RV maintenance can seem intimidating to a new or potential owner, but it doesn’t have to be. Some owners do all the maintenance themselves, while others have a dealership or mobile RV tech do all of the work.
But many owners fall somewhere in between those two extremes. They do easier maintenance tasks themselves and rely on experts to do more complicated work.
Ultimately, every RV owner needs to know what maintenance needs to be done on an annual basis.
How you get the maintenance done is really up to you and will vary from person to person.
Here’s a quick guide to the most important annual maintenance tasks that an RV owner should complete to keep their motor home or towable unit in great shape. As you read through this list, create an action plan for yourself that details what you’ll do yourself, what you want to learn, and what you’ll hire others to do. Don’t forget! Taking good care of your rig is a necessary part of the fun and adventure that RV ownership provides!
Opening up your RV for camping season
For most RV owners, this is one of the most exciting times of the year! After hibernating for the winter, your rig is ready to wake up again! Dewinterizing an RV is much easier than winterizing one, but there are still some important steps to take to stay safe and get your rig ready for adventure.
- Inspect the tires
- Carry out wheel bearing and axle maintenance
- Test the RV battery
- Visually inspect the roof and reseal if necessary
- Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Sanitize the fresh water tank
Maintenance during the travel season
Maintenance doesn’t end once your RV is up and running for the year. There are still some basic tasks you need to do to keep things rolling in the right direction.
- Build an RV-specific toolkit that stays in the trunk or RV
- Use RV-specific cleaning and tank maintenance products
- Use plenty of water each time you flush the toilet to avoid clogs
- Check your tire pressure on every traveling day
Storage between trips
Nobody likes to store the RV away between trips, but for most of us, life isn’t a permanent vacation. If your RV isn’t going to be used for weeks at a time during camping season, you still need to keep an eye on it and complete the following tasks.
- Empty the tanks and fill them with proper sanitizing materials
- Shut off the propane tanks
- Leave the refrigerator door open if the RV isn’t plugged in
- Check that all storage compartments are closed properly
Cold weather storage
Properly winterizing your RV is absolutely essential. It isn’t that difficult and doesn’t take that long to do, but if you mess up, serious damage can be done. Pipes can freeze and water can wreak havoc in a hundred different ways. If you aren’t comfortable winterizing your own RV, then hire a professional to do so. If you’re going to do it yourself, here are general steps you need to take. But please note, all RVs are a bit different and may require additional steps.
- Remove all water from the system
- Bypass the hot water tank
- Run antifreeze through the system
- Store batteries properly
- Cover the RV and RV tires
- Vacuum out any food debris and remove all liquids
The RV lifestyle is filled with joy and excitement, but there’s work to do along the way. Hopefully, that work becomes part of the fun for you. It certainly has for me.
Jeremy Puglisi is the co-author of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and the co-host of “The RV Atlas” podcast.