Donna Bitcon and Ed Amato sent in the following tips, advice, and photographs after they experienced a camper breakdown during an adventure. Thank you, Donna and Ed, for your sharing what you learned.
Ed and I enjoyed our maiden voyage with our new 2011 Lance 1050S. It has been a smooth transition from our old Lance 9SC. We’re getting used to the configuration and new storage space; now where did I put that? And the dry bath? Love it! Mike Olesnevich of Xtreme Campers has been wonderful to work with and we highly recommend him to all fellow truck campers.
No one likes to think about the potential of breakdowns on the road. After our experience, I think it’s important for truck campers to be prepared for these situations and know what to request from a tow company.
If your truck stops running, there may be no way to separate the camper from the truck. When you call AAA (or an other road-side service provider or towing company) you need to tell them the specific height, width, and weight of your truck camper. With this information, they can select the proper tow truck to safely move your truck camper rig.
Truck campers cannot be flatbed towed because of their height. Your rig will most likely require a heavy duty tow truck. The tow company who picked us up referred to their truck as a winch-tow.
To tow a truck camper rig, the tow company will tow the vehicle from the front and may been to disconnect the drive shaft. They did in our case.
It’s stressful sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck for an hour or more. When they finally arrive, it’s even more disconcerting if they brought the wrong vehicle to do the job. That happened to us, too. My advice is to know the specifications of your truck camper and be sure to ask questions when you do have to call the road-side service company.
The other piece of the process is where you get your truck camper rig towed. The operator will ask you if there is a specific repair place you want your truck camper towed. If you’re in an area you are unfamiliar with, you won’t know where to go, so it will be up to the operator to select the closest AAA approved repair facility (if you are a AAA member).
Be sure to let the operator know if your truck is diesel or gas powered and request a repair shop that specializes in your vehicle make and type. If the operator doesn’t know the specifics of the repair facility they are towing your truck camper to, ask for the name and phone number so you can call them yourself.
In our case, I called the repair facility and quickly realized that they were not a good option for our Ford F-350 diesel. When the tow truck driver arrived, he recommended his own shop and he called ahead to make sure his diesel mechanic was available. His mechanic wasn’t available so he suggested a Ford diesel repair shop further down the road but still within the mileage limits of the free tow provided by AAA. We were fortunate that they had a diesel mechanic available and, after being towed into the shop at approximately 2:30pm on a Friday afternoon, we were on the road again by 5:30pm.
All things considered, we learned a lot and had a very good experience with both the tow company and the Ford diesel repair shop. It’s very important to have your road-side assistance program upgraded to the RV coverage. It’s one of those things none of us like paying for or thinking about, but it’s great to have if you ever need it.