Are you ready to hit the open road? Or perhaps you are already out there enjoying an RV lifestyle? No matter whether you’ve been travelling the country for years or are just dipping your toe into caravanning, having a reliable and well-maintained RV is fundamental if you want it to last the distance, keep you safe, and continue to run smoothly along your travels.
It doesn’t matter what your set-up or camping style is, this guide is full of tips, tricks and advice on how best to look after your RV. From simple fixes and preventative tips to more detailed advice on specific areas, these are the things that you can manage in between getting your RV serviced by the professionals. And on that point, if your RV is still within its warranty period make sure you keep to the service schedule so you don’t potentially void any of your manufacturer’s warranty.
* The following information is a guide only and is not intended to take the place of professional advice. We would recommend you speak with your RV manufacturer for specific maintenance advice relating to your set up and associated products.
Wiring can become frayed, pulled out or broken over time. However those little wires have pretty important jobs, particularly when it comes to your RV tail lights and the breakaway system. Keep your wiring clean and protected from the elements – we use a small wet bag to store and cover our cables and wiring when not in use.
Wiring to regularly check:
– Anderson plugs, towing plugs, trailer socket, connectors and adaptors
– Reverse camera connector
– Breakaway system
– RV driving lights
As a side note, we check our driving lights every time we are hitched up and ready to travel!
HITCH & COUPLING
There are many moving parts on the hitch that can stiffen over time that will benefit from a regular light lubrication. Make WD40 your best friend and regularly spray your:
– Hinges (inside & out)
– Jockey wheel
– Chains & shackles
– Hitch coupling
TOOL BOX & EXTERNAL BOOTS
Storing heavy items low and centred in your toolbox and external boots is not only great for weight distribution, it will also help avoid excess movement during travel (or nasty surprises when opening boot doors after travel!). We always lock our boots, toolbox and any external doors before travel, and make it a habit to walk around the van prior to driving to double check everything is in place.
Avoid using occy or bungee straps to tie items down as they can flex and become loose during travel.
Regularly check your toolbox and boot seals and clean with a light going over of silicone spray to help keep the rubber seals in tip top condition.
Turn off gas bottles prior to travel. When arriving at camp, ensure your internal vents are open, clean and unrestricted to provide ventilation when gas appliances are in use, before switching your gas bottles back on.
Check the condition of your gas hoses and bottles every time you swap and go or refill!
We would recommend traveling with your stabiliser legs in a backwards facing position. In the unlikely event that a stabiliser leg drops during travel this position will drag the leg along the road, rather than digging it in. Do a walk around every time before travelling to ensure all stabilser legs are correctly locked in place for travel.
Regularly lubricate stabilser legs with a light spray of WD40.
WHEEL & TYRE MAINTENANCE
Maintaining your RV tyres is one of the most important things to keep on top of. Not only do they keep you rolling, your safety on the road depends heavily on the health of your tyres.
4 C’s of tyre maintenance (thanks to the Tasmanian Fire Service):
1. Check your tyres when they are Cold.
2. Check your Caps are in good working condition and are not cracked or allowing dust into your valves.
3. Check the Contents (tyre pressures) of your tyres are spot on at all times.
4. Check the Condition of your tyres across the tread to see how they are wearing.
Use a torque wrench to check and adjust the tightening torque of your wheel nuts, to your manufacturers predetermined recommendation.
CLEANING THE CARAVAN EXTERIOR
For a composite caravan like our Zone RV Sojourn, handwashing the exterior with warm mild soapy water using a soft cloth is generally quick and easy (especially if you are washing regularly). If you are heading to a commercial car wash be sure to keep the high pressure washer away from windows and doors, seals and decals, as too much high pressure over time can impact the integrity of these parts of your RV.
Avoid using brushes or bristles on acrylic windows as they can easily leave scratch marks, so opt for a soft or microfibre cloth instead when cleaning these areas.
Regularly check window and door seals and clean with a light going over of silicone spray to help keep the rubber seals in tip top condition.
Another tip is to phone ahead to the vehicle wash bay to check the height clearance against the height of your caravan (including air conditioners and other accessories located on the roof of you set-up).
CLEANING THE AWNING
The awning is probably the trickiest part of your RV to clean. Unfortunately, with regular use it can end up pretty dirty over time which can increase the chance of mould growth. Pulling the awning out to give it a good clean and letting it air-dry in the sunshine before being put away is key. Avoid using a high pressure cleaner on the awning fabric as this can delaminate the material. Instead, opt for a citrus spray cleaner (diluted if necessary) and soft scourers to spot clean as required.
Remember to regularly lubricate the awning arms using… you guessed it WD40!
CLEAN THE SOLAR PANELS
To make sure that your RV’s batteries are always being maintained and performing at their best it’s important to keep your rooftop solar panels clean. No need to use harsh chemicals or expensive cleaning products, warm mild soapy water and a soft cloth will do the job perfectly. Remember to stay safe when accessing the roof of your RV!
CHECK YOUR PLUMBING & PIPES
It’s certainly not our favourite job as grey water can be super stinky, however keeping your plumbing and pipes clean and in working order can avoid much bigger headaches down the track.
Regularly inspect the plumbing under your van to ensure there are no cracked pipes or leaks, and clean out the no-return valves as these can get blocked with built up gunk and hair over time.
A few great tips to reduce what is being flushed through your RV pipes is to:
– wipe off dirty dishes with paper towel prior to washing up
– use smaller quantities of personal products such as shampoo/conditioner and body wash to reduce residual build up within the pipes
– choose natural cleaning and personal care products over harsh chemicals
A great natural alternative to a chemical based drain cleaner is to use bi-carb soda, vinegar and boiling water.
FLUSH YOUR WATER TANKS AND GREY TANK
It’s really important to clean out and flush your water tanks and grey tank regularly (every 6-12 months) to keep them in their best condition, and avoid the build-up of any nasties. Camec sell a tank clean product that we have used in the past to clean our fresh water tanks and that does the job nicely. A great and easy alternative is bi-carb soda. Use 1 teaspoon for every 500ml of water in your tanks, leave to sit for 30 minutes then flush out.
Check out our full RV Maintenance 101 YouTube Episode for more tips, tricks and advice!
RV maintenance and cleaning doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Remember, preventive maintenance is key when it comes to looking after your rig. Taking the initiative now will not only save you time, money, and stress later, but can help create many incredible trips over the years that are safe and smooth!
So don’t shy away from getting your hands dirty – with these tips, you can have confidence in tackling those routine RV maintenance and cleaning tasks! If you’re interested in the WD40 story, check out this great post – WD40 Myths, legends and fun facts