RV Pre-Check Tips – Things to Do Before You Hit the Road

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of heading out for a trip. As you are packing the RV, your mind may already be on vacation – even though you haven’t left the driveway. While there is nothing wrong with a little excitement, you need to keep yourself focused on the job at hand if your trip is going to get off to a good start. Unfortunately, thinking ahead without paying attention to your preparation is a sure way to forget something.

With RV travel, there is a lot to remember before pulling out onto the road. It is a great idea to create a pre-trip checklist which you can use prior to starting each new vacation. What should be on such a checklist? The points below are a great place to start.

Check Your Tires

Among the most important checks you can complete before leaving on a trip has to do with the pressure in your tires. If you have the wrong pressure in your RV tires before you leave – either too much or too little – you will be at risk for tire failure. Using a tire pressure gauge, check to make sure your tires are within the recommended range. Check all of the tires, and add or remove air as necessary until you are happy with the readings.

Confirm Your Connection

If your RV comes in the form of a trailer or fifth-wheel, you need to make sure your connections are secure an all lights are working. Even if you feel like you were careful when you connected the rig initially, it is still important to double-check this point before you leave. It should go without saying that having a problem with this part of your setup can lead to serious consequences when you get onto the highway.

Make Sure the Inside is Secure

Most RV owners know that they should perform a ‘walk around’ before they leave for a trip or head for home – but did you know that it is just as important to do a ‘walk through’? Take a moment to walk through the interior of your RV and look for things that may have been left sitting loose on a counter or chair. You don’t want to allow anything to go flying as you drive along, so secure all items which will be riding in the RV.

The Walk Around

As mentioned in the point above, it is important to take that last walk around before you hit the road. What are you looking for when you walk around your vehicle? Pretty much anything that could cause a problem. Did you put your jacks away? Make sure the latches around the sides of the RV are all secured, and make sure the door is firmly closed and locked. The process of walking around your RV is only going to take a few moments to complete, but it can save you from making a serious – and expensive – mistake.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Hi there, I’m new to this site. My husband and I are planning to Rv down to San Francisco this summer. Does anybody have and recommendations for Rv sites close to downtown. We don’t have a tow car so we like to be close enough we can ride our bikes to. Thanks

    • Stay at the Petaluma KOA. Short drive into the city & you can see/do all the sites in Sausalito, Marin etc too. KOA has a minibus tour that takes you to all the gems in the city. Do this first, then go back on your own to further explore. We lived in Sonoma County for years & went to the city numerous times per year-the guide took us to places we didn’t even know about. The KOA also is a short drive to the Sonoma & Napa wine country as well as to Bodega Bay and on up the coast to small villages. Parking in the city is so expense, you can park free in Sausalito, take the ferry across the bay & then walk or take the cable cars and busses to get to other locations. Have fun & enjoy the area.

    • Marin RV Park, Greenbrae, CA. A short walk (or bike ride) to the ferry or bus which takes you to Fishermen’s Wharf. Both bus and ferry will transport your bike (or just use public transportation). Farmers Market, Trader Joe’s, other grocery stores and restaurants short bike ride away.

    • Cow Palace in So San Francisco. Spaces are tight in all parks near the city. Try to find something close to Bart or a bus line. There is an RV park in San Rafael Dvd I think you can get a ferry not too far into San Francisco. Otherwise sn option is stay a little away.petaluma. Napa good options there and you could rent a car to get to transit or pay for parking.

  2. Got a question about the tires. Can you check the pressure on nitrogen filled tires with a regular tire gauge? Former Truck driver here, but never worked with nitrogen filled tires before. Also, for example I find a tire a little low at the campground. Can I fill it with my regular air compressor? Or do I have to go somewhere that has Nitrogen? Thanks Mark

  3. Good info, albeit a little basic. From the newsletter, I was expecting a little more of an actual ‘checklist’ of things to do before your trip or each time you head out.
    This is really what both novice and experienced RV’ers could use.

  4. yes. it’s the same pressure as air and can be topped up with air till you can get to a place to refill your tires

  5. My 5’r came with nitrogen filled tires but closest nitrogen place to me is 95 miles away. I used my air compressor when I had to adjust. Changed tires and they are now air filled. Have not noticed any difference in frequency of adjusting them…..

    • I am not a tire expert, but my own opinion, nitrogen filled tires are a bit of a fad. I do not see any advantage to them , especially when you consider that regular air is 80 % nitrogen anyhow. The best thing to always do is your weekly tire pressure checks and top up with real genuine air if required. And if you are out on holidays, I am sure you have better things to do than boldly go and seek out new nitrogen filling places.

    • I’m a pilot as well as an RVr. Nitrogen does not expand or compress like air when changing altitudes. That’s why it is used in aircraft tires. It might help with tire pressure if you RV in mountainous terrain. Regarding Rvs, trailers and vehicles, its more of a sales point to have you service your tires at tire stores. the pressure reads to same on a tire gauge.

  6. Don’t forget to check fluids.. Power Steering fluid, Oil, Transmission fluid, Antifreeze/Coolant, Windshield washer fluid. Check your antenna is down and before driving off.. Steps are up. Mirrors need to be checked for vest view from the driver’s seat. Check wiper blades and also the wipers work. Is the shore power cord stored away? Water hoses disconnected, drained and stored? Clean the front windows of bugs and dirt. Driving into the sun and turning on the windshield wipers and washer will cause you to not see where you are going.

    • Thanks those are great tips for me being a novice at RVing. I’m making a pre-check list and your comment helped!

  7. Regarding discussions about maintaining proper pressure in tires, like many motorhome owners, for the past five years we have carried a small air compressor in the basement of our coach. Our BOSTITCH CAP1512-OF is a 1.2 Gallon Oil-Free unit with adjustable output pressure up to 150 psi, making it ideal for inflating tires or blowing out water lines during the winterization process. Amazon sells it for about $140. Tire pressure should be adjusted when the tires are cold, which is nearly impossible if you need to drive somewhere with your coach to obtain air.

  8. I agree with Steve McG…I expected more also…but they did say pre-check tips …I will give you that. I sell RV’s all day long for a living and when I do the walk thru with customers I always tell them to always take one last walk around the RV before you put the vehicle in drive. You look up along your roof line looking for vents open or antenna up. You look below for levelers or stabilizers to be retracted because or you never know if those kids from the site next to you had a ball or bicycle rolled under your RV. Check all of your storage compartments to be sure they are latched or locked and your awning properly put away and retracted.
    I’ll share a quick story here…
    We were all ready to head out on a trip when a customer called looking for his emailed quote. I ran back into my home office to follow up the email 45 minutes later I emerged jumped into the drivers seat and thru it into drive because prior to the disruption I had completed my pre-trip. As I pulled out driving three houses down the street I’m hearing my antenna hitting tree limbs. Only to find out the 45 minute wait caused my kids to raise the antenna and started watching the TV…you just never know. So ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take that last minute walk around seconds before you reach for the gear shifter.

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