RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape

RV with Awning Out

RV with Awning Out

Whether you’re new to the  Trailer RV Lifestyle like me or a seasoned RVer, you’ll want to stay on top of maintenance so you can enjoy your Recreational Vehicle for many years to come. Exterior maintenance is a great place to start.

Go RVing Canada has created a handy checklist of maintenance tips to keep your RV exterior in top shape and I have added a few comments of mine gleaned from friends and a tiny bit of experience this year after I purchased my first trailer in July 2017.  Previously, I owned a Get A Way camper van for 12 years so have some RV knowledge.

1. Wash your RV exterior after each trip

Hose off the loose dirt and grime, then a sponge wash with mild soap and water rinse does the trick. But make sure you wash your RV exterior regularly and ideally after you return from each trip. Be careful to prevent condensation and avoid spraying water directly into appliance vents.  I use a spray soap jet on the hose and a car cleaning soft brush to go over my Denali Trailer.  This includes the roof that I access with a nine foot ladder.

Cleaning the Get A Way Van!

Cleaning the Get A Way Van!

2. Wax or apply a protectant to your RV exterior

Wax on, wax off, channel your inner Karate Kid and apply a coat of good quality wax or protectant to your RV exterior. This can be a time-consuming task depending on the size of your RV but it is well worth the effort. Make sure the exterior is dry before you start waxing and spot-test on a small area of graphics before widespread application. Check to ensure that the wax is appropriate for use on the type of exterior on your RV.  I did this shortly after purchasing my Trailer and it certainly helps to remove the bugs and bird poop after a camping trip, especially those pesky ones that splat on the front of the vehicle.

3. Clean your awning and keep it dry for storage

Before you roll up your RV awning for storage, clean it well with mild soap and water, and lubricate moving parts with silicon spray. When you roll it up, ensure that the awning is in the locked position. I cleaned my awning once and will do it again before I winterize the trailer in November.

4. Inspect any sealed areas thoroughly to prevent water damage

Your RV is out and about in the elements day-after-day on your adventures throughout the seasons. You’ll want to make sure that your RV exterior including the roof, sides, edges, windows, doors, vents, end caps, moldings, compartments and underside are sealed off and doing their job to protect the interior from potential water damage, mice or other rodents. Look for any gaps, openings or areas with aged sealant and re-caulk if necessary. Make sure to use the appropriate sealant and when in doubt, ask your RV dealer or manufacturer for advice.

Setting up the RV

Setting up the RV

Funny story on our third camping trip to Alouette in Golden Ears Provincial Park, we had a mouse in the trailer.  I had to purchase some mousetraps but did not catch any so the mouse exited. On my return I purchased some foaming pest spray and went around all of the openings on the bottom of my trailer which included the water drains, stabilizers, and other pipes.  I found a few holes the size of a dime that a mouse could squeeze through.

Another tip I picked up was placing scent-free dryer sheets in the RV to reduce bugs and keep spiders out.

5. Lubricate all hinges, locks and moving parts

No one likes creaky doors or windows or compartments for that matter. Lubricating hinges and moving parts with WD40 and all locks with a graphite spray lubricant is an easy maintenance step that takes only a couple of minutes.  When I purchased the Denali it had been stored and not used for the current season so all of the hinges squeaked.

6. Cover outside vents to keep the critters (and condensation) away

Keep the insects out and prevent nesting by installing plastic bags or covers on outside vents (furnace, refrigerator, water heater) for long-term storage. Buy a proper A/C cover (versus using a plastic bag) and cover your air conditioning unit to avoid condensation during storage.

Our 2017 Camping Stone

Our 2017 Camping Stone

My vents have a Max Air flow cover on them and I have purchased a full breathable RV cover for the trailer and will use this during the winter as I have to store my Denali outside.

7. Open your vents

When your RV is not being used during the summer months, the inside living area can get up to 130F degrees depending on your location. That type of intense heat will cause even the toughest materials to break down and fail over time. Open your vents to let the air in. (But remember to keep the outside vents closed to keep the rain out!)  I can keep my vents open as most have a Max Air cover but one that is not covered is rain sensitive and will automatically close when it rains.

8. Lubricate your slide-out rails

Lubricate your slide-out rails a couple of times a year to stop rust and corrosion. You can find a can of lubricant spray specifically designed for this project for under $20. This is a much cheaper solution than replacing your slide-outs down the road.  I will be doing this before I put the trailer to bed in the winter as well as coating the rubber slide-out seals with a seal product to protect the rubber.

As I use my trailer more I am sure I will come across the need to obtain other advice or maintenance tips, so I will publish a blog next year to update you on my experiences.  In the meantime for more RV maintenance tips, check out the Go RVing Canada YouTube videos on GoRVing.ca.

Published: September 29th, 2017

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Joss Penny by Joss Penny

Joss has been employed by the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association since 1988 and held the position of Executive Director since 2006. Over the past 30 years Joss has been involved in many of the provincial processes that have shaped the tourism product in British Columbia. Joss has a keen interest in the outdoors and enjoys running, fishing and camping pursuits.

2 thoughts on "RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape"

Avatar Ellie Davis says:

My husband bought an RV last week but he just noticed that the doors are not properly sealed. As you mentioned that could lead to water damage other serious problems. I will contact a professional to help me fix that problem before our road trip.

Avatar Cliff MCKAY says:

About winterizing at the end of the season, don’t forget to open up the outside water connection and drain it. The one that you would connect city water to if you were camping in that kind of campsite.

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