There are over four million miles of road in the U.S. and no better way to explore them than in an RV. There are amazing locations to visit, national parks to explore and time to be spend with family. But that time will be less enjoyable in a dirty RV with engine problems. So, before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to give your RV a thorough cleaning and servicing. At the start of the season, you should give your RV a thorough maintenance check. This should include both the vehicular and recreational aspects of your RV. Not sure where to start, we’ve outlined 30 RV maintenance tips to use today.
- ENGINE MAINTENANCE
- WHEELS, AND STRUCTURAL MAINTENANCE
- POWER AND ELECTRICAL MAINTENANCE
- HOT WATER AND PLUMBING MAINTENANCE
- HEAT AND COOKING ELEMENT MAINTENANCE
- OFF-SEASON MAINTENANCE
Change the oil every season and spend a little more for a high-grade synthetic oil. It will last than conventional oils and provide better lubrication on long trips. In fact, some synthetics last 30,000 miles without needing to be changed.
Changing your air filter will keep dust out of your engine and improve the air quality in your RV, especially when running the A/C on hot days. Don’t forget about your fuel filters, they’re inexpensive, easy to change and will keep your fuel fresh in any condition.
Belts and Hoses
Many critical parts of your engine are made using rubber, plastics and other materials that can break down over time, especially when exposed to stress and heat.
Check your fan belt to ensure that it’s tightly in place and free of cracks and excessive wear. Remember, the top of your fan belt gets the least wear and tear, so look at the part that interacts with the pulleys. If there are cracks or pits, don’t wait. Change your fan belt. The same approach applies to heater and radiation hoses, check for cracks and leaks both on the hose and around the seals. Any leaking or cracked hose should be changed immediately.
Is your water pump working? There may be leaks that don’t become apparent when your vehicle isn’t running. Check by placing some paper beneath the pump, turning it on and letting the engine heat to temperature. If the paper gets wet, the water pump is bad and needs to be changed.
Finally, check all your fluid levels and top them off as needed. You never know when you might run low, so it never hurts to keep an extra bottle of critical fluids on-board.
WHEELS, AND STRUCTURAL MAINTENANCE
Once your engine is running smoothly it’s time to check the rest of your RV.
Check for wear and make sure they are inflated to the proper pressure. If you need to rotate or replaces your tires get it done before you hit the road. It never hurts to check your spare and make sure it’s in good condition.
Any RV will take more time to slow down than a smaller vehicle. Before you hit the road, take your RV out for a ride and check the brakes for stopping power. If they feel sluggish or if you hear squeaks and grinding don’t wait. Get them checked and replace pads or rotors as needed.
Another simple check is to make sure your windshield wipers are working. Worried about bad weather? Buy an extra set and bring them with you.
Nothing is worse that a hot RV. Check your engine mounted or roof mounted RV and make sure that the air is blowing new, clean and cold air. If not, check your filters and hoses and if necessary, get it recharged.
Roof, Door and Window Seals
Are your roof seals, windows and doors water-tight and air tight? Check for leaks or loose seals. Fixing these seals can keep the inside of your RV warm and dry and reduce wear and tear on your A/C or heating system.
Awnings and Entry Steps
It’s a small thing, but if you have awnings or retractable entry steps, check to make sure they are in good repair, are well lubed and extend fully and easily.
POWER AND ELECTRICAL
One of the best things about travelling in an RV is the ability to bring all the comforts of home with you on the road. However, those comforts aren’t much help if you don’t have working electrical power in your RV. Check the following to avoid dark nights on the road.
Check and replace headlights, brake and tail lights, license plate lights, turn signals and running lights. Don’t forget to keep them clean.
Battery and Alternator Check
If the battery is 5 years or older, it needs to be replaced. If your battery is newer, run a simple alternator test to make sure the alternator is working properly. To check, simply insert an on-off switch into the positive cable line. Turn the switch off when the vehicle is running, and if it stops, the alternator is bad.
If you have a gas-powered generator, remember to refuel and change the oil and fuel filters.
Converter Charging System
Check to make sure it’s working properly. If not, get it serviced.
Have a satellite or antenna to pick up TV signals? Don’t wait until the big game or season finale airs to make sure they’re working. Dust them off, make sure they can be deployed, that they are connected properly and can receive a signal.
HOT WATER AND PLUMBING MAINTENANCE
Another great benefit of RV travel is the convenience of having hot and cold water available, and of course access to a bathroom without having to stop. To ensure that you can enjoy these comforts, check the following:
This must work flawlessly every time. If your valve isn’t opening and closing easily, or if there are leaks around the valve, get it replaced.
Black and Grey Water Tanks
Nobody wants to keep their excess waste water around, especially when it can affect the plumbing on your RV. Make sure to clean and sanitize your tanks, so they’ll be ready for the road.
Test your hot water heater to ensure that water is heating properly. Check for hot water.
Hopefully you emptied out your tank while your RV was parked. Before you go, clean the tank thoroughly and fill it with fresh water. Check around the tank for signs of leaks or corrosion.
HEAT AND COOKING
Knowing that your heat and cooking systems are in good repair will also provide peace of mind when you’re on the road.
Check and refill your tanks every 3 – 4 months.
Check to ensure that your water heater is working properly and is free of leaks and corrosion.
This little rod is made from zinc, aluminum or magnesium. When inserted into your water heater it slowly corrodes, “sacrificing” itself to prevent your tank from rusting. These should be replaced once a year, or when the rod has corroded 75% of the way.
If your RV has an oven or stove top, clean the burners and surfaces thoroughly and then test to make sure everything is working.
Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but always check your fire extinguisher to make sure that it’s pressurized and in good working order.
Taking care of your RV starts not at the start of the current season, but at the end of the previous season.
Before you give your RV a rest, make sure you do the following.
Take the time to clean your RV thoroughly. Don’t just sweep the floors and call it done, dust the ceiling fans and vents, clean off cabinet shelving, clean the stove, clean and de-frost the refrigerator. Remember to remove any food, nothing is a bigger draw for unwanted pests than unattended leftovers.
Bring in any removable bedding, blankets, slip covers or cushions, they’ll stay cleaner and avoid dust and mold until you’re ready for next season.
Give your RV a full-cleaning. This includes both the outer frame and the undercarriage. Getting rid of dust, mud and road salt will prevent corrosion and keep your RV running longer. Use the opportunity to check side and roof seals for leaks, damage or corrosion.
Empty the Tanks
Empty your water and waste tanks, clean them and allow them to dry. This prevents corrosion and potential damage from water freezing.
Put a Cover on It
Once your RV is clean and ready, put a cover on it. A quality cover can protect your RV against bad weather, leaves, pollen tree sap and other environmental pollutants that can damage your RV. It also serves as an effective deterrent against vermin and insects, if you need to get in and out of it during the year, many have built-in zippers that allow you easy access.
Following all these steps will leave you with a cleaner, safer RV and allow you to enjoy your time on the road and spend less time in unfamiliar repair shops.