Spring is here and it’s time to get your recreational vehicle ready for the new season.
Judging by the statistics, Canadians love to travel by RV (also known as a motorhome). According to the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association, there are more than two million RVs on Canada’s roads. The most popular activities to pursue among RV travellers are:
- Camping (58 per cent)
- Visiting national/provincial parks (23 per cent)
- Hiking or backpacking (23 per cent)
- Visiting beaches (18 per cent)
- Sightseeing (14 per cent)
- Seeing friends and family (14 per cent)
- Viewing wildlife or watching birds (11 per cent)
There is a growing trend among younger, millennial travellers and families toward smaller travel trailers or vans. These are easier to drive and park, while still offering a lot of flexibility for longer trips to see the outdoors. You are also seeing more of the latest technologies, such as WiFi and USB ports. RVs becoming more energy efficient, using solar panels for example, as well as composite materials that help make the vehicles lighter. Some RVs are built with sustainable materials for recycling purposes down the line.
Whatever your activity, RV safety is a top priority. Your RV has likely been parked all winter so, before taking your first trip of the new season, go through this basic maintenance checklist.
Break up the checkup into two areas – items you can cover off yourself and items best suited for a certified mechanic.
RV maintenance checklist for a Certified Mechanic
- Check the condition of your brakes and tires. When were they last checked? These are items that directly affect your safety and your family’s safety. They need to be attended to by someone who knows how to check and repair any issues. “You wouldn’t drive a car with tires that are not safe or brakes that may fail,” says Jim Nolan, of RV Canada in Ottawa, the largest RV dealer in Ontario.
- Even with a new RV you need to lube the axles and check the bearings at least twice a year, depending on the distance you are driving.
- Check the hydraulic fluid level.
- Have a propane inspection done – checking things like the pilot light and connection to appliances.
- Check the vehicle’s electrical system.
“It’s always better to err on the side of caution,” says Christopher Mahony, President of Go RVing Canada. “If there is something you’re unsure about, contact your local RV dealer for advice.”
RV maintenance checklist for RV owner
To travel on the safe side, test run all your RV’s systems:
- Run the water faucets.
- Start the hot water heater.
- Test electrical outlets.
- Run the generator.
- Let the fridge cool for 24 hours.
- Raise the TV/radio antenna.
- Start the furnace.
- Test the slide-outs, awning and pop-ups, and open the awning to let it dry.
- Test the waste water system.
But don’t stop there. As Mahony says, “grab a ladder and check out the entire exterior of your RV.”
- Conduct any necessary repairs. If there is damage to the door, drawers and fabrics, get it fixed.
- That also means roof vents and air conditioners. An often-overlooked problem spot is sealants and mouldings around windows, doors and storage areas. Dryness and cold winter temperatures can cause cracks. Cracks can lead to leaks when it starts to rain.
- Check all the exterior lights to make sure there is no damage or debris. Test the electrical connection on the hitch if this is the type of RV you are driving.
- Lubricate all hinges and locks with a spray lubricant.
- Check the fire extinguishers and make sure they are charged.
- Replace batteries and check operation of the smoke detector(s) and carbon monoxide detector(s).
- Fill all extra tires, water tanks, gas tanks and recharge all batteries.
- Scrub the sides of your vehicle and the roof. Sanitize your water system, including holding tanks and filters.
- Back inside the RV, clean the backs of cupboards and under all the cushions. Open all doors and compartments and check for rodents. We recommend placing fabric softener dryer sheets (Bounce or Fleecy) under each mattress and cushion – this will help keep field mice away, since they don’t like the smell.
The checklist won’t take long to get through. Before you know it, you will be behind the wheel of your “home away from home” and exploring the country, safely.