RV maintenance is always begging for attention. And much of it is legitimate stuff that needs to be done to be safe and avoid repairs. But some of it really isn’t critical – at least not yet. Determining what is necessary maintenance and what is not can be an expensive difference. Here are my suggestions for practical RV maintenance.
Learn Your RV
The best frugal advice is to learn your RV, not just the owner’s manual but the parts book and the service manuals, if available. Then listen to your RV. You will soon be able to read its looks and sounds to know if something doesn’t seem “right” before it needs a repair. Also remember that your RV has many systems that need attention: electrical, water, propane, and others. Knowing your RV can help you extend its life by thousands of miles – and cut your costs by thousands of dollars. You can travel more and spend less.
A frugal RVer knows how much of that preventive maintenance he or she can comfortably do. It may include checking tire pressure, servicing tires, basic lubrication, checking and filling fluids, checking and replacing lights and fuses, replacing and gapping spark plugs, checking and replacing belts and hoses, performing an oil change, testing and replacing chassis and house batteries, and more. Each of these jobs you can perform can save you time and money you can spend on camping.
You maintenance comfort-level depends on how you feel about working on machines. If you’re okay with changing your car’s oil and filter and driving it afterwards, you’ll probably be comfortable with many of the maintenance jobs that RVers do. Even so, it’s frugal to have your favorite mechanic show you how to do it on your RV for the first time. Take pictures and make notes. It may be months or a year or more before you do it yourself.
Peform Basic RV Maintenance
One of the primary advantages to doing your own RV maintenance – besides saving money to travel more – is that you will more intimately know your camping vehicle. You’ll feel more confident driving or pulling it, especially on cross-country trips where you’re leaving the comfort of your home nest and mechanic behind. Also, it will make your pre-trip inspection more meaningful as you understand how systems work and what the signs are that indicate they might not.
Do you need to perform regular maintenance even if your RV isn’t getting many miles on it? Absolutely! Engine oil, for example, breaks down and is less effective due to wear, but also over time. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes and other maintenance. Many recommend both mileage and time maximums between servicing. They know that metal corrosion can cause more problems than wear. And quality preventive maintenance – your RV doesn’t care whether it’s you or a well-paid mechanic – can extend the useful life of a towing and towed vehicle. Track it all in your RV Log.
A frugal RVer can help maintain and even repair his or her recreational vehicle. Saving money is part of the reason. More important is learning about the vehicles, how their vital systems work, and how to avoid them not working.
>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!