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New RV owners are often overwhelmed by the things you have to learn about when you decide to join the ranks of those enjoying the RV lifestyle. Conversely, some desire a turnkey operation where they do not need to know much, at all, about their new RV. As a result, there is often anger and confusion clouding what the owner hoped to be the first few blissful days of RV ownership. Some RV dealers are better than others at educating customers, but no matter what lengths RV dealers go to educate the new owner or how much research the new owner does ahead of time, there will still be a learning curve.
Your T@b is not a Crockpot!
Your T@b is not a Crockpot. It is not an Instapot, either. You cannot buy your T@b and think it will not require periodic TLC. In other words, you cannot fix it and forget it!
What do I mean? Your T@b, like any RV on the market will require maintenance and the occasional repairs. Some have described the T@b as a rolling earthquake and I think that description is quite fitting. Our little trailers bounce on down the road and things jiggle, bounce, and sometimes hop out of their intended place.
Also, most experienced RV owners will tell you that most problems with an RV occur within the first year, so do not be surprised if a couple of small items pop-up as warranty repairs.
Do Your Homework: Dealer and RV Repair Options
Whether you do all your research on the Internet or go to your local deal for education, make sure that finding a reputable dealer before you purchase will save you a lot of heartache. Search owners forums, standard review sites, like Yelp, and ask other people who are RV owners or who know RV owners for references. I made the mistake of going with the firs one I contacted because the price was lower than what I had seen on line from other dealers.
Because I was purchasing a T@b, a purchase was going to require a minimum of a 3 hour drive, no matter which dealer I chose. I should have looked at other options. My dealer left me in the hands of someone who did not want to be doing a new owner walk-through when I picked up my T@b. A better experience would have saved me a lot of grief!
Also, if your dealer will not be close, find out if there are RV dealers in the area that will repair an RV you did not purchase from them and that is authorized by your manufacturer to do any warranty work. My T@b requires bearing maintenance, annually (or every 6-10,000 miles.) I found a local utility trailer place with a great reputation that will repack my bearings for under $50. That is under 1/2 of the cost of Camping World! I am not knocking Camping World, but am glad to save the 2 hour drive to the closest one and the money. I have had work done by Camping world while on a trip. They salvaged my trip and didn’t charge. I find it to be a great place!
Find a Supportive Online Community
The T@b forums, sponsored by nüCamp, is a fantastic place to learn about your T@b. In addition, there are 2-3 Facebook groups run by owners of T@bs. People share generously of their own knowledge and experience. I have learned a great deal from the communities and they have helped me out, more than once!
Earlier, I mentioned that no matter what you would have questions about your new RV. You can either call your dealer or go to an online group. In all likelihood, you are not the first person to encounter your question or problem.
nüCamp Will Make Things Right for You!!
If you have a problem and you believe it falls under a warranty claim, always start with your dealer. In most cases, the dealer will resolve it themselves or work with nüCamp to resolve it. Be patient, they are a small business, not a giant corporation. I have always found the folks at nuCamp to be 100% committed to doing right by the customer, without exception. Be patient if it takes a day or two for them to get back to you. If necessary, patiently try a follow-up call or email.
Please Remember to Search First!
Remember to use the search function of the forum or group to look for answers before posting a new topic! Some topics get posted over and over and there is no need to post it, again.
Inside Your RV: Learn About the Key Systems
There are a few key systems you should learn a little bit about when you purchase a new RV: the battery, your converter, your fridge, furnace, hot water heater, a/c, and entertainment. I will write posts specific to the T@b for each of those. But, whatever you purchase, make sure you understand how they work! Your dealer should cover all of those with you during your walk-through. Insist upon it!
Outside of Your RV: Keep your T@b Safe and Sound!
Take the time to learn about the things that keep your T@b safe and sound, including: the tongue jack (raises the RV up and down), your coupler, the stabilizer jacks, the brakes, tow capacity, and any other exterior feature or system.
Your Tow Vehicle
“What? I can’t tow my T@b with a Mini Cooper! But I saw a picture of that!” Although not a direct quote, I have seen new buyers shocked to find that their tow vehicle was not up to snuff with towing their new RV. In addition to safety ramifications, there can be legal ramifications for towing with a vehicle that does not meet manufacturer’s guidance for towing. Check you vehicle owner’s manual for information about what you may tow with your car, truck, or SUV.
My friend has a saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” After checking your owners manual, check around with others who own the same vehicle and tow. Make sure it is the same model and configured the same way. For example, I tow with a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, automatic. If I just searched for the Jeep Wrangler, I might get answers for the 2 door model, which has a much lower tow rating and would therefore get different advice. So, if you want to know if your Subaru Forester can do the job, make sure you match all the specs.
If you are buying a new tow vehicle, try to get the tow package. Vehicles with the factory tow package often experience a better towing experience. The package might include a brake controller, a hitch receiver, tow mirrors, and your electronics might be tooled to handle towing. My Jeep did not have the factory tow package, so I added a transmission cooler, even before I thought about towing, because some of the earlier Unlimited models had issues with transmissions overheating.
I also use tow mirrors that attach to my existing side mirrors. These mirrors make a huge difference while towing. I feel incredibly safer moving from lane to lane with these. I really like the universal towing mirror that I picked up from Amazon. Both of my mirrors held firm for 5,000+ miles!
Brake Controllers are a must for the newer T@bs. Laws vary by state and in some states, you can be cited for not having a brake controller. Like anything else, there will always be people telling you that you can get away without them. Why would you risk it? I do like having them for going over mountain passes. Some have opted for wireless brake controllers. I use the P2 brake controller. I wish I had done a little more research on these before I purchased because I would have probably opted for the P3 controller.
As a side note, people often ask me how my Jeep performs towing the T@b. I usually reply something like this: If you do not plan to do a fair amount of legitimate off-road travel, don’t buy a Wrangler. I bought my Wrangler to get me to places I couldn’t go with a regular passenger vehicle, not to tow. I started towing after I owned my Jeep. I love my Jeep for its off road capabilities. But, it gets awful gas mileage and is rather slow going over mountain passes, even without towing. I crawled over Monarch and Vail passes this fall. If you plan on true off-road adventures and don’t mind driving well below the speed limit to keep it between 10-12 mpg while towing, the Wrangler is an awesome vehicle!
Fear Not! You will have fun!
Don’t be afraid of your new RV, just be prepared to learn and make mistakes. Most mistakes are fixable. 🙂 I have made plenty of mistakes and have lived to tell you about them. RVing is a great way to travel. I love the flexibility and comfort that accompanies it and have met a lot of really great people along the way!
Some other posts that may be of interest to new owners: