Buying an RV, whether it’s a motorhome, travel trailer, camper, or fifth wheel, is an exciting time. All the places you can now travel to escape the stressors of this life. If you’re a previous RV owner, you know the costs of owning one don’t end once you drive it off the lot.
Although there are many items and tools you’ll need when using your RV, in this article, we’re going to discuss what you need to do when storing your RV. Improper RV storage can often cost thousands if not done correctly.
Properly storing your RV can save you $5,000 or more in repair expenses down the line. Regular maintenance and taking proper precautions when storing the RV will extend its life.
When my husband and I bought our first travel trailer, we had no idea how important it was to take the extra steps to store your RV correctly, especially in those winter months. After those first two years, we started seeing the damage to our trailer, and the cost associated with those repairs added up.
RV Storage Tips that Save You Money in the Long Run
- Check and repair any cracks in caulked seams
- Ensure awning fabric is clean and dry
- Ensure Storage facility is safe and protected
- Check tire pressure and cover
- Ensure there are no holes in RV to prevent rodents from entering
- Make sure batteries are prepared for storage
- Remove all food and clean inside.
- Clean outside of trailer including undercarriage
- Winterize water system
- Maintain engine (if applicable)
Let’s now dig a little deeper into each one of these 10 RV storage tips and why they will save you money over time. Regular RV maintenance will save you large unexpected expenses later down the line.
Check and Repair Cracks in RV Seams
Anywhere the manufacture cuts an opening in the sidewall of the RV has the potential to leak. I recommend inspecting all seals and sealants twice a year, especially before storing your RV for the fall and winter months.
Check for any cracks or separations in the sealant where water can potentially seep through. If any cracks are separations are seen, then remove sealant and reseal with a silicone sealant for fiberglass and aluminum siding. I’ve been using Geocel Pro Flex Crystal Clear RV Flexible Sealant and found it to do a great job. Note that if your RV has rubber roofing, never use any petroleum-based product on it.
Ensure Awning Fabric is Clean and Dry
Caring for your RV awning is essential if you want it to last you year after year. Replacing one can get costly depending on the size you need and what features you want it to have. A large, mechanized awning can cost you about $3,500, where a small manual slide-out one would only cost you around $500.
So, unless you want to replace your awning, ensuring it is clean and dry is essential. I’ve tried using soap and water to clean mine, and it doesn’t quite do the job, especially since I often have mildew growing on mine from our beach trips. Using an awning cleaner like Star Brite RV Awning Cleaner is helpful. I’ve used it, and it works well to remove all the dirt, mildew, and deposits.
Related Reading: How to fix a torn RV awning
Ensure Storage facility is safe and protected
There are a few options when deciding where to store your RV. The best is somewhere indoors where it is protected from the weather, but I have found that these places are rare and expensive. The next best is in a place in a covered area. If these options are not available to you, I recommend purchasing a quality RV cover made with breathable material to prevent mold and mildew.
Now for locations, if you are lucky enough to have the capability to store it on your property, then congratulations! Whether your home has RV access or you can park it in your driveway, this is a great way to keep an eye on it and quickly check on it.
If you cannot store it at your home, finding a storage facility near your house is another option. I would recommend finding one with a good security gate/system and surveillance cameras when researching places. My in-laws got their fifth wheel broken into multiple times at a storage facility with no surveillance. Not only do cameras detour criminals, but police can also use footage if a break-in occurs.
Lastly, if you’re using a storage facility, try to negotiate the price. We were able to get a discount if we paid a year in advance.
Related Reading: The pros and cons of RV Covers
Check Tire Pressure and Cover
Inflate tires to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and park tires on a block. I recommend purchasing tire covers to protect them from the sun’s harmful UV rays and extreme heat and cold. I promise these will extend the life of your tires.
Ensure There Are No Holes in RV to Prevent Rodents from Entering
Check for any holes or gaps under the RV where rodents can enter. Even dime-size holes can allow a mouse through. Fill in these gaps with Good Stuff-Pest Block. It is a spray foam that can easily fill in any visible holes. Additionally, if you’re still having issues with pests, including ants, bugs, or mice, there are pest repellants you can buy. We use Stay Away, and we haven’t had any rodents or bugs enter our RV.
Make Sure Batteries are Prepared for Storage
The best option for storing batteries is to remove them from the RV and keep them in your home for the winter months, especially if you live in a cold area. Remember to wear gloves and glasses when handling them, as the acid can cause burns and blindness.
If that isn’t an option and you need to store batteries in your RV, then ensuring you recharge a discharged battery in a timely manner will help prevent sulfation from killing your battery. Additionally, a partially charged battery freezes more easily in the winter.
Even if you put your fully charged battery in storage, it will self-discharge at a rate of 10-20 percent a month. That’s significant if it’s sitting for a while. You can see how important it is to check them periodically and ensure they stay fully charged. This will make your batteries last a lot longer.
Next, you want to check the water levels in your batteries. The water needs to be at least covering the plates inside. If you see that your battery is low on water, then pour some distilled water in only. If you use water from your faucet, it can cause calcium sulfation, which is not good. For more detailed information, I highly recommend watching the video below.
Related Reading: How to Prevent your Camper Battery from Dying when Winterized
Remove all Food and Clean Inside
I highly recommend removing all food from your RV after each use. Be sure to thoroughly clean the inside clean up any crumbs hiding under tables or in cabinets. You don’t need anything attracting rodents or ants. Wiping out the fridge and freezer and leaving doors slightly open is essential, so no mold or mildew grows.
Clean Outside of RV
It’s important to regularly wash your RV, especially before you store it for the winter months. As dirt collects and sits on your RV, it can damage the paint or cause discoloration to occur over time.
Using a long brush can help you reach those high areas. Here is the one I’ve found that works great. It’s lightweight has a long handle that can reach 20 feet. The bristles are soft, so it does not damage the exterior paint.
Don’t forget the undercarriage. Whenever you drive, debris is kicked up from the road and can cause it to erode over time. Additionally, washing will remove chemicals and oils that will also cause erosion. Although it is a pain to clean the underneath, it is an important area to keep clean.
Once your RV is all clean and dried completely, I recommend using wax to further protect the paint from dirt build-up and sun damage. There are many out there. I use and recommend Meguiars Flagship RV/Marine Wax.
Winterize Water System
Winterizing your RV is probably the most important thing to do when storing your RV for the winter. It protects your RV in the cold months from frozen water pipes, making for some costly repairs come spring.
Winterizing is the process of draining all the pipes and lines in your RV and should take less than an hour to do. You can go to your local RV dealer, and they usually charge around $200, or you can do it yourself for an eighth of the cost.
Maintain Engine (If Applicable)
If you own a motorhome, then you have one more vital thing to care for: The engine. Before storing your motorhome, you want to change the oil and oil filter. This will prevent acid from accumulating in your engine, which leads to corroded engine bearings.
If you plan on your motorhome sitting for a couple of months, fill up your gas tank and add fuel preservative to the fuel tank. Let the engine run long enough for the preservative to go through the fuel system. Even with the preservative, I still recommend letting your RV run for a bit each month.
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If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, this list may seem like a lot, and believe me, there are more tips and tricks out there. My advice would be not to get overwhelmed and start taking notes for yourself. Watching YouTube videos can help if you are a more visual person. Owning and caring for an RV is a learning process, so don’t stress and enjoy new adventures in your RV.