With spring right around the corner, you may be mentally preparing for the hiking and camping trips you have planned once winter is through. If you're like millions of Americans, you've probably got your recreational vehicle stored away for the winter and are itching to hit the road. Before you do, here are a few tips to make sure your RV is as ready for a trip as you are:
If you live in a climate that tends to see sub-freezing temperatures each winter, hopefully you've winterized your RV. The first step to getting your vehicle ready for the spring is to flush the antifreeze out of the fresh water system. To do this, simply open each of the vehicle's faucets and drains and run fresh water through the system until the antifreeze is completely cleared.
It's a good idea to then sanitize your water system to ensure the water is safe for you and your family. To do this, you'll first have to close all of the faucets and plug the drains. Then, mix a quarter cup of bleach for every 15 gallons your water tank holds. Open the faucets and allow them to run until you can smell the bleach, then shut them off again. Don't touch anything for at least 12 hours while it soaks, then turn on your faucets one more time to allow the tank to drain. Just like with the antifreeze, you'll need to continue to run fresh water through the system until you can no longer smell any bleach.
Once your water system is ready to go, give the entire RV a thorough cleaning inside and out. Not only will this keep the vehicle looking sharp, but regularly clearing away dirt and grime will prevent buildup that has the potential to damage the coatings of finish on the RV. Weather permitting, opening the windows and doors for a few hours will help air out any musty smells.
Next, go through and check out any electronics, from the radio to the light over the bathroom mirror, to make sure everything is in working order. It's best to catch any issues while the RV is still parked at home instead of in a parking lot in the middle of South Dakota.
While on the road, you need to protect your belongings. If you already have a lockbox, check it over to make sure it's in good condition. Depending on what you are traveling with, you should consider investing in some kind of security box to protect things like jewelry, important paperwork or firearms.
Before driving your RV anywhere, it's important to check every tire, including any spares you carry. Because the weather cooled and then warmed back up as winter turned to spring, there's a good chance they are no longer properly inflated, so use a tire pressure gauge to check them and fill them up to the recommended level. You should be able to find the proper tire pressure posted near the driver's side door or in the owner's manual. If you drive on underinflated tires, your fuel efficiency will suffer, while an overinflated tire runs the risk of blowing out. While you're inflating them, check for any bulges, tears or bald spots, which can form when the vehicle is stationary for a long period of time.
You probably unplugged your dry cell, coach and chassis batteries before you stored the RV. Before reconnecting them, give them a good once-over. Inspect the terminals and clamps for corrosion, as well as the charge levels, which may have dropped while in storage. This is also a good time to replace any batteries in your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
Next, you'll have to change the oil and filters in your generator if you didn't do so before storing it. Before running the generator, be sure to check the exhaust system for any damage. Make sure you run the generator for about two hours before bringing it on the road.
It's no secret that rodents and other pests love to make homes in RVs and other vehicles in storage. If you used tape to cover any vents or openings, be sure to remove it before driving. You'll also need to check all of the nooks and crannies, like cabinets, closets and storage areas, for any critters that may have built a nest over the winter.
Just like any car, you need to run a general check on the engine to make sure everything is in good working order. The RV will likely require an oil change and will need to have its fluids topped off. While you're at it, check the wiper blades to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced.