As an RV owner, it's important to understand what common repairs you might need to consider, as well as how to maintain your RV to prevent the worst repairs from occurring. While certain components of an RV, such as the engine and transmission, require the same care and repair as any vehicle’s mechanical parts do, there are extra features to upkeep on RVs.
The following guide will walk you through how to fix common RV problems, and break down which projects are good for DIY versus which require a professional. Additionally, you will learn more about preventative maintenance, which can help prevent costly repairs.
Projects to Handle on Your Own
There are certain tasks you can most likely tackle by yourself. In fact, owning an RV often involves a little innovation on the roadside when small trouble arises. The following are all excellent DIY projects that will help maintain the comfort and safety of your RV.
Unlike a car or truck, which has a few cabin lights, headlights, taillights, and brake lights, an RV is often equipped with a large number of additional light bulbs. Before you take your RV out on your next trip, spend time checking all the lights on the RV and replace any light bulbs that have burned out.
In many ways, RVs are similar to owning a home, so having a box with extra light bulbs on hand in the RV is a good idea. This will allow you to quickly swap out a burned-out bulb, even if you’re on the road.
Swapping Out an Old Battery
If your RV sits for a portion of the year, unused, it is a good idea to test your battery before you take off on a long road trip. RV batteries can last anywhere from two to seven years, depending on the level of care they receive.
If you notice that your RV isn’t turning over as consistently as it did before, it might be time to swap out the battery. Before replacing your battery, consider taking your RV to an auto store or mechanic to have the battery tested. This can help you determine if the battery is weakening, requiring a quick battery exchange.
Waste Water Valve Leaks
A common RV issue is a leaking wastewater valve. When you connect your wastewater or sewer hose to your gray or black water tank, you should not see a large amount of fluid leaking out as you remove the valve connection cap. If you do see fluid leaking, it is probably due to your slide valve.
In this case, you’ll want to replace your wastewater valve. The valve is easily accessible from outside of your RV and can be quickly unbolted. Remove the old valve and seals then insert the new replacements. Reassemble the bolts, tighten up, and your leak should be gone.
Adding a Seal to Your Roof
When you are on the road, your RV is your home away from home. Just like your stationary home, you want the roof over your head to protect you from the elements. When your RV roof starts to develop a leak, it is a little different than with a shingle roof home.
Adding a seal to your RV roof can stop most leaks in their tracks. You can purchase an RV roof sealant from a local home improvement store. A product that works well for most RV roofs is Henry Tropi-Cool, a white silicone-based sealant. As a bonus, this product will also reflect heat, saving you on cooling costs.
RV Repairs that Require the Pros
There are a lot of simple RV projects that you can tackle on your own. However, when you start to face some bigger issues, hiring a pro for RV repair is advised. The following issues might require the help of a professional.
RVs are equipped with complex electrical systems. Similar to your electrical system in your home, an RV is designed to offer power, in many cases even off-grid, to various rooms in the RV.
If you are starting to have issues with your electrical system, it is best to visit a professional. They will be able to properly diagnose the root of the issue and can safely repair the system. Due to the danger of electrical repairs, this one is best left to the pros.
Depending on your level of comfort with mechanical repairs, many of the bigger issues your RV engine, transmission, and other components face are best tackled by a professional mechanic.
If you’ve started to notice mechanical issues with your RV, look for a mechanic that specializes in RV repairs.
Maintenance Prevents Most Repairs
In many cases, the worst of repairs can be avoided through proper maintenance. Be sure to add the following maintenance tasks to your list to protect your RV from damage.
Just like any vehicle you own, it is important to schedule frequent tune-ups for your RV. This is especially true if the RV sits for long periods of time. A tune-up will help ensure that your RV is running smoothly and that you get the best gas mileage possible.
Always Change the Oil
Oil changes are part of routine vehicle maintenance. It is easy to forget that even though you haven't driven your RV in months or reached the suggested number of miles between oil changes. However, your oil might still be reaching the expiration date based on the time that has transpired. Be sure you keep a clear record of oil changes and set up reminders when the suggested number of months has passed between oil changes.
Replace Your Tires Before They Blow
Similar to changing your oil, changing tires on an RV can be necessary sooner than the mileage would normally dictate. Over time, the rubber on your tires will begin to deteriorate. If your RV sits for long periods of time, dry rot can even set in.
Always do a thorough tire check before hitting the road and schedule tire replacement before you face a roadside blow out.
How you store your RV will dictate a lot about how well it holds up. If possible, store your RV in a covered location. Additionally, it is worth investing in an RV cover to add extra protection to the roof.
Find Your Next Adventure
RVs for Sale
Check out the best in RVs.