A continuation of my previous article on getting ready for the season. A system check must be done to ensure when you head out there are no disappointing surprises. I have covered the basic systems in a previous article RV Travel Preparation click here to check it out.
Most of the system checks are easily accomplished and will save you a bundle.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
On any vehicle; tires, brakes and bearings are very important, if one of these fail you could be in for an inconvenience to a major disaster. Vacation time is very valuable to all of us and spending it waiting for your RV or tow vehicle sitting in the shop is not fun.
A flat tire is inconvenient, a blow out can be much more of a problem. You may lose control causing an accident. Tires do rot and lose pressure over time especially if the vehicle or RV is not in use.
Five years is the general rule of thumb to replace your tires, even if the tread looks good the chances of a blowout are more likely. I know all about this I have had 3 blow outs, 2 on the same trip.
Lucky for me only one caused damage, bent the fender on my pickup. I have learned my lesson not to push it when tires are getting worn. Most manufacturers will state the expected life of a tire in miles. Stick to these guide lines and replace your tires at the recommended intervals. This will go a long ways to ensure smooth travels.
Brakes, Bearings, and Lugs
Brakes on your RV should be checked yearly along with bearings. If your rig is equipped with bearing buddies, a half dozen pumps when preparing for the season or every 10K miles should suffice.
Many bearing buddies have a spring loaded cavity behind the grease nipple that maintains a slight pressure to ensure proper lubrication. Be sure the bearing buddies are accepting grease equally with the same pressure applied to the grease gun pump.
On one occasion I was heading out on a fishing trip with my boat trailer. I remember at the time thinking one of the bearing buddies was far more difficult to inject the grease. On the way home the bearing on that side of the boat trailer blew.
The total bill including towing came to $1000. A needless expense. Another lesson learned by yours truly.
In hind site I should have removed the wheel and repacked the bearings, I could have spent a weekend in Vegas for the $1000.
Bearings should be repacked when replacing brake pads or shoes. Manufacturers recommend not mixing different kinds and brands of grease.
Lugs are also important, apparently something to do with keeping the wheels on the rig. This is no laughing matter, I lost a wheel off of my pickup last fall (2015) while towing our travel trailer. $2500 damage, the mechanic’s guess was rust build up that caused the wheel to work loose.
Check the tightness of lugs on your rig as well as your tow vehicle before your trip and occasionally during your trip. Using a torque wrench is a good idea, they are easy to use. Check with the manufacturer for proper torque.
Tire pressure of course is also important, it helps with fuel economy but more importantly low tires will build up heat and become more susceptible to blowing.
If you are towing a trailer or heavy vehicle you will likely require brakes on your trailer. Check the manufacturer’s instruction for proper operation.
Proper adjustment of your electric brake controller is very important.
If your brakes are not set hard enough the topping distance may be not fast enough to avoid a collision. As happened to us when the traffic came to a grinding halt on the interstate, I swerved into the right lane to avoid hitting the semi in front of us, but still ended up bumping a small car. Another lesson.
Of course no matter how diligent we are preparing our rig for the road there still exists the possibility of a problem and a tow truck is needed. We have belonged to Good Sam Road Side Assistance for years and saved hundreds of dollars in towing.
Good Sam will tow any vehicle you own almost anywhere you prefer. It is not just the towing, one call and the customer service person will look after the towing and check out the repair facilities so you can decide on which one to use. Click the link below to check out Good Sam.
Your tow hitch is another important item that needs attention before you hit the road. Check all mounting bolts and brackets for tightness. Lubricate all moving parts, check the safety chains for damage and wear, check for certification tags. Spray the electrical plug and receptor with WD40 to help dissolve corrosion and prevent further corrosion.
Padlock the hitch once coupled to your vehicle so no tampering can take place. When traveling, during a routine stop it is always a good idea to do a walk around your rig to check any signs of potential issues, like tires, the hitch, open compartments. Feel the hubs of your vehicle for excessive heat, some heat is normal.
Probably one of the most neglected systems on any RV is the roof, outta site outta mind. Obviously it is very important not only to keep you dry but more importantly to keep your rig dry.
The smallest leak left without repair can cause mildew and rot. A small leak is often not obvious and a careful inspection is required.
When inspecting the roof be careful with your footware that no sharp rocks etc. are embedded in your shoes, this could puncture the rubber membrane. Check out this telescopic ladder that’s easily stored click here.
Most modern RVs have a one piece rubber membrane, and although quite thin it is very durable. The roof needs to be clean and inspected for damage at least yearly.
The sealant around all openings needs to be thoroughly inspected for cracks & adhesion. Loose and cracked sealant should be removed carefully so as not to damage the rubber membrane. To ensure good adhesion be sure to clean the area thoroughly before applying a recommended caulking/sealant.
Over time these seals will deteriorate and may need replacing, it is important to inspect them.
Besides doors and windows there are probably other areas where caulking/sealant should be inspected, again remove and replace as necessary. This inspection should be carried out once a year.
Probably one of the greatest inventions in RV history, the slide makes so much difference in the living space in any RV…..anyway back to the subject.
The rubber flange seals also need to be maintained with a dry lubricant so dust will not stick, special sprays are available for this purpose or baby powder works well.
It’s important to clean and dry under slides to prevent dirt from falling onto the interior flooring when the slide is retracted. The slide rails and tracks need lubrication for smooth quiet operation.
The exterior of your RV is probably aluminium or fiber glass, both can be treated pretty much the same and washed as you would any vehicle. Waxing the exterior should be done at least every couple of years to keep the paint from fading and especially for any decal designs. Decals will fade and peel if not waxed regularly. A non- abrasive wax should be used.
A great addition to the living space of an RV, but they don’t stand up well to wind and storms. You know what I mean if you have ever forgotten to roll it up in the evening before the wind picked up. You’re awakened from a nice slumber by the awning banging in the darkness. Many awnings these days are power and some have wind sensors for automatic retraction.
The only maintenance required is a good cleaning and lubrication of the moving parts, a light oil like WD40 will suffice. Check your owners manual for the recommended cleaner as to not remove the water proofing coating.
I remember in my first trailer these were always an issue, lights that were not supposed to flash did and ones that were supposed to didn’t. Over the years the problem seems to have been corrected some what. If you find some not working if it isn’t the bulb, it is probably corrosion. Remove the lens, take a piece of emery cloth and buff the socket to ensure good electrical contact.
The grounding screw may be loose. Tighten gently and if it will not tighten use a slightly larger screw, but not longer. Replace the lens and if needed apply silicon sealant to the top and sides to prevent moisture penetration. Re-check all lights including break and signals.
I have created a comprehensive list of the things you may need on your RV travels, click here to check it out.
I hope this article will help with your RV season preparations.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I would love your feedback.
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