10 Simple Tips to Help Maintain the RV

Ten tips to keep your RV working smoothly

Taking the time to do a few preventative measures to our RVs will pay big dividends down the road. Just like you take your car in on a regular basis for a tuneup and oil change, don’t forget about our good old motorhome or trailer.

Most maintenance procedures are very simple and can be done ourselves without a big outlay of cash to a pro RV technician. The following are 10 simple items you can tackle yourself.

1. Lubrication – A little lube goes a long way. Keep all the hinges, locks, sliders, and basically, anything that moves well lubricated. I find the best lube to keep on hand is a dry silicone type. Works well in almost all applications and resists attracting dirt.

2. Tighten – Our RV is basically a house on wheels and  exposed to minor earthquakes during every trip. Things are going to come loose. Every so often grab a screwdriver and a wrench and give everything a re-tightening. This little preventative maintenance can save you big time. Pay special attention to items attached to the outside that may fly off during transit and safety risks IE. Ladder rungs.

3. Clean it – Mechanically everything works better when clean, dirt and grit cause wear. A good coat of quality wax and UV protectants will keep the rig looking sweet and extend the life of many of the materials.

4. Tires – Inflate to recommended specifications and check them often. Inspect for any imperfections before travel. Keep lug nuts tightened to proper torque settings. Get a torque wrench and learn how to use it. Minimize exposure to the sun.

5. Tanks – Sanitize the fresh water tank as often as needed. For me, it depends on how much I use it, but usually every couple months I’ll run some bleach mixture through the system. I use some Borax and Calgon water softener in my black and galley tanks to clean and deodorize. Also when dumping I make sure to have a nearly full tank to properly expel the solids with a good flushing action. This will help avoid the dreaded poo pyramid!

6. Lights – Carry spares for every type of bulb your RV uses. Check the signal and marker lights for proper function before every trip.

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7. Seals and Seams – Keep very close tabs on the external seals and seams. Look for any cracking or holes, especially on the roof. Water penetration generally causes the most damage to RVs of anything. One reason is the leak can go unnoticed inside a wall for a long period of time and causes rot and worse mold to develop.

I’ve recently redone all my roof seams with a product called Eternabond tape. I believe it will reduce my maintenance and provide a better seal than caulking alone.

8. Voltage Checks – Get yourself a cheap multimeter or tester lights and keep tabs on your main voltages. The main coach batteries should be between 12.4 volts – 12.8 volts when not being charged, anything below 12 volts is definitely too low. As far as the AC voltage goes, below 108 volts is too low and higher than 130 volts is too high.

I highly recommend getting an EMS (electrical management system) to monitor things for you and provide protection when needed.

9. Look underneath – I know it’s a pain but its well worth inspecting under the rig every once in a while. Have a look for loose, corroding or broken items. A quick inspection can save you from being stranded on the side of a highway.

10. Exercise all systems – Systems that are left dormant in the RV for long periods of time should be run periodically. As an example when on full hookups for extended periods it’s a good idea to use the water pump occasionally and run the generator for a half hour or so every month.

11. Bonus Tip – Check your Smoke, Propane, and Carbon Monoxide sensors on a regular basis. Make sure they have power or fully charged batteries.

Those are some basic things I do to maintain the RV. Want to see some more handy tips? Check out our growing RV tips and tricks archive. Cheers Ray

10 Simple Tips to Help Maintain the RV from the Love Your RV! blog - http://www.loveyourrv.com/ #RV #Tips

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  • Jan

    Thanks for all those great tips Ray! I have been an RV owner for almost 20 years now – currently owning a 30ft Jayco fifth wheel and in all 3 of my previous RV’s – one of the best investments I found was purchasing a high quality RV cover. If anybody has ever spent the money to detail their RV at a cost of 10 to 30 dollars a foot – a well quality crafted cover is a fraction of that cost! The product that I purchased in the past and currently own is the Goldline Cover by a company named Rec Covers Direct. I am a true believer that it has saved me countless hours of exterior maintenance and money.

    • Great tip Jan, thanks. 🙂 I know it has really paid off for my wife’s boat. It goes into storage while we are away in the winter, so she has a nice heat shrunk cover for it. Really has kept it looking good. Cheers Ray

  • Fire Safety, those fire escape windows open very hard at first and when they have not been opened in a long while so open them up all the way and show your young ones how to open them. Practice a fire drill, make sure they know how to open those fire windows and climb out if needed.

  • Yes, I have a infra red thermometer and bearing grease, but no bearings, etc. Good idea though, I should pick some up,they don’t take up much room and sure could get us mobile a lot quicker in case of a failure. Thanks for the tip Jim

  • OK. I had an elec fireplace add too much ambiance when it started actually smoking last week. I’m calling the manufacturer at my dealer’s suggestion, even thought the warranty is up on it. So, I’m ready to think about EMS. Frankly, the whole topic is scary. I am full timing at a job where we get all of our services from service wagons. The elec is provided by the company’s generators that are on a wagon with the water and diesel that runs the generator.

    I don’t even know what to ask, really. Any suggestions for the purchase of one of those? We’re 50 amp and it’s a 2012 Diamond Edition Brookstone by Coachman. We have a wonderful double frig/freezer and micro/convec oven and washer and dryer, 2 AC units.

    If I plug one of these into the supply, is it going to just shut down everything if there’s a fluctuation in power? Like I said… lots of concerns here. I haven’t even wanted to think about this.

    Would appreciate any help working through it.

    • I use a EMS made by Progressive Industries see my review here – http://www.loveyourrv.com/progressive-industries-model-ems-hw30c/

      Great company, US made and Lifetime warranty.

      It is available in 50 amps, protects against spikes and surges, will shut down the power if it gets lower then 108 volts or higher than 130 volts. It will turn back on when the power is OK again. It is available in a hard wired version which I got or a portable one you just plug in outside. The one I use has digital readouts that display the current amp use, voltage levels and if something went wrong it shows the error code used to find out what went wrong.

      There are cheaper surge protectors on the market for 75-100 dollar range but they don’t have the auto shutdown protections. The EMS – Electrical Management System ones are the good ones and much more sophisticated.

      Your rig also has circuit breakers and as far as the electric fire place goes I’m surprised the breaker didn’t trip if it had shorted out and was smoking. I guess it needs to be looked at to diagnose what went wrong.

      • jim

        I noticed you carry quite an assortment of tools. Do you carry a spare wheel bearing, races and seals? I do so I can change out the bearing in a few mintues anywhere almost. I also carry an infra red thermometer and check the wheel brakes and bearings each stop.

      • I’ve ordered the EMS and it’s going to the shop of the repair people who help us down here! Thanks!