A recreational vehicle (RV) is more than just another vehicle. It’s a beautiful combination of house and automobile that lets you travel in comfort anywhere the road will take you. And although many RVers would love to answer the call of the open road all year long, most of us have other obligations. The reality for most people is that their RVs sit parked for a large portion – if not the majority – of the year.
During this off-season, it’s very important that you prep and store your RV properly so that it will be ready to go again whenever you are. Treating your RV well in the down time will ensure that your RV treats you well when the road calls and it’s once again “go time”!
- BathTime: Wash and clean your RV inside and out.
- Outside: Thoroughly wash the exterior. Make sure you pay special attention to the roof, as well. If you have an awning, give it a good wash as well. Be sure to let it dry completely before stowing it, to prevent mold. Once she’s clean and dry, give her a good coat of wax. Why wax it? It’ll keep your RV cleaner longer, and it also gives some protection from UV damage.
- Inside: Clean all surfaces and vacuum the floors to remove anything that can attract critters. If you’ve had a lot of foot traffic, a carpet cleaner wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
- Get the Inside Right:If you’re storing your RV for an extended period of time, you need to be thorough in preparing the interior to avoid unwanted smells, mildew, mold, damage from critters, etc. A little time and effort here will prevent a lot of headachesdown the road!
- Clear out the fridge, freezer and all the drawers and cabinets. Double-check to make sure you’ve taken out EVERYTHING perishable and anything that might attract bugs or rodents. When it comes to rodents, you need to think beyond perishables as well; don’t even leave things like toothpaste, soap, or paper towels, as rats and mice will chew on those too.
- Defrost the freezer, clean the fridge, and leave the doors open to prevent mold. Placing some baking soda can help absorb and prevent odors, too. Leave all the drawers and cabinets open.
- Keep an eye out for openings where a critter could enter. If you can see a sliver of light, then a critter can get in. Use expanding foam to fill any crevices you discover. Some RVers say that placing dryer sheets around the interior helps to ward off unwanted critters. And it smells nice, too!
- Unplug everything, turn off the main breaker, and turn the main LP supply valve off.
- Close the window blinds to avoid UV exposure to the carpet, drapes, and upholstery.
- Give the Exterior a Once-Over:Once you’ve cleaned the RV and prepared the inside for a long winter’s nap, do a thorough review of the exterior.
- Inspect all your seams, caulking, and seals. If anything is cracked or worn, better to find it now than later! An ounce of prevention now can save you an expensive repair bill from water damage while in storage. Don’t forget to also inspect the undercarriage to make sure everything’s sound.
- Make sure all external openings (including vents and exhausts) are blocked off or at least screened, to prevent critter infiltration.
- Clean/replace your A/C filters, and be sure to cover your A/C unit(s).
- See that all tires (spares too) are fully inflated. It‘s also a good idea to cover them if you store your RV outside – this will help prevent tire cracking from UV exposure. Make sure to put blocks behind the tires, no matter where you store your RV.
- Perform full chassis lubrication, including any locks or hinges.
- If your RV is a pull-behind fifth-wheel, make sure to attach a special hitch lock to the king pin for security.
- Show Some Love to Your Engine:A little preventative medicine here will ensure that the motoron your motorhome actually cranks when you’re ready to turn the key and hit the road!
- Take out the batteries: If you’re going to store your RV for any length of time, it’s a good idea to remove all batteries, make sure they’re charged, clean the terminals/posts, and then store your batteries in a cool, dry place. And speaking of batteries, it’s a good idea to remove batteries from clocks, flashlights, etc. inside your RV as well.
- Fill ‘er up: Fill the fuel tank on your RV (as well as your generator) prior to storage, and make sure to add some fuel stabilizer. Run the engine and your generator long enough to get the fuel stabilizer through the system.
- Change the oil: Change the oil and oil filter on your engine and generator; acids can build up in used oil over time, and can corrode engine bearings.
- Service your fluids: Check and refill all your fluids – brakes, transmission, radiator, power steering, etc. And if you store your RV outside, you should either drain the windshield washer reservoir or add fluid with antifreeze to prevent damage from sub-freezing temps.
- Duck and Cover:To best protect your investment when you’re not out on the open road, you really should keep yourRV under cover for at least six reasons: security, sun damage, rust, moisture infiltration into the cabin, damage from accumulated snow, and accelerated weakening of seals and caulking.
- Some owners choose to place a tarp or fabric cover over their RV. A tarp or cover is better than nothing, but it still leaves your RV exposed to the elements, and it provides very little in the way of security.
- A steel carport with a solid surface is a better option to shelter your RV from the weather elements.
- Some RVers choose to pay for offsite storage for added protection and security, but that can get expensive over time, and it requires you to have to make a trip to the storage facility every time you want to check on your baby.
- The absolute best place to store your RV during the off-season is in an enclosed steel-frame garage RV on your own property. To explore some great custom-built metal RV carport options, head over to Carport Central.
When it comes to taking care of your RV investment, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With a little proactive planning and effort around preparation and storage, your RV will be ready when you are when the open road calls and you’re ready to answer!