RVers love a good trip in their trusted RVs. Here is the thing though, each trip you take will of course, take a toll on your beloved RV. But does that mean you need to reduce the number of trips you take? Absolutely not!
It is important to check things like the engine, oil, generator, safety equipment, propane, interior or exterior and water filter. Other things include checking for pests and broken seals. All these will allow you to make sure you have a well-maintained RV.
That’s only a brief overview of what you need to do. There is much more to RV maintenance than meets the eye. Don’t worry, it isn’t difficult by any means. You just need to be a bit diligent and consistent. Before I go in-depth into the checklist, let’s check out why it’s important to maintain your RV in the first place.
Importance of Proper RV Maintenance
Maintaining your RV is one of the best things you can do for it. For hardcore RVers, their beloved home on wheels isn’t just another vehicle. It means a lot more than that. I am sure you have some pretty fond memories of trips and experiences tied to your RV.
A well-maintained RV can become a prized possession for any family that owns one. There are some very solid reasons you should take maintaining it seriously.
The first and perhaps one of the most important reasons is to retain the value. A well-maintained RV will fetch you much more when you decide to sell it compared to a dinky little one that’s about to break down at any moment.
RV ownership can be expensive. The idea here is to maximize your investment. And you can do that to make sure your RV retains most of its value through proper maintenance.
Saves You Money
Speaking of investment, if you maintain your RV properly, you will also end up saving some money. First-time RV buyers can sometimes get pretty overwhelmed with the cost. They conclude that there are a lot of hidden costs.
Of course, maintenance does require some money inherently. But if your account for the maintenance cost in the RV ownership costs from the start, you will get less of a surprise. The checklist I am going to show you will also help you make sure you take care of everything.
It Won’t Break Down on You
Picture this, you are a busy person. The little time you get is spent with family or friends. You think to yourself when was the last time you had a road trip. The answer is probably a while ago. So, you be a little spontaneous and decide to go on a road trip with your friends or family in your RV.
Except, there is one little problem. Your RV broke down in the middle of the road. Not only is your trip ruined, but everyone is in a bad mood. And then there are the costs of getting back to the garage and repairing it.
Yeah, not the most exciting experience to have, if you ask me. I am pretty sure by now you can see there are some very solid reasons why you should care about RV maintenance. Besides, why would you not want to maintain such a beautiful and versatile machine?
Your RV Will Keep Performing Better
This one is a no-brainer. A well-maintained RV will most definitely ride and perform better still after a couple of years compared to one that has been neglected. You will not feel like the RV has become outdated or is lacking some of the power and polish it had when you first got it.
A Complete RV Maintenance Checklist: What to Do and When?
Alright, let’s get into the meat of it all. What is the checklist then? What should you look for and when should you do it? To make it easier to follow, I divided the complete checklist into sections.
I included some maintenance you need to do seasonally, monthly and also yearly. This will make it easier to follow and you will also remember what to do when. After this, just to be extra diligent, I even included some things you need to check before and after each trip.
Seasonal Maintenance Checklist
Seasonal maintenance consists of checking things like your water, visible damage and also checking the seals. These are the things you don’t need to check for very often since if anything is wrong with it, you would have noticed. Here are the things you need to check up on seasonally.
Check the tires for any leaks or tears. Tires take the full force of the RV when it is on the road. You need to check for proper tire pressure and just make sure everything looks good to you. Your RV manufacturer will most likely have an inflation guideline for the tires.
Check to see if those are met or not. You don’t want to go over-inflate or under-inflate. Both can be very dangerous. You can also check the tread marks for any inconsistencies.
- Do a Deep Clean
Doing a deep clean of your RV is always a good idea. Performing a complete deep clean once or twice per season will keep your RV sanitized. You might think it is a chore to clean your RV. But a little step can go a long way.
Moisture or a piece of chocolate behind the couch you missed can turn into a major problem down the line. You want to avoid that at all costs. And why wouldn’t want a clean and sanitized RV?
- Lubricate the Metals
A lot of sections of your RV will have metal rubbing on metal, for example, the hitch. While these do not need constant maintenance, applying lubricant on them once in a while will keep them working smoothly for longer.
You can also lubricate and treat the entry steps, leveling jacks. This will not only keep rust out of the picture but can help you keep the top-notch performance in tacked.
- Check For Damage
Check for any signs of visible damage. This is applicable even if your RV has been sitting in one place or the garage for a while. Check for small holes or rodents and other critters lurking around.
You can also check for any entry points for these rodents. If you see one, address it immediately. The more you wait the worse it will get. Seal the points as quickly as possible
- Make Sure All Your Seals Are Good
Then there are the seals. Do you know what is really bad for your RV? It is not the bumpy roads or kids running around in them. Moisture is the biggest problem for RVs. Every two to three months, do a thorough inspection of all the exterior seals. This includes the roof seals as well.
You must check the seals every six months, at the very least. Any water inside the RV needs to be taken care of quickly too. Find where the water or moisture came from and seal it away. If you notice the seals are cracked, chipped, or just any form of damage, it is always a good idea to get rid of the old sealant and replace it with a new one.
There is something you need to keep in mind here though. You need to use the same sealant the RV came with from the factory. You should be able to find it from your service center or parts manager. The local dealer is also a good place to check.
- Filter the Water
Oh, this one is important. Clean water is very important when you’re on a trip. That is why you need to filter your water.
A good way to do it is to pour just about half a cup of bleach. Pour it into the freshwater tank and let it sit for a day. Then just run it through the lines. Do this at least every 6 – 8 weeks.
- Give Your RV a Wax
If you want to keep the brand-new shine of your RV, a good wax will do wonders for it. You can wax the exterior and watch as your RV turns into almost a new one with its shine. The longer you keep the RV dirty, the harder it will get to remove and clean properly.
An RV will travel to lots of different places. Dirt, bugs and who knows what not can ruin the exterior. So, good waxing is very important.
Monthly Maintenance Checklist
Now for some monthly maintenance. These need to be done more frequently compared to the ones I already mentioned.
- Top Off the Batteries
If you don’t remember to top off the batteries each month, they will become dry and will get ruined. But only use distilled water when topping off.
Do not use tap water. I repeat, do not use tap water. It has a lot of minerals which will decrease the lifespan of the RV.
- Pest Control
You never know where some uninvited guests might be hiding. Check for pests and other critters each month. You need to check places like under the rig of abrading, cracked or lose access points and such.
Run the Generator
This one is especially important if your RV has been sitting for a while. Gasoline can easily go bad if left stagnant. To prevent this, you should run your generator once a month for about 2 hours. Running it at 50% load should be enough. If you want to extend the life of your fuel, you can also use fuel stabilizers.
- Make Sure to Test Safety Equipment
RVs will have a lot of safety features like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Check these each month to make sure they are working.
This will keep you safe when something goes wrong and will allow the alarm to go off when needed. Battery-powered equipment needs to be checked as well.
- Take a Look Under the Hood
Checking the engine and making sure nothing is wrong is a good idea. What you should be looking for are signs of leaks or loose clamps and hoses. If you cannot find any, you are all good.
- Lubricate Slideouts
If you have slide out units, you can lubricate them once a month to make sure they keep operating smoothly. There are also sprays that you can buy to keep the seals in tacked.
- Give the AC a Good Cleaning
You should clean and vacuum the ACs to keep them working properly. Doing it once a month is good enough.
Yearly Maintenance Checklist
Let’s move on to the yearly maintenance checklist. These things only need to be checked once per year.
- Service the Brakes
The brakes of your RV are important, for obvious reasons. Service them at least once a year. This part needs to be serviced by a certified professional.
You can also look for any cracks or breaks yourself. But having a professional service them once a year is a must.
- Check Your Propane
Spot check your propane for any dents, dings and leaks. After every 5000 miles, you should also get a quality professional to take a look at your propane tanks.
What Things Do You Need to Check Before and After Each Trip?
There are some things you should check before and after each trip. Doing this will make sure nothing goes wrong on the trip itself. All these are pretty simple stuff and some will even overlap. So, I will keep it pretty short.
Things to Check Before a Trip
- Headlights and brakes
- Tire pressure
- Roof for any debris
- Secure any loose furniture
- Close any locks of storage units
- Unplug electrical equipment and appliances
- Windshield wipers
- RV drainage system
- Any visible signs of damage to the exterior/interior and electronics
- Water filter and water tanks/pump
- Batteries and wiring
- Tire pressure
RV Maintenance Costs You Need to Take into Consideration?
There will be some costs for maintaining your RV. But this will depend on a couple of factors. The primary thing is of course, how much you travel. The type of RV and any unexpected circumstances also come into play.
Of course, the older the RV gets the more maintenance it will need. But if you just got a new RV do not ignore maintaining it. You will end up regretting it down the line and it will just damage your RV. Not to mention it will also bring down the value. So, what are some RV maintenance costs?
When you have an RV, you of course need to store it. If you do not have a place to store it somewhere yourself, you will need to pay someone to help you store it for you. The costs of this will vary from state to state.
Also, the type of storage you choose can have an impact on the final costs. You can either go for indoor storage or outdoor storage. Outdoor storage can be just under $100/month. Indoor storage, on the other hand, can go as high as up to $1000 for high-end options.
Keep in mind that outdoor storage can come with additional costs as well like tire covers. Alternatively, there is the option to use other methods of storing. Sites like Neighbor.com can save you up to 50% of the costs.
Insurance for your RV can range from $1000 to $4000 per year. You’re required to ensure your RV if you are still making payments.
Insurance is good to have since it can
come in handy for unexpected maintenance costs that might pop up.
General maintenance costs can cost you up to $600. But here is the thing, that number is much lower compared to repairs.
So, it’s good to be diligent with maintenance and avoid paying big bucks for repairs. You will thank yourself later for it.
All the things I mentioned here are not that difficult. They just need a bit of patience and due diligence. But one thing is for sure, you will thank yourself down the line for keeping your beloved RV well-maintained.