To upgrade or to not upgrade, that is always the question. With endless gadgets, add-on’s, and exceptional new technology annually coming out for your RV, it can be tricky discerning which ones you should absolutely invest in, and which ones you can pocket for a later date.
We sat down with our parts and service department to get the ins and outs on our most requested motorhome upgrades and which ones are worth the investment.
1. Banks Kits
For Class A Gas motorhomes, this is a great add on for customers looking to get a little more power and fuel economy.
2. Tow Bars
Perfect for Class A motorhomes pulling a ‘Toad’ aka tow vehicle, for added mobility once RV is parked. With a plethora of different set ups, we encourage you to research the following.
A) Is your car capable of being towed? Jeeps and other 4x4s with a manually selectable transfer case seem to be the favorite.
B) Is your RV and hitch capable of pulling the vehicle? For example, some RVs have a 10,000 lb towing capacity, but only have a 5,000 lb hitch installed from factory.
*It is important to note how heavy your FULLY LOADED RV is, and to make sure that by adding a tow vehicle you will not exceed the RVs maximum weight capacity.
C) Which braking system is right for you? From a manual set up to a fully automatic plug and play style, there are options for everyone.
*We recommend Blue Ox for tow bars and SMI Air Force One or the SMI Stay-In-Play for braking systems. Different set ups are offered for gas vs. diesel.
Many manufacturers are now “pre-wiring” RVs for solar. This means that the service center (or the do-it-yourself-type) no longer has to run the wiring through a labyrinth to get from panels to the controller. This is great as it saves a ton of install time and spending.
With numerous options for solar, there are two main types we want to address. There are panels that are permanently attached (usually to the roof) as well as a set up and plug in type (usually as a detached, manually adjustable solar panel with stand) that plug in to the coach. Many coaches offer a “solar plug in” for the set up type.
Then there is the size. Some RVers opt to use a small solar panel to trickle charge their batteries during the off months. Others have 480 watt mini power grids. We encourage you to talk to your repair shop as well as other solar powered RVers for tips and their own experiences, because solar power can be an investment.
In the RV world, you’ve got some options. From a simple dish on a tripod to a sleek dome model that will automatically find the corresponding satellite when you turn it on, there is truly something for everyone. Let’s not forget the models that track the satellite while you’re in route. (We’re talking ball games on the big screen cruising down I-10). There are also numerous options when it comes to your service, from pay as you go to monthly or yearly plans.
* Most RV campgrounds do offer a basic satellite plug in included with the space.
As our parts and service department says, “DO IT.”
Washers are most common in 5th wheels or Class A’s due to the fact that a washer and dryer combo take up a considerable amount of space. A surprising amount of campsites do not offer on-site washer and dryer services, and it can be a real struggle trying to pick a campground based on their laundry service availability, much less having to lug your laundry to the local laundromat.
* Be mindful, even though designed conservatively for RV life, washing machines do use a fair amount of water and electricity. This will not be a problem when at camp, hooked up to city water and plugged in to 220V. As our guys say, “the freedom a washer and dryer offer is pretty amazing.”
6. Sumo Springs
Sumo Springs, typically for Class A RV’s, are a suspension helper that many customers swear by. They are designed to help reduce suspension sway while driving down the road. Feel like your RV is ‘wandering’ while you drive? Sumo Springs are for you.
7. Sway Bars
Every vehicle is equipped with a front sway bar but often times there are improvements to the sway bar that can be made (i.e. thickness) to severely reduce any wandering that a motorhome is experiencing.
* 98% of vehicles do not have a rear sway bar. Sway bar kit’s are great as they include an upgraded front sway bar and a custom made rear sway bar to help with wandering. This is often rather expensive and it can be difficult to find a repair shop to install a custom sway bar on a factory chassis. However, it can be done and it significantly helps with ride stability.
8. Safety Steer
Here is another useful product to help improve the drivability of your unit, which can be used for any motorhome. Safety steer is an upgraded steering stabilizer shock. There are two types to choose from, factory style and adjustable. This is the most inexpensive option when it comes to upgrades for maneuverability and is usually where an RV owner starts when working to correct a roving vehicle scenario.
9. Batteries, Inverters & Camping Gear
Ideal for for boondocking and dry camping. Lithium ion is all the rage these days, and rightly so. They are great batteries with a substantial battery life (over lead-acid batteries) and have much greater energy efficiency, but boy, you pay for them!
If you’d like another more affordable option, there are upgrades that you can opt for on the battery bank such as adding batteries to handle the increased demand, or even switching to 6v marine deep cycle batteries (which are supposed to be able to drain entirely without losing any capacity.)
Randy, our very own parts professional states, ” I would highly, highly recommend a customer to take his RV to a professional shop to get ANY battery work or maintenance done. A lot of people think they know about electricity, and while I’m sure they do, we sometimes have folks come in who have melted every wire in their coach after trying to power 22ga 12v copper wire with 36v due to improper battery wiring. Seen it first hand!”
If the singular A/C unit in your coach just isn’t providing the cooling power you need, there is always the option of adding an additional unit. This is especially easy if your coach is already rated for 50amp service. If it is only rated for 30 amp, our RV parts and service department can convert it to 50amp. You can even add a third unit if you so desire, but remember, you’ll only be able to run two at a time. Adding a third unit will give you more control over which areas of your RV get first cooling priority.