RV Maintenance Guide: Keeping Your Rig in Top Condition

Updated: Sep 9


Owning a recreational vehicle is a dream held dear by many. However, maintaining one requires a great deal of hard work–you have to carry out many of the routine maintenance tasks of both a home and a vehicle. Staying on top of maintenance will extend your rig’s lifetime, save you money, keep you safe on the road, and maximize your RV’s resale value.

This handy guide will help you learn about general RV maintenance.

Essential RV Maintenance Tasks to Do Before a Road Trip

Before you pack up your RV for your much-awaited vacation, make sure you perform the following maintenance tasks.

* Engine Maintenance - RVs see many miles of different types of roads, and the engine takes a lot of beating along the way. Change the oil on a seasonal basis to prevent wear and tear. Top off the brake, radiator, transmission, wiper, AC coolant, and power steering fluid. Also, replace the air, fuel, coolant, and hydraulic filters in your RV each season.

* Electrical Maintenance - For safe travels, make sure all electrical connections are working. Check the battery life, clean battery terminal ends, and replenish battery electrolyte levels with distilled water quarterly. If one battery is damaged, replace all the other batteries at once. Next, open the fuse box, verify that none are blown, then test all electric outlets, exterior lights, and appliances. While you are at it, remember to service your generator.

* Wheels - Before the trip, take some time to inspect the tires. Measure and top off the tire pressure, examine the treads, and check for signs of wear and tear. Replace or repair the tires if you notice punctures, cracks, or bulges. Other vital steps include rotating tires and tightening the wheel lug nuts.

* Water and Sewage System - To keep your water and waste system well-maintained, clean them using the recommended chemicals. Flashing your holding tanks with these treatment solutions (we recommend Happy Camper) ensures clogs and foul odors don't develop. For the freshwater system, sanitize it with bleach and clean water before the adventure.

* Pipes - Your RV’s pipes are quite similar to what you find in your home. Leaks are a major issue because of the frequent bumps along the road and sudden temperature changes. Before the outing, inspect for slow drips, look underneath your sinks for leaks, and perform repairs immediately.

* Safety Features - Run a basic safety test of your RV's safety components. These are the systems you'll rely on for protection when the unexpected happens. Test the smoke, carbon monoxide and propane detectors, inspect the fire extinguisher and replace any of these components if they aren't working correctly.

* Exterior Care - Maintaining the finish on the outside of your RV will keep your RV looking newer and prevent weather-related damage. Wash the exterior of your RV with a scratch-free sponge and use a sealant to protect the finish from the scorching sun and dirt. Other steps include inspecting the roof and coating it with UV protectant, washing the awning, resealing damaged seams and cracks, and lubricating slide-outs.

RV Maintenance on the Road

You’ve followed all preventative maintenance steps before the big road trip, and you’re now whizzing down the highway. So, what else do you need to do to keep your rig in great shape during the trip?

* Bring a Functional Toolbox - There's nothing more frustrating than trying to tackle a repair, only to realize you don't have the right tools. Pack all the maintenance equipment specific to your RV needs, and bring tools you can use for many applications.

* Stock Maintenance Parts - Don't expect to find RV supplies on every store along the road. Items like specialized cleaners, lubricants, sealants, light bulbs, tires, and jacks may not be readily available where you are traveling to. You should buy these items at home before you head out.

* Monitor Fluid Levels - Even if you recently topped up all fluids, it's smart to check the levels each time before you pull out. Inspection can help you determine if there is a leak, helping you avoid costly breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.

* Take Care of Moving Parts - No one enjoys riding in a noisy RV. To eliminate the noise, lubricate your slide-outs, use foam to stop your windows from shaking, take care of broken cabinet hinges, and secure all loose items.

* Keep an Eye on Your Tires - Check the tire pressure and wheel nuts every time before you drive off and look for irregular wear patterns and cuts.

* Check Electrical Connections - If you're traveling in a towable RV, make sure the tow vehicle's lighting and braking system is properly connected and effectively communicating with that of the trailer. Also, inspect the hitch and break-away chains.

RV Maintenance After a Trip

After a few days or weeks of road tripping, it feels great to get back to your non-mobile home. But before you lock up your RV and get back to your old routine, follow these maintenance steps.

* Clean the Rig Thoroughly - Wash, vacuum, and disinfect your home on wheels before storage. Wipe down surfaces, launder the towels and linen, clean and pack away dishes, and remove any foodstuffs and beverages from the fridge.

* Inspect the Exterior - When going about the cleaning, check the seals around the roof and windows, and look for any cracks or dents. If a fix is required, get it done before storing the RV.

* Drain the RV Water System - Empty out any remaining water in the pipes, tanks, pumps, or water heater. This will prevent corrosion, especially if your next trip is months away.

* Take Care of the Interior - Crack windows open to prevent moisture accumulation, which creates a favorable environment for mold growth. Also, top off the battery water, clean the connections and connect it to a trickle charger.

* Cover the RV - Use an RV-specific cover to keep the elements and debris off your rig. It will also ensure your vehicle is in traveling shape when you have the itch to hit the road.

Be Proactive on Maintenance

An RV is one of the biggest purchases an outdoor enthusiast can make. To preserve the value of your investment and cruise to every travel destination safely, you can’t afford to skimp on maintenance. Follow the steps above to keep your rig in tip-top shape.