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Top 10 RV Maintenance Tasks Every RV Owner Needs to Know!

RV Maintenance Essentials

Whether you’re a seasoned RV camper or a complete newbie to the world of camper, proper maintenance is key to ensuring your home away from home remains in top-notch condition.

From keeping the appliances running smoothly to safeguarding against water damage, a well-maintained RV makes it easy to hop in and take off on your next adventure without having to deal with unexpected repairs.

Related Product: Maintain the seals around your RV slide-out and windows with 3-in-one RV Care Rubber Seal Conditioner (click to view on Amaz0n)

Sure stuff breaks and accidents happen, but if you keep your RV maintained follow some of these basic but essential steps, you should be able to catch problems before you get to your next campsite.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over the 10 most essential RV maintenance tasks that every owner should undertake annually or throughout the camping season.

Let’s get into some simple, but essential RV maintenance!

See Also: Pro Tips: How To Keep RV Holding Tanks Clog & Odor-Free

10 Things You Should Be Doing To Maintain An RV

clean interior of an rv that has been properly maintained
Cleaning the RV interior not only keeps it nice, it also helps you find problem areas that may grow mold.

1. Deep Clean The Interior

A thorough deep clean should be at the top of your RV maintenance checklist.

A full deep clean isn’t necessary after every camping trip, but you may want to do it in the middle of the camping season as well as the beginning and end.

It helps combat mold, mildew, and allergens that thrive in enclosed environments. Inside cabinets, under cushions, mattresses, and areas around appliances are all spots that should be checked regularly for mold.

Neglecting this very basic RV maintenance step can lead to stains, musty odors, potential health hazards, and even damage that may require replacement or repair.

See also: Where to Buy RV Paneling (Ceiling, Wall, Side Panels)

To effectively deep clean your RV’s interior, start by removing all loose items, cushions, and fabrics. Vacuum every nook and cranny, paying special attention to hard-to-reach areas like vents and crevices.

Use a mild, all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth to wipe down surfaces, cabinets, and appliances. For stubborn stains or spills, consider using specialized cleaning products designed for RVs.

Don’t forget to clean the windows, mirrors, and window treatments.

Lastly, deodorize and freshen the space by sprinkling baking soda on carpets and upholstery before vacuuming, or using an odor-eliminating spray.

2. Clean the Exterior

Keeping the exterior of your RV clean and well-maintained is crucial for both aesthetic and functional reasons.

Over time, road grime, bird droppings, tree sap, and other contaminants can accumulate on the surface, causing discoloration, fading, and even potential damage to the paint and decals.

A neglected exterior not only detracts from the visual appeal of your RV but can also lead to deterioration and damage that will require repair.

To properly clean the exterior, start by giving it a thorough wash with a specialized RV cleaning solution, a mixture of mild soap and water, or whatever they have at the car wash place.

See Also: What Is The Best Vacuum Cleaner For RVs & Campers?

Make sure you don’t spray directly into the vents for the fridge, water heater, or furnace. They can take a little water, but a direct spray from a car wash can damage the electrical or shoot water directly into the RV.

Use a soft brush or mitt to scrub away any stubborn dirt or grime. Car wash brushes work really well. If you can find a car wash with an RV port, it should have special brushes that are extra long for tall vehicles like trucks and RVs.

Pay special attention to areas prone to buildup, such as the front cap, awnings, and wheel wells.

Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap and dirt. For an extra shine, consider using a dedicated RV wax or sealant, which will help protect the exterior from UV rays, oxidation, and environmental factors.

travel trailer rv being towed because of improper wheel bearing rv maintenance
Improper RV brake and wheel bearing maintenance could leave you stranded like we were.

3. Service Brakes & Wheel Bearings

Reliable brakes or trailer brakes are the most important part of safe RV driving. Annual brake inspections and maintenance are an absolute necessity.

Over time, brake components can wear down because of repeated use, exposure to the elements, and varying road conditions.

If you have a camper trailer, the trailer brake systems should be inspected before your first trip every year.

The RV plug and trailer brake controller in your vehicle should be tested to make sure all the components are responding to each other correctly.

You can perform a simple self-test to get a basic idea of your RV’s brake condition.

First, find a flat parking lot or side street. Slowly speed up to about 20-25 mph, then firmly depress the brake pedal.

The RV or trailer should come to a complete stop without pulling to one side or exhibiting any unusual noises or vibrations.

You’ll want to feel a solid, consistent pedal pressure. A “mushy” pedal could indicate air in the brake lines or a brake fluid leak.

See Also: How To Replace The Leaf Springs On A Dual Axle Trailer

Release and re-apply the brakes several times to check for consistent performance.

If you notice any concerning signs like excessive brake dust on the wheels, a burning smell, or significantly longer stopping distances, it’s time to have the brakes thoroughly inspected by a professional.

A professional will look at the condition of the brake pads, rotors, calipers, and hydraulic lines, looking for signs of wear, leaks, or other issues.

This inspection may involve a brake fluid flush to remove any contaminated fluid that could impair braking performance. If any components are found to be excessively worn or defective, replace them immediately.

Keeping an RV brake service schedule not only keeps you safe on the road but also helps you avoid having to do repairs when you’d rather be camping.

Also check the wheel bearings in the hub of the tires. There’s often a spot where you can grease them.

We didn’t properly grease the bearing of our first travel trailer, which resulted in us being stranded on the side of the road in the desert with smoking hubs.

4. Inspect Propane System/Appliances

Your RV’s propane system powers most of the essential appliances. From the refrigerator and stove to the water heater and furnace.

An annual inspection of this system ensures safe and reliable operation.

Propane leaks can cause your tanks to empty faster than they should, which could end a camping trip early. A propane leak in the wrong spot could be a serious fire hazard as well.

Start by examining all propane lines, connections, and fittings for any signs of wear, damage, or leaks.

Use a specialized propane leak detector or a solution of soapy water to check for gas escaping from the system.

See Also: TopTes Portable Combustible Gas Leak Detector Test & Review

If you’re handy, you should be able to repair simple leaks around connections yourself.

But for any serious leaks or damage, contact a professional who knows how to work with propane gas pipes.

Also test each propane appliance before heading out on your first trip. Fire up each burner on the stove, start the water heater (make sure it’s full of water first), flip on the furnace, and switch the fridge over to gas.

Each appliance will probably make a lot of noise the first time you fire them up, but everything should light easily after the initial lighting.

Check the flames for the appliances as well. They should burn strong with blue flames. You should also be able to hear them from a few feet away.

Weak flames are usually a symptom of a bad RV propane regulator. You can read more about that in this article here.

rv roof being maintained with good sealant being used
Fresh RV self leveling lap sealant around a vent on the roof of our RV.

5. Inspect the Roof (Reseal if necessary)

The roof of an RV acts as the first line of defense against the elements, shielding the interior from rain, snow, and UV rays.

Over time, the sealants and materials degrade, leading to water leaks that can cause significant damage.

An annual roof inspection and resealing, when necessary, should be a top priority in your RV maintenance routine.

Start by cleaning the roof surface, removing any dirt, debris, or buildup that could obscure potential problem areas.

See Also: Best RV Roof Caulks: When To Use Self Leveling Lap Sealants

Once clean, inspect the roof. Look for cracks, gaps, or signs of deterioration in the sealant around vents, air conditioners, and other protrusions.

Check for soft spots that may indicate underlying water damage or rot.

If you notice any areas of concern, remove the old sealant and apply a high-quality, RV-specific sealant like .

This simple yet crucial task can prevent costly water damage and extend the life of your RV’s roof and the parts on it.

6. Clean Water System

Keeping your RV’s fresh water system is clean is essential for maintaining healthy drinking water and preventing odors and buildup in pipes and the freshwater tank.

Sediment, bacteria, and even slime can accumulate after just a few camping trips. It could compromise water quality and even ruin the RV water pump, which can easily be damaged by debris in water.

An annual deep cleaning should be part of your RV maintenance routine.

See Also: How To Clean/Sanitize RV Water System And Holding Tanks

Begin by draining all fresh water tanks and flushing the system with a biodegradable RV/Marine tank cleaning solution. This helps dissolve and remove any buildup or residue.

Next, fill the tanks with a freshwater-sanitizing solution, following the product’s instructions for proper dilution and contact time.

This step helps eliminate any harmful bacteria or microorganisms.

Finally, thoroughly flush the entire system with fresh water to remove any remaining cleaning solution.

Don’t forget to disinfect and flush the water heater tank and city water inlet.

A clean water system not only ensures safe drinking water but can also prolong the life of your RV’s plumbing and water pump.

improperly maintained rv battery next to a clean properly maintained rv battery
Cleaning an maintaining RV batteries can make all the difference.

7. Maintain Batteries

The batteries in your RV are the power source that keeps everything from the lights to the appliances running smoothly when not connected to shore power.

Proper battery maintenance is crucial to ensure reliable performance and maximize their lifespan.

Start by visually inspecting the RV batteries for any signs of damage, corrosion, or leakage around the terminals.

Clean any corrosion buildup using a battery terminal cleaning tool or a solution of baking soda and water. Make sure battery cables are securely fastened and free of damage or corrosion.

See Also: How To Fix An RV Battery That Won’t Stay Charged (Equalize)

Check the water levels in flooded lead-acid batteries and top them up with distilled water if needed.

Remember, if you have sealed RV batteries, you won’t need to check the water levels since they cannot be opened.

Fully charge the batteries and then load test them to assess their overall condition and capacity.

By staying on top of battery maintenance, you’ll avoid the headache of dead batteries and ensure your RV’s electrical systems function correctly.

8. Service Generator

For many RVers, the generator provides electrical power when dry camping or boondocking.

Like any engine, generators require regular maintenance to operate reliably and efficiently. Neglecting annual service can lead to breakdowns, poor performance, and even potential safety hazards.

Begin by changing the oil and oil filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Clean or replace the air filter to ensure proper airflow. Check all fluid levels, including coolant, and top up if needed.

If you have an onboard generator, inspect the exhaust system for any leaks or damage that could allow dangerous carbon monoxide to enter the RV.

See Also: Top 6 Quietest Generators For RV Camping & Emergency Use

Test the generator thoroughly under load to ensure it is running smoothly and providing the expected power output.

If you notice any unusual noises, vibrations, or performance issues, have a professional check and service the generator.

Proper annual maintenance will not only extend the lifespan of your generator but also give you peace of mind knowing you have a reliable source of power while on the road.

cleaning and maintaning the rv awning for the annual rv maintenance schedule
Cleaning our RV awning to complete our annual RV maintenance checklist.

9. Maintain Awning & Slide-Outs

The awnings and slide-outs on your RV provide valuable extra living space, shade, and protection from the elements.

However, these mechanisms see a lot of wear and tear throughout their lifetime.

Lack of proper maintenance can lead to rips, tears, and even damaged motors. An annual inspection and servicing is essential to keep them functioning smoothly and safely.

For awnings, start by thoroughly cleaning the fabric to remove any dirt, debris or mildew buildup that can cause premature deterioration.

Inspect the entire length for any holes, tears, or UV damage. Lubricate all moving parts, such as the arm assemblies and hardware, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

See Also: Easy To Use RV Awning Cleaners That Remove & Prevent Mold

For slide-outs, clean the roof and side weather seals and apply a seal conditioner. Check for any gaps or damage that could let in moisture.

Ensure the slide mechanism is properly lubricated and functioning smoothly without binding.

Damaged or worn-out slide-out seals should be replaced promptly to prevent water leaks and interior damage.

10. Check Heating & Cooling Systems (Furnace & AC)

Your RV’s heating and cooling systems are a huge part of what makes RV camping so great, you can stay warm when it’s cold and cool down when it’s hot.

However, these hardworking appliances require regular maintenance to operate safely and efficiently.

An annual check should be on every RVer’s maintenance checklist to avoid unpleasant surprises on the road.

For the furnace, start by removing any dust or debris buildup around the interior components.

See Also: Why Won’t My RV Furnace Stay Lit?

Inspect the blower motor and wheel for proper operation. Check for any cracks or damage in the exhaust system that could allow dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.

For the air conditioning unit, clean the air filters and condenser coils to improve airflow and efficiency. Make sure all vents and returns are clear of obstructions.

Make sure both the furnace and AC are working properly before your first camping trip.

Addressing any issues promptly will not only maximize the lifespan of the furnace and AC but also ensure they are operating safely and keeping you comfortable mile after mile.

See Also: 12 Volt Air Conditioners That Can Be Powered With Batteries

woman following the 10 rv maintenance tips from the camping nerd
RV maintenance can take time, but it’s worth it.

Wrapping it Up

Proper maintenance is the key to ensuring your RV remains a reliable home on wheels for years to come.

By using these 10 RV maintenance tips, you’ll not only keep your RV in optimal condition, but also make sure your camping trips don’t always end with something needing to be fixed.

See Also: How To Install Solar Panel On RV Roof & Connect To Battery

From deep cleaning the interior to servicing the generator, each step plays a crucial role in maximizing your RV’s lifespan and preventing costly repairs down the road.

Whether you’re an experienced RVer or just starting out, simple annual maintenance should be a priority.

Have questions? Leave a comment below.
by Jenni
Jenni grew up in a small town in Idaho. With a family that loves camping, she has been towing trailers since a very young age.

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