RV Care: 10 Maintenance Tips for the Winter
An RV is much more than a travel trailer; it’s every hard-working dad’s dream, a mobile resort and an adventure on wheels. From March until November, a camper van is where families gather together to unwind and relax, knock about and celebrate. But come winter, all of the RV fun usually goes to sleep.
To keep your motorhome safe and secure all season long, you’ll need to undertake a couple of preventive measures; by employing these 10 maintenance tips, you can sleep calmly knowing that, with the first days of spring, your highway cruising will continue with no additional troubles and costs.
A Couple of Pieces of Advice for Dogged Winter Campers
Before storing your vehicle for the cold winter months, you might want to squeeze a few last trips out of the passing season. Winter camping demands a couple of protective procedures extra, but with some precaution and timely care, it’s absolutely doable.
If driving out to the great white outdoors, be absolutely sure that your generator and charging system are properly maintained and up to date. Tire pressure is another concern during cold seasons – the pressure naturally drops when wintry – so remember to learn more about TPMS and bring your FOBO Ultra for the road.
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However arduous the task, clean all of the piled snow from the top of your coach, the van roof and it’s sideways, since it may cause serious leakages when it starts to melt, and, just to keep it all on the safe side, always have a backup plan in case of extreme coldness.
For those who like to retreat and keep snug until spring, the following winter maintenance routine is a must.
Dry It Up
Any residual water, grime or road salt can cause costly detriment to your vehicle, which is why your first step should include a hose and a power washer, if not a professional cleaner.
When it comes to corrosion on your RV’s engine parts, brake lines and exterior shell, dirt and water are the main, yet often overlooked culprits. While the first usually accumulates on the undercarriage, the water can stay on the roof and corner mouldings for months after the trailer has been put to storage, thus inflicting severe damages.
In addition to thorough cleaning, remember to double check the exterior for potentially dirty curves, holes and bulges, since those are most likely to retain both water and muck. Also, pay close attention to sealants – if unappropriated kinds were used, there’s a great possibility that they have cracked or peeled off without you noticing.
Drain & Antifreeze
Just like on the outside, even the seemingly insignificant amounts of water left over on the inside of the vehicle can damage your trailer once the temperature starts approaching the freezing point. Trailer plumbing should therefore be one of the major concerns when winterizing your motorhome.
To prevent potential mishaps, be very careful while draining your water tanks – all of them – and never, ever forget to close the drain valve. Only when this is done, you can start browsing for a suitable RV antifreeze solution; given that you’ll need to coat your drinking water tanks with it as well, make sure to pick a non-toxic one.
Seal & Shut
In case you’ve already noticed some unexpected cracking and peeling during the first thorough inspection of your RV, you’d definitely want to get on that before continuing on with preparing the inside for the unfavorable weather conditions. Make sure to replace all irregular seals, including those that look slightly deteriorated and worn down. Once everything is sealed down, shut the retractable and awning and, just in case of potential oversights, test all windows and doors one more time before closing them for good.
Shield & Cover
If stored in the open, an RV can suffer from long exposure to sun as well. Although cold, sunbeams still emit a significant amount of UV that can trigger peels and cracks in plastic components and vinyl decals. Designed especially for this purpose, RV covers can protect your vehicle from harmful UV rays, while keeping it insect-free at the same time.
Such covers come in all shapes and sizes, and frankly speaking, can be costly. There are a couple of variants that are certain to save you a couple of bucks, but if not properly chosen, they can cost you additional money once the spring repair time comes. If possible, try to cover each of the tires individually as well, and coat a propane cylinder, vents and other openings on the vehicle to keep the RV impenetrable. Whatever you do, stay away from plastic traps commonly used instead of proper storage covers, since they tend to absorb and preserve moisture.
RV cleaning can be a tiresome venture, but it can also be a perfect opportunity for your kids to learn a lesson on protecting and valuing their possessions. If little, you certainly wouldn’t want to assign them a task of cleaning the exterior shell, but the interior is different. A lot of your family trifles are probably lying trapped all over the place, and you’ll have to be absolutely sure that no valuables are lost. Needless to say that those will highly unlikely cause problems during storage; food, however, most certainly will. If nothing else, stale food will attract insects, which is something you certainly wouldn’t be glad to deal with in the spring.
After you’ve searched every corner for potential leftovers and cleaned all the crumbs, devote a little of your time to the refrigerator. Get rid of the frozen food that you have been keeping in for the last couple of months and carefully defrost the inside so that there aren’t any spillages or moisture left behind you. To prevent mold and mildew, leave the refrigerator door half open.
Screen for Insects
Speaking of pests, most RV dealers insist that acquiring an insect screen is a smart investment. Consult yours in order to find the type most suitable for your vehicle’s conditions and install it along the appliance vents. Even when they are properly covered, the coziness of your trailer will be way to0 tempting for beetles not to try to work around the covers and colonize the inside anyway.
Contrary to popular opinion, the mold is not only tedious to clean off; in addition to that and the funky smell it always leaves behind, humidity is actually pretty harmful to our health. The amount of humidity that builds up during winter will depend on your geographical region, but don’t be naïve enough to expect that there won’t be any mold at all.
Obviously, dehumidifiers are the most effective solution for this problem, and you should choose a perfect kind in agreement with your RV dealer. Beware that some types have to be replaced more frequently than others, which can make your storage prep a bit more complicated – if compelled to bring a new dehumidifier in every two weeks, you will probably need to seal and cover the RV each time you re-enter the trailer.
Let It Breathe
In addition to protecting the exterior from UV damage, roof covers are important for preventing humidity as well. However doubtful to the suggestion, try listening to the expert’s advice on leaving the vents open beneath the roof cover – that way, the rig will remain well ventilated whole winter long, and you’ll hardly have any problems with mold at all. It goes without saying, however, that this strategy works only when the protective cover is of high quality and dependable.
Disconnect & Recharge
If storing your RV in a garage with its own separate electrical supply, it might be a good idea to plug your battery in and keep it that way until spring. Alternatively, the battery should be removed, carefully packed and stored separately from the trailer. In this case, you’ll need to recharge it every 4 to 6 weeks to make sure it doesn’t freeze, crack or completely discharge.
Lock It Down
Stored vehicles are always at greater risk of getting stolen, and the theft rates certainly prove so. While anti-theft systems can be expensive, the cheapest solution you can opt for is investing in suitable hitch lock that attaches to the hitch coupler.
Whatever solution you choose, it’s pretty important not to leave your beloved trailer all by itself all season long. Every once in awhile, make an effort to visit the storage and check how the RV is coping with harsh conditions. Timely inspections are the most effective preventive measure, even when quick and cursory. In a long run, these will do more good than any expensive storage tactics.
Any important steps that I missed out? Feel free to let me know and comment below. Please share this article if you find it useful. 🙂