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13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV

| Updated Jan 26, 2024

RVers joke that everything will break at some point, but here are the most common things to break in an RV according to REAL RVers…

Most RVers would agree that, at times, it feels like everything breaks on your RV. But what are those things that break the most often? 

We asked, and real RVers responded! They listed the items that have broken the most in their RVing experience. We list these items for you and, better yet, provide resources to help you avoid these issues!

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV

In a recent Facebook post, one RV Lifestyle member posed an interesting question. She asked, “What are the most common things to break on an RV? (Besides everything, LOL).”

We like the last part of the question because broken parts are just a part of RV life! It's frustrating but expected since road vibrations, weather exposure, and travel, in general, are a lot to handle. In truth, it's amazing how well RVs hold up to all this wear and tear.

We'll begin by noting that many members of our group commented that RVs break your wallet the most. We like to laugh about that truth and then go back to enjoying the RV lifestyle despite the surprise expenses.

So, aside from your wallet, here are the most things that break in RVs, from cheap plastic latches to RV appliances. 

cabinet latches 13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV

1. Cabinet Latches

Many RV manufacturers use cheap plastic latches. That’s because plastic is more affordable than heartier materials like metal. 

But when RV manufacturers save a buck, it ultimately costs you. 

Over time, plastic begins to wear out with use. As you use your cabinets, the latches can get bent out of shape, preventing them from latching correctly. 

Plastic can also get brittle over time and break off completely when you use the cabinet. Traveling can also contribute to breaking plastic latches, as the driving vibrations can loosen or misshapen the plastic hardware.  

Thankfully, replacing your plastic cabinet latches with metal latches from the hardware store is a relatively easy and cheap fix.

How Does an RV Fresh Water System Work? (Tips from a Pro) 13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV

2. Water Pump

RVs use water pumps to move water from the freshwater tank to the faucets, toilets, and showers.  So, you can imagine the frustration that occurs when one breaks!

RV water pumps are susceptible to breakage because they are designed with a multi-chamber diaphragm. Over time, water can calcify or corrode in the system, which renders these pumps useless. 

Just accept the fact that you will have to replace it sooner or later. When it comes to these things, replace it with a quality product and get back on the road with a smile.

By the way, we recommend you read Answers to Top 10 RV Water Pressure Regulator Questions. This can save you from water system problems!

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV 1

3. Propane Regulator

If your RV has two propane tanks, it also has a propane regulator. The regulator allows you to hook up two propane tanks. Once the first tank is empty, the regulator automatically switches from the primary tank to the reserve tank. 

If you notice that your regulator is not working or you hear a consistent hissing sound, chances are the regulator is broken. Usually, it is an internal diaphragm housed within the regulator that goes out. 

Here are some helpful resources regarding your propane system:

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV

4. Toilet Seat

Like everything in an RV, an RV toilet seat is designed to be lightweight. However, RV manufacturers seem to have taken it too far, as these stinking seats often crack or break at the hinges.

The toilet seat lid is even likelier to crack. However, this is mostly user error as they are not designed to be sat on. RV toilet seat lids are only meant to help keep the water and odor inside the toilet. The lids are not designed to hold your weight as a chair.

Speaking of toilets, here are some helpful resources:

5. Retractable Awning

Many RVers mentioned their retractable awnings in the comments. Awnings use a brake mechanism to lock them into place once they are opened to the desired level. Most of the time, an awning breaks because the brake mechanism wears out over time.  

The bad news is that this is a very costly repair! Not only do you have to replace the awning and the brake mechanism, but most folks also have to pay a professional to do the work.

It is worth noting that many RVers admitted they were at fault. They forgot to put their awning in at night or during high winds, which greatly increased their chances of it breaking.

To help maximize the life of your awnings, read RV Awning Maintenance Tips From a Pro and RV Awning Tips and Tricks.

6. Center Door Key Fob

Some RV doors come with a center door key fob. They are meant to make your RV life easier! 

The bad news is that they can break and need to be replaced, and these suckers are expensive. Many FOB replacements are $100-$200!

Some RVers also mentioned their entry locks were too flimsy for comfort. Even if they didn't break, they didn't make them feel secure. So, many RVers replace them with sturdier alternatives. Like we did on one of our RVs Installing the keyless RVLock on a motorhome (Super Easy Upgrade)

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV 2

7. Automatic Step

Some coaches have an automatic step. When you open and close the door to the rig, the steps automatically release and retract accordingly. 

If yours does not work or only intermittently, it could be an issue with the wiring. The RV’s house battery usually powers automatic steps, so a weak battery could be the cause. 

By the way, one of the most common ways to get injured while camping is to fall on RV steps! That's why we wrote 10 Ways to Make Your Dangerous RV Steps Safer.

8. Loose Screws 

When doing routine maintenance, always check every screw you can in your RV. The driving vibrations can (and will) untighten them, causing things to break or fall. 

By regularly tightening screws, you'll also greatly decrease annoying noises while driving down the road.

A good trick is to keep a screw driver in your pocket as you're working around or cleaning your RV. Then you can just tighten screws as you notice them.

9. Slide-Outs

Slide-outs can be excellent additions to RVs because they provide much more living space. Who doesn’t want a roomy RV?

The downside is that, like anything mechanical, they can break down over time. Slide-outs are heavy and powered by a mechanical part moving them in and out. So, it's no surprise they break often.

To prevent breaking as long as possible, grease moving parts and check seals regularly. Also, keep all the exterior slide parts clean. Leaves and dirt will gunk up and wear down your slides faster.

The Best Way to Clean Your RV Roof (A Simple Guide)

10. Window and Roof Seals

Many folks complain about RV roof and window leaks. The typical culprit behind these leaks is a cracked window sealant with a hole or from shrinking. 

Sealants wear out over time because they are constantly exposed to the sun and other weather elements. Not to mention, yet again, the constant movement and twisting from driving down the road.

The best way to fix this issue is to remove and reseal the sealant rather than using caulking or some other product over the existing sealant. Granted, patching with RV sealant and caulk helps, but eventually, it's better to replace the seal altogether.

11. Blinds

When blinds break in an RV, it is typically due to a cord or string breaking. You can usually replace the cord easily enough.

However, the truth is most RV blinds are cheap. Once yours breaks, it's worth it in the long run to replace the entire blind with a better alternative.

12. Light Covers

One RV Lifestyle member noted that 12-volt lights seem to go out more regularly on her RV. That segues right into number 12 on our list: light covers. 

Another RV Lifestyle member commented that once you change out light bulbs once or twice, the plastic light covers also seem to break. This is likely due to the plastic covers bending out of shape so they no longer fit properly. 

The lights may also heat the covers regularly, contributing to the problem. Light covers on the outside of the rig also seem to break quite readily.

Suffice is to say, broken light covers are a common RV problem. Thankfully, they're relatively easy and cheap to replace.

rv fridge

13. Appliances

Another costly RV repair is an appliance that breaks. Refrigerators, stoves, ovens, microwaves, and washers and dryers can fail. Upgraded RVs can have even more appliance-like items, such as fireplaces. 

It really isn't surprising since these often break in sticks-and-bricks houses. Then you add bumping and constant vibrations from driving down the road in an RV.

When an RV appliance breaks, it is not always easy to run out and purchase a new one. You may have to fit the replacement into a specific size opening or one that can work with your RV's electrical set-up. 

We will say, though, that a bigger complaint than an RV appliance breaking is the RV oven not working well in the first place. We hear this A LOT! If you have that issue, read 7 Tips for Cooking in an RV Oven.

Join Our RV Lifestyle Community

As you can see, there's a LOT to gain from being a part of an RV community. So much so, that we have created the RV Lifestyle Community. It's a completely new platform totally dedicated to discussions and helpful information for RV, Camping and Outdoor Enthusiasts.

Best of all, it's not controlled or censored by Facebook, which gives us the freedom to manage the community and organize it in such a way to provide the best value for our members.

It's totally free, by the way! We just wanted an even better way for our followers to connect than our RV Lifestyle Facebook group.

RV Nightmares: Top 10 Problems That Could Ruin Your RV Trip

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV 3

While we're at it, we might as well discuss the most common problems that could ruin your RV trip. We're not trying to discourage you from RVing. Rather, we're trying to prepare you and help you avoid these problems as much as possible.

Nothing is worse than planning and looking forward to an RV trip that ultimately gets ruined. Sometimes it's an inevitability, but sometimes it can be prevented with a bit of preparation and know-how.

In this article, we outline the Top 10 problems that can ruin your RV trip. And, more importantly, we provide resources to help you avoid or mitigate these problems… Keep reading…

RV Tech Course

By the way, to help you better maintain your RV without relying on expensive repairmen, we recommend this RV Tech Course. They are one of our partners as they have proven themselves to be an excellent resource!…

13 Most Common Things to Break in an RV 4

Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-01-26

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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