The weather is warming up, kids are about to be out of school and it’s prime vacation season. Time to break out the recreation vehicle (RV), start researching the best campsites to hook up your rig and plan your next excursion!
Whether you are an experienced snowbird or a newbie to RV living, this guide will help prepare your RV for all of your summer-time adventures.
Taking care of the exterior of your RV is more than just washing and waxing, there are some components that many forget about and they need some time and attention too!
Wash and Wax
Keeping your RV spick and span will not only keep it looking pretty, but it will also help to protect its nooks and crannies from trapping dirt and corroding.
Inspect the Roof Seals and Seams of Your RV
There are many places that water can find its way into your RV including open seams in your roof’s edges, vents, skylights or air conditioning unit.
Leaks will cause damage to the roof’s outer wood framework and if left untreated can get into the inner ceiling panels, which will cause extensive water damage. There are many sealants on the market that you can use to help patch and prevent roof leaks.
Be sure you are using a sealant that won’t damage the material that your roof is made of. Materials can vary from RV to RV.
Check Your Screens
Wear and tear on your screens is common after time. To keep bugs and other pests out of your RV but still allow in fresh air, be sure all of your screens are all accounted for and hole-free. If there is even a small tear, a bug will manage to find its way in.
There are a lot of screen repair products available that make fixing screens easy. If the damage is too extensive for a kit, replace the screen.
Give Some TLC to Your Awning
Your awning does a lot to prevent harsh summer rays from ruining your day, be sure you show it some appreciation by giving it a little love.
Neglecting your awning can cause a buildup of mold and mildew, let bees and other insects nest, and leave debris that can rip large holes in the fabric.
You want to wash and rinse the awning on a regular basis. Patch up any holes you find and keep moving parts from sticking by using a lubricant.
If you don’t take good care of your awning you could spend around $600 to replace the fabric and up to $1,400 to replace the entire awning. That’s a lot of money to spend on something preventable!
Check Your Wheels
Before you embark on any journey, be sure lug nuts are tightly bolted and be sure your tire pressure is in the correct range. You don’t want to lose a wheel or deal with a flat on the open road!
Underinflated tires can cause fuel inefficiency and problems controlling the RV, while overinflated tires can cause the tires to explode.
Tire pressure changes with temperature, so if your RV has been sitting in storage all winter it’s a safe bet your tires lost quite a bit of pressure during those inactive and chilly months.
When driving such a large vehicle it is important that you are able to stop quickly and easily when you need to! Be sure your brakes are in good shape and that your brake pads are not very worn down.
If you need help with this step, you can find out which brakes you have, do an internet search, and see what to look for when inspecting them.
If your RV is a trailer, you can clean your brake connecter by applying a contact cleaner. Since you’re already getting into that area, you might as well inspect the breakaway switch and be sure that it is in good condition.
If all of this seems too complicated, and out of your wheelhouse, take your RV to an auto shop and have a professional take a look.
Clean and Treat Slide Outs
Your slide outs need to be cleaned regularly to prevent a buildup of dirt and other gunk in the seals. Without regular cleaning, you can have problems with slide outs not sealing. It is also a good idea to keep these components lubricated to prevent their motors from overworking.
Window seals also need to be lubricated to maintain a good seal. This will also help to keep them easy to open and prevent wearing down the felt they slide on. If your windows often get stuck, it may be time to replace the felt.
Make Sure Electrical Connection from Tow Vehicle Works
This is important because number one, the connection to your tow vehicle to your RV sends signals to the tow vehicle to alert other drivers when you are changing lanes and braking. This is essential for letting everyone know what your movements are on the road which is important for both, your and their safety.
Number two, the connection helps to charge your RV battery through the charge circuit. It won’t be able to fully charge the RV’s battery but hey, every little bit helps, right?
Check Wiper Blades
You don’t want to get caught in a downpour and realize your windshield wipers are not working correctly! This can be dangerous for you and other drivers on the road.
Be sure to check that your wiper blades work before you are in a pinch. Applying a water repellent to your windshields will also help with visibility in extreme weather conditions.
We have all seen drivers at night with a headlight or taillight out. Most of the time we don’t notice or think of this until we get pulled over and get a ticket for it. This is very simple to check and will prevent you from getting a fine, or an even more unfortunate predicament, and will be sure you can see easier at night.
Under the Hood
This is probably the most important place to spend the most time to avoid major catastrophes on the road. If your engine is performing correctly, you’ve got nothing but the open road in front of you. If your engine is not well maintained, you may be stuck roadside for quite some time.
These are all general suggestions and you should always read your RV’s owner’s manual before performing any task to ensure that you’re doing what’s right for your specific rig.
Check All Fluid Levels
Vehicles require a lot of different fluids and oil to be sure they are working correctly. Check the following for the appropriate levels before setting out on your first summer excursion.
- Engine Oil
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Radiator Coolant
Check Oil and Oil Filters
Just like your car, your RV needs its oil and filters changed regularly. It is important to maintain because it will keep your engine running at its best, and if you neglect it, could end up costing you $10,000 or more.
Usually manufacturers suggest changing your oil around every 3,000 to 4,500 miles, but check your owner’s manual to see how many miles your specific model can go between changes.
Check the Air Filter
Check your air filter to be sure there isn’t any build up. A dirty filter can prevent air flow, making your AC ineffective and can cause weird smells inside your RV.
Check for Leaks
If there are any weird wet spots underneath your RV, make sure it’s not a leak from something important. Locate and repair the leak yourself or take it to a mechanic.
You don’t want to ignore excess or strange fluids under the RV. If its transmission fluid, this can lead to a vehicle fire. Always better to be overly cautious than have a big issue!
Check the Battery
Batteries have fluid in them that starts to evaporate in hot weather, like in high summer temperatures. You want to refill your battery fluid and test it at least two times each summer. You can keep a bottle of distilled water with you, just in case you need to top off the battery. This way you won’t be stuck in a pinch.
You also want to be sure there is a good connection and that you don’t see heavy corrosion anywhere on the battery. This is a sign that the battery may need to be changed soon.
Check All Belts
Check all the belts for any signs of wear and make sure there aren’t any cracks in them. You want to be sure the belts are stretched tightly and have proper tension so they work the way they need to.
It’s always a good idea to keep backups with you in case you have an issue on the road.
Check Heater and Radiator Hoses and Clamps
Check your radiator and heater’s hoses and clamps. Look out for any damage such as worn, cracked, and brittle or soft spots on the hoses. You can replace these as you need to.
Inside the Rig
You’ll spend a lot of time inside your home on four wheels, you want to make sure that everything is in tiptop shape before you hit the road. It would not be no bueno to hang out in a stinky cabin or attempt to cook and the stovetop doesn’t work. No one wants that.
Check these items off your list and be worry-free and ready to go!
Test the Air Conditioners
Turn on and test your air conditioning. You should feel cool air and a noticeable temperature change in temperature after it runs for a little while. You also want to be sure that your filters are clean and that you are getting good air flow.
Is it time for a new AC? We carry a top-mount AC that will be sure to make your RV as cold as the arctic tundra. OK, maybe not that cold but it will definitely keep you cool and comfortable in hot temperatures all summer long.
Try all of your appliances. Turn them on and see if they are working, both the electrical and gas appliances, we really mean all of them!
Test your refrigerator in A/C and LP gas mode, you don’t want all your yummy food to spoil.
Check Electric and Gas is Working Properly
This one goes pretty much hand in hand with the last step, but make sure all the interior fixtures are working. If you spot any issues or you smell gas, it’s time to call a technician to come in and fix whatever is going wrong.
Prepare or Restock Emergency Kit
If you don’t already have an emergency kit, now is the time to make one! You should have a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first aid kit, basic hand tools and flares or other warning devices.
If you have any car trouble, these items should help to ensure your safety.
Check Safety Equipment
You don’t want to have a fire blazing and the extinguisher doesn’t work. That would be a true disaster. Most fire extinguishers should work between 5 to 15 years, but you should check the pressure gauge monthly.
Make sure your smoke alarms are working, and have got some fresh batteries in there. Haven’t we all gotten woken up in the middle of the night by that infernal beeping because the juice in the batteries are low?
Are your carbon monoxide and LP gas leak detectors working?
These items are your first line of defense against emergencies and like the boy scouts say in their motto, “Be prepared.” All of the preventative alarms and equipment you have is there for a reason and it is very important that it works in the moment you need it most.
Apply Trim and Seat Protectant
To keep your seats, dashboard, steering wheel and other parts of your interior looking pristine for years to come, you should apply an interior and seat protectant. This will prevent discoloration and cracking from exposure to sunlight and wear.
Be sure that whatever cleaner you choose to use is compatible with your interior materials. An oil or conditioner-based protectant is perfect for leather, but not so great for vinyl and rubber.
Air Out Your RV
Banish those funky smells that may have accumulated inside your RV by opening up and airing out your home on wheels.
For really stubborn smells, try using charcoal. It naturally absorbs odors and moisture from the air. Be sure to get briquettes without mesquite or easy-light additives and use a tray or some type of covering because it can get messy fast!
Sanitize Water Lines
You definitely want to be sure that your water is sanitized, free from odors and fresh. You will be drinking and showering in this water and it is important it is safe for you and others that are accompanying you on the road.
You can sanitize your water tank yourself with some bleach and potable water, aka clean water, like a garden hose. This video does an excellent job of giving you step by step instructions for how to clean your water lines yourself.
Keep Waste Water System in Good Condition
While not the most pleasurable of all the tasks on this list, it is an important one. Neglecting your wastewater system can result in some very unpleasant and stinky circumstances. You could have excessive amounts of buildup that can clog up your system, causing it to stop working and valves to seize. Not good.
You want to be sure you’re using chemicals that are specially made to work with your type of system. Black systems use different solvents than gray systems because they contain different kinds of well… liquids. It is important to flush your system regularly, and you want to wait until your tanks are about three quarters of the way full before emptying.
You can help keep your system in good condition by using biodegradable RV toilet paper, or toilet paper that is safe for septic tanks.
Service RV Generator
Just like any other machine, generators need some maintenance to keep working their best.
The generator’s oil should generally be changed every 50 to 60 hours and it is important to regularly check the filters and replace as needed. You should be able to find a complete maintenance guide for your model in the owner’s manual or online by visiting the manufacturer’s website.
Is the one you’ve got kaput and it’s time for a new one? Click here to see our wide selection of generators!
At this point your RV is locked, loaded and ready to go, you road warrior you! But here’s just a couple bonus hot tips, our gift from us to you-
Keep a Record
While this guide was written for summer time, it is generally a good guide for any time you are taking your RV out of storage. You can print out our checklist and keep notes of when you performed certain tasks, or of course create your own method of record keeping.
There are spaces to fill in last oil change, filter changes, etc. This way you know when you last performed these tasks and it will be easier to keep up with them. Be sure to store them somewhere you won’t lose or forget them, such as in your dashboard area or where you keep the RV’s owner’s manual.
A regular maintenance schedule will keep the RV and its components working at their most efficient and can ultimately save you money because you will prevent major problems. The more you know about your maintenance schedule the better prepared you will be for any situation.
Protect From High Heat and UV Rays
Sun exposure and high heat can cause damage to the engine, battery, tires, paint and trim, dashboard, airbag, seats and other interior parts of your RV. Parking in shaded areas will help keep temperatures inside you RV in a cooler range. This will help your refrigerator and AC work more efficiently.
Using seat and steering wheel covers to protect them from degrading due to sun exposure. You can also use sunshades to cover your front and rear windows to further protect your interior and keep temperatures cooler. The shades will also protect interior components from getting sun faded and dried out.
Prepare for Storms
With summer comes the potential for some very serious storms. It is good to have a plan in case of a weather emergency.
- If there has been a warning for severe weather, try to find a campsite that is on higher ground and with few trees.
- Take photos of your RV, the interior and exterior, so if there is some damage that occurs you have a record for the insurance company.
- Protect important documents and personal items by placing them in a waterproof container or document file.
- This is a time where your emergency kit can come in handy. It is also good to have a good supply of water, food and other necessities.
- Be sure you know your way around your RV even in the dark. This will prevent your stumbling and tripping in an emergency until you can get your hands on a flashlight.
…. And finally, you’ve made it all the way to end! Your RV is ready to go, you’ve learned a lot about RV maintenance and our work here is done.
Now at ISC Sales we may not be the authority on RV’s, but man we do know a lot about air conditioning equipment, filters, generators and tools. We have an expert waiting to answer any of your questions and would be happy to get you the right equipment, so don’t be shy!
Download the printable checklist!