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5 Critical RV Tips YOU Need to Know

In this episode of the RV Podcast, we have 5 RV Tips from a pair of celebrity Master RV technicians that EVERY RVer needs to know.

These are not hard to do. Some relate to the way we handle our RV, some involve light maintenance and care and some involve critical safety issues. But following all of them will ensure we will have an RV that has fewer problems down the line.

Our guests are Matt Arndt and Bart Taylor, the Master technicians who have a dedicated YouTube Channel showing first-time RV owners basic DIY maintenance and repair tips. The pair work for the Keystone RV Company but their RV tips relate to all of us, no matter what kind of RV we own.

To watch the entire podcast (Episode 394), click the player below.

If you’d rather hear just the audio version, you can listen to it on your favorite podcast app – Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, Sticher, etc – or click the player below to hear it right now on the device you are reading this post.

We caught up with Bart and Matt at their testing and repair center in Goshen, IN. Both guys are warm and friendly and clearly very passionate about teaching RV newbies the right way to do things.

And even though Jen and I are no longer newbies, even after 10 years of the RV Lifestyle we learned a lot from the interview.

Here’s the interview transcript:

Our Expert’s Pro RV Tips

Mike Wendland:

Guys, it is a pleasure to have you on the program.

Bart Taylor:

Hi, thanks for having us.

Matt Arndt:

Hi, thanks.

Mike Wendland:

Bart and Matt sharting their RV Tips
Bart and Matt sharting their RV Tips during our interview

What is the one thing that every RVer needs to know at the very top of their mind for maintenance, for safety, for security? Tell us the first thing.

RV Tips #1: Inspect your roof regularly

Bart Taylor:

The first of our RV Tips you would want to know for the maintenance of your RV is seal integrity. Your sidewall and roof seals so that you keep water out of your RV because that’s an inconvenience for service and a possible trip to the dealership.

Mike Wendland:

So walk us through, what do you mean by checking the roof? I mean-

Bart Taylor:

Sure. No problem.

Mike Wendland:

We have our new RV, we shouldn’t be leaking. Right?

Bart Taylor:

Absolutely. But what happens with sealants used on RVs today is when they have UV exposure, they will shrink over time. So what we as an RV owner want to do is just periodically get up on the roof and we will inspect for any seal voids in the roof sidewall or slide outs. And we catch them while they’re small. And if we find those voids, we’ll want to just get some sealant and repair.

Look for cracks in RV roof caulking

Mike Wendland:

So we’re talking about cracks in the seal?

Bart Taylor:

Yes.

Matt Arndt:

Mm-hmm.

Bart Taylor:

Cracks in the sealant, visible cracks.

Mike Wendland:

How often do we have to check these?

Bart Taylor:

For about-

Matt Arndt:

About three months. Every six months.

Bart Taylor:

Yeah, every three to six months. Just on a Saturday morning when you’re doing coffee and you got a few extra minutes.

Mike Wendland:

I guess the question this un-handyman has is, okay, I find some cracks up there. What do I do then?

RV DIY for roof cracks: New sealant

Bart Taylor:

5 Critical RV Tips YOU Need to Know 15 Critical RV Tips YOU Need to Know 2

If you do find cracks, you would want to get either a roof sealant, if it’s on the roof, depending on the roof you would have. At Keystone, we use Alpha. So you would want to get an Alpha sealant, and you would want to just peel off the cracked area, and then just reapply over that area with some new sealant.

Mike Wendland:

They can go to any of the big box home improvement stores?

Bart Taylor:

I would say any of your RV stores or any of your local stores that sell RV supplies.

Mike Wendland:

All right. Roof. Big problem. If you don’t take care of them.

Matt Arndt:

Oh yeah. Big, expensive problem. If you don’t take care of it.

Mike Wendland:

All right. Right. So, that’s the first thing.

RV Tips #2: Flush more water in your black and grey holding tanks

rv tips
Bart and Map love helping newbies by sharing DIT RV Tips

Bart Taylor:

The second thing we want to be mindful of is our sewer system, our tanks, our holding tanks. And we want to make sure that we use the right cleaner and deodorizer. Again, you can buy those at any location that provides camping products and it doesn’t matter which brand you use. Just read that label’s directions for use, use it properly. And then I like to put in, you’ll see me say this on any video I do, lots of water.

Matt Arndt:

Mm-hmm.

Bart Taylor:

Lots and lots of water.

Matt Arndt:

Water.

Bart Taylor:

Don’t skimp on the water.

Matt Arndt:

Mm-hmm.

Mike Wendland:

When you say lots of water, you flush the toilet twice. What do you mean?

Bart Taylor:

Well by lots of water, what I want the RVer to know is that when you use your camper, we want you to have all your termination valves closed while you’re camping. So the water can build in the tank. So at the end of your stay, you want to be able to dump your tank. And that can’t happen if there’s no water in the tank to dump. And that water is what carries away all the solids and the toilet paper.

Don’t empty RV holding tanks too soon

Mike Wendland:

There are a lot of our RVers who think that, “Well, I got to get that stuff out of there as fast as it comes.” And they just empty too soon without enough water and then things take on this stinky problem.

Bart Taylor:

Take on build up. It doesn’t smell good. And using more water versus less water is just a way for you to have a more successful camping trip with less things to come up as problem.

Mike Wendland:

And these deodorizers, they really do work?

Bart Taylor:

Yeah. They actually really do.

Use ONLY RV or marine safe toilet paper

Jen Wendland:

It amazes me that we’re asked about toilet paper because you spend all this money on an RV and then you decide you’re going to save money by buying your favorite toilet paper for your house. So, don’t do that?

Bart Taylor:

No, don’t do that. An RV sewer system is just a little bit different and the toilet paper is made just a little bit different. It is typically a single ply, which means it can dissolve really quickly. So if you’re just on an overnight stay, no problem. It can dissolve and flush away nice and easily versus your favorite three, four-ply that’s cushy soft.

Don’t leave sewer hoses open and connected to drain while camping

Mike Wendland:

So at a lot of RV campgrounds, I will see people with their sewer hose connected into the drain and they have left the termination valve open. So, whatever they put in the toilet or the gray tanks flows right out. Is that a good idea?

Bart Taylor:

It’s actually not a good idea because any solid you would then put in your black tank during your stay, it’s just going to fall to the bottom and dry and build a mound. And that’s not what you want. So we recommend that those termination valves stay closed the duration of your stay and that before you leave, we actually recommend that you put more water in. So that when you do pull that termination valve, it is a nice little river flowing everything away down the drain.

RV Tips #3: Keep your RV driving speed down

rv tips rv technicians
Bart and Matt host a YouTube Channel of Newbie Tips at https://youtu.be/uh2pxY7RiT8

Mike Wendland:

What’s tip number three?

Bart Taylor:

Okay. So tip three would be, we want to make sure that you are safe in your RV. And when you’re towing with a truck and a travel trailer, we want you to be mindful of the speed that you’re driving, because RV tires are rated different than truck and car tires. And it doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice, safe, fun trip, but we want you to be mindful of your speed and also be mindful of how much your RV weighs. It’s pretty easy to overload an RV.

So when you do get your rig set up with all your favorite stuff, we just ask that you maybe run across a cat scale anywhere, any truck stop, and just make sure that you’re under that posted weight on the fed sticker on the side of the trailer. And on that fed sticker, you can get the speed that your tires are rated for and drive in that range.

Mike Wendland:

Where do you find those stickers? They’re posted-

Matt Arndt:

On the driver’s side of every one of our RVs.

Mike Wendland:

Okay. So it lists-

Matt Arndt:

Normally towards the front.

Mike Wendland:

And it lists all those specs that people need to know.

Matt Arndt:

Yes.

Check air pressure in RV tires often

rv tips - air pressure
What about air pressure?

Mike Wendland:

Big question is air pressure?

Matt Arndt:

Yes.

Bart Taylor:

Okay. So we definitely recommend that you check your air pressure, every trip. And the reason for that is under inflation, over inflation can cause premature wear. Or if it’s in a hot environment, say Arizona, Texas where it commonly gets 105, and then you’re driving at an increased speed with a fully loaded RV.

What it does is it creates air pressure to increase in your tires. And it just makes a situation where you want to stay in a safe range. So we ask that our customers read the placard on the fed sticker on the side of the RV. Follow that speed for a nice, safe experience.

Mike Wendland:

When you say under inflated, over inflated, how many pounds is the variable there? Because, few of them are going to be exactly that.

Bart Taylor:

Yeah. They’re not going to be exactly, but if you can stay within 10 pounds, you’ll be okay.

Mike Wendland:

Yeah. 10 pounds up or 10 pounds down would be okay?

Bart Taylor:

Yeah.

RV tires are not rated to drive at the high speeds your tow vehicle is

rv tips how fast should I drive?
How fast should I go?

Jen Wendland:

I have to ask about speed. How fast we should be going? A towable versus a motor home. Tell me about the tires and speed.

Bart Taylor:

Okay. Sure. Glad to. So first thing I want to say for everyone is please follow the speed limit. Okay. Because although your rig may go a little faster, you certainly don’t need the inconvenience of your favorite man in uniform calling you over for a conversation.

Mike Wendland:

Well, but the reality is that out on those roads, very, very few people go the speed limit.

Bart Taylor:

We understand that, we’re going to always encourage that you do drive the speed limit, just so for the primary reason of safety. Number one, we want you to get where you’re going. And number two, we want you to enjoy it when you get there. So we do everything we can to keep you on the safer side of things. So the motor home tires are typically bigger than a camper tires. And the second aspect of towing is when you tow with a truck and a camper, you have two different vehicles.

You have the camper, which is on its own set of tires, those tires are rated for that camper. And then the tires on the truck is rated for the truck. So you just want to be mindful of what you’re towing. And whereas on a motor home, all the tires are the same for that motor home, they’re ready for the weight of the motor home.

Jen Wendland:

And isn’t it true that on whatever you’re towing, those tires are not the same. They can’t go as fast. And-

Bart Taylor:

That is correct-

Jen Wendland:

… your truck-

Bart Taylor:

So your camper tires are not rated or made to go as fast as the truck’s tires are rated and made. It’s a different compound. It’s a different load rating. RV tires are meant to handle the load of the camper as it has your personal belongings in it. And it has a raid that is safe accordingly to the load of the trailer itself. And we ask everyone to please be mindful of the speed, even though you’re excited to get where you’re going and we can appreciate that.

Jen Wendland:

Okay, what’s driving me crazy is why don’t we put bigger tires on what we’re towing? That must not be the answer because it hasn’t been done. Because people would pay a few more dollars to have a bigger tire so that your tow vehicle, or your truck, and you whatever you’re towing could go the same speed.

Bart Taylor:

So, bigger really isn’t the answer. What you want is safety. You do want safety. So what we put on is engineered and rated to be safe for both the speed and the weight of the RV. Because our number one priority is that RV you spent time and money getting ahold of, to go have a good time is safe and reliable for you to use. So we have engineered it and built it that way.

Mike Wendland:

Right. I’m going to put you on the spot. Matt.

Matt Arndt:

Mm-hmm.

Mike Wendland:

Putting you on the spot.

Matt Arndt:

Okay.

Best speed for RVs: Don’t exceed 65 mph if possible

rv tips - mike and jennifer wendland with their Arcadia 5th wheel
One of our new rigs.

Mike Wendland:

We have an Arcadia fifth wheel, 32 feet long. Towing it with a truck. How fast can I go on that? [crosstalk 00:10:24]. It rides pretty good. Pretty fast. I mean-

Matt Arndt:

If I had a rig like that behind me, I’d probably do 65.

Mike Wendland:

65?

Matt Arndt:

Yeah.

Mike Wendland:

Have you been on our freeways lately?

Matt Arndt:

Yeah. I’ve done some traveling.

Mike Wendland:

We’re talking road rage behind me.

Matt Arndt:

Yeah. I know. Have you driven back and forth just from South Bend and Goshen. And every day that’s what I do.

Jen Wendland:

You’re going to have a real rough time going 65.

Mike Wendland:

I’m working on it.

Jen Wendland:

I’m going to have a rough time.

Matt Arndt:

You got a lot of weight behind you and you get that thing out of control and it’s going to be a nightmare.

Mike Wendland:

So, the tires should not really go much 65. Can I do 70?

Matt Arndt:

No, I don’t think you should.

Bart Taylor:

If something unforeseen happens, a deer crosses the road. You want to be able to stop that truck and trailer combination. And if you’re going 80 or 90, you’re just not going to be able to manage that much weight. And a good reference is semis, when they go too fast and they struggle to slow down when a car pulls out in front of them or what have you. So for them it’s a real situation and we are trying to help. Yeah. We know we’re the advocates of bad news, but we want everybody safe.

Mike Wendland:

Is the tire on a fifth wheel or a towable, which we’ve already set are smaller than on a motor home. Are they limited in that speed, in their capacity? I mean-

Bart Taylor:

Well, they’re not limited. They’re engineered to carry the weight of the RV independent from the truck. So the way I teach it is the truck is responsible for the truck, the trailer and the trailer brakes are responsible for the trailer. And so if you put that trailer in an undue undesigned environment, it won’t perform as well as the environment it was designed for.

RV Tip #4: Inspect your slide outs, remove debris

photo about leveling and putting out RV slides - rv tips
Slide out Maintenance

Mike Wendland:

What’s number four in maintenance DIY. The things that every RVer needs to know and do.

Bart Taylor:

Number four would be slide out maintenance-

Matt Arndt:

Slide out maintenance.

Bart Taylor:

… so that you have always good functioning slide outs. And the main thing on slide outs that we want everybody to be mindful of is in a campground setting, wherever you are, tree limbs, debris that blow, you didn’t hear it hit the roof of the slide. You run your room in when you’re all done, ready to go. And that debris is on the roof and it rips and cuts the seals as it pulls in.

Matt Arndt:

It can also cause or lead to water damage that you pull that slide out in and you get pine cones up underneath there. It holds those flat seals open. And even the slide out might not close completely because it’s being held out.

Mike Wendland:

So get up there-

Matt Arndt:

Clean it off.

Mike Wendland:

…brush it off.

Jen Wendland:

We need a little stool to stand on.

Matt Arndt:

Yeah. I might need a five, six foot step ladder and yeah, you could use a broom. You could use a blower. Something that’s not going to damage your roof while you’re doing it.

Modern RV slides do not need to be lubricated

Mike Wendland:

Do modern slides need to be lubricated at all, that rubber coating?

Bart Taylor:

Okay. I’m going to personally recommend that you don’t use a lubricant at all so that you don’t get any kind of airborne debris accumulating on the seals. So for us, we just recommend clean and dry and if they’re good, clean and dry, they’ll perform like they should to shed water for you.

Mike Wendland:

For those in Northern climates, they’re camping, it snows. They get a lot of snow on the RV. Do they have to brush that off before you bring the slide?

Bart Taylor:

They don’t have to brush it off until they’re ready to move.

Mike Wendland:

Okay.

Bart Taylor:

So as long as they’re where they’re at, yeah, it’s fine for the snow to accumulate.

Matt Arndt:

Snow can be an issue though on the roof, if you’re getting two and three feet of snow. Yeah. That could be a bad situation. And if you felt like you were getting too much, you could get up on a ladder and being safe, and use a broom to shovel off some of that snow or push off some of the snow.

Jen Wendland:

I think a couple of inches on the roof and people are always say, what about their solar panels on the roof?

Bart Taylor:

Same true. Yes. If it’s snowing on your solar panel, until you remove that snow from the panel, it’s not going to function.

Mike Wendland:

All right. We’ve hit four topics and we’ve been all over the place-

Jen Wendland:

Sorry.

RV Tips #5: How to best wash your RV

Mike Wendland:

… on those four. But, how about a fifth one?

Bart Taylor:

Let’s talk about washing your RV efficiently. So depending on the size of your RV, you can spend quite a bit of time on it and it doesn’t need to be that hard. So one of the things we like to recommend for everyone is to A, don’t use a power washer because a travel trailer fit wheel uses a lot of graphics. And if you have the vinyl graphics on your rig, a power washer, if you’re too close or that washer is robust enough, you can blow the sticker right off the slide-

Mike Wendland:

Well, that would apply to motor homes too?

Bart Taylor:

It would apply to motor homes as well. Absolutely. And then if you have a camper that’s a full paint unit, well then that’s not so critical. The second problem is water spots. So I RV as well and I do not like water spots. So it’s a little pet peeve of mine. So I don’t use a garden hose with a sprayer and a foam, a bucket of soap and water. Because although it cleans all the dirt off really nice, at the end of it, now I’m looking at a beautiful, clean, dry spotty motor home and cleaning that off windows, no fun.

So I use an extension brush and a wet, dry mop system to where I’ll use a microfiber pad on one side of the brush. And I’ll clean an area, say the rear wall first, and then I’ll flip it over, the pad over and dry it real quick. And that way I got a nice clean unit and I don’t have water spots.

Mike Wendland:

Now, is there a particular one you buy?

Bart Taylor:

No, you can, again, your favorite place to shop for RV products. It doesn’t have to be RV-related. The key is that whatever you use for a soap is just a mild soap that won’t attack the painted surfaces.

Matt Arndt:

Mm-hmm.

Bart Taylor:

A mild soap an microfiber cloths are just wonderful to work with. And they’re reusable. You can wash them.

Matt Arndt:

At the same time with washing, it’s a good time to look at your seals too, while you’re going around and doing that. Because you don’t want to get water in a compartment door or in any of your unit. Really. So, that’s a good time to inspect that as well.

Avoid car washes and pressurized water

rv tips
This is for the frame and tires only!

Mike Wendland:

Is it no power wash? That includes most car washes and do-it-yourself car wash as well.

Matt Arndt:

Yes.

Bart Taylor:

Now, we don’t mind if you use a power washer or a garden hose with high pressure for the frame and tires. So if you’ve been in muddy area and you got the undercarriage all pretty well full of dirt and mud, no problem. You can wash those areas. But what we’re focusing on is the spots on windows, because it’s now you’re just washing your rig twice. You’ve washed it, takes a few hours and now you got to come back and redo the windows. So with the wet drive method, you don’t have to do that.

Mike Wendland:

Well, this has certainly been a very educational session.

Jen Wendland:

This is going to be a whole new life experience for us because we’ve had the motor home and you always believe that when God wants to wash it’ll get washed.

Mike Wendland:

It’s called rain. Well guys, thank you so much-

Matt Arndt:

No, you’re welcome. Thank you.

Mike Wendland:

… for making time with us. And this is very helpful for all of us, particularly me, in controlling my lead foot wife. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Matt Arndt:

You’re welcome.

Bart Taylor:

Thank you.

Matt Arndt:

Thanks.


New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace

The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.

Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:

  • Suggested Mileposts to explore
  • Places to Eat in each area of the 7 sections
  • Campground descriptions and links
  • Links to all the special places and information
  • Links to videos that show more in detail
  • and a lot of highlighted information for each section

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a printed, hard copy guide.

Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.

You can see why this is one of our favorite US routes to explore. We’ve traveled it a half dozen times!



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2 Responses to “5 Critical RV Tips YOU Need to Know”

May 05, 2022at12:41 pm, Daniel Daley said:

Questions on the tip to no lubricate your RV slideout seals. It is stated that you do not need to treat your RV slideout seals for a NEW RV. What is considered new? I have a 2018 Arctic Wolf 5th wheel and treat the slideout seals once a year with a seal conditioner to keep them soft and flexible. Maybe its not needed?

Reply

May 05, 2022at2:09 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Hi Daniel – We believe Mike meant new as in you bought it this year or so. If it is a 2018, it is four years old, so probably good to keep doing what you are doing. Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

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