An Adventurer’s Seasonal RV Maintenance Checklist

How To Keep Your RV Running Smoothly For Years 

If you have an RV, also known as a recreational vehicle, it is almost certainly one of your most prized and valuable possessions. You likely frequently take it out for long road trips, as it lets you go far away and enjoy the camping season without leaving the comfort of home. However, regular RV maintenance is a lot of work: you have to do everything associated with maintaining a car, as well as all the work involved in the routine maintenance of a home. Not doing the right work on a regular basis will almost certainly lead to the need for a costly repair or, even worse, an entirely new RV. However, with these RV maintenance tips, you'll be able to keep your RV in great condition; you can lower the chances of a highly damaging incident, reduce unexpected breakdowns and acquire less damage over time, allowing for a longer-lasting RV. The following seasonal RV maintenance guide will let you know what tasks must be done and when to do them. This will allow your RV to stay in good condition, keeping you and your family safe. That, combined with RV insurance, will let you focus on RV camping and other fun activities. 

Early-Season RV Maintenance 

When it becomes warm enough to go camping, it's tempting to start using your RV immediately and address problems as they arise on your trip. However, preventative maintenance on your RV parts is almost always much less work and has lower average costs than waiting for expensive repairs. Luckily, following a simple RV maintenance guide will let you take your RV out on the road without worry of something bad happening. 

Restore Your RV Battery 

Similar to how the battery of a car is critical to getting it going, an RV's battery is vital to getting on the road. Unless your family is willing to get out and push the entire time, or someone is willing to drive Flintstones style, finding out your battery is dead will likely kill your plans. Since you should have stored your RV battery in a nice, warm spot over the winter, placing it back in the proper spot is needed at the start of the season. 

As you place your battery back in its spot make sure your battery is ready to start. Watch for damage, corrosion, and anything else that may indicate that your battery might need to be replaced. Also, ensure it is charged well so it doesn't die on the road. 

Check And Change The Oil 

Another RV maintenance tip that will sound familiar to anyone who knows motor vehicles is checking the oil. Keeping the engine running is vital to any vehicle, and oil changes are needed to keep an engine running long-term. 

How often you need to change your engine's oil will vary depending on your situation. Some vehicles require more frequent oil changes than others, and while some guides recommend changing it after driving a certain number of kilometres, others claim that there should be set amounts of time between changes. Sometimes, there will be a recommendation within your RV owner's manual as well, depending on the make. Here are some signs that you need to change your oil: 

  • You smell something burning 
  • You hear unusual sounds from your engine 
  • You see smoke coming from your engine 
  • You feel your car vibrating 
  • The oil in your engine is dirty, grimy, has a different composition or colour, or otherwise doesn't look right 
  • Your oil level is low, as indicated by the dipstick 
  • It has been longer than usual, in terms of distance driven or time passage since your last oil change 
  • The dashboard warning lights indicate you need an oil change 

Please note that these are simply the most common signs, and there can be others. If your RV is struggling, your oil might be to blame. If you're unsure if you need to change the oil as part of your early-season RV maintenance checklist, it's almost certainly best to do so to be on the safe side. 

Inspect Your RV Engine 

When you reach the part of our RV maintenance schedule where you're under the hood checking your oil, it's recommended that you also check the engine. Ensure everything else involved, such as the coolant, and make sure no grease or other oils are leaking. Check the transmission and wipe everything down. If you feel you could use some help trying to maintain your RV engine, some mechanics specialize in this, and there's no shame in hiring one of these people to do this for you. 

Change Your RV Filters And HVAC Systems 

As much as RV's have lots of vehicle maintenance involved, it's also important to remember that they can also be a home. Similar to how HVAC maintenance is part of a spring home maintenance checklist, it should also be done with your RV. Ensure things like your air conditioning are working, and ensure any vents and other filters work. Spring is an excellent time to get an inspection or have any fine-tuning done on your AC. 

Your HVAC filters aren't the only filters that should be checked during your early RV maintenance. Water filters are also very important, as they keep your running water safe and filter out anything that could possibly contaminate it. Even if you're only connected to regulated water, such as municipal water, a filter can help the pipes in your RV last longer. 

Replace Old Tires 

It's easy to take tires for granted when going through your RV maintenance schedule. With all the time spent dealing with the physical part of the RV itself, it's easy to overlook tires. It's no secret that tires eventually wear out and must be replaced. The exact timing of when to replace your tires varies based on many factors. It's common to replace them every 5-7 years, although this may change. Below is a list of signs that your tires may need to be replaced with newer ones: 

  • The tread is noticeably worn down or uneven 
  • There is a puncture that is unable to be repaired 
  • There are bulges or cracks on the tire 
  • They have poor traction or grip 
  • The tires are leaking air 
  • They are past the best-before date recommended by the manufacturer 

Remember that any signs of damage are a bad sign, and this is not a complete list of problems you could face. Even if your tires don't need to be replaced, it's still best to take care of them with regular maintenance. Check the tire pressure and increase or decrease it according to the results, if needed. Having tires that are either overinflated or underinflated can lead to problems. 

Overinflated tires are much more vulnerable to blowing out and can prevent a lot of safety features, like braking assist, from working as intended. They also suffer wear and tear much faster than properly inflated tires, meaning you will need to replace them more frequently. Underinflated tires have similar risks in that they make your car less fuel efficient, can damage your suspension, and lead to difficulty handling. 

Do A Full Inspection of Your RV 

No matter how much your RV seems fine on paper, even with you doing everything on your seasonal RV maintenance schedule, you can never be 100% sure that it runs completely smoothly after it has spent the long winter months stored away idly. There's no need for you to go on a full camping trip to test it. A quick spin around the block or taking your RV out for a particularly unique grocery store adventure should be enough to triple-check that everything is in ship shape. 

It is also recommended you test your TV’s brakes and emergency equipment such as the carbon monoxide and smoke alarm. If you feel there's something you're missing, taking your vehicle to a specialized RV service can also be helpful. 

In-Season RV Maintenance 

The annual maintenance tasks at the beginning of the season aren't the only ones you need to do to ensure that your RV runs smoothly year-round. Even though it is tempting to only pay attention to your RV when you're out using it, it's important to continue with your RV maintenance between trips as well. Each of these small regular maintenance tasks will help ensure that your RV remains sanitary and safe. 

Keep RV Batteries And Water Topped Up 

Batteries and water are absolutely essential to your RV's ability to function. Without its battery, you can't travel in it. Without water, you only have a few days to enjoy your vacation, and that time is even lower if you want to return home. Also, both of these things run out faster than you would think. While there's no need to constantly have everything at 100% every second of every day, it's an important aspect of RV maintenance to have them as close as possible to full batteries and water levels on the pre-trip maintenance checklist you set out on your week-long trip. Also, having a way to charge your battery in an emergency, as well as some spare water on board, is a good idea. 

Keep Your RV Clean, Inside And Out 

While this RV maintenance task might seem like a pretty basic thing, you might be surprised how many people forget to do it. Double-check that all rooms are cleaned of things like wrappers, junk, and other little nick-nacks that add up quickly. Ensure everything is nicely swept, as some small, uninvited guests might see your leftover crumbs as fine dining. Use an odour blocker if needed to keep the inside smelling nice. 

The outside should also be kept clean. Even if you're careful not to make a mess yourself, harsh weather and direct sunlight can damage an RV over time. A powerful detergent might cause more harm than good. Some cleaners specifically designed for RVs are probably your best option, but using a mild soap on the outside after a brief rinse will likely get the job done. When cleaning the RV windows, be sure to use a specialized cleaner, and it is also recommended to use a tool such as a squeegee. It’s also vital that you check for cracks, and seal any that you find as best you can. 

Be careful when washing a roof, as you can very easily fall. If your RV doesn't come with an attached ladder, it probably has a roof that wasn't designed to be walked on, so keep that in mind when following your RV maintenance schedule. Also, this is the time to check for roof leaks if you can. If you're in doubt about whether you can go on your RV roof safely, it is recommended you read the owner's manual or reach out to the manufacturer. As with windows, checking your roof for cracks and sealing them is a good idea. 

When using chemicals to clean your RV, it is important to allow the RV to air out before using it. Be careful never to mix ammonia with bleach because this creates chlorine, which can be poisonous if breathed in. Due to the immense importance of your and your family’s safety, it is best to do all you can to avoid the possibility of something like this going wrong. 

End Of Season RV Maintenance 

As the outdoor season begins to wind down, it might seem like your RV will be able to stay in optimal condition for a couple of months or more. While damage won't be done nearly as quickly as you're (probably) not taking it out on the snow and ice and instead have it stored away for the winter, it is important to not forget some small but important RV maintenance steps to take before you hunker down and make it through old man winter's fearsome blasts. 

Store Your RV Battery Elsewhere 

You might not think you have to prepare your RV battery for winter. After all, there's no need to remind your battery to wear its mittens. While RV batteries are immune to frostbite, they are susceptible to damage. Sulfuric acid can build up over time and freeze if it gets cold enough outside. To combat this, it's an important part of RV maintenance to ensure that the battery is kept in a warm place inside. While you store it, keep it off the ground or table using cardboard or some other layer of protection. 

Cover All Vents And Openings 

You might not even consider this factor of RV maintenance. However, this is more of a threat than you think it is. Insects, rodents, and other small critters can get through the smallest openings and use your RV as a new temporary home without you even knowing. Items like vent covers can keep these unwelcome guests from making themselves at home on your little camping mobile. 

Off-Season RV Maintenance 

Your RV might let you take a vacation from life, but life won't let you take a vacation from your RV. Even if you've started and ended the warmer seasons with the right RV maintenance and made sure that you properly did everything in between, you still have to keep your RV maintained during the colder months. 

Keep Your RV Battery Charged 

So, you've taken the previously mentioned steps of keeping your battery stored in a safe, warm location so it won't corrode over time. While this is awesome, your job isn't done yet. While you wait patiently for the weather to be warm enough for you to go and enjoy the camping world again, your battery is likely slowly losing its juice. While a brief exodus likely won't cause your battery to lose much charge, having it spend a few winter months away from your RV vacationing in your warm basement might cause it to return in no shape to do its job when the warm weather returns. 

To prevent this, you're going to want to keep your RV battery ready, fill it up with water (learn how to do so carefully if you don't know), and keep it fully charged while also being careful not to overcharge it. This important step in RV maintenance will allow you to get started earlier once the season hits. 

Keep Pests Away From Your RV 

While closing your vents might help keep pests from getting in through the most obvious holes, some particularly annoying creatures might be able to sneak through more subtly. Some insects, for example, might be able to squeeze through even a closed and locked door or window. Sometimes, the only way to keep something out of your RV is to keep it away entirely. An important part of RV maintenance is to ensure that there are no creatures creating nests or sneaking inside. 

Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help 

RV maintenance isn't something that you have to do completely on your own. Sometimes, it's as simple as having your spouse and kids help you. Maybe if you have a particularly handy or mechanically inclined friend or family member, they can lend you a hand. There are even a few tasks listed here that can be done much more efficiently by a professional. 

Enjoy The Freedom Of An RV 

At the end of the day, despite all the work that RV maintenance can do, the reason you have one of these vehicles is to use it. It's important that you enjoy the option of being able to camp while still having all the comforts of home, and reliable RV maintenance will allow you to do so without worry of a breakdown ruining it. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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