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Maintenance is key as far as RV’s are concerned no matter what RV you have. Whether you own a pop up camper, fifth wheel, class c RV or class A RV, its necessary to do good maintenance.
Travel trailers don’t have their own engine but are towed by a car or truck. Even then they do need good maintenance specially with the towing components.
Travel Trailer Maintenance
A travel trailer body need to be cleaned and taken care of regularly else it may start to leak, specially the roof.
Apart from exterior cleaning and washing make sure interior appliances and equipment’s are also well maintained.
Following a proper schedule for maintaining the RV of any kind is necessary, its shouldn’t only be a annual practice.
|Item||Inspection Type||How often|
|Seals||Check if crumbled or dried. Replace timely to avoid leaks||Annually|
|Trailer Brakes||Check if functioning properly.||Before every trip|
|Tires||Check pressure and thread.||Before every trip|
|Wheel bolts||Check if tight as per torque recommendations||Every 3 months|
|Safety Equipment||Test CO detector and other safety equipment.||Before every trip|
|Propane Tank||Inspect propane pipeline for leaks.||Before every trip|
|Weight||Check travel trailer weight to avoid overloading.||Before every trip|
|Slide out||Check lubrication, seals and proper functioning.||Every 6 months|
|Batteries||Check for charge level, water level.||Before every trip|
|Generator||Run it regularly to keep up for later use.||Once a month|
|Exterior||Check for external damage and cracks||After every trip|
|Floor||Check for soft spots, water damage||Once every 3 months|
|Roof||Check for cracks, leaks and dried up seals||Once every 3 months|
|Awning||Check functioning.||Before every trip|
|Hookup||Inspect for any irregularities||Once every 6 months|
|Internal||Cleaning, inspecting leaks.||After every trip|
|Tanks||Cleaning holding tanks and fresh water tanks||Once every 6 months|
|Heating and cooling||Inspect AC and Heater||Once every 6 months|
|Lights||Check for functioning||Before every trip|
|Hitch||Inspect for corrosion, dirt or water.||Once every 3 months|
Lets go through a major points that need to be on your travel trailer maintenance checklist.
1. Inspect and maintain Awning
RV awning is an important part of your RV or travel trailer. There are few things that you need to do to keep it in good shape. Make use of locks to prevent it from rolling down while traveling. Awning should be washed with gentle brush using a spray of water.
Don’t pack it wet : Make sure the awning is completely dried before you roll it up. Lubricating moving parts of awning is also critical but don’t overdo it as this will allow dust and dirt to catch on it. Do not store the awning if its wet, this can result in growing mold on it.
Cleaning and stabilizing : Using stabilizing kit for the awning can also help a lot to keep it stable. Make sure you use bleach to clean any molds and mildews. During normal cleaning you can either make use of water plus detergent mixture or also opt for special products available online. Fabric used in awning can be vinyl or acrylic, vinyl fabric need to be cleaned gently else you can end up doing damage to it.
2. Maintain Hitches and other towing components
Travel trailer doesn’t have its own engine and the connection that connects it to car or truck is far more critical when you talk about travel trailer maintenance.
Hitches need to be inspected every time you head for Rving. Also when you return back from a long Rving tour make sure the towing component are intact. Since the towing connection is exposed to outside world it attracts lot of dirt and dust, thus make sure it is cleaned and inspected after every Rvig journey.
3. Check roof for leaks
Travel trailer roof can be made up of rubber, fiberglass or aluminium. Each of these have their own properties which make them either stronger or more susceptible for leaking.
First and foremost thing to do is to identify the kind of roof your trailer has. A lot of people RV in their travel trailer but when you ask them what kind roof they have, they wouldn’t have any idea on that.
Inspect regularly : Roof leakage is a very common problem and it can happen due to negligence. Inspecting the roof regularly and sealing the holes or gaps on time can prevent further damage.
The roofs of the RV goes through tough conditions like UV rays, snow, high speed winds and obviously there is chance of damage. Since travel trailer or RV’s in general are higher in height they also have to face tree banging or brushing them. Thus, over a period of time roofs loose their strength and start leaking.Make use of sealant to repair such leaks.
Use right sealant : Getting the right compatible sealant is also important. If you have any doubts talk to the dealer about it. You need to seal the seams so that the issue doesn’t become a permanent one. Repairing the roof right on time can save you a lot. Rubber roofs are better when you compare their average life. However you still need to take good care.
Wash the RV roof to makes sure the dirt and dust is cleaned. You can make use of full RV roof maintenance kit, that will include washing material, and sealing and caulking care maintenance items.
Attention to Minor damages : Smalls cracks developing on roof can become major issue if not attended. To prevent such minor damages inspecting RV properly is also important. If you don’t have proper storage then make use of RV cover. A lot of people use RV covers and they can be really handy to protect the RV roof.
4. Draining Fresh water tank
RV has total three different tanks. One for fresh water and other 2 for holding output from bathroom and toilet.
Fresh water tanks need to be sanitized properly and you cant keep water inside it for too long. Draining the water once after every trip can be really good and you also need to clean the tanks once in while. However if you use the Rv very often then draining may not be needed as you will refiling it again.
But if you are one for those who would take the RV only once in a month or once in two to three months then drain it and refill as needed. Algae can grow in unattended not used water.
Draining of the fresh water tank can be done using the valve that will probably be provided at lower left. Use the valve to drain all water after every trip depending on how big your trip was. It may take hours to drain the water depending on how much is left.
Fill at home : Also, its always better to fill the tank full at home only rather than at some other point. By doing this you know the quality of the water. Draining is one part and the other thing is to clean the tank at least after few months. Before you put the RV for storage make sure the tank is fully emptied and sanitized properly. Make use of chlorine when sanitizing.
5. Make sure trailer brake and lights are working fine
The trailer need to have its own license plate and the brake, lights need to function for signaling. Make sure the wiring used for this is in proper condition and is properly insulated.
Use electric insulation tape to cover any opened wiring so that there are no incidents. RVs in general are very lengthy and you need to be careful while making turns by giving signals.
6. Keeping the Vents open
Vents are a great option to have as they can help maintain good air inside the travel trailer. Roof vents should be kept open or closed is a question that everybody asks. Actually it depends on the weather that is there.
By keeping vents open you are basically allowing fresh air to circulate inside the RV and there by preventing moisture build up inside the RV. A closed and fully insulated RV can result in moisture build-up and thereby causing molds and mildews.
Vents open may not good always : Even when storing the RV making way for air through vents can be great. However there is one point to note, as we said it depends on the weather you are in.
A already moist environment may allow outside moisture to get inside, in which case keeping vents closed is an ideal option. Also if its raining during the winter then keeping vents closed makes sense.
7. Tire maintenance
Travel trailer tires need to be inflated properly. Having right tire pressure on travel trailer tires will make sure the travel is safe.
A tire that is not inflated properly may bust and cause accident. Keeping high pressure in tires results in tires busting, similarly maintaining low pressure can cause the travel trailer to overturn.
Check before you start : Checking tire pressure every time before starting the travel will ensure there wont be any mishap. A lot of people have this confusion as to what should be the correct tire pressure, ideally you should get it written inside the travel trailer or you can also check on tire side walls.
If you have happened to change the tires then check the previous readings and compare it with what was recommended by trailer manufacturer. Having a pressure gauge to check your tire pressure is a great gadget to have. Remember when you are on long journey you need to check it often.
Check pressure during morning time : With high temperatures, the pressure increases and getting to know the exact pressure constantly can be helpful. Also, its better to check pressure during morning time as that’s the time when the temperature isn’t high.
Another thing with tires to check is lug nuts. Loose nuts can be dangerous and can result in tires losing while driving. Make sure that the nuts haven’t got loosened in your previous journey.
Check tire sidewalls for any cracks and splits. A travel trailer tire can be used for 3-5 years or even more but an aging tire will show in its thread. It also depends on how much the tire has run and in what conditions it runs.
Keep check on weight : If you are heavy user and mostly travel through mountainous regions then you need to be more preventive. Do inspect the tire visual every time you are about to hit the road.
You not only have to check pressure of tires but also make sure your travel trailer isn’t overweight. Putting extra weight on trailer you are putting pressure on tires. Its also important to make sure you are not putting uneven weight. Need to keep proper weight distribution.
8. Check and maintain trailer battery
Most people do annual maintenance before putting the RV in storage. With RV battery though the maintenance need to be more regular, it will mostly include checking on battery charging.
A RV battery can last for around 5 years provided it is properly maintained. A lot of Rvers complain that their batteries die a lot faster. And the main reason why this happens is because of not charging them properly. Not keeping them charged fully can result in batteries loosing their capability and ultimately they die.
Check the battery charge : A battery should not be allowed to drop on charge less than 50%. And similarly it should not be overcharged. Most new modern battery connection come with systems that do not charge them after the certain point.
While in storage : Also storing the batteries separately during winter time can make sure they remain in good condition. Checking them while in storage and making sure the charge isn’t lost can help in keeping them fully charged. An idle kept battery even though not in use will loose around 5-8% charge every month. And thus do charge them while in storage once in while.
9. Check and do regular maintenance of air conditioner
Most travel trailers have air conditioners. Small pop up camper or tent trailer normally wont have AC in them. Air conditioner needs proper maintenance specially when you use it so much. Dirt and dust may accumulate in their filters and can result in issues like water leaking from roof.
Clean regularly : Cleaning the drain pane, drain pipes and filter regularly will keep them clean and enhance their overall life. Accessing the roof top ac can be a little challenge but you need to make sure its checked periodically for any such issues.
RV’s that don’t come with roof top ac’s can also go for portable AC’s that can be placed anywhere in the trailer. Roof top AC’s however are best and they cool the camper trailer uniformly.
Clogged pipes and filters : A lot of time we also see the drain pane or pipes are clogged due to dirt and that result in noise. An air conditioner that has most of its part outside the Rv has to go through high winds, dust and other dirt and therefore covering the AC is important.
Repairing : Once an Rv Ac gets old it can start to become less efficient, it wouldn’t cool much or wouldn’t start at all. With AC’s you may not have many options to repair apart from replacing capacitor of the compressor.
Amps : Most of the times when the AC’s are run on lower amps, they start to heat up and cause internal component damage. Therefor make sure you know the electrical amperage required by AC properly.
10. Cleaning and washing the travel trailer
This is an obvious one and you need to do this after every bigger trip. A travel trailer specially on aluminium types can attract a lot of dirt special when you camp near a beach. Fiberglass too need good cleaning and applying wax after cleaning can really put on some shine and protect against weather.
Don’t be harsh : Although the dirt could be tough but still you need to go with a soft brush and mild detergent that wont be too harsh on the trailer body. Using high pressure for washing is also not recommended as it can damage the trailer walls and roof. Its waterproofing may get lost with high pressure wash.
Top to bottom : Also, its only logical to start from top to down. Start washing the roof first and then proceed downwards. Using good hose sprays can help a lot. A big travel trailer cleaning will need good efforts and starting with good hose down will make it easy.
11. Drain and clean both the holding tanks on time
Holding tank sizes of travel trailer may not great and thus you need to keep an eye on its level. Ideally, clear the holding tanks after every trip but if you go through those long tours then you should be doing it while in travel.
Cleaning tank sensors : Many times the holding tank sensors don’t work and for that you need to make sure you get the sensors cleaned using cleaners.
Both grey and black tanks should be cleaned once in while using good strong cleaners that are recommended. To keep the whole water system sanity make sure you take of all the cleaning activity seriously.
12. Clean the interior before storage
The kitchen in any RV need to be cleaned thoroughly before putting the camper for storage. This is not only while the travel trailer is to be put in storage during winter time but any time it will not be used for long time. Any food particles residing inside can attract rodents, insects and can result in smell or odor.
Kitchen cleaning : Cleaning the sink, refrigerator and dining area thoroughly will only keep the travel trailer well maintained. If you are not going to take the travel trailer out for many days then there is no point in keeping the food inside the refrigerator. Make sure you take out all things that are perishable as that can result in algae growth.
You should probably prepare a spreadsheet of all these maintenance item checklist or get a maintenance schedule template for your convenience. Most of the items we have included here will also apply even if you own a fifth wheel, class c rv or class A rv. 5th wheels are almost similar to travel trailer and vary a little bit in terms of the hitch used.