Campers' guide to RV care and maintenance

RVs can be enjoyable, but mechanical failures and other problems can happen.

Sometimes referred to as recreational vehicles, travel trailers or campers, RVs are popular. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, RV shipments through February 2017 totaled 73,287 units. This represents an increase of 8.6 percent from the same period in 2016. In fact, RV shipments have increased for seven consecutive years.

This popularity might be driven by the affordability and convenience of vacationing in an RV. Essentially hotels or homes on wheels, campers provide many amenities in a compact package. RVs can be enjoyable, but mechanical failures and other problems can happen.

Regular maintenance, care and examination is necessary to avoid trip interruptions. According to the recreational vehicle advice gurus at Do It Yourself RV, RVs require all of the standard maintenance of a car plus much more.

Schedule oil changes and filter replacement. To keep the hard-working engine of an RV operating at optimal capacity, oil changes and air filter replacements should be conducted at regular intervals and in adherence to the owner’s manual. Such maintenance prevents engines from seizing.

Keep it covered. RV roofs are susceptible to sun and environmental damage. Store the RV under a steel RV carport or cover it using a product specifically designed for an RV. Remember to routinely inspect and clean the roof of the camper as well.

Check for leaks. Look under the RV and/or tow vehicle for any signs of leaks. Repair leaks promptly. Transmission fluid leaks can lead to vehicle fires. When checking for leaks, check fluid levels to ensure they’re at the proper level. This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, and brake fluid.

Check radiator coolant. Radiator coolant is another important fluid to check. Antifreeze protects the engine in cold temperatures, but it also helps the engine run cooler in hot temperatures. Wait for the RV to cool down before checking fluids.

Periodically run the generator. RV generators shouldn’t go unused for too long. Gasoline has a short shelf life, and after time it can break down, condense and damage the generator’s internal components. Run the generator if the RV has not been used for awhile. Be sure to change the oil and filter of the generator regularly as well.

Drain and clean water and waste systems. Water systems can benefit from being drained periodically and flushed with clean, fresh water. The disposal waste system needs to be drained as indicated in the owner’s manual.

Lubricate joints and slide-out rails. Avoid rust and corrosion by spraying moving parts with a lubricant spray.

RVs can be a home away from home while vacationing or touring the country. With proper maintenance, they can run like new for years.

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