Van Life

Keeping your travel trailer in good shape

Travel trailers offer a great alternative for those who love the RV lifestyle but don’t want to drive a full-size motorhome or tow a fifth-wheel. They are an investment, though, and they deserve to be treated as such. Whether you’re planning your first summer road trip or you intend on becoming a full-time RVer, as a travel trailer owner you can follow the basic maintenance tips below to ensure that your trailer stays in good shape.

Blake Wisz
Photo by Blake Wisz via Unsplash

Prepare before each trip

Those who are still looking into travel trailers for sale would do well to learn how to prepare their vehicles before they even take their first trips.  Some features can be checked every year or every few months but others must be inspected more frequently.

Don’t just check the tire pressure and call it a day, although that should be on the list. Make a point of checking all of the wheels’ lug nuts and make sure that the trailer is hitched up correctly.  The correct procedure will depend on what type of tow hitch drivers are using, so they should refer to the manufacturers for information.

Photo by Benjamin Zanatta via Unsplash

Pay attention to weight distribution

The weight in a travel trailer needs to be distributed properly to avoid unnecessary wear and tear or, worse, the potential for a dangerous driving situation.  Once the trailer is hooked up, there should be a flat plane between the trailer and the tow vehicle.  If the trailer is tipped towards or away from the hitch, the weight distribution is incorrect.

The easiest way to get a more accurate measurement of weight distribution is to head to a truck stop. Use the scale to measure the weight on all of the vehicle’s tires.  Most drivers only need to do this once before they’ll get a good idea for what the trailer should look like when it’s weighted correctly.

Photo by The Enlight Project via Unsplash

Keep the brakes well-maintained

Check to make sure that the trailer’s brake controller is configured properly before each trip.  Just load up the trailer, get up to around 10 mph, and apply the brakes as normal.  Drivers should feel just a little bit of a tug on their vehicles when coming to a full stop.

Make a point of keeping the trailer and the tow vehicles’ braking systems well maintained, as well.  That means checking for leaks, keeping an eye on brake fluid levels, keeping wheel bearings lubricated, and replacing component parts as needed. Make a point of getting the brakes checked by a professional at least once a year, as well.

Photo by JD Weiher via Unsplash

Clean and treat slide outs

If the slide outs on a travel trailer aren’t cleaned frequently, it can wind up causing problems with their seals.  Similarly, if their slider mechanisms aren’t properly lubricated it can cause unnecessary wear and tear on their motors.  When cleaning and maintaining slide outs, make a point of lubricating the rubber around the window seals to avoid cracking, as well.

Photo by Isaac Moore via Unsplash

Inspect the roof every three months

Make a point of inspecting the trailer’s roof at least every three months.  Leaks occur most frequently around the edges, vents, AC units, and skylights and may not be readily noticeable from the inside until they have gotten quite bad.  Pay attention when choosing sealants as each of them is used for different materials.

Photo by Claudio Pastor via Unsplash

If they take good care of their travel trailers, RVers can expect them to last for years, or even decades.  It’s worth spending the extra time and money on maintenance to avoid the need for repairs.  If repairs do become necessary, make a point of performing them immediately.

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