Getting Your RV Ready for Summer Travel

It’s finally time to pull the RV out from the garage or bring it home from winter storage.

With the snow melted and the campgrounds opening, it’s tempting to jump in and head off right away.

Bernheim Forest near Louisville, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bernheim Forest near Louisville, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But prior to setting out, RV owners need to perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure that their weekend getaway goes smoothly.

Exterior Inspection

The first thing to do is a visual inspection of your RV exterior. Check to see if any damage was sustained over winter, looking especially for evidence of water leaks. In particular, focus on the roof and caulking around windows, vents, air-conditioning unit, and doors. Look for cracks, holes, stains, separations, and leaks. Also, check for nests and evidence of chewing activity.

La Conner, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roll out the awning and inspect it for tears. Check the fluid levels and top them up as necessary. Inspect hoses for any tears or holes, and valves for leaks.

Ensure your RV and tow vehicle/toad have had all required maintenance.

Wash the exterior in the shade with a mild soap remembering to clean the tires.

Tire Check

Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means more money for fuel. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowouts.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean the tires and rims and inspect them for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls or between the treads. Treat these seriously and get them repaired before you head out for your first camping trip. Don’t forget to check that your lug nuts are tightened.

If you have a travel or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Battery Check

Check your RVs batteries and top off cells with distilled water. Be sure to replace multiple battery banks together. If your batteries need to be cleaned, make sure they are disconnected and use a hot water and baking soda mixture to clean them. Wear safety glasses and latex gloves.

Osoyoos, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Osoyoos, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Propane Tank Check

Check your propane tank, as seals can dry out over the winter. First, make sure you have everything turned off, you aren’t around any smoking flames or sparks, and your propane leak detector is turned on. Open the valves on your tank and smell for leaks. Check the valves and regulators by using a soapy water mix. If you find any leaks, have a professional inspect and repair them.

Generator Test

Test your generator, if you have one. Use the prime feature until your indicator light turns on for the fuel pump, run it for 20 seconds, and the generator should start more quickly. You will have to crank it until it starts otherwise, as there will likely be a lack of fuel in the lines. Let the starter rest to cool after 15 seconds of cranking. Don’t forget to check the oil and air filter.

Old Town Temecula, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Old Town Temecula, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flushing Water Lines

Remove the antifreeze from your water lines. Make sure the water heater bypass valve is in the normal position and all of your taps are closed. Turn on the cold water tap that’s closest to the water pump, and run water until it’s clear. Do this for each cold water tap, toilet, and shower.

Then repeat for the hot water taps, toilet, and shower. Open up the bypass to allow water to fill the tanks. Use a city water connection and turn on the cold and hot water faucets and run to let air escape until the water flows steadily. Inspect all faucets and pipes for leaks, as well as the water heater, drain plug, and valves. Switch the fresh water pump on; if it comes on 20 to 30 minutes later, this indicates a pressure drop or leak. If it doesn’t come on, you’re good to go.

Denham Springs, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interior Inspection

Clean the interior of the RV and do another visual inspection. Vacuum the carpet, and clean the floors and other surfaces as necessary. Be sure to air it out. Check to ensure your appliances are working.

Test smoke alarms and CO and LP gas detectors, and replace the batteries as necessary. Check fire extinguishers, and refill first aid kit and emergency kits as needed.

Finally, you can repack your RV and stock up on all your necessities.

Worth Pondering…

A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.

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