A recreational vehicle isn’t just a mode of transportation; it is a way of life. And although most RV enthusiasts dream of spending weeks, months, and even years traveling the nation’s highways and experiencing all that the outdoors have to offer, few have this luxury. In reality, most RVs sit parked for the majority of the year.
It is important to remember that in this off-season – when the tires have cooled, summer traffic has died out, and you have returned to your normal routine – your RV is at risk of rust, fading, and other wear-and-tear that comes from sitting dormant. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Organizing and prepping your RV after the last RV trip of the season can lay the groundwork for a great first trip of next season. Following are five steps to protect your RV during off-months and ensure that it is ready to ride when the open road calls.
1. Keep it Clean: Wash your RV inside and out each time you return from home from a sojourn. This is particularly important before packing your camper up for the season.
- Exterior: Wash and wax the exterior, and make sure to scrub off any bugs or debris that can damage the paint. If you have an awning, give it a good wash as well. Make sure to leave it open until it is completely dry before stowing it. This will prevent mold.
- Interior: Remove any and all food that you have in the RV, and clean the counters and vacuum the floors to remove anything that can attract critters. Consider using a carpet cleaner to scrub away any stains or other dirt.
2. Secure the Interior: If you plan to store your RV for an extended period of time, take steps to protect the interior for unwanted smells, dirt, or damage that can occur in the off season. You will thank yourself when spring arrives.
- Let the freezer thaw and clean the refrigerator. Leave the doors open to prevent mold.
- Leave drawers, doors, and cabinets open so that they can air out.
- Look in the various cracks and crevices and keep an eye out for traces of light that indicate openings where an animal can enter. Use expanding foam to fill any crevices that you discover.
- Turn off the main breaker and the gas supply valve.
- Close the windows and the blinds to prevent interior damage from UV rays.
3. Prepare the Exterior: Once you have cleaned the RV and prepared the inside for hibernation, do a thorough review of the exterior.
- Inspect the roof and body seams, as well as the window sealant, to make sure there are no openings or cracks that will allow water ñ or animals – to enter the RV and damage the interior. Reseal any weak areas that you discover.
- Make sure that the tires are fully inflated, and cover them to prevent cracking from UV rays. Place treated wooden blocks behind the tires.
- Use spray lubricant on all locks and lubricate any hinges.
4. Care for the Engine: Anyone who has owned an RV yearns for the feeling of excitement that comes when the engine is cranked for the first time of the season. Make sure that it starts on the first turn of the key with the following steps.
- Remove the battery: If you are planning to store your RV for a long period of time, make sure that the battery is fully charged, and then remove and store it.
- Change the oil: To prevent engine corrosion that can be caused by old oil that is sitting for long periods of time, change the oil and oil filter.
- Check your fluids: Check and refill the fluid for the brakes, windshield washer, radiator, transmission, and power steering. For best results, make sure to use the fluids recommended by your RV’s manufacturer.
5. Cover Your Investment: The best place to store your RV during the off-season is in a large garage or covered area on a solid surface. If this isn’t an option, considering purchasing a lightweight, breathable cover. This will protect the exterior from fading or rusting caused by the elements.
When vacation season is winding down, it is tough to think ahead to the first trip of a new year. But by planning ahead and preparing your RV for storage, you will be able to hit the road again with ease.
Garret Stembridge is a member of the Internet marketing team at www.extraspace.com, a leading provider of self storage facilities. In Maryland, recreational vehicles can be stored at the Pasadena self storage facility on Mountain Rd.