Whether you bought your motorhome or trailer new or previously owned, you want to keep it in shape. This ensures it looks good driving down the road and is worth more if you intend to sell or trade it in the future. According to many RV dealers, one of the most important factors in determining the resale value is the condition of RV’s exterior. Since the surface area of the exterior—as well as the tires—is quite large, it takes a while to clean and properly maintain it. However, by regularly attending to it you reduce the amount of time invested in each cleaning. These tips will help you keep up with the chore without spending a huge chunk of your week doing so.
First, Keep the Exterior Clean
Depending on the environment, as well as how much you drive it, the RV's exterior surfaces can get quite dirty. If you camp rurally or frequently relocate, this can accelerate the process. Leaving dirt on the surface—or worse yet, salt from snowy roads—increases the likelihood of the paint job becoming scratched or otherwise damaged. Clean it regularly, but especially when you notice that it's visibly dusty.
- Work in the shade to avoid streaks. For added convenience, this can be done at a truck and RV washing station.
- Wet one section of the RV at a time.
- Use soapy water made from DAWN dish soap and water to avoid accidentally removing the clear coat while removing the previous wax job.
- Scrub the surface with clean sponges and micro-fiber towels.
- Use water and vinegar to clean the windows, and dry it with newsprint to reduce streaking.
- With a micro fiber cloth, add Rain-X to the windows. Reapply as needed.
This can be done several times a year, perhaps once each season.
Then, Protect the Exterior
Most modern vehicles are covered with layers of gel coatings, making them particularly resilient and easy to maintain. Older rigs take a bit more effort.
- Use micro-fiber cloths and hand apply carnauba wax to the fiberglass or clear coat finishes.
- Apply the wax clockwise.
- Let it set for at least half an hour, so it soaks into the pores.
- Buff out the wax counter clockwise.
- When storing the motorhome, use an RV cover and/or put it in a garage or RV storage unit.
Rain-X 2 in 1 can be used between waxes without damaging the clear coat or removing the wax. These are general recommendations for fiberglass and painted aluminum exteriors. Check your owner's manual, especially if your trailer is stainless steel.
Maintain the Tires
RV tires actually wear out faster during long periods of inactivity than when the rig is driven periodically. When your motorhome is sitting in one space, the weight is on the same part of the tire, and it's exposed to sunshine unevenly. To minimize this wear, it's a good idea to do the following:
- Use your jacks to relieve the pressure on the tires.
- Consider moving the vehicle a half tire-rotation periodically.
- Use tire covers when you're parked for long periods of time to reduce UV damage.
Before driving, check your RV's tires for cracks or separation in the tread. Use a tire gauge and check the pressure when the tires are cool to make sure each is properly inflated. Measuring the pressure after driving or when the tires are hot gives a false reading.
Lastly, it's recommended that you replace your tires every seven years due to the rate of normal aging.
Maintaining the outside of your RV not only keeps it visually appealing, it increases the life of your investment and increases its appraisal at resale. It also shows you take care of your property, which is essential in gaining admittance to certain RV parks. This, ultimately, makes your life easier and less stressful, as you travel the country in a rig you can be proud of.