Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, We may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link
Whether you enjoy your RV part-time or living in it full-time, maintaining it should be a priority. The better you care for it and perform routine maintenance on your RV, the longer it will last and the fewer problems you will have while on the road.
Why You Need to Prioritize RV Maintenance
Really, there are three main reasons to keeping up on the maintenance of your RV:
- Cost savings
- Safer traveling
- More enjoyable travel
- Maximizing resale value
An RV is a big investment, for many of us, it is our home. Neglecting to maintain it properly can cause everything from minor headaches and inconveniences to catastrophic events resulting in totaling your RV or serious injury or death.
Not checking hitch bolts and connections or wear on your tires could mean accidents or other dangerous results.
Failing to maintain fluid levels or checking for gas leaks, can likewise result in costly repairs or replacement of parts.
There’s nothing more frustrating that missing your vacation or having to bring your rig to a repair place when you are on the road.
In addition to repair costs, you may need to rent a hotel room and eat out, costing even more.
The tasks that you do for maintaining your RV take, in most cases, just a few minute each, but will save you hours, maybe days or weeks, in the long run.
When we first had our Heartland Mallard travel trailer, we were only using it seasonally. Before our first trip out after the winter, we failed to do a full inspection of every system. When we turned the water on to start flushing the tanks of the winterizing agent, our bathroom floor quickly covered in water. Turns out that, over the winter, one of our hoses to the toilet cracked. As in internal part, we couldn’t just order that one piece. We had to purchase an entire new toilet.
Had we checked as part of our RV maintenance checklist, we could have avoided this damage and the cost of buying a new toilet for our RV.
We quickly learned that regular maintenance an inspection of all RV components and systems was critical to keeping costs down and enjoyment up.
It’s important to note that when we talk about RV maintenance, we’re also talking about maintaining the vehicle you use to tow if your rig is a travel trailer or fifth wheel.
It may cost just a few dollars to buy a water bottle to check for propane hose leaks, but it could cost you 100K if you have to replace your RV and everything in it due to an explosion.
Sure, that’s an extreme example, but even failing to maintain your tires can result in a blowout and accident. Or, on a less threatening scale, if you neglect to check your water hoses, you may need to purchase a new toilet as we did in the story above.
In the illustrations mentioned above, experiencing an explosion or tire blowout could not only cause damage to your RV, it could result in injury or even death. It’s way safer to take the time to properly maintain your rig than it is to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
More Enjoyable Travel
Even minor mechanical or system issues can prevent you from enjoying your time on the road. No one wants to spend hours at a repair facility or worse, have to check into a hotel because your rig is in the shop.
Your repair issue may only cause you to miss an hour of your vacation or trip, but that is an hour you could spend doing what you enjoy, rather than dealing with the hassle of fixing something that could have been prevented.
Maximizing Resale Value
You love your RV and may not even consider selling it, but you never know what the future will hold. You may wish to trade it in for a bigger model or, like we did, move up to a fifth wheel from a travel trailer. Or, perhaps health issues rear up forcing you to sell it and stay in one place. Preparing now, for the possibility of trading in your RV or selling it, can ensure that you get top dollar when the time comes.
So what goes into RV maintenance?
Knowing what to maintain is as important and knowing how to maintain it.
Your RV maintenance checklist should include all systems: hitch, electric, water, sewer, mechanical and more. It should cover the exterior or your rig and the interior and involve visual inspection, testing the systems, adding or replacing fluids and filters and even a good old fashioned cleaning.
While daily, there isn’t much to it, other tasks need only be performed monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or yearly.
(Note: the below does not include every task for RV maintenance, you can grab our complete checklist below)
RV Maintenance Checklist
Some RV maintenance tasks should be performed daily, such as:
- General Visual inspection looking for leaks or other obvious issues.
Checking Hitch Systems for function, lubrication, cracked or loose parts.
Or weekly, like checking tire pressure the both the tow vehicle tires and the RV tires.
Others, you should do monthly including:
- Relubricating slideouts
- Testing the breakaway switch on your hitch
- Clean batteries and terminal and check the voltage
- Check propane fittings and lines
- Inspect all visibly accessible wiring, switches, breakers etc.
- Run generator
- Check voltage
- Check tires for wear
Quarterly RV maintenance tasks should tackle:
- Deep cleaning (inside and out)
- Waxing your RV
- Flushing the hot water tank
- Inspecting RV frame
- Weigh your RV
- Treat any exposed metals
- Clean and lube tow coupler
- Sanitize your water system
Annual maintenance tasks for your RV include:
- Defrosting your freezer
- Inspecting service brakes
- Manually Operate Pressure-temperature relief valve on Hot water heater.
- Clean Hot water heater burner tube (refer to manufacturer’s instructions
- Inspect and clean blower, combustion chamber, control compartment of your furnace
- Clean behind fridge
- Make sure the refrigerator thermocouple tip is clean and secure.
I’ll be the first to admit that when we first purchased our travel trailer, we didn’t know what we didn’t know and did not maintain the rig the way we should have. As we added miles to our rig and read more about maintaining it, we realized just how much we were “mistreating” our RV and began to develop a system of proper RV maintenance that worked for us.
It’s never too late to start maintaining your RV for optimal performance.
Tracking Your RV Maintenance
Keeping track of your RV maintenance is also important. If your rig needs to go in for service or repair (especially if you intend to submit a claim against your warranty or for insurance), having documentation (including receipts) will provide proof an help back up your claim.
You’ll also want to retain all documentation for your RV including manuals and warranties for everything from the stove to the water heater. You should receive these at purchase time. If you purchased your RV used, ask the seller to give them to you. If any are missing, you can find most on the manufacturer’s website or by contacting the manufacturer.
Each time you purchase a new item for your RV, be sure to keep the manual or any documentations including schematics.
We keep a large zippered pouch with all of the manuals, in order of the area of the RV. For example, in the front is system related documentation, followed by outside products (awning, outside kitchen fridge, etc.), then kitchen appliances, bathroom, bedroom, etc.)
We also like this large zippered pouch for documentation from Amazon.
This way, if we need to refer to the documentation for, say, the water heater, we know just where to find it.
We use the RV Maintenance Checklist that we created as it covers everything and ensures that we don’t miss anything important.
In a future post, we’ll share the must-have items for maintaining your RV. (The checklist includes links to many of them. Others can be found on our recommendations page).
How are you at keeping up with maintaining your RV? Did we miss anything (on the checklist)? We’d love to hear from you!
RV Ready Set Go!
Sue and Mike