Last Updated on 11/22/2023 by Glynn Willard
Travel trailer maintenance is a given if you own one. To state the obvious, many RV problems can be prevented with simple ongoing preventative maintenance.
Living full time in a travel trailer and frequently moving forced us into creating our own checklist for our RV maintenance.
We want to help you prevent any anguish and keep your travel trailer or RV out of the shop for avoidable problems.
For those of you who prefer video instead, watch DIY RV (Travel Trailer) Maintenance | Full Time RV Living | RYJ
General Maintenance On A Weight Distribution Hitch
Weight distribution hitches come in different flavors, but they all have equal functions. In other words, I have to generalize.
Make sure your hitch is properly adjusted for your trailer. If you don’t know how, have it professionally done.
Once it’s properly set, follow these maintenance steps for continued safe towing.
- Find all of the fastening bolts on the trailer’s frame as well as the hitch. Properly torque the bolts before every moving day. It’s simple and fits in with the rest of your torque checks.
- Lubricate any point that the manual suggests with grease. I use basic bearing grease. I clean any lubricated part and add new grease every time we move.
- Lastly, visual inspections for cracks or warping are also important to prevent dangerous situations.
Check Your Battery Terminals On The House Batteries
At least every six months, inspect, clean and tighten the terminals on all your batteries.
If you see corrosion, use the baking soda and water paste to clean the terminals.
Check The Trailer Tires
This should be listed first. Tires break down faster than any other part of a trailer regardless whether you’re moving a lot or not.
Ignoring your tires can and will eventually lead to serious problems or even catastrophe.
It’s good practice to know how much your rig weighs when it’s filled with your stuff as well as water.
Use the chart supplied online by your tire manufacturer to find the proper PSI for the weight of the RV.
The internet is plagued with arguments about tires. Don’t get caught up in it. Just use the chart and set the PSI appropriately.
Then watch your tires for wear and adjust accordingly.
Also, take into account the current climate for the region which you’re traveling as well as the terrain. If it’s hot, adjust the pressure down.
If it’s cold, adjust it up slightly.
If you’re running on rocky terrain, air down a bit.
Bottom line with PSI for your RV is that if you stay on top of it, you’ll start to figure out the right PSI for your driving habits.
Some might consider this overkill, but check all the tires PSI and correct it before every moving day. Early morning is best.
Test & Check Your Brakes
It takes very little effort to test the trailer or motor homes brakes as you’re pulling out of your spot. It’s great if you have an external trailer brake!
Go slow and apply the brakes hard.
If you feel any discrepancy, stop and figure out the problem. Ignoring it is not worth the risk!
Now for maintenance, remove your brake drums every three-six months based on your usage and inspect all the brake components.
On one occasion, I did this and found the the automatic adjuster spring and adjuster disconnected. It took some effort, but it was reparable.
Had I not checked, I would not have known since it’s a duel axle trailer.
Check Your Trailer Bearings
This is a hot topic if you own a travel trailer. Sadly, too many people ignore their bearings until it’s too late. I learned the hard way.
While you have your hubs off to check the brakes, check the bearings. Repack them every 10k miles. Replace them if they look gnarly in any way.
You can learn the detailed steps in our article about bearings, Trailer Bearing Replacement Overview
or you can watch the video:
RV Trailer Wheel Bearings Overview- REPLACE and GREASE PACK.
Rotate Your Trailers Tires
Rotating tires on a travel trailer or a fifth wheel is easy. Obviously, it will help evenly wear the tires and prolong their life.
Single axle, rotate side to side. Duel axle, move the front wheels to the back and the rear wheels to the opposite sides on the front.
If you find unusual tire wear on one particular tire, it might be worn out suspension parts.
You can go down that rabbit hole here: Uneven Tire Wear On Your Travel Trailer? It’s Not What We Expected
Torque Your Lug Nuts
Get in the habit of torquing your lug nuts before every move. Overkill? Maybe, but it’s easy.
It also allows you to inspect your tires and suspension.
It’s not a bad idea to torque your tow vehicles wheels while you’re at it. Make sure the wrench can handle high torque. This is the one I use (yes, an affiliate link):
It’s easy to find the proper torque for your RV’s lug nuts in the manual. Clearly, this requires keeping a torque wrench in your tool arsenal.
Tighten All Exposed Screws And Bolts
How many times have people stated that your RV goes through an earthquake every time you drive?
And of course, you respond with, “tell me something I don’t know!”
Nonetheless, the result is loosening of screws, bolts, plumbing and your grip on life (OK, maybe not the last one).
At least once a quarter, go through and tighten:
- Every exposed bolt inside, outside, under and on top of the rig.
- All hinges on the doors, cabinets and hidden compartments.
- Each exposed screw head hidden throughout the interior and exterior of the RV.
- All PVC and PEX connections. Especially the P-traps. Many leaks can be prevented.
Detail Your RV
If you have the dough, having this professionally done is nice. I like to do the work myself not because I enjoy it.
Trust me, I’d rather be out hiking. But it’s a good opportunity to get up close and personal with the rig.
You can inspect for cracks, broken mounts and worn out seals.
Add a coat of wax. I used to be old school about wax until I discovered Meguiar’s Hybrid ceramic spray wax.
Yes, it’s an affiliate link, but this compound is awesome! It’s changed how I detail my cars and travel trailer.
It’s so much easier and faster to apply. And it works great!
Treat Your RV’s Roof With Protectant
After detailing your travel trailer, treat the roof. There are a lot of products on the market, so do your research.
I’ve had solid luck with 303 Aerospace Protectant.
Again, an affiliate link, but it’s easy and works well. After a long day of detailing, easy application is the key!
Reseal The Seams On Your RV
If you find any seams separating or cracking, it’s time to reseal that section.
The more often you move and/or the more extreme the environment, the more frequently you’ll be resealing.
I’m no pro at correcting worn out seams, so I just re-coat over the old coating.
I agree, not the best idea, but it still works and there have been no leaks.
I use clear ProFlex RV. It works fine. I can no longer find ProFlex on Amazon, so you’ll have to do a search or shop your local RV parts store.
How To Lubricate Schwintek Slide
For the longest time, I was doing this incorrectly. I would just lubricate the gear track.
After finally doing some research, I learned that you have to lubricate the spur gear and the V-roller.
You can achieve this by slipping the straw from 3-In-One Slide-Out Silicone Lube behind the weather stripping on and below the gear track.
Look up a diagram on Lippert’s website to get a better understanding.
I try to do this once a month. I do it from both the outside and the inside on one of the moving days.
Overkill? Maybe, but cheap insurance.
Conditioning The Seals On A Travel Trailer
Depending on the environment we’re in, I try to clean and add 3-IN-ONE RVcare Rubber Seal Conditioner to all the weather stripping every 4-6 weeks.
It keeps the stripping functioning well and prevents rotting. And if you’re like us, you’re in the dusty desert heat a lot.
Vacuum The RV Systems
What do I mean by this? Vacuum in, around and inside things like:
- Basement storage
- In and around the battery compartment.
- The outside compartment of the hot water heater gets a lot of debris. Keep it clean.
- Under the sinks around the plumbing and water pump. While you’re at it, clean the water pump filter.
- The outside compartment of the refrigerator also gets a lot of debris. Keep it vacuumed.
- Vacuum under and around the breaker panel if you have access. It’s a good opportunity to minimize dust and check for frayed wires.
- On occasion, remove the panel to get under the shower and vacuum that area if it’s accessible.
- Remove the access panel to the heater and vacuum out the dust and cob webs.
- Your AC system has panel filters on the ceiling unit. Remove them and suck the dust off.
All of the above actions are super liberating!
Add Borax To The Black & Gray Tank
Try not to get caught up in all the black tank additives. Borax is a cheap, readily available softener.
Raise the pH of the tank and everything you “plop” into it becomes more miscible and softer. This makes for an easy exit.
Dump regularly, and use the clean out when it’s available at a dump station.
That’s really all you have to do. Yes, this applies to both the black and gray tanks.
Rose will kick me, but I never measure the amount I add, so it’s always random. But it always works. Enough said!
Oh, and a note on toilet paper. Instead of putting the used portion into the black tank, keep a flip top trash can next to the toilet for disposal.
It doesn’t stink and prevents so many black tank problems.
And best of all, you don’t have to use the “punch your finger through it” RV toilet paper!
Defrost & Clean The Freezer and Refrigerator
I only do this on an annual basis.
Throw some towels on the floor, remove the food, turn it off and leave the doors open.
Once all the ice has melted, clean out the refrigerator with your favorite cleaner.
This makes it look nice and minimizes odors.
Sanitize Your Fresh Water Tank
I do this every six months at the minimum.
I will also sanitize if our fresh water tank was exposed to bad water.
I lay out the steps in our article How To Sanitize RV Water Tank.
Check The Anode In The Hot Water Heater
If you use your hot water heater a lot, drain it every six months and remove the anode rod.
If it’s grossly deteriorated, replace it. If not, put it back in the tank.
While you have it removed, spray the tank out with a tank rinser for obvious reasons.
Make sure you order the correct anode rod for your hot water heater. It’s most likely a Suburban water heater.
Wrapping Up Preventative RV Maintenance
This RV maintenance list seems overwhelming, but nothing on here takes really long (except maybe the bearings).
In time, you’ll develop systems and timelines that work for you to make your RV preventative maintenance a breeze!