A guide to resolving the most common RV and campervan mechanical issues (and how to prevent them from happening again)
Class B motorhomes and campervans are one of the best ways to travel for those who enjoy ease, adventure and savings. That said, if you’ve owned a campervan or RV, or are thinking about purchasing one, you may have heard that motorhome repairs are eventually inevitable.
RVs provide areas for sleep, dining, cooking, bathing as well as transportation from one location to the next. These multifaceted vehicles are built with a variety of mechanisms that need regular maintenance as well as the occasional repair.
Glance over this guide and review some of the most common repairs needed. Hopefully, you can avoid them before a breakdown happens. But if not, you can at least have a good understanding of what steps need to be taken to get you back on the road asap.
Just like any other vehicle, RVs and camper vans batteries need attention. Keep the following information in mind if you find your having difficulty with your battery:
- RVs are frequently stored or parked at a campground, leaving the battery susceptible to running out of juice. Charge your motorhomes battery by running it for about an hour every 7-10 days to avoid an unexpected failure.
- In addition to keeping an eye on your battery charge, it’s important to take note of the conditions in which you store your motorhome. Temperature can affect your battery’s performance and longevity.
- There are several different types of batteries used in motorhomes—gel-cell batteries, lead-acid batteries, flood-lead acid batteries, wet-cell batteries and AGM batteries, to name just a few. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s type of battery for proper maintenance and in the event you need to take your campervan to the repair shop.
- Battery terminals should be kept clean and checked for signs of corrosion.
Electrical failure can be something very minor or rather complex. Depending on your background with electrical systems, you may want to have a professional RV repairman’s phone number handy for electrical malfunctions.
One easy thing to remember to help you avoid electrical failure is to never overload your outlets. Much like your home, if you have the toaster, your hairdryer and your blender going concurrently, you will likely blow a fuse. Limit the amount of power you’re using from external devices.
Tires are one of the most common issues people run into problems with during a motorhome road trip. Keep these tire care basics in mind to avoid getting stranded on the side of the road:
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Tire pressure can change drastically in your RV/motorhome for a variety of reasons such as passenger and luggage weight. One common mistake is to over inflate your tires. Become familiar with your tires’ PSI (pounds per square inch). This number can be found on the inner part of your tire.
- Make it a rule of thumb to check your tires every time you fill up gas. This can help you avoid a tire blowout, which can end up being an expensive repair and major inconvenience.
- Rotate your tires regularly to properly disperse the wear and tear they encounter.
- In the unfortunate and scary scenario that you encounter a tire blowout, try NOT to slam on the brakes. Every part of you may want to stop your motorhome as fast as possible; however, this is incredibly dangerous. The safest way handle a tire blow out is to calmly pull off to the side of the road until you can gradually come to a stop. Sideways forces will cause your vehicle to want to roll over when hitting the break. By gently accelerating, you can remain upright until you can gradually come to a stop on the side of the road.
Having the ability to use a restroom and cook in your vehicle is part of what makes owning an RV or motorhome so great! Along with having this convenience is the need to maintain and fix water systems. Keep the following in mind after every trip:
- Drain all three tanks after each and every trip (grey water tank, black water tank and clean water tank). When you fail to drain your tank, buildup can occur and be a costly repair. Also, if temperatures happen to drop, your tank may freeze or crack, requiring you to replace it.
- If you find your faucets are leaky, the rubber should be replaced ASAP. As a good rule of thumb, replace your rubber seals and valve seats every two years.
- Being mindful of how much toilet paper you’re using in your campervan toilet can help you avoid the common issue of clogging. Motorhome toilets usually have “trap door” mechanisms that dispose of the waste. Too much toilet paper will clog this sliding door.
- Keep an eye on your RVs water supply lines. In older models, these lines are commonly made out of copper. In newer motorhomes, you will find they are made out of rubber. These aren’t usually difficult to replace. If you’re a particularly handy, you may find parts for replacement at Home Depot or other hardware stores. If you’re unsure, better to leave this up to a professional mechanic.
- After several years, it’s likely that you will need to replace your motorhome toilet. These typically cost anywhere from $100-$200. Be sure to measure the dimensions and make sure that your new toilet can properly hook up to your existing valve.
- Water heaters will eventually need to be replaced as well. Depending on the age of your motorhome, you will need to replace the heater with a gas one (for older models) or an electric one (newer models). Again, be sure to measure the dimensions prior to ordering and be sure that the holding capacity is what your motorhome requires.
You probably don’t think about your motorhome roof all too often, but it’s an important area that needs occasional maintenance and repair. Sleeping in your dry and warm campervan while it’s raining and cold outside is one of the main benefits of motorhome travel instead of use a tent. Remember the following when doing routine cleanings or maintenance:
- RV roofs tend to be made out of rubber, aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl. Properly cleaning your campervan’s roof specific to its type of material is a must. Look through your user manual or ask a dealer what type of cleaning agents can and cannot be used with your roof.
- Inspect your vehicle for sealant leaks. Annually caulking your roof is critical for avoiding a premature roof replacement. Caulking your roof is a fairly simple process. Sealant agents can be purchased online and applied/dried within a day or so.
- Think about buying a cover for motorhome. This can help you avoid unnecessary roof repairs by protecting your vehicle from weather and sun damage.
We hope this list helps you avoid campervan issues, or at least be ready for them. You purchased your motorhome to enjoy it, not spend your vacation on the side of the road fixing it! Keep maintenance in mind and do your research to prevent these costly mishaps.
Searching for your next campervan or RV? Classic Vans is California’s leading dealer of new and used campervans. For 30 years, Classic Vans has been family owned and operated. Call (866) 370-8222 or continue browsing our website to find the motorhome of your dreams!
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