Five Common RV Breakdowns and Motorhome Repairs

Five Common RV Breakdowns and Motorhome Repairs

Just about anything can go wrong with an RV—it’s a house on wheels, after all. Think about all the automotive components that can fail: the engine, transmission, power steering, brakes, radiator. Now add all of the household systems and appliances that can break down: fridge, air conditioner, plumbing, kitchen appliances.

While the combination of house and vehicle provides convenience and mobility to travelers, it’s a pairing that is bound to have drawbacks. As many RV owners can attest, it’s almost a guarantee that things will break down.

Based on the data we collected from service requests among our customers, we’ve identified five common issues that plague motorhome and travel trailer owners across America. Luckily, all of them are covered by ARW’s extended RV warranties.

Water Lines, Water Pumps, and Other Plumbing

Most home plumbing systems don’t travel down the road at 50 mph, so of course RV plumbing will be subjected to additional strain. Water pumps fail, holding tanks develop issues, valves and toilet parts break or malfunction. Shower assemblies sometimes break as well, causing leaks and a trip to a public shower.

Air Conditioning

Climate control is probably the most important advantage an RV has over a tent. During the hottest part of the year, your RV’s air conditioner constantly works hard and draws a lot of power to keep your living space cool.

They’re also exposed to the element and face a rough ride mounted to the roof of your rig.

There are a number of factors that would cause your cabin AC to stop cooling. Rooftop air conditioner units are prone to power issues such as short cycling. Problems with the control board or thermostat can cause this along with numerous other issues.

The average RV repair cost ranges from $600-$3500.

Slide-Outs and Awnings

Slide-out mechanisms are notorious for breaking down, making it difficult for RV owners to make more space in their RV. In many cases, the slide-out room gets stuck in the “out” position, requiring a mobile mechanic to fix the issue before the RV can travel again.

Awnings often cause similar problems, and a malfunctioning awning sometimes means that your RV has to stay put until it can be fixed.

Slide-outs require regular maintenance. Slide-out seals aren’t meant to last forever and should be checked and replaced regularly and part of routine maintenance.


Often unused during the winter months, then subjected to long days of operation during the hottest days of the year. Engine repairs can be minor or major, but with hourly RV service rates averaging well over $100 per hour, don’t expect minor repairs to necessarily be cheap.

That’s why regular maintenance and oil changes are essential to any RV, especially with large diesel motorhomes. Replacing a diesel engine on a Class A RV can cost over $30,000.


Some motorhomes can travel over 100,000 miles and last a decade or more without needing transmission repairs. Others aren’t so lucky, and need transmission work within the first few years of operation.

Transmission repairs, like engine repairs, can be extremely expensive.

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