Many of us RVers brave the winter in our rigs, and there are plenty of Jellystone Parks open throughout the chilly season to accommodate us, but for many more, winter means putting the ol’ rigs into storage. But, it’s not as simple as just parking them in the garage. When it comes to our RVs, we need to properly prepare them for winter storage so we don’t have any issues come springtime. When we’re ready to dust them off and take them out for another season of warm weather fun, we want them to be ready to go with minimal maintenance and preparation. Here are some steps to follow to get your rigs ready for a safe winter hibernation:
If your RV isn’t a tow-behind and has an engine, you’ll want to change the oil, top off all the fluids, and fill up the gas tank with some fuel stabilizer. Make sure to idle it for a few minutes after adding the stabilizer to distribute it through the fuel system.
Cleaning your RV is a very important step. First, you’ll want to make sure to get any trash, food particles, and food items out of the inside to reduce the chance of destructive pests making a home in your rig throughout the winter. Second, use your time cleaning the outside to inspect all the seals and roof seams for cracks or deterioration. Water damage is extremely costly, so it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place. Making any necessary repairs before winter storage will save you a ton of money and time in the future.
The next thing you’ll want to do is check all of your electrical and gas appliances to make sure they’re working properly. You’ll always want to examine the propane lines for leaks before and after a long storage period. If you smell or suspect a leak, a simple way to find it is to use a spray bottle with soapy water. After you ensure the lines are all in order, fill up your tank and close all of the valves. If your tank isn’t removable, cover it to prevent rusting.
Now it’s time to winterize the water system. This usually involves draining and cleaning your holding tanks, flushing out all of your plumbing, and then pumping antifreeze into your pipes to protect them from frost damage. For this process it’s best to refer to your owner’s manual because it varies widely depending on your make, model, and amenities, but this guide can definitely help.
The last thing you’ll do is charge and unhook your batteries (negative charge first.) Clean off any corrosion with a solution of baking soda and water, and consider removing it and storing it indoors if it will get too cold throughout the winter.
As always, when it comes to expensive investments, always check your owner’s manual for any additional recommendations, and also print up this storage preparation checklist to make the process easy and pain-free.
Boats and PWCs
If you haul a boat or personal watercraft behind your rig, you’ll want to prepare it for winter storage as well. This will always start with a thorough cleaning. Prepping your engine for winter storage will vary widely depending on your type of watercraft and the type of engine it has, but at the very least it will involve cleaning the engine with soap and water (especially important for any outboard engines,) changing oil and oil filters, topping off fluids, and either unhooking your fuel line and running it until it shuts down or filling up the tank with a fuel additive. Almost all marine engines will need fogging oil sprayed in the cylinders and on all the fittings. As with any motorized vehicle, if it’s not going to be started and ran every month or so, you’ll want to charge and unhook the battery. Here is another maintenance preparation checklist you can print off to have on hand while getting your marine machines ready to stow away.
Exploring Camp Jellystone’s vast menagerie of amazing parks is fun no matter how you do it. For those of us who enjoy them with our RVs, we want to be able to come back year after year, so make sure to prep them well for winter so there won’t be any problems when it’s time to spend another summer season romping around our amazing continent!
AJ Earley is a travel junkie, freelance writer, and root beer float enthusiast from Boise, Idaho.