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Do the Money Problems Ever Stop?

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We’ve been on the road a while this year and we haven’t had problems. No seriously, none. No tire blowouts. No engine problems. No problems with our travel trailer. Apparently, this is the trip where everything is going wrong.

We were an hour and a half from our next scheduled stop in Iowa when we stopped at a gas station. My husband does a full walk around the truck and trailer at each gas stop to make sure everything is looking good. During this walk around, he noticed the trailer was leaning to one side. Not a little. A LOT. Hoping he was misperceiving things, he walked to the other side to get a different perspective. Nope, not misperceiving. There was a serious problem.

He stuck his head under the trailer and noticed our leaf spring was broken on one axle and, because the other axle on that side was now carrying all the weight, it was starting to show signs of impending breakage. We couldn’t stay at the gas station so we hobbled to a trailer park a mile down the road and asked if they would let us stay there. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday night. No repair places in the area were open on Sunday which meant we were stranded for the weekend…in a really bad part of town.

We tried to make the best of it but I have to admit, I was really down. This was going to destroy our budget. We had no idea how long the repair would take. RV repairs notoriously take a long time and we’d have to stay in a hotel.

On Sunday I spent hours searching online for RV repair shops and there was only one within a 60-mile radius. It had nearly 100 reviews on Yelp and the average was just over 1 star. The main complaint was price gouging since they know you’re stuck and they are the only game in town. Could we break down in a worse spot?

Chris spent the day watching YouTube videos on replacing leaf springs. Look, I didn’t mind him working on the slide but leaf springs? That’s a bit out of his league. But, by the end of the day, he swore he could do it. He really didn’t want to go to the repair place I found.

On Monday morning he woke up and called all over town to find the parts. He had to drive to Omaha to get them but he swore this was the better choice. The temperature was in the 80s and I couldn’t work in the truck or trailer so I booked a room in a Motel6 for $60 and took the kids with me so he could work on the trailer. He pulled the trailer into an abandoned gas station, jacked it up, and did the work himself.

It took him about 7 hours to get it done. Instead of replacing only the broken spring, he replaced all four. They were looking bad and sometimes when you replace one, the weight shifts differently to the others and they break. He arrived at the hotel at 7pm looking much worse for wear. He took a shower and we hit the road. We drove until midnight and slept in a parking lot.

Total cost:

Hotel – $60

Trailer Park – $80

Parts – $200

It could have been so much worse. YouTube (and that handy guy I married!) saved the day again. We made it to Wisconsin and we’re at the cabin now. Pretty sure we’re on easy waters from here. Whew!


7 Comments

  • Reply Angie |

    I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh. But your titles of posts are a little… out of touch. I don’t really see how $350 spent during long term travel is a money problem. Especially when it’s repairs on a trailer you are living out of. I budget money for repairs on my trailer every year. Same for my car. Unless it is an accident, it you should have money set aside.

    I read somewhere trailers were only built to be used 45 times. Dragging it all over the country multiple times is sure to put excessive wear and tear on it. Same with your truck. If a single repair (if you had to pay a place for it) will blow your budget, you probably shouldn’t be out on the road.

    • Reply Beks |

      Not harsh at all! We missed the mark here and didn’t save appropriately. Cringeworthy! We have money saved for truck maintenance but we didn’t budget for trailer repairs for this trip. I think we *wrongly* just assumed everything would continue to be fine. Totally dumb of us!

  • Reply Laura in So Cal |

    We just sold the 2007 30 foot 5th Wheel toy hauler we bought used in 2012. We used it for several long trips (a 2 week trip to Yellowstone for example) and routinely used it 4-5 long weekends/year including on dirt roads and dry camping in the desert. Over the 9 years we owned it, we averaged nearly $1000/year including TIRES. We had the exact same experience with leaf springs that you did and replace the one set on the road and the rest when we got home. We replaced several tires due to blow-outs and then went and bought the best tires we could buy to solve the problem (including an additional wheel so we could have 2 spares). We had the toilet base crack and replaced it along with other miscellaneous items like a part for the frig, new batteries for the generator ($$), new vent covers, etc. At the very least price a new set of tires and budget to replace them every 2-3 years (also cover the tires when your rig is parked to help prevent sun damage). An RV is like a small house and needs a maintenance budget.

    • Reply Beks |

      We just replaced our tires with good ones and thought that would be the ‘big’ expense. *sigh* We were wrong.

  • Reply JP |

    Yeah I agree the titles sound like there was something dramatically expensive, but these kinds of repairs would just be expected maintenance on a trip like this. You are so lucky your husband is so good with the repairs though, saving you a ton!

  • Reply Laura |

    Your husband is amazing. I’m sure you know that. You two seem like a great team. Happy travels!

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