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RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup

| Updated Sep 30, 2022

An RV breakdown checklist is a must for new and experienced RVers alike. Without one, you WILL forget to do an important task that can cost you time and money…

Checklists aren't just for newbie RVers! Even the most experienced RVers will forget something at some point.

Don't believe me? Just ask any RVer and they'll have a story loaded and ready to share with you. Whether they forgot to put down their antenna, put up their steps, remove the chocks, or disconnect the stinky slinky, they'll say they should've followed a checklist.

So, if you're a new RVer or an experienced RVer that's learned the hard way, I'm here to help you avoid potential problems. I'm going to list out an RV departure checklist to help you drive away with confidence and without embarrassment.

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Also Need a Setup Checklist?

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If you also need an RV setup checklist, watch the video or check out my other blog post 15 Tips on How to Setup Your RV. I walk you through the main tasks you need to do whenever you arrive at a campsite.

I also recommend you check out our Free RV Packing List & 3 Best RV Checklist Apps. That link will lead you to a printable checklist and resources if you prefer to make your own checklists.

RV Breakdown Checklist

Alrighty, back to breaking down your campsite! There are a lot of important steps you need to do, and some will vary depending on the type of RV you have and where you're camping. Boondockers, for instance, will have a different list than those connecting to full hook-ups.

So, I'm going to cover the most important things that most RVers need to do, organized by category. I suggest using this as a basis and then adding to it to create your own ultimate RV checklist specific to your setup.

In each list, I include helpful links to recommended products, useful tips, and more.

RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup

1. Store and Secure

The first thing you need to do is store and secure loose items both inside and out. These are big and small items, from securing dishes to BBQs.

This includes your awning! Most lists have you secure your awning first, because it's something you definitely don't want to forget! However, I suggest you put it the end of your “store and secure” category so you can benefit from its shade while you're loading up.

Here's a good starter list of items you need to include in this category on your checklist…

Exterior of Your RV

Interior of Your RV*

  • Items on Kitchen Counter (i.e. coffee makers, ice maker, other kitchen gadgets)
  • Items in Cabinets & Pantry (i.e. dishes, cans, pots)
  • Items in Fridge (i.e. glass containers, cans, bottles)
  • Items in Shower & Bathroom
  • Close All Vents
  • Shut All Windows
  • Latch all cabinets

*Helpful Resource: How to Secure Small Items While RVing (9 Tips)

RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup

2. Water System

The tear-down for water tanks will depend on your system, the type of RV toilet you have, and what dumping stations you have access to. You may also need to clean tanks for storage if you're not moving to another campground.

So, here is a more comprehensive list that you can customize to your needs:

  • Disconnect and drain the freshwater hose
  • Store the freshwater hose
  • Drain water filters and store them securely
  • Disconnect and drain the utility water hose
  • Empty freshwater tank unless needed at next campsite
  • Prepare freshwater tank for storage* if needed
  • Empty and flush blackwater tank at designated area
  • Clean and prepare black water tank for storage
  • Empty and flush gray water tank
  • Clean and prepare the gray tank for storage
  • Disconnect the sewer hose and clean it (Put this in BOLD!)
  • Store the sewer hose

*Once a year, you should sanitize your fresh water tank.

Also, if you're not sure if you're going to have a water hookup at your next campsite, you may want to add refill your fresh water tank to your list. However, it's best to wait until you arrive to refill if you can because it will save you money on fuel (water is heavy!)

Mike and Jennifer's RV Lifestyle hat collection

RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup 1
Who needs a hat?

Who needs a hat? You do! Dad hats aren't just for dads. This comfy one's got a low profile with an adjustable strap and curved visor. Just the thing to wear on your next RV Lifestyle adventure.

3. Power & Utilities

I can't tell you how many times I've seen or heard of campers driving away while still connected to the electricity port or with their antennas still up! Be very thorough with this list, because forgetting these items can be costly!

Exterior Items You Need to Disconnect, Shut Off, Lower, and Stow:

  • Satellite Dish or TV Antenna
  • Internet Setup (i.e. Starlilnk's dishy)
  • Portable Solar Panels
  • All Cables and Power Cords (Should list each one that you use on your checklist)
  • Surge Protector and Adaptors
  • Propane Tank
  • Gas Water Heater

Interior Items You Need to Disconnect, Shut Off, Lower, and Stow:

  • Water Pump
  • Electric Water Heater
  • Refrigerator (follow instructions about use when in motion)
  • Furnace or A/C
  • Portable Heaters
RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup

4. Stabilizing & Towing

If you've ever seen the movie RV with Robin Williams, you'll know that wheel chocks are a consistent pain in RVer's necks. Removing them is just one of many necessary steps every RV owner needs to do to get road-ready. (By the way, RV is just one of the 13 Best Road Trip Movies I recommend.)

This category on your checklist clearly depends on whether you have a travel trailer or 5th wheel and tow vehicle or a motorhome. So, customize it as you need to…

  • Stabilizing Jacks
  • Wheel Chocks
  • Leveling Blocks
  • Hitch Trailer (double check it's closed and pinned)
  • Breakaway Cable
  • Trailer Safety Chains
  • Trailer to Tow Vehicle Power Cord
  • Raise Landing Gear
  • Test Trailer Lights

5. Miscellaneous

You're not done yet, but you're getting close! Here are other miscellaneous items that are important to include on your customized checklist.

  • Wipe Down & Remove Debris from Slide-Outs
  • Close Slide-Outs (Double check they're closed tight and secure)
  • Empty and dispose of trash cans in designated location
  • Final Walk Through Interior (Double check for loose or “on” items)
  • Final Walk All Around RV for Loose or Forgotten Items (Be sure to look at your RV roof for antenna, etc.)
  • Lock Exterior Compartments & Doors
  • Stow Folding Steps (Put this in BOLD!)
RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup -- remember the 5th wheel stabilizers

6. Maintenance & Safety Checks

Before you drive off, be sure you've checked off all of your safety and maintenance items. This can save you from getting stuck on the side of the road!

  • Check RV, Tow Vehicle, and Trailer Lights
  • Test Brakes
  • Inspect Tires and Check Tire Pressure
  • Check Fluid and Oil Levels
  • Check Mirrors
  • Release Emergency Brake

Helpful Resources:

Hopefully, this RV teardown checklist has helped you customize a printable RV setup checklist you can take with you on every RV trip. It's a good idea to keep it in a place you have easy access to, like in your driver door.

Whether this is your first time RV camping or your thousandth, having a good checklist will save you a lot of money in the long run. So, I wish you safe camping and happy trails!

RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup 2

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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.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-09-30

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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