In order to keep your RV running properly you need to perform routine maintenance. Just like in your home and on your vehicle, there are things in your RV that need to be changed as well as cleaned. It can be easy to overlook or forget what needs to be done to keep your RV in tip top shape. Follow this basic RV maintenance checklist to make sure nothing gets overlooked or forgotten.
Fire and Leak Prevention
carbon monoxide, and LP leak alarms, simply push the test button. If they don’t go off, be sure to replace the batteries immediately. To test the fire extinguishers, start by checking the pressure on the gauge. You want to be sure the needle is in the green. Give the needle a little tap to ensure it’s actually where it needs to be and isn’t just stuck. Next check your lever, handle, and pull pin to ensure they move easily and aren’t bent or bound up at all. Turn the fire extinguisher upside down and tap on it gently to loosen up the powder in it. Lastly, remove the hose or nozzle and make sure there is nothing in it. Blow through it to remove any dust or other debris that may be in there. Once you reassemble it, initial and date the back of the tag. This is something you should do once a month to ensure they’re working properly. If the needle is not on the green, replace the fire extinguisher or have it refilled. Remember to always have them refilled if you use them.
AC & Heating
Just like at home, your RV's heater also has a filter that needs to be changed. While you’re changing it, use a vacuum and air compressor to clean in and around the it and then blow it out with compressed air. You want to get as much dust out as possible. The dust that settles on the fans can weight them down and cause them not to provide the proper amount of airflow. The harder the heater has to work, the more it costs, and the shorter its lifespan will be. Try and get as much out of the vents and ducts as well. The more the airflow is restricted, the harder it is on the heater.
Having the correct amount of pressure in each tire is important! Not only will it ensure that your tread wears evenly, but you'll also avoid drag when towing. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the correct tire pressure for each tire. If the pressure is too high, it will wear out the middle of the tread quickly. If it’s too low, the outside of the tread will wear out too quickly. When you check and adjust your tire pressure, also look for cracks in the sides of the tires. If they’re cracking, they'll need to be replaced so you don't experience a blowout. For information about when and where you should get your motorhome tires rotated, click here.
When you put your slides out, you’ll possibly see a metal track on the bottom of the sides of them. This is the track for the gears that move the slides in and out. To keep both the gears and the track in working order, spray the track with lithium grease. If there aren’t tracks on the sides, look under it and spray the track under there. This will lube up the track, which will in turn lube the gears when you retract the slide. If you have hydraulics that move the slides in and out, ensure you check the fluid level and keep it full as well.
In order for your slides to seal properly and keep the gears where they should be, you need to ensure that your slide outs are centered. With repeated use and travel, they can get tilted and end up out of whack which can cause damage to the gears and seals. There are adjustment bolts that you can use to center them, but check your owner’s manual to be sure of the proper way to do this before you start.
If you have hydraulic jacks, you don’t have to lubricate them, but it doesn’t hurt to do so. The main things you want to keep an eye on are the pistons and the fluid levels. Ensure that you keep the pistons clean. Dirt can jam them up and can cause enough damage that you might have to replace them. These jacks need the fluid to move, so if there isn’t enough in there, they’re not going to fully extend.
The generator has an air filter as well as a fuel filter. The air filters are going to be more likely to need to be cleaned or changed. Check them often and change them if they aren’t coming clean by blowing them out with compressed air. If you know you have had old or bad gas in it, or if it’s sputtering, you will want to change out the fuel filter as well. Regular oil changes will keep it lubricated and cleaned on the inside of the engine. Before you leave for your trip, figure out the altitude of where you are compared to where you’re going. Many generators have an adjustment for different altitudes and ensuring it’s adjusted properly will put less strain on it.
If you don't use your generator, it still needs to be run occasionally. Just like a car motor, it can seize up if it's not used for a long time. You want to run it for a little while once a month. This gives it the chance to cycle the oil and blow out built-up carbon. If you’re planning to put the RV in storage, make sure you add a fuel stabilizer to help protect it. For more specific RV generator maintenance, click here.
Check the fluid levels regularly. Just like with a car or truck, check the oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, break fluid, and windshield washer fluid. If they are low, make sure to top them off. If you find that any of these fluids other than the windshield washer fluid are consistently low, get it checked for leaks or burning!
You need to check your coolant as well, but it’s not enough to just check the level. You want to get a coolant tester so you can make sure you have the proper mixture of coolant and water. Too much water can cause serious freezing in the winter and too much coolant can actually cause it to overheat! Make sure your engine is cool before opening the cap to the radiator. Because this liquid is under pressure, opening it while hot can cause the coolant to spray out, potentially hitting you in the face or getting in your eyes or mouth.
While you’re under there, make sure to check over all your hoses and belts. Look for holes in the hoses and ensure all the clamps are in working order and in the correct spot. If a clamp has slipped, put it back in place and tighten it down to ensure the hose doesn’t slip off. When you check your belts, you’re looking for two things. The first thing you want to look for is to make sure the belts are still tight. Sometimes, as they wear, the belts can begin to stretch and become loose. Next, check the belts over for cracks or unusual wear. Any of these can cause the belt to either fall off or break and that will bring your trip to a halt pretty quickly. If it happens to be the timing belt, you can do a lot of damage to the valves in the engine.
The last thing you want to check out while you’re under the hood is your battery. Check the water level and charge in it. If the battery is not receiving a full charge you could be looking at acid stratification. This means that the acid mostly ends up on the bottom and the top, which can cause corrosion and reduce the performance of the battery.
Once you have the engine area all set, check your wiper blades and lights. Look the blades over for any damage and make sure they’re still in place. You don’t want to find out that they’re not working when you’re trekking down the highway in a rainstorm. Get another set of eyes to help check your brake lights, taillights, blinkers, headlights, and high beams. Replace any bulbs that are burned out. To learn about common issues with motorhome headlights, read this!
Performing a basic RV maintenance check on your RV can prolong the life of it and save you money in the long run. It also makes for a much more enjoyable trip when everything is in working order. Most of this you can do yourself, but if you can’t or just don’t feel like it, you should be able to contact an RV service center in the area that would be willing to do it for you!