Maintaining an RV is no different than maintaining a vehicle, home or other important domicile. The RV is exposed to wind, sun, rain, dirt and materials from the roadway. Keeping up the exterior maintenance can help to avoid expensive repairs to your roof and exterior siding materials. The basic process for maintenance is simple and will leave your RV looking great.
Cleaning the Exterior
This one is simple, but it really helps to protect the RV exterior and will certainly help with the aesthetics. If you travel in coastal areas, washing is especially important as it removes salt that causes rust and corrosion on your metal components. A carwash with a pressure washer is ideal but using a simple soap and water solution with a soft bristle brush will also do the trick. If you can, access and wash the roof as well as the exterior siding and undercarriage.
Maintain the Roof and Seams
Roof maintenance is absolutely critical, and damage will cause leaks and interior issues. Do a monthly roof inspection and look for wear points and deteriorating rubber. The vents are especially vulnerable and are worthy of very regular inspections. RV’s that are exposed to sun for long periods of time are the most vulnerable. You really just want to watch the roof and seams for damage and be prepared to either make your own repairs or hire a repair service. Seam sections on the lower sides and underside are also important. While they are not areas that leak and cause water damage, they do leave the RV exposed to mice. Sealing holes with caulking will keep the rodents away and protect your exterior and interior. Rodents are frustrating so really spend some time searching for small gaps and fill them with caulking to really lock everything down.
Always Check Your Vents
Make sure your vents are closed when you hit the road. Leaving them open can cause damage and even tear off the vent. When parked however, open the vents to allow interior air circulation and cool downs. If it’s raining, leave the exterior vents closed however to prevent water from entering. Close down all vents for long term storage so nothing can enter the living space. Vents are a really important component and are worth monitoring and protecting to prevent water damage while maintaining airflow and functionality in the RV.
Keep the Awning Clean
Awnings are easy to damage on accident. In many cases, rushing out the door and rolling up a wet awning for storage will cause mold and mildew growth. Make sure to keep your awning clean by hosing it down with water and allowing it to completely dry out. Rolling out a nice clean awning is always nice and it will last for a very long time with proper maintenance.
Add a Protectant to the Exterior
The RV exterior can benefit from a protective coating, but you must do a little research to find the appropriate coating for your build. Many RV owners add a layer of wax coating to protect the exterior and to make washing easier. A waxed coating is easy to clean and bugs and grime will wash right off rather than sticking. RV specific polish treatments also exist and essentially serve the same purpose as wax.
Long Term Storage
Storing your RV can cause exterior wear and tear and damage if not done properly. Simply leaving the RV outside and exposed to constant sun and weather is not ideal. In a best case scenario, you can store the RV in a garage or a covered space where the roof is not always exposed to sunshine. Otherwise, covering the roof with tarps is a prudent step to prevent sun damage and wear on the seams and joints. Waxing before you store the RV will make cleaning easier in the future as well. Do a double check to ensure your vents are closed and add a sunscreen to block sunshine from entering at the windshield. The sun entering through the windshield can fade fabrics and warp plastic and rubber components on the interior.
Protect Your Tires
Tires are an often overlooked part of exterior maintenance. Obviously you must monitor tires, complete scheduled rotations and replace worn tires. Using tire covers while parked however is a major benefit to the rubber and will help the tires last longer. Do this while camping and during short and long term storage sessions as well. Unless the RV is stored inside, use your tire covers to prevent sun wear and damage while the RV is parked.