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Prepping Your RV for the Road

Get It out, Get It Ready, Get Going

A rite of passage is often defined as a ritual event that marks a person’s transition from one status or stage in life to another. For RVers, this rite of passage comes when it’s time to pull the trailer or motorhome out of storage and prepare it for another wonderful camping season. Below are some things that all RVers do before each shakedown trip.

Check the Nooks and Crannies

You can bet that if a critter finds a way into your unit, it will make a home there. Check every outside storage bay and all vent areas for the furnace, refrigerator, and heater to be sure no squirrels or other animals have taken up residence. Look closely for spiders and wasps or other insects in pipes and in fittings around your furnace ducts, refrigerator wiring, and heater-exhaust tubes.

Perform Basic Maintenance

You should have a maintenance checklist that includes things like inspecting wheel-bearings, suspension, brakes, lights, alignment, and tires (Hopefully, you covered the latter to protect them from sun damage.) Both under- and overinflated tires can cause accidents, so, in addition to examining them for tread wear, cuts, and sidewall damage, check their air pressure. If you aren’t mechanically inclined–or it’s time for a full-on, scheduled maintenance—take your RV to a reputable dealer. As there just aren’t as many of them out there as there are car dealers, book appointments early to avoid any seasonal backlogs.

Hit the Roof

Some brave soul in the family must inspect the roof. (Hey, most trailers and motorhomes are only 10- to 13-feet high, and, besides, the view from up there is great.) If you have a rubber roof, look for and repair damage or punctures (there are kits for this) caused by fallen tree branches or sharp pieces of ice. Recoat the roof if you see any flaking or excessive wear. Inspect every joint, rivet, and opening (for air-conditioners, vents, or antennas) for a tight seal. If necessary prevent leaks with a fresh application of silicone caulk.

Inspect the Propane System

Propane leaks are a fire hazard, so thoroughly check your system, and operate it in strict accordance with the manual. You can do the check yourself with this simple test: spray a solution of water mixed with a few squirts of dish-washing detergent on the propane-system connections and on connections from the system to every appliance. If the solution bubbles, gas is escaping. Alternatively, have an RV dealer or licensed gas fitter perform a propane-leak test annually.

Push Fluids

You need to sanitize your water system and, if you live in cooler climes and are prepping for the spring, remove the nontoxic antifreeze you used to winterize the system. First, fill the potable water tank with fresh water and two capfuls of bleach, open all the faucets wide, and run the water until it’s clear. When this is done, connect your hose to the RV and flush out every outlet for at least five minutes. If your unit has a water-heater bypass system, flush this out according to instructions in its manual.

Wash and Wax—With a Spin Cycle

If you have an awning, roll it out and wash both sides of it thoroughly using an auto brush, warm water, and a mild detergent. Let it dry well before rolling it back up. Finish up your long day by giving your trailer or motorhome a good wash and wax. good wash and wax. Just be careful if you have to use a ladder to reach upper-sidewall and roof areas. Reward yourself with a few spins around the neighborhood to let everyone know you’re ready for another fun, trouble-free camping season.