Is Your RV Ready for the Road?

There’s something magical about a summer road trip. And it’s a standby in literature and movies—from John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley to Smokey and the Bandit.

It's a great time of year for a road trip to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Pictured above is Spider Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Times have certainly changed since Steinbeck and his dog Charley made their way across the country 51 years ago.

But one thing hasn’t changed: A summer road trip is still the best way to see America, see its natural wonders, national parks and monuments, historic sites, and big-name tourist attractions.

Hitting the open road can be the highlight of any spring or summer camping expedition but don’t let preventable maintenance issues put a damper on your vacation.

Prevention is Key

Preventive maintenance is designed to prevent or identify potential problems that could lead to mechanical breakdown, malfunction, or failure of a component or system. Don’t confuse this with regularly scheduled maintenance.

Inspect all the roof and window seals of your RV and reseal any that are showing signs of damage or aging.

Check awnings for damage, mildew, and insects.

Examine the hitch system for wear, loose bolts, and cracks.

Don't let this happen to you? Is your RV ready for the road? (Credit: engadget.com)

Check for cracks in hoses and fan belts and replace if necessary.

Check all lights. Make sure headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functioning properly.

Preventative maintenance applies to the RV interior as well as the exterior. Stains become more difficult to remove when vinyl or leather is allowed to become dry.

Scheduled Maintenance

Scheduled or routine maintenance is performed in intervals normally based on time, mileage, or hours.

Note: It is absolutely essential that you read your owner’s manual and warranty information in regards to who is responsible for what when it comes to scheduled maintenance. Adhere to the service schedule outlined in the manual.

Scheduled maintenance that is required by the manufacturer and not performed can void your warranty.

Safety Alarms

Check Smoke, LPG, and Carbon Monoxide alarms for proper operation and replace batteries as needed.

Battery care

Check the water level in your batteries monthly. Remove the vent caps and look inside the fill wells. Check the electrolyte levels. The minimum level required for charging the battery is at the top of the plates. When you add water, use only distilled water and fill the cell to 1/8 inch below the fill well. Also remove any corrosion on the connections with a wire brush and baking soda/water solution.

Wiper blades

Looking for a great spring or summer getaway? Think Galveston, Texas! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean monthly using rubbing alcohol.

When the rubber meets the road

Tire manufacturers stress that there are four main considerations concerning tire care:

  • Proper air pressure should be maintained
  • Under-inflated tires can cause handling problems, increased tire wear, and even sudden tire failure
  • And don’t just check the pressure at the start of the season, but every time you are heading out
  • Age of the tires; RV tires usually age out before they wear out; tires should be inspected annually, especially after the first five to six years, regardless of the mileage

Emergency Road Service

Even with the best preparation, issues can still arise with your RV, so it’s a good idea to sign up for a roadside assistance plan.

Like any insurance plan, Emergency Road Service is an investment that you hope you’ll never need. But if you spend much time on the road, sooner or later you’ll have a breakdown.

Excellent plans are available from the Good Sam Club, AAA, and CoachNet.

Coach-Net is a technical and emergency roadside assistance program that, among other services, will tow your vehicle to the nearest service center.

Your plan should provide coverage for emergency gas/fuel, lockout service, tire changes, and jump-starts. These services should be available no matter where you travel in the United States or Canada.

Think about your needs and ensure that your emergency assistance plan will meet them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my plan cover all vehicles that we normally travel with: motorhome, toad, trailer?
  • Does my plan include a lodging allowance if we aren’t able to stay in our RV?
  • Am I covered in the U.S. and Canada?
  • Does my plan have an upper limit? A deductible?
  • What hoops do I have to jump through to get reimbursed if I have to pay cash for service?
  • Shop around. Match your plan to your needs and your budget—and you’ll drive with peace of mind this spring and summer.
  • See you down the road and Happy and Safe RVing!

Worth Pondering…
Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

—Fitzhugh Mullan

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