Most RVers buy their rigs to hit the road for camping and exploring new places—not to spend time in a repair shop. It’s not fun when you are excitedly nearing your park destination and your engine starts to spit and sputter.
However, after 10 years in the RV sales and rental business and 17 years of full-timing on the road, I learned that there were a lot of easy fixes—even someone like me (with ten thumbs) could do to stay on the road, reduce time spent in a shop, and leave a little more in the wallet for more fun things than auto repair bills.
So let’s start with that spitting and sputtering engine. There are probably one or two dozen reasons why your engine may start to act up. But if you can 1) make a simple repair or 2) shorten the list of possible causes, you have saved yourself some—or all—of a repair bill.
Repair and Replace
So what are the easy parts to replace. If you are near any of the big national chain stores (like Camping World, for instance), ask if they can run some engine diagnostics and detect where the problem is. They may be able to direct you to the problem—and they can sell you the replacement parts needed (and will give you advice on how to do the job—as long as it is a simple one). And pick up a shop manual for your vehicle—you can find one online—which will help in troubleshooting and will show you how to do the repair.
Your problem could be ignition related. Check plugs (fouled or showing uneven wear), wires (worn, frayed, or burnt), coil (check for cracks visually, or with the vehicle running mist water onto the coil and see if the engine sputters or produces an arc), or the cap and rotor (should be dry and clean, not burned or dirty contacts)—all parts that are cheap and easy to replace. Keep these parts, along with a spark plug socket in a basic engine parts kit for on-the-road repairs that you can easily do on the side of a road or in a campground.
There are other possibilities if these efforts don’t fix the problem, but if they do, you have saved time, money and the aggravation of a visit to the shop.
Of course, if all else fails, it’s worth looking into Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing ebooks on Amazon Kindle.