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- The Ultimate Checklist: RV and VanLife
RV and VanLife
For many, summer means one thing — time on the road. Whether you travel with an RV, overland vehicle, trailer, or van, summer is the time when you’ll hit the road most often.
If you plan to travel soon and haven’t inspected your RV or vehicle, you’ll want to do so to make sure it’s ready to go. We recommend using a professional to perform an annual maintenance check and that you check your vehicle’s service manual for service recommendations before starting the season. These checks will keep you on the road and out of the repair shop.
- Exterior and roof. Washing the exterior can help identify any issues. Start with the roof to make sure there are no cracks or other signs that it needs resealing or repairing.
- Air conditioner (AC) and vents. Do a visual examination of your AC and vents. Wipe them down and turn them on to make sure they’re functioning properly before you are on the road.
- Solar panels. If you have solar panels, examine them, making sure the surface is free of pollen and dirt build-up as this will reduce energy output. Clean with soap and water if necessary. Make sure all module mounting hardware is secured and any self-levering adhesive applied over the hardware has not cracked or lost its bond. Visually inspect the wire lead coming from the panels for cracking or damage to the protective sheathing. If any exposed internal copper is visible, replace it immediately to avoid an electrical short. If you have portable solar panels, confirm that you have all necessary hardware and wiring to set up the panels while on the road. Then perform the same inspection of the panels themselves and their wiring to confirm that they are in good condition and ready to be used.
- Awnings and slide outs. Check the operation of equipment like awnings, slide outs, slide toppers, and steps, and double-check the seals of your slide outs and the fabric of your awning.
- Windows and doors. Make sure the seals of your windows and doors are secure, and that all glass is in good condition; a crack can quickly become worse on the road.
Inside the RV
- Inspect the interior. Do a complete inspection of the interior of your vehicle, looking for insects, mold, and mildew in the bathroom, under sinks, and inside closets and other dark areas. Double-check all interior and exterior lights as well.
- Water and plumbing systems. De-winterize water and plumbing systems, if necessary.
- Check your water tanks. Sanitize the freshwater tank, if necessary, and make sure that your waste water tank meter reads “empty.”
- Propane system. Perform a complete safety check of your propane system, including whether the tank needs recertification, that the hoses and seals are crack-free, and bubble-testing to confirm there are no propane leaks. Determine whether you need additional propane tanks and fill or exchange them if necessary.
- Appliances. Check the water heater, refrigerator, stove, microwave, water pump, and any other appliances to make sure they’re functioning properly.
- HVAC system and generator. Confirm that both are working the way they’re supposed to.
- Double-check coach and chassis batteries. Make sure that they’re fully charged and have no visible corrosion.
- Fire safety systems. Don’t forget to test your smoke alarm, LP gas detector, and carbon monoxide detector and make sure that you have working fire extinguishers in your vehicle.
Under the Hood
- Fluid levels. Your engine has different fluid reservoirs, including ones for brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure you’re topped off on all fluids and check your air conditioner’s freon levels as well.
- Filters. Check and replace filters including the cabin air filter, engine air filter, fuel filter, and oil filter.
- Engine hoses and belts. Check the engine, making sure that the belts and hoses are in good condition and have no cracks or holes.
- Lights and horn. Double-check that all your vehicle’s lights, including your hazards and turn signals, are working, as well as your horn.
- Brakes. Check your brakes, as well as your axles and differentials, or have a professional do the same.
- Tires. Check your tires for wear and tear, including your spare tire(s), and assess the tire pressure as tires lose pressure over time. Make sure that the lug nuts on your tires are tight and in good condition and check your wheel bearings as well.
- Hitch and towing equipment. Examine your hitch and towing equipment, including weight distribution hitch components, sway control system components, and your tow dolly components, to make sure they’re in good condition and all bolts are tight.
- Examine your jacks. Make sure that your jacks are in good condition; if your jacks are hydraulic or electric, double-check the motor, hoses, and wiring of them as well.
Once your vehicle is road-ready, there are a few more details to address, like the following:
- Grab your favorite snacks and drinks and pack them in a powered cooler like the Dometic CFX3.
- Pack clothes, towels for kitchen and bath, and fishing, hiking, or boating gear in Dometic GO hard storage or Dometic GO soft storage.
- Make sure your tool kit and first aid kit are onboard.
- Pack medications and toiletries, and make sure you have plenty onboard for your planned time away.
- Pack outdoor furniture like the Dometic GO Compact Camp Table and Dometic GO Compact Chairs for outdoor seating.
- Plan your trip and consider printing out maps in case you are somewhere without cell service.
Now that you’re ready for your next adventure, savor every minute of it! If you run into trouble on the road, contact Dometic for service.
Considering replacing or upgrading your RV’s air conditioner, water heater, refrigerator, or toilet? Dometic has been producing industry-leading, reliable RV appliances for decades, making mobile living easy. Our goal is to help you get out there, and stay out there, longer.