Get your motor running with these 5 pointers.
The snow has finally melted, and the sun is peeking through the clouds. Looks like it’s nearly time for that first road trip of the season! But first you’ll need to spend an afternoon dewinterizing your rig. You don’t want to waste valuable travel time repairing a water leak or fixing a flat tire.
Whether you drive a class A, B, or C motorhome, the steps are largely the same; most of the differences involve what type of stuff you’ve got inside.
Exactly when you decide to dewinterize is up to you. Just give yourself enough time to charge your batteries and check your tires before you start burning up the road.
You won’t get to a campsite or resort with a dead battery, so we’ll start there. Disconnect from shore power and turn off your RV’s power, ensuring the main cutoff is “off.” Next, don some safety glasses and latex gloves.
Inspect your batteries and use hot water and baking soda to clean any corrosion you find around the terminals. Check for cracks and replace any cracked batteries.
Now for the charge. A battery can lose about 10% of its charge for each month it’s in storage. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few hours – or longer – to charge them. The size of the batteries and how they were winterized will impact the length of charge time. Plan on charging them overnight if your rig has more than four.
You can move on to checking your tires while your battery is charging.
Proper pressure: a pressing issue.
Inflating your tires is crucial in moving along at highway speed. The last thing you need is rapid tread wear, uneven handling, or a blowout.
Check each tire – and your spare – for cracks along the treads and sidewall. Then, check the pressure with a tire inflation gauge and inflate them to the pressure listed in the manufacturer’s guidelines. You might find that they’re quite low: tires can lose 2 to 3 psi a month while sitting in storage.
Flush your tanks.
Restoring your water system involves two main tasks: removing RV antifreeze from your plumbing and sanitizing the system.
We’ll start with the antifreeze.
Start by closing all faucets. Reconnect any water lines you may have disconnected, while leaving your water heater in “bypass” mode. Next, put a water hose in your rig’s municipal water inlet and turn on the water. Look and listen for any leaks.
None? Flush out the antifreeze. Turn on the water pump; then, turn on a faucet – first the hot water, then the cold – until it runs clear. Repeat at each faucet, shower, and toilet, plus the toilet and low point drain.
When the water runs clear at each, turn off the supply and disconnect the hose. Then, fill your fresh water tank with enough water to flush each faucet again. Turn on the pump, and repeat the flushing at each faucet as you did before.
Smells like a bleach solution.
Sanitizing your water system correctly is critical. Here’s how you do it:
- Close the drains and install drain plugs.
- Take a quarter-cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water that goes in your fresh water holding tank. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container. Now, pour the mixture in your tank.
- Run water at each faucet until you smell the bleach mixture.
- After 8 to 12 hours, drain the fresh water tank and fill it up with fresh water.
- Run each faucet until you can’t smell any bleach.
- Drain the remaining water from the tank.
- If you still smell bleach, refill the tank and repeat until you don’t smell anything.
- Install any water filters and turn the water heater bypass off.
Release that robin hood.
We’re nearly done! Open up that hood and look for any bird nests, cobwebs, or critters that’ve taken up residence. Check your engine oil and transmission, steering, brake and windshield fluids, and top them off as needed.
Now, fire up that engine and test your headlights, brake lights, running lights, and emergency lights. Drive around the block and test your turn signals, steering, and brakes. Listen for any strange noises that might require a trip to a certified RV service center.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but not everything. Check out our Dewinterizing Your RV guide to learn how to inspect the interior and exterior of your vehicle, flush your black tank, test your appliances, and much more.