Are RVs expensive to maintain?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are RVs expensive to maintain? We will discuss the basic maintenance costs of an RV, so that you know what budget to prepare!

Are RVs expensive to maintain?

Truth is, RVs can be quite expensive to maintain, especially older vehicles. But just like a car, a motorhome must be maintained, insured, overhauled. These expenses are costs that must be taken into account when purchasing a motorhome, such as an annual technical inspection or leakage check

There are other user costs to consider as well. These vary depending on how you use your RV, how often you use it or the number of kilometers you cover each year: tires, fuel, gas cylinders, etc.

Let’s try to measure the costs inherent in these costs on the basis of an operator travelling on average between 10,000 and 15,000 km per year, the national average.

  • Insurance: because you use your car more often than your motorhome, insurance will naturally be less expensive. Count on average $300 to $400/ year depending on the insurance formula chosen.
  • Technical inspection: as with cars, the technical inspection of a motorhome is carried out 4 years after its new purchase and then every two years. Or around $75/ year.
  • Fuel: a motorhome consumes more than an automobile. Between 8l and 12l per 100 km. Based on an annual use of 10,000km, therefore count around $1,700 of fuel / year.
  • Tightness check: if it is not mandatory, this is strongly recommended, at an annual frequency, i.e. on average $80/ year.
  • Gas cylinders: an average value of 25 dollars per unit. Their consumption is estimated at around 5 per year.
  • Tires: if the unit price of a motorhome tire is higher than that of a car tire (although this can be distorted depending on the model of car you own), you will change it less often since you will drive less with your motorhome. 

The cost inherent in this expense item will depend on many criteria including the type and brand of tires chosen as well as the number of kilometers you will cover with your RV. 

  • Essential equipment after purchase: dishes, cookware, duvets, pillows, wedges, water hose, a box of spare fuses, electrical connection, fire extinguisher and kit first aid… To equip yourself with the essentials, it takes around $300 for two people and $400 for a family (4-5 people). It’s an investment, however, once you’ve bought it all you can think of the holidays!
  • Security equipment (optional): the GPS tracker allows you to follow your motorhome in real-time.  As recommended safety equipment, you also have the rod to block the steering wheel (its price is around $15).
  • Maintenance products (toilet cassette, grey water tank, etc.) cost around $250 per year. We advise you to favour products adapted to the motorhome to keep a motorhome in good health.
  • The tire change is to be expected every 5 years (or 30,000 kilometres) and costs on average $150 per tire.
  • The oil change, the brake pads … are part of the usual maintenance to ensure the safety and proper functioning of your vehicle (between $130 and $150/year). 

 Other RV travel expenses

  1. Fuel: RVs run mainly on diesel and consume between 8 and 12 litres per 100 kilometres. The Mappy application allows you to calculate the price of fuel based on your vehicle. Note that some heaters work with diesel.
  1. Tolls: an RV is class 2, the price of tolls is higher than that of a car. The Mappy application offers a motorhome option and allows you to calculate your toll costs. You can also choose to take your time and avoid the highways!
  1. The gas bottle: it is essential for cooking and having hot water in your motorhome. Generally, the heating of the cell also works with gas. It takes 1 to 2 bottles per year. However, it will all depend on how often you use it and if you are travelling in cold areas.
  1. Overnight parking: the price depends on the region and the facilities. On average, it is € 10 for a service area and $20 for a campsite. You also have the possibility of opting for free solutions (download the Park4Night application to find them easily). 
  1. The ferry: its cost varies depending on the size of your motorhome. For more information, here is our dedicated article: Taking the ferry with your motorhome.

The costs of RV storage

When you are not driving it, you must park your RV somewhere … If you cannot store your motorhome at home, you can go to a storage centre.  The price varies depending on the length of your motorhome. A year, it takes around $300 for parking.

To protect your motorhome during bad weather, a motorhome cover is the best solution. On average, its price is around $330, depending on the vehicle’s size.

Maintain your RV yourself

Of course, maintaining the RV by yourself can represent a source of savings. Do not forget, however, that the revisions contained in the manufacturer’s warranty can be free, if the problem is attributable to manufacturing, material or assembly defect (apart from normal wear, improper use, external cause, etc.).

The principle of “self-maintenance” has some limits, which lie in:

  • the complex or electronic tools that one must have and know how to master;
  • the time to devote to it;
  • installation available;
  • the necessary mechanical knowledge.

In addition, be aware that:

  • Some operations such as replacing the timing belt, brakes or clutch are tedious or even dangerous.
  • As for the refill of the fluid of the motorhome air conditioner, it is prohibited for private individuals.

Conclusions

Typically, you can plan to spend hundreds of dollars a year on maintenance, repairs, and upkeep, but much more if you run into serious problems. 

Sooner or later you will face costs like these and you cannot ignore them. In many cases, they appear in batches that must be dealt with immediately. For this reason, you must ensure that you have enough money on hand to maintain your trainer so that it maintains its value and functions properly.

Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions to improve this article. 

FAQ on Are RVs expensive to maintain?

How much does it cost to replace a roof on an RV?

On average, the costs to replace a roof on an RV is $300 per linear foot. This means that for replacing the entire roof of a 30 feet long RV you could pay $9000 (labour cost and materials included in the price). 

What is the cost of living in an RV vs a house?

Living in an RV can certainly be cheaper than living in a house or apartment. The cost of living in the United States is more expensive than in 79% of countries in the world, no wonder many choose the RV life!

What are the costs of installing RV hookups?

The costs of installing RV hookups will depend on whether you will do it by yourself, or hire a professional team. 

  • Cost to install an RV water hookup: 20 to 30 dollars by yourself, and around 600 dollars for a professional team.  
  • Cost to install an RV electric hookup: You can pay $1000-$1500 for an electrician, or DIY for almost nothing.
  • Cost to Install an RV sewer hookup:— You will take around $3000 out of your pocket for an RV-specific septic tank, or you can use a current sewage disposal system for free.  

What are the costs to replace an RV air conditioner?

The cost to replace an RV air conditioner is between $600 and $3500, plus the labour costs which can add even $600 depending on the types of air conditioner you are replacing and its location

References

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