There is nothing more nerve-racking than having your RV break down unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere. All the more reason to keep your RV in top condition before embarking on any road trip.
Regular Maintenace is the key to keeping your RV in Tip Top Shape. Checking engine & battery fluids, tire pressure is critical to keep your RV from breaking down.
You can enjoy watching sunsets at strategic locations. One of my favorites is the astronomy program at the Bryce Canyon National Park where you can view the constellations well into the night. It’s also the cheapest way to travel.
Averagely, you’ll spend approximately $30 dollars per night mostly for reserving parking spaces (This is an estimate; you may have to pay more depending on your needs). It’s not uncommon for seasoned RVers to spend a night in some places absolutely free.
RV Basic Maintenance
Just like any other vehicle, your RV must be maintained regularly to avoid acting up. However, unlike your typical car or truck, RVs require additional maintenance of the life support components such as the electrical, water, and sewer systems.
Maintaining your Class A, B & C Motorhomes
- Check to ensure that the engine has enough oil to ensure that many movable parts are well lubricated.
- If there’s too much friction your engine will heat up pretty fast.
- Ensure that you change the engine oil and filter especially if you intend to travel for a long distance in the countryside.
- Clean and sufficient engine oil is extremely important for the optimal running of your RV engine.
- It’s always a good idea to check for leaks around the oil pan and filter to prevent the engine oil is not wasted.
Your RVs carburetor should never escape your attention.
Make sure the studs around it are tightly fastened. The carburetor should be free of any dirt or foreign particles. Ensure that the belts on the fan and alternator are not worn out and are tightly fitted.
The cooling system – must also be in perfect working condition to prevent your RV engine from developing serious mechanical problems.
In most cases, overheating of the engine is a sign built up rust and scale.
- It’s recommended that you drain and thoroughly the cooling systems once every 2 years.
- Refill the system with a coolant that contains rust inhibitors. A glycol-based coolant will generally do the trick.
- Always refer to your RV manual for recommended products.
The water pump feeding cool water into the radiator should be in perfect working condition.
- Check the hoses connecting to the radiator for firmness and free from cracks.
- Check and rectify any loose connections. If these hoses feel soft, it’s advisable to have them replaced since they stand a risk of bursting under immense pressure shuttering your engine.
The electrical components of your RV engine also need to be checked regularly.
- Ensure that your battery is clean and a good electrolyte level.
- If the battery level is too low, use the correct battery water to refill the cells and ensure your battery is functioning optimally.
- It’s also important to ensure that the alternator and generator are kept free from dust and baked-on dirt
- . Wiring should remain in place even during the bumpiest of all drives.
- The engine wiring should be held appropriately in a position to prevent the insulation from melting and short-circuiting.
In addition, it’s important to check your power steering and wheel alignment after an especially bumpy drive
Take time to inspect the condition of rods and links, and the wheel bearings. Don’t forget to check the brake linings ensure they are free from rust and aren’t corroded. You need your brakes working as new at all times.
When carrying out basic maintenance of your RV, bear in mind that dirt and vibration are the two major causes of engine problems.
Your maintenance should be focused on keeping the engine components clean and fastened firmly.
Apart from the engine compartment, RVs come with other special systems that need to be maintained regularly.
This Applies to Most RV Types:
Owning an RV also means off-road driving especially on countryside roads.
Driving on such rough terrain can take its toll on the RV’s chassis and suspensions. It’s necessary, therefore, that you give more attention to the condition of the chassis and shock absorbers than you would an ordinary vehicle. Even the best shock absorbers in the market will take a beating from such rough roads.
If you spend several days on the road at a time, your tires’ treading can be smoothened out and increase your chances of skidding off road. Replace your tires if they are worn out.
RV water systems, for instance, need to be drained periodically and thoroughly cleaned with fresh water.
Stagnant water becomes stale after some time and frequent maintenance is necessary to ensure a constant supply of fresh water. Baking soda can be used to remove the stale taste before the water tanks are refilled.
If your RV is equipped with a system for heating and cooking using propane gas.
Propane is highly inflammable; for security reasons, check gas lines for leakages especially around joints. Usually, smearing soap solutions on the lines. If you see any bubbles forming, it means the gas line is leaking. Get professional help to have your gas line fixed.
If you notice that your sewerage is blocked or leaking, call a plumber. Attempting to fix the problem yourself can leave you with a bigger mess.
You can also use tank treatment products that liquefy waste making disposal easier. This treatment also gets rid of the unpleasant smell.
Your comfort and safety during a tour depend entirely on how well your RV is maintained.
Make a habit of maintaining your RV frequently even when you’re not on the road.
The electrical system of RVs is usually a major concern for most RVers with good reason. Since you’re most likely to be on the move, you’ll not have access to 120 volts AC power supply all the time. Typically, RVs are equipped with 3 separate electrical systems to take care of your electrical needs.
However, it’s essential to have basic knowledge of how these systems work to make the best use of them. The first system is the 12 volts DC automotive system that serves the electrical needs of your RV’s engine.
This is the same system that you’ll find in all vehicles and serves the function of igniting the engine and powering your various car lights and other electrical signals.
Apart from this basic electrical system, RVs come with two other additional electrical systems. The 12 volts DC RV coach electrical system comprises of a battery or batteries that are charged when your RV is moving when your turn on your generator or when you plug into a 120 volts AC power source.
Most appliances in your RV coach can operate effectively using this electrical system.
However, you’ll not be able to run electrical appliances that consume a lot of power such as microwaves, your roof air conditioning, and your refrigerator set to electric mode.
You may also need an inverter to be able to watch television or power your PC. Moreover, you need to know how to maintain your batteries to ensure that your 12 volts DC coach electrical system works as expected.
Important facts you need to know about your batteries:
- If you’re always on the road, chances are that your batteries will be changing constantly. Unfortunately, the constant charging of your batteries lowers their electrolyte levels and hampers the amount of electricity produced. Ensure that you refill the electrolyte levels in each battery cell with distilled water. Make sure you refill only up to the split level and no more.
- It’s important to ensure that the battery cables are tightly hooked onto the terminals. Ensure that the terminals are clean since dirt and rust can prevent an effective flow of charge and reduce the current output of the battery. It’s also proper to spray the battery terminals with a special terminal protector that prevents rusting.
- Wash the battery frequently using a solution of baking soda and water. Rinse and flush thoroughly with plenty of clean water.
- If you are not going to use the battery for a while, charge it fully before storing it away. Keep checking the battery to ensure it remains fully charged throughout the duration of disuse. The gravity readings of a charged battery are always 1.215 to 1.250. If your readings fall below these, recharge.
- It’s recommended to follow the manufacturer’s manual on the best way to charge your battery depending on its type. Different battery types require different charging amperage.
- Since there are a lot of electrical gadgets that are constantly drawing power from your battery even when your RV is not in use, you’re better off installing a battery disconnect. A battery disconnect is basically a lever that allows you to disconnect these electronic appliances when not in use.
Finally, if your RV comes with a generator-powered 12 volts AC power source.
This system is designed in a way that the fuel needs of the generator come directly from the RVs fuel tank. However, when the fuel in your tank is almost finished, the generator automatically turns off to conserve the fuel.
In addition, the 120 volt AC RV coach electrical system also comes with 30 or 50 Amps plug that allows you to connect to an external power source. Most camping grounds provide 120 volts, 30 Amps power supply for RVers.
Most RV owners tend to make the mistake of plugging in all the electrical appliances at the same time when they get access to an external power source.
This extremely dangerous particularly if there are other RVers also connected to the source.
Generally, for 120 volts, 30 Amps power source, the maximum power load should be 3,600 watts (120 x 30). Luckily, most RV electrical systems are equipped with a circuit breaker that disconnects your power when the maximum load is exceeded.
This comes in handy in preventing damage to your rig and electrical appliances. The golden rule is to have a few electrical gadgets plugged in at a time. Always use your power supply sparing, at all times, to avoid overloading the electrical systems in your RV.
RV Black Water Tank
The black water tank in your RV is its septic tank. Whenever you use the bathroom in your RV, the solid waste and water used to flush the toilet are deposited into the black tank.
However unpleasant draining and flushing your blank tank might be, it’s necessary to maintain the coziness of your RV coach.
The odor can be unbearable if you’re waste management system is not up to the task. Luckily, managing your RV waste system isn’t as difficult as it appears.
First and foremost, you can learn from your toilet back at home; there’s always some water in the toilet bowl at all times. This water prevents solid waste from sticking on the surface of the bowel and can easily be flushed away once you’re done relieving yourself.
Secondly, the water also keeps the unpleasant smell from filling your entire living room. In the same manner, it?s important to ensure that there’s some water in your black tank before your first call of nature in the privacy of your RV toilet.
Generally, RV coaches are smaller compared to your house and base water in your black tank may not be sufficient to keep the odor away.
It’s always necessary to use black tank chemicals to get rid of the odor and to reduce your solid waste to a pulp. Once your solid waste is somewhat liquefied, the process of emptying it out is easier. RV black water tank treatment chemicals can be found in any store that specializes in RV equipment.
They come complete with instructions on how to use and the correct dosage. These chemicals are a must have to ensure that you maintain a pleasant smell inside your RV coach. The contents of your RV’s black water tank must be emptied into an approved cesspool.
Most camping grounds in the US provide this amenity. The process is quite simple; you’ll need to clasp the waste hose at the appropriate place on the RV and ensure the other end of the hose is also well-fitted into the dump station. Release the valve to allow the contents of your black water tank to be deposited into the dump station.
Since other less dirty waste materials from your shower and sink are held in a separate tank, it’s always a good idea to have your black water tank emptied first.
Since the same hose is used to drain the other waste content comprising mainly of gray water, it kind of cleans off most of the remnant of the black water tank inside the hose.
Finally, it’s also necessary to flush your black water tank from time to time. Accumulated grime inside the tank can lead to bad odor coming from your RV septic.
It also might temper with the sensors that tell you how full your tank is. It’s therefore in your best interest to ensure the interior of your black water tank is as clean as possible.
Most RVs are armed with a flush valve and all you have to do is hook this valve onto a water supply and running water through your black water tank to flush it.
There are, however, many RVs that lack this feature. In this case, you may be forced to have a custom made the flush valve to your black water tank. There is a wide range of RV flush valves in the market to choose from; take time and select one that best meets your needs and taste.
RV Roof Guide
If you talk to experienced RVers, they’re likely to confess that the roof of the RV is the most neglected part of the RV.
Somehow checking the roof of their RV for damage and cleaning it tends to escape their minds.
You should not make such a mistake. Damage to your RV roof can be costly especially if it leaks. Water can damage the electrical systems leading to huge loses.
Always ensure that you inspect your roof for damage and clean it at least quarterly. Here is a simple guide of how to care for your RV’s roof.
Most RV roofing is made from rubber. You’ll need to get on top of your roof to better inspect your roof for damage especially along seems and ripped off sections.
However, be extremely careful while on the roof since you can seriously injure yourself in case of a fall. Wear well-gripping should to ensure a sure footing while working on the roof. Rubber is a fairly sensitive material that can be easily destroyed if abrasive, petroleum solvents and acidic cleaning agents are used.
Instead, use a non-abrasive cleaner that is mild on the rubber. Generally speaking, typical dishwashing detergent will do the job perfectly well.
It’s also recommended that you use a medium bristle brush for scoring off dirt and stubborn stains from the roof surface. You risk scratching the surface in case you use a very hard bristled brush for your cleaning.
After cleaning your roof thoroughly, you need to inspect it for any openings. Your roof may seem fine until it rains and you realize there is water dripping on to your wardrobe soiling your best suit.
It’s therefore recommended to use appropriate sealants around the areas that have a high potential for leaking. Mostly, reseal any roof seams and areas around openings since they are most susceptible to leaks.
Disclaimer: Although this guide is basically for RV roofs made of rubber, there are other materials that are also used. Vinyl and fiberglass are the most common alternatives to RV rubber roofing. It’s important to ascertain the type of roofing material your RV is made from.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning or seek professional help if you’re unsure on how to clean your roof.
Keeping your roof well-maintained can significantly increase its durability and also keep the interior components of your RV protected from the damaging effects of water.
RV tire basics
Tire problems on the road can be disastrous. For instance, a tire burst while driving can lead to loss of control of your RV and lead to massive damage. Therefore, ensure that your tires are in perfect condition. What exactly should you consider while inspecting the condition of your tires?
First and foremost, it’s important that your RV tires meet the minimum recommended tread depths.
Generally, 2/32 inch depth treading is considered acceptable for your RV tires.
However, if your RV has a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 pounds, ensure that you replace your tires with new ones once the treading depth is at 4/32 inches.
An inspection of your RV’s tires should also involve looking out for sidewall cracks and tears. Obviously, if you notice that your tires’ sidewalls are cracked, it could mean that it’s time to replace them.
Although it is considered acceptable to drive on a tire with a crack less than 1/32 inches deep, if you’re expecting to travel for a long distance, the tear might worsen along the way.
You’re better off with all your tires intact. Sidewall cracking on tires is generally caused by poor maintenance. Use of improper cleaning and tire dressing chemicals is the biggest cause of sidewall tire cracking. Keep off of cleaning and dressing agents containing petroleum distillates.
Exposing your tires to direct sunlight can also damage your tires leading to sidewall cracks. Keeping your tires covered will keep them lasting longer. Below are the covers we purchased for our fifth wheel. We were impressed with the quality of these tire covers. Click here for the current price.
Your tires must be cleaned and cared for properly to increase longevity. Tires are typically made of rubber and therefore can be destroyed by cleaning agents that contain alcohol, silicone, and petroleum distillates.
Mild soap is sufficient for cleaning your tires.
Using a tire dressing product that is free from the harmful elements identified will also protect the tires from the harmful effects of UV.
In addition, the right air pressure for your tires should be maintained depending on the weight of your RV.
The recommended inflation-to-weight pressure can be established from the charts provided by the tire manufacturer. It’s always a good habit to keep checking your tires to identify any abnormal loss of air pressure in the tires. This can signify problems with the valve or a puncture.
Always ensure that your tires are inflated even when you’re RV is stored away in the garage and will not be in use for a while.
Finally, keep your RV parked on a level surface without any stagnant water.
At times, you may be forced to use a wooden or plastic separator to keep your tires protected particularly if the surface your RV is parked on isn’t good enough. For instance, it uneven or there’s water that can damage the tire.
The tires of your RV are extremely important for your safety. They’re also expensive. Take extra care of them to ensure their longevity and keep you happier on the road.
RV Refrigerator basics
How does your RV refrigerator work?
Your RV refrigerator works by drawing heat from the refrigerator compartment.
The logic behind this functionality is that if heat keeps being drawn from space, it becomes cold.
This is different from your typical home refrigerator that uses a compressor and other moving parts to enhance the refrigeration process.
RV refrigerator uses heat that can be generated from the LP gas system installed in your RV and AC power supply.
However, the refrigerator should maintain a leveled position especially when your RV is stationary. When the RV is moving, the refrigerant in the refrigeration system is tossed around and doesn’t accumulate in one place.
Therefore, leveling is not as crucial as when your refrigerator is operating in a stationary position.
However, it’s better to ensure that your RV is well-balanced to ensure your refrigerator works effectively. Here are a few more tips to enhance the efficiency of your RV refrigerator:
- Ensure you turn your RV refrigerator 6 hours before the time you intend to start your travel. It takes between 4 and 6 hours for your refrigerator compartment to get cold when you initially turn on your refrigerator. Turning it on early ensures that it’s cold enough for your cooling needs.
- Pre-cool your food and park the refrigerator with lightly leaving enough space for air to circulate freely within the refrigeration compartment. Loading your RV refrigerator also means that it will have to work harder to get your food cold. Remember, this goes against the rule of using energy sparingly while in your RV.
- Installing a battery powered fan inside your RV refrigerator compartment can enhance the cooling process of your refrigerator. Proper functioning of RV refrigerators relies on effective air circulation throughout the system. Using a fan increases the efficiency of your refrigerator by up to 40% while reducing the initial cooling down duration by 50%.
- Remain vigilant and periodically inspect the back of your refrigerator to ensure that there’s nothing obstructing heat from escaping from the system.
- To ensure optimal functioning of the refrigerator in LP gas mode, inspect the color of the flame produced in the banner. If it’s yellowish in color, it indicates that your refrigerator is dirty and needs cleaning. Ensure all the connections are tight and free from any leakages. If the flame produced in the banner is blue, you unit is clean and working perfectly.
Most RVers complain about the inefficiency of their refrigerators due to poor energy management and maintenance of the units.
However, RV absorption refrigerators are well-suited for RVers needs since they are less demanding in their energy consumption. With proper maintenance, you can enjoy your chilled foods at any time during your journey.
RV accessories & gadgets
- Drinking hose
- Sewer Hose
- Instant Pot
- Collapsible kitchen accessories
- RV fridge fan
- Portable propane stove
- Solar batteries
- Lithium jumpstarter
- RV GPS
- WiFi Ranger
Slide-Outs – Caring and Troubleshooting
Summary of Caring for & maintaining your RV
In conclusion, how well you care for and maintain your RV draws a line between whether your travels in the comfort of your RV will be memorable ones because of the fun you had or the trouble.
Here is a recap of the main maintenance tips contained in this guide. While carrying out basic engine compartment maintenance, bear in mind that the greatest cause of engine problems is dirt and vibration. Ensure you check for and tighten any loose connections.
Keep your engine free from dirt. Your RV has 3 separate electrical systems that work independently. The 12 volts DC automotive takes care of the engine electrical needs including operating the RV stereo and headlamps. The 12 volts DC coach electrical system, on the other hand, is powered using rechargeable batteries.
Always observe proper maintenance of these batteries for best service. Finally, RVs come with a 120 volts electrical system that connects to an external AC current outlet. Ensure that you empty your black water tank at the approved dump stations.
Keeping your tank clean by flushing and using appropriate treatment chemicals can fight odor and keep your tank as clean as new. Check your tires regularly to ensure they have the correct tread depth, air pressure, and are free from sidewall cracks.
Keep your tires fully inflated and covered if you’re not going to use your RV for some time. Mostly, exposure to the sun’s rays and using cleaning and dressing agents with harmful chemicals is the main reason for RV tires wearing out.
Install RV refrigerator fan to increase the efficiency of your refrigerator by up to 50%. Keep the refrigerator burner and other components clean.
Use the color of the flame produced by the refrigerator to determine whether your refrigerator is clean. Yellow flame signifies your RV refrigerator is dirty.
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Have fun and enjoy the journey!
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