As an RV owner, one of the most important things you can do to ensure your RV stays usable year after year is keeping up with routine maintenance. Unfortunately, many RV owners have no idea what kinds of things they should be doing in terms of RV maintenance. Others may be aware of what they need to do, but feel overwhelmed by it all.
If you fall into either of these categories, this is the article for you. Below, we’ve compiled an RV maintenance checklist that is easy enough for anyone to follow.
Keep up these motorhome and travel trailer maintenance tips, and you can rest assured you’ll be enjoying years of camping fun in your rig.
Before Each Trip
The countdown is on! In just a few days you will be leaving on your next RV adventure. What should you do to prepare? Believe it or not, many RVers neglect to take the time to properly prepare their RV for travel. Annual maintenance is an important part of RV ownership. Even if you have been living full-time in your RV, you still need to perform regular checks to keep your rig in top shape.
Here are a few MUST KNOW RV maintenance tips that will keep give you peace of mind ensure that your next trip is a success.
Avoiding blowouts is crucial for ensuring your safety while traveling with an RV. Therefore you will want to check the pressure of each tire and check the rims for any cracks or stress. Add air to any tires that may need it. Additionally, check for wear and tear, making sure that no places are worn excessively, bubbling, or showing other signs of damage.
Check Headlights and Brake Lights
Brake lights and headlights are also important parts of traveling safely. Make sure yours work before each road trip.
Check Your Hitch
It’s easy to hook up your travel trailer and hit the road without ever thinking about the strain on your trailer hitch. The A frame section of your trailer has many areas that need to be inspected. Look for cracked or worn welds that can easily break if you hit a rough section of road.
Make sure that the nuts and bolts are tight around the coupling and any other area where metal is holding connections. Nuts should be checked often as the vibration and jolts of the road can lead to damage.
Check Propane for Leaks
If your RV uses propane be sure to check all the fittings and regulators for leaks. Also, check the dates on your tanks. Propane tanks expire and require recertification to be filled. Make sure your tanks are safe and up to date.
An easy way to check a gas leak is to spray some soapy water on the gas connections. If a leak is present there will be a bubbling where the soapy water meets the escaping gas. If this happens, it’s time to get your tanks and fittings looked at.
Clear Roof of Any Debris
RV roofs have a tendency to gather debris. Letting this sit can cause damage to the roof. It can also be dangerous if it flies off the roof during travel. Therefore, you will want to clear it before you leave.
Check Your Power
Test all of your electrical switches including your slide and awnings. Plug things into your outlets. Turn your water pump on and off. Is everything working properly? Turn your appliances on. Try your 12V power. Plug in your shore power and check your house batteries and generator.
Give Yourself an Extra Weekend
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Smart RVers know to book themselves at a local RV park for a weekend prior to travel. During this weekend plug into the power, check the sewer and fill the water tanks. An RV park with full hookups is equipped with the power you need to know if everything is operational. These two test days are the perfect dry run before your big adventure.
Monthly RV Maintenance Tips
The following motorhome and travel trailer checklist includes everything you’ll want to do to your RV on a monthly basis.
Drive Your Motorhome
Axels and engines don’t do well when sitting still for long periods of time. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get out and drive your motorhome at least once a month, even if you don’t have a trip planned.
Run Your Generator
Gas goes bad when sitting still for too long, and generators don’t like sitting unused for too long anyway. Avoid any problems by running your generator at about 50% load at least once a month.
Top Off Batteries
Did you know RV batteries need to be refilled occasionally? Be sure to check the water level in your batteries monthly and refill with distilled water wherever necessary.
Clean the Air Conditioner
Air conditioning units have a tendency to become clogged over time. Keep yours in tip-top shape by cleaning the vents and intake, and cleaning or replacing the filter about once a month when the A/C is in use.
Check Under the Hood
Out of sight does not mean out of mind with an RV.
Motorhome owners should take a look under the hood of their RV once a month or so to make sure there are no signs of leaking and that all clamps and hoses are securely attached.
Look Underneath Your RV
Don’t forget about the underneath of your rig. Climb under and see what is happening. Are there nuts and bolts that need to be tightened or are missing? Check around the suspension and axles. If you are not sure what to look for, look on YouTube for a few training videos.
What about your chassis? Look for rail and cross member concerns. Do you see any rust or fractures from the wear and tear of the road? If so, get to a professional immediately.
Test Safety Equipment
Test and clean your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector regularly, and replace batteries that need to be replaced. Additionally, you will want to check that your fire extinguisher is still in good working order.
For travel trailers, check to see if both the jockey wheel and hand brake are easy to maneuver. If not, add lubrication and remove any built up rust. What about the safety chain? Are there signs of cracking, broken links, or overall wear and tear? If so, replace the chain before travel.
Look for Cracks
Avoid an RV infestation by checking all around your rig for pest access points. Little critters only need a hole about a quarter-inch wide to enter your home-on-wheels, so look closely for cracks and holes and fill them if necessary.
Lubricate the Slides
Slides are wonderful things to have on your RV. That said, they do come with a bit of added maintenance. You see, RV slideouts should be lubricated once in a while to ensure they continue to pull in and out smoothly.
Check Your Seals
Water is an RVer’s enemy. Any space water can seep into may result in mold or moisture damage. Check for tiny gaps in your window and door seals. Look at all the seals and if they are cracked, dry or broken take the time to replace them. Check your awning. Are there gaps that allow water to drip down into your rig?
How’s your sealant? Inspect the windows, doors, basement storage doors and all moldings around the RV. If you see signs of splitting or cracking you need to replace the sealant. You may need to cut out the old and replace it with new. Remember when buying sealant to do your research. There are many new products on the market in a variety of colors. Check online RV forums and ask people what they are using.
Check Your Awning
Take a few minutes to roll out your awning. Are there gaps that allow water to drip down into your rig? Are there any cuts or tears? If you see any holes you may want to use a vinyl or canvas repair kit. Helpful suggestions can be found on both Facebook RV groups and RV Forums such as IRV2.com.
Seasonal RV Maintenance Tips
The following tasks should be added to your RV maintenance schedule once every 6 months.
Check and Change Motorhome Fluids
Your motorhome is just like any other vehicle. This means you will need to change the oil once every 3,000 miles or so. While you’re at it, check the other fluids and filters and replace or top off anything that needs it.
Deep Clean Your RV Interior
Make sure to deep clean your RV at least a couple times a year. Old food dropped under furniture, unknown water spills, and other common messes can cause bigger problems down the line, especially if left while the rig goes into storage.
While you are cleaning check for signs of moisture on the walls, under the sink or along the plywood. Do you see any water marks, discoloration or signs of drips? Any of these could indicate that you have a leak. Check your plumbing, your roof and the joints see where the water may be coming in.
The cushions on your couch, dining set and mattress can start to stink if moisture is present inside your rig. If anything needs to be dried out, remove it from the rig, place it in the outside air, spray it with Febreeze and give the RV some serious ventilation. While your cushions are drying locate and eliminate the water leak. It’s important!
Clean and Wax your RV Exterior
Nobody wants a dirty or dull-looking RV. Keep yours clean and shiny by giving it a good wash and wax a couple times a year.
Cleaning your RVs exterior is super important — when dirt sits on your rig for too long, you run the risk of potential damage. Regularly waxing your RV will also help to protect your exterior from damage-causing elements like road tar, road salt, UV exposure, and bird droppings.
Start by rinsing your RV down with clean water (do not use hot water). Then use a mild soap to wash from top to bottom using a sponge or a mitt. After you’ve scrubbed it down, give it another good rinse and be sure to dry thoroughly. To apply wax, scoop a small amount onto a clean cloth, then apply gently to your RV in sections.
Weigh Your RV
Having an overweight RV can be extremely dangerous. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to keep tabs on the weight of your rig, especially if you’ll be adding new cargo. Make sure to weigh your RV at least twice a year. Click here for a detailed guide on how to weigh your RV.
Lubricating metals that rub against other metals helps keep those things moving. This includes jacks, hitches, and fold-up stairs.
Yearly RV Maintenance Tips
Run through this RV maintenance checklist at least once a year to keep your motorhome or trailer in good shape.
Obviously, you will always want to be keeping an eye on your RV brakes. However, provided no red flags are jumping out at you before the one-year mark, we recommend having your brakes serviced by a professional every 12 months or so.
Inspect Your Propane
Propane systems are another thing you’ll want to be watching year-round. However, making a point of having the whole system inspected once a year can really help you avoid having problems.
Reseal Exterior of RV
We mentioned checking seals regularly above. However, even if you don’t find any obvious issues during those monthly inspections, resealing the exterior of your RV yearly is a good way to prevent future leaks.
Clean Your Water System
Nobody wants funky water in their fresh tank. To avoid funky fresh water, clean the system once a year. Simply dump a cup of bleach into the fresh tank, fill it with potable water, let it sit for a day, and drain. After this, fill the tank with portable water again and run the faucets until the bleach smell is gone.
RV Maintenance Near Me
Many of the things on this list can be done by individual RV owners. That said, there are some tasks that will need to be done by a professional. To find a professional in your area, we recommend calling nearby RV dealerships or searching online for “RV repairs near me”.
RV Maintenance Costs
If you choose to do the majority of your maintenance on your own, the cost of RV maintenance shouldn’t be too much. Still, this is something you will want to add to your annual budget to ensure there’s never any stress when it comes time to take care of your tiny home-on-wheels.
Having trouble with a particular maintenance task? The RVShare blog can help! Simply search for the task in question to find all kinds of helpful information.
Recommended Safety Amenities
- Smoke Detector: Equip your RV with working fire safety technology, including a dual-sensor smoke alarm.
- Carbon Monoxide Detector: Install a carbon monoxide detector and make sure it always has fresh batteries.
- Fire Extinguishers: Keep one or more up-to-date fire extinguishers on board.
- First Aid Kit: Have a kit with bandages, gauze, Neosporin and aspirin to help take care of minor injuries that may happen on the road.
- Gas Stop: Propane is highly flammable! If a propane leak occurs, the gas stop will shut off gas flow immediately.
- Brake Controller: For travel trailers, brake controllers sense when you’ve applied the brakes in your vehicle and will automatically engage the brakes on your trailer.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System: This handy device will let you know within seconds of a tire leak or failure.
- Surge Protector: Prevent large power surges with a surge protector. Unexpected power surges can damage expensive electronics and appliances!
- Road Side Safety Kit: Most come with flares (Clear signage in the event of an accident keeps you safe until help arrives.), jumper cables, towing rope, tools, reflective warning signs, life blankets, compasses, and more!
What do you think? Are there tips and tricks we missed? What would you add to the maintenance checklist? Add your thoughts in the box below. Your comments and insights are appreciated. Also, share these tips with all your RVing friends! Thanks for reading.
Looking for more? Check out 15 Things You Might Not Know About Owning an RV
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