Have a detail pre-departure checklist
It’s officially spring and may be time for the “snowbirds” to migrate back North as the snow melts and the temperatures reach back into the tolerable levels! Whether you left your permanent house in the North and headed south in an RV or a full-time RVer that just follows the warm weather, there are a few tips for making the trip more enjoyable and hopefully prevent issues on the road.
Plan Your Route With The Least Amount Of Traffic
Popular snowbird locations such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida are also popular locations for spring break, bike week, baseball spring training and a whole host of other events that bring thousands of people to the area which means traffic, full campgrounds, and often times higher fuel prices! It’s a good idea to do some research to see what might be an issue along the way and either go at a different time or even take a different route if possible? You can easily check with campgrounds along the proposed route to find out what might be better for your situation.
Tie Up Loose Ends Down South
When preparing to take off in the Fall, RVers make sure they have mail forwarded, medical prescriptions transferred, gas/power/water shut off at a home, and all services taken care of. When heading out in the spring, make sure you have made arrangements for all these services to transfer to your new or next destination. Make arrangements for any medications you might need to get refilled along the way. If you are going back to a permanent home, verify everything is good to return and there are no surprises such as new development or a change in ordinance that does not allow RVs in the driveway. Conduct an “exit interview” with the campground you are leaving to ensure you have no outstanding fees and can get any deposit you might have back. If you want to return the following year, this is a good time to make a reservation and get the best spot which might cost you a deposit but could be well worth it. Also, alert family members that you are leaving, the route you are taking, and estimated arrival times in various locations. Then stay in touch during the journey to keep them informed!
Get a Good Weather Tracker
It’s important to watch pending weather conditions along your route and possibly reroute or wait for a storm to pass. Conditions may look good, but it’s not uncommon for a storm to suddenly pop up out of nowhere in the mountains or other areas that could be a major issue to traveling. Some of the most popular weather tracking applications for Rvers are The Weather Channel (www.weather.com) and WeatherBug (www.weatherbug.com) Both are free for Android and OS applications and are easy to use. Features include detailed forecasts, severe weather alerts for not only your immediate area but also destinations down the road, Doppler Radar, and even cameras showing live conditions.
Have Your Rig Winterized Ready
Many first-time RVers start their journey North with good weather in moderate temperatures and don’t expect to run into freezing conditions. However, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to suddenly dip below freezing especially if you travel through the mountains. If you have water still in the fresh water tank, lines, water pump, and water heater, you will have some expensive repairs coming! Either blow all the water out of the unit or use RV antifreeze. You can always carry gallons of drinking water that are protected by the heater in the living area, plus bring some extra gallons and leave them in the shower stall to use for the toilet if you have not used RV antifreeze.
Check Your Tire Pressure – Often!
Check your tire pressure before you leave and every day you travel on the road. Make this part of your pre-departure checklist. Use a certified tire pressure gauge or get a set of tire pressure monitor sensors (TPMS). Also, you need to weigh your rig and refer to the tire manufacturer’s tire chart for proper pressure. The PSI stamped on the side of the tire is for maximum pressure at maximum weight. If your rig is not loaded to the maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) this will not be the proper pressure. Tire charts can be obtained at the RV Safety & Education Foundation’s website – www.rvsafety.com
Bearings And Brakes
It’s a good idea to carry an infrared temperature gun to occasionally test the hubs and brakes to see what might be happening. If the ambient temperature is 80 degrees, it’s not uncommon for bearings, hubs, and brake drums to run a higher temperature of 90-100 degrees. However, if you see the temperature spike to 120-130 degrees, it’s time to have them checked before needing roadside assistance. A simple test once a day while driving will help verify they are operating properly.
Don’t Forget Spring Maintenance
Most RVers that store their rigs for the winter use the Spring for their annual maintenance. Items such as cleaning and conditioning the roof, awning material, and checking all the seals. Cleaning the refrigerator vent, checking and conditioning the slide room seals, and applying UV protection to the sidewall. Make sure you do your annual maintenance either before you leave, or after you get home. Check your owner’s manual for tips, or visit www.rvrepairclub.com for detailed maintenance videos.
About the author:
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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