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winterize your rv

The holidays are almost here, bringing harsher weather with them. It’s time to winterize your RV even if you live where the weather is fairly mild.

Winterizing the Water System

When you think about winterizing your RV, you probably think first about protecting the plumbing system, and for good reason. This is the primary problem caused by cold weather.

If your adventure vehicle has a water system, your manual will include specific instructions for winterizing your vehicle and preparing it for storage. The basic steps involve draining the water system, draining and bypassing the water heater, blowing out the lines and adding anti-freeze.

You should also add anti-freeze to sink and shower drains, drain and dump gray and black water tanks.

If you have any questions about this process, check with your dealership. The service department can assist you or winterize your RV for you. But the water system is not yout only concern when it comes to preparing your RV for harsh weather, especially if you plan to do any driving.

Winterize Your RV Battery

If you’re winterizing your RV to put it in storage,  top off the battery fluid and fully charge it. Will your RV be stored in a temperature-controlled unit? If not, remove the battery and store it in a warmer location. Cold temperatures can take their toll on battery life.

Winter Windshield Safety

In the winter, your windshield can suffer “thermal shock.” Big swings in temperature cause the glass to expand and contract. If you have a ding in your windshield, thermal shock can cause it to grow into a major crack. When you winterize your RV,  you should inspect your windshield thoroughly.

You can repair a chip for as little as $50. Windshield replacement starts at $1,000. If you see even a small ding, repair it right away to avoid further damage.

Winterize Your RV Fluids

Top off fluids to avoid problems with condensation. These include oil, brake, radiator, and windshield wiper fluid. A freeze-proof wiper fluid will be important if you’re going to do any winter driving. Wet and salty roads can easily cloud your windshield.

If your RV is going to be on the road during the winter, put on fresh wiper blades.

Winterize Your RV Tires

Don’t drive on worn tires when the roads are slick or icy. Before taking your RV on a winter adventure, check them for proper inflation and alignment. In snowy areas, consider snow tires for added traction. Keep chains handy for extreme weather. Some states require chains under certain conditions.

If winterizing your RV means putting it in storage, use jacks to take the pressure off your tires. If you don’t, you could be faced with flat tires or even tire rot in the spring.

Park your vehicle on a paved surface so it doesn’t sink into the ground during the spring thaw. And put wooden blocks under your jacks so they don’t freeze to the ground below.

Rubber parts under your hood need maintenance, too. Check radiator, heater and vacuum hoses, among others, for cracks and bulges. Also, inspect all belts for damages and splits.

Using Your RV in Winter Weather

Take extra precautions when planning winter adventures. We’ve already discussed windshield and wiper maintenance. You should also get your brake performance checked. Test all lights and signals. You want good visibility in the dark and you want to be sure other drivers can see you.

Consider heated water hoses if you’re going to sleep in your RV in freezing temperatures. These will prevent problems with sewer and water lines. Also, experiment before your trip with your electric heater system and furnace. The heat pump is usually built into the AC system, while the furnace burns propane directly. The furnace can keep you warm in temperatures below 45 degrees but may burn quickly through your fuel supply.

Recommended Reading: RV Generators Take You Beyond the Park

If you do enjoy a winter adventure, tell us about it by posting to our Facebook group!

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