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Yearly RV Maintenance – Protect Your Most Critical Systems

RV maintenance is surprisingly simple when you have a straightforward, easy to follow checklist. Monthly and regular maintenance is necessary, but the annual service is critical to run through everything. This includes the motor and drivetrain along with all appliances, structural and house elements. The annual maintenance is intended to protect the RV while stored but also is designed to protect the critical mechanical components. Annual maintenance will extend the life of the RV and keep it in top shape for a very long time.


Cleaning Your Rig


Cleaning is not necessarily critical for mechanical and operational maintenance but a deep cleaning each year helps a ton. Cleaning carpets, curtains, surfaces and kitchen elements will leave the RV sanitized. It will smell better after storage and the absence of grease and food scraps will ensure the RV has less chance at serious rodent infestations.


Do a top to bottom cleaning as the last task before long term storage. If you plan on using the RV in the near future, the cleaning will still make the next outing feel like a fresh start. Use bleach to clean the sinks, toilet, shower and any kitchen surfaces that contact meat and food items on a regular basis. White vinegar is also a great cleaning agent when mixed with water. Use a 50/50 solution to clean surfaces as well. Wash all bedding and cushion covers and replace when completely dry. Lastly, scrub down the refrigerator, dry the interior and add a small bowl of baking soda for storage. The baking soda will absorb odors and prevent the fridge from stinking when reopened.


Check the Rubber


Rubber is often overlooked in campers and motor vehicles as well. Start with the tires and inspect for wear and loss of tread. Replace worn tires but also consider an alignment if the tires are worn indifferently. This may also mean that suspension parts require inspections and potential repairs as well.


Next, check the belts on the engine and inspect the seals for leaks. The driveshaft, oil pan and other major seals like the head gasket are critical for performance and function. If a big seal blows on the road, you are in for expensive repairs and towing costs. Maintain and replace these as necessary each year for optimal performance.


Mechanical Systems


Mechanical systems include the motor and driveline but maintenance in most years is a matter of fluid replacement and checks on the brakes. Change the oil, flush the radiator if necessary and have the transmission fluid serviced. The oil and coolant are especially important however as they have a direct, everyday impact on the performance of the engine. If you plan on long term storage, add a treatment to the gas tank as well. Gas can go bad and gum up the fuel pump, filter and fuel lines. Go ahead and add a preservative to ensure the gas is ready for safe use in the future.


Appliances and Plumbing


We already mentioned drying, cleaning and adding baking soda to the refrigerator. Go ahead and scrub all appliances and open the sink taps and shower valves after shutting off the water pump. Blow out the system and store with the taps open to prevent freezing in the pipes. Do a flush of the blackwater and grey water tanks as well. If necessary, drain and sanitize the freshwater tank to ensure the water is safe for drinking. Also shut off the propane and open the valves on the stove top to purge the system. The last remaining propane gas will exit through the stove and the system is clear. Do this with the windows open for safety although the remnant gas is often very little.


Electrical Checks


The electrical system does just fine while dormant but you must unplug solar systems and batteries during storage. Testing batteries is also a good idea to ensure they are holding a proper charge. Do a visual inspection of all terminal connections and wires. Exposed wires are especially vulnerable to wear and tear. Look for breaks in wiring that require splicing and protection from further wear and tear.


Keep an Eye on the Small Things


Lastly, do a search for issues with small things like broken or damaged window cranks, tears in screens and damage to cabinet hardware and door handles. These small issues are not a threat to the RV but they do add up and create annoying disturbances throughout the year. Fix the small stuff every year and your windows will open, vents will function and everything will operate smoothly.