Spring is the time of year many of us pull the RV out of storage, de-winterize it, and give it a good cleaning inside and out in preparation for the upcoming camping season.
Most of what needs to be done is common sense stuff that we can see with our eyes, but there are other items that may need attention we can’t see and rarely think of until a problem arises.
The following is a list of those items you should check before your first trip of the season.
1. Check—or better yet replace—the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Since you haven’t been in your RV for several months, you are unlikely to have heard them dying a slow death as the low battery warning chirped away for weeks on end telling you to replace them.
2. Spring is a good time to fill and flush the freshwater tank.
Be extra thorough and fill it completely full until water comes out the fill spout, then let it sit for a few hours. Check for leaks in the upper portion of the tank, fill hose, and vent tube.
3. Check your fire extinguisher to verify it is still pressurized, free of physical damage, corrosion or leakage, and ready for use in an emergency.
4. Check the batteries to make sure the water level is at the proper levels and that the connections are tight and free of corrosion.
Also, make sure they will still hold a charge after sitting in the cold all winter.
5. Make sure your charge line from the vehicle alternator to your house batteries is functioning.
Many times a fuse or circuit breaker can pop or fail on the charge line and you are unlikely to know it until your house batteries run low.
An easy way to check that your charge line is working is (with the RV disconnected from shore power) to have someone depress the battery indicator on the RV monitor panel while someone else starts the vehicle. If the charge line is working, the battery monitor should begin reading “Charging” or “Full”.
6. Tires may look full, but don’t let that fool you. You should always check your tire pressure before any trip in your RV, but it is especially important after your RV has sat all winter.
This is also a good time to check for cracks or separation on your tires. Don’t forget the spare!
7. Fill your propane tank(s)—and if you live in a state that requires recertification on a regular basis, ask the filling attendant when the next recertification is due.
Being away from home on an extended RV vacation only to discover your propane bottles can’t be refilled can take the joy out of the trip real quick.
8. Start your refrigerator on gas to verify it is properly cooling before switching it to electric.
Loading your refrigerator full of groceries at home and then driving miles away to dry camp in a scenic location only to discover your refrigerator is thawing out is not a great start to your camping trip.
9. Get on the roof and check for damage from tree limbs that may have fallen and damaged your roof over the winter.
While you’re up there, check the roof vents, plumbing vents, and the air conditioner for any cracks that might have developed from freezing weather or sun rot over the years.
10. Finally, make sure your license plate tabs are current along with any land access passes like state or national parks.
Following the above steps will help assure your first trip of the year is a success and hopefully avoid any unfavorable adventures in RVing!
Feel free to share some of your own tips and experiences using the comment box below.
See also: How To Prep Your RV For Spring
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Edward Wood says
These suggestions will benefit someone somewhere.
Great post. Thank you.
All pretty basic common sense items, but who CAN’T use a friendly reminder every now and again?!
Clean, inspect, replace if worn or damaged and repack all wheel bearings with high temperature grease.
Great advice…as always. Thanks for the nudge!
Lou Usher says
Check and adjust the torque values on your wheel lug nuts, not only on your first trip of the season, but on regular intervals, also, most Travel Trailers have easy grease fittings on the wheel hub…grease regularly. If you have a leveling system on your’ Reese type hitch, apply grease to your leveler ends and and their receivers, your hitch ball and your’ anti sway ball receivers. Keep a spare water filter, auto type fuses, hose clamps, and those red rubber hose “O” ring gaskets.
Robert E Wallace says
Careful here – using a grease gun is a surefire way to blow your inner seals. There is a ton of information on this in various RV forums and on the net itself.
George Wiedenhoeft says
Sanitize your clean water holding tank, test your water heater and if dry camping, your water pump. Other tips mentioned are also important. Take your time, make a check list so you don’t forget something.
Don’t forget the brakes! Especially if there are Easy Hubs. Easy hubs have a slight risk of being over greased, which gets past the rear seal and slung around the brake drum. So pull those drums off, verify the seals are good, check the linings, and clean and repack the bearings. Would really be a bad day when you are going down that grade and the trailer brakes start to smoke from having grease on them.
Item Number 1: As long as you’re filling the potable water tank, you might as well put in the proper amount of bleach and sanitize at the same time! Let it stand for 24 hrs before draining.
Dry powder fire extinguishers need to be in the green, within 10 yrs. and should be shaken vigorously every 30 days to break the packing of the powder from settling/packing and vibration.
As long as you’re on the roof – take a hose too!
Judith M Loebel says
SANITIZE YOUR FRESH WATER! We ended up with a hefty Vet bill & two sick humans from **something** in the tank causing intestinal issues. Dump, fill with fresh water and BLEACH, let sit, dump and rinse til chlorine smell is gone. We had to do this in a RV park, fortunately we know the owner, but we should have done it at home. Poor little dog was pretty sick & lost weight. Humans were not happy & stuck as travel was impossible.
Also check any TRAILER you might be towing! We could not locate a new TOW DOLLY so we checked our old one out loaded our VW Passat on and headed out. Nothing like getting off a MAJOR HIWAY, turning to get into a gas station, hearing an awful noise and seeing your dolly and car rolling along, no longer attached. No, it wasn’t the hitch, no, the safety chains didn’t help, the frame BROKE after the chains location. We were extremely lucky to find a spot for this to happen where everone around to help move car, trailer parts, help us find a place to buy a new dolly — the only place for HUNDREDS of miles turned up 8 miles away! They were kind enough to prep it for us as we drove RV there and stayed late to get us on our way. Could we have seen whatever damage caused this to occur? The dolly was old, had a LOT of miles on it, ate tires like they were chips– it didn’t owe us a thing. Grateful that no one was hurt! (Have had dolly in use steadily from Dec 15th from MD to CA and up and down the South West, have not had to replace a tire yet- our tire costs for the old one could have paid for a new one! Little did we know– tow dolly’s are not SUPPOSED to eat tires!
Better still…go camping year round and maintain various systems throughout the year. Winter time camping is great!