Whether you own a travel trailer, motorhome or a fifth wheel, its maintenance is important. RV or camper has so many components, parts and appliances that you cannot ignore one aspect of it.
That’s all makes it a RV. A home on road which gives equivalent comfort.
For an uninterrupted fun, strictly follow a maintenance schedule. The annual schedule can include checks on the tires and the RV battery, oil changes, and checks on parts of the RV.
In this article let go through a comprehensive checklist for maintaining any type of RV.
So, where do you start? How do you maintain an RV?
Lets go through different aspects, appliances and components of RV and their maintenance.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated
An RV is made of so many important parts which makes it difficult to name one specific critical part of the RV. The RV tires are one of these essential parts.
The tires take the load of the RV making it possible for you to enjoy those fun road trips. There are several ways how you can protect the camper tires. Below are some tips on how you can ensure your RV tires are in their best shape at all times.
- Inspect tire sidewalls for any cracks and splits. Cracks are great signs of a aging RV or motorhome tire. Do this check every time you head-out for a trip.
- RV tires should be inflated properly. Under inflated tires is a major cause of tire failures. Make sure you check the tire pressure every time before starting the journey. Do this even for spare tires as well.
- Rotate tires from time to time. This helps in even wear and tear of tires and you end up up having one tires completely worn out.
- Covering the tires can help enhance their life. UV radiation do affect tires and stopping that is only wise. Lifting the tires and covering them in storage is also advisable.
- Avoid Overloading your RV
- Always make sure you are carrying an even load with your RV before setting off. Even though carrying lots of stuff on your trip is fun, this can overload the RV hence straining the wheels.
You want to avoid this because when the RV is evenly loaded, you can economize fuel, avoid tread wear and handle the RV better.
Thus, before starting the trip, weigh the RV on a CAT scale and check the weight on each tire. Do this after packing the motorhome or camper with everything you are taking with you on the trip. Ensure the weight does not exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Make Sure RV Batteries Do Not Loose Their charge below 50%
Did you know that RV batteries that are well-maintained can last for up to 6 years? However, some RV batteries are replaced every year. One of the ways to extend your RV battery life is by properly charging it.
- Make sure Battery does not loose its charge below 50%. A fully charged battery has around 12.7 Volts. This is one of prime reasons why battery fails early. When you recharge the batteries from time to time helps in preventing sulfation in batteries.
- Similarly high temperatures and overcharging also kills the battery.
- Keep the vent caps on battery open while charging this prevents water loss due to bubbling.
To properly charge your RV battery, you need to do so in stages. Three stages should be involved when charging a battery. These stages are as follows:
Bulk charge – This is done when returning the battery to about 90% of its full charge. This is usually done during the initial hours of charging the RV battery.
Absorption charge – This is done once the battery attains 90% of its full charge. Absorption charge is done to fill up the remaining 10% of the charge and also to prevent loss of water and battery gassing.
Float charge – This stage is done for the sole purpose of maintaining the full charge.
Many RV battery charges are three-stage chargers, but not all of them. If your battery charger is not a three-stage charger, be sure to get one that is so you can be sure your battery is charged properly.
Run RV generator often enough
One of the best tips to ensure your RV generator stays at top shape is to run it often. You need to frequently run it even if you are not using it.
You can run the generator for about two hours and then repeat the same after a month. Most generators use gasoline as fuel and leaving the gasoline to sit for long periods of time without using it can make the gasoline go bad.
Some other things you need to do include,
- Replace oil and coolants after designated hours or years. This can be around 1-2 years or 100-150 hours depending on the model and watts.
- Check for fuel leaks.
- Do a visual inspection every 300 hours or so
- Run the generator under load once in a while.
Make Use Of Rug To Keep Floor Clean
You may be camping but that does not mean that you can be un-tidy. Keeping your RV floor clean and tidy is one way of ensuring you maintain cleanliness as well as prolong its lifespan.
Get a Rug : One thing you can do to ensure the dirt stays outside the RV is to get a good rug to lie outside.
You can then set up your outdoor living area on the rug outside the motorhome. If the area weather allows it, this can be a great way of ensuring your RV floor is free from constant use which makes it susceptible to damage.
Additionally, you can place small rugs at strategic areas in the RV such as the entrance of the RV and the areas with the most traffic.
Do not forget to replace the RV carpet with the vinyl flooring if your RV features an already-installed carpet. Vinyl flooring is easy to clean, lightweight and inexpensive.
Also, to ensure your RV floor is always at the best shape, you need to frequently check for wears and tears.
Another thing about floor is never keep the floor wet. Dry it as early as possible.
Inspect Roof Often and Keep It Debri Free
Without any doubt the RV roof is one of the most important parts of the RV.
You cannot go on the trip if your RV roof leaks. The roof protects you from the harsh weather elements such as rain, sunlight, as well as cold snow and ice.
You want to make sure your RV roof is good before you set off, otherwise, your camping experience can be ruined when you begin to observe leaks as it rains outside.
- Inspect the roof often enough to identify any cracks and gaps well before they become big. A damage not identified early will need bigger repair later on.
- Seal the cracks using adhesive that better suits your rv roof material. Caulking and coating from time to time really helps in enhancing the roofs life.
- While walking on roof is fine do not overdoo it. It has a limit upto which it can support the load.
- A roof hold a lot of things like skylights, air conditioner, vents. These can cause mold at edges and get dirty. So, inspect everywhere on the roof and apply caulking after good round of cleaning.
Cleaning : Keeping your RV roof clean is one of the most essential maintenance steps. You should clean your RV roof at least three times every year. Before cleaning, first get rid of any debris including leaves on the roof.
Washing the roof : Make sure you do not pressure wash the roof too often. Rubber roof are susceptible for damage if you go harsh. Do not use harsh products for washing.
After removing the debris and the leaves or branches, sweep off the remaining loose dirt and then spray the roof with water. Since this is a messy situation, be sure to stay away from homes or objects that can get easily spoiled. Cleaning the RV roof at a car cleaning site is recommended.
Read : Can you pressure wash a RV?
After spraying the roof, use a mop or a cleaning brush and soap and start scrubbing the roof. Be sure to select the right cleaner for your type of roof and wear protective gear as you clean.
Keep RV Interiors Clean
One way of maintaining your RV interiors is by keeping them clean at all times. For windows, you need to keep them well-sealed in addition to keeping them clean.
When they are well-sealed, you can prevent leaks as well as water damage.
To properly clean your windows, you need to invest in some good cleaning materials. These materials include a super fine steel wool and a residue-free glass cleaner and a reach and clean tool for those difficult to reach areas.
Furthermore, avoid cleaning your RV windows in the blazing sun since the sun can cause the cleaning agents to dry fast leaving streaks or water spots on the glass window.
It is advisable to clean the windows in the morning, evening or in the shade.
Clean Kitchen and Bathroom Often
The RV kitchen and bathroom are among the most used areas of the RV. Thus, the two areas have to be at their best shape so you can continue to enjoy your trip without any stress.
The cooktop is one of the most used parts of the kitchen. This is where you prepare most of your meals, if not all. Thus you need to ensure it is well-maintained.
Stove and Oven liners : One of the easiest ways of maintaining the kitchen is by getting stove and oven liners. The stove and oven liners will help you keep your kitchen clean as well as maintain the stove and oven.
To use them, simply press them down on the stove or oven. Once the stove or oven gets dirty, you simply peel off the liner. This will help you save the time that you would have spent cleaning up the mess. You can then use this time to enjoy the trip. Additionally, the liners help prevent staining on your RV stove or oven.
For the bathroom, you can maintain this crucial area by regularly cleaning it and checking for any leaks.
Keep RV organized
Just because you are camping does not mean that you have a pass for being untidy. You can make your RV organized and cozier by adhering to a few tips and tricks.
One of the tips is designating a specific place for specific items.
And everything’ here means everything. This includes the keys, fly sweater, the helmets of your bike (if you have one).the RV trash can and the loose change. Doing this is the right step in getting your RV organized.
Inspect RV Air Conditioner For Leakage
When enjoying the camping experience, the last thing you need is to keep sweating because of a faulty Air Conditioner (AC). A poor AC can easily ruin your RV camping experience which is why you need to ensure it works perfectly before setting off.
- Inspect RV cover for any cracks or splits. Its the part that has to deal with outer elements like wind, sun and dust.
- Check for any loose connection between the AC and the roof. The rubber gasket between the ac and roof can loosen up resulting in water leaking. Water damage is something can lead to bigger problems so better be proactive in identifying this.
- RV air conditioner cannot be recharged and thus repairs are costly. Therefor you should make no mistake while operating this appliance in RV.
One smart tip of maintain your RV AC is by managing the thermostat settings of the AC.
One way of doing this is by setting the AC to n’ instead of setting it at a low temperature. By doing this, the AC will automatically adjust the temperature when it achieves the desired heat or cold and distribute the cool air in the RV.
Managing the AC thermostat settings helps prevent overloading the RV capacity and ultimately prolong the lifespan of the AC.
Proactively Hunt For Water Leaks And Damage
You may have checked your RV for leaking spots while cleaning it, but this is not enough. One smart tip for ensuring your RV is free from the annoying leaks and damage is by thoroughly checking for the damage and leaks.
Mold : Water damage can result in molds and mildew and the cleaning can get real tough.
You can do this by running your hands along the door jamb, window seal as well as the slide-out seam. Do this on the inside as well as the outside.
After checking these areas, go on the RV roof and check for leaks and damage by pressing the seals gently using your fingers. Check for any holes and in case you find one, arrange to fix it as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, make sure your RV roof was built to withstand your weight. Otherwise, you risk winding up in your R V living room with a skylight overhead.
Maintain Slide-Outs For Better Functioning
Maintaining the slide-outs is all about taking some preventive measures. One of these measures includes regularly inspecting the slide-out seals.
Lubricate the slide-outs for better functioning.
The seals are responsible for preventing debris as well as other elements from entering the RV. You need to inspect them for any wear and tear so they can be at their best shape.
In addition, you have to frequently clean the seals to avoid dirt and other debris from building up along the tracks. When the dirt or debris builds up along the tracks, the slide-outs can easily fail to function properly.
Sanitize And Keep Water Pipeline Leak Free
You may fall under the category of people who do not have to worry about their supply of water because the taps are constantly running and full of water.
However, when you are in an RV the story may be different without taking the necessary measures.
The RV water system is not connected to any plumbing grid. Thus, you need to connect your RV to the city water using a portable water hose so you can fill up your water tank as you head for the road.
Sanitize : One of the best ways in ensuring your RV water pipeline water system is in the best condition is by frequently sanitizing it and checking for any blockage and leaks.
Maintaining the RV waste water system is also important. Make sure you flush the grey and black water systems often. Use products that are not harsh and avoid chemical that are not recommended by manufacturer.
Change Air filter, Oil and coolants
Inspect air filters, coolants and other hydraulic filters and replace them as needed. Oil should also be changed during your schedules maintenance.
A professional technician can help you with this. Every manufacturer will have a designated number of miles after which it has to be done.
So, do check in the manufacturer manual for this. Same with RV brakes as well,do consult your RV professional on when to replace them.
Follow Maintenance Schedule
Basically, your RV maintenance can be equated to that of your car. Thus, if you have a car, maintaining your RV will not be that difficult. RV maintenance involves checking the generator, the battery, the seams and seals as well as the roof.
A lot RVs stay idle during winter season and go into storage. You should properly sanitize all the water systems and store the RV with full protection in storage.
Since the RV is not used as often as the other vehicles, make sure you start and run it for a few hours once a month. This will keep the engine in good shape and avoid any problems that may occur when the RV sits for a long period.
Also, cleaning the RV should be part of your RV maintenance schedule and this can be done at least three times a year when the RV is not in use. As you clean it, you can also check for other damage and leaks.
As seen from the above text, maintaining your RV is not difficult and does not take much of your time. All you have to do is to be thorough whenever you do any checks or clean the RV.
Cost of RV maintenance
RV Maintenance cost can vary depending on what type of RV you have. A Motorhome like class A or class C will have bigger needs as compared to a small pop up camper.
If you own a standard RV like travel trailer or a class B Motorhome expect to spend anything around $400 to $1200 per year on maintenance.
Having said this, it obviously will depend on lot of factors.
It also depends on how old your RV is. With more years the maintenance will also be more. For example, RV roof initially will not need much maintenance but with years the cost will increase.
Maintaining an RV can be hard but if you take it step-by-step and each thing at a time, it can be much easier. Getting professional help is also key. As a new RVer you may not have experience with dealing things. Get the required help initially and once you are accustomed do the preventive maintenance, you will be better at it. As they say, you learn a lot with experience.