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Get Ready For Summer RV Trips

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Now that the spring thaw is putting a bee in your bonnet to hit the open road, it’s time to prep your motorhome for summertime travels. Keep the following items on your checklist before you set out on the first trip of the season. For more summer travel tips, refer to the Getting Ready to Roll: RV Travel Prep article.

7 Tips to Get Your RV Ready for Summer:

–    Begin by cleaning and inspecting it from top to bottom, noting any damage.
–    Check the maintenance book and records to determine what items were done prior to storage and what is due now.
–    Set tire pressures, check the fluid levels in the engine and genset, differential and transmission.
–    Charge the batteries, clean the terminals and check electrolyte levels.
–    Flush out the freshwater and holding tanks.
–    Check the air filter and replace if needed.
–    Remove any cobwebs or debris, and test the refrigerator and water heater (more on that later).

Water Heater
Have you changed the sacrificial anode in your coach’s water heater lately? Winter storage, when the tank is drained, is the best time to check it. Some RV water heaters, including Suburban-brand models, have an anode that is used up in an electrolytic process, which prevents damage to the tank. It should be inspected annually for deterioration.

Motorhome owners often forget to drain and flush their water heaters.
–    Remove the drain plug at the bottom of the tank and allow any sediment to escape with the water. Some models also have an anode rod that is part of the drain plug.
–    Inspect the rod and replace it if it is more than 75 percent depleted. Refer to the water heater’s instruction manual for replacement details.
–    Reinstall the drain plug and refill the tank before lighting the burner.

Sanitize Your Freshwater Tanks
Freshwater tanks should be sanitized regularly, especially in hot weather. To freshen the water system, follow these steps:
–    Fill the water tank half full.
–    Add a solution of 1/4-cup household bleach and 1 gallon of water for every 15 gallons of tank capacity.
–    Open all the faucets until all air has been bled from the system and the water coming out has the odor of the bleach solution before shutting off the taps.
–    After three to five hours, drain the water system and refill it with fresh water
–    Run water through all faucets and then drain the system again.

Refrigerator: Are you having on-the-road refrigerator problems?
Don’t let your food spoil in warm temperatures. Check your refer to see that it is keeping perishable foods adequately cold. If you’re traveling and having problems with the refrigerator in your motorhome, here’s an online source of diagnostic information for do-it-yourselfers. Try www.rvmobile.com. This site has a large section devoted to identifying refrigerator problems, including troubleshooting, technical info and help for finding parts for repairs.

Summertime temperatures result in faster water use in batteries. Water-use depends on temperature and charging/discharging activity. The hotter it is, the more water is needed. Also, if batteries are heavily discharged, they will use more water during driving and charging cycles. Therefore, you need to check the electrolyte level regularly and top off with distilled water for longest service life.

Onboard Generator
Make sure you don’t overlook maintenance of your onboard generator when you take your motorhome out of storage and ready it for the upcoming season. Gensets should have their oil and filter changed, fuel filter replaced, and air filter checked and serviced. Check the owner’s manual for any other procedures as well.

Keep It Cool
Radiator hoses and other coolant hoses should be replaced about every five years. Although they may look fine from the outside, many times they deteriorate inside first. They can then burst without warning and if the driver fails to notice the temperature gauge, severe engine damage may result. While you’re at it, replace the thermostat and all hose clamps, and flush the cooling system.

Avoid Overheating When Towing

Driving motorhomes in extreme temperatures while climbing hills and towing a dinghy vehicle can cause overheating. Here’s a tip that may make you uncomfortable, but could just keep your engine’s coolant from boiling. If the engine temperature gets near the danger zone, shut off the dash air-conditioner, open the windows and turn on the heater (not defrost, which runs the air-conditioner compressor, too) as hot as it can go with high fan speed. This often reduces coolant temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees. Never drive with an overheated engine.

Fuel System
Here’s a tip to control bacterial growth in a diesel fuel tank: Bacteria require water and a warm temperature to thrive in a fuel tank. It is important to identify the source of water and eliminate the source, or remove it through dehydration by using additives. Owners should consider adding BioBor or similar diesel-fuel additives, which are available at truck stops and auto-parts stores.

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