So digging out of a foot and a half of snow and driving to work in 20 degree weather makes it hard to believe that spring is right around the corner. Our friend, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring this year, meaning either he is lying or once again it has been proven that neither man nor beast can accurately predict the weather. What we can predict is that there are a whole bunch of RVers out there that are especially eager for the first camping trip of the year.
It used to be when the weather started to change it was time to put your RV away for the winter. Brands like Northwood, Heartland, and Lance are renowned for their cold weather capability but almost all manufacturers offer a four seasons coach, making the RV camping season nearly year round. Here, in the Pacific Northwest, folks camp all year. If you wait for the weather in Oregon you get a couple really stunning months in the summer, but that is when everyone else is enjoying the RV Wonderland that is our fine state. There is a reason Oregon was voted the best state to RV in by Trailer Life Magazine, and lots of RVers find out why every year. The RV lifestyle is a social one for most and we are happy to have you, but off season camping has it’s pros as well.
If you are more of a traditionalist, and you do put your RV away for the winter, don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out – for us over 40). A four season RV is only four season within reason and even the most die-hard RVers were snow bound recently.
During the recent Snowpocalypse here I had neighbors without power that found another benefit to owning an RV by firing up their generator and camping out next to the house. I also had a neighbor who discovered that an RV is not always in the same working order as when you left it.
Putting your RV away properly, or winterizing, does increase your chances that it will be in good working order when it’s time to go camping again, but there are no absolutes. Batteries naturally discharge, small spiders and mud daubers like to build nests in the nooks and crannies of your RV’s appliances, and rodents can chew through wiring. No matter if you winterize your own RV or you leave that to the experts at Guaranty RV Super Centers or your local RV dealer there is still the chance that some of the everyday components of your vehicle will reach the natural end of their lives. Batteries and tires are good for five to seven years and often fail at the worst times. Propane tanks, with the exception of frame hung permanent tanks, are certified for 12 years and require inspection and re-certification after that before they can be legally filled. Vent lids and seam sealants will eventually deteriorate and need to be replaced. Guaranty offers free roof inspections and your local dealer may as well.
Whether you do it yourself or enlist the aid of a trusted professional, your RV should have a thorough inspection before your first camping outing of the season. I am pretty sure Murphy owned an RV and it was directly related to the passing of his law. Seriously though an RV is basically a house on a car, even towables have running gear, that experiences an earthquake anytime it travels. Things do break and fail from time to time, unfortunately usually at the worst time. Inspecting and operating your RVs systems will give some advanced warning, and hopefully provide time for repairs before you make to the campground. Here is a short list of the most important areas to inspect when you’re getting your RV ready for the season.
A GOOD BATH
Wash it. Give it a good bath and then look for any signs of water leaks.
Roof vents, windows, and where walls meet or the roof meets the walls are all common areas water may find a way in. Water leaks are a significant danger to an RV and can do irreparable damage in a relatively short period of time.
FILL ‘ER UP
Fill your fresh water tank and run your water system on both the pump side and city water. This will not only let you know if the system has any leaks, it will also get rid of any RV antifreeze left from winterization. It’s important to test both the pump side and city water because there is a portion of the plumbing that is dedicated to each system. So there’s the chance that city water doesn’t leak but the pump or plumbing leading to the tee where the two systems meet does, or vice versa. This also gives you a chance to check the condition of your fresh water hose, and your waste hose. I do suggest flushing the toilet and dumping both the grey and black tanks, simultaneously checking the waste systems and the condition of your waste hose.
Inspect your tires for any signs of dry rot or damage. Weather-checking is an issue with all tires and is easily identifiable as “cracks” in the side wall of a tire. Tread life is rarely an issue with an RV but it is worth taking a look at your tires tread for depth and damage. Blow outs are at best costly and at worst dangerous, so this is an area of special attention. A tire should be replaced every seven years regardless of physical appearance. You can find the age of a tire printed directly onto the sidewall. There is a four digit number known as the DOT number, and the first two digits tell you which week and the second pair tell you which year the tire was made. For example DOT 2810, was made the 28th week of 2010.
Plug your RV in. If you leave it plugged in that’s great, but if not plug it in and test the electrical system. Then unplug and retest. This is a cheater way to check the quality of your batteries if you don’t have a multi-meter. If your lights seem less bright or appliances have operation issues, your batteries may have be the culprit. Check the batteries for corrosion and pop the caps off to check the water levels. If you do not leave your RV plugged in it may just be that the batteries need to charge, but as we have said a battery’s life is five years, seven for some AGM and 6volt options, and it may be time to replace. Most of the time the batteries date code is stamped into the batteries case using two letters and a number. The first letter refers to the month it was manufactured: A-L refers to January – December. The number refers to the year in which the battery was made. For example: 2 would be 2012, 3 would be 2013, 4 would be 2014, etc.
FIRE ‘ER UP
Start your appliances and let them cycle. Obviously this gives you an idea of their operation, but it will also give an indication of the condition of the LP system. First and Foremost, IF YOU SMELL PROPANE CONTACT A PROFESSIONAL. They add the smell to LP for a reason and it is a combustible gas after all. If your appliances have not been fired up in a while you may want to light a burner on the stove top and let that run a bit too sort of prime the system. Your refrigerator may take more than 24 hours to reach temperature and you should be tested on 110v as well as propane.
So there is a lot involved in a Spring inspection and if you don’t have the time or the ambition Guaranty RV offers a Spring Tune-Up special for a mere $99.00. If you walked in off the street and asked us to perform all of the system checks included in the special, based on hourly labor, the bill would be three times that amount. To be clear, there is no diagnostic or repair included in the $99.00 Spring Tune-Up special. Guaranty will check and advise on the operation of your water system, propane system, and appliances. Both your house and chassis batteries, if applicable, the RV’s charging system and battery disconnects are all checked for condition and proper operation. We even check the bi-directional relay on motorized units. We will inspect your roof and sidewall seals for condition and do a full roof inspection. We even “charge” your holding tank with our favorite sanitation chemical, Happy Camper. When the checks have been completed you will have the comfort of knowing all is well or at least the issues that need addressing. If we do find systems or components that do not pass inspection we would be happy to provide repair estimates. We can even order the list according to what we feel is the most pressing needs in order of importance.
Get your camping season off to an easy and enjoyable start. Call Guaranty RV Service at 541-998-4285 and tell them you want the Spring Tune-Up Special.