RV expert Mark Polk shares his top checks before heading out for a summer RV trip.
Hot temperatures take a toll on automotive and RV components. Today I would like to offer five important checks you should make prior to leaving on RV trips to your favorite KOA when the mercury starts to rise.
Whether you have a motorized RV or a tow vehicle pulling a trailer the automotive components need to be prepared to deal with the heat. Hot summer temperatures affect the vehicle’s tires, batteries, cooling system and the transmission. If the vehicle isn’t prepared for hot temperatures there is a possibility you won’t reach your camping destination.
- For starters it’s a good idea to check all the fluid levels in the vehicle and make sure all service intervals are followed. This includes generators too.
- Engine oil lubricates moving parts and helps components in the engine run cooler. When the temperature increases the engine, transmission and axles are subjected to more heat than normal. Old used engine oil and transmission fluid loses its lubricating qualities and the ability to help moving parts stay cool. Replacing fluids and filters can prevent heat related problems with you vehicle’s drive-line components. If you don’t already have a transmission cooler on the vehicle it is one of the best investments you can make. It works the same as a radiator, cooling the fluid prior to returning to the transmission.
- Tires are directly affected by hot temperatures, especially underinflated tires. An underinflated tire creates a tremendous amount of heat, and when you factor in hot summer temperatures the results can be disastrous. Inflate the tire pressure based on the load, and if a tire is overloaded try to redistribute some weight to correct the problem. Always check and adjust tire pressure when the tires are cold, and/or before traveling more than one mile.
- Hot temperatures affect a hot running engine. The vehicle’s cooling system is designed to prevent the heat producing engine from overheating and quite possibly seizing up. If you don’t maintain the vehicle’s cooling system rust, scale and corrosion build-up in the radiator, water pump and engine coolant passages resulting in an overheated engine. Flushing the cooling system and replacing antifreeze at scheduled intervals can save your engine. Don’t forget to inspect the radiator and heater hoses too. Soft or brittle spots in hoses can indicate potential problems.
- When temperatures go up lead acid battery life goes down. Heat is a battery’s enemy. Hot temperatures contribute to battery corrosion and to water evaporating from the electrolyte in the battery. Keep the battery connections clean and during hot weather or periods of high use check the battery frequently. Checking the water levels and adding distilled water as necessary can save your engine starting battery and your RV batteries. Caution: When working on batteries remove any jewelry, wear protective glasses and gloves, and avoid getting battery acid on your skin or clothing.
Note: If you are not comfortable performing any of the maintenance suggested above you should have the work completed by a qualified repair facility. A little preventive maintenance now can pay off when temperatures start to rise.
About the Expert
KOA’s resident RV expert, Mark Polk, and his wife Dawn started RV Education 101 in 1999. Since that time RV Education 101 has helped educate millions of RV owners and RV enthusiasts on how to properly and safely use and maintain their RV. Mark’s favorite past times are RVing in their 35-foot Type A motorhome, and restoring vintage RVs, classic cars and trucks. For more information on using, enjoying and maintaining your RV visit RV Education 101.