There is something very calming about driving down the road in an RV – that is until you encounter that unwelcome rattle or broken dish. This experience is made even worse when the damage occurs in a trailer in tow and the resulting mess is not discovered until you make camp.
Recreational vehicles, regardless of the type and price point, often exhibit an annoying buzz, rattle, squeak, or other noise. Sometimes this originates in the coach itself, sometimes it is caused by something that has not been properly packed or stowed, and sometimes it’s a combination of both. The offending sound may occur while driving or stationary, and may be constant or intermittent. I once had a very frustrated coach owner bring his unit in because every time he walked across the floor of his fifth-wheel there would be an annoying creaking sound. After an investigation, I discovered that his in-floor furnace duct was rubbing against the underside of the floor whenever he put weight on it. I resolved the issue by installing braces and spacers between the duct and the floor.
In terms of chassis noises, these are best identified when you first purchase your unit and before you have packed any of your belongings into it. If the unit is motorized, listen for any unusual noises or sounds as you are driving it home. Have somebody else with you when you pick it up. If you hear anything unusual, have your co-pilot walk around the coach and try to identify where the noise is coming from. One of my recent coaches exhibited an incessant rattle while driving. It wasn’t until my daughter took the wheel during a family trip that I was able to investigate. I determined that the rattle originated inside the range hood vent mechanism. If you encounter an inherent rattle in your coach, put your ear to everything to find the source. It is important to determine whether the sound originates with the “house” system, or if it is inherent to the chassis or mechanical system. You can often differentiate whether the sound is coming from inside the coach, the engine, or somewhere else, but if in doubt, have the unit checked by a qualified mechanic or RV technician. Mechanical rattles or other noises can be an indication of impending mechanical issues, so it’s best to have them investigated and remedied.
In terms of “owner-induced” noises, it is important to properly pack and stow your belongings before embarking on an RV trip. This is especially true for trailer owners, since noises inside the coach are unlikely to be heard, and breakage is an unwelcome surprise when camp is setup. If something rattles, find it and eliminate the source of the noise. Some simple fixes include:
- Using tea towels to pack between dishes, glasses, etc.
- Retightening a cabinet door handle or reclosing the cabinet door to make sure it is secure
- Using a bungee cord to stop a screen door rattle
RVing is a very relaxing activity, but incessant rattles and other noises can cause frustration and annoyance. Fortunately, these can be eliminated most of the time with a little pre-planning and creative problem-solving.
What tips can you share? Please comment below.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.
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