RV Winter: Tips to Prep Your Rv for Winterizing
With winter just around the corner, it's time to think about putting your RV into safe storage for the long cold months ahead. Especially if it will not be used. Fall is also the time of year you need to decide if your camping season is over. Parking your RV for the winter requires some preventive measures so it will be ready to use next spring. You'll also be glad you did it when you don't have costly repair bills due to the damaging results of winter. Now the question is how do you prepare it for winter, and who will be doing it?
You may be thinking "Should I take my RV back to the dealer to have it winterized?" Or is this something I can do myself?
For those intimidated by the prospect of winterizing their RV, we've compiled a few key recommendations you should add to your personal to-do lists in the coming weeks.
Caring for your engine is a no brainer. Make sure your radiator has anti-freeze and while you're at it make sure the oil, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid levels are topped up. A fuel stabilizer that is run through your engine for a few minutes prior to winter will also be beneficial.
TIP #1 RV Generator
If your RV is equipped with a generator you need to drain it of fuel.Left for months, fuel can turn to lacquer that will plug the jets in the carburetor. Next spring, getting it to start might require a sizable repair bill if you don't allow it to run out of gas before putting it in storage.Your RV generator may not have a fuel shut-off valve installed from the factory, but installing one is well worth the effort. With the generator running, shut off the fuel valve and allow the generator to run until it quits from lack of fuel.
Be sure to push the kill switch after it stops running — because, the electric fuel pump continues to run as long as the run button is in the ON position.
Tip #2 RV Battery
RV trailers may only have one battery, while motorhomes may have 3 or 4. For a single battery, you should disconnect and remove it to be stored in a warm environment. Make sure the water level is sufficient and that the battery is fully charged, then put it in a safe place. Make sure it's not sitting directly on a concrete floor — because that will allow the battery to slowly drain. If the garage floor is where you plan to keep it, put it on a piece of plywood.
If your motorhome is equipped with multiple batteries and a battery disconnect system, you can prepare your batteries as stated and turn off the disconnect. Installing a solar trickle charge system will help keep your batteries fully charged if the unit is parked outside. Simply set it on the dashboard where sunlight can get to it, and plug it into the cigarette lighter.
Don't forget to remove small batteries too — because they can freeze, leak, and become destroyed. Remove the batteries from TV remotes, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and don't forget the clock on the wall.
The place you store your RV over the winter is important. For those with smaller Class B and Class C motor homes, you may be lucky enough to squeeze the vehicle into your home garage. Another option is outdoor storage canopies so you can house your RV on your driveway(make sure the cover you buy is breathable in order to prevent mildew). There are a number of professional service lots or campgrounds that also offer storage facilities.
For some, due to zoning restrictions or lack of space, renting space in a storage lot is their only option. Be aware that storage facilities are not held liable for any damage to your RV for any reason. You must maintain comprehensive or storage insurance if you expect to be reimbursed in the event of vandalism, theft, fire, or any other calamity that may affect your RV while it's in storage.
The absolute best option is to store your RV fully protected in a heated garage or storage building. For most of us, this isn't an option. Most often, it's a matter of parking the RV where it fits — be it beside the garage or off the side of the driveway. Another choice for parking would be a concrete or blacktop parking pad. Next, would be a well drained dry gravel parking pad. The last choice would be somewhere on the lawn.
Tip #3 RV Covers
Sun and snow are your RV's worst enemies. In addition to protecting your tires with tire covers, if your RV will remain outdoors throughout the winter, it's important to protect the RV itself with a cover as well.
An RV garage or canopy protects your RV investment from sun and weather damage.
As a less expensive alternative an inexpensive, plastic tarp will go a long way in preventing both sun damage and water infiltration from melting snow. This is an expense you definitely want to invest in, the more of your RV you cover, the better.
CAUTION: The bungee cord is the most common way of attaching a plastic tarp over an RV. The metal hooks, though plastic coated, will cause damage if allowed to rest on the finished surfaces of the exterior of your RV. Wind will move them around, and by spring there will be bare metal showing where paint should be. A simple way to avoid this damage is to take strips of old bathroom towels and wrap the hooks — securely tying them in place with string.
Clean is Key
Just as it's nice to return to a clean home after a vacation, it will be much more pleasant if you can open the doors on a tidy RV come the spring. That means you should make sure all food and drinks have been removed from your RV. Even items perceived as non-perishable can freeze and explode in cold enough climates, so you're best to remove those just in case. Once the food is out, give everything a good scrub down. Like all other dirt and grime, messiness gets tougher with time, and your spring self will appreciate your pre-winter cleaning efforts.
Tip #4 Food & Rodents Inside The RV
Remove all food items from your RV. That includes boxed dry goods as well as canned goods. Cans can freeze and split, and dry goods will keep winter rodents fat and happy.
Keeping mice out of your RV can be a real problem. They will chew up fabric or insulation to make nests, and they can damage wiring and other non-food related items as well. Setting a good multiple catch mouse trap will keep your RV secure as four-legged intruders try to make their home inside your RV.
Tip #5 RV Exterior
Over the winter months any dirt, grime, or road chemicals not removed from the exterior of your RV will continue to rust, dissolve, or discolor the finish. This will quickly age your RV and spoil that shiny new look.
In many dusty regions, county highway crews often apply calcium chloride (liquid salt) as a dust control agent on dirt roads. It can create pits and corrosion on aluminum wheels — just like winter road salt does to your car. The best protection is a good wash and wax before you store your RV for the winter.
Tip #6 RV Interior
Sun damage will cause fabrics to become brittle, plastic to yellow, and carpeting to fade inside your RV. To prevent this, lower the shades, cover the windshield and do whatever you can to keep direct sunlight from beaming into your RV.
Monitor Your RV
Check on the RV monthly. Once properly stored, a monthly visual check will prove helpful so you can catch small problems before they turn into big problems. This may include leaks from rain, vents or windows that opened in the wind, or covers that blew off.
If you are storing your RV in extremely cold climates, be sure to talk to an RV service professional, as extra preparations need to be made to protect from freezing temperatures.
For you lucky RVers in areas that don't see a cold season like Arizona or Florida, enjoy your warm winter RVing. And for those of you tucking your motorhome away, check back in the spring for how to properly "de-winterize" your RV!
A Winter Ready RV
Even the best RV "winterizes" should check their rig regularly throughout the winter months. Catching a small problem when it develops is better than discovering a full-blown problem in the spring! The tips in this blog post are general guidelines, and your specific RV owner's manual will include more detailed information for your model.
Remember you can always reach out to one of our La Mesa RV service centers in California, Arizona, Florida, and New Mexico to receive a superior level of customer and RV service. Our passionate staff will help you determine how to best care for your rig in the cold months ahead.