Because every RV is different, you can customize your own checklist based on a series of important components you should examine both inside and outside of your RV.
Inside your RV
To compile your custom checklist, walk from the front to the back of the vehicle and write down all of your checkpoints in order. That way, you’re less likely to overlook an item on your list. You can use the following checklist to create your own pre-trip checklist for the inside of your RV or just check off the items online as you go:
Turn off the furnace
Your furnace runs on propane, which can open you to a host of problems if you travel with it on, including the pilot light being blown out causing methane to leak into your unit. So switching it off before you leave avoids these hazards
Turn off the water pump
Even a small leak can turn into a big flooding problem when you’re on the road. Shutting off your water pump ensures no water flows through your RV while traveling.
Turn off the refrigerator
Even small shifts while driving can cause your fridge’s propane line to break. Since a switched-off RV fridge filled with ice-cold beverages and food won’t drop its temp much if you leave the door closed—even for eight hours of traveling—turning it off while driving makes the safest choice.
Turn off the pilot lights
Since you’re switching off all of your propane-fed appliances, you won’t need the pilot lights. So turning them off helps prevent propane-related issues like gas leaks.
Outdoor antennas can easily snap, so if you have an outdoor antenna, make sure you lower and properly store it before setting out.
Turn off the water heater
Like any other appliance in your RV, slight shifts from traveling can cause dangerous propane leaks. Since you won’t have to wait long for it to reheat at your destination, keep it off while traveling.
Close and secure all windows
Of course, open windows allow dust and dirt just as they would in a car, but unlike a car, open RV windows can cause uneven pressure that leads to blown-out windows. Open RV windows can also cause your RV to sway dangerously with even small wind gusts.
Close all the roof vents
Similar to windows, you want to keep roof vents closed while traveling to keep out dust and debris as well as moisture.
Secure all large items
Even if wall-mounted, be sure things like your TV and computer are stored and secured tight so they don’t get damaged en route.
Close and lock cabinets
After carefully storing items in your cabinets, you don’t want them falling out, or worse, having flapping cabinet doors damaging the interior of your RV while driving.
Close and latch interior doors
An RV frame may shift slightly while traveling and allow doors to open, which can obstruct views or damage the inside of your RV. So be sure you don’t simply close interior doors but also latch them tightly to prevent them from opening on the road.
Secure all entry doors
Like interior doors, exterior entry points can open when your RV frame flexes on the road. Locking may not be enough so be sure to secure all doors to prevent them from opening while driving.
Secure all trash cans
Outside your RV
Walk around the outside of your RV more than once to ensure that you’ve checked everything and leave nothing behind. The following checklist gives you places to check outside your RV but can’t tell you other things, such as which pieces of outside furniture you may have missed:
Check the jacks
Outdoor conditions can cause damage to your jacks so look for things like dents and twisted or corroded metal. Because the vibration of traveling can loosen bolts, check for loose bolts and stripped threads as well. If your RV uses electric or hydraulic jacks, look through your manual to ensure you check all necessary components, such as wiring and hydraulic fluid.
Remove and store chocks
You need your chocks at the next stop so be sure to store them securely after you remove them. Make sure you store them somewhere convenient so you can easily get to them first at your next destination to secure your RV.
Check all your lights
Ensure all your lights are working properly, including high beams, brake lights, fog lamps, and turn signals. Don’t forget to check the lights on your tow vehicle as well, if you have one.
Check the brakes
Just like the lights check the brakes on your RV as well as any tow vehicle you’re using.
Inspect your tires
While the tires are cold, check the tread and walls for wear and tear or uneven tread, check the pressure on each tire, and make sure all lug nuts are tightened. If you need to buy new tires, you should do this now and not when you’re stranded on the road. Be sure to check the tires on your tow vehicle as well.
Remove and store the levelers
Remove whatever system you use for leveling and store them securely for use at your destination.
Put away and secure the awning
Retract all awnings and lock or store them securely.
Check all exterior compartments
Make sure you completely close compartment doors and latch them. Check for and tighten any loose latches.
Clean the campsite and throw away all trash
Check more than once to ensure you leave nothing behind and that you properly dispose of all trash.
Stow and secure all outside furniture and recreational equipment
Just like when you check for trash, be sure that whatever furniture and equipment you’ve used you pack back up. Store and secure all furniture and equipment so that it doesn’t get loose and become a hazard.
Check both the drain and fill hoses
Inspect your hoses for cracks, holes, and breakages, and secure your freshwater, gray water, and black water valves or caps to avoid leaks.
Close off propane tanks
For the same reasons you turn off your water heater and appliances, you should drive with your propane tank closed to avoid dangerous leaks.
Inspect your generator
Make sure it runs properly, shows no signs of corrosion, and that the wiring is in good working order. Change the filter and fluids, if needed.
Remove and store the water pressure regulator
Store this somewhere handy so you can easily grab it when you hit your destination.
Fold up, retract, and secure exterior stairs or steps you use
Seasonal/Semi-annual RV maintenance
Seasonal maintenance is important, too. Some items that don’t need to be checked monthly will need attention every six months. So at the six-month mark, while you’re doing one of your monthly inspections, include these items in your monthly checklist, too:
Wax your motorhome’s exterior
Elements from the road, sun exposure, and droppings from animals can damage your exterior when left on your RV. Clean and rinse your vehicle and then wax it to protect it from these damage-causing elements.
Do a thorough damage check
Walk around your RV and inspect the outside for any problems, such as rusted areas, soft areas, or bubbling that could signal water damage, or holes and cracks that could let in dirt, dust, insects, and animals.
Lubricate high-wear metal areas
Hinges, jacks, hitches, slideouts, and other metal moving parts should be lubricated at this time.
Check and/or replace the water filter
Your water filter lasts for three to four months, depending on how often you use your RV. If you are using your RV full time, you need to replace your filter more often than you would for occasional use, so adjust this maintenance task as necessary.
Deep clean or detail RV interior
Just like the exterior, elements allowed to sit inside your RV can lead to bigger problems and damage down the road. Whether your RV sits in the sun or receives no interior light while not in use, a thorough cleaning of your interior every six months helps prevent damage.
Weigh your RV
Weigh your RV with it loaded for a typical trip. Check the manufacturer’s gross axle weight rating (GAWR) for your RV as well as the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). The GAWR helps you understand how to distribute the weight in your vehicle and the GCWR gives you the maximum weight of everything onboard, including cargo and passengers, and don’t exceed it.
Hot weather RV maintenance
Summer travel and the heat associated with it pose their own challenges. Although your monthly maintenance tasks should take care of your needs, pay close attention to these items if you know you’ll be traveling in the heat of summer.
How to prepare your RV for hot weather
Especially if you skipped some monthly maintenance checks, be sure to do the following before traveling in the heat:
Check and top off fluid levels
Make sure you have enough coolant and refrigerant in your air conditioner.
Examine your air filter
Clean or replace it if necessary.
Test batteries and refill fluid levels
Test your batteries to make sure they have a good charge, and top off the water with distilled water as needed.
Clean and wax the RV’s exterior
The wax can help prevent damage from UV rays.
Check and repair broken seals
Repairing seals protects your RV from weather damage both inside and out.
How to protect your RV’s interior
Heat and direct sunlight can cause fading, cracking, and other aging to the interior of your RV. Follow these tips to minimize direct sunlight damaging your interior:
- Park in the shade.
- Use curtains.
- Use a fold-up sunscreen/visor to protect your dashboard.
- Use seat covers to protect seats.
- Apply conditioner to keep leather surfaces soft and protect them from cracking caused by the sun.
Conducting routine maintenance on your motorhome can make your RV camping trip more enjoyable by freeing you from worry and reducing the chance of potential mishaps. These RV maintenance tips should help you keep your camper, motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer in tip-top shape.