Living in your RV can be cheaper than being a homeowner. For example, RV park rent typically costs less than a monthly mortgage payment. Unfortunately, the lower cost of living still doesn’t excuse us from paying for annual RV maintenance jobs. So, whether you’re a full-timer (or even an extensive traveler), checking those critical chores off our to-do list is necessary if we want our road trip adventures to continue. These tips can help you deal with this part of RVing and to ensure worry-free travels down the road.
How to Deal with Annual RV Maintenance Jobs
The internet is full of RV maintenance checklists, which include tasks like prepping your RV for spring. But don’t put the cart before the horse today. Instead take a 10,000-foot look at tackling annual RV maintenance whether you live on the road or are a frequent traveler.
1. Budget for Annual RV Maintenance Costs
RV maintenance costs differ from rig to rig. Generally speaking, towables have a lower cost of ownership than motor homes. However, those numbers can change if your rig is used and wasn’t properly maintained before you bought it. Consult your owner’s manuals and seek out RV maintenance checklists to learn which annual jobs apply to your RV.
With a list in hand, call RV service centers to get an estimate for big ticket jobs like engine service. Try to call one urban service center and one rural service center to get a feel for how prices will fluctuate depending on where you are when the work needs to be done.
2. Know Your Limits
Do you consider yourself a grease monkey? Honestly assess your mechanical aptitude and decide which of those checklist jobs you’ll hand over to RV tech experts. Biting off too big of a chunk of annual RV maintenance can be disastrous if you aren’t 100 percent sure you’re up to the challenge.
For instance, my techie husband tackled a DIY job greasing the axle bearings and we ended up paying the experts to fine tune it afterwards. In simple terms, let the experts do what they do best.
3. Plan a Destination Around the Work
Whether you hand over the annual maintenance jobs to a service center or do it yourself, getting it done requires a well-planned itinerary. If you’re a DIYer and it’s time for an outside chore like sealing seams and keeping moisture at bay, pick a maintenance-friendly campground. We’ve discovered that some RV park bans on vehicle maintenance are stricter than others. Don’t choose a RV park for maintenance until you get clearance for minor outside work.
If you’re paying a RV service center to do the maintenance, choose one that’s convenient to shopping and dining. You’ll be more comfortable when the work is underway. Some jobs take longer than anticipated so choose service centers that allow you to stay overnight in their parking lot. Most shops are accommodating once you explain that you’re a full-timer or traveling extensively.
RVing has its privileges, but escaping housing maintenance chores isn’t one of them. However, if you follow these tips you’ll be less inconvenienced when it’s time to bring out the tool box.
#4: Plan Ahead
Whether you are doing the annual maintenance yourself or taking it to a professional RV service center, you’ll need to plan ahead. Order the necessary replacement parts and filters you’ll need early enough to be available when you plan to perform the maintenance.
If scheduling with a service center, be sure to schedule your appointment well in advance. Talk with your service center about the best time of year for annual maintenance at that location. Often, factory service centers will receive an influx of snowbirds that might affect the waiting time to get in for service.
#5: Keep A Record of All Maintenance
Knowing exactly what maintenance needs to be performed and when is key. You can keep track of these and other maintenance tasks with maintenance software such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all your maintenance records and documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders via email when maintenance is due. Whether you have a small camper or large Class A motorhome, RV LIFE Maintenance can keep track of it all, including two additional vehicles, such as a tow car or motorcycle.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
I always do something to the rig each time we go out- usually once a month. Things like lubing jacks, cleaning a/c filters, checking battery fill levels, etc. Very easy to stay on top of it that way and I would recommend this regimen to anyone who owns an rv or boat (we have both).
Stephen A Davis says
I like to do this approach, and have never met with problems from anyone.
H Goff says
this was the least informative article ever!! If you live in an RV you should learn how to maintain it – this article essentially just says: “Take it to a service center…” Greasing axle bearings is a 1 on a difficulty scale. your “Techie husband” may be able to program a computer, but this is real world…
you lost me at: RV rent is less than a mortgage. these two are incomparable. at a RV park you are just renting space – not buying something. You still have to buy the RV and possibly a tow vehicle – the park charge better be much less than a mortgage….
I’m with you on the lack of solid info. Are there any books or manuals you could recommend that are geared towards proper maintenance? I own a 1975 and 1990 Porsche and wouldn’t dream of keeping them without the books written by hands on owners that lust preventive as well as step by step maintenance.
Kevin McPike says
I was seriously hoping for actual maintenance info! Thank the Lord for YouTube!