Stay Out of Trouble: 7 Signs Of RV Maintenance Problems

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February 8, 2019

RV maintenance warnings — get a handle on looming problems.

Regular maintenance of a recreational vehicle is ongoing. The frequency of required maintenance usually is 12 months, or the engine OEM-specified mileage, whichever comes first. However, there are warning signs of trouble that may crop up from time to time. So how do you know if a particular item requires service?

Well, you don’t have to be a mechanic to detect a problem — just be vigilant for out-of-the-ordinary RV phenomena. Here’s an example: You’re sitting in your rig when you hear the water pump run for a second or so, then stop. Strangely, there is no one using water. Solution: Turn off the ice maker if applicable and listen for the next few minutes. If the short-run cycle happens again, you have an issue. Either the pump outlet check valve is leaking back or you have a leak at a line. The more common problem is the latter. Usually, a fitting or hose clamp needs tightening.

So let’s look at some common issues you may encounter:

  • A strange, rotten-egg-like smell seems to be present, particularly near a sink. Culprit: The water lines, drains and possibly tank need to be flushed. Check out available solutions.
  • Front tires differ in temperature by 15 degrees or more when highway driving, and neither is subjected to the sun’s heat. Culprit: Probable misalignment. Front-end alignment may be required.
  • Traces of black radiating from a wheel center cap outward. Culprit: Possible seal failure. Hub overheating also is possible. Remove cap and investigate.
  • Air conditioner starts and immediately shuts down. Culprit: Almost certainly a failed capacitor.
  • Hydronic heater starts and then shuts down. Culprit: Usually the burner nozzle needs replacing or a sensor has failed. There are other possible causes, like low fluid. Check the fault code in the manual.
  • Leveling jack warning alarm activates while driving. Culprit: Most likely, heat expansion of the hydraulic oil is causing one jack to extend slightly. Push and hold the retract button until the alarm stops.
  • Air compressor on diesel pusher cuts in every 2 to 3 minutes while sitting idling. Culprit: Possible airline leak. Shut off and walk around and listen for leak. Other possibilities include pneumatic component or compressor valve failure. The most common is a line leak at a fitting.

There are many more things that we can detect. If you observe, hear or feel anything out of the ordinary, don’t ignore it. This will avoid the all-too-common, “oh, so that’s what caused that strange sound!” as you pay a hefty repair fee.

So you, too, can be an armchair mechanic and keep your rig running. Who knows, your RV detective skills might surprise you. Enjoy!

Peter Mercer

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