Buying a new car or truck has become much like buying a commodity, you purchase it at the lowest price possible (regardless of where the dealer is located) and expect the manufacturer Ford, Chevrolet, etc to stand behind their product via their nationwide networks of dealers when it needs warranty work wherever that may be, and they do.
This process works for several reasons. The manufacturer is just that—a manufacturer; they manufacture the vehicle, control production for the majority of the components the vehicle, train technicians how to diagnosis and repair the vehicle along with knowing how long it should take to diagnosis and repair each item in their vehicle, allow that amount of time for their dealers to repair it and pay their dealerships retail labor rate to make the repair. The reality is the service department of most car dealerships is more profitable than the sales department in today’s economy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way in the RV industry for several reasons.
RV manufacturers aren’t really manufacturers, just assemblers, taking somebody else’s product (door, furnace, sink, rubber roofing, axle, etc) and putting them together to make an RV, much like building a house. Most of the component items carry their own warranty of which the RV manufacturer has no control over.
Since RV manufacturers don’t manufacture their own components, it is difficult for a manufacturer to train service technicians on how to properly diagnosis and repair items.
And since they can’t control the overall quality of their units, it is hard to calculate what they should hold in reserve to cover the warranty costs per unit manufactured, so they try to control warranty costs by shorting the dealer in the time they allot for repairs, paying less than the dealer’s retail rate or making the dealer contact the manufacturer of the component for reimbursement. Needless to say, warranty work is not profitable for the average RV dealer.
To further aggravate the problem, the recent surge in RV sales has left RV dealers scrambling for RV technicians to keep up with the demand for service. While the RV industry has recognized the shortage of technicians and is spending millions hiring teachers, writing curriculum and launching a national training center that will be known as the RV Technical Institute, it will be some time before the shortage of trained and certified technicians fill the void.
Bottom line: Most RV dealers service departments are currently straining to keep up with the demand for service, with a limited number of trained personnel, while still trying to make a profit, so when the choice comes down to performing warranty work for the customer who bought somewhere else (out of town dealer or online and had it delivered) OR servicing somebody that purchased through their dealership, who do you think receives priority?
Being the guy that finds out he can’t get warranty work done by his local dealer is one adventure in RVing I don’t recommend!
See also: Here’s What To Look For In An RV Dealer
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.