budget is so important.

Estimate Your Initial Costs

The first step in creating your RV budget is estimating your initial costs. This includes one-time fees such as renting or buying an RV, any taxes or fees associated with owning an RV, and other upfront expenses like insurance, registration, and maintenance costs. These costs of RV ownership will vary depending on the type of vehicle you choose and where you purchase it from.

Calculate Your Monthly Expenses

Once you know how much money you’ll need for your RV trip, you can start calculating your monthly expenses. Start by estimating how many miles you plan to drive each month and then use that number to estimate fuel costs.

Other monthly expenses include camping fees, groceries, laundry costs, tolls, entertainment expenses (museums, attractions), and any additional maintenance costs for repairs or upgrades.

Anticipate Unexpected Expenses

No matter how carefully you plan out your budget ahead of time, there will always be some unexpected expenses along the way. For example, after setting aside money for emergencies like medical care or car breakdowns, consider things like bad weather (which may lead to additional lodging costs) and unexpected delays (which may lead to higher fuel prices). It’s also a good idea to set aside extra funds for experiences like outdoor adventures or special meals in town.


Q: Are There Any Ways To Save Money on RV Repairs?

A: There are several ways to save money on RV repairs.

  1. You should always purchase quality parts and materials for your repair jobs.
  2. Keep up with regular maintenance on your RV so that small problems don’t turn into larger, more expensive repairs.
  3. Do some smaller maintenance tasks yourself if you are comfortable with it.
  4. Look for local RV repair shops or mechanics offering discounts for frequent customers or specific services.

Q: What Type of Maintenance Tasks Can I Do Myself To Save Money?

A: You may be able to do some of the simpler repair jobs, such as oil changes or filter replacements, yourself. If you are comfortable doing so, this can save you a lot of money in the long run.

You can also thoroughly inspect your RV for any potential problems before taking it on a long trip to catch minor issues before they become major repairs.

Q: Is It Worth Getting an Extended Warranty for My RV?

A: That depends on your budget and the type of coverage that you need. An extended warranty can provide peace of mind and coverage for repairs that may be expensive. However, it may not be necessary if you are confident in your ability to do basic maintenance on the RV yourself. It is up to you to decide what coverage you prefer and whether or not an extended warranty is worth the cost.

Maintaining your RV doesn’t have to be an expensive task as long as you understand the true cost of RV ownership. Following these simple tips, you can enjoy your RV for years without breaking the bank.

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Travel Writer at Savoteur | + posts

Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.