Spring has almost arrived and chances are good you haven't yet prepared the buggy for your next road trip. Yet RV experts tell us dewinterizing your motorcoach or fifth wheel is every bit as important as getting it ready for the cold months - but a lot easier.
Before you hit the road and discover you have a mess of problems on your hand, take the time to spend a day or a weekend playing with the RV. After all, a little TLC will go a long way when trusting your life and pocketbook with such an expensive toy.
But where to start? The list below was prepared and recommended by Progressive Drive Insurance. It represents some of the basic routines you should follow in order to get yourself ready for the road. Happy travels.
1. Do some spring cleaning
First things first. Remove any protective covers and wash the exterior. Air out the interior by opening all roof vents and windows. Remove any pest control items you may have placed to protect interior and exterior compartments during winter storage. Clean or replace air conditioner filters.
2. Check the exterior
Inspect the roof and body for signs of damage. Look for deterioration of seals around the doors, roof vents and windows, and reseal if necessary. Remember, you must remove old sealant before applying new sealant. Lubricate hinges, locks and other moving parts. If you have an awning, roll it out and check for damage, mildew and insects. Inspect the headlights, including high and low beams, the taillights, brake lights and turn signals. If you have a towable RV, be sure to examine the hitch system for wear, loose bolts and cracks.
3. Change the engine oil and spark plugs
Many RV and motor home manufacturers recommend that, in addition to regular scheduled oil changes, you change the engine oil and filter twice a year: prior to storage and in the spring. During storage, the oil can separate, causing a condensation buildup that may harm your engine. While you're changing the oil, replace the spark plugs. Use a gap setting tool to set the gaps to the manufacturer's recommendations. You also should check and clean the carburetor or service the fuel injection system, replace the air filter, top off the brake and power steering fluids and change the transmission fluid and filter.
4. Check the battery
Clean the cables and terminals with a wire brush, then grease and reconnect. Depending on your battery, you may have to fill the cells with distilled water.
5. Check the cooling and fuel systems
Flush and replace the old antifreeze with a proper coolant. Check for cracks in all hoses and fan belts and replace, if necessary. Replace the fuel filter and examine the fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks.
6. Flush the water system.
Close all faucets, including the shower head. Drain and flush the nontoxic antifreeze used to store your RV from your entire water system. You may have to flush the system several times to remove the chlorine taste.
7. Check the liquid propane (LP) system
Connect the tank, open the valve and check the system for leaks by brushing soapy water on all connections. If you detect any leaks, close the valve and take your RV to a professional repair facility.
8. Inspect the tires
Check the tires for cracks, worn treads and correct tire pressure. If you have a trailer, remove the storage blocks or jacks. Tighten the lug nuts to manufacturer specifications.
9. Prepare for a safe season
Even after you've checked all the mechanical components, you should never set out on a trip without proper safety equipment. Install new batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the expiration dates on fire extinguishers. Restock the supplies in the first aid kit.
10. Be sure you're covered
After making all the routine checks listed above, check your insurance policy and review your coverages to make sure they meet your current needs. Do you have Full Timer's, Emergency Vacation Expense and Personal Effects coverage? Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. It is also important to know how to report a claim to your insurance company.