In-Season RV Maintenance Reminder

Once you have de-winterized your RV and you’re ready to hit the road for another year of RV adventures, there are a few things you should check to avoid problems down the road.  Let this in-season RV maintenance reminder serve to inform you of the things you should inspect, replace, repair, or evaluate before you embark on a new season of outdoor adventures. After all, it’s so much easier to run your RV through a few quick checks while it’s sitting in your driveway than when it’s broken down on the side of the road.

In-season RV maintenance – first inspection

Water Leaks

The number one concern to watch for in your in-season RV maintenance inspection are signs of water damage or leaks.  When you’re draining the antifreeze, it’s a good time to look for leaks around the sinks and shower. Then check the water connection to the toilet.  While checking the interior for leaks also inspect the ceiling liner for any signs of water intrusion from the roof. Also, with water connected to the RV and the faucets turned on, look under your RV for puddles or drips.  An undetected leak can flood your rig before you even know you have a problem. Extended warranties often do not cover water damage (a subject addressed later in this article). Being very focused during this phase of your in-season RV maintenance inspection is crucial, as water damage can be extremely costly.


You should check and top off the battery water level (if applicable). You need to cleanse the battery terminals and tighten the terminal connectors.  Then confirm that the batteries are fully charged. Many RVs have a battery management system that will inform you of the charge level. Others have a gauge inside the RV, or you can use a voltage meter for this check.   But even if the batteries seem to be ok if they are approaching the end of their life cycle it might be wise to just replace them before they start to create problems. Batteries are adversely affected by both hot and cold temperatures. Older batteries lose their charge quickly. This could happen unexpectedly on a camping trip and disable critical RV systems.

RV Maintenance

Always look for signs of water damages, and current leaks in your RV.


Always inspect your tires before starting a new RV season. This goes beyond just checking the inflation level, which you should do frequently throughout the season.  If your tires are more than a few years old, you should have a professional inspect them. They can make sure they are not rotting from the inside out.  See Quick fixes below for more on defective tires.


If your RV has an engine then certainly you’ll need to service the engine. You may do this yourself or have it done at an RV service facility.  This in-season RV maintenance procedure is especially necessary if your RV has been sitting idle for many months. Replace all the fluids and filters, and check and service the air conditioning system.

In-season RV maintenance tests

Finally, before you pull out of your driveway you should test the functionality of various components of your RV. This includes the refrigerator, slide outs, jacks, awnings, solar panels, and freshwater system. Make sure there are no propane leaks and that your hitch is well lubricated and working correctly.  Inspect your safety chains for rust or wear and replace them if they show signs of deterioration.  Please know that trailer safety chains have saved the lives of more than a few RVers. Test as many systems while your RV is at your house so you have access to your full set of tools. This makes it easier to  take your time to make repairs or changes.

Quick Fixes

Replace brittle roof shrouds and vent covers 

The sun beating down on the roof of your RV will take its toll on the roof and rooftop fixtures.  Before you start on another year of outdoor adventures check those roof fixtures and replace any that are brittle. While you’re on the roof check the caulk on all the seams and joints and recaulk, if needed.

Replace old batteries

If batteries are nearing the end of their life cycle, don’t hesitate to replace them. Many RV systems rely on the batteries, so if they fail, many things in your RV will begin to malfunction. It can feel like an entire system breakdown and it’s difficult to identify the source of the malfunction.

In our case, the chassis battery cable was loose, and created problems with the motorhome steps, jacks, and slide outs. The two warning alarms started to screech and bleep at the same time, which was unexpected and unnerving. The common denominator in the systems that were failing was the battery, and tightening the cable connectors eliminated the problem.  But a low battery charge in either the house or chassis batteries could produce a similar outcome. If the batteries are four or five years old you should consider replacing them. Don’t wait until they’re a big problem on a camping trip. 

RV Maintenance

Tires don’t last forever! Make sure to keep a log of replacement dates for them and stay on top of it!

Replace utility parts

On motorhomes and vans, you should consider replacing the windshield wipers at the start of the season. For ALL RVs, replace the battery in the smoke detectors.  It also might be wise to replace the fire extinguisher with a fresh one every two years. The chemicals inside tend to compact and might not function correctly in an emergency when you really need it. You might not even think about your windshield wipers until you get caught in a downpour and can’t see the road. Maybe the smoke detector starts to chirp in the middle of the night, but unfortunately, you forgot to pack extra batteries.  Rather than resolving any of these problems on a camping trip, it is so much easier to have extra parts on hand. Always try and replace them before they’re completely worn out.

Replace old tires

Like batteries, tires also have a predictable life span. The life span of RV tires is related to the number of years the tires have been on the RV.  Tires can rot from the inside out. On the outside, they may look perfectly normal, but they could be worn and damaged in the interior.  If your tires are many years old, it would be prudent to have them inspected by professionals.  When in doubt replace them!  Yes, RV tires are expensive, and you don’t want to replace them prematurely. However, having a blow out on the highway could endanger you and others.  It’s not worth the risk to try and get a little more use out of old tires with deteriorating rubber.

Tools for on the road in-season RV maintenance

The amount of space available for tools varies from one RV to another so it’s hard to say what tools you should be carrying to take care of the little things that can pop up while camping, but here is a list of a few tools that might come in handy. 

Many people wouldn’t leave their home without a ladder on board.  Getting on the roof, taking care of an awning roller or even washing the RV, might require a ladder but most ladders (even the good quality folding variety) are still the largest and heaviest tool you might need while RVing.  I suppose that is why you see so many ladders strapped to the roof of tow cars or attached to the back of travel trailers and motorhomes.  

Other useful RV tools (if you have the space) are an air compressor (to keep tires inflated properly), trickle charger (for a dead battery), a set of box-end wrenches and/or socket set, a set of hex wrenches, a screwdriver with interchangeable tips, channel locks and/or vice grip, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, a putty knife (for small caulking jobs), sewer hose disconnect tool, and a voltage meter.  

Surge Protector

Another “tool” that could save you in a thunderstorm is a surge protector for your electrical connection. Some RVs comes with a surge protector built into the electrical system and you may be inclined to think this is enough to protect your RV from an electrical surge. But if that surge happens near or in the junction box, it can fry the cord.  And that will disable your RV’s electrical system until you can replace the 30 or 50 amp cord.  The surge might not have gotten into your RV, because the built-in surge protector stopped it, but the cable will still be damaged.  Therefore, using a good quality surge protector right at the junction box protects your entire electrical system.

Dremel Tool

Finally, one last tool I have found to be useful that doesn’t take up too much space is a Dremel Tool.  It’s good for so many different types of small repair jobs that I think it’s worth the space.  One last point about all your RV tools. Don’t skimp on the quality of the tools. When you’re trying to fix a problem in the middle of a wicked rainstorm the last thing you need to think about is your tool not working right. If you pick up a tool you need it to function correctly every time, so buy good quality tools that will help you, not hinder your efforts.

Warranties (extended service contract)

It wouldn’t be a complete discussion about in-season RV maintenance without mentioning RV warranties. These are typically applicable to major repairs, but major system failure may be detected in your pre-season inspection, or a problem could present itself at any time while you’re out camping.  Extended warranties are a hotly debated subject among RVs.  Some people swear by them, while others swear at them. Regardless of how you feel about long term service contracts or extended warranties there are a few things you should keep in mind because RVs are a complicated set of interconnected systems, any which can fail for a variety of reasons. 

Replacing a defective refrigerator can cost thousands of dollars and require the removal of the windshield or even an entire slide out.  Replacing an awning or electrical step could costs over a thousand dollars each. Water heaters, furnaces, faucets, air conditioners, and jacks are expensive parts and servicing these parts takes time with expensive labor costs, added to the cost of the parts.  Water damage and some other common problems might not even be covered by every extended warranty, so even if you pay for a warranty to defray unexpected repair expenses, your warranty might not protect you in a particular situation. If you are going to get an extended warranty do your due diligence so you know what is covered and what is not.

RV Maintenance

Warranties may be worth your time and money. Do research and see if it’s right for you!

Are Warranties right for you?

The obvious benefit of having an extended warranty is to reduce or defray the costs of major repairs but extended warranties are still a form of insurance, and no insurance company has ever made money paying out more than they collect. The pros and cons of extended warranties has been extensively covered in RV literature and is beyond the scope of this article.

If, however, you have questions about whether an extended service contract is a good idea for you, read more about this subject at any of the links listed below.  But one issue not generally covered in the literature is the warranty’s policy about paying for mobile RV service.  Most warranties will only pay mobile repair technicians if the RV is completely disabled and then they only pay a fraction of the fees.  For some RVers, (especially full-timers) this could be a deal breaker.  Therefore, if you’re shopping for a warranty or extended service contract be sure to ask if the warranty covers mobile repair and under what conditions.

Summary of in-season RV maintenance reminder

Remember, it’s always easier to service or repair your RV when it’s sitting on your property, with all your tools. If you need to order parts or wait a day or two for something to dry, or you need to cover your RV with a tarp while you remove a rooftop air conditioner, it’s easier to do that at your home.  Perhaps the repair will require some help from friends and family. Getting that help, with the RV in your driveway, is easier than getting help while you’re in a campground (or worst case scenario) when you’re broken down on the side of the freeway.  Remember, the more time you put into the in-season RV maintenance, the less time you will be bothered with system failures when you should be out enjoying the great outdoors.

Looking for more RV maintenance tips?

We’ve got you covered, from tires, storage, pest control, what to do in an RV breakdown, and overall general RV maintenance!

About Peggy Dent

Peggy Dent is an author, writer and full-time RVer, currently traveling in the US and Canada. She's driven a motorhome more than 130,000 miles and learned the secrets, delights, and pitfalls of RVing through her own experiences. She shares her knowledge and insights in numerous RV industry publications. You can contact her through her website at