December 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 6 Recalls Involving 5 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall, creating a safety risk for you or your passengers. A certified dealer must repair Safety defects at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out or failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NHTSA announced 6 recall notices during December 2023. These recalls involved 5 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (2 recalls), Grand Design (1 recall), Tiffin (1 recall), Keystone (1 recall), and REV (1 reall).

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 XLR Boost toy haulers. The taillights may be insufficiently reflective. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Dealers will install reflector stickers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 17, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-642-0432. Forest River’s number for this recall is 79-1711.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Concord CNC321DSF motorhomes. The air suspension air line may be incorrectly installed near the exhaust, which can cause a sudden loss of rear suspension.

Dealers will re-route the air lines and 12-volt wiring away from the vehicle exhaust, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 24, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 210-1714.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Design

Grand Design RV, LLC (Grand Design) is recalling certain 2024 Reflection travel trailers. The electrical plug blade openings (narrow hot blade and wider neutral blade) may be reversed on one of the two receptacle outlet faces, which can cause outlet failure.

Dealers will replace the incorrect receptacles, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 5, 2024. Owners may contact Grand Design customer service at 1-574-825-9679. Grand Design’s number for this recall is 910041.

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2024 Allegro Open Road and Allegro Bay motorhomes. The 32-inch hard line LPG hose fitting may not fit correctly, which can cause a fuel leak.

Dealers will replace the 32-inch hose with a 40-inch hose, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 28, 2024. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-134.

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Dutchmen Coleman 1855RB and 190BH travel trailers. The trailers may be equipped with axle springs rated at 4400 pounds instead of 5100 pounds.

Dealers will replace the axle springs, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 25, 2024. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 23-447.

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

REV

REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2016-2023 American Coach American Eagle motorhomes. Turbulence may loosen or break the rear air deflector mounting bracket hardware.

Dealers will replace the attachment hardware bracket and fasteners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed February 3, 2024. REV’s number for this recall is 231205REV.

Please Note: This is the 58th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

How to Stay Safe When RVing

10 tips for staying safe on RV trips

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Predators, drunk drivers, thieves, and scammers are everywhere and breakdowns can and do occur. There are also risks when dealing with nature. Therefore, it’s up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should happen. This article will show you how to do that.

Drive defensively © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Drive defensively

Every person who owns a camper, travel or fifth-wheel trailer, or motorhome should make it a point to learn how to safely drive their travel unit.

You can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering and exiting Interstates and secondary highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands, and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while driving your RV.

Even if you do all of these things, you need to remember that the next guy might not be as conscientious as you.

People do stupid things such as putting on makeup, reading maps, talking on cell phones, and trying to balance food or liquids on their laps when they drive. Some are drunk, high, or medicated as well. Others may never have taken the time to learn how to drive big rigs.

No matter the cause, these people are a danger to you and your family so you must remain alert at all times.

If you see someone driving erratically, too slow or too fast, stay as far away from them as you can. Doing this may slow down your arrival time but it can also save your life.

Maintain your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Take care of your vehicles

Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time-consuming. For this reason, many people allow their rigs to fall into disrepair. When this happens, they are no longer safe to drive.

If you cannot afford to take proper care of your RV or tow vehicle you need to find some other way to travel because to do otherwise can bring great harm to you, to your family, and other people as well.

On the other hand, if you take the time to learn how to make minor repairs yourself and check your coach regularly for problems (and fix them quickly), you should be able to safely use your coach for many years.

Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are retracted and antennas are down, and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems. Also, walk around your RV at each travel stop to ensure that no issues have arisen en route.

Keep a clean campsite an stow belongings when not in use © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Protect your belongings

Many people think campgrounds and RV parks are safe but this isn’t always the case. Most have poor security systems, so it is up to you to take steps to protect your belongings.

It is never OK to leave camping equipment and gear outside of units when you go off to fish, hike, or take part in a variety of other activities.

This is a bad practice because other campers also like to play tourists. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone.

Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to stow them away before you leave.

If you have a safe in your coach, you should use it. If you don’t have one, take your valuables with you.

You may think that locking your doors and windows will protect your things but the truth is that many RVs share the same locking systems. Thus one key can open many doors and windows are fairly easy to open, even when locked.

To resolve this issue, put a dead bolt lock on your entrance door.

You may think you can avoid doing these things by asking a neighbor to watch your things but you don’t know who these people are or who will be visiting them.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Practice safe camping

Camping is one of the best opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, your picture-perfect camping trip can quickly go awry if you’re not careful and prepared. To enjoy your camping trip to the fullest, you need to ensure that everyone on the trip is safe.

When it comes to camping, safety should always be your #1 priority (although having fun is a close second). A camping mishap can quickly turn a great trip into a camping nightmare.

Never assume that stopping points are safe. Many are not. The world has changed a great deal since the days when people could stay overnight in rest areas or camp in unsecured and unguarded areas.

The last thing you want is to head out on your camping trip unprepared for the weather only to be faced with unexpected rain, snow, or even extreme heat and humidity. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can change on a dime. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your trip before you hit the road.

Not only is extreme weather unpleasant but it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared and caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The bottom line here is that you should do whatever you can to stay safe and also avoid taking risks if you want a good RV travel experience.

Camp safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. More safe camping tips

When you are inside of a coach, there is only 3 inches of wall protecting you and it doesn’t take much to shoot a bullet through that wall or break through it.

This is why you should do as follows:

  • Only stay overnight in campgrounds or in well populated spots that are monitored regularly
  • Hide your valuables and cash
  • If you do not feel safe in your campsite, drive away and find a better situation
  • If you hear unusual noises in the night, do not step outside to investigate. Instead call the campground manager or 911.
  • Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you’re inside your coach

Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Prepare for every emergency © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Protect your health

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, and most pharmacies, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads, and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source of first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

Hike safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Understand nature’s safety issues

Nature is wonderful. People love to go to places that provide peaceful, quiet beauty, and the sense of serenity these areas provide. However, as noted above, going into nature has risks, especially for travelers who normally live in city environments. Therefore, travelers need to understand nature’s risks and be vigilant when faced with them.

8. Prepare for potential problems

One of the best ways to stay safe is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential travel problems.

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson’s head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

9. Create an escape plan

People often get a false sense of security when they look at their recreational vehicles because they give the impression of being solid and safe. But are they?

Do you know how you would react in the event of a blow out, a fire, a rollover, an approaching hurricane or tropical storm, heavy rainfall, severe winds, a flood, or a wildfire? Most people don’t which is why it’s important to take the time to create escape plans and practice using them so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency situation.

Know how to use emergency exits © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Learn how to use emergency RV exits

Every second can be critical if you experience an emergency while RVing. The last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to use an emergency exit window latch or having it stick.

An egress window is large enough to serve as an emergency exit window allowing for easy escape. The windows look like standard windows. However, they open fully to allow you to reach safety.

They should always be labeled with an EXIT label and have red latches that indicate how to open them. Everyone in the RV needs to know where the emergency exit windows are and how to use them.

Emergency exit windows are standard features on just about every RV. Most have at least one but sometimes multiple, emergency exit windows or an exit door.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel safety is important

There are few things as rewarding as taking an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.

If you use the above methods for protecting your RV travel safety, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm

Driving or towing an RV is an exciting experience but it’s a totally different ballpark compared to driving a car. You’re dealing with a lot more weight and bulk which will give you less control and precision on the road.

Driving an RV, whether it’s a motorhome or a towable isn’t the same as driving a car. No matter what RV you operate there’s a learning curve to RV driving. RVs are usually longer and heavier, they take longer to stop, and there are more (and different types of) mirrors along with a host of other RV driving techniques to consider.

In today’s post, I’m offering 20 RV driving tips from the perspective of an RVer who has been driving 37- to 41-foot motorhomes (and towing a car) for nearly three decades. That would be me!

Whether you have a motorhome or a towable RV, driving can be a daunting experience for new RV owners especially if you choose a larger model. However, with practice and patience, you’ll be a pro at navigating parking lots, fuel stops, and narrow campsites in no time.

Here are 20 RV driving safety tips for beginners to help you stay safe on your RV journey.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Practice driving your RV

A big, empty parking lot is a great place to get acclimated. A set of small traffic cones can be a big help for safely practicing turns, backing, and maneuvering. The single biggest difference to get used to when driving an RV, versus a car, is length—the overall length of the vehicle(s), the length of the wheelbase, and the length of the rear overhang.

Yes, RVs weigh more than cars and they’re taller. Those factors do come into play but nothing is more critical than learning to manage the length of your RV. More about those topics below but practicing maneuvering in a safe environment is hugely helpful for new RV drivers.

2. Be a patient driver

Other drivers of large vehicles (think truck and bus drivers) are working often on a demanding schedule. As RVers, we’re able to (hopefully) operate at a more leisurely pace.

Whenever possible, allow sufficient time to arrive at your destination early enough that you won’t feel rushed. This will help you to maintain a better mindset throughout your travels—one of not feeling rushed or in a hurry… being patient. This not only provides a safer driving environment but a more relaxing one as well. Stay safe by avoiding the rush.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pay attention to your speed

In the same vein as the previous tip, higher speeds can increase stress and reduce safety. Things happen faster at higher speeds reducing the amount of time you have to think and react.

There’s no specific speed that’s right for every RVer. But since the demise of the 55 mph national maximum speed limit in the late 80s, some speed limits are now far higher. Many U.S. states especially in the West have maximum speed limits of 75-80 mph. But that doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast!

RVing shouldn’t be a race. In my opinion, there’s no RV on the road that isn’t safer being operated at a speed slower than those very high limits.

There is no one speed that works for every RV, every RVer, and in every situation? But you’ll know when you’re traveling too fast when your heart jumps into your throat or your right foot buries the brake pedal. But by then it might be too late. Take your time, both speed-wise and in figuring out what speeds are safest for you, your RV, and current driving conditions.

If you’re not sure about correct speeds when you first start driving an RV, figure it out from the bottom up. By that I mean it’s better to realize that you’re driving a little slower than you can safely manage rather than the other way around! Take your time and enjoy the journey.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Keep to the right whenever possible and appropriate

In general, the best place for a large vehicle on a multi-lane highway is the right lane. A primary tenet of Defensive Driving is to leave your self an escape route in the event another vehicle should come into conflict with yours.

The right lane is adjacent to the shoulder providing some built-in advantages:

  • It’s usually empty allowing a safe space to take evasive action if needed
  • Since the shoulder isn’t a travel lane the threat of another vehicle moving into your lane from the right is reduced
  • Because drivers in North America sit on the left side of their vehicles, the right side is the weak side due to your reduced ability to see what’s directly alongside or approaching your rig at an angle

Keeping the right side of your vehicle as clear of collision threats as possible provides better safety. Being alongside the (often empty) shoulder also provides a place to go should a mechanical problem require you to move off the road.

Of course, there are exit and/or entrance ramps to consider. If you’re approaching one but you’re not exiting be alert for vehicles entering the highway. If traffic allows, move over one lane to the left to avoid conflict.

If you’re traveling on a highway with three or more lanes of traffic in each direction, consider staying one lane over (the middle lane of a three-lane highway, the second lane on a 4- or 5-lane highway) in areas with a high concentration of exit and entrance ramps. That’s especially helpful during high-traffic periods preventing you from having to repeatedly change lanes to avoid traffic merging onto the highway.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Know your rig’s braking power and plan accordingly

Large, heavy vehicles take longer to stop than passenger cars. That requires thinking ahead—and planning ahead. Keep your eyes scanning far down the road; be alert for brake lights in the distance or other indicators of slowing traffic or potential conflict. Use your height advantage to see as far ahead as possible. Slow down earlier and avoid braking hard.

Besides the longer stopping distances required to stop an RV you should also keep in mind a disadvantage that your large vehicle creates simply by being on the road—other drivers can’t see around you. That virtually guarantees that someone behind you isn’t able to spot potential conflicts up ahead.

But we’ve all seen how simple facts like lack of visibility seem to have little to no effect on other drivers. They often tailgate vehicles that block their view, like RVs. If you’re being tailgated especially by someone who can’t see around you (your vehicle is big!) the last thing you want to do is stop suddenly. Increasing your following distance is the best course of action to prevent you from having to stop suddenly and potentially getting rear-ended.

An additional braking consideration with RVs is the fact that you’re carrying around cabinets full of dishes, glassware, food, toiletries, and many other items not normally stored in a passenger car. Stopping suddenly can lead to things falling out of cabinets the next time they’re opened as contents may have shifted.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Keep your distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is one of the most basic safety practices to which any driver can adhere. Rather than attempt to guesstimate the number of feet between you and the vehicle ahead, use time instead.

Passenger cars generally follow the 2-second rule: Watch the vehicle in front of you pass an object (such as the shadow of an overpass or a utility pole alongside the roadway) and count one thousand one, one thousand two and you shouldn’t reach that same spot before two full seconds have passed.

Since RVs and other large vehicles take longer to stop, use a 4-second following distance. When the roads are wet, use a 6-second following distance. With snowy- or ice-covered roads, use 8 seconds. Keep in mind that these are minimum following distances. There is nothing wrong with leaving even more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

If you’re thinking “If I leave that much room in front of me, other vehicles will simply move over into that space,” you’re correct. They will. Other drivers will indeed change lanes in front of you (often right in front of you). But the only way to prevent that is to fill the space between you and the car ahead yourself. But that is tailgating—something that’s so critically important to avoid.

The best practice is to maintain a speed on multi-lane highways that’s slightly slower than passing traffic… about 2-3 mph is usually good. That way, vehicles that change lanes in front of you will continue to move ahead, re-opening that all-important safety cushion directly in front of your RV without you having to do anything about it.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Follow the 330 or 3/3/3 travel rule

The 330 rule refers to a policy of driving no more than 300 miles a day and arriving at your destination no later than 3:30 pm. That allows plenty of time to set up camp in daylight, get to know the amenities of the campground and the surrounding area, and further relax after your day of driving.

When we first started, I would hit the road and keep hitting the road until we crammed as much into one day as possible. In my mind, the more we drove, the more we would see, and the more fun we’d have. I recall a 2,000-mile trip we made in three and one-half days. And yes, it was tiring and exhausting! And, I vowed never again!

You may have heard of another RV rule of thumb called the 3-3-3 Rule. This rule is similar to the 330 Rule.

The 3-3-3 Rule is as follows:

  • Don’t drive more than 300 miles in a day
  • Stop by 3 pm (or stop every 3 hours, depending on who you ask)
  • Stay at a campground for a minimum of 3 days

I won’t go as far as saying every RVer needs to abide by the 330 rule. However, I will say that I do highly recommend it. I know that from my own experiences (and mistakes) and from countless RVers who say the same, the 330 rule makes traveling more enjoyable—and safer.

Read my earlier post for more on the 330 Rule.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Don’t overload your rig

It’s very important to take note of the weight limits associated with your particular RV and to stay within those limits. When you overload an RV you’re putting yourself and everyone traveling with and around you at risk.

Both weight and weight distribution are important. RVs have several specific weight limits. There’s the maximum allowable weight of the loaded RV itself (GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).

There’s the maximum allowable weight for the entire rig which includes anything being towed (GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating). Then there’s the maximum weight capacity on each axle (GAWR, or Gross Axle Weight Rating). Be sure to learn and follow your rig’s weight limits and avoid overloading it.

9. Don’t drive in high winds

Many RVers learn this one the hard way by traveling down the highway in high winds at too high a speed for the conditions. Remember that RVs are tall and frequently flat-sided. The aerodynamics of many rigs lends themselves to being blown about to some degree by high winds.

And while you may feel secure traveling down the highway on a relatively windy day, you may find yourself hitting a crosswind and hanging on with white knuckles for all you’re worth.

Avoid this at all costs. Travel in safe conditions. If you find yourself with a very windy day ahead either stay put or take a slow drive over to the beach or a field to have a picnic and fly a kite!

If you must travel during windy conditions, the most important adjustment to make is to slow down! The faster you’re moving when your rig gets hit with a gust from the side, the more likely you are to lose control of your vehicle. And the more severe the consequences will be.

Read my earlier post for tips on driving an RV in windy conditions.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Don’t drive distracted

Distracted driving is the cause of far too many accidents… many thousands annually.

Driving distracted can include anything from checking your phone to eating, to driving with a pet in your lap. Distracted driving refers to anything that takes your attention away from the road and the task at hand—safe driving.

Any non-driving activity that you engage in while operating your vehicle reduces your safety and that of your passengers and fellow travelers on the road around you.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting is the most dramatic driving distraction: “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Don’t drive distracted! Your life and the lives of those around you are depending on your vigilance. That’s especially true for large vehicles that take longer to stop and maneuver than a passenger car. And doubly true for the largest vehicles capable of inflicting truly substantial damage if not kept under control at all times.

11. Never drive impaired

Impaired driving refers to driving while under the influence of anything that has the potential to degrade your reaction time as a driver, reduce your attention, or impact your driving ability in any way. This would include substances like alcohol or marijuana as well as narcotics and even prescription or over-the-counter medications that have the potential to impair a driver.

When you get into your RV to drive or into your vehicle to tow an RV, you need to be at your absolute best. And it’s always best not to self-determine whether you’re fit to drive. If you’ve had a drink or two, no matter how you feel, don’t drive. If you’ve been exposed to a recreational drug or a medication with the potential for altering your mind or reaction time, don’t drive. Read the labels on all medications. Benedryl is a good example of an over-the-counter medication that can have a significant impact on reaction time.

Part of the responsibility of driving a large vehicle is being aware of your own abilities. If you’re not sure you’re up to the task of continuing, stop as soon as safely possible.

Just don’t drive if there’s a potential for you to be impaired at all. It’s really that simple.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Use proper steering technique

Turn the steering wheel slowly or partially when rounding a curve in the road (as opposed to making a sharp turn). This maintains the right hand on the right side of the wheel and the left hand on the left side of the wheel at all times.

Keep your hands on the outside of the steering wheel rim. This avoids getting your hands crossed up or reaching into the wheel where one of the spokes is in the way of your grasping it.

13. Learn proper mirror adjustment and use

It’s essential when RV driving to be able to see well all around you and to avoid blind spots. Depending on the size of your rig you’re driving or towing, this can be somewhat complicated but once you become comfortable with proper mirror adjustment and use, you’ll be amazed at how much it assists your safe driving.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Monitor the weather and travel accordingly

This one is also known as Embrace Plan B.

Monitor the weather in your current area and along the path you intend to travel. If weather conditions are likely to impede an easy-going driving experience, make a plan B and settle into it. But be ready to adapt if conditions change.

RV driving means understanding that your plans can change at any given time. Not being rigidly controlled by a plan is part of RVing and its great! I know that most RVers aren’t full-timers and may have limited time to enjoy their RV vacation. But within those constraints, do your best to avoid traveling when conditions increase the risk to you and your RV.

15. Never drive when tired

Driving an RV while you’re tired is another version of driving impaired. When we’re fatigued, everything is affected including our sight and reaction time.

Besides substances, one of the most common and potentially most serious forms of impairment is fatigue. Calling back to the 330 rule above, make sure you don’t drive longer than your ability to stay alert. That includes getting a good night’s sleep the night before.

Studies have demonstrated that extreme fatigue can be as or even more dangerous as driving under the influence of some substances. And it can be more insidious as it takes no other action beyond staying on the road too long to create a risk.

This also includes driving while you’re feeling ill. If you have a fever or cold or another ailment that may affect your driving ability, leave the task for another day or to someone else.

Once again, if you’re tired, I strongly encourage you to embrace plan B and stop for the night and get some good rest, good food, and hydration—then drive again when you’re in top shape for the task.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Have a good roadside assistance plan

Having a reliable roadside assistance plan is essential when traveling in an RV.

Choose a plan that suits you best but be sure to have a good, solid, reliable plan for roadside assistance. Having the peace of mind that if something DOES go wrong while on the road you have resources available to get you out of a bind can help keep you calm should something happen.

Read my earlier post for tips on choosing the best RV Roadside Assistance Plan.

16. Carry an RV roadside emergency kit

An RV roadside emergency kit is one of the most important things you can carry when you travel in an RV.

Read my earlier post for 25 must-have items to carry in your roadside emergency kit. Chances are good that you’ll use many of those items—if not in the event of your own roadside emergency, then perhaps to help a fellow traveler.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Use trip planner apps and/or GPS to plan RV-safe routes

Remember that when you’re driving an RV, the height, weight, and contents of your rig are factors that you don’t generally need to consider when driving a car. This is why having excellent trip planner apps or an RV-safe GPS is so important.

There are areas (tunnels, in particular, and some ferries) that you can’t enter if you’re carrying propane on board your RV. Or you may be required to confirm that it’s been turned off at the tank. This is information you’ll want to know in advance of approaching the entrance to a tunnel. You want to be offered alternative routes based on what you’re driving and the best way to achieve this important end is to plan RV-safe travel routes.

Some GPS units and RV trip planner apps allow you to input the specifics of your RV and then you’ll be guided according to those specifics.

18. Keep current with RV maintenance

A well-maintained RV or tow vehicle is a safe vehicle. Be sure to keep up with the preventive maintenance and conduct regular inspections of your RV systems especially those that can cause an accident while traveling.

Make a pre-trip checklist and do an inspection of these items every time you get behind the wheel:

  • Belts and hoses (check for cracking)
  • Headlights, turn signal, tail lights
  • Hitch or towing equipment
  • Tires for the correct air pressure and sufficient tread depth

Read my earlier post on RV maintenance tips

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

 19. Know how to back up your rig

The best way to learn how to back up your RV is to practice, practice, practice! Here again, an empty parking lot is a great place to get comfortable backing up your rig effectively.

I encourage you to first have a look at my post on backing up a motorhome where you’ll find some very helpful tips and techniques.

BONUS TIPs for drivers towing a trailer:

20. Understand trailer sway control

I mentioned this tip in a previous section related to RV weight and weight distribution but its well worth mentioning again—it is that important.

It is critical that you understand trailer sway control BEFORE you need the information. We strongly encourage you to consult my linked post on this topic before you tow.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Danger of Underinflated RV Tires

Do not drive with underinflated RV tires! I have some critical advice to save you lots of grief.

One of the most important but neglected parts of your RV: your tires. There is nothing more frightening than having a tire blow out while you are driving at highway speeds. Studies show that more than 30 percent of us drive with underinflated RV tires.

In an RV it is dangerous!

Maintaining proper tire pressure in your RV should always be a top priority but with summer underway, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your tires. The dangers of underinflated tires include increased risk for tire blowouts which in turn can cause you to lose control of your RV and potentially cause harm to your vehicle and other drivers on the road.

Not the way to care for your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What causes a tire blowout

There are a variety of reasons that an RV could experience a tire blowout but almost every cause for blowout can be traced back to the condition of the tire and whether or not it was properly inflated. In the summer, drivers have a tendency to underinflate tires, knowing that heat causes air to expand. This approach makes sense; however, in order to keep your tire pressure at a safe level, tires should always be inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications.

When tires are underinflated there is undue stress put on the internal components—the fabric, steel, rubber, etc. The extra heat of summer along with the low air pressure can cause these internal components to snap and break. If your RV tires are already weak or in poor condition, then you’re at an even greater risk for experiencing a blowout during the summer months.

Another cause of tire blowout includes overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have the capacity for. Overloading your vehicle poses its own set of dangers and puts too much pressure on your tires. As I discussed above, too much pressure paired with too much heat spells out disaster.

Potholes, uneven driving surfaces, and sharp debris left in the road can also cause RV drivers to experience a tire blowout. A pothole can cause an underinflated tire to explode if hit at just the right angle. When driving your RV you need to keep a lookout for potholes, debris, and other issues so you don’t put yourself and other drivers in danger.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What can you do to prevent a tire blowout?

Preventing a tire blowout from happening is of extreme importance as an RV driver. While there will always be factors that are out of your control, you need to take the time and effort necessary to do your part in keeping tires in safe working condition:

  • Always inspect your tires, checking for tread depth, signs of wear and tear, and most importantly, checking for adequate tire pressure
  • Make sure you aren’t overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have capacity for
  • Keep a watchful eye on the roadways looking out for debris or potholes that could cause tire damage
  • Maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles at all times just in case you would lose control of your vehicle due to a tire blowout

Tire blowouts can be very dangerous, not only for you but also for other unsuspecting drivers that have to swerve to avoid tire pieces. Follow these tips, maintain your tire pressure, and be safe driving this summer.

Is it safe to drive with low tire pressure?

Maintaining good tires is one of the most important parts of RV ownership. After all, without good tires, you won’t be traveling anywhere! Despite this, many people end up driving on low tire pressure which puts unnecessary strain on the tires and the entire vehicle. 

It’s a bad idea to drive with tires that are overinflated or underinflated because this shortens the lifespan of your RV tires. Although tires can be replaced once they blow, it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. Blowouts can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving at highway speeds when they occur. 

Driving with underinflated tire causes numerous problems for your RV, some more obvious than others. Below I’ll discuss a few of the risks you run when you drive with underfilled tires. I’ll also cover some tips for proper maintenance so you can enjoy disaster-free road trips. 

Check your tires at each stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Poor fuel mileage

One of the downsides of low tire pressure is the effect it has on your fuel efficiency. RVs are already fuel guzzlers so you don’t want to throw any extra money into that pit. If you drive with underinflated tires, your engine has to work harder to complete each rotation. This effort uses up your fuel and that means you need to stop for refills more frequently. 

Nobody wants to pay for extra gas, especially with the rising price of fuel. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended level will help you save money and keep your RV in better condition. 

Increased vehicle strain

Every part of an RV has to work in order to get it moving. Whether you’re driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer, there’s an engine that’s working hard. It doesn’t need to deal with the added stress that comes from driving on low tire pressure. 

RVs are also significant investments, so it’s important to keep them well maintained and in good driving condition. Keeping your tires properly inflated and performing regular maintenance ensures that everything is in good working order. Underinflated tires require your engine and the other automotive parts to work extra hard. In turn, this shortens the lifespan of your RV. 

Check your tire pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Uneven tread weathering

Driving with low tire pressure also puts unnecessary stress on the tires themselves. When your tires are underinflated they tend to slump and spread out. This means that more of the tire comes into contact with the road as you drive. 

Typically, only the center of a tire will face the wear and tear of the road. But if you drive on underinflated tires, the sides will also be exposed to this rough treatment. This weathers your tread in an uneven way. Even if you reinflate your tires later, some damage has already been done. 

Reduced traction

This is related to the point above. When you place extra stress on your tires and wear them down, you’ll inevitably lose some traction. All tires eventually wear out but you’ll speed up the process if you’re always driving on low tire pressure. 

Traction is very important for RVers, whether it’s the tires of your RV or the tow vehicle. You need to have as much grip as possible to get your rig moving and control its direction. Driving on snow, ice, mud, and gravel also becomes much harder if your tires have lost their traction. 

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Less responsive vehicle

Driving with compromised tires is extremely dangerous especially when you’re driving something as large and heavy as an RV. Tipping and swaying are already huge risks, so you’ll want to do everything you can to make the experience safer. 

Low-pressure tires make your vehicle less responsive to small adjustments. This is connected to the reduced traction and uneven wear and tear of the tread.

If your vehicle can’t respond quickly enough to turn, change lanes, or make other adjustments, you’re in trouble. You also might deal with some wobbling and drifting if your tires are out of shape. 

Increased risk of blowouts

One of the biggest risks of driving with low tire pressure is the increased likelihood of blowouts and flat tires. Blowouts are dangerous for you and everyone around you on the road.

It’s never fun to deal with a flat tire but it’s especially hard when you’re working with an RV. Because of their increased size and weight, it’s harder to jack them up and replace tires. In addition, you can’t always guarantee that there will be a mechanic nearby, so you have to rely on your roadside assistance program.

It’s imperative that you avoid tire blowouts at all costs. Maintaining the proper tire pressure is a great way to start. 

Tips for RV tire maintenance

If you want to keep your RV in the best possible condition, you need to practice proper RV tire maintenance. This means more than just replacing tires once they go flat. You need to include tires in your regular check-ups, so you don’t miss any budding problems.

There are also preventative measures you can take to keep your tires good for as long as possible. You should always check your tires before leaving on a long trip. Also, check them before and after you put your vehicle into storage for the winter. Below we have a few tips that will help you keep your tires properly filled and in great shape!

Use a tire pressure monitoring system

Tires can unexpectedly become damaged, even if you look after them. This is why a tire pressure monitoring system is a great gadget to have. It can alert you if your tire pressure is too low or too high, if a tire has a puncture, or if the temperature is too high. These early warnings will help you address problems before they become dangerous.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cover tires during storage

If you choose to store your RV during certain seasons, make sure you cover your tires. Quality tire covers will insulate your tires from extreme temperature changes, prevent UV damage, and keep them cleaner.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next RV Road Trip

A helpful guide for planning an affordable RV trip including budgeting techniques, free places to camp, and useful travel discounts

Going on an RV trip doesn’t have to mean big spending or months of saving. With a little bit of research, careful planning, and some simple techniques, you’ll quickly realize just how affordable an RV trip can be.

Rental RVs at Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Advice for non-RV owners

For many non-RV owners, the cost associated with renting an RV for a trip might seem sky high. And while it’s true that renting an RV can sometimes be more expensive than booking a hotel room, there are actually more opportunities to save with an RV.

You have the ability to cook all meals which greatly reduces the amount of money you have to spend on food. You can pack extra gear (bikes, kayaks, canoes, surfboards) and eliminate the need to rent these items elsewhere.

If you’re traveling with a family or large group, it might be tough to squeeze everyone into one hotel room (most standard hotel rooms can accommodate four people). And some hotels don’t even allow pets or charge an extra pet fee. But with a wide variety of RV sizes and layouts to choose from you’re likely to find one that fits your whole crew—dog included—without having to pay double.

Class A motorhome and toad at a rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Before you hit the road

While most people think of food, fuel, and campground costs when putting together a travel budget, one factor that is often forgotten—but is still extremely important—is maintenance. Taking good care of your RV goes a long way in preventing major, costly repairs.

Just like a car, your RV’s oil should be changed regularly and the tires inspected daily. If something in your rig needs fixing, do it sooner rather than later. Letting a problem sit for too long can end up costing you more in the long run.

Double-check that your insurance and roadside assistance plans cover not only your tow vehicle/toad but also your RV. There’s nothing worse than breaking down and finding out that your insurance won’t pay to tow your rig to a repair facility.

Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Plan around peak travel times

When considering prospective destinations, take note of the peak travel seasons and accessibility—for example, fall foliage in New England or holiday weekends at national parks. Peak seasons will not only impact reservations and campgrounds rates but fuel and grocery prices as well which can vary based on demand and time of year. Tours and entry fees may also fluctuate by season, day of week, or even time of day.

To help save money, when possible travel during shoulder seasons (commonly early spring and late fall) and visit the most popular destinations on weekdays or during slower hours. If you’re thinking about taking a longer trip—a few weeks or even a few months—consider staying in one place for more than a few days. Most RV parks and campgrounds offer weekly and monthly rates which will reduce your per night cost. Minimizing your driving time and staying put can help keep the cost of fuel down as well.

Newfound Gap Road, an RV-friendly route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Be mindful of fuel prices

When deciding which route to take, try to use an online fuel calculator to help budget. 

Once your RV-friendly route is set, search for fuel stations along the way and compare prices. Even if the difference is only a few cents per gallon, the cost can add up quickly when you’re averaging 8 to 10 miles per gallon. Try to fill up well in advance of national parks and other popular tourist destinations, top off your tank before you hit a stretch of road with limited fuel stations (these have a tendency to be more expensive), and keep any border crossings in mind. Fuel prices vary by state based on taxes, types of fuel, and other variables like real estate.

Boondocking along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Venture off the beaten path

Humans are programmed to do what is familiar and popular, including visiting well-known tourist destinations. However, with a little extra research you can often find a similar view, a little-visited roadside attraction, a self-guided tour, or an alternative hike without the added crowds or cost.

Also, keep in mind is that not every night has to be spent at a five-star luxury RV resort. While you may want to budget for one or two nights at a more upscale place, your other nights could be budget camping or boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. 

To prevent trespassing or illegal overnight stays, always read posted signs and generally don’t stay longer than 14 days. 

6. Pack for various situations

Always check the forecast before you leave including average temperatures and storm seasons. Being prepared for various weather conditions will prevent unnecessary shopping trips for warmer clothes, rain gear, or alternative footwear. Travel with an umbrella, a rain jacket, waterproof pants, and warm layers just in case. Other essentials include a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra batteries as these tend to be more expensive at travel plazas and RV parks.

Driving Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Plan inexpensive driving routes

You’re always going to spend money on a road trip but the route you take heavily influences how much you spend on things like fuel and overnight stays. For example, the highest fuel prices are in Washington and California. You still want to find pleasant campsites with electrical, sewage, and water access, if possible, but compare prices to locate the cheapest campsite in each area.

Other considerations you should have when planning an RV route include:

  • Points of interest along the route
  • Cheap gas station/truck stops availability
  • Avoiding areas of congestion and toll roads

When researching your route and destinations, look into various pass options for state and national parks. Figure out how often you will visit to determine whether paying for each entry is cheaper or purchasing a multi-visit pass, such as America the Beautiful.

8. Cook in the RV

An RV is a home on wheels which means you can limit the cost associated with restaurants by cooking your own food. However, if you do want to eat at a local restaurant, consider eating there for lunch instead of dinner—lunch menus allow you to experience the regional food without paying the premium pricing.

Include some healthy road trip snacks and beverages. This will prevent you from pulling over to buy higher-priced, less-nutritious gas station treats. Additionally, food prices will vary by location. Produce, meat, and dairy are almost always more expensive in remote areas and can be harder to find, so stock up before you go.

Make use of campground grills and enjoy the ever-changing scenery with home-cooked meals. A small crockpot or slow cooker can be another great time and money saver when it comes to food on the go.

Not a good way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Keep your tires properly inflated

It may not be something that you associate with saving money but keeping the tires on your RV properly inflated will not only make it easier to drive and handle but it will save you money over the cost of the trip on fuel, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 1-psi drop in tire pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.4 percent. This can certainly add up over a lengthy trip, so take the extra time to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Tucson/Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Consider a membership

There are many different RV clubs and other types of travel memberships including Good Sam and Passport America. One of the biggest benefits of joining is the discounted camping rates. Some other cost-saving perks include promotions at RV retail stores, fuel savings, propane discounts, and free dump station privileges. Other memberships to consider include Thousand Trails, Escapees, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and KOA (Kampgrounds of America).

If you and your family enjoy visiting museums, botanical gardens, plantariums, and science centers, consider a membership. Reciprocal museum memberships allow you to visit other participating museums which grant free or heavily discounted entry to members.

Worth Pondering…

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will—whatever we may think.

—Lawrence Durrell

10 Basic RV Maintenance Tips Every RVer Should Know

Here are basic RV maintenance tips that can save you time, money, and headaches

Your RV brings you and your family countless hours of enjoyment and you likely intend to enjoy using it for years to come. Taking good care of your investment is a good way to prolong the lifespan of your RV and make your camping and road trips fun and safe. Just like your car and home need routine maintenance, your RV needs to be properly cared for to remain in good condition.

RV Repairs are a costly part of RV ownership. But, regular preventative maintenance can help reduce the chances of these expensive repairs from happening. It’s far easier to prevent a problem than to repair it. Stay ahead of the repairs and stay on the road with my tips every RVer needs to know.

This handy RV maintenance guide will help you learn about general RV maintenance and specific tips for using RV service centers, mobile techs, and roadside assistance.

Motorhome at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. It helps to be handy

If you love heading into the great outdoors on an RV road trip, you know that not every camping adventure goes smoothly. Mechanical and functional issues with your RV can quickly bring your road trip to a standstill. With a little knowledge and preparation, you can make many minor RV repairs yourself to get back on the road sooner.

Many RV repairs will be small issues. These could range anywhere from a loose piece of trim to broken door hinge or even a leaky outside seal. These are things that if you are able-bodied can be handled with a quick trip to a hardware store and a bit of your time.   

Carrying basic tools with you is important for any RV repair project. Also, a variety of screws, drill bits, sockets, and wrenches are recommended. And, never travel without duct tape and Rhino tape.

Waiting at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. The waitlist at any RV service center will be long

The RV industry experienced a major boom during the pandemic. More rigs were sold than any other time in history. This also means they have been built faster than usual for the manufacturers to meet demand. Faster almost always means a drop in quality; therefore, many new RVs are now requiring repair. 

Many turn to their RV service center and shops authorized by their manufacturer’s warranty. Because there are more RVs and potentially more issues than in the past, the wait times for an appointment at an RV service center can be weeks or even months. 

>> Related article: 7 Essential RVing Tips for the Perfect Road Trip + Resources

Also, bear in mind that even when you do get in for service your RV may not be repaired in a day. The service center needs to communicate with the manufacturer to authorize repairs and reimbursement. The onsite RV tech will have to confirm and/or verify the issue. Parts have to be ordered and received. 

Meanwhile, more RVers are lining up to get service. If you do opt for an RV service center, check online reviews thoroughly before choosing a shop. Not all service centers are created equal.

Mobile RV tech © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Mobile RV techs can save you considerable time

If your repair isn’t warranty-based, a mobile RV technician can be very helpful. For starters, they come to you. Many RV techs aren’t allowed to perform warranty repair based on a variety of state laws. Check with your manufacturer if you’re under warranty and if your RV and location allow for certified mobile techs to help you out. 

Mobile techs are usually experienced on a variety of RV types; they are often great troubleshooters and it is in their best interest to be quick about the work so they can get to the next customer.

Motorhome at Canyon de Chelly National Monument campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Parts might be hard to come by

Having extra parts on hand for common issues can save time, money, and frustration. In addition, if you have an RV service center or mobile RV tech do repairs for you, having those parts in advance can mean a huge difference in time if you cannot get them ordered quickly.

>> Related article: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

Waiting at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Does warranty coverage work?

There are countless anecdotes on the internet about how a manufacturer’s or third-party extended warranty didn’t cover the repairs someone needed. Read through these warranties in detail and ask questions for clarifications. 

Always get the name of who you spoke with and have a copy of the details forwarded to you in an email or a text for future reference and proof. The warranty industry is in the business of not paying when they don’t have to or can get out of it, much like insurance.

There are worthwhile warranties and there are others you’ll want to avoid. Check online rviews and discuss with other RVers before signing on the dotted line.

Motorhome heading north from Flagstaff to Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Utilize family and friends with expertie

If you can wait and it isn’t a critical repair, the next time you visit with friends or family, perhaps they can assist you. They may have more experience, skill, tools, or even just more strength! There’s no shame in asking for help. That’s what family is for, right?

Mobile RV tech © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Roadside assistance can be useful

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one—and we wouldn’t be without it—despite the fact that in our 20+ years as RVers we’ve only very rarely used it.

There are many sources of roadside assistance available. You may even have multiple roadside assistance packages that you aren’t aware of as they can be offered by your RV insurance company, RV manufacturer, cell phone plan, or even credit cards in some cases.  And you can purchase additional coverage through a number of avenues.

>> Related article: Safety Dance

Having a good roadside assistance package can make the difference between spending the night beside the highway and arriving within a reasonable time to your destination.

Bear in mind that like insurance policies and warranty coverages there are details and fine print to examine when comparing these assistance packages.

Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best because it’s the plan we use.

Motorhome at rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Have your manuals, diagrams, and build sheets handy

RV parts change from year to year and even have different build-outs within the same model year. The maufacturer should provide you with a parts list of what is installed including model and serial numbers. If not offered at time of sale, ask your dealer for one. Knowing which model of refrigerator or furnace you have can help you find the right parts faster. 

Check condition of tires prior to leaving on a road tip © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Your insurance might be helpful

Since RV repairs can be very costly, assistance from your insurance company will be helpful. Class A motorhome windshields, for example, can cost thousands to replace. 

>> Related article: How to Keep Your RV Drains Clean, Fresh, and Functioning Properly

An RV roof that is damaged can also be costly to repair but often an insurance company will require a separate policy or rider to your current policy to cover a roof. Discuss your policy in detail with your insurance agent to ensure you have the correct coverage for your RV type and budget. When possible use an insurance company that specializes in RVs.

Camping at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Preventative maintenance is your best friend

Many repairs can simply be avoided by performing routine RV maintenance. Be sure to check the caulking around windows and seals and strip and replace it when you see flaking or gaps. 

Periodically check every screw you can find. Ensure you lubricate things that move. Check your roof for worn-out lap sealant around vents and fans. Catching symptoms early can help you avoid costly future repairs such as leaks. Check deep-cell batteries monthly and add distilled water as required. Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs. Keep all of your documents in one place.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

RV Spring Cleaning Tips for Every Season

When the weather starts turning warmer and thoughts turn to planning epic RV road trips, there are numerous RV maintenance tasks to complete including RV spring cleaning

Spring is the traditional start to the traveling season for many RVers. While you’re busy planning trips and dreaming of life on the open road, don’t forget to get the RV ready for the season by giving it a good deep cleaning. And for those who live full-time in their RVs, spring is also the perfect opportunity to clean out all that dust and dirt that has been building over the winter.

Spring is a great time to give your RV a thorough cleaning. There’s something about spring showers and fresh flowers that inspire us to refresh our living spaces.

But, really, any time is a good time to declutter and spruce up your RV. No matter the season, these RV spring cleaning tips will help you clean, declutter, and organize. So, whether it’s spring or winter, summer or fall, here are the tools, tips, and tricks you’ll need for RV spring cleaning.

Cleaning the RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tools needed to get the job done

Just like any project, the right tools make a job easier! So, the best way to begin is to gather your tools and cleaning products for a good spring cleaning.

The following items come in handy:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Clorox wipes
  • Swiffer dusters
  • Paper towels
  • Q-tips
  • Favorite interior cleaning solution
  • Favorite exterior cleaning solution
  • Mop or steamer
  • Bucket for warm water
  • Garden hose
  • Vacuum with hose attachment and/or hand vacuum
  • Ladder
  • Power washer (optional)
Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make your own cleaner

If you’re concerned about toxic chemicals and would rather not use commercial cleaning solutions, you can make your own.

A damp cloth and hot soapy water go a long way. Or you can add a cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water for bleach-safe surfaces. You can easily google how to use household items like lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda to make DIY cleaning solutions.

Okay…you’ve gathered your cleaning helpers—it’s time to get down to business!

Like any big project, you’ll have better luck with your RV spring cleaning if you go in with a plan. After all, your motorhome (or other type of recreational vehicle) is just that—a home on wheels. There’s a lot to tackle!

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV spring cleaning: The interior

It’s a good idea to start with the inside and work your way out. Or, you can divide and conquer with your travel companions.

However you tackle the job you’ll want to thoroughly clean the interior including the furniture, appliances, floors, and walls. That means vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, and removing any built-up dirt and grime.

When cleaning any space, it is always most logical to start at the top and work your way down. In an RV, this can also allow you to check for leaks or other potential issues that may have sprung up over the winter or while the RV was in storage. Depending on the texture of your ceiling, you may need to wipe it down or even vacuum it if the ceiling is carpeted. Be sure to clear out the cobwebs in your vents and begin clearing off your fans as well. Depending on how much build-up there is, your fans may need to be unscrewed and hand washed.

You’ll also want to sanitize surfaces to prevent the spread of germs. This includes wiping down counters, sinks, and toiletries and disinfecting high-touch areas like door handles and light switches. (Cue the Clorox wipes)

The kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kitchen

Wipe down all countertops and cabinets (inside and out). This is a great opportunity to declutter your kitchen cabinets.

Take out all of the items and only put back the ones you’ve actually used on your last three RV trips. You’ll be surprised at how much space you’ve been wasting with unused kitchen appliances, excess pots and pans, etc.

Be sure to clean the nooks and crannies of the oven and microwave, as well.

You will also want to wipe out and sanitize your fridge. RV fridges are known for getting a musty smell over time. To avoid this, take out everything and clean every nook and cranny. And use this opportunity to throw out expired products (Yep, we’re coming for you, mustard!)

Most RV fridges can have the drawers and shelves removed for deep cleaning and anything that is not removable can be cleaned with cleaning spray and rags or paper towels.

Bathroom

When cleaning the RV bathroom, start from the top and work your way down. Organic matter may stick to walls and mirrors and as you work your way down it may fall to other surfaces or the ground. By starting tall, you avoid spreading the matter around.

NEVER use bleach or abrasive cleaners in the RV kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower-tub, or toilet. These products can damage the surfaces and holding tanks and degrade the seals around your tanks—causing an unpleasant and messy problem. Use only mild soaps or products specifically made for RVs. Or, use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.

Give your RV toilets a good cleaning by scrubbing the bowl and wiping down the outside. Then wipe down the sink countertop and the outside of any cabinets.

Finally, wipe down the shower walls and bathtub or shower floor. This is also a good time to check your shower curtain for rips, tears, and mold.

As you clean, consider how you can better organize your bathroom.

Cab area

If your RV is drivable, don’t forget to deep clean the cab area. Remove and wash any seat covers and wipe or dust the dashboard area. Don’t forget to clean the big window too as well as the driver and passenger windows as well. In addition, be sure to vacuum out the seats and any hard-to-reach areas that your broom may not be able to access.

The bedroom © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bedroom

Aside from the funky built-in nightstands and other storage spaces, your RV’s bedroom should need similar cleaning to the one in your house. If you stored your RV with the bed made, be sure to strip the bed and wash everything. If not, you may need to give your mattress a quick vacuum depending on how dusty it became. In addition, be sure to clean the nightstands and other storage areas inside and out. 

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ceiling fans and vents

If your RV has ceiling fans, giving them a quick wipe is a good idea. These are often overlooked and have many dust bunnies hiding in plain sight.

The same goes for vents and screen windows. Use a vacuum, duster, or those nifty Swiffer dusters to remove dust from vent covers. If you have air filters, swap them out.

Test smoke alarms and CO and LP gas detectors and replace the batteries as necessary. Check fire extinguishers, and refill first aid kit and emergency kits as needed.

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV floors

The floor material in your RV will vary but most come with a laminate floor of sorts which can be easily swept and mopped. Any areas with carpet will need to be vacuumed. It makes sense to save this step for last since lots of dirt and debris will be falling on the floor while you are cleaning all the other areas of the RV.

Sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors in each room. Notice I said and not or. Granted, you don’t want to mop your carpet. But my point is to clean your floor in multiple stages.

For hard surfaces, sweep any debris out from corners, vacuum everything, and mop for the final touch.

Of course, it’s a good idea to do this last so you can exit the RV while the floors dry. That way, you avoid making them dirty again by walking on them.

You will also avoid having to wait until they dry to clean other spaces in the RV.

The interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Organize as you go

RV spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing. It’s also about decluttering and organizing. This is especially true of storage spaces, kitchen cabinets, and closets.

Here are some helpful resources:

Springtime is a great time to look for great dollar-store finds for your RV including organizers for closets and drawers and dehumidifers.

Dehumifer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV spring cleaning: The exterior

Keeping the RV’s exterior in good condition not only enhances its appearance but also helps protect it from the elements. This may involve washing and waxing the paint and repairing any chips or scratches to maintain its shine.

Wash the exterior in the shade with mild soap remembering to clean the tires.

Wash the exterior of your RV to remove any built-up dirt and grime. This may be done by hand or with a pressure washer and may also involve cleaning the wheels and undercarriage.

Dehumidifer © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since there are myriad RV cleaning products on the market, choosing the one that’s right for you can be a challenge.

Opt for a high-quality cleaner that will help make the finish on your RV last longer. Look for a multi-purpose RV cleaner as well to save some money.

Some cleaners are created for special purposes such as cleaning awnings or rubber roofs but others can be used for a variety of cleaning applications inside and outside your coach. The best solution is an RV cleaner with several applications to save your pocketbook.

It’s best to clean the RV from the top down. First, head up on the RV roof. Inspect the sealant around the roof vents, air conditioner, and all roof seams for signs of cracks or deterioration.

Giving your RV a good wax will also help protect it over time from the elements. It will also make it look nice.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some helpful resources:

Storage areas

Over time your RV storage space can get crowded. Many people toss items they might need on a trip that never gets used. Some forgotten things take up precious cargo space and unnecessarily add weight to your rig for years.

A storage area is a small space, so thoroughly clean it to make the most of it. Organize the items that you want to leave in there. Take out and discard unused or expired items (like chemicals).

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check for damage and perform routine maintenance

While washing the exterior, inspect the RV for any damage that may have occurred over the winter months. This includes checking for cracks, dents, or other damage to the body, roof, and windows.

You will also want to check for any leaky seals on the roof and slides. 

Plumbing system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plumbing system

This involves checking the pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaks or damage and ensuring that all systems are functioning correctly. It may also include flushing the water tank, cleaning the filters, and checking the water pressure.

This is a great time to clean your holding tanks and sanitize your water system.

Sewer system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical system

This involves checking the electrical system for any issues, such as loose connections, frayed wires, or damaged components. It’s essential to ensure that all electrical systems are functioning correctly, including the lights, fans, and appliances.

HVAC system

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system should be checked for proper function including the thermostat, ductwork, and fans. This can help to ensure that the RV is comfortable and energy efficient.

Awning

One part of your RV that’s easy to forget during the RV spring cleaning process is your awning. But trust me—you’ll remember it the first time you go to use it. What RV spring cleaning routine would be complete without these key components getting tidied up at the same time?

As part of your spring cleaning, take care of your awning so that it’s ready to take care of you when the time comes this summer. Keeping it clean is a great way to make sure it’s ready to use and will last for many years to come.

RV tire check © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tire Check

Don’t forget the tires during RV spring cleaning. Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means increased fuel fuel costs. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowouts.

RV tire check © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inspect tires for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls or between the treads. Treat these seriously and get them repaired before you head out for your first camping trip. Don’t forget to check that your lug nuts are tightened. If you have a travel or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Thoroughly clean the rims and tires and then apply UV protectant to help reduce the effects of exposure to the sun. For this part of our RV spring cleaning, I like to use Aerospace brand products—303 Wheel and Tire Cleaner and 303 Automotive Protectant.

Use latex gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Battery Check

Check your RVs batteries and top off cells with distilled water. Be sure to replace multiple battery banks together. If your batteries need to be cleaned, make sure they are disconnected and use a hot water and baking soda mixture to clean them. Wear safety glasses and latex gloves.

Other important systems

In addition to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, it’s essential to check other vital systems such as the brakes, suspension, and tires. Regular maintenance can help prevent issues during the camping season, ensuring a smooth and safe trip.

And finally, admire a great job well done.

A cleaning job well done © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There, what a beautiful RV.

It is now time to crack open your favorite beverage and sit back and admire your gleaming rig. Best to let it all soak in quick because that next rain, dust storm, or mud covered adventure is on the way.

Worth Pondering…

A bad day cleaning the RVing—is better than a good day—working.

7 Essential RVing Tips for the Perfect Road Trip + Resources

From proper maintenance and packing to route planning and emergency preparedness, these tips and resources will help you have the perfect road trip

RVing is a great way to explore the country and have a unique and flexible vacation. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time RVer, there are always new things to learn and tips to make your road trip even better. 

In this post, I’ll cover seven essential RVing tips to help you have the ultimate road trip. These tips will help you enjoy the perfect road trip from start to finish! I’ve also included helpful resources related to the tips to help get you on your way.

Camping at River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Properly maintain your RV before hitting the road

Before you set out on your road trip, it’s important to make sure your RV is in good working order. This means regular maintenance and upkeep, such as checking the tires, brakes, fluids, and other crucial systems. 

Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly breakdowns and other problems on the road. It’s a good idea to do a thorough inspection before you leave. Check all the systems and make any necessary repairs or replacements. 

You should also bring along basic tools and supplies in case you need to make any minor repairs on the road.

Checking the water and waste management systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Rio Bend RV Park and Golf Course, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Pack smart

One of the joys of RVing is having all the comforts of home with you on the road. However, this also means that you’ll need to bring everything you’ll need for your trip.

To avoid forgetting important items, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of must-have supplies and check them off as you pack. You’ll want to bring items including a first aid kit, tools, cooking equipment, and any personal items you’ll need.

It’s also important to think about how you’ll store and organize these items in your RV. Storage bins, drawers, and other organizational tools help keep everything in its place and easy to access.

Everything parked on board? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Hiking Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Stay healthy and comfortable on the road

One of the keys to having a great road trip is staying healthy and comfortable. There are several things you can do to help ensure that you feel your best while RVing.

One important aspect of staying healthy is eating well. It can be tempting to rely on fast food and convenience items while on the road but these options are often unhealthy and can leave you feeling sluggish. 

Instead, try to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome foods. You can also bring along healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit to munch on while you’re driving.

Horseback riding in Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Also, be sure to take breaks to stretch your legs often and to stay active while camping.

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Check tires for age and wear © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Prepare for emergencies and unexpected situations

Even with the best planning, there’s always the possibility of something going wrong on your road trip. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for emergencies and unexpected situations.

One way to do this is by creating an emergency kit for your RV. This should include basic supplies such as a flashlight, first aid kit, and tools as well as any specific items you might need such as spare fuses or a fire extinguisher.

It’s also a good idea to have a plan in place for common RVing emergencies such as a flat tire or breakdown. Know where you can get help and how to contact roadside assistance.

With a little preparation, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected challenges that come your way.

Wright’s Beach RV Park, Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Driving a motorhome on Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Practice safe driving habits

Driving an RV can be different than driving a regular car and it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges and responsibilities that come with it. One of the most important things you can do to ensure a safe road trip is to follow the rules of the road and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

This includes things like observing the speed limit, using your turn signals, and paying attention to other drivers and pedestrians. You should also be mindful of your blind spots and the length and width of your RV as it can be more difficult to maneuver than a smaller vehicle.

Another important aspect of safe driving is being prepared for any adverse weather conditions that you might encounter. Make sure to check the forecast for your route and adjust your driving accordingly. 

Driving a motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Camping at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Respect campsite rules and neighbors

One of the keys to a pleasant RVing experience is being a good campsite neighbor. This means respecting the rules and regulations of the campsite and being considerate of others around you.

Some ways to be a good campsite neighbor include being mindful of noise levels, keeping the campsite clean, and respecting the privacy of others. You should also follow the rules of the campground such as any fire regulations or pet policies.

By showing respect and consideration for others, you’ll help create a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone at the campsite.

Camping at Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Dyke Road, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Plan your route and make reservations in advance

One of the keys to a successful RV road trip is proper planning. This includes mapping out your route and making campsite or RV park reservations ahead of time. By planning your route, you’ll be able to choose the best roads for your RV and avoid any potential problems. You should also consider the length of your drives and make sure to take breaks as needed. 

I’m a believer in the 330 Rule. It says, “Stop when you have driven 330 miles or it’s 3:30 in the afternoon.”

When it comes to campsites, it’s also a good idea to book your spots ahead of time, especially during peak season. Unfortunately, ever since the pandemic, it has been much harder to get last-minute reservations. In fact, getting reservations is one of the big RV travel difficulties these days. In a pinch, you can overnight at different businesses and locations.

Colorado River along Utah Scenic Byway 279 near Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfect road trip helpful resources:

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Why and How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in RV Black Tanks?

The benefits of using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks as well as proper tank cleaning procedures and some other cleaners to consider

Keeping up with RV maintenance and cleaning is just part of RV life! One aspect that is necessary but not very glamorous is emptying and cleaning the black and grey water tanks. This can seem like a complex problem but many products and solutions can help make this a lot easier.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One common remedy involves the use of Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks. It is a detergent and grease cutter that will not harm your tanks and is eco-friendly and biodegradable. It is not corrosive and will not damage your plumbing. It has no phosphates so is a green product that is considered environmentally friendly.

Whether it’s a store-bought cleaner or a homemade recipe, there are numerous ways to clean your black tanks and keep them functional. Below, I’ll explore some of the uses and benefits of Dawn dish soap as well as proper cleaning tank procedures, and some other effective cleaners to consider.

Sewer hose connected to dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks?

Dawn dish soap is one of the most popular household cleaners and its uses are nearly limitless. Obviously, it can be used to clean dishes (it’s right in the name) but this soap can also be used as a pest remover, drain cleaner, stain remover, or just as an easy way to make a bubble mixture for kids.

It’s important to properly clean your RV water tanks so you’ll want to make sure that Dawn is a good choice before you start using it. Many people have incorporated it into their maintenance routines and some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Eco-friendly: One of the best parts about using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is that it’s an environment-friendly soap. It doesn’t contain phosphates and can be broken down by bacteria. This means that it’s a safe and biodegradable soap to use even if you’re cleaning/dumping your tank in a strict or natural environment.
  • Cheap: Another great bonus is that Dawn dish soap is quite affordable! If you use high-end cleaners that are specifically engineered for tank cleaning, that price can add up fast. On the other hand, Dawn is cheap and it won’t make a dent in your wallet. In addition, you only need to use ¼ to ⅓ cups of Dawn dish soap at a time so the average large bottle will last you for multiple months.
  • Non-corrosive: Dawn is also a gentle and non-corrosive soap. It’s effective at breaking down grease, eliminating odors, and softening blockages but it won’t eat into the material of your tank. Other effective cleaners exist (such as bleach) but they can be harmful to your tank and the surrounding pieces. You can use Dawn with peace of mind and won’t have to worry about the long-term effects it will have on the integrity of your plumbing system.
  • Easy to buy in bulk: Finally, Dawn is widely available in stores and online and easy to buy in large quantities. If you clean out your tank regularly you may just want to get a large container and work your way through it. If this is the case, Dawn is a fantastic option. You can find it at pretty much any grocery store and might even be able to find it in gas stations or small mini-marts along your journey. Loading up in large quantities is easy and affordable.
Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to clean an RV black tank

Now we know that you can use Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks but that knowledge won’t do you any good unless you follow proper tank-cleaning procedures. It’s important to do a deep clean of your tanks at least twice a year but you’ll probably want to do it even more frequently than that if you live in the RV full-time.

Your black and grey water tanks should be dumped frequently so that odors and blockages don’t become a problem. Generally, the rule of thumb is that it’s time to empty them once they are about 2/3 full.

RV connections for dumping and flushing tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of us just don’t like to think about it until we have to but cleaning out RV tanks is quite simple. Here’s what you need to do:

Use disposable plastic gloves to wear when performing the deed. You’ll eliminate any chance of spreading bacteria if you toss the gloves before going into your RV.

Drain the tanks by connecting the sewer hose and emptying the contents into an approved dumping site. Drain the black tank first. Always! Once drained, close the black tank valve. Then open the gray water valve to empty it. The reason for this is to clean the hose attached to your wastewater tanks. The residue will go into the septic system at the campground.

Clean out buildup by using a tank rinser, flush valve, or macerator. This will help prevent blockages in the future. When finished, close both black and gray waste tank valves.

Add 4-5 quarts of fresh water to the tanks to provide a good base for future use. The system needs a certain amount of water to operate so never leave it completely dry. Finally add ¼ to ⅓ cup of Dawn dish soap to your tanks and you’re ready to go.

Approved dump site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other cleaners for RV black tanks

Using Dawn dish soap in RV black tanks is certainly an effective method but it’s not your only choice. There are numerous other tank treatments that have been used over the years and some of them might work better for you depending on your preference and the availability of certain products in your area.

While you can always use store-bought water treatments there are a number of homemade tank cleaners you can try as well. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Citric acid: This is a mild, naturally occurring acid that can break down build-ups and improve the smell of your holding tanks. It can be combined with Borax, water, and baking soda to strengthen its cleaning ability.
  • Fabric softener: Fabric softener is another good way to break down buildups in your tank and improve the smell. This is a mild and pleasant cleaner that has proven to be effective.
  • Yeast: Believe it or not, kitchen yeast is a good RV tank cleaner too. Yeast is an active culture that feeds off the bacteria and waste in a tank. It might take a few days to become effective so some people combine it with hydrogen peroxide to make it stronger.
  • Water and more water: Surprisingly enough, some people get by just fine without using any kind of special add-in. As long as you use plenty of water to flush out your tanks, you may not need to add a chemical cleaner. However, if you’re having problems with blockages and smells, one of the previous options can be helpful.

Related articles:

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

Prep Your RV for Spring Travel

Spring shakedown

Spring has sprung and if you’re a seasonal RVer you’re likely itching to hit the road. Slow your roll, though. Before you head for the nearest campground, spend some time with your RV and make sure it’s prepped for the travel season ahead. This includes taking steps to dewinterize the plumbing system and so forth. It’s also a great time to perform general maintenance tasks including a close inspection of the exterior and a check of all on-board systems.
Here’s to a fun-filled spring RV season!

Family road trip to the Smoky Mountains includes hiking © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What better way to shake off winter than to enjoy a family RV trip? And what better time than now? Spring is upon us which means it is a good time to take the RV out of storage. Even if you have been using your RV over the winter, these spring shakedown tips should provide some good reminders.

A spring road trip may involve the family pet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the batteries were in storage, install them in the RV. Make sure to properly connect all wires. Seek assistance if necessary, as it is important not to mix up the wiring. Make sure the batteries and connections are clean, tight, and dry, and check the fluid (electrolyte) level. Plug the coach in to shore power or connect a battery charger to make sure the batteries are fully charged.

A spring road trip may involve a visit to an animal farm or zoo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you live in a cold climate, the first step in spring is to dewinterize the coach. Locate the low-point drains and close them if they are open. These low-point drains may be hidden behind a cabinet or panel but they should be labeled. The outside shower may also act as a low-point drain.

Related: Your RV Camping Checklist: 10 Essentials for RV Travel

A spring road trip may involve hiking © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re unable to locate all the low-point drains are, look for water pouring out from under the RV when the city water is turned on in the next step. The drains may have valves or threaded caps. Close the fresh water tank drain valve or install the drain plug. If your RV has a water pump winterization bypass, make sure to close the bypass valve (set it to normal operation).

A spring road trip may involve birding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Close all faucets in the RV, and turn off all plumbed appliances such as water heaters, on-demand systems, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Connect and turn on the city water. Go inside the RV and turn on each hot and cold faucet one at a time until there is no aeration or pink antifreeze flowing out. Don’t forget the outside shower. If the RV has a dishwasher, flush the system by running it through a complete cycle with no dishes. For a washing machine, run it through one warm wash and spin/drain cycle.

A spring road trip may include a national park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn off the city water and fill the fresh tank. Turn on the water pump and open all faucets one more time to purge the pump and hoses. Leave the taps open until all air and antifreeze is out of the lines. Take note of any cycling of the pump after the faucets are turned off especially during the camping season. If this persists after all the air is purged (which can take a long time), it can also be an indication of plumbing leaks. Keep an eye out for wet areas and/or loose plumbing fittings.

Dewinterizing a coach may start here © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Install the water heater drain plug/anode rod (if the anode rod is more than ¾ worn, it should be replaced) and close the water heater bypass valves. These are either on a plumbing panel or at the back of the water heater. There are one, two, or three valves, so make sure you set all of them to the correct positions. The water pump cycles while the water heater fills. Once the pump stops, open the hot water faucets slowly and carefully as the air space created in the water heater often causes an initial high-pressure air release at the faucets. Do this for all hot water faucets until the air dissipates. If the RV has a water filter, release the water pressure and install a new filter in the bowl.

Related: Yes, You Can De-winterize your RV: Here is How

Check your fridge and microwave oven © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you didn’t do so last season, it is important to have a propane system inspection performed by a licensed RV dealership. The professional technician inspects the LP system to make sure no leaks exist, the appliances are in good shape, and the operating pressure is correct. An annual inspection helps to keep the propane system and appliances working properly and safely.

Connect and turn on city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn on the propane and test-fire the appliances. It is a good idea to light a stove burner first, as this allows you to observe when the propane displaces the air. Make sure the furnace and water heater light, reach the correct air or water temperature, and then go out. Ensure the furnace repeats its cycle. Light the fridge, but note that it may take a few tries to light due to air in the lines.

Connect to sewer and flush the system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Test the air conditioner and fridge 120-volt functions as well as other appliances such as the washer/dryer, dishwasher, fireplace, etc. Test the 12-volt lights and fixtures looking for proper operation and burned-out bulbs. If the RV has a 120-volt energy source for the water heater, start with the electric element before firing it on propane. Make sure it starts to get warm on 120 volts and then flash it up on propane.

Look for signs of winter damage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Look for any signs of moisture, mold, or mildew inside the unit. If you find any, clean and dry the area, and ascertain whether it is condensation or a water leak that needs to be addressed. If you are not sure, you can have an RV service center inspect it or see whether it recurs during your travels. Clean and dust the inside of the unit, make the beds, and repack anything you removed during storage.

Make the bed and pack for a spring road trip © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have a generator and didn’t do so in the fall, change the oil and filter. Unplug the shore power, start the generator, and make sure it runs properly and supplies power to the RV.

Test the awning for proper operation. Perform a visual check of the sealants on the outside of the RV that may have opened during or before storage.

Related: Prep Your RV for Summer Travel

All ready for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inspect the tires for cracks, abnormal wear, or other damage. Since RV tires generally age out before they wear out, they should be replaced within about seven years of ownership. Note that tire manufacturers recommend not running on tires more than 10 years old regardless of how good they look and recommend professional inspections on a regular basis. A tire shop can give you the best advice on this.

Spring has sprung © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The manufacturing date is embossed on all tires in a four-digit format with week and year of manufacture. Don’t take chances with old or damaged tires on your RV. For more on tire safety, click here.

Check the outside lights and make sure the emergency breakaway switch plunger operates properly and is undamaged. Inspect the seven-way trailer plug on your truck and trailer and make sure the pins and sockets are clean, dry, and undamaged. Have the trailer brakes and bearings inspected and repacked annually.

Spring has sprung © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Test the slideouts for proper operation including topper awnings. If possible and safe to do so, carefully mount the roof of the RV to inspect the sealants and roof components. Going up on the roof generally is best left to a professional for safety reasons.

If you have a motorhome, check all engine fluids, belts, etc., and get a service if necessary. Start the engine to ensure it is running properly and is charging both battery banks.

Springtime in the Rockies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Note that not all of the above may apply to your RV depending on type of RV, age of the RV, and options the manufacturer included.

Make note of any deficiencies you encounter. This allows you to either investigate them yourself or provide a detailed list to your RV service provider and/or vehicle mechanic.

Wild rose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have other items on your spring shakedown checklist, add these to my suggestions. Following these tips should bring you better peace of mind for your spring and summer travels.

Read Next: 12 of the Best State Parks for Spring Camping

Worth Pondering…

You don’t need to have all the answers. What you need to do is be curious and open-minded enough to learn.

—David Fialkow, co-founder of General Catalyst