How to Fix Common Problems That Happen When RVing

Updated on February 17, 2018
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I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

Even when RV owners prepare well when planning for their road trips, there will always be problems along the way that, while not major, can be quite bothersome.

Many are easy to deal with if people take the time to learn how to understand what is causing them.

My husband and I once sold a motor home to a young family. Their first day on the road we received a phone call from the extremely upset mother.

It was a very hot day, they were on the road in Georgia and said they could not cool their unit down. They thought there was something wrong with their air conditioner!

The fix was easy.

  1. Cover the side windows with insulated aluminum sheets.
  2. Cover the vents with insulated vent covers.
  3. Shut the sliding door that divides the front of the unit from the back section.
  4. Don't drive in the hottest part of the day, especially when you're in a warm climate location!

RV air conditioners only work well in reasonable conditions. Theirs was not a reasonable condition!

Clearly, they could not do items one and two immediately, but they certainly could do three and four and, as soon as time permits, get to an RV parts or hardware store to purchase the other items.

You can buy a roll of Reflectix insulated foil and then cut it to size for the windows you wish to protect. My husband and I have always used this brand because it really lasts a long time and does a great job. There are similar products that are probably as good, but we like to stick with what works for us! This product has many uses and while costly, only has to be purchased one time. Ours has lasted for many years!

You should also purchase a few RV vent covers. We are big Camco fans and have always used theirs because they are so easy to use. They also do a great job of keeping heat and cold out (or in) depending on exterior temperatures. Don't confuse these with the exterior vent covers This product is specifically sized to fit right up into the opening beneath your ceiling vent fan. They slide in and out easily as needed.

This is a perfect example of RVers not understanding how to use their equipment and not keeping equipment on hand to help them do it.

It's a common mistake that can make travelers miserable, so it's best to do what you can to avoid these types of problems.

Learn how to recognize and deal with every day RV travel problems.
Learn how to recognize and deal with every day RV travel problems. | Source

Air Conditioner Not Working Correctly

Another problem that often occurs is when an AC unit stops blowing cold air.

In this situation, many people assume that they will be facing repair or replacement costs, but before panicking travelers should check a few things:

Have the filters become clogged with dust, dirt and debris? If so, it’s very easy to remove, wash, dry and replace them.

If the unit is working but is not producing enough cold air, it may be that it is unable to handle the load it has been given. In this case, they should follow the directions noted above. Also, if the coach is parked they should lower the awnings to deflect the sun’s heat.

On very hot days, it is best to travel in the early morning, late afternoon or evening in order to keep an RV comfortable.

When possible, drive from east to west in the morning and from west to east in the afternoon. When not driving into the sun, a coach remains much cooler.

Front Door Won’t Open

Unless your RV’s door has become warped due to age or misuse, the problem here most likely is that your unit is not level.

You should always make sure to park as level as possible so that you can enter and leave your coach easily and so that closet and refrigerator doors will do the same.

The attached videos show you how to level both a camper and a motor home. Take the time to watch them as they will help you immensely in avoiding this type of problem.

If you level your RV, doors and windows will open and close without any problems.
If you level your RV, doors and windows will open and close without any problems. | Source

Refrigerator Stops Working

An RV refrigerator won’t work if the unit is not level, but that is only one issue.

If the vent is clogged with debris and dead bugs, you’ll have the same problem.

The fix for a non-working refrigerator is either to park it correctly or use an air compressor to blow the trash out of the refrigerator vent which is located directly behind the refrigerator and can be reached through the protective outside door.

If these fixes don't work, and especially if you smell ammonia in the area of your refrigerator, you most likely will have to replace it.

Generator Stops Working

If your coach has a generator that suddenly stops working, it is possible that the oil level in it is too low. Most generators turn off when their oil is down to one quart, so doing a refill often fixes the problem.

It may also stop because your coach is sitting on a slant. Generators are supplied with the gas or diesel fuel from a coach’s main engine. They have a shut off valve that is built in and will turn off once the energy source goes below 25%. This is a safety feature.

So, if your coach is not sitting level, and the main gas or fuel supply is low, it is possible that this will make your generator shut off.

The key to dealing with this problem, in most instances, is to check the oil levels regularly and fill as need and also keep plenty of gasoline or diesel fuel in your tank.

Having said that let me add that there may well be something wrong with the generator, itself. So, if taking the steps noted above does not work, let the generator rest until you can get it to a repair shop.

You should also change your oil regularly so that it is free of debris and various types of materials that break down over time. This will keep clogs from stopping up your generator engine and will keep it functioning correctly.

Low Batteries

If you have the type of batteries that require water to function, you need to check them regularly. The attached video shows you how to do this.

When you see lights starting to dim or battery -un accessories working too slowly, it's a sure sign that you've got a problem.

Without an adequate water supply, these types of batteries won’t work correctly and may stop working completely. For this reason it's important to check them regularly and fill them only with distilled water.

Another thing to remember is that the older batteries get, the more poorly they function. So in addition to checking for water loss, be sure to check age as well.

You can avoid problems by replacing the ones you have with sealed batteries. My husband and I use the V Maxx brand because they have proven to work well, do not need water added and can stand up to the rigors of road travel. There are other brands out there, but for us, this brand seems to work as well or better than the others. They do not need to have water added, so are much easier to use.

However, they are more costly to own.

I have attached a video that shows you how to maintain standard batteries. Lots of good info here for you, so take the time to watch!

VMAX XTR27-110 AGM Battery 12V 110Ah Group 27 Sealed Deep Cycle for RV Camper Boats
VMAX XTR27-110 AGM Battery 12V 110Ah Group 27 Sealed Deep Cycle for RV Camper Boats

This is the type of battery you need to have in your RV if you want one that requires practically no maintenance. Never needs to have water added!


Poor TV Reception

If you have an older coach that came with an analog TV, you likely will find that even if you use a converter, your reception is poor.

There are two things that can cause this problem.

First, if you did not exchange your analog antenna for a digital one, your reception of digital TV will be poor.

Furthermore, even with a digital antenna, if you don’t lubricate the antenna regularly and properly, you’ll still have TV viewing problems.

I’m attaching a video that shows how to lubricate a digital TV antenna, so that you can see how this is done.

Love Bugs

Twice every year in the Southeastern US an insect called a love bug swarms and causes problems for vehicles and their drivers.

Usually this happens in May and September.

These bugs swarm, mate briefly and then the males die. The sky can be black with them, so if you are on the road and run into them, your vehicle will smash into and kill them.

They then stick to your windshield, grill and other front end body parts. If left too long before removal, the acids in their bodies will literally eat away your paint job!

So, if you hear that it’s love-bug season and will be traveling in the South, you need to protect your coach by spraying the entire front end with Pam.

Once you stop for the night, dampen a dryer sheet and wipe the carcasses off of your RV.

This is very easy to do and will help to keep your coach from having any damage.

Stovetop Burners Won’t Light

If the burners on your stove top won’t light, you may not have opened your propane tanks!

Conversely, you may also be out of propane or have a propane leak.

  1. In the first instance, you can fix the problem by simply turning your tanks on.
  2. In the second, finding a place that will fill your propane tank for you will solve the problem.
  3. In the third situation, you need to turn off your propane tanks, open all RV windows, get out of the coach and let it air out. Then you need to call a repairman to find and fix the leak!

Leaks are very dangerous, so never try to fix one on your own!

Fix Problems Before They Become Nightmares

The issues mentioned above happen to RV travelers all the time, but those who know how to recognize and deal with them save themselves many headaches.

Some of them may seem as though they need immediate attention from a pro, but quite often the simple fixes mentioned here are all you need.

Have you ever had any of the problems mentioned in this article?

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© 2017 Sondra Rochelle


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