- Jessica Rider
It’s Time To Do Maintenance On The Things You Don’t Always See
When we started our mobile repair business, we were not aware that we would be servicing so many major issues with customer’s RVs. These have been major things that can cause accidents, like broken leaf springs, axle and tire issues, brakes that were smoking, and we could go on and on. The sad thing is no one tells you to check these items on a regular basis and unless you are really mechanically inclined you may not even realize that you need to check these things.
For a full list of all the things you should be doing regular maintenance on, be sure to download our free Yearly Maintenance Checklist.
If you are looking for the major things that you may be missing, please read on and really take these things seriously. In some cases, these could be life or death things.
Axles and Leaf Springs
If you have never crawled under your RV to take a look at the axle(s) then we would encourage you to do this. Understand the basics such as how many axles your RV has - as some trailers and fifth wheels have a single or double-axle system - and how an axle functions.
The number of axles an RV has is determined by its weight. For instance, consider a large toy hauler that is designed to accommodate a four-wheeler, motorcycle and/or an UTV in its rear cargo space. This added weight needs to be properly supported, which is why these types of trailers often have two and even three axles.
An important component of an axle is the leaf spring, which provides suspension (or a cushion towing experience) on tougher terrain during travel. The type and length of the leaf springs are determined by the weight of the RV and rated carrying capacity.
There are several reasons why these can break and we have seen more and more axle and leaf spring issues in the last year. The most common cause these may fail is due to overloading. If you are hauling more than your RV is rated to carry this can cause stress on your leaf springs which will cause them to wear out or in some cases break. Always ensure you check the tag, usually on the entry door to your RV, for the max carrying capacity that your RV can hold. Your leaf springs can also corrode over time just from the normal wear and tear of the road conditions. Your axles are no different and can corrode over time because of the conditions of roadways. Think about all those times you hit a curb or jumped a curb pulling your RV, all of this adds stress to your trailer axles. The stress to axles and leaf springs can cause you to have an accident on the roadway if either of these fail or in cases like we have seen leave you stranded because you cannot move your RV.
Before the camping season starts, crawl under your RV and look at the axle and leaf springs. You want to look for any corrosion on either of these things as well as cracks, rust or leaf springs that are flattened out. When checking the axles again you are looking for rust, corrosion or cracks but make sure you also look for these same things on the hubs and spindles.
Chassis and Frames
When we think of an RV chassis typically we are talking about a motorhome and while this is correct I also want to lump on fifth wheels and travel trailers with this and talk about their frames. These things are the base support for your RV. When you watch how these RV’s are made they always start with a frame or chassis, they are the foundation. The last thing you want is the foundation of your RV to break for any reason. While a broken frame or chassis is not all that common it is one of those items that can cause major damage on the roadway.
Cracks or breaks can happen in chassis or frames from normal driving on roadways. Let us not forget that we are pulling our homes around roads that may not be in great shape. If you pulled your actual home around there would bound to be some cracks in the foundation, most of us have cracks in our foundations and our homes sit in one spot.
While you are under your rig checking the axles and leaf springs be sure to do a thorough inspection of the chassis or frame and look for any cracks, rust or breaks. This may be a little difficult if you have an all season package on your RV but do the best you are able to do.
When was the last time you inspected your hitch? Most of us probably don’t worry about it as long as it hooks our tow vehicle up to our RV we are good but reality is hitches can wear out as well. If you have a fifth wheel and have a standard fifth wheel hitch you need to always look for rust or damage to the locking mechanism. If you need to add any type of lubricant to the locking mechanism be sure to do that. Also be sure the hitch is secure inside your truck bed either with pins or locks.
If you have a travel trailer check the lock to make sure it opens, slides and locks correctly, that your hitch will move up and down correctly either with a hand crank or with the automatic system and that your safety chains are not rusted or worn. We would also recommend that you check welds on the tongue to ensure those are not cracked either.
If you have a motorized RV and pull a vehicle or trailer check that hitch and trailer as well. We did have a customer who had a broken hitch while long distance traveling this year and only noticed because the vehicle being towed kept swaying out to one side. Don’t ignore this section just because you don’t have a towable RV, if you are towing any sort of vehicle or trailer behind your motorized RV be sure to check both the hitch system you are using and the tow bars on your RV.
Wheels, Hubs and Brakes
Lube, Lube, Lube that is the most important thing here. However you don’t want to do this too much. Your wheels and hubs do need to be lubed and if they are not properly lubed you could run into some serious trouble. The same goes for your brakes although not necessarily lubed. You need to take a look at all your brakes, hubs and wheels at least once if not twice a year to ensure they are functioning properly. If they are not then get them serviced right away.
Regular maintenance is important on your RV but you should always go much deeper than just the things you see. Take a look at the primary function components of your RV to ensure everything is working properly, things are not rusted or cracked and everything will continue to work in the way it is designed to work.
After reading this we hope you are not overwhelmed by the information and if you need a checklist to remember everything please download our yearly checklist. If all else fails call one of our certified technicians for help.