Do it Yourself RV Repair

Do it Yourself RV Repair
With an RV in your driveway, you have the freedom to go almost anywhere without leaving modern comforts behind. You also have the ups and downs of owning a home on wheels. It's not always possible to find a mechanic when you need one and the one you find might try to take advantage of your ignorance. That's why a basic understanding of motor-home maintenance, and the most useful tools that appear below, will come in handy.


Difficulty: Moderate

Mechanical and Utility Systems

Things You’ll Need:
  • Flat and phillips head screwdrivers Channel-locks Needle nose pliers Side cutter Eight inch crescent wrench Small brad hammer Punches and nail sets Three grades of rat-tail files Smaller wrenches from an open end/box wrench set
  • Flat and phillips head screwdrivers
  • Channel-locks
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Side cutter
  • Eight inch crescent wrench
  • Small brad hammer
  • Punches and nail sets
  • Three grades of rat-tail files
  • Smaller wrenches from an open end/box wrench set
Step 1
Maintain your engine. An overflow tank equipped cooling system should have adequate coolant levels for about a year. If this isn't the case, you have a problem. Tighten loose hose clamps and make sure hoses are firm, not spongy. Replace soft hoses. Check for bubbles in the overflow tank. If you find them, you have head gasket problems that demand immediate attention.

Change your oil and filter every 6,000 miles, while the engine is hot.

Protect your exhaust manifold by letting the engine cool down for five to ten minutes before shutting off the ignition.

Pay attention to your engine indicator gauges and any unusual noise, vibration, or smell. You might catch a problem before it becomes a crisis.
Step 2
Maintain your drive train. When a wheel cracks in a set, its twin will probably fail before long. Replace both of them at the same time.

Wheel bearings should be packed regularly with a waterproof bearing grease. After cleaning and rinsing them in diesel fuel or kerosene, let them air dry. Put a glob of grease in the palm of your hand and rub the bearing cage edge against it to push grease between the rollers till it fills the bearing. Install new dust seals after the bearings, making sure they are evenly seated in their grooves, with the lip facing in. Make sure the dust cap fits snugly. Replace the outer race whenever you replace a bearing.

Lubricate grease fittings with a high-pressure lithium grease and put oil on all hinges, the carburetor linkage, and the emergency brake linkage.

Keep your tires at the correct pressure (duals should vary no more than a pound). Tread wear on the edges indicates under-inflation. Wear in the middle is caused by out of balance wheels or worn out shocks. An alignment problem appears as uneven wear in the front tires.

Check the brake reservoir often and replace its fluid at the recommended time. Inspect your brake hoses for damage and keep an eye on the brake lining thickness.
Step 3
Service the utility systems. Open the drain valve to empty the hot water tank every couple of weeks. If you find soot, the mixture is rich. Check the gas flame and clean and adjust the air shutter.

Clean out your gray water tank, after you've emptied it, by adding several gallons of water, with a cup of baking soda, and driving down a bumpy road. Empty the tank when you get back.

Inspect your propane system for loose fittings and damaged tubing. Do a bi-annual leak check, by coating all fittings with a soapy solution and looking for bubbles.

If the refrigerator stops cooling, make sure the flame or heating element is on. If it is, drive down a bumpy road or remove the unit and leave it upside down for a few days. You should also check the chimney to make sure it's clear.

If a 12 volt fan, light, or appliance fails, check the unit before working backwards towards the battery. Look for broken or loose connections and blown fuses. If a light goes out, check for broken filaments and socket corrosion.

Replace the heating and air filters frequently, clean the fan blades and check the pilot and main burner flames. Check for damaged wiring bundles or duct-work and look for restrictions in exhaust and intake ports.


Article Written By Dan Eash

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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