First, an overview: The family RV has been sitting for the winter season. Be it under an RV cover sitting outside or behind closed doors protected from the elements, it will need brushing off, de-winterizing, and a good cleaning so as to be ready for the spring season. Keep your manufacturer’s manual handy for reference too.
The tasks at hand, in general, include:
– Accomplishing a thorough outside inspection.
– Proceed inside for the de-winterizing items (reference your manufacturer’s manual).
– Check outside again for possible leaks generated by the de-winterization process.
– Clean the interior.
And now a lot more detail on what could be crucial, or not, but is good practice.
Dig out that RV. You may have a literal dig-out from dirt, mud, or even some stubborn snow (if early enough in the spring) if your unit is stored outside. Debris from high winds blowing all sorts of unwanted material around the tires and leveling jacks can create unexpected problems if left unchecked. I’ve had plenty of dirt blown up, during the first gust of a thunderstorm, combined with the pelting rainfall soon after, that then collects all of that debris at the bottom of a wheel. You then end up with several ounces of material that has collected at the bottom of one of your wheels which will make it out of balance during its rotation. I’ve been towing trailers and such for nearly 30 years and have seen this culprit a few times.
Okay, now b e c o m e your wheel. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Here’s why the concern: When your wheel was bolted onto that drum, it was nice and clean and balanced (look for that little balancing weight placed on the inside and/or outside of the rim). That few ounces of weight(s) keeps that wheel spinning uneventfully during higher speeds while cruising down those highways and byways. Well guess what, that wheel sees that clump of dirt the same way it sees those little balancing weights. The result? A wheel that’s bouncing out of balance. Yes, it literally can be bouncing back there beating itself, the internal bearing assembly, and its associated suspension components into a predicted failure of some sort, IF left unattended.
The good news is that the bouncing often times is violent enough to rid the wheel of that cluttered debris. The bad news is that the bouncing might just shed the actual balancing weight too. The result, you guessed it, is still a badly out-of-balance tire that could be wearing at an astonishing rate of 1000 miles for every 100 traveled – not good. And you don’t even feel all of this happening until a blowout occurs resulting in much damage to your trailer or fifth-wheel. Been there – done that – and have the dirty shirts and scraped knuckles to prove it.
And for you motorhome operators, don’t think you’re off the hook. Your tow-car is just like a trailer/fifth in that you won’t even feel it and your rear-view camera will not see that tire doing its unbalanced dancing-act either. Just remember that when you do your tow-car hookup, that’s the perfect opportunity to do a tow-car-walk-around paying attention to your tires & wheels.
And get this: I’ve purchased new trailer tires before only to have the tire store actually ask me if I even wanted them balanced. I asked him, “why wouldn’t I balance them?” To which he told me that trailer tires don’t get up to high speeds so it was really up to me. Well, I’ve changed (and repaired) many a tire in my life so I’m not looking to add to that number anytime soon. Remember, become the tire – an out-of-balance tire is an out-of-balance tire, be it on a car or a trailer. The horse is dead on this point.
If your RV spring cleaning doesn’t begin with the brushing off of your RV’s cover before removing it, then I’m assuming it begins with the opening of a garage or barn door. And if you winterized and washed your RV before putting it away for the winter, then hopefully it is free from any accumulated dirt or debris. Personally, in anticipation for the tire pressures to drop several pounds during the winter season, I generally pressurize them to their posted sidewall max pressure. This technique is not in any manuals that I know of. Then when I’m ready to take it out of storage, I check each tire’s pressure to compare it to this number and make note if I have a slow-leaker in the group. It’s just my personal practice from 35+ years of working on, and storing, a variety of vehicles.
Take care to follow any of your manufacturer’s recommendations throughout this checklist.