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Old 01-12-2015, 04:56 PM   #1
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Nomadic , USA
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Question How do you handle your vehicle maintenance on the road?

I asked this question on Instagram without much input unfortunately: Instagram

I've been changing my oil myself since I was 16yrs old. And if you've followed my feed long enough you know I'm a DIYer and car guy. A matter of fact, I just serviced my front transfer case, rotated my tires and changed my oil this weekend. Next weekend I'm doing a complete coolant flush since my truck is now 5yrs old.

This is the one thing I can't solve outside of Jiffy Lube type places and Costco. Is that just what full-time folks on the road do? Take their rigs to shops or dealers for all service? Do I need to budget for over priced oil changes?

Are there others who get by with the AutoZone/Walmart parking lot redneck style oil change?

Tips, advice, thoughts? Really curious. As much as I see budgets floating around, vehicle maintenance almost never seems mentioned. Let alone where the money went in regards to DIY vs Paid work.

Family of 5 exploring the USA with a Ram Power Wagon & Airstream in tow.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:07 PM   #2
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We were staying at the KOA in Cherokee NC last summer, and I saw a guy one street over changing the oil on his Ford TV. I guess I didn't think too much about it. It all seemed perfectly normal to me.

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Old 01-12-2015, 05:18 PM   #3
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When we were fulltiming, there was an area toward the rear of the park where vehicle maintenance could be performed. Not all RV parks are like that, but the ones we stayed at were.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:20 PM   #4
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Do not see that as a problem. Just bottle up the old and drop off for recycling.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:25 PM   #5
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Burlington , Ontario
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I used to be a DIY guy for all our vehicles - hobby and otherwise - and still do all my own work on a motorcycle and on an older hobby car I still own. That Includes brakes, fluid changes etc and bigger jobs as/when required.

But maybe I am getting lazy, or perhaps it is just because I am getting up in years, but I now leave everything relating to our truck to the local GMC dealer.

In part, I guess it is because today's vehicles are pretty complex and I rely (maybe inadvisably) on our dealer to have all the proper diagnostic equipt. tools and knowledge. I want the truck to be as reliable as possible when I am a couple of thousand miles from home. I am hoping they may spot something in their 6 month services that I would likely miss and that might save me from a breakdown en route - small price to pay.

Also, I suppose I can afford to do that these days more than I could when I was younger, no kids or mortgage to pay for!

Of course oil changes and such things I could easily do myself - but our truck is a diesel so that is a lot of oil to mess around with!

I always try to make sure before we leave on a long trip that all servicing is up to date and therefore only need to take the truck to a repair facility in the event of a breakdown. It has happened a few times over years!

I did need an oil change on the road once - forget how I let that happen - and I just took it to Wally World - not worth my time to mess with it especially when on vacation!

I do carry a diesel fuel filter and tools to change it on the road just in case we get problems with bad fuel - happened to me once.

I carry and OBDII code reader as well to try to help myself to read/reset codes if something should put the truck in "limp mode" on the interstate! That has happened too!

To be honest though, despite being a retired engineer and always an automotive/bike hobbyist, I don't think my skill level relates that well to much of today's advanced vehicle technology - it has passed me by!

Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:51 PM   #6
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I normally do my own preventive maintenance. If I'm out on the road, I'll have an oil filter and oil with me, and a way to collect it for disposal. If I cannot find a place to do it myself, I'd take it to a local shop to do the work..... under supervision. The first red flag I look for is a place wanting to do it "fast", "quick", "jiffy", etc. Could care less about that. Needs to be done correctly.
“What’s good for me may not be good for the weak minded.”

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Old 01-12-2015, 06:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by PaulnGina View Post
The first red flag I look for is a place wanting to do it "fast", "quick", "jiffy", etc. Could care less about that. Needs to be done correctly.
My thoughts exactly. Being around plenty of automotive forums for the last decade, I've heard lots of stories. I'm also picky about my fluid, filters and such. And some places just want to dump whatever is the cheapest to profit margin for them in your vehicle.

Luckily, outside of oil, a lot of other things have longer service intervals so maybe I will try to time things to be some place I can do the work if I prefer.

Not that I don't want to spend the money on it, just that I grew up being taught and feeling that some things a man should do if a man is capable. Time is certainly money, but somethings just have their own reward and satisfaction when you do them yourself.
Family of 5 exploring the USA with a Ram Power Wagon & Airstream in tow.
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Old 01-12-2015, 06:26 PM   #8
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I, too, used to do all of my own maintenance. Like Brian, I'm getting older and less agile, so I now let the dealer do more of the work. Now, when there is something that isn't behaving properly I'll try to do some troubleshooting so that I can tell the dealership exactly what causes the problem, or at least what symptoms are present.

The MH is a different story. Oil and transmission fluid changes are annual affairs, and are done at a Detroit Diesel shop. Interior (house) stuff I'll usually do myself, but I did have a shop replace the rear furnace simply because I didn't want to do it myself.
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:12 PM   #9
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My truck is my garage for tools and such. I don't worry about the TV, it is the TT which deserves my full attention. Finding a TV tech is no real problem, finding a good RV tech is.

I've worked on cars and such forty years and more. Some jobs I may still do, but raising the 5000-lb front end on my Dodge CTD is not among them. Other jobs are usually a matter of labor cost over parts where air tools are not needed. Pulling the entire dashboard is not fun, but there are three or four jobs to be combined that makes it worth it. The labor cost and chance of a hurried tech make it DIY for me.

Combine jobs to save labor costs. Treat systems not symptoms. Cut 10% or more from service intervals. Keep records. All fuel and all miles. A 10% drop in mpg is reason for investigation. Etc.

Keep very close to factory recommendations and use factory parts. There are no bargains in the aftermarket. Reliability is the priority.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:07 PM   #10
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Once upon a time I did do all of my own oil changes etc.. Now its off to the local dealer. No fuss and no mess.
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:16 AM   #11
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I too am a car guy. I always did all my own oil changes and minor mechanical work. Now that I am getting up in years I leave all the work to the dealer or my mechanic. In 2013 I left on a five month 15000 mile trip through the Yukon and Alaska. I had all the maintenance done before I left. My mechanic informed me I would need an air filter at my next service. On my way back to the U.S. an oil change came due in Whitehorse, Yukon. The charge for the air filter was $125.00. I could buy the same filter at Walmart fo $60. Moral to the story is carry an extra air filter and fuel filter. Change them yourself if you have the knowledge. I also carry a gallon of coolant just in case.
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Old 01-13-2015, 04:11 PM   #12
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Like many, I do a lot of DIY maintenance to ensure fluids, parts, filters, etc., meet my standards and quality of work. So, that means prepping my TV before long voyages by doing all the simple fluid swaps and lubrication in the week or two before departure regardless of when it was done last. That way I can carry spare filters, belts, hoses and a catch pan for the inevitable change later in the trip. More major & unanticipated breaks get done on the road by a "professional" wherever I am. Most places I've been frown on campsite indulgences so I find a spot nearby for the maintenance duties. Heck, I got in trouble once for 'washing' my truck at a KOA because I used a wet rag to get rid of squashed bugs on my grill and bumper :'(
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Old 01-13-2015, 10:17 PM   #13
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Always have been a 'dimple'... Doing Myself Provides Lasting Enjoyment... when it comes to mechanical 'diy' jobs.

Today, the places that sell the 'oil' will recycle for you. I see guys in front of the 'AZ' here doing them all the time.

No need of spelling out the details on an oil change... you know them.

However, also consider your chassis lube... many times that is overlooked... but, it can be done within a few minutes without a lot of attention... once you know where the zerks are...

For the Antifreeze... that can be hard to capture.. since only once every 5 years, take it to the dealer... much simpler...

Ok.. if that won't work, then one of those large opaque bins they sell at the big box stores.. they are short to fit under beds... with a cover.. you can place the cover over the antifreeze after you capture and minimize spillage. Take it to the local municipality recycling... many have a place these days. Or, take it to a 'radiator shop' and give the owner a $5 to take the fluid off your hands..
Peace and Blessings..
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Old 01-13-2015, 10:40 PM   #14
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No I don't change my own oil.

Hi, being a mechanic at new car dealerships since 1968, I virtually never changed my own oil. Back then, the lube man changed my oil and I replaced his heater core, window motor, turn signal switch Etc. We all traded labor as per our specialty. I have done almost everything on cars; Engines, transmissions, both stick and automatic, brakes, carburetors and almost everything else. I still let the dealership do my services. I did recently repair my wife's BMW transfer case problem, but that was only because it was simple, and cost me about $100.00 for what the dealer wants up to $2600.00 to fix.

Oh, I almost forgot; I have a shop do it while one the road.


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