My husband and I have an older RV. We bought it second hand and when we did, we realized there were several things we needed to consider and do before we got on the road. The camper we bought was over 20 years old and needed a bit of work. The former owners maintained it, but beyond that, we did not know how to do RV maintenance ourselves. After doing our home work, we were ready for the campgrounds in St. George.
RV Maintenance on a Schedule
To begin with, we realized we needed to review what it meant to own an RV and what we would need to do to take care of it. Upon doing some research, we discovered that to take good care of our new RV we would need to make a schedule that would include reoccurring events to make sure we didn’t miss specific types of maintenance. We set up a schedule at varying intervals.
- Weekly Maintenance
- Monthly Maintenance
- Quarterly Maintenance
- Yearly Maintenance
We started dividing up the maintenance by date for simplicity’s sake, but the maintenance on the RV engine needed to be done on the millage, so we added quarterly reminders to check it because we do not use the RV but once every couple of months. This would be different if we used it more frequently for traveling.
If we were renting our RV, we would want to have a pre-rental checklist because there is never any guarantee on how well the maintenance on the vehicle was done or whether it was done before the RV was rented.
Why records are needed
We knew to get the longest possible life out of our RV we would need to keep a logbook for our maintenance. It would keep us safe on the road and prevent accidents because of maintenance problems. It would also keep us from being stuck somewhere without help. We also needed it to get RV insurance.
- Insurance claims require proof of RV maintenance.
- It is added security for you and guests if you rent your RV out.
- Selling the RV will be easier with a maintenance log.
What kinds of Maintenance are there?
When we were first learning about doing maintenance on RVs. We learned that there are three different kinds of maintenance that an RV can expect these different types include:
This is the type of maintenance we try to do to prevent things from happening. We make a point of regularly following or scheduling a review of our RV to identify problems spots before we need to do something about it. This reduces our number of problems and helps us be aware of what is going on with our vehicle.
This type of maintenance we do on schedule and is routine such as getting the oil changed and regularly changing the filters for the air conditioning. This type of maintenance helps keep the RV running smoothly and prevents breakdowns or missed routine maintenance.
This is why we keep our logbook with dates, times, locations, mileage and other important information about the maintenance such as the type of oil we bought and how expensive it was.
This type of maintenance we are trying to avoid. Emergency maintenance is the kind that happens when something goes wrong that is not expected. Such as popping a tire or leaking transmission fluid.
Lack of preventative maintenance and scheduled maintenance will make emergency maintenance more likely to occur. This is why we started our maintenance checklists to make sure we have everything covered so we don’t have to miss our next vacation.
RV Maintenance Checklists
As not RVs are alike and there are brand differences. We were lucky to have the original owner’s manual to let us know when we needed to do maintenance and what we would need to do it on. It also helped build our own schedule.
Checking the brakes is one of the most important checks to do. They should be inspected on a regular basis because it is more than just wear that can damage them. If you are parking in a field, mice love to chew on the cables when they get into the RV. It can also save lives so it should be high on the checklist and done frequently.
Start by knowing what types of brakes are on the RV. The RV brakes will have signs of wear that can be learned by reviewing the RV user manual and by experience. After the visual inspection, a live brake test can help determine the degree of wear. The brakes can be cleaned and the breakaway switch checked at the same time.
- Propane system
If the RV has propane for cooking and/or heating then it must have a propane leak detection system that was built in by the company. The sensor should be on the floor where propane would be found as propane is a denser gas and will drop down by the floor. The sensor should have a built-in test feature to keep the sensor working correctly.
To check for propane leaks, open the main valve to the propane with all the doors and windows closed in the RV. Leave the RV alone for about 2 hours. If the alarm is activated when there is a leak and it needs to be fixed immediately. It can also be done by putting a little soap and water mixture right where the line connects to the propane tank. If it starts to bubble then there is a leak.
- Electrical System
To run proper tests n the electricity in the RV, a good place to start is the circuit breaker. The fuses should be all working if they are connected. Checking all the outlets in the RV is as simple a charging a phone. The stove or furnace can have an electric starter which can be tested by turning on the burner and running the furnace once.
Checking the hookup for towing a vehicle is important. We pull our car everywhere and if our signal lights are not working, someone could hit our car in the dark. It is also important for keeping our RV battery charged and making sure we are ready to hook up at an RV resort in St. George. They can be checked simply hooking everything up and turning them on and making sure all signals are operating.
Checking the voltage on the RV battery takes a bit more effort. Corrosion around the electrical circuits is common and can easily be brushed carefully off with a clean dry toothbrush, but to determine the amount of voltage each battery has requires a multimeter.
A multimeter not required to keep the RV running, but it does help determine the amount of electricity going to the batteries when the RV is started. Starting the RV on a regular schedule of every week or 2 should keep the batteries charged and ready for action.
- Check the Seals
We have seen other RVs leaking. We try to inspect our RV every quarter or so for leaks or other damages to the seams. Our vents were leaking when we first got the RV so we try to keep an eye on them as well as a skylight, around any outside outlets and our air conditioners. All of these need to be checked regularly. This is important when you are stopping at an RV resort in St. George as it tends to get warm there.
If our RV starts to leak it will eventually rot the wood that is in the framework and rot through the panels in the walls and ceiling. We used a sealant to reseal our leaking vent and it is also good for leaking seals around the camper. We had to find one that would work with the type of material of our RV. We have a fiberglass RV, but they also come in ALFA, TPO, EPDM, and Metal.
- Check Slide Outs
We don’t have any slide outs on our RV, but if we did they would be checked regularly with our other seals. They tend to get dirty and start to leaks if they are not properly lubricated frequently. This includes running the mechanisms to slide them in and out on a regular basis.
The window seals for the slide outs and the rest of the RV should be checked for leaks and resealed if the rubber is coming lose. Through regular checks, any slide-outs or window problems can be caught early and repaired. Any catching on operation can cause the slide-out materials to tear which will require complete replacement.
- Check Mileage
We got our RV with very few miles on it, but we have been steadily adding to them since then. We have been making a quarterly check of the mileage and keeping an eye on our owner’s manual so we know when we need to have the RV serviced.
If we used our RV more frequently, we would need to check the engine and the brakes more often. We follow the recommended service time frame of our manual quite closely and make appointments for our RV to be checked out a couple of times a year.
- Oil Change
We try to change our RV’s motor oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, but because we tend to let ours sit all winter, we do it at the start of every spring or at the turn of a season if we are traveling frequently.
Most RVs require an only change after at most 4,000 miles. This is considered ideal because RVs tend to sit more than other vehicles and old oil or infrequent usage can cause excessive wear to the engine. This damage can be costly to repair.
- Replace Filters
An RV has air, coolant, fuel, and hydraulic filters which need to be changed regularly. Most filters need to be changed every quarter or season, but they should be added to the inspect logbook for checks before, during and after a trip. This is what we do.
It helps us keep on top of any problems before they start and lets us see how much wear the RV is taking. This is important when we are traveling in different areas as we notice patterns such as driving through hotter, dryer and dustier areas leaves our air filters full of dirt so we try to keep clean filters ready while we travel in those areas.
- Hinges and Locks
Lubricating the hinges and locks on RVs keep them squeak free. It also kept us aware of how well the locks were functioning. The last thing we wanted was to be unable to lock our own doors. Not much lubricant is needed to keep everything operating smoothly and we were careful to wipe everything off with a paper towel afterward.
- Wheels & Lug Nuts
Part of checking our wheels was to make sure they did not show a lot of wear but to make sure they were free of anything that damages wheels like nails. We did not want to have to change a tire on the RV so we watched those tires carefully and made sure we knew how to get them off and on again.
They lug nuts were hard to remove, but we wanted to make sure they stayed tight and rust-free We checked the tires and the lug nuts on a quarterly schedule. This helped us keep the pressure in the tire balanced and the lug nuts easy to remove if we needed to. It keeps us getting good gas mileage so we can travel more.
This also keeps us safe on the road and prevents damage to the RV while in operation. If we had underinflated tires than out gas mileage drops and we are more likely to pop one of our tires through unsafe operation. This is especially true when we let it sit during the long winter. Tire pressure drops with cold weather as it does at an RV resort in St. George if visited in the winter.
Appliances should be checked on a quarterly schedule to prevent shorts or other problems. A visual inspection will show any worn cords or cracks in the appliances. Start each appliance and listen for any noises. This includes listening to how the refrigerator runs, checking the temperature of the refrigerator, running all the burners on the stove and using the microwave.
After each appliance has been run, they should be cleaned. Everything should be recorded in the logbook that is being kept. It should also record if any problems were discovered and how they were fixed after discovery.
- Waste Water
We try to keep our wastewater system in good working order. It tends to smell if you don’t. We try to find the right kind of chemicals that work with our RV fluid system. It can be either gray or a black system. By flushing it out regularly we keep the smells out and we keep the lines clean which prevents clogs or complete failure. It’s good for campgrounds in St. George, as they don’t all, have RV dump sites.
- Awning maintenance
Our RV, being older, does not have an awning either, but it is on the checklist of items to review before we go anywhere. For an awning, we were advised to check whether it could be opened and closed easily. This requires cleaning the support poles and checking to see if any tears, mildew or debris have built up in the awning.
This is especially true in the fall and spring when bugs tend to build nests or hatch from the nests they build. Keeping the awning clean, nest free and repaired if tears are discovered will help the awning stay in good working order. Replacing an awning is not cheap, so it’s advisable to check at least once a quarter.
We try to wash our RV every couple of months unless we are in an area where it is getting dusty and muddy. Moisture ruins RVs so we try to get the mud off as soon as we can. It frequently collects underneath the RV and in the wheel wells.
If we don’t get it off and out, the wheels don’t turn as well and we don’t make good time. It is also making our engine work harder to move the unit. Keeping our RV clean also makes it look nicer going down the road.
We love our RV and can’t wait for our planned fall trip in St. George. We try to get out in our RV as frequently as we can get away from work. My husband and I both love to travel and this requires we be upon our maintenance and be ready to go when season turns. We have several trips planned for the next couple of years and to be able to take these we will need to keep our RV in shape. This doesn’t just happen on it’s own. It must be a regular and planned maintenance. Since we do this, we’re able to enjoy our RV and likewise memorable trips together.