10 Most Common Motorhome And RV Problems You Should Know Before Buying

By Duane Beckett
Credit: Motorhomes / Wiki Commons

A motorhome or RV can be a family’s pride and joy. Offering a quick escape anytime that family needs it. Yet, if you’re looking at buying a motorhome or RV on sale, then you should expect these common motorhome and RV problems when shopping about.

Whatever you do, don’t let common problems put you off. A motorhome or RV offers a family grand adventures with homely comforts.

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Here are the 10 most common problems to know about before buying a motorhome or RV:

10. HVAC Issues

  • The importance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems is truly only realized when it is broken.
  • The chance of you running into an HVAC issue is relatively high.
  • It could be something simple like a clogged air filter reducing the cooling system’s effectiveness, thereby choking the airway and leaving you with no refreshing breeze.
  • Or there could be some ill-performing component, like a broken thermostat, throwing the whole HVAC system out of working order.
  • Often, you can quickly figure out the source of the problem via a volt ohmmeter.
  • If your air filters and thermostats are up to the mark, there is a possibility of a Freon leak. Freon is a chemical used to create cold air. Visible traces of ice deposits can be detected around your AC unit. If so, you’ll need to get experts in.

9. Broken Refrigerator

  • Refrigerators can fail for several reasons.
  • One of the visible features of a broken refrigerator is when it stops cooling properly (obviously).
  • Improper circulation of the fluid through the cooling unit is the primary cause of a refrigerator losing its cooling capacity.
  • Another reason is if the fridge hasn’t been used for a while, the ammonia liquid creates sediment that settles down to the bottom of the cooling unit. This sedimented liquid hampers the cooling capacity of the refrigerator by preventing the ammonia from circulating correctly.
  • Simply put, if after an hour your refrigerator isn’t cooling, you’ve got a long-term problem.

8. Battery Failure

  • Before buying, make sure you’ve got new or well looked after batteries. Batteries have to be well maintained as they can fail if they’re not.
  • You have got to charge your batteries every 7-10 days by running the engine for an hour.
  • If the lights do not get turned on or the outlets do not work, or if the motor does not start, there is a high possibility that your RV/motorhome is suffering from battery failure.
  • An RV without a good battery significantly loses its appeal.
  • Imbalanced fluid levels, undercharged battery, and prolonged battery cable connection, even if the RV/motorhome is not in use, can cause battery failure.

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7. Window & Roof Leaks

  • In terms of motorhome and RV problems go, water leaks from a window or roof are pretty much inevitable.
  • No matter how high-tech technology is used in its development, sealants harden and crack with motion and age, causing leaks.
  • Direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays, poor weather, and low-hanging branches also cause roof and window to leak.
  • These leaks can cause some serious havoc on your motorhome/RV and your overall experience.
  • Stained interiors, damaged delicate moving parts, short-circuiting in the internal electric system, and rust out metal fixtures are common ill effects of leaks.

6. Tire Blowout

  • If you’re carrying a lot of weight in your motorhome/RV, tires can become less reliable as they gain wear and tear.
  • Consider this, if you’re traveling over poorly kept and bumpy roads, the above mentioned wear and tear, with the weight, the chances of a tire blowout increases.
  • A tire blowout is very dangerous on a motorhome/RV because of its heaviness and size.
  • Uneven pressure, unattended puncture, and abnormal inflation in the tire can also be one of the causes of its blowout.
  • Tires are highly vulnerable to road debris, so always check your tires and stop motorhome and RV problems before they happen.

5. Burst-Water Lines

  • It is one of the most common RV and motorhome problems that occurs during that first trip after a long cold winter. Water starts running everywhere as soon as you turn on the water pump.
  • Finding the leak is a herculean but not an impossible task as you just have to rummage through the cabinets and storage areas.
  • The water lines of an RV/motorhome can freeze, which can cause them to split. This leads to a cut in the waterline, and these cuts are what causes water to leak.
  • Once found, fixing a waterline can be a quick or a fiddly task. Yet, unless components need replacing, it should be cheap to solve.

4. Toilet Malfunctions

  • This is one of the common motorhome and RV problems you’ll hate most. So, be prepared and have a toilet plan B for your family.
  • Not only is a toilet malfunction annoying, but it can also be unhealthy, and unhygienic.
  • You can identify a problem when the water keeps running from the toilet bowl or doesn’t stay in it.
  • Another way of determining this issue is the misshaped rubber seal around the large valve, or when the water valve is not closing completely.
  • There is nothing which anyone can do to avoid this problem as it is bound to happen after years of use.
  • Before any big family adventure, maintain the toilet, check the holding tanks, and everything that connects. A 20-minute check can save a weekend of arguments.

3. Slide-Out Situations

  • It is often said, “Anything that moves is prone to issues.”
  • Since a motorhome or RV is full of moving parts, that are fixed into a vehicle that bounces, sways, and rocks, it is inevitable your slide-outs will at some point have an issue. It’s just physics.
  • If the slide-out arms are not mechanically well-oiled, you are bound to face sticky situations in the first place.
  • Sometimes faulty wiring or a weak battery can also cause an electrical slide-out not to work.
  • At times, there is an electrical issue or insufficient power to get the slide-out to go because of a blown fuse or wiring issues. 
  • Like with most of these common motorhome and RV problems, test them out before you set out.

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2. Break Issues

  • Driving such a heavy vehicle increases the frequency of breaking.
  • Over time, specific brake components will wear down due to unavoidable stress on components.
  • Such a heavy vehicle uses either an electrical or hydraulic braking mechanism.
  • Poorly calibrated rotors, excessive brake shoe wear, master cylinder problems, and other issues leave the driver without a proper braking system.
  • Simply put, maintain, and test your breaks regularly. Don’t let this be one of the common motorhome and RV problems you face.

1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Carbon monoxide leaks happen more often than you would like to think.
  • The fact it happens with any kind of frequency forces us to put this as one of the motorhome and RV problems on this list.
  • Like any other vehicle, a motorhome or RV generates carbon monoxide, the difference, a motorhome, and RV have more vents through which carbon monoxide can seep in.
  • This happens mostly when something else is broken on the vehicle.
  • Yet it is easy to detect with a carbon monoxide gas detector. So, add one, and don’t take the risk.