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Diesel Motorhome Chassis Service

Helpful DIY Tips on How to Service Your Own
Class-A Diesel Motorhome Chassis

Article Date: August, 2009



Class A motorhomes require scheduled maintenance, just like your passenger car, SUV, or pickup truck. The difference is that they are much larger and more complex so they require a few extra (and bigger) steps to accomplish this. However, it's really not rocket science and if you are the kind of person who enjoys hands on work, has a basic mechanical aptitude, and don't mind getting a bit dirty there's no reason why you can't do most of your own maintenance. If you don't want to deal with this stuff, then this tutorial probably isn't for you and you'll be taking your RV to a service center to have those tasks done.

Doing your own maintenance has several advantages. First of all, if you do want to have others service your RV, you'll need to take it to a facility that is large enough to handle it, which typically means truck service centers. You'll also want to find one with a good reputation amongst fellow RVers. Some truck service centers aren't overly concerned about cleanliness and you have to ask yourself if you would feel comfortable allowing a "grease monkey" access to the inside of your RV. Still others, such as the Cummins Coach Care facilities are specifically geared to RVers and get good reviews by your fellow RVers. Any facility that you choose will have a higher labor rate than your local auto repair shop. Their overhead is higher and this will be reflected in their labor charges to you. That's not bad when it's a serious problem and you are paying for their technical skills, experience, and shop overhead but it can get pricey for simple maintenance tasks that you could do yourself.

Secondly, there's a certain satisfaction in doing this task yourself. Face it, you are the one who cares the most about your RV. Service is more than just changing some fluids, spinning on some filters, and slapping some grease on a few fittings. It's time for an inspection of your coach's "hidden areas". You need to look for anything out of place - a hose rubbing here, cracked belts or hoses starting to dry out there, loose bolts, broken brackets, etc. This takes a careful eye and the willingness to take the time to carefully look things over. A service tech works under time constraints whereas you don't have them so you are more apt to catch things. You'll also become very familiar with your coach over time and be more knowledgeable if you ever have a problem later on.

Performing your own maintenance isn't that hard. In the following paragraphs I'll attempt to give you some helpful tips on how to perform your own basic maintenance work. Granted, not every RV is alike so your details will vary from these details but it will give you an idea of what you need to do. When specifics are mentioned they will refer to my 2007 Allegro Bus 42QRP on a Spartan tag axle chassis with a 400 HP Cummins ISL. The various RVs aren't all that much different so the basic tips should apply to most everyone.

Getting Started

Before we even pick up a tool we need to know what we are doing. Not every RV is the same. Different engines and chassis have different service schedules and they can vary from year to year as well. It's important that you obtain all of the service manuals that you'll need before you get started. Many owner's manuals are written to cover a wide selection of engines or chassis. You will need to read through them and determine which schedule applies to your particular RV. This is critical so that everything gets done at the proper time. When it comes time to service your RV you won't want to be digging through these manuals trying to find these pages, especially with dirty hands. It's best to put together your own checklist that you can follow. Ideally it's in a computerized format so that you can use to keep records of what was done. At the same time you can print it out and use it as a checklist when servicing your coach. Be sure to check each task off once it's been done so that you don't miss anything. Afterwards, transfer your hand written notes, mileage, and date over to your computer. I prefer to use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel to handle this. I've made available a sample service schedule for you to look at. There's an Acrobat "PDF" format copy that anyone can read as well as an Excel spreadsheet that you can save to your computer as a template and modify it to fit your needs as you wish. Remember to use this information as a guideline. Replace it with your specific service requirements. Following are the links to these documents:

Sample Service Schedule - Acrobat Format
Sample Service Schedule - Excel Format

Assuming that we now have our service schedules in hand and we are ready to go we will now need some tools and spare parts, such as filters and belts. Even if we don't want to service our own RV, carrying a certain amount of tools and spare parts can be either handy or a life saver, depending on what the problem is. If your engine dies and a road tech finds that your fuel filter is plugged you can be quickly on your way if you produce the filter for him to install. If you blow a V-belt your coach is dead until it can be replaced. If the nearest service center doesn't have that belt are you willing to wait a day or two until the right belt arrives or would it be handy to simply hand them the belt from your storage area? If a fuse or light bulb burns out it's a simple task to replace it yourself while screwdrivers and basic hand tools are always handy to remount whatever just fell off. You may not want to get into heavy diagnostics so voltmeters, etc may not be your cup of tea but at least a simple test light can determine which fuse is blown or if there is power at any given point.

If you are now performing maintenance work on your vehicles, chances are you have many of the tools that you'll already need. You will need to add a few more though. You'll need some large sized tools as well as a few tools that wouldn't be needed on your passenger vehicles. In addition, your RV is a house on wheels so there's some "home" type tools you'll want to carry as well. We'll split the maintenance tasks up into various sections and cover the tools as well as tasks needed in each particular section.

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