Preparing Our RV For A Trip

by | Oct 14, 2023

Preparing Our RV For A Trip

Due to some medical issues, we had to limit our summer travel. I share more in the video below. The very good news is all is well and after many months we are heading back out to enjoy some extended RV travel. With the 5th wheel sitting for these many months and time for some annual maintenance, I thought this would be a good time to share preparing our RV for a trip.

RV roof inspection

Owning an RV for 10 years, we’ve learned from experience (not always positive) to give the roof a thorough inspection. I look at all the roof seams that have lap sealant, and check the plastic skylight and roof vents for cracks. It never fails that after a year of travel, there are locations in the lap sealant that crack or separate the will allow water to intrude. A few minutes of inspection and follow up with a little lap sealant will prevent leaks and worse, damage to the RV roof and ceiling.

Cleaning a very dirty 5th wheel

We had a heavy travel scheduled planned for the year, with the July 1 injury everything stopped. We parked a dirty 5th wheel only to get worse from dirt and pollen along with the road scum hardening on the surface. Our next step for preparing our RV for a trip was to give the 5th wheel a good scrub.

It takes us around 3 hours to wash the external surfaces of our 5th wheel. The roof had gone from a bright white to an ugly gray and black. Aside from it dirty appearance, a dark roof adsorbs the sun and doesn’t reflect causing unwanted heat. Our roof is PVC and when clean reflects the sun and reduces the hot temperatures in the 5th wheel.

We don’t use a pressure washer. I don’t have an issue with those who have pressure washer skills, I don’t. I prefer to use a large, soft bristle car wash brush. Also, harsh detergents such as Dawn or similar products can cause damage to the RV surface finish stripping the wax and causing premature oxidation. I’ve had good success using Meguiar’s M4364 Marine/RV Boat Wash. A large bottle will last several years and I use on our F-350 too.

Tow vehicle tire inspection

Having experienced two RV tire blow outs during our early RV travels, I never start a long trip without inspecting the condition of our tires and tire pressure. We also use TST tire monitoring on our 5th wheels and F-350 to watch for changes in temperatures and pressure that could result in a blow out while traveling.

We always follow the tire pressures recommended by the RV and tire manufacturer. These are posted on the side or inside the doorway of the RV and on the side of the tire. Under or over inflating the tires can cause excessive tire pressure or over heating and result in failure.

We also inspect the condition of the tires. We look for damage to the sidewalls or the treads resulting for pot holes or other road hazards. We check the bead next to the rim. We look for cracks, defects or any indication of dry rot. If found, we have the tires replaced.

Also check the tire lugs to ensure each are tight. You can find the manufacturer axle recommendations for lugs online.

Failing to inspect and remedy RV tire issues can cause failure and when these tires blow, they destroy the sides of the RV and can blow holes in the floor.

Tow vehicle hitch and tires

For those that have a tow vehicle, the hitch should be inspected at least once a year. This included both 5th wheel and camper hitches. Inspect and tighten all the bolts. Look for cracks or failed welds in the hitch, tongue or pin. Lube the hitch per manufacturers recommendations.

For those of us who tow 5th wheels and have older trucks without the puck system, check the bolts connecting the rails to the frame. Make sure all are tight to the brackets and frame.

Those miscellaneous tasks before travel

There are a number of small, yet important tasks to perform before RV travel and more so if the RV has been sitting for a period of time. In the video below, I share our steps for each as they relate to our needs and may be helpful as you prepare for your travels.

If you need more information about the products used in the video, we have provided helpful links below.

Preparing Our RV For A Trip
Helpful Links:
Not sure about what RV accessories you need as you start RV travel?
RV AccessoriesCheck out our RV Accessories page where we have listed a wide range of products from essential items to those “nice to have” RV products to make RV life more enjoyable. Every item listed is being used or has been used by Joan and I as we’ve traveled across the country in our RV.
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