There’s a lot that goes into RV maintenance — after all, these are big units with lots of parts — but if you commit to keeping your rig properly maintained, it can take you thousands of miles and last for years. Some RV maintenance will need to be done by a seasoned professional, but it’s still important for you, as the owner and operator, to be well versed in the basics. The more you can monitor and service on your own, the less likely you are to end up with a major issue while out on a trip. Starting from the top down, here are four basics of RV maintenance.
The biggest thing you’re looking for on the roof is cracks in the sealant around the seams. If your sealant is corroded or cracked, water can soak into the roof’s framework and end up in the ceiling panels. A roof inspection is not something you need to do every day, but try to closely look it over about every three months. When you crawl onto the roof, look around the edges, vents, skylights, air conditioning unit, and any other parts or features to ensure everything is still properly sealed. If you decide to add new sealant to an area, keep in mind that roof materials can range from fiberglass to metal to rubber and more, so make sure to pick a product that’s compatible with the roof’s material.
2. Slides & Awnings
Maintenance on your slides and awnings starts with regular cleaning. You want to make sure that there isn’t any dirt build up that’s hiding potential problems, particularly around the seals. If you leave dirt caked on for months at a time, you’re sure to run into corroding issues. There are also specific things to look for, depending on the type of slide you have.
- Schwintek Slides • Check that the gears on the side of your slideroom box work properly.
- Acu-Slides • Check that there is about one inch of give on the cord when your slide is fully extended.
- Power Gear Slides • Check that there are no hydraulic leaks and that the motor assembly is fastened correctly.
Once everything is clean, make sure to lubricate the sliding mechanism so there isn’t any friction during the opening and closing process. This can wear down the apparatus, causing issues over time. When you look for lubricant for your unit, make sure to pick one that’s specifically designed for RVs. Unfortunately, WD-40 often won’t cut it.
3. Fluids & Filters
Keeping your fluids and filters well maintained might seem like a small task, but it’s extremely important. If internal components get too dirty, it can cause major stress on your engine and drivetrain, which can lead to larger issues down the road, which is no fun.
The owner’s manual of your RV is an excellent resource when it comes to your fluids. It should tell you the correct levels for each fluid, walk you through how to check and change the fluids, and provide intervals for how often to do so. At a minimum, you should always check your fluids before taking a trip, and then every couple weeks while the RV is in use. Also at minimum, change your RV oil at least once a year. The major fluids that should be checked during routine maintenance are:
- Brake Fluid
- Radiator Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
Each filter is tied to the performance of a major system within your RV, so it’s important to keep them clean. For instance, if you have a dirty air filter, the air coming out of your vents might not be cool, even if the AC unit is running. Changing these out is a fairly simple process and can be done on a seasonal basis. Check your owner’s manual for exact filter changing instructions and intervals. During your routine maintenance, check the following filters:
Because RVs often sit idle for long periods of time, their tires may be prone to premature deterioration. Luckily, tire maintenance is pretty straight-forward. Regularly make sure the air pressure in your tires matches the manufacturer recommendation. If you’re driving around with deflated tires, it causes more wear and tear than necessary and your tires will wear out more quickly. You’ll also want to keep your tires clean and dry. Make sure to wash them down to remove any dirt or oil you might have picked up on the road. Other than that, you just need to perform regular inspections of your tires to make sure the sidewalls are intact and there is no uneven wear on your tread. These could be signs that you might need a new tire, and it might be a good idea to get it professionally checked so you don’t blow a tire on the road.
Conclusion: Keeping your RV in good shape doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. These are four basic things you can do in between major service appointments to be sure that your unit is always adventure-ready. And if you’re looking for an RV for your next adventure, check out all the new and used RVs available nationwide for-sale and for-rent on RVTrader.com.