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How to Maintain and Protect Your RV

Updated on April 22, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

The best way to maintain and protect your RV is to practice preventive maintenance.
The best way to maintain and protect your RV is to practice preventive maintenance. | Source

One thing sellers rarely tell RV buyers is how important it is to practice preventive maintenance in order to protect their travel units.

Few people who buy them realize that unless they do this, their coaches will develop serious and ongoing problems and will also quickly lose their value.

Many avoid doing this because maintenance and repairs are expensive, and they feel they don't know enough to be able to take care of this task themselves.

However, there are many simple, easy things owners can do themselves to keep their coaches in good shape, and they should take the time to learn about them so that they can be safer when driving and also keep from having accidents.

When marker lights don't work, air pressure in tires has not been checked or gas tanks leak it is a sure sign that an owner

  • does not understand the importance of checking for problems,
  • does not feel he has the ability to do so or
  • simply is ignorant about what must be done.

All sorts of bad things happen when people RV, so finding and repairing issues before they become problematic protects travelers and can even save their lives.

Checking to make sure that generators and engines are working is important.
Checking to make sure that generators and engines are working is important. | Source

Keep Problems Small

You don't have to be a mechanic in order to regularly walk through or around your vehicle to look for small problems that have the potential of growing into large ones.

Doing this can help you to catch issues that can often be repaired with a bit of caulk or a simple screen cleaning.

Any experienced RVer will tell you that just walking around your coach before pulling out of a campsite helps you to remember to put your antenna down, your stairs in and take similar steps that will help you to avoid breakage as you travel down the road.

Maintenance Jobs Anybody Can Do

Here is a list of basic things anybody can do that will help to keep their coaches road ready and their fellow travelers safe.

  1. replace batteries in smoke and gas detectors so that they continue to function,
  2. clean interior air conditioning filters to avoid damage to AC units,
  3. keep gray water tanks open when camping to avoid flooding,
  4. make sure air pressure in tires is adequate and equal,
  5. check tires regularly for damage,
  6. add water to coach batteries as needed,
  7. check generator and engine oil levels, and add oil as needed,
  8. dump and clean holding tanks regularly to avoid odors and clogs,
  9. run the coach generator and engine once each month to keep them lubricated,
  10. check propane pipes for leaks as needed by soaking suspected problem areas with Bubble Stuff or soapy water,
  11. replace interior as well as exterior covers on lights and brakes as needed,
  12. caulk around external lights, doors and windows to prevent water leaks,
  13. put the right kind of gas or diesel fuel in your engine,
  14. use appliances properly,
  15. tie down and tilt awnings when camping,
  16. upgrade gas and smoke detectors as needed,
  17. make sure all windows and doors lock properly,
  18. raise awnings and lock them in place if a storm is coming, and
  19. replace or repair broken screens as needed.
  20. check brake and exterior lights to make sure they are working.
  21. wash and wax your RV regularly, making sure to use gentle products.
  22. clean and disinfect your coach regularly as well.

If you feel you don't have the ability to do some of these things yourself, there are many learning resources available to you that cost nothing.

Where to Find Help

If you need help you can

  • check YouTube for instructional videos,
  • log onto an RV Forum and ask for help,
  • ask an RV repair person for guidance,
  • talk to other owners about your issues or
  • read manuals and books that deal with RV repairs.

Your coach should come with manuals that deal specifically with your brand and model of unit, but you may want something that is less complicated to understand that can help you to take care of basic problems such as the one I show below.

My husband and I always carry this manual with us when we travel so that if something comes up while we're away from home we can at least get an overview of the issue so that we can intelligently deal with a repair shop.

In many cases, it gives us enough information to show us how to make the repair ourselves.

RV Systems

RVs are composed of numerous systems. Some, such as engines and generators are more important than others, but can only be maintained by professional repair people.

Others, such as CD players and Microwave Ovens matter less because they can be easily replaced.

Some, however, you must be able to maintain yourself.

Three that I outline below require a good deal of preventive maintenance which, while not difficult to do, are extremely important to vehicle safety as well as the overall comfort and well being of travelers.

RV Tank Maintenance

Black, Gray and Fresh Water Tanks are the heart of any RV.

No matter how well maintained the rest of your travel unit, if you don't properly care for these tanks, your coach will smell so bad that you won't want to travel or live in it.

In some cases, you won't even be able to use it without spending a good deal of money for repairs due to breakage and clogging.

How to Dump, Clean and Protect Your RV's Black Water Tank and How to Care for Your RV's Fresh Water Tanks provide specific directions that will help you with these issues.

Every owner must learn how to maintain tanks themselves, so these are "must read" articles!

Learning how to maintain your RV tanks is important.
Learning how to maintain your RV tanks is important. | Source

RV Appliance Upkeep

Preventive Maintenance also includes checking air conditioning units, refrigerators, washing machines, vent fans, propane tanks and other appliances you need to be able to use during RV trips.

In many cases, this is a simple matter of turning them on to make sure they are still working or wiping or washing filters to rid them of dirt and dust.

For example, refrigerators that have been stored for awhile may not work because their vents have become clogged with leaves, dead bugs or dirt.

Using an air compressor to simply blow out the vent that is located behind the outside door of the refrigerator is usually enough to get a unit working again.

You can pay someone to do this for you, but you can do it yourself for free if you take the time to learn how.

Doing it will be good for your refrigerator and good for you, as well!

Choosing the right tires for your RV and then maintaining them properly can save your life.
Choosing the right tires for your RV and then maintaining them properly can save your life. | Source

Tire Maintenance

Tires are the heart of any recreational vehicle, so taking good care of them really matters.

The Best Ways to Buy, Maintain and Safely Use RV Tires is a "must read" article for anybody who owns a recreational vehicle.

The information it provides might well save your life, so do invest some time in reading it.

There isn't a travel day that goes by when my husband isn't checking our tires several times, and when we buy RV tires, we are careful to make sure that they are

  • of good quality,
  • properly rated to carry the weight of our coach and
  • match one another for brand, size and air pressure.

Safety has always been our number one priority, and one way we achieve it is to take great care with tire maintenance.

Do It Yourself, and Do It Right

If you want to have sanitary, sweet smelling, safe and relatively trouble free vacations, it will pay you to learn how to perform preventive maintenance on your camper, travel trailer or motor home.

Furthermore, doing so will save you a small fortune on repair costs and produce more income when it comes time to sell your coach.

The items mentioned in this article are not difficult to do, and learning how to do them is fairly easy.

The effort you expend will be a small price to pay for the many benefits you’ll receive because maintaining and protecting your recreational vehicle will make travel a true pleasure.

Do you agree that it's important to keep your RV in good condition?

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