Preparing the RV for Snowbird Season

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After spending the summer stationary in one RV site this year I had many things to do while preparing the RV for snowbird season down south. Our journey down to the US southwest will see us cover several thousand miles in a short time so the truck and trailer need to be inspected and in tip-top mechanical condition.  Also, this is a good time to do some maintenance odds and ends, organize our stuff and give everything a good clean-up. The following is a list of things I do.

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My Preparing the RV for Snowbird Season Checklist

Truck maintenance and repair

The truck is my number one priority. If the truck doesn’t go, we and our trailer are dead in the water. A few weeks before departure the truck heads to the mechanic for an oil change and anything else maintenance wise that is due. This year it was time for the fuel filter, serpentine belt, and front brakes. I also pay for a full inspection just in case there is anything wrong that I myself have missed. I’d rather spend a little money for the piece of mind and not be stuck on the side of a highway.

Trailer Tires, Brakes, and Axle Bearings

Once the truck is fixed up next is our fifth wheel trailer. We put a lot of miles on it every year so it gets a good inspection of the tires, brakes, and axle bearings. This year I felt best to re-lube the axle bearings and change out the seals. I took it to a local RV service center and had the work done. I’m fairly handy mechanically but wanted a professional to perform this particular work. It’s not only messy but if done wrong has the potential to be very unsafe. They also clean and adjust the brakes and check the breakaway emergency brake operation. This year during the visual inspection they discovered a broken shim on one of the brakes backing plate and it needed to be replaced. Nice to catch it early before any major problems occurred.

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RV Holding Tanks

When sitting for so long and not getting the benefit of motion to help clean the RV waste tanks they can get pretty mucked up so before we depart I add some extra tank cleaner and give them several full flushes. This is also a good time to inspect the sewer hose and hardware for any cracks or potential problems. The freshwater tank gets a good sanitizing as it has sat unused for months due to us being on full hookups. Before I head to the RV service lot for the axle work I half fill the fresh tank and add a half cup or so of bleach. This gives it a chance to swirl around in there during the trip. Then a few days before departure I run the bleach mixture through the water lines, refill the fresh tanks and repeat.

Purge the Weight

As you full time in your RV, you tend to collect things and slowly the RV gets more and more packed with stuff. This stuff bit by bit adds a surprising amount of weight to the RV. Usually, when passing through Oregon I stop at one of many free roadside weigh stations and check our weight. I was shocked last spring when I recorded a weight around 500 lbs. higher than just a year ago. Time to purge! So this year we pulled everything out of the storage bays and cupboards and made some serious decisions on what we really needed. Anything that we hadn’t used in the last year can go, short of safety equipment of course. Our weight is down and we are nicely organized now.

A few other quick things I do

  • Lube storage bay locks and hinges
  • Defrost refrigerator
  • Clean and condition rubber roof
  • Visually inspect all seams and seals
  • Wax front fiberglass cap real well – really helps ease bug removal
  • Flush out the water heater
  • Check all lights – make sure I  have a good assortment of replacements
  • Check AC operation and clean filter
  • Steam clean the RV carpet and upholstery
  • Check bolt torque on suspension, kingpin and hitch
  • Lubricate the hitch
  • Add water to truck and RV batteries if required
  • Run the generators for an hour or so
  • Clean the barbecue


After performing the aforementioned tasks it’s a good feeling as we set out on another fun-filled snowbird season. I have the piece of mind that I have prepared us and hopefully, we don’t have any nasty mechanical surprises.

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