Six tips and tricks you can do while waiting for RV camping season to start

The hardest thing about winter in the Midwest is waiting until the weather starts to warm so we can get our RVs and motorhomes out of winter storage.

Our Thor Motorcoach Vegas 24.1 is a small Class A motorhome. It doesn’t take up a lot of space when parked. “Elvis the Vegas,” as we call him, gets winterized and stored inside a large pavilion at the Flying Goose Campground in Fairmont, MN. We always tell the owner to park the 25-foot-long RV right by the door so we can be the first ones out when the weather’s good.

Besides the regular RV après-winter storage routine, like de-winterizing, flushing, and sanitizing the water system, we’d like to offer five more things you can do to be ready for that first camping trip of the season.

  1. Check for any rodent intrusion.

As hard as we try to seal every crack and crevasse, and store our camper indoors on concrete flooring, we have had evidence of critter invasion inside the rig.

First thing you should do is perform a thorough inspection of all the nooks and crannies of your RV such as food storage cabinets, underbed storage, bathroom vanities, outside cargo compartments, and the engine compartment.

Even if you don’t find “droppings” on countertops, floor, or mattress, it might be likely the little varmints have built a nest on top of the engine or exhaust manifold. Take a bright flashlight to inspect the engine bay and undercarriage for the flammable dried grass bedding.

If you did have mice spend the winter in your RV, be sure to wear a dust mask while sweep or vacuuming up the mouse poop. Then sanitize all surfaces thoroughly. This is a suitable time to look for small cracks, gaps, or holes where plumbing or wiring is run and close those areas those with a mouse-proof expanding foam sealant.

Mouse Prevention Tip – We don’t know if you have had any luck, but mice seem to love to eat Irish Spring bar soap. Somewhere someone recommended putting out bars or the fragrant green soap throughout the camper’s interior. So, we did, only to find gnawing mouse teeth marks in all the bars during their winter stay. We imagine they had very springy fresh mouse breath after their soap meals. We haven’t had much luck with tossing boxes of Bounty dryer sheets all over everything either, although they do give the camper a nice smell when the door is opened for the fist time after being in storage!

Keep critters out!

2. Take your RV for a pre-season check-up.

Pre-camping season is the perfect time to do all the repairs, tune-ups, or modifications to your rig. The last thing you want is to miss the perfect camping weekend because your motorhome is in the shop.

Have your mechanics do an inspection of all the mechanicals just to make sure you didn’t miss any issue at the end of the camping season. Do an oil change, battery test, tire rotation, wheel alignment, and top-off fluids at the same time.

Our Thor Vegas 24.1small class A motor home is difficult to do maintenance and minor repairs on due to the engine and battery being tucked out of easy reach by the one-piece body. So, we need mechanics do all the contortions on the hard-to-reach engine stuff.

Battery Tip – Be sure to turn the RV’s main house battery shut-off switch back to the “ON” position before you take your rig for a drive. This allows power from the engine’s alternator to help recharge the house batteries as well as the engine battery after a long cold winter’s nap in storage.

Keep those batteries charged!

3. Run the generator.

If your RV is equipped with a power generator, fire it up and let it run. It’s best to have some type of load on the electric system (such as lights, AC unit, fans, outlets, etc.) to help the generator flex its muscles. This is also an effective way to test all the important electrical components is case something needs attention. Generators need regular maintenance, like everything else on your motorhome or RV.

Running the generator now could also alert you to any issues that may need to be addressed before your next RV trip. They say, “use it or lose it,” and that very much applies to the RV generator. We neglected our generator on a previous rig. Sadly, lack of use, oil changes and maintenance spelled big (and expensive) trouble for this important piece of camping equipment.

Generator Tip – Remember to fill the RV’s gas or diesel fuel tank before trying to start your generator. The generators are equipped with an automatic shut-off anytime the fuel tank level hit a quarter of a tank or lower.

This is a safety measure to keep you from running the RV’s fuel tank to empty while running the generator and leaving you and your rig stranded without fuel to drive. So, before you start cursing the “dang nab piece of boat anchor” for not turning over, check to make sure you have sufficient fuel in the tank to use the generator.

Use it or lose it!

4. Do it yourself projects.

Now is the time to do those simple do it yourself projects which you didn’t get around to before camping season ended.

Now is the time to organize the overhead storage bins. If you aren’t using any of the hundreds of cheap, dollar store-type storage baskets and containers, what’s the holdup? Measure the areas you want to keep organized and take those measurement with you to the store. Buy only what fits perfectly, and store only what fits perfectly within the confines of the storage container.

Add insulating window coverings to your camper. Reflectix is the brand name for reflective insulating material made of two reflective layers of silver film bonded to two internal layers of heavy gauge polyethylene bubbles. It’s an inexpensive way to insulate all the windows of your van, camper, or motorhome. It looks like bubble wrap with a reflective silver material covering, comes in rolls of varying dimensions and is easily cut with scissors.

The Reflectix is awesome. We bought a large roll from Amazon and measured and cut the thin panels to fit each window in our Thor Vegas 24.1. We also added sections of the material to the back walls of all our storage cabinets inside the RV.

The difference in interior temperature is very noticeable, both in summer and during the chillier months. It is also great for blocking the light coming in if you are a late sleeper, and a clever way to block the light from spilling out if you are trying to be stealth during your camping adventures.

DIY Organization Tip – While you have everything out of the storage cabinets and drawers, take the time to wash all the items stored over the winter. While everything is out of the way, wipe out and sanitize the drawers and cabinet shelves. Put down shelf liner in drawers and cabinets to make clean up easier and keep the rattling down to a dull roar!

Start the camping season clean!

5. Do a RV walkaround.

Safe travels should be everyone’s mantra for RVing. The way to assure that everyone returns home from the journey in one piece, camper included.

Check tire pressure levels, even on the spare if your rig is so equipped. Pop off the hub caps or wheel covers and torque the lug nuts to the factory specs. Look for any sign of grease or oil leak around the wheels and axels. If so, have those wheel bearing issues addressed ASAP.

Check all the outside cargo door latches and locks making sure they open and close easy and key locks work.

Turn on headlights and brake lights to check for proper operation and illumination. Have any burnt-out or dim lights replaced.

Get up on the roof – or have someone do this task for you – to look for cracked seals, loose bolts, or unsecure equipment, like roof vent covers or solar panels. Get those things resealed or repaired. This is also a good time to wash and clean the roof and the rest of the camper as well.

Do you know how tall your RV is? It might be taller than what the factory specs say, especially if you have added any aftermarket accessories such as a weBoost antenna, satellite TV dish, vent covers or new AC unit.

Knowing your height tip -Get an accurate measurement of your rig. Park the RV on a level surface. With the help of a person on the ground and another on the roof or from atop a tall ladder use a tape measure and a long construction level to measure the height.

Place one end of the level on the top of the tallest piece of equipment or housing mounted on your RV’s roof. Hold the level out over the side of the RV and adjust until the horizontal level bubbles line up in the vials. Stretch the tape measure from the level to the ground to get the height reading.

We have our rig’s maximum height printed out and mounted on the dashboard right behind the steering wheel

Know your rig’s height!

6. Like traveling on air.

If you don’t own an onboard air compressor and tire air pressure gauge you need to. Or, at the very least a top-quality tire air pressure gauge.

Two years ago, we invested a lot of money into a wireless remote tire pressure monitoring system for the Thor Vegas 24.1. Sensors on the valve stems would send a psi reading from each or the six tires to the mother receiver unit in the cab. It became more of a stress increasing distraction with all the beeping and constant glancing at the small monitor to see what was happening.

One long RV road trip and a few heart-stopping false alarms later, we ditched the system and now we do tire pressure checks with our tire air pressure gauge at each fuel stop or rest break.

Tire Pressure Tip – We carry a large construction air compressor with us. It’s heavy and noisy, but it can easily fill the heavy truck/RV tires to 80 psi. with ease. We also have a top-of-the-line ARB tire pressure gauge and fill nozzle. It’s piece of mind for us on the road.

Know your tire pressure!

Now get packing.

As the excitement of another epic camping season looms just around the corner, it’s a great feeling knowing with just a few days of hard work and TLC, your RV is totally road worthy and safe to drive for you and your family this coming camping season!

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