Autumn in Calgary is a beautiful season, but it can also be both short and unpredictable. It’s also the time of year when most of us put our RV away for the year and declare camping season to be sadly on hiatus. It’s important to know how to properly maintain your RV in order to keep it in good shape for when Spring thaw arrives. We’ve put together a Top 10 list of maintenance tips to keep your RV in good shape. Of course, always ensure you’ve read your owner’s manual for any guidelines that may be unit-specific. These guidelines are just a brief overview of some of the most important things an RV owner needs to take care of before winter hits.
1. Clean up. The first step is cleaning up the interior of the RV. Remove anything you regularly use in your non-RV life, as well as any perishables and consumables that might attract pests. Remove any items you don’t want to freeze as well. Clean the windows, the inside of the refrigerator and the air conditioner filters (don’t forget to cover it when you’re done). Leave the cupboard doors open slightly to allow air to circulate.
2. Turn off appliances. Unplug all the appliances you can and turn off gas appliances. Don’t forget to make sure the main gas supply valve is off as well.
3. Remove the batteries. This is a two-step process. First, remove all batteries from items in the interior such as clocks, flashlights, remote controls. Second, you might want to remove the batteries from the chassis (don’t do this if you plan on plugging in your RV monthly while it’s in storage). If you do remove the batteries, clean them with baking soda and water, and store them in a cool and dry space. If batteries are not maintenance-free, check their water level and electrolytes and fill if necessary.
4. Antifreeze. Not only do you need to put anti-freeze through the RV’s water system (this is probably the one winter maintenance tip most of us can remember), but it’s also important to check the engine radiator for the proper concentration of antifreeze and check the windshield washer reservoir as well.
5. Inspect everything. This is the time to look for any issues, both inside and out. Are the windows in good condition? Does any part of the RV look like it might crack? Is the underside of the vehicle free from holes pests could sneak in through? Before putting away the awning, check it for tears or damage as well.
6. Run the generator. First, fill up the fuel tank and add a stabilizer, then change the generator oil. Fully lubricate the engine. Before storing, run the engine and generator long enough to get the stabilizer through the whole system. You might want to periodically turn on the generator over the winter, just to ensure everything is in good shape.
7. Defend against mice. You’ve already checked to make sure there are no way pests could get in, but just to be safe, you can place a few traps around the unit. If you don’t want to resort to traps, some RVers recommend using dryer sheets to deter the little guys.
8. Wash up. Wash all of the interior and exterior surfaces of the RV. If it’s something you don’t want to deal with now, you definitely won’t want to after it’s been frozen all winter.
9. Park safely. If you’re parking your RV indoors, feel free to disregard this point. However, those keeping their RV outdoors for the winter need to follow a few steps. Avoid parking the RV near any trees or areas where long weeds might grow. Chock the wheels and leave the parking brake off. If parking a trailer, angle the tongue - this will allow snow to more easily run off. If covering the RV, make sure the cover is breathable to prevent mildew. If the RV is not covered, make sure all window coverings are closed. Inflate the tires to the maximum recommended cold pressure, and cover them. Check your RV occasionally to remove excess snow - this will keep your roof in good shape.
10. Check up. If possible, check up on the RV occasionally over the winter - make sure everything is in good shape. Also if possible, confirm that items, such as the generator, turn on and run properly. If anything, you can use this as a time to daydream about the adventures you and your RV will get up to next summer.Jeff is Owner and General Sales Manager at Bucars RV Centre, a refreshingly different RV dealership located in Balzac, Alberta. Jeff has served as board member of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta as well as Go RVing Canada where he is also past Chair. Jeff lives in Calgary, has a wife and two kids. They love to go RVing! For more information, visit bucarsrv.com.
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