Whether you want to use your RV frequently, store it for a while, or sell it in the future, it is important to keep it in good condition at all times. Keeping your recreational vehicle in good shape ensures its dependability and prolongs its resale life.
You should perform RV maintenance in two ways: once every month on a set plan, and once per trip, no matter how brief. Maintaining your RV on a monthly, annual, and seasonal basis (paying special attention to hot- and cold-weather maintenance) ensures that it will always be ready for the road, no matter the weather.
Every trip should begin with a pre-trip maintenance check. Pre-trip inspections are necessary for both long and short trips, regardless of whether you’re taking a tent or sleeping in an RV. If your RV has been sitting for a while and you want to take it out for the first time this season, this may seem like a simple thing to do. You can still benefit from pre-trip maintenance even if you’re just getting ready to leave a campground and drive to your next destination or back home. While traveling, you might take mental note of any details that could eventually become major problems.
Due to the fact that each RV is unique, it is recommended that you create your own checklist based on a set of critical items to inspect both inside and outside the vehicle.
Indeed, there are many specialized features installed in your RV. However, do not let thoughts of RV maintenance, repairs, or unpleasant experiences in the holding tank hinder you from taking the plunge into RV travel. Keeping clean, staying safe, and being prepared to take on RV jobs can help you save money and get out of a jam. Keep reading and you’ll find a ton of tips!
If your vehicle is new, schedule your maintenance visit very soon.
Schedule any warranty repairs you might need for your new recreational vehicle with the dealer service center or the manufacturer before you drive it home. Every new recreational vehicle requires some tweaks and repairs during the “seasoning” phase. Give yourself enough time to “shake down” the RV by taking it out on the road twice or three times before setting out on an extended trip.
Establish a regular maintenance schedule for your RV.
Using the information provided in your RV’s owner’s manual and any supplemental documentation for its systems and appliances, create a maintenance and service schedule for your RV’s various parts. You can also use a tracking app or website, such as Maintain My RV.
Always have a toolkit on hand.
To assemble a box, it’s best to give attention to the small details that you can fix by yourself. Take a tour of your RV’s essential systems, and stock up on spares of things like fuses, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid, bulbs, plumber’s tape, batteries, and more, as well as any small tools you might need to make a repair (e.g. wrenches, screwdrivers).
Use a Tennis ball hitch ball cover.
If you want to protect the hitch but on your towing vehicle from grease stains and potential injuries, you can use a tennis ball. Since tennis balls are so easily spotted, they pose less of a threat of injury and grease stains.
Don’t move your slideout until you’ve leveled your RV.
Before sliding your RV’s windows in or out, make sure the RV is fairly level. The reduced stress on the slideout motor makes the slideouts easier to operate and lessens the likelihood that they will be damaged. Before you attempt to level your RV on your own, it’s a good idea to consult the manual provided by the manufacturer.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
RV service centers can be found in almost any city. Look in the campground’s brochure or ask the staff for suggestions. Technicians who service recreational vehicles on wheels can come to you and quickly repair most issues related to the “house” side of your RV (but not the engine).
Clean, coil and connect your hoses.
Before you leave your campsite, make sure to empty the fresh water and sewage hoses. After that, you can coil them up and join their respective ends. This not only improves the tidiness of your hoses but also decreases the likelihood of leaks and spills on road trips and raises the level of cleanliness in your apparatus.
Use your RV antifreeze efficiently.
Instead of using antifreeze (the kind made for RV water systems) to fill your fresh water tank, you should get an extra section of water line and attach it to the intake side of your water pump. You can winterize your RV with less RV antifreeze by using this hose to access the jugs of antifreeze instead of draining the fresh water tank.
Let your awning get clean on its own.
Extend your awning, apply an awning cleaner designed for RVs, and then roll it up again. After 15 minutes of soaking, unroll your awning and thoroughly rinse it to remove any remaining cleaner.
Always keep EternaBond tape on hand for quick repairs.
Keep a roll of EternaBond seam and leak repair tape on hand for mending leaky roofs, sealing seams, fixing tears, patching hoses, and repairing minor damage to tents, canoes, and camping chairs. Don’t use this tape as a quick fix that you’ll eventually take off. EternaBond from the name itself, lasts for decades, and it often does.
Have a headlamp handy.
Having an LED headlight in your RV is a smart investment. It’s often easier to fix something when you don’t have to use a second pair of hands (which may not be readily available), and having your hands free to do so also helps. Select a rechargeable headlamp to avoid constantly buying new batteries.
Moreover, there are models that can be charged with a smartphone charger, reducing the number of cables you need to keep track of.
Reduce moisture and stop the growth of mold.
Condensation from showering, cooking, or even just breathing inside an RV in damp climates can make the air feel damp, contribute to the growth of mold, and prevent towels from drying. You can reduce the humidity inside the RV by using the air conditioner or heat pump, if it has one. Instead of turning up the heat or air conditioning, a dehumidifier can be used to keep the air drier and speed up the drying process in humid climates.
Get foam mats for your RV.
In order to protect your knees and your back while you work on your RV, bring along a couple of interlocking foam gym mats or a small yoga mat. You’ll be elevated off the ground and supported by a cushion.
Use a jack for added stability on your doorway.
You can make your RV’s entry steps feel more stable by placing leveling blocks or a small jack (bottle jacks are compact) under them.
Use water to easily check your RV propane level.
Gather water from the sink and pour it into a gallon-sized pitcher, pot, palm tree, or small pail. (About a gallon of water is sufficient; boiling it is unnecessary.) It is best to wet the exterior of the propane tank from the bottom up, so pour the entire pitcher of water down one side. Then, put your palm down on the tank’s water. Warm to the touch after being submerged in hot water. However, the bottom of the tank will be chilly because propane is so cold. You can feel the transition from the warmer upper tank to the cooler lower tank by moving your hand up and down the tank. The propane level in the tank can be easily determined by looking at the level at which that line begins to divide the tank.
Use a power drill to adjust stabilizer jacks with ease.
As an alternative to manually winding the jacks up and down, you can use a cordless power drill with a socket attachment to easily raise and lower your trailer’s stabilizer jacks. Instead of using a wrench, you can use a drill, which is much quicker and simpler. (But don’t throw away the hand crank just yet; you never know when the socket might break or the drill’s battery might run out.)
Replace cheaper RV components more frequently to prevent costly repairs.
Ask the service technician if there are any other low-cost parts in that area of the RV’s equipment that could be replaced as a preventative measure while it’s already there getting a labor-intensive repair. This strategy can save money in the long run by preventing the need to replace a relatively inexpensive but inconvenient part.
Don’t skip out on a water pressure regulator.
Bring along a pressure gauge and water pressure regulator to use with the public water supply. Water pressures in RV parks can be anywhere from 15 to 130 psi. The typical RV plumbing system is designed to handle only 60 psi, so any water leaks or burst pipes can result in extensive and costly repairs. When you install a water pressure regulator with a gauge, you can control the water pressure to the exact level you need.
Take precautions to protect your water supply especially during cold weather.
Fill your fresh water tank at least halfway or completely before venturing out into cold weather, and bring your fresh water hose (and water filter, if you have one) indoors to avoid any potential damage from freezing water. Wait until it’s safe to go outside again, and in the meantime drink water directly from your fresh tank.
Run the toilet paper test.
To know if your preferred brand of toilet paper is septic safe and thus appropriate for use in a recreational vehicle, you can test it by placing a sheet in a jar or container of water. Aid it in closing, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Shake the bottle or jar to see if the toilet paper sheets separate; if they don’t, you can’t use them in your RV. The piping and fixtures in a building. Septic-safe toilet paper readily disintegrates into many small pieces and can be used in an RV. A gentle reminder that only human waste and septic-safe toilet paper should be flushed down your recreational vehicle’s toilet.
Avoid a black tank nightmare.
Hold off on opening the black tank valve until you’re ready to dump your tanks to prevent solid waste from drying out, piling up, and becoming a pain to remove. Hold off on dumping until the waste tanks are at least half full to ensure there is enough water to flush everything away.
Empty the black tank first.
Turn on the gray tank’s valve to empty the tank and clean the drain hose of any leftover debris from the black tank. If you accidentally cleaned your grey tank first, and you want to avoid a stinky slinky, leave the gray tank valve closed for a day or two before emptying the black tank.
Don’t let money influence your decision when buying a hose.
Invest in a high-quality hose to empty your black tank. The last thing you want to happen is an unsuccessful black tank dump.
Use a sewer support.
In order to keep your sewer hose from winding around like a garden hose and causing a major mess for you and your neighbors, you should use a sewer hose support (required in some counties).
Use a holding tank treatment.
When you need to dissolve solids in your RV’s toilet tank, try using Happy Campers. and eliminate the odor of the tank.
Use disposable gloves and disinfect your RV.
Avoid getting dirty and spreading germs while working on your RV. Have some disinfecting wipes and disposable gloves on hand.
Always double check your connection.
Make sure the dump hose is securely attached to the drain. If you don’t want your sewage to spill out, keep it in place at the end with your foot, a stone, or something else heavy.
Remember to flush the tank, often.
Use the RV’s black tank flush/rinse feature frequently after dumping to keep the tank clean (well, relatively speaking). If you’re a frequent camper and you use a full-hookup site, try to flush and rinse the black tank every other time you dump. When storing your RV for the winter, if you only camp occasionally, be sure to flush and rinse the tank.
Always bring a 90-degree hose elbow.
The water faucet at many campgrounds is situated quite low to the ground, making it difficult to connect a water hose to it. Bring a compact metal elbow with a 90-degree bend to attach to the sink’s spout. It will be much simpler to connect the hose from the elbow’s opposite end to the hose itself, keeping the latter straight and free from kinks. These elbow extensions are sold in many outdoor stores and can be found online.
Immediately remove dirty gloves.
It’s easy to remember to put on gloves before tackling a dirty task like emptying the septic tank, but you might forget to take them off afterwards. In order to prevent spreading germs, wash your hands thoroughly after touching anything other than the gloves, such as the water faucet, the door handle keys, and so on.
Clean your tanks thoroughly for accurate gauge readings.
If the readings on your septic tank level gauges are unclear, try filling your black and gray tanks halfway with hot soapy water and sloshing it around before you take off on your next drive. To loosen debris from the walls of the black tank, where the sensors are, pour a bag or two of ice cubes down the toilet (instead of using hot water). The ice should be melted and ready to dump by the time you get there. The ‘drive and clean’ routine can be improved by including a cup of Calgon bath beads to soften the water and a bottle of Pine-Sol to clean the tank and eliminate odors. When you get there, empty your tanks and give them a good scrub.
Clear a clogged drain with septic-safe products.
In case your sink doesn’t drain properly, run some hot water into the sink after you’ve removed the metal drain cover and slithered it with a plastic drain snake to get rid of any tangles of hair. Then, pour half a cup of white vinegar down the drain after packing a cup of baking soda down it. There will be a reaction and lots of bubbling up will occur. Alternatively, you could combine the baking soda and vinegar in a container, give it a quick stir, and then flush it down the toilet. The clogged gunk can be broken up by waiting 30-60 minutes. For an inexpensive and simple septic-safe drain-fix, follow up by pouring a gallon or two of hot water down the drain to flush away your troubles.
Use vinegar to fix a leaky RV toilet.
Many recreational vehicle toilets, in contrast to residential plumbing, store water in the front of the unit, in the form of a rubber seal. If lime or other deposits build up, the seal may fail and allow water to seep through. White vinegar can help solve the problem of a leaky toilet bowl. in addition to sitting for at least half an hour. If the deposits are indeed dissolved, the problem should be solved. In that case, you may need to use a plastic knife or spoon to scrape the gasket. A better seal can be achieved by applying plumber’s grease to the gasket.
Preventative RV Care
Protect your RV’s windshield wipers from the sun.
Every time you park your RV somewhere, whether it’s a campground or a storage facility, slide the foam over the wiper blades. This will protect them from the sun’s rays, which can cause cracking, and keep them clear of debris like leaves, twigs, and dirt that could fall or be blown onto your RV. It will not only keep your windshield wipers clean and in good working order when you use them, but it will also save you money by reducing the frequency with which you need to purchase costly RV wiper blades.
Tilt the RV awning to keep water from puddling.
Keep your patio awning from looking perfectly straight by extending one arm further than the other. Rainwater can be directed away from collecting in the center of the awning’s fabric by angling one side down slightly.
Use Surge Protectors always.
It’s best to use a dedicated external surge protector on your RV to keep it safe from electrical spikes. It is not uncommon for power to surge or spike at RV parks with extremely outdated electrical systems, especially on hot days when many campers are running air conditioners.
Check the dates on your RV tires to see if they reached their end.
One of the most crucial things you can do to ensure the security of your RV is to inspect the tires and replace them if they are worn. Tires on recreational vehicles tend to deteriorate from age rather than excessive mileage. RV tires should be replaced every 7 to 10 years, or sooner if they are worn or have been damaged by the sun. The production date of most tires can be found in a four-digit code. If you look on the tire’s sidewall, you’ll see a four-digit number inside an oval. The first two digits indicate the year the tires were produced, while the second two indicate the specific week of production. A week number like 2921 indicates that the tires were produced in the twenty-ninth week of 2021.
Get your warranties set up for your RV and appliances ASAP.
Your RV, in contrast to a car or truck, is built with parts and pieces from a variety of manufacturers, each of which offers its own warranty. Upon purchasing a new recreational vehicle, it is imperative that you register the RV with the RV manufacturer and the warranties for the other equipment (such as the refrigerator, microwave, water heater, stove, TVs, etc.) with the respective manufacturers. Even though it may take some time, if something breaks and needs to be fixed, the cost may be covered by the component’s manufacturer’s warranty.
Protect your RV tires from sun damage.
RV tires can be very expensive to replace. They usually age out before they wear out. Its sidewalls can be damaged gradually by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can eventually lead to the tires failing before their time. When parking the RV outside for an extended period of time, protecting the tires with white covers is a good idea. When the tire covers are not in use, applying a good UV inhibitor product to the sidewall can help.
Spread wax on the front of your RV to keep bugs off.
One of the many enjoyable aspects of RVing during the warmer months is cleaning out the bug guts from the front of your RV. If you’re going to be on the road for a while, you should probably wash down the windshield and fill the front tank with water. This makes it much easier to remove bug poop with a damp rag or a squeegee from a gas station later on.
Remember to check if any items were pushed under or hidden behind your slides.
A bent and unwound wire coat hanger can be useful if something rolls under the slideout of your RV. Or, you could just slide the seal outside and access the back.
Use noodles to protect your head from some bumps.
Cut pool noodles or pipe insulators into lengths and lace them along the outside edges of your extended slideouts for added protection. Bigger, thicker, and brightly colored pool noodles are more visible, while discreet gray-black pipe insulators are available. They’re both cheap. Noodles from the pool can be used to cushion the arms of an awning, the bottoms of stakes driven into the ground, and a whole lot more besides. To ensure the slide fully closes, you should take care to remove them before re-inserting the slideouts.
Protect your RV’s awning from wind damage by putting it away when you’re not using it.
One of RV’s most wear-and-tear components is its awning. Repairing or replacing an RV’s awning can be time-consuming and costly. Be aware of the possibility of windy weather by monitoring forecasts. Remember to fold up the awning and store it before leaving the RV. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as winds can pick up unexpectedly and suddenly.
Protect your slideout seals from sun damage.
Use a UV protectant, such as 303 Aerospace Protectant, on your rubber slideout seals to keep them in good condition. This keeps a better seal and stops them from drying out.
Keep the RV pest-free with common household items.
Rodents and other pests can be scared away with a steel wool and Irish Spring soap bars. You can use soap shards to repel pests by scattering them around your RV’s tires and other parts that come into contact with the ground. The fresh scent will also deter them from coming near your RV.
Always measure before putting out your slides.
Do the easy DIY measurement to make sure your slide outs won’t hit any obstacles before you set up camp and extend them. You can get an accurate measurement of your RV’s slideout depth by standing next to it with your back against the RV’s wall while the slide is fully extended. Simply extending your arm out 90 degrees will allow you to see the end of the slideout in relation to your arm. Standing with your back against the RV and extending an arm can help ease your mind when parking in a tight campsite, Slide outs and storage areas should be approached with the same method to avoid parking too closely to obstacles that could cause damage or restrict access.
Test food safety with a coin.
If you want to know if your food is safe, don’t flip a coin—freeze one instead. Fill a container halfway with water, seal it with a lid, and freeze it if you need to leave it in the refrigerator unattended while you are away. After it has frozen, remove it from the freezer, open the lid, and set a coin on top of the ice before closing the lid again. If the power goes out long enough for the water in your RV refrigerator to melt, the coin will sink below the surface to indicate how deep the thaw was, even if the power is restored and the water refreezes. If you come back and find the coin above the ice, you can be sure that the temperature has not changed. If the coin lands in the bottom slot, you can safely assume that the temperature in your refrigerator and freezer has dropped far enough to render the food unsafe to eat.
Use vent covers to keep bugs out of your rig.
In order to prevent unwanted insects from entering your RV through the exterior vents, you should invest in some mesh vent screens. The screens don’t restrict airflow from the appliance to the outside, and they keep pests like critters and bats out of the vent opening. These screens can be purchased from any outdoor gear retailer or on the internet.
Write down the ideal tire pressure on each tire.
Safe driving and optimal fuel economy both depend on maintaining the right tire pressure. When driving a multi-axle rig or a tow vehicle, you may need to keep track of three or four separate tire pressure psi figures. Take a label maker like a DYMO and place one above each tire’s fender rim to indicate the correct tire pressure. You can find more RV driving tips here.
Tips for Improved Comfort
Have a team mentality when tackling your to-do list.
Make sure everyone in your RV is contributing to the set-up and take-down processes on travel days and at your destination. Your group’s productivity will rise and its output will accelerate if everyone has a clear role to play and a set of instructions to follow. This is a fantastic idea for fostering camaraderie and making the most of your RV camping trip as a group.
Give yourself time to get to know you RV travel habits.
In the first year of RV ownership, you should hold off on making any significant improvements. You might want to start pimping out your new RV by installing fancy new features like a solar power system, a massive battery bank, or a brand new refrigerator. Discover your own travel habits and preferences first. Spend some time getting familiar with the ins and outs of your RV before making any final choices. This preliminary exploration will help you define your requirements. Then, you can put that extra cash toward RV upgrades that are truly worth it for you and your travel preferences.
Add grip to your steps.
For easier entry and exit, you should equip your RV’s entry steps with strips of anti-slip grip tape. The shower floor can benefit from a few strips of grip tape to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Add lights to your outdoor RV entryway.
Your RV’s entry steps will be safer and more visible in the dark if you tape them with reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape. Battery-operated motion sensor lights are convenient and can be mounted above the front door.
Warm your RV with light bulbs.
A simple light bulb can do a surprising amount of heating for a small room. Lighting must produce heat, so LEDs are out. Incandescents and halogens work best. When searching for replacement light bulbs. See what kind of energy consumption rating they have. A higher wattage bulb is more likely to generate a higher temperature. If you want to use this light, make sure you don’t exceed the maximum wattage it can handle.
Stay cool with some window tint.
You can increase privacy inside your RV, decrease solar heat, and gain UV protection by applying window tint film to the skylight and windows.
Reduce heat in your RV with external shades.
You can lessen the amount of heat generated inside your RV by the sun by installing external shades over the windshield. It’s much more effective than using window shades and coverings inside your RV to prevent the sun’s rays from entering the space.
Count your generator hours to determine if you should go solar.
The cost of generator fuel can be estimated by keeping track of the number of hours used during off-grid camping trips. If you’re thinking about installing solar panels or lithium-ion batteries as part of a future power upgrade, you can easily determine how soon your initial investment will pay off.
Use dryer sheets to get rid of the dead insects.
After a drive, use a camp cryer sheet to remove any lingering dead bugs or insects from the front of your RV, truck, or windshield. They won’t harm the paint, but they’ll do a great job of removing the bugs, especially if you clean the bug guts off right away.
Store your RV cover in a clean trash can.
To protect your recreational vehicle from the elements during the winter, you’ll need a large RV cover. The storage cover is extremely difficult to reseal once it has been removed from its bag. Get a big rolling trash can and toss the old bag. The RV cover and its accessories can be stored away with ease. To store it away until later use, simply roll it up.