Just like your home and vehicle, your RV needs year-round attention. With the change of seasons and locations, comes road and weather wear over time. Consequently, work must be done to ensure you and your camper take many trips in both comfort and safety. The biggest RV maintenance mistake is to not educate yourself on your camper’s needs. From storage tips to basic inspections, we’ll share 20 tips for general RV care.

Common RV Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

The good news is most RV maintenance is not hard to perform. However, to overlook these things could result in expensive RV repairs or compromised safety. Because every model is different, make sure you check your owner’s manual for a complete RV maintenance schedule or checklist.

The Wrong Toilet Paper

Yes, there is a right and wrong toilet paper for RVs. You want to use “RV-friendly” toilet paper that quickly breaks down and doesn’t clog your sewage tank. This is one part of your RV you don’t want to have out of order when on the go!

Woman closes a side door in her RV with a cassette toilet so she can avoid RV maintenance mistakes.

RV Tank Maintenance

RV freshwater tanks require a bi-annual flush, typically done when you take your unit in and out of storage. Harmful bacteria can build up in the tanks, and a simple solution of water-diluted bleach can be used to sanitize the tank. Make sure to rinse the tanks out with water after. Gray tanks require little RV maintenance but can be odorous. This can be handled by using odor blockers. Black tanks will need to have approved chemicals used to break down solids. When emptied, employ the black tank flush system if it’s installed. We often have the necessary cleaners available in our RV parts store!

An Idle RV Generator

With this, check with your manufacturer on how often the oil and filter need to be changed out. Additionally, run your RV generator regularly even when it’s in storage. This will help extend the life of it, as leaving it idle is a common RV maintenance mistake and is harmful for its longevity.

Neglect the RV Batteries

Deep cycle batteries will last you between three to five years, but you should check your RV batteries regularly. Take your batteries out during the winter months when in storage and keep them somewhere warm. They can freeze and break, which voids the warranty and renders them useless. Don’t make the costly RV maintenance mistake of neglecting your batteries!

Weatherproof Your RV

Weatherproofing simply keeps the water out of your RV. Most of this is accomplished through using sealants (like silicone caulk) and rubber gaskets around windows, doors, access panels and exterior lights. This is important as moisture in the wrong places can cause multiple issues like electrical failure, wood rot and mold. In addition, keeping your RV “waterproof” better insulates your RV. This can save you on energy costs while decreasing ware on your RV AC or heating systems. Visit our service department for assistance in sealing your RV or repairing damage done by water leaks!

Quickly Fix Water Damage

Be sure to keep your RV waterproofed to reduce the risk of water damage. However, with so many openings and moving parts, RVs are bound to get an unexpected leak or water breach. Inspect your RV regularly and look for signs like mold, discoloration and dripping water.

A camper attached to a truck viewed through a rainy window.

Your RV Refrigerator

Don’t leave your RV refrigerator on all the time. This is a common RV maintenance mistake, as RV fridges differ from the ones at a standard home. Their system relies on gravity instead of a traditional compressor. You shouldn’t leave it on during the whole trip. You should also keep it off when empty. This saves energy costs and extends the life of your RV fridge.

How to Clean the Floors

A lot of RV maintenance is keeping things clean. However, avoid using too much water on the floor when you mop. This can cause corrosion and damage to your RV. Instead, use a damp rag or towel to clean surfaces in your RV to prevent water saturation.

An Invite for Rodents

Even clean and dry RVs can attract little critters, especially in cold winter months. When you prep your RV for long-term storage, set up mouse traps and repellants, and check on your camper regularly to ensure there are no messes or damage from mice, rats or other creatures that think your abandoned RV is their new home. Part of RV maintenance is evicting unwanted guests and ensuring that they aren’t invited back.

A toddler smiles in an open travel trailer window.

Properly Pack Your RV

It’s difficult to know what’s most important to keep in your RV. Especially for newbie RV campers. Overpacking your RV creates cramped living quarters and puts an extra load on your RV which could undermine your safety. You want to be mindful of your RV’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), as well as, your tow vehicles towing limitations if you have a towable camper. Do not exceed them. In fact, know that packing lighter not only gives you more living space but also improves fuel economy. Less clutter also makes RV maintenance easier, as it streamlines cleaning and inspections.

Check RV Tires

Flat tires or improper inflation are one of the most common problems RVers encounter on the road. Check your tire pressure before you head out and ensure they are at the recommended levels. You can find the proper PSI measurement on your vehicle manual or printed on the tire wall itself. If your tires are flat or underinflated, it will wear your tires faster and cost you more in fuel. Also make sure your tires are not more than five to six years old. Even if the tread is healthy, tires do have a shelf life. Riding on underinflated or old tires increases your chances for a tire blowout.

Wheels and Lug Nut Inspection

One little known RV maintenance mistake is not keeping new or remounted wheels tightened the first 10, 25, and 50 miles driven. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check their tension or condition after hitting big bumps or potholes. Also, make sure there are no rust, corrosion, or damage, as time, weather and bumpy roads can add wear to the wheels.

Worn Out RV Brakes

One RV maintenance mistake you definitely want to avoid is rolling on worn RV brakes. Just like your other vehicles, if it takes longer to come to a full stop or brakes constantly make noise when applied, it’s probably time for a service appointment. You may expect to have brakes serviced once to twice a year depending on use. You may want to repack bearings as well when maintenance is performed on the brakes.

Watch for Faulty Electrical Wiring

The electrical connection from your tow vehicle to your RV is important. It transmits your driving signals to your RV so your neighbors on the road know when you are turning and braking. In addition, your lights make you visible on the road at night. Another advantage of a good electrical connection is that it keeps your RV battery charged.

An RV side door opened to expose wiring. There are tools to prevent RV maintenance mistakes.

Slide Out Maintenance

A common RV maintenance mistake is letting slide outs be out of sight and out of mind. Just like the outer walls and roof of your RV, slide outs need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Additionally, the seals and gaskets should be routinely inspected. The slide mechanisms need to be properly greased and rubber gaskets lightly oiled to keep them pliable and fresh.

A Full Visual Inspection

The tires are not the only item you should inspect on your RV before a trip. It’s also important to check the headlights, taillights, turn signals, brakes and storage compartments. Don’t forget to retract all side awnings and TV antennas, unplug appliances and electrical items. Additionally, disconnect any water hoses and connecting cables. This all may seem simple, but it’s an important part of RV maintenance.

Secure Your RV Interior

Before you hit the road, make sure all loose items are put away or packed tightly together. Verify cabinets and compartments are closed and secured. Use products like grip waffle matting on cabinet shelves or extendable rods to help keep items in place when on the bumpy road.

A teardrop camper covered in snow.

Proper RV Winterization

RV maintenance is not all fixes and replacements. It includes preventative measures to protect your RV in storage and during extreme weather. Most locations in the United States will experience freezing temperatures and can be susceptible to plumbing line damage. To keep lines free of frozen water damage, you can clear them by using an air compressor to blow them out or use something like a Floe Integrated Drain-Down System.

Uncovered RV Storage

Your RV takes a lot of abuse from the road and weather, so give it a break and extend its life with an RV cover or tarp. A heavy-duty waterproof cover protects your RV from water pooling up on top, harsh ice and snow, or the hot rays of sunlight. These weather conditions can quickly wear on your RV, and a cover is an easy way to provide protection against mother nature.

No Tire Supports in Storage

If your tires sit in one position for too long it can lead to dry rot. Tire shoes or jack stands are great but may be excessive to some. You can use tire-shine products and wheel covers. Just make sure these items have UV-protection, or else it’s not going to do the job. You can also use chocks and tire cradles to provide tire support.

We hope that our list of top RV maintenance mistakes helps you avoid any unnecessary heartache. However, not all camper problems are easy to spot or fix. At Scenic RV Centers, we specialize in RV maintenance and repair. We have two RV dealerships in Wisconsin, located in Slinger and Baraboo. Whether you are looking for new and used RVs for sale, or RV repair, Scenic RV Centers will have what you need. Contact us today for a service appointment or questions.

Ready for a New RV?

Shop new and used RVs at Scenic RV Centers! Our team will help you find the perfect travel trailer, fifth wheel or toy hauler for your family. Stop in at one of our two Wisconsin RV dealerships, or start by browsing our inventory online today.