When it comes to the overall efficiency of an RV rental, systemic checks and maintenance are both required on an annual basis. However, these efforts should also be ongoing throughout the year with the intention of improving the performance and general appearance of the vehicle.
In many ways, this is the reason why RV rental management is so successful, for they take pride in their approach to the vehicles and place a strong emphasis on maintenance. That being said, private owners are still responsible for this same task and should take just as much pride in the process.
Most often, owners prepare their vehicle for the winter months to prevent frozen pipes or to reduce the risk of irreversible engine damage, but for the same reasons, the RV also needs to be thoroughly checked in anticipation of the warmer months.
Here is a Spring-checklist for an RV and everything you need to know about preparing for your next adventure:
1. CHECKING AND CLEANING OUT THE WATER SYSTEM
Exposed pipes are more susceptible to freezing, but the water tank is equally as important. Furthermore, if you decided to use antifreeze to prepare the RV for the winter months, you will need to flush the remnants of this solution out of the system.
Connect a garden hose to the RV and run water through the system to enable any remaining antifreeze to leave the pipes. After some time, make sure to fully empty both the pipes and water tank to remove any final remnants of this agent from the system. At this point, refill the tank with clean water before opening up and turning on every faucet in the RV. When you are satisfied that the water is clean and clear in every instance, turn off these same faucets.
2. SANITIZING THE TANKS
You should follow a similar process for the water heater and run fresh water through the relevant tank to remove any remaining antifreeze.
Standard bleach is a perfectly safe agent to sanitize the water system in an RV, but only a minor amount is necessary for this process. In this sense, less than half a cup is needed for a thirty-gallon water tank, and this mixture can be used to sanitize the system. While you should open the faucet to check that the water is running through the system, make sure to close these faucets and leave most of the solution to sanitize in the tank overnight.
Having emptied the system the following day, refill the water tank with fresh water and continue to run this water through open faucets until the smell of bleach is no longer.
3. CHECKING FOR LEAKS AND SEALING EVERY CRACK
You will need to build up water pressure to check for potential leaks in the RV. For this reason, turn on the water pump and allow some time until enough pressure is generated in the pipes. At this point, you can search for leaks in the RV and make repairs wherever necessary.
Naturally, the bathroom and kitchen area are the most common places to check for leaks but be sure to open cabinets and investigate in every corner of the vehicle.
Maintenance should also be an ongoing job, and this is especially important with regard to leaks or any weakness in the seams of an RV. Over time, even the slightest defect can evolve into quite a serious issue, and the resulting water damage is usually more expensive than repairing the leak itself.
Simply put, check every seal, from the ceiling and floor to the doors and windows, every crack or minor weakness should be repaired with an RV-friendly sealant. As mentioned, the potential damage caused by a water leak is much more costly than these repairs, and besides, you want to keep everything dry, right?
4. RESTORING THE BATTERIES
Whether or not you remove the batteries and place them into storage, keep in mind that batteries lose between ten and fifteen percent of energy every month. That is to say; when the vehicle is not in use, you can expect a significant decrease in battery power during this period.
As with any electrical equipment, take caution when checking the batteries and ensure the correct water levels are present as outlined in the official manual. If you find anything particularly unusual, the battery may need to be replaced or serviced by a professional engineer.
5. CHECK APPLIANCES AND CONNECTIONS
Most appliances in an RV rely on propane gas to function, and in this respect, the functionality of valves, cables, and connections are critical. However, take time to check that each of these appliances is working without any issue such as the microwave, fridge or electric heater. With this in mind, many owners find it convenient to take the RV to a designated park and check the functionality and efficiency of their equipment on location.
Furthermore, having checked the expiry date on this propane gas, you may need to replace the safety certificate and this is often an annual requirement.
6. RUN THE GENERATOR
Firstly, there needs to be sufficient oil but also take time to ensure your generator is operating smoothly. In fact, even when it seems to be working without issue, leave the generator to run for an extended period to blow out the cobwebs and bring this important piece of equipment back up to speed. At the same time, check the exhaust is completely clear of objects before carrying out any routine checks or maintenance.
7. ROUTINE ENGINE MAINTENANCE
When it comes to the engine and performance of an RV, many owners are unsure regarding what to check and how everything works. However, many of the most important tasks are incredibly straightforward such as checking the gauges to ensure they are accurate and ticking correctly.
For example, fluid is critical to the mechanical prowess of your RV, and there are many types which need to be checked and topped up including engine coolant, transmission, brake fluid, engine oil, power steering, generator oil and the windshield cleaner. That being said, if any of these fluids appear to be low, this can indicate a leak or alternative issue which needs to be fixed.
Lights are also vulnerable to failure over time and should be checked sooner rather than later. In the event of lights not working, use trial and error to determine if the problem lies with the light bulb, internal wiring or a faulty fuse.
8. INSPECT THE TIRES
The lifespan of a tire depends on multiple factors pertaining to both the brand and the extent of use in previous years. Many manufacturers recommend that you change these tires every five to ten years, but regardless, tires absolutely need to be checked on an annual basis.
As you should know, the pressure reduces in tires even when not in use which means low tire pressure is to be expected. At the same time, you should always perform a full check of each tire after reinstating the correct tire pressure. Cracks in the sidewall and worn threads are obvious signs or weakness in a tire but as always, these should be taken to a professional should you need a second opinion.
9. PAY ATTENTION TO SAFETY
While each of the above steps is necessary to prepare for a stress-free adventure, checking the safety equipment on board is critical for well-being and peace of mind. With that said, the fire extinguisher should be fully certified and tested long in advance of an unwanted emergency.
Similarly, checking the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide are working properly is hugely important, and the same can be said about the leak detector which accompanies the propane gas.
10. UPDATE REGISTRATION AND INSURANCE
Arguably the most boring and frustrating process of maintaining your RV is the registration and insurance. As you might expect, everything needs to be completely up to date, and this includes the vehicle emissions sticker which is now a mandatory requirement on the roads.
Whether you opt for a rental or you currently own an RV, routine checks and maintenance should always be the first step of every journey. After all, you cannot fix what you do not know, and an unused vehicle is sure to accumulate a host of these minor issues over time.