8 Tips for Travel Trailer Maintenance
When you're in the middle of the wilderness, your travel trailer suddenly acting up could be a total fun-killer. This is why routine maintenance is such a huge part of owning an RV.
Minor issues can cost you an expensive trip to the mechanic if left unchecked. On the upside, travel trailers don't have the intricate powertrain of a motorhome. With some elbow grease, you can take on most of the upkeep yourself.
In this guide; we'll get down to the brass tacks of travel trailer maintenance.
1. Use a Travel Trailer Cover
Harsh weather and other environmental factors can contribute to the aging of your camper. Because of the sheer size of some RVs, owners don't have a choice but to leave them out in the elements.
A travel trailer cover is your best option if you don't have a storage facility or a garage.
Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can bleach the paint and bake the rubber seals on your rig. A travel trailer cover protects your camper from such damage.
Not just that, but most high-quality covers have breathable and waterproof material. They guard against rain and moisture, which can breed mold and mildew. They can also prevent dust, tree sap, and animal droppings from ruining your towable's pristine condition.
All in all, a travel trailer cover keeps exterior maintenance to a bare minimum.
2. Tire Care
Tires take the most abuse out of all automotive parts. As your RV racks up miles, your tires go through a significant amount of wear and tear.
The markings on the sidewall of the tire indicate information pertinent to its safe use and proper care. Some of these are:
- Manufacturing date
- Maximum load
- Maximum pressure in psi
- Tread wear indicator
Once you're familiar with these specifics, follow these tips to keep your trailer tires from blowing up your camping trips:
- Maintain the correct tire pressure (refer to the manufacturer's manual and max psi on the tire).
- Make sure that the overall weight of the trailer doesn't exceed the tire's load limit.
- If you're storing your trailer for long periods, inflate your tires to the max psi.
- Store your trailer in a cool, dry place, or use tire covers to protect against sun damage.
- Perform regular tire rotations every 5,000 miles.
Replacing Your Tires
You should replace your tires when:
- When the tire is worn down to the level of the tread wear indicator.
- When there are signs of dry rot like cracks on the tread and sidewalls, faded color, and brittleness.
- After six years, regardless of the remaining tread and including your spare.
3. Inspect the Roof
Examine your roof for signs of cracks and leaks. Depending on the material of your roof, perform the appropriate repair to avoid water damage, such as rust and mold.
Fiberglass and rubber roofs are susceptible to cracks. You'll need the correct sealant and the proper prep work to ensure maximum adhesion of the product. Refer to the label or packaging for usage instructions.
Check the seams and seals around the skylights and vents too. Any voids will cause moisture to seep in. Apply a compatible sealant using a caulking gun for an air-tight seal. Again, clean and prepare the surface accordingly.
4. Clean and Maintain Your Slide-outs
Don't forget to treat your trailer slide-out to some maintenance as well. This will extend the life of the rubber seals, reduce friction, and eliminate annoying squeaks.
- Clean the rubber seal with soap and water. Wipe with a cotton cloth and dry completely.
- Peel the seal back and clean the inside, removing any debris stuck within.
- Condition the rubber gasket using a rubber seal conditioner.
- Apply a non-rusting slide-out lubricant on your gears.
- Never use grease on gears, as it attracts dirt that can hinder the smooth operation of the slide.
- If you have a hydraulic slide-out system , check the fluid on the hydraulic system. Fluid loss may be a sign of a leak.
5. Examine the Hitch
Make sure that all the bolts, pins, safety chains, cables, and sway bars are secure. When you're towing your rig, there should be minimal play between the trailer hitch and the hitch receiver.
Perform a visual inspection of your hitch from all angles to check for rust, cracks, exposed metal, and missing components.
Leaving your hitch attached to the towing vehicle all winter may cause some corrosion. Use a rust remover and medium-grit sandpaper to clean up corroded hardware. Then spray the bare metal with powder-coated paint to prevent rust in the future.
If your trailer hitch is stuck, apply a generous amount of WD-40 between the hitch receiver and ball mount. Use the thin straw that comes with the can to reach into the gap.
Allow the product to loosen the rust and grime on the hitch for a few minutes. Using a rubber mallet, strike around the sides of the ball mount to jar the hitch loose.
6. Check Your Jack Stand
Here are a few tips to keep your leveling/stabilizing jacks in the best shape possible:
- For side-wind jacks, check the gears at the top of the handle that cranks the jack leg and grease as needed.
- Top-wind jacks usually require less internal maintenance. Replace the whole jack if it doesn't wind properly to raise and lower the leg.
- For swivel jacks, check the mounting or swivel components for wear and damage. Replace worn-out or broken parts.
7. Keep Your Battery Charged
Here's a quick rundown of trailer battery maintenance:
- Don't let the charge of your battery drop below 50%.
- Don't overcharge your battery.
- Store your battery separately when you're going to park your RV indefinitely.
- While in storage, monitor the charge of your battery as it loses charge when idle.
8. Interior Care
The interior of your travel trailer may accumulate dust and become musty, especially after sitting in your garage for months. Before you hit the road, follow these interior care tips to keep your camper clean and fresh-smelling:
- Vacuum floors, upholstery, and carpet using different attachments to reach into the tight spots and crevices.
- Clean surfaces using disinfecting wipes or a clean cloth dipped in a bleach solution (⅓ cup of bleach:1 gallon of water).
- Wet mop uncarpeted flooring, including your bathroom floor.
- Clean your appliances, cookware, and dinnerware.
Skipping a maintenance check on your towable can leave plenty of room for regret. Give your RV some much-needed TLC, so you can go on with your grand adventures without a hitch.
Follow this travel trailer maintenance guide to ensure that you cover all your bases.