Fuel prices have returned back to Earth (at least for the time being), but the simple fact is that we are all still feeling the crunch of the slow economy. People can’t afford to trade up to a new coach or trailer every few years like the might have done previously, so now we’re getting more and more people who want to know how they can make their RV last longer.
Like any vehicle, a big part of that answer is regular maintenance. My philosophy is “grease and fluids are cheaper than parts and labor.” Change the oil and filter about every 5,000 miles or every season, whichever comes first. Manufacturer’s recommendations vary, of course, but changing the oil at the beginning of each season is a good idea even if the coach was not driven many miles. Condensation and contaminants can collect in the crankcase when a vehicle sits for several months. Which reminds me, unless you can’t get to your coach for some reason, it’s a good idea to start and run it once or twice a month to keep everything well lubricated. The same goes for the generator-its biggest enemy is lack of use, so make sure you start and run it under load at least once a month until travel season begins.
As many of you have probably already read, I’m a big advocate of synthetic oils in every place you can use them-engine, transmission, even power steering. Yes, they’re more expensive, but they provide better protection and last longer, too. They don’t actually wear out like ordinary petroleum-based oils do-they just get dirty. Using a good filtration system like Amsoil’s new Ea oil filters with full synthetic nanofiber technology or even a remote oil filtration system can help you get the most out of your oil and greatly extend time between oil changes. Don’t forget to have the lube points checked once a year, and if you haven’t had the coolant system flushed in a couple of years, you might want to do that, too. While you’re at it, check the belts and hoses for signs of cracking. Today’s products are so good and reliable that we tend to forget about them, but if the serpentine belt breaks or a coolant hose fails, your trip is done for a day, at least.
Of course, there’s more to keeping your RV new than just the mechanicals. The exterior should be thoroughly washed and waxed at the beginning and end of every travel season to prevent those dreaded black streaks from penetrating the gel coat. And depending on where you live, the interior may require attention to keep it looking factory fresh. In places like Arizona, block all the windows to keep sun from fading upholstery and carpet (cardboard cut-outs work fine), and we’ve even heard of some RVers that keep a bucket of water inside to stop fabrics from drying out and becoming brittle. Up in the Pacific Northwest, we use dehumidifiers like Drizaire, which pull water vapor out of the air and deposit it into a small cup that can be drained periodically. If you don’t, mold, mildew and ill-fitting wooden cabinet doors can be the result. Excess moisture causes the wood to swell, and without a dehumidifier, you might come back to find that none of your cabinet doors open or shut properly anymore. The bad news is, they don’t necessarily return to their normal shape when the weather dries out again.
An RV is an investment second only to your home. Proper maintenance and storage will help you get the most from your coach for many years to come. Have questions about your RV? Have your own tips for longer RV life? Let me know…I’d love to hear from you. Have a wonderful holiday!