Here are basic RV maintenance tips from REAL RVers to newbie RVers that can save you time, money, and headaches…
A recent post regarding basic RV Maintenance in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group garnered a lot of attention. The posting member, Katherine, pointed out that newbie RVers often underestimate how much maintenance is required.
As she put it, “I just know the biggest reason we have considered getting out of RVing is maintenance,” and she’s not alone. We even recently listed maintenance as a con in 10 RV Life Pros and Cons (Beyond the Obvious).
Her original post stated that it occurred to her that many soon-to-be or new RVers do not understand all the maintenance RVs require. She then called for fellow RVers to make a list of maintenance tasks newbie RVers should be aware of.
Katherine started the list herself, and then hundreds of other experienced RVers added to the list with over 400 comments.
I will share 45 of the maintenance suggestions from Katherine and the comments. But first, I will summarize these maintenance tips into the Top 7. That way, you can see an overview of the most recommended maintenance tips, followed by a long list of specific maintenance tips from fellow RVers.
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Top 7 Basic RV Maintenance Tips
1. Check Seals & Seams
It's important to regularly inspect the seals and seams on your RV to ensure they're in good condition. These areas are prone to wear and tear over time, leading to leaks and water damage.
Broken seals also lead to mice and insect infestations. In addition to dealing with the pests, they can wreak havoc on your electrical and other systems.
We recommend checking the seals & seams at the beginning of spring and near the end of autumn.
- Don’t Let a Leaky Roof Ruin Your RV Trip: Try These 7 Sealants & Caulks
- How to Keep Mice Out of Camper
2. Clean Roof & Awning
Keeping your RV's roof and awning clean is essential for their longevity. Over time, dirt, debris, and even mold can accumulate, which can cause damage and reduce their lifespan.
You should clean your RV roof 4 times a year, ideally every season.
However, if your RV is stored covered for long periods, you may not need to clean it as frequently. Or, if you travel often, you may need to clean it more often.
- The Best Way to Clean Your RV Roof (A Simple Guide)
- Best RV Roof Cleaner (3 Top Picks)
- Best Homemade RV Roof Cleaner
- No More Mold! RV Awning Maintenance Tips From a Pro
- Best RV Awning Cleaner Guide
3. Test Life Safety Detectors
Your RV should be equipped with life safety detectors, including smoke, carbon monoxide, and LP detectors. It's crucial to test these devices regularly to ensure they're working properly.
This simple maintenance can help keep you and your loved ones safe while on the road!
While you're at it, you should also check the pressure and expiration date on your RV fire extinguishers. Plus, take inventory of your first aid kit.
- 3 Life Safety Detectors You NEED in Your RV
- 11 Critical Tips on How to Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV
- 5 Best Fire Extinguishers for Your RV
4. Maintain Your Black Tank
Nobody wants to deal with the black tank, but maintaining your black tank is one of the most important RV maintenance tips. If you ignore it, you'll end up with foul odors and the dreaded poo pyramid.
First, do not make one of the most common newbie mistakes and leave the black water tank valve open when connected to sewer. This will drain the liquids but result in solids building up in your tank (aka a poo pyramid!).
You need to apply tank treatment regularly to prevent odors. When dumping the tank, you need to make sure everything flows smoothly (so to speak) and regularly give it a good flush-out cleaning.
- RV Black Tank Accessories: 7 Must-Haves for Dumping & Odors
- RV Black Tank Basics: Controlling Odors
- The Stinky Truth About RV Toilet Paper and Black Tank Sensors
- How to Dump RV Tanks at Home (Options & Answers)
- #1 Best Homemade RV Holding Tank Treatment?
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In the above video, I admit that I'm not a very handy RVer. When I started RVing, I fell into the exact category of people Katherine was concerned about.
I had no idea how much maintenance and repairs I'd need to do myself! Thankfully, I learned bit by bit over time and now do some of it myself.
5. Inspect for Mold
Moisture can sometimes find its way into your RV and create a breeding ground for mold. Regularly inspecting your RV for signs of mold, such as musty odors or discoloration, is crucial.
Be sure to look under sinks and along paneling seams inside your RV.
If you find any mold, take immediate action to clean and eliminate it, as mold can cause health issues and damage your RV's interior.
6. Clean Your Furnace & A/C
Your RV's furnace and air conditioning systems help keep you comfortable while on your adventures. To ensure they work efficiently, it's important to clean them regularly.
This includes removing any debris, dust, or dirt that may have accumulated. Clean systems will perform better and have a longer lifespan.
- Stay Cool! 9 RV Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips
- How Do I Make My RV Air Conditioner Quieter (7 Helpful Tips)
7. Know When to Replace RV Tires
Tires are a crucial safety component of any vehicle, and RVs are no exception. It's important to keep a close eye on your RV's tire condition and know when it's time to replace them.
Look for signs of excessive wear, such as cracks, bulges, or uneven tread wear. Additionally, consider the age of your tires, as they can degrade over time, even if they appear to be in good condition.
You should check the tire pressure before every trip, and most RVers strongly recommend immediately replacing the tires on any used RV you purchase. The articles below will explain why…
- When to Replace RV Tires (Advice from Real RVers)
- RV Tire Sizes & Basics Every RVer Should Know
- Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day (Here’s Why!)
- How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout
45 RV Maintenace Tips from Experienced RVers to Newbie RVers
I have learned so much from fellow RVers during our over 10 years of living the RV Lifestyle. And I’m still learning!
So, I’m letting Katherine’s advice and the fellow RVers who commented on her Facebook post take the lead from here. Thank you Katherine and fellow RVers for sharing the following RV maintenance tips!
Granted, not everyone’s going to agree, nor is everything going to apply to every RV. But this following list certainly serves as a good basis for any new RVer to consider.
Here is Katherine’s maintenance list with some minor clarifying edits done by me:
- check the roof and retouch Dicor every six months, full redo of Dicor every 2 to 3 years (Dicor is an RV industry leader for roof products, sealants, coatings, etc.)
- wheel bearings on travel trailer, every year
- tighten screws to compress the seal on A/C, every year
- treat seals on slides every six months
- lube slide mechanism every year
- winterizing every winter in climates where it regularly gets below freezing
- check and change water filter (including interior built-in by pump), every 3 months
- keep batteries topped off if lead acid (will need trickle charger when not actively camping)
- redo window seals and seals under edge of roof, every 7 years or when leaks (same for skylights)
- replace slide toppers and awning, every 10 years
- replace non-sag sealant around vertical surfaces, every 3-4 years if you wax semi-regularly
- check and refill fluid in nonsealed lead acid batteries, every 1 to 3 months
- replace CO detectors every 3 to 5 years (Tips for CO Safety in Your RV)
- replace smoke alarms every 10 years
- replace detector/smoke batteries every 6 months or at start of season
- replace roof vent lids 5 to 7 years or they shatter; skylights go about 7 to 10
- check gas orifices by the water heater, every 6 months
- replace or clean A/C filters, every 6 months or start of season
- wax outside, every 6 months
- roof replacement about 12 years if not metal/fiberglass
- sanitize water tanks once a year
More Maintenance Advice From Fellow RVers
Katherine ended her list with this callout: “What am I forgetting? I know it seems like we always have a list of tasks/ repairs on hand.”
Many RVers responded, adding their advice to the list, including the following. I’ve also included helpful links to expand on their advice.
Remember, these are suggestions from other RVers. If in doubt or unclear, read the manual that came with your RV and/or check with the manufacturer or your trusted RV service tech.
- Check all caulking BEFORE washing
- Use steel wool and spray foam to fill in gaps and openings (Read How to Keep Mice Out of Camper (5 Best Ways)
- Treat screw cover moldings on slide-outs with 303 RV Wash & Seal
- Check anode rod in water heater and drain yearly
- Check and tighten all wire connections regularly (loose wires can lead to RV fires)
- Check expiration dates and replace RV fire extinguishers as needed
- Cover your RV tires when in storage (Read RV Storage Tips)
- Tighten A/C screws and other accessible screws at the beginning of the season to cut down on noise
- Run generator at least once per month
- Tuneup generator 1-2x a year
- Check dates on propane tanks and replace or recertify when expired
- Check suspension for worn out parts annually
- Visually inspect underside of RV annually
- Check tires and tire pressure before every trip (Read The danger of underinflated RV Tires
- Replace RV tires every 3-5 years ( Read When to Replace RV Tires (Advice from Real RVers)
- Wheel bearings removed, cleaned, inspected, and repacked regularly depending on how much you drive
- Follow your RV owner manual’s for maintenance
The Facebook post is still getting comments added to it, so you may want to check out the complete post for even more advice. But, I want to end on an important note for all new RVers…
Don’t Let Maintenance Scare You Away!
I’m sure that lengthy maintenance list is threatening to scare away plenty of newbie RVers. Please, don’t let it!
I know it seems like A LOT. In truth, it is a lot. RVs do require a lot of maintenance. But so do houses.
HOWEVER, most of the above list can be completed in a day whenever you winterize and dewinterize your RV. And some of it only needs to be done every few years. So, don’t despair!
I’ll tell you from my own experience that I was not a handy guy when I started RVing. I was surprised and a bit overwhelmed by the tasks, but I learned over time!
So, don’t let advice like this scare you away. Instead, use it to give you a jumpstart on living the RV lifestyle in the most stress-free way because preventative maintenance will drastically reduce your stress!
To help build your confidence, I also highly recommend the following to any new or even experienced RVer…
Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.
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