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.
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