For your safety and the longevity of your RV, you should be performing regular maintenance and checks on your vehicle. This might sound like a lot of work, especially if you’re used to a home or living situation that needs little upkeep. But remember: You’re not just maintaining your home or your vehicle, but both.
If you ignore minor issues, they will become a big deal. A minor leak and cause rot, mold, or rust. A little dirt or debris in the wrong area, left unchecked, can cause a whole system malfunction.
Maintain Your Tires Your tires
keep you safe on the road. The last thing you want is a flat, a blowout on the highway, or general tire failings. Buying new tires can be expensive – but it can also be twice as expensive, and dangerous to have an issue with them.
Before you head out on the road, be sure to check your RV’s wheel lug nuts and tighten them as needed. Check the pressure of each tire to know that they are properly inflated, because a flat tire is a big concern. However, over inflation can also be an issue and hurt the control you have while driving.
Maintain Your Brakes
Please don’t overlook your brakes. Being able to stop quickly and smoothly in an RV is really important for your safety, and the other people on the road. RVs are very heavy, and they take a lot to come to a complete stop. You never know when you’re going to be going through areas with tight turns or quick stops, so there is no ‘risking it’ when it comes to brakes.
Get to know how your brakes feel. If you notice any damage or they feel off in any way, get them checked before you hit the road again. Learn how to maintain and lubricate the bearings so that you will be able to do basic maintenance yourself – this is especially important in the summer, as they can dry out.
Brake replacements can cost between $200-$600, depending on your RV and model. You can understand why keeping your existing brakes in good condition is best when you’re facing that kind of repair bill.
Check Your Roof Seams and Seals
Your roof is so important. It’s literally keeping the water from destroying your RV’s interior. Once a month, you should inspect your roof for any leaks, cracks, or other damage. Usually you are going to find issues within the weak spots, like skylights, vents, or AC units, so be sure to pay close attention to these areas.
Water coming through a small crack might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause mold, rot, and rust. Fixing this damage is a lot more expensive and time-consuming than fixing the leak when it first starts. And sometimes, that type of extensive damage can’t be fixed at all, or isn’t worth the money – especially if the water has gotten into the electrical system or the heating system.
In our section below on must-haves for the road, I’ve included a common brand of sealant (J-B Weld). Anytime you spot what could be a crack or a leak, fix it up in a jiffy and you’ll keep your RV in good condition for longer.
Your Awning Needs Maintenance, Too
We’re going to mention awnings below, in the section of things you probably want but don’t technically need. However, if you do have an awning, it’s important you keep it in good shape so it will last a long time for you.
Keep your awning clean and dry to prevent mold and mildew build-up. When you pull it out, inspect it regularly. Any tears need to be repaired immediately, so they do not spread and get worse.
Be sure that you clean the awning fairly regularly, especially on long trips. Dirt and debris can damage it over time. They can cause it to get stuck and tear apart when moving, and can even encourage bugs – like bees or wasps – to build their home there.
Always make sure nothing heavy is resting on your awning or pulling it down, or you could wear out the support poles over time. Don’t hang things from the awning for the same reason.
Check Your Batteries
Your RV batteries are like the lifeblood of your system. Without a good, working battery, you’re going to have a very bad time. Each brand and type of RV is going to have a little bit different battery setup, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your own rig and the ins and outs of it.
Remember that RV batteries are only made to last for 3 to 5 years. Maintain your battery and check it constantly to see if it is holding a charge by using a hydrometer or a digital voltmeter. Keep the discharge level at least 50 percent. If you’re buying your RV used, inquire about the last time the battery was replaced, and get it changed immediately if it has lost its capacity. You may want to invest in a trickle charger based on your battery type.
Maintain Your Water and Sewage Systems
It’s so important to keep your sewage systems well maintained and working properly. There’s nothing worse than being out in the country and realizing your sewage system is having issues.
Your black water tank needs proper cleaning; otherwise, it can hold a ton of bacteria that can infect your whole system. Check your RV guide to find out what chemicals need to go into it in order to keep it well maintained. These chemicals are often added when you’re rinsing the tank out after emptying.
You may need to flow a lot of water into these tanks to remove the solid waste that collects. Most tanks need at least 2 gallons of liquid inside before you start adding to it.
Keep Your Slideouts Clean
If you’ve got a slideout in your RV, it’s great to have that extra space! It’s also extra work. Slideouts need regular cleaning to move properly and seal right. Dirt, sap, and junk in the slideout can cause major issues. We check ours monthly.
To clean your slideouts, lubricate your slider and make sure that they are properly sliding in and out without any drag or resistance. If you have too much friction, your seals will tear, and you can be in for a costly replacement. Depending on the type of slideout you have, you may use different types of lubricants. Check your manual.
Window seals should also be cleaned and maintained. Use a good quality rubber lubricant and clean them regularly, at least once a month while you’re actively traveling or before going on a trip. Your goal is that everything should open, close, and latch seamlessly – no pulling, tearing, or friction. If you have old, hard rubber or you struggle with it even though you have lubricated the seal, look into getting it replaced before it starts to leak, mold, or damage your RV.
Oil Changes, Not Optional
A regular car needs its oil changed every 5,000 miles or so, right? Some of the newer vehicles can go even longer, up to 10,000 miles or more. However, RVs sit for a long time, so the mileage you’re putting on your RV is not indicative of the amount you need to change your oil.
Schedule an oil change at least every year, or every 3,000 miles – whatever comes first. If your oil is not changed properly and regularly, you could be causing a whole host of issues within your RV engine. This can lead to damage and costly repairs.
Don’t Forget Your Filters
When you change your oil, check your coolant, fuel, air, and hydraulic filters, too. These should be changed each season, or as you change your oil. Just like ignoring old oil, ignoring damaged filters can put undue strain on your engine or internal parts of the RV, leading to an early death – or a big nasty bill.