RVs and Camper Trailers: Preseason Inspection
Camping Time is Near!
With another camping season looming, it’s time to get the old camping unit, whether it is a motor home, camper trailer, or other type of RV, prepared for the next camping trip. Sure, everything worked great at the end of the last camping season, but this is no assurance your camper hasn’t undergone some changes for the worse during the off-season.
A pre-season inspection is highly recommended for motorhome and camper-trailer owners before starting out on the year’s first camping sojourn. he following tips will help you find and fix potential problems before you take to the road.
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How to Inspect the Tires and Brakes
Safety is always the major concern in any inspection of a camping unit. The tires and brakes should be examined thoroughly to ascertain their reliability.
In some instances (this writer experienced this last year), the brakes can lock up after the RV or camper trailer has been parked for the winter. Motor homes which have self-adjusting brakes are especially susceptible to this occurrence.
These type brakes self-adjust when the RV is moving in reverse and the brakes are applied. This causes the brake adjustment to slightly tighten a small amount. Eventually, these brakes will adjust so tight the motor home cannot be moved without manually adjusting them. This requires using a screwdriver to release the tension on the brake adjuster itself.
Check the inflation of each tire for slow leaks and proper air pressure. Check the condition of the tires, such as crack and cuts which could cause future problems. Do not neglect the spare tire;you might need it someday.
The wheel bearings should be greased annually if you camp often; otherwise every few years is usually sufficient enough for camper trailers and RVs. Bearing Buddies, clear easily lubricated bearing covers, are the best friend of campers because of their ease of use and dependability. Well worth the money, they will give you peace of mind when on the road.
Inspecting the Plumbing and Electrical Systems
Plumbing and electrical problems are common in a motorhome or camper trailer. Inspect the plumbing by pressurizing the system for a few hours to check for any leaks which may have occurred during the off season.
Flush the toilet; run and drain the bath and sinks and any other water valve in the system. Check the holding tanks, both fresh and waste, for any leaks or potential cracks in either. These are not problems you want to discover at the camp site.
Use a simple circuit tester to test all outlets. Check the lights and any other electrical features you may have. Run the A/C on a warm day to ascertain the correct workings of the unit. Always keep an electrical circuit tester aboard your RV, a multimeter is very inexpensive and easy to use.
This part of the electrical inspection includes any electrical jacks, antennas, slide out rooms etc. Do not forget to test the 12-volt converter as it can go bad in the off season or at any other time.
The refrigerator should be allowed to cycle several times to make sure it is operating efficiently. If your RV has an absorption refrigerator, check the exhaust vent for any obstructions such as wasp or birds nests.
If the exhaust vent is blocked the unit will not work correctly. The heat must be allowed to vent away properly. This is very important for continued efficiency of the unit.
Inspecting the Roof and Exterior
Be sure to check the roof for any cracking of the sealants used for the roof seams and around any vents or A/C units. Over time this sealant can become brittle and crack during transport of the RV or Camper trailer.
Any suspected areas should be treated or patched with products made especially for this purpose. Rubber or plastic-based roofing materials require special types of materials to seal the leaks correctly. Some of these products can be found on this page if you need to use them.
Many RVs or camper trailers use running lights located around the perimeter of the camping unit. They are attached with a type of gasket or sealant to seal the holes where they are attached to the unit. Occasionally these gaskets can crack, allowing water to seep into the unit itself and causing unseen damage for a while. Again, a good sealant is recommended to seal these areas. You can find these products on this page if you need them.
Motorhome Maintenance: Engine, Batteries, Fluids
Unlike a Camper trailer, a motor home has its own power plant which needs to be serviced annually. Simply changing the oil in the engine is not enough. The engine belts should be examined for cracks and wear and replaced if suspect.
The batteries should also be tested and replaced before the season starts. Power steering and brake fluid levels should be checked and don’t neglect the cooling system. The anti-freeze/coolant should be tested for efficiency and contamination.
Following these tips will not guarantee a trouble free camping trip, but it may prevent some of the worst case scenarios which have been experienced by many of us who love the outdoors and camping in particular.
Good luck with the coming season of camping in our wonderful parks and nature areas.