Diehard RV enthusiasts know you can crash for free overnight in many Walmart parking lots. While they won’t have all the amenities of campsites, you can easily stock up on snacks and other essentials.
Unfortunately, the Walmart parking lot is only as safe as your RV. One woman found this out the hard way when she had a different kind of crash.
We’ll discover what happened to this unhappy camper and explore important RV maintenance steps you can take to avoid potential accidents.
Let’s dive in!
Woman Loses Control of Her RV
One December afternoon, a woman resting in the Walmart parking lot was annoyed by a large box truck parked beside her RV. She decided to move her camper so she could have more privacy.
Unfortunately, she lost control and hit a shopping cart before colliding with a curb. For some reason, she was unable to stop until the vehicle crashed into a tree. The woman needed to call a tow truck for repairs.
It’s possible the RV had bad brakes or a damaged tire. On the other hand, she may have let her power steering fluid dry out. Whatever the explanation for her unfortunate crash at Walmart, she could have avoided the incident with routine maintenance.
7 Tips For Proper RV Maintenance
Driving an RV can take some getting used to. They are slow to start and stop, and you’ll deal with much larger blind spots than in a smaller vehicle. And just like any car, they require regular upkeep to avoid problems.
Some people are comfortable tuning up their vehicles. However, if you’re not one of those people, hire a professional for your RV maintenance rather than skip it. These tips will help keep you safe when you’re on the road.
Your RV is heavy, even before loading it up with your gear. So it’s crucial to keep your breaks in good shape if you want to stop safely, especially when avoiding an accident. Get the brakes inspected at least once a year. The wheel bearings, which help keep your wheels straight, should be in good shape and well-lubricated.
Check the brake pads to make sure they’re thick enough to bring you to a quick stop. They usually last 35,000 miles before they need replacement. However, they can wear out quicker under certain conditions.
#2 Fluids and Filters
Even if your RV is stationary over the winter, you still want to keep up with regular maintenance. Try to change the oil twice a year to keep the engine healthy. You should also swap out the old oil filter to keep the new oil clean.
Air filters are easy to miss, but when they get clogged, your A/C will have to overcompensate. In most rigs, they’re easy to clean or replace yourself.
Don’t forget to top off your brake fluid, power steering, and coolant while you’re at it. You’ll also want to keep your wiper fluid stocked to get the bugs off your windshield. If you’re going somewhere cold, you may need special fluid that won’t freeze.
Pro Tip: We spoke to an RV mechanic to find out what typically breaks first in an RV.
#3 Fuses and Batteries
RVs have a lot more fuses and batteries to maintain than your car. You’ll need to review the owner’s manual to get the full details to keep your powered systems operating. Check your fuses at least once a year, and keep extras on hand.
Motorhome batteries typically last three to five years. But if you ever accidentally let it go dead, consider replacing it with a new one. The last thing you want is a bad battery to spoil your trip. On that note, a battery charger can be very handy to help get back on the road if your rig needs a jump.
#4 Leaks and Seals
One of the best things about an RV is the combination of freedom and protection from the elements. But, unfortunately, they aren’t immune to leaks.
Even a small hole can cause a lot of damage in a rainstorm. Water creates wood rot and can fry your electrical systems. So before you hit the road, check your rig from top to bottom for leaks.
Rubber seals around windows and doors are vulnerable spots. In addition, it’s a good idea to check around the A/C unit on the roof. Look for damaged or raised rubber and get it fixed before it becomes an issue. You can use exterior caulk or sealant if there’s a crack in the outside wall.
The lights on your vehicle are just as important for helping others see you as they are for lighting the road. Whether pulling a trailer or driving an RV, brake lights deserve special attention. If they aren’t connected properly, or the bulb goes out, you may get rear-ended when you have to slow down suddenly.
Visually inspect all of your headlights and taillights before each ride. Not only will it keep you safe, but it also can prevent a ticket.
Also, carry extra bulbs for your camper, and know how to replace them before you head out.
#6 Propane Tank and Lines
Your propane tank makes all the difference between living glamorously and roughing it. But a gas leak can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and turn a single spark into a deadly fire.
If the cabin smells like propane, get out and turn it off at the tank until you can find the source. You can check the gas lines with a thin layer of soapy water which will bubble if you have a leak.
Beyond that, make sure you’re stocked up for the trip, especially if you’re headed into the middle of nowhere.
Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Avoid an RV Propane Explosion to stay safe while on the road.
#7 Tire Quality and Pressure
Tire problems can make your RV harder to control. If you ignore them, the tire may blow out while driving.
Before each trip, inspect the tire treads and replace them as they wear out. You’ll also need to ensure the lugnuts are tight before hitting the road. Finally, get your tires rotated periodically. Just like with any other car, regularly rotating them helps the tread last longer.
Don’t forget to check the tire pressure. Not only can low pressure ruin your gas mileage, but it also can ruin your brakes and wheels. Tires will naturally lose a little bit of air over time. But it’s especially common with sudden temperature drops. So check tire pressure every time you fill the gas tank, and be especially mindful if the weather changes.
Regular RV Maintenance is Crucial
Owning a motorhome opens up a whole new world of fun, but it’s not something to take lightly. The Boy Scout’s motto offers the best wisdom for every RV trip: Always be prepared.
If you spend too much time on the packing list but neglect your vehicle, you can be in for some expensive repairs. Or, like the women who crashed at Walmart, you may put yourself and others in a dangerous situation.
But if you stay on top of RV maintenance, you’ll save money on repairs in the long run. You’ll also be confident that everything will work when you need it to.
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