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How Should We Fix Our RV’s Rear Cap?

As you may or may not know, on August 25th we damaged the Rear Cap of our RV:

We’ve been debating how to fix the damage, so we thought we’d ask some of the online RV forums:

We posted photos of the damage (like the picture above) and asked what would be the estimated cost of repair?

Here are the summarized results . . .

HOW MUCH TO FIX?

From RV Forum (www.rvforum.net):

Isaac-1 – My guess is you can get that fixed for under $7,000 if you take it to Mexico.

Skookum – I agree with the others who have posted so far…that’s several thousands of dollars worth of damage. If you put 20 hours on it at $100/hr, minimum 2k and I bet it’s more.

From IRV2 (www.irv2.com):

amosnandy – As an insurance adjuster, just from the pictures I would estimate between $20,000 & $25,000.
The cap needs to come off, repair both sides and there is likely damage to the inner structure.

Ray.IN (25,969 posts) – amosnandy is right, unless the rear cap is irreparable. If that is the case, the only option is to locate a good used rear cap somewhere. If one cannot be found you’re looking at the MH being totaled.

From RV.net (www.rv.net) . . .

way2roll – To get a proper estimate I think you’ll have to take it to a shop. And although there is no visible interior damage, water intrusion can mess things up a bit.

JoeH – I would guess $5k, +/- $1.5k.

valhalla360 – If it’s just cosmetic, you might be lucky and get it done for $5-7k.

Grit dog – Personally I’d say $5k is on the high side.

HOW DID THE ACCIDENT HAPPEN?

Forum users seemed much more interested in HOW the accident happened than answering my question on cost to repair. Many of them predicted what might have occurred.

From RV Forum (www.rvforum.net):

Old-Crow (3,405 posts) – The only way I can see this damage occurring is if the tow bar came disconnected and slid under the coach when he stopped.

Mark_K5LXP (2,708 posts) – If the tow bars were not aligned so the RV end is higher than the toad end, during a hard stop the inertia will push the front of the toad up and it can hit the back of the RV. Note how high up the damage is. So it’d be my observation the tow bars weren’t aligned properly.

Gary RV_Wizard (76,539 posts) – The toad was somewhat higher than the hitch pivot point, so the toad “climbed” in the hard stop, pivoting the tow bar upward and literally lifting the front of the toad off the pavement. Best practice for a tow bar is to have it dead-level or at slightly upward angle to the coach receiver. I prefer the up-angle, thus forcing the toad to dive under rather than climb. That helps keep the toad wheels in contact with the road.
The other thing this implies is inadequate toad braking in a hard stop. Many owners intentionally adjust the braking to be light and delayed relative to the coach, fearing brake drag on long downhill grades. That usually yields little or no braking in a panic stop.

From IRV2 (www.irv2.com):

WHSouthwind – Did the jeep pivot up without disconnecting. Looks like that’s what happened. High impact point.

From RV.net (www.rv.net) . . .

zigzagrv – I cannot understand how the Jeep did that unless the Jeep flipped up???

Grit dog – Out of curiosity though I can’t figure out how it didn’t hit lower on the Moho, like in the bumper area.

HOW DID THE ACCIDENT ACTUALLY HAPPEN?

After a sudden stop, our Jeep actually pivoted up on our tow bar and crashed into our RV’s rear cap.

How?

First, our Demco toad braking system was disabled. Our Jeep’s battery was dead so no brakes. At the time we were on our way to an auto parts store in Lompoc, CA to pick up a new battery. No irony here.

Second, Lompoc, CA. This small city has water swales on many of its streets. These swales are shallow culverts right across the road and unmarked by any signage. We encountered a pair of these swales while driving at speed (25 mph) though a Lompoc suburb. Our speed was too fast. When we hit the swales, our RV seemed to take a nosedive and we panic braked . . . the rest is history.

Third, our tow bars were installed and aligned properly and not the cause of the accident as some suggested.

Our two bars weren’t the problem

THE BEST ADVICE WE RECEIVED

In three posts on RV.net, we think RickJay offered the best comments and advice . . .

Sorry to hear of your accident. I know it’s a 21 year old rig, but still relatively new to you, so boo-boos like this seem to have an extra-sting to them when they happen. Still, keeping a focus on the overall age of the rig might be helpful.

Due to the age of the rig, it’s possible this won’t be covered under his insurance. For example, on our rig (almost as old as the OP’s) we have “limited collision” which only pays when another driver causes the damage, so it wouldn’t cover an incident such as this. So this quite possibly might be an out-of-pocket expense for them.

Heck, depending upon how much longer I intended to have the rig, I could probably even convince myself to make it water-tight (a good, white tape, perhaps even Eternabond?) and just live with it.

Did you say Eternabond?

HOW WE’RE GOING TO FIX OUR RVthe “Safari” Solution

First, we will not try using our collision insurance. At best, even if it covered the repair, our rates would most likely go up. No thanks.

Second, we will not attempt fixing the fiberglass ourselves. We don’t have the tools nor the skill. We’re not going to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Third, it will be a DIY fix. Our local RV shop doesn’t do body work and the nearest shop is too far away – and most likely too expensive for us. We think it would be foolish investing possibly thousands into a 21-year-old RV.

We’re going with the under $500 “Safari” fix . . .

Plywood (painted of course) & Flip-Toggle Bolts . . .

. . . my wife is an artist
One Comment Post a comment
  1. Gene Soares #

    You might want to add a charge line from the MH to the jeep.

    August 6, 2022

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