By Mike Willis
There’s no doubt that the list of maintenance items for RVs is pretty extensive. It’s easy to let things slip through the cracks as the seasons roll by. While some deferred maintenance is okay, some items simply cannot wait!
Below is a list of items that should be tended to every camping season:
Maintain Wheel Bearings
Wheel bearings are the cause of many ruined vacations. This easy-to-neglect maintenance item is very unforgiving and usually “locks up” at highway speeds. In order to properly grease wheel bearings, you need to jack the wheel off of the ground. As you are using your grease gun to push grease into the bearing, spin the wheel.
If you are not familiar with how much grease to add, watch some YouTube videos to ensure that you don’t blow out any seals by overfilling. To check the condition of your wheel bearings, wiggle the tire back and forth while it is jacked up in the air. This front-to-back motion will reveal any excessive play, which will indicate the bearing’s need for replacement.
Maintain Your Batteries
Two common mistakes are responsible for premature battery failure:
1) Storing dead batteries in freezing temperatures.
2) Always leaving your RV hooked to power.
These two mistakes are sure to ruin a perfectly good RV battery. To avoid these costly mistakes, periodically charge your batteries and then disconnect them from power.
If your batteries have rectangular caps on top, remove them to ensure that there is an adequate amount of water in the battery. The lead cells should be completely submerged with water. If the water is low, add distilled water to bring the level back to normal. Be careful not to get any contaminants (dust/ dirt) in the cells while performing this task.
If your batteries do not have removable caps on top, you have a sealed battery, and adding water is not necessary.
Check for corrosion on the battery terminals. If corrosion is found, clean thoroughly to ensure a proper electrical connection. Wire brushes are excellent tools for restoring battery terminals.
There are several good spray-on products available to seal electrical connections after they are cleaned.
Ensure That Your RV Is Still Watertight
Water damage can plague RV owners, especially if it is not addressed promptly. To ensure that you don’t fall victim to this preventable issue, complete the following maintenance tasks:
1) Check all of your caulk. There are beads of caulk on nearly every surface of your RV. Make sure that it has not begun to deteriorate. If the caulk has started to pull away, remove it and replace it with the appropriate product. Note: roof caulk and RV exterior caulk are not the same. Never put petroleum-based products on a rubber roof!
2) Check your butyl tape. (This is the product that looks like plumbers’ putty and seals around lights, windows, doors, and other penetrations.) If you’re beginning to lose your seal, remove the existing butyl tape and replace it.
3) Maintain your roof. Most RV roofs are rubber. There are excellent products that clean the chalky residue off of your rubber roof. Scrub your roof clean. After cleaning, use self-leveling rubber roof caulk to reseal any joints that are cracking. As a final precaution, there are rubber roof sealants/ treatments that keep the rubber material from drying out and cracking.
4) Check the rubber seals around slide-outs. Use a quality rubber seal conditioner to prevent the seal from cracking and leaking.
Don’t gamble with these critical points of failure! When inspecting your tires, verify proper tire pressure. Remember to check tire pressure periodically throughout the camping season. You should also inspect your tread to ensure that it is adequate and wearing properly. When inspecting your tires, verify that they are not dry rotted.
For more information on RV tires, check out the recent GAW article, RV Tires: Your Cheapest Insurance!