Three Steps to Prevent RV Breakdowns
Something many RV’ers worry about is experiencing an RV breakdown. What can you do to prevent them and how to deal with them when they happen. When it comes to safe an uneventful trips the old saying holds true… “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
I just spent about 10 hours traveling home from visiting my parents in Florida. I know that this is the weekend following the 4th of July 2018 so I expected to see several RV’s traveling home from vacation.
Something that I didn’t expect to see were so many broken down RV’s on the side of the road. Fortunately there were no accidents, mostly blown tires, and what appeared to be a few overheated tow vehicles. Fortunately, most RV breakdowns are relatively simple to resolve if you are prepared correctly.
1) Properly Size your Equipment
It must be said that having the appropriately sized equipment is one of the keys to a safe experience traveling with a trailer.
Make sure that your rig is totally in spec. Most newbies make the mistake of only making sure that the trailer fits inside the tow rating of the tow vehicle. While this is good you need to make sure that the tow vehicle will be able to carry all the weight you load on the truck AND tow the trailer.
I have another post that covers this topic and the Link is found here.
2) Preventive Maintenence= Murphy Repellant
We have all herd about Mr. Murphy (Murphys Law- Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.) He is always waiting to expose weaknesses in our planning and our preparation. How can we fend him off?
Preventive maintenence is essential to safe travels. My friends and family sometimes think that I am a kook because of all the preventive maintenence that I do on my rigs. These really fall into two categories.
A) Tow Vehicle Maintenence
You want to open up your owners manual for the tow vehicle and make sure that you follow the “extreme” maintenence schedule. Trus me on this, towing a RV is “extreme” for your TV. I don’t care if you are using a SUV or a dually pick up truck. Towing accelerates wear and tear and needs to be addressed.
If I had to guess the over heated Tow Vehicles I saw today were directly related to maintenence issues. Make sure you change your fluids regularly, check your tires, check your brakes, make sure your trailer connectors and brake controllers are working properly.
B) Trailer Maintenence
If there is one thing that seems to cause Most breakdowns it is a lack of trailer maintenence. Mostly this is due to tire blow outs. I do want to preface this by saying that no all trailer tire failures are due to a lack of maintenence.
When I talk about trailer maintenence today I am specifically referring to the running gear of the trailer. We will discuss other systems in another post.
Make sure that you are servicing your running gear regularly. I recommend repacking your wheel bearings on your trailer yearly and inspecting the brakes yearly as well.
If you are a do it yourself kind of person you can find loads of YouTube videos on how to pack trailer wheel bearings and inspect the breaks on your trailer.
Tires are a great concern. Most trailers come with tires that are barely adequate to cover the weight of the trailer. The following is just my opinion on what I did. If you want to follow my advise I would suggest speaking with your tire dealer to discuss specific options for your situation.
My previous Travel Trailer came from the factory with load range C tires. My trailer had a gross weight ratings of 7,700 lbs. When I replaced the tires went up two weight ratings to a load range E tire.
I also went with Maxxis M8008 tires and I can’t recommend them enough. They are a good all around ST (Special Trailer) tire and I put them on all my trailers. These are speed rated to 65 MPH which is no problem for me as I like to tow around 55–60 MPH Max.
I also replace my trailer tires at the 3 year mark. Trailer tires sit a lot (for some people its 6 months during storage) and then most expect the tires to roll at 70 MPH or faster for hours on end for vacation.
Speed is also a cause, as I mentioned earlier, my tires are speed rated to 65 MPH and exceeding this speed can damage the tires.
Inspect your tires regularly and if there are any signs of damage, repair or replace them as needed.
3) Daily Inspections While Traveling
This is a crucial step that many people miss. I recommend that you inspect your rig every morning during your trip before you leave. I also do a walk around of the rig when I stop while traveling.
- I inspect the air pressure in the tires in the morning before I leave
- I listen for “hissing” noises which may indicate a tire puncture
- I check my oil level and my coolant level in my Tow Vehicle
- I look at the trailers suspension and look for anything out of place.
- I make sure my hitch is hitched up correctly.
- When I stop I walk around the trailer and look for anything odd.
Some people buy an infrared thermometer to watch the axle temperatures and make sure one isn’t getting hotter than the others (may indicate a wheel bearing failure)
Preventing breakdowns takes some work but it pays dividends on your trips. After all, don’t we all want to arrive at our destination safe? One finally recommendation is some sort of RV road side assistance. Even the best laid plans can end in trouble. Road Side assistance can help you change a bad tire of arrange for a tow if you need it.
let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions on how to prevent breakdowns or what to do if one happens.