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RV Tips for New RVers
1. Battery Basics: Keep Your RV Batteries
Summer heat can wreak havoc on RV systems, and your battery bank is no exception.
2. RV Campground Etiquette: Be a Good (Campsite) Neighbor
Most RVers are considerate of fellow campers when staying at a campground. A good rule of thumb is to treat others as you would like to be treated. If we all follow these simple campground etiquette tips, everyone in the campground will have an enjoyable and safe camping experience.
3. Storage Racks and Bags - RV Tip #148
The vinyl-clad wire racks and bins are great for storing towels and sheets. They also provideš for good air circulation. The ones that stack on one another can be held together with a plastic
electrical tie to keep them from bouncing apart while driving.
4. Be Cool and Exercise (that Generator) - RV Tip #88
Try using your coach air conditioners when driving rather than your engine (dash) air or in a colder climate, run your heat pumps. While it is important to regularly use your engine air conditioner to keep the seals lubricated and performing, using your coach air conditioners or heat pump will provide good climate control and it will force you to exercise the generator under load—easily accomplished when traveling.
5. This Little Light of Mine - RV Tip #94
Reading lights are notoriously miserable in many RVs. Find one of those inexpensive, small, clip-on light fixtures that use a 60-watt (maximum) bulb. These work fine and can be moved as needed and your eyes will appreciate it.
6. Who You Gonna Call? - RV Tip #90
Make a list of phone numbers (family contacts, emergency services, coach and chassis manufacturer, dealer, insurance, etc.). Make copies so both the pilot and copilot can carry one, put one up front in the coach, one near the bed, and one in the tow vehicle. It is nearly impossible to get to some of this information, for example, when stored under the bed or in a cabinet obstructed by the slide—especially when slides cannot be opened for any reason!
7. Keep the Doors Closed - RV Tip #23
Cabinet doors may pop open when traveling and especially if you have to cross a speed bump. When your rear tires cross the speed bump at a slight angle (not at the same time), this will cause your coach to rock side-to-side—sometimes with enough action to toss dishes out of upper cabinets. Plus, you do not have to be going fast for this to happen.
8. Feeling a Bit Cranky - RV Tip #173
If you manually crank up your TV antenna or satellite dish, hang only your ignition key from the crank. That way, you can’t drive away without remembering to lower these items. The best way is to have the key in hand when you crank.
9. Extra Drawers for Your RV - RV Tip # 101
Use lids from copy paper boxes to organize and store canned goods in cabinets. The lids are available at any print or copy shop—and usually free. Slide the lids into a cabinet shelf and if your shelf happens to be above your washer/dryer, two lids will fit side-by-side. Put canned goods in the lids. Doing so will buffer them as you are driving.
10. Double Your Covers, Double Your Space - RV Tip #115
Sink covers look nice but are nearly useless when preparing food because they totally
eliminate access to the sink. Cutting larger sink covers in half will allow the cook access to the sink without sacrificing all the surface area plus actually extend the countertop work area—a definite win-win!
11. ‘Crooked’ Awning Helps Divert Rain Away From RV - RV Tip #176
When putting up your awning, leave one end slightly lower than the other. This will allow water to run off and be directed away from the RV. Many RVers lower the awning nearest the rear of the coach to direct water away from the coach door. No, all those crooked awnings were set like that on purpose!
12. Brake Controllers~
There are few things more relaxing than having an open highway to yourself, but many RVers become anxious in stop–and–go city driving – especially while towing a fifth–wheel.
13. Get Ready for Spring
Spring is in the air! And although you may be eager to get your RV out of mothballs and on the road, taking a few important steps up front will help keep your rig running smoothly all season.
14. A Helping Hand
We had a partially disabled friend who needed help to get into our motorhome. An assist bar next to the door seemed to be what was needed.
15. No Back Strain
Heavy–duty tow vehicle, trailer or motorhome tires are a bear to lift while attempting to align the lugs with the rim holes when remounting the wheels.
16. A Hose by any other Name...
My fifth-wheel came with enclosed storage for a single 10-foot sewer hose. At many parks, this is not long enough. I needed a way to store the additional hose so that it was not in the way, but that allowed it to dry properly.
17. Turn Around
To make the removal easier and quicker, I turned the regular around and placed the hoses in the rear of the compartment. I placed a mirror, attached with hook-and-loop fastener
18. Awning-Rod Helper
Sooner or later, the loop on the end of your awning strap will collapse. Try as you may, the awning rod won't slip through without your having to get out the ladder and apply some hands-on maneuvering.
19. Big Drip Pan
Periodic changing of fluid and filters will prolong the life of automatic transmissions. However, draining the fluid is usually messy, since most pans do not have drain plugs and the only way to remove the old fluid is to drop the pan. When the pan is broken loose from its seal, the fluid usually spills everywhere. Most drip pans found into auto-parts stores are too shallow to be effective in capturing the splashing fluid. To solve this problem, a simple, larger pan can be made from scrap ¼-inch plywood.
20. Block Party
I made a special concrete block that's used to keep the sewer hose under control when hooked to the dump receptacle, and it is just about bulletproof. I started by making a mold from 1-inch-wide marine-grade plywood and a sheet of aluminum that was formed to make the bottom radius.
21. Sag Be Gone
My wife likes to collect shoes, which she stores in a shoe hanger on the closet bar in our RV. Unfortunately, the bar isn't meant to hold that much weight. I reinforced it with a piece of 3/4-inch electrical pipe, cut to fit from the bottom of the closet bar to the floor.
22. Another Shocking Situation
Like other RVers, we have had “shocking situations” trying to service our batteries in a very cramped area.
The metal top of our battery storage area is only 2 inches above the posts of our batteries. When sliding in the battery, which requires tipping them to fit under the exterior door opening, the posts occasionally would brush the metal top and a shower of sparks would occur.
23. Rear-View Monitors
Many rear-view monitors found on motorhomes will adjust automatically or they have settings (a switch) for day usage and night usage.
24. Adjust Convex Mirrors to Prevent Blind Spots
Before traveling in your RV, adjust both convex wing-mirrors to allow you and the co-pilot to see down both sides of your coach. Convex mirrors help increase your field of view and see objects and vehicles that might otherwise “hide” in a blind spot.
25. Totally Tubular
Constantly having to dig around in the bottom of the toolbox to find the nozzle tube for the spray can of WD-40? Solve that problem with this simple and easy tip.
26. Backsplash Backlash
Are you having problems with water and other liquids running off the counter in the kitchen area and staining/damaging the wall and cabinet? Here is a tip that is sure to help.
27. Safety First! Tips for New RVers - RV Tip #21
Before you hit the road for the first time, it is recommended that you purchase and understand how to use the following:
28. Use Non-Reflective Cloth to Minimize Window Reflections - RV Tip #15
If windshield or side window reflections are a problem – especially at night – use a dark-colored, non-reflective cloth (like polar fleece) to cover your dashboard to prevent reflections.
29. Hook Up Your Tow Vehicle With Care - RV Tip #42
Before hooking up your tow vehicle, establish a fixed routine such as the tow bar arms first, safety cables next, wiring, and breakaway cable last. When you finish hooking up everything, literally stand up and look – carefully look – at each connection just to ensure it is good and complete.
30. Water Conservation Tip When Boondocking (Dry Camping)- RV Tip #209
Use paper towels or used table napkins to wipe excess food from pots and pans prior to washing them. This will save a pre-rinse, and may also save running a second load of the dish water.
31. Store Bulky Kitchen Items in Plastic or Vinyl Bins - RV Tip #122
A plastic basket is an excellent storage place for your pot and pan lids. This also allows better air circulation if lids are put away damp. You can also store flat cookware (cookie sheets, baking and pizza pans) in a wire basket.
32. Use Care When Opening Slides in Winter Conditions - RV Tip #236
If you have slides, be careful when opening and closing them if camping or living in winter conditions. Overnight snow can collect on the slide awning and must be removed before closing the slide.
33. RV Co-Pilot Provides Second Set of Eyes - RV Tip #74
Having a co-pilot can be especially helpful when driving along narrow city streets. One important thing for your co-pilot to watch for are signs that “lean” into the right-hand traffic lane. These can damage a side mirror.
34. Keep It Clean! Vacuum Frequently When RVing - RV Tip #123
When traveling or full-timing in an RV, plan on cleaning and vacuuming more often than you would living in a house or apartment. Your RV will simply get dirtier faster.
35. Drive Over Speed Bumps Head On - RV Tip #23
Try to hit speed bumps straight on (both wheels over at the same time) and very slowly. If you drive over them at an angle (one wheel over slightly ahead of the other), your coach will rock back and forth, from side to side, especially in the back.
36. Vent Covers Keep Rain Out, Air In – RV Tip #34
Consider installing deflectors that are roof-mounted over the crank-up roof vents. The covers will allow you to leave the vent hood open when driving. No rain can come into the coach through the open vent hood since the cover protects it.
37. Can You Reach Necessities When Slides Are In? - RV Tip #91
When the slides are not out is a good time to check to see if you can reach the necessities that may be obstructed when the slides are in. Can you get a jacket or umbrella out of the closet? Can you reach the pet food?
38. Make Use of Under-the-Bed Storage - RV Tip #138
In some coaches, there is storage under the bed. This is generally accessed by literally lifting the flat platform under the mattress – often from the foot of the bed.
39. Store Dry Food Items in Plastic Basket – RV Tip #109
Plastic baskets are great for separating and storing dry foods in your RV cabinets. Use bins with holes in the sides to facilitate air circulation.
40. Give Extra-Large Pots a Shower
Instead of using the RV galley sink, you can wash an extra-large pot in the shower. Wash water from the shower drains into the same (grey) tank as the sink water.
41. Try to Avoid Oversteering in Heavy Crosswinds
On RV road trips you will occasionally run into strong wind gusts or dust storms. When crosswinds hit a large, flat object (the big, flat side of your RV), they may cause your vehicle to swerve.
42. Store the Awning in Windy Conditions - RV Tip #174
If the wind is gusting, don’t put out your awning. If the wind picks up later, store the awning. This is the best and safest practice when there are strong wind conditions.
43. Consider Installing Left-Foot Gas Pedal – RV Tip #18
If one of the drivers has difficulty reaching the gas pedal, look into having a left-foot gas pedal installed. These are available at stores specializing in adaptive equipment for the disabled. Many of these companies can also install it for you or direct you to centers that specialize in this type of equipment.
44. Water Conservation Tip When Dry Camping (Boondocking) - RV Tip #213
Use a pan to catch cool or room temperature water that flows while you are waiting for hot water to come through the faucet or shower. Later, you can heat up the extra water on the stove or in the microwave, and use it for washing the dishes.
45. Tilt Electric Mirrors for Better Parking Visibility - RV Tip #44
When backing up your RV, tilt the electric mirrors down to see the lower rear corner of your coach. When backing up, your concern is no longer with traffic approaching from the rear but with carefully guiding the rear of your coach into a site avoiding any obstacles.
46. Guidelines for Putting Your Slides In, Out
There is no one correct way to open or retract your slideouts, so follow your manufacturer’s recommendation. Some slideouts go out and in after leveling. Some go out and in before leveling.
47. Prevent Items From Flying Out of Your Medicine Cabinet - RV Tip #125
Inside the medicine cabinet, store smaller items on the bottom, and the big stuff on the upper shelves to help prevent objects from tumbling out. An alternative is to use a spring-loaded curtain rod across the door opening.
48. Disconnect Water Hose Before Traveling – RV Tip #191
Disconnect your water hose, drain it, and connect the two ends of your water hose to each other to prevent anything from getting inside the hose while traveling. A couple of times a year, it is advisable to add two or three tablespoons of bleach to a partially full hose, almost fill it, and then connect the ends together.
49. Warm Up ‘Cold’ Engine Before Driving Diesel Rig - RV Tip #41
If your coach has a diesel engine, a bit of engine warm-up is recommended when starting cold in the morning. However, diesel engines don’t warm up at “normal” idle speed—they must be run at a “fast idle” to generate heat. Check with your dealer or the manual for this fast idle speed.
50. Keep Batwing Antenna Down in Gusty Conditions - RV Tip #177
If the wind is really gusting, don’t put up your TV antenna and satellite dish. They could become damaged or bend in the high winds.
51. Travel With All RV Windows Closed on Road Trips - RV Tip #32
On road trips, make sure you travel with all RV windows closed. This will help keep fumes outside and prevent dust from entering the living area.
52. Warm Up Sunshades Before Positioning on Window – RV Tip #175
Lay RV sunshades (or sun screens) out in the sun for a few minutes, or bring them inside (in colder weather), before attempting to attach them to the coach.
53. Use ‘Truck Entrance’ When Fueling at Truck Stop - RV Tip #50
When approaching a truck stop, look for the “Truck Entrance” sign. Don’t go in the “car” side—you typically cannot drive from one side to the other without exiting the property.
54. Electric Can Opener: Always Have a Manual Backup – RV Tip #117
Electric kitchen gadgets are convenient and easy to use. However, if you regularly use an electric can opener, always keep a manual one as a backup.
55. Remember to Wash Your Windows When Stopping for Fuel - RV Tip #55
Diesel islands for trucks usually have long-handled squeegees for washing your RV's windows.
Wash your windows while fueling to prevent holding up the fueling line.
56. Practice Backing Up to Park Like a Pro
Backing up a motorhome the first time can be intimidating. Use a rubber cone as a guide to practice backing up.
57. Keep RV Finish Free of Bugs, Grime - RV Tip #364
Use a slightly moistened microfiber cloth to clean the bugs and road grime off the front of your RV as soon as possible after reaching your destination.
58. Use Night Setting to Reduce Glare After Dark - RV Tip #16
Many rear-view monitors found on motorhomes will adjust automatically, or they have settings (a switch) for day usage and night usage. Change the setting as needed.
59. Shelf Liner Keeps Cookware from Slip Sliding Away - RV Tip #99
Line your cabinets and bottom of your drawers with non-adhesive, skid-resistant shelf liner. It will help muffle noise while driving and keep things in place.
60. Use Plastic Container to Store Bottles - RV Tip #119 When Traveling
Store bottles of cooking liquids all together in a solid, plastic container or tub when driving. If one happens to break, the spill will be contained.
61. Fully Inflate Tires - RV Tip #322
Make sure all your tires are fully inflated. Fill them using the proper air pressure as derived from weighing the RV and the tire manufacturer’s load charts.
62. Use Care Dumping Holding Tanks in Cold Weather - RV Tip #232
Be careful when dumping holding tanks in cold weather. Blade valves can freeze, and plastic fittings and handles may become brittle and break.
63. Adjust Convex Mirrors to Prevent Blind Spots - RV Tip #13
64. Take a ‘Shakedown Cruise’ Before Big Trip - RV Tip #85
Do an RV “Shakedown Cruise" before heading out on a lengthy trip. Take a short trip in your new coach and plan to stay out 2 to 3 nights - three is best.
65. Water-Saving Tips When Dry Camping (Boondocking) - RV Tip #203
When you wash dishes, use two containers (such as plastic tubs) – one for washing and one for the rinse water. When finished, don’t empty these down the sink into the gray water tank.
66. Store Fire Extinguisher Upright and Easily Accessible - RV Tip #144
Use a hook and loop fastener strap to hold a large-size fire extinguisher in the back corner (or corners) of your closet. The hanging clothes will also help keep it upright.
67. Drive Smart in Gusty Wind Conditions - RV Tip #25
If a large transport vehicle approaches and overtakes you while driving in gusty wind conditions, try turning the wheel slightly toward the transport truck.
68. Small Ironing Board Can Handle Tight Spaces - RV Tip #146
Make smart use of limited space in your RV. Purchase a small tabletop ironing board with short folding legs. Store it by attaching it to the back wall of the closet (behind the clothing) with a hook and loop fastener.
69. Checking Your Transmission’s Fluid Level - RV Tip #363
Check your transmission fluid level when it is warm using the dipstick. For Allison electronic transmissions, use the appropriate method of pressing console shift buttons and noting the results on the digital readout.
70. Parking in Busy, Crowded Parking Lots - RV Tip #66
When parking across several spaces, make certain your toad’s rear end is not sticking out in the traffic lane. Make sure it also sits inside the lines of the parking spaces. Judge from front and back to be sure.
71. Keep Your Tools Handy - RV Tip #169
Buy an old pair of channel-lock pliers at a yard sale and keep them in the utility compartment. Then you won’t have to remember to take them with you every time if you need to tighten the hose or unscrew a stuck sewer cap.
72. Use Caution Backing Into RV Site - RV Tip #46
When backing up, your concern is no longer with traffic approaching from the rear but with carefully guiding the rear of your coach into a site. Back up slowly. Tilt your mirrors down to see the lower rear corner of your coach.
73. Your Personal RV Wine Cellar - RV Tip #137
Protect your favorite bottles of wine by storing them in underwear and sock drawers. Nestle each bottle in and around your underwear and socks so that it is protected by the clothing.
74. Run the AC When Driving in Dusty Conditions
If you must drive in dusty conditions (gravel road, lengthy construction, dust storm, etc.), fire up your generator and run ALL of your roof air conditioners while driving over any dusty roads.
75. A Measure for Safety - RV Tip #158
In smaller, older campgrounds, you may need to take a quick measure before putting the slides out. Look for obstacles (tree limbs, shore power poles, picnic tables, boulders, etc.) that the slide could hit.
76. Get a Step Up With Carpet Samples - RV Tip #96
Use carpet samples (they have a finished edge on them) to put a temporary carpet on the inside steps of your RV. Cut the sample to step-size, and use two-sided carpet tape to hold it down with the finished edge out.
77. Color Code Potable Water Hose for RV - RV Tip #165
Until recently, the standard rule for water hose color is white for potable water and green for everything else. This is changing and some hoses are now available in “designer” colors.
78. Quick, Disconnect the Water - RV Tip #170
Remember to use a “quick disconnect” for your potable water hose connections at the coach to make this task easier to perform. It’s worth investing in a good quality brass fixture.
79. Give Big Pots a Shower - RV Tip #113
When you use a pot too large to easily wash in the RV galley sink—wash it in the shower. Wash water from the shower drains into the same (grey) tank as the sink water.
80. Give Fine Glassware a Hug - RV Tip #111
Store good glassware (such as crystal wine glasses) in flexible foam drink “huggies” or “koozies.” Many companies give these away or you can find them cheap at yard sales.
81. Important, Easy Electric Safety Tip - RV Tip #163
Switch off the circuit breaker at the shore power before plugging in! Just for fun, note the times that you pull into a campsite and the breaker is still on. That tells you that the previous occupant was living dangerously!
82. Keep Your Microwave Quiet - RV Tip #120
Lay a folded bath towel on top of the turntable in RV's microwave oven to prevent it from
bouncing while driving. If you have removable metal cooking racks for your brand of microwave, store them, nested, upside down—in a shelf or in the microwave while driving.
83. Water-Pressure Regulator Helps Prevent Leaks, Ruptures - RV Tip #166
Make certain you have purchased a water-pressure regulator for your potable water hose. This regulator will prevent excessively high water pressure from entering your coach. Some campgrounds have very high water pressure. You may see signs at the campground office warning of this high pressure and, if so, take them seriously to prevent damage to your coach.
84. Egg Cartons Offer Protection, Stability - RV Tip #103
Place egg cartons on refrigerator shelves lengthwise, front to back—they will never fall out. Plus, the carton lid will protect the eggs if anything falls in the fridge while driving. Use the eggs from the rear of the carton first. This will provide stability when you lift the egg carton.
85. Tubs for Everything - RV Tip #118
Use a small storage tub tucked back somewhere to hold kitchen gadgets that are occasionally needed but rarely used. Consider this for the grater, knife sharpener, and meat cleaver to name a few.
86. Long Storage Space -RV Tip #95
Check for storage space behind the sofa. Sometimes a short, folding ladder can be stored there. This may also be a place for mops or brooms. It is a bit inconvenient but storing long items in an RV is often difficult to do. The tallest place is often the closet.
87. Something for the Co-pilot - RV Tip #156
Just prior to pulling (or backing) in, the copilot should go outside and do a quick scan of the site. You do not want to run over or into anything that may have been left by the previous occupant.
88. Glove Up for Hand Hygiene - RV Tip #171
Keep a box of the disposable rubber gloves in the outside water compartment. Use them if you get into raw sewage. They can be purchased at any pharmacy. Don’t save and reuse the gloves. Toss them when finished. Rings and other jewelry will puncture the gloves.
89. ‘Crooked’ Awning Helps Divert Rain Away From RV - RV Tip #176
90. Let Us Spray - RV Tip #114
RVs in the low/medium-priced range may not have any type of flexible sprayer on the kitchen sink. Replacing the faucet with a unit that contains a sprayer built in to the faucet head is an excellent method for solving the sprayer issue.
91. Hiding Place to Store Spare Set of RV Keys - RV Tip #89
Before leaving on your next trip, have a full set of extra keys made including the coach ignition key, compartment keys, and any other special keys. Test them and then store keys in a plastic zipper-lock storage bag. Add a small squirt of lubricant like WD-40 to help prevent corrosion.
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