While most Canadians store their RVs over the winter and focus on other outdoor fun, the return of spring means it’s time to bring the fifth wheel or camper back out to play. Whether you’re planning to head to Jasper National Park, Similkameen Valley, or somewhere else entirely, you’ll want your RV running smoothly to avoid delays and breakdowns. There are plenty of basic DIY RV maintenance chores you can handle on your own to save money and time. Follow these tips to prepare your vehicles for summer fun with preventative RV maintenance.
Restore and Start Up All Systems
If you prepared your RV for storage properly last fall, you should have drained water from the tanks and lines. It’s also likely that you added some anti-freeze to the plumbing system to prevent damage. Don’t wait to refill the lines or remove the anti-freeze until you’re on the road. You might have a leaking tank or line that could leave you without water when you’re in a remote area or have trouble flushing out the anti-freeze properly. Restore any drained or disconnected systems in the RV and start everything up to test it. Don’t wait to realize your bedroom TV isn’t working until after the vacation with the in-laws starts.
Check for Unwanted Guests
Check under furniture, inside of cabinets and appliances, and around the edges of each room to spot signs of guests who wintered over in the RV. Mice, rats, insects, and even larger mammals like raccoons can break in over the winter to find a warm shelter to nest in. Taking these guests along with you on a trip not only puts you and your family at risk for a bite or illness, it also spreads disease between provinces if any of the animals are ill. Look for droppings, chewed materials, nests, and holes or cracks where pests can get in. You may need some traps or professional pest control services to clear out these stubborn visitors.
Deep Clean the Interior
Even if you gave your RV a thorough cleaning in the fall, you should follow up with another interior wash in the spring. Plenty of dust settles over the winter to make your interior less than pristine, along with the potential for mildew growth if the RV became damp while stored. Deep cleaning should go along with your checkup for pests since it’s likely you can skip some steps, like scrubbing the oven, if you did a thorough sweep in the fall. If you’re an RV newbie, you might be surprised at how much dust accumulates in an RV even when it’s not being used.
Clean and Protect the Exterior
Leaving grime or dirt on the exterior of the RV isn’t a great start to the spring season either. Algae growth, in particular, tends to damage the exterior coatings and roofs of RV until they’re leaking or peeling at the seams. It requires a film of grime to feed it, so a routine cleaning every spring and fall is recommended. Use a soft-bristled brush and soap recommended by your manufacturer, spraying the walls and windows gently with a hose to rinse off. Avoid pressure washers that can damage the entire RV.
Fill Up the Tires and Tanks
Once the systems of the RV are all tested and it’s been cleaned, you’re ready for the final steps before departure. Check your tires for signs of damage like:
- Flat spots
- Bulges on the sidewalls or the surface
- Chalky residue on the surface of the rubber
- Cracks or lines forming in the material
- Tread that is less than 1/8th of an inch thick
- Visible metal tread.
After a visual inspection, grab a tire gauge and see how well your tires have held their air while stored. Inflate each tire to the manufacturer’s recommendation and check them again after 24 hours. This will help you catch slow air leaks that could leave you with a flat tire during a trip. Once your tires are topped up, consider having them rotated as well before any travel for more even wear. Finally, make sure to replace and refill any propane and fuel tanks you removed for the winter.
Any maintenance chores beyond the scope of these steps, such as replacing damaged appliances or testing wiring and engine components, is best handled by a professional RV mechanic. If you complete this set of DIY RV maintenance chores every spring, you are likely to find yourself needing professional repairs far less often.