Springtime Trailer Maintenance Tips
Summer is a time of rest and relaxation. For those who enjoy camping in any of the magnificent parks Ontario has to offer, leisurely days of lounging around the trailer with family and friends and relaxing in a magnificent outdoor splendor, is what it’s all about. In order to enjoy those wonderful family memories to the fullest this year, there are a few simple trailer maintenance tips you will need to consider. A well-maintained RV makes for a worry-free trip.
Take it from someone who has learned the hard way over the years.
In the spring when you open-up your trailer for the first time, there are a few simple tasks you need to perform before heading off on the first exciting camping trip of the year. First things first, you will need to inspect all corners of your RV for signs of winter water leakage. Even newer model travel trailers can sustain minor water and moisture damage over the winter. Check the ceiling first for water stains, and then look in and around waterlines for signs of splitting or leaking from failed ‘winterizing’ work. A waterline that has leaked RV antifreeze will show the telltale ‘pink stain’ and should be looked at (& repaired) right away. Open the windows and air out your trailer, and then run cold water through the lines to clear out all the winterizing fluid.
Electrical system check
Once your RV has been opened and you start gearing-up for a five to six month camping season, the electrical system is your next area of concern. If your trailer has a battery/inverter system, you need to ensure that everything is functional and set to go. Be sure to start-off of the season with a fully charged quality deep cycle battery, and keep an eye on your panel to make sure the charge is being maintained, ensuring that 12 volt equipment like your fridge and lights are functioning to full capacity. A tired or weak inverter system will fail to properly charge your battery, and in some cases may need replacing. The last thing you need on a big camping weekend is a dead battery, no lights and a warm fridge. It is wise to include a 2AMP battery charger with you on every camping trip, just in case. This will come in handy should you experience any invertor issues and a battery that isn’t receiving a proper charge.
Propane & heating system
The next area of concern, when setting your trailer up for the first time, is to inspect the propane and heating system. Start by dong a visual inspection to ensure that all propane fittings are tight, from the tank to the trailer, and then open the gas flow to clear air from the lines. Try lighting each of your stove burners one at a time to ensure constant flow, and check for any obvious propane smell. If your RV is equipped with a Liquid Propane (LP) detector, check that the indicator light is on, and press the test button to confirm that it is armed and ready. If your trailer is equipped with a heating season, you should also confirm that it ignites and fires properly when thermostat is turned. Propane powered appliances are essential especially during early season, and detecting any problems before your first trip is crucial.
Trailer roof inspection
Once all aspects of your trailer’s interior have been attended to, it’s time to head outside and inspect the exterior for any trouble areas. The first place you should start is on the roof. Since most modern RV’s come with a rubber-style roof, which is quite low maintenance yet can still experience difficulties from time to time. In the spring, the entire area of your roof should be swept clean of debris; including all rain gutters, around the air vents and AC unit. A soft bristle broom works best, and you should be careful not to scratch any of the roof surfaces. Cracked toilet vent or air vent covers need to be replaced right away. Take note of any spots where the roof may have sustained winter damage and call your RV Tech if anything noticeable is discovered. A happy roof makes for a happy camping season.
Road travel tips
Now that your trailer has been fully inspected and is ready to head out on the road, there are a couple of last minute maintenance checks you’ll need to take care of. Your trailer’s tires, wheels and wheel bearings are of utmost importance and have spelled disaster for many camping trips over the years. Your trailer tires should be inspected for what I like to refer to as; wear and air. If any ‘uneven’ wear is observed on the tires, it may be an indication of wheel-balancing or axle problems. If all the tires appear solid and smooth and are not dried-out make sure they are inflated to the proper tire pressure. When a trailer tire is rated for 70 PSI, you must inflate to that amount exactly, no more no less. Improperly inflated tires are a safety hazard on the road and can cause premature tire wear. Your rims and wheel bearing must also be inspected and serviced at the beginning of the season. You may either ‘repack’ the bearings with grease, or have them replaced completely. Worn-out bearings will make a loud, whining noise when spun and need to be replaced right away. Wheel bearings past their prime tend to overheat and could potentially leave you stranded on the side of the road. (With your family scowling at you from inside the vehicle)
Camping safe and sound
Following just a few simple springtime procedures will ensure a safe and sound camping season. Too many otherwise fabulous camping trips are ruined by trailer issues which could easily have been prevented.
Enjoy your summer camping season and travel safely!
By Jeff Morrison
Growing up in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, Jeff was introduced to the outdoors at a young age; falling in love with it instantly. Over the years, he has made the Great Outdoors and conservation a focal point for his life’s work. Known by his readers as The Outdoors Guy, Jeff’s Blog on the Ottawa Sun is host to upwards of 10,000 visitors per month.