Motorhome Checks You Need To Make Before Starting Your Journey

See the essential checks you need to make before starting your journey

Motorhome Essentials – A Pre-Trip Checklist

You must perform all the necessary checks before you pack and hop on your RV or caravan for your latest adventure. We created a pre-trip RV checklist to ensure you never forget anything before you start your journey. It's the ultimate pre-trip checklist that will ensure you arrive at your destination.

You can do one better by printing the checklist and having you're a physical copy of the list as you're carrying out the checks. Additionally, having a second pair of eyes while carrying out the checks is a good idea.

RV/Caravan Pre-Trip Interior Check

Secure Any Loose Items Or Luggage – Ensure all cupboards and internal doors are closed and secured, especially the refrigerator door. Additionally, you should ensure all loose items and internal loads are secured – including the TV, microwave plate, and your bags.

Disconnect the RV TV. Set the fridge to 12B mode afterward, ensuring it remains cool during your trip. Engage the travel catch.

Secure all hatches and vents, window mechanisms, and skylights. However, you can leave the window shades open. Retract any antennas attached to your RV and secure them in the travel position.

Finally, exit your caravan and lock the doors.

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Check Your Caravan Tyres— Inspect your RV and tow vehicle as well. Additionally, inspect the spare tyres. Tyre blowouts are a major cause of RV and caravan accidents. If you've left your RV in long-term storage, you should raise it off the ground to reduce the distortion and load stress placed on the tyres.

motorhome tyres prechecks

While inspecting the tyres, check for signs of wear and tear on the tread and the side walls.

Check Tyres For Aging – While your caravan tyres may look in good shape, almost like new, you should also be guided by the manufacturer's user guide. Even if the tyres look new, replace them if they're past the manufacturer's stipulated lifespan.

The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates manufacturers to stamp the date codes on the tyre sidewalls. This is usually the last four digits after the "DOT". To understand the code, know that the first two of the four digits represent the week (out of the 52 weeks we have in a year). The last two digits represent the last two digits of the year the tyres were manufactured.

Typically, the lifespan of RV tyres is about 6 years. Tyres past 6 years can be dangerous to drive on.

Check The Tyre Pressure – RV tyres lose about 2 to 3 PSI monthly while in storage. With that in mind, check for the correct tyre pressure. Additionally, look for tyre air leaks.

Inspect tyre lug nuts for wear and tightness.

Time-Saving Tip: While inspecting the tyres, use this time to also inspect under the RV for critter holes and fluid leaks. Inspect the RV's underbelly for wet spots that could be the source of the leaks. Additionally, look on the ground for wet patches that show a leak. Also, look for any cracks and rust on the chassis frame.

Check The Roof

Water and ultraviolet rays from the sun deteriorate the roof sealant over time. Undertaking regular preventive maintenance on the roof sealant will maximize the sealant and, by extension, the lifespan of the RV roof.

As such, inspect the roof thoroughly. If your RV and caravan roof is walkable, walk it while inspecting every inch of the roof. If your RV's roof is not walkable, use a ladder to inspect the condition of your roof while still being safe.

Ensure the roof surface has no broken seals and/or cracks.

In most cases, you might want to thoroughly wash your RV's roof for a thorough water leak test and visual inspection.

Rub the roof surface for a chalk-like feeling. If your hand has a white residue after rubbing your hands, it shows that the sealant is deteriorating. Generally, the sealant with deteriorate when exposed to UV and water. However, you should not ignore it. Have the roof resealed.

If you need to clean your motorhome roof, check out our camper cleaning guide here.


It's time to inspect the caravan wheel. Their correct function is fundamental to your safety. Inspect the wheel fixing bolts for correct tightness. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts to 125nm or 90 ft-lb. Additionally, you should re-tighten the nuts at 100 km intervals for the first 400km of your journey. Thereafter, you should re-tighten the nuts every 1000km.

After that, inspect the tyres pressure. Ensure that the tyres do not have excessive wear and tear and can still manage the trip. The tyre sidewall will have the figures for the correct tyre pressure. Otherwise, check the caravan manual. Also, ensure that the tyres do not exhibit cracks and cuts. Finally, inspect the treads to ensure there is ample tyre tread.

Finally, take another walk around to ensure you've not missed anything, such as an attached cable. Ensure you have enough time to complete it before starting your journey. The last thing you want is to stop by the side of the road for repairs or adjustments.

Mechanical Inspection

Have your RV, whether a travel trailer or fifth wheel, mechanically inspected by a professional. If you have the right skills, you can do it yourself. Additionally, have the tow vehicle mechanically inspected as well. Towing puts additional stress on the tow vehicle, necessitating an increased maintenance frequency.

You can combine the annual technical inspection and maintenance with your first expedition of the RV season. You should note that any maintenance job that the technical manual recommends to be done by certified technicians should be performed by professionals. Do not disregard the technical manual's warnings and suggestions. Furthermore, double-check the warranty requirements.

Based on the manufacturer's recommendations, have the following components checked:

Axles, Differentials, and Brakes

Where needed, grease the axles, inspect the differential fluid level, and adjust the brakes. Schedule a maintenance service with Camping World Service Centre if you are not skilled or experienced in getting underneath your RV and conducting these maintenance tasks.

If a certified technician has already performed the annual maintenance service check, ensure it falls within the mileage guidelines as instructed in your owner's


You can consider fluids as the lifeblood of all motorised vehicles. Check the condition ad levels of all the fluids in your RV, caravan, and/or tow vehicle. Inspect the fluid reservoirs and dipstick under the hood to determine the levels and conditions of brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze/coolant, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, etc. Also, check the Freon – if the level is below the recommended level, you'll need an AC recharger.


Filters should be replaced based on condition – not necessarily mileage or time. They function to protect your vehicle from mechanical damage induced by particles. If your current filter in your vehicle is non-reusable and has served its purpose of filtering particles, gunk, and contaminant, just replace it. However, if the filter is reusable, you can clean it and reuse use to accrue maximum usage. Check the user manual to find the location of the filter in your vehicle.

Engine Air Filter

The engine filter is housed in the air intake box and is connected to the engine block. When changing the air filter, you should note its orientation as you remove it from its housing. In some models, orientation is especially essential to its function.

Cabin Air Filter

Given that the outside air intake is relocated to an enclosure that contains an AC evaporator and heater, the HVAC system may not include an air filter, even though the motorhome is based on a typical bus and/or truck chassis. Use the owner's manual to confirm the configuration of air filters.

Oil Filter

Always change the oil filter when you change the engine oil. Typically, the oil filter is attached somewhere on the engine block.

Fuel Filter

Some motorhomes have fuel filters with clear windows. If yours has a clean window, inspect the condition of the filter, its colour, and the colour of the fuel. However, if the fuel filter is not clear, you have to pay close attention to the engine performance. Track for decreased fuel efficiency, engine stalls, and rough idling.

The fuel filter is typically located between the engine and the fuel tank. It might be located inside the engine compartment or underneath the vehicle.

Wiring, Hoses, And Belts

While inspecting the engine bay, visually inspect the condition of the wires, hoses, and belts (and everything you see under the hood). Ensure these parts are not loose and do not display material deterioration, such as exposed wires, fraying belts, and hose cracks and holes.

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Visibility is a critical safety part of driving. Test the taillights, headlights, hazard flashers/lights, and turn signals.


Roads and trails are generally open to t drivers of different skill levels. With that in mind, your horn becomes a safety device as you might need to alert other drivers of your presence or even approach. It's especially critical to make others aware of your presence when they seem unaware. In most cases, other road users will appreciate your safe use of a horn as you traverse the backroads.

motorhome steering wheel

RV Systems Check

You should also consider scheduling an inspection of your RV's interior systems during the annual maintenance service.

- Safety Inspect for leaks in your propane system with a bubble

- Inspect the basement compartment and doors seals

- Check the water heater and ensure you've plugged the drain

- Sterilise the freshwater tank

- Inspect slide mechanisms and slide-out seals

- Inspect the interior for mildew, mould, and unwanted pests

- Inspect panel wiring for debris and/or dry rot

- Inspect the condition and functionality of the HVAC system and its components

- Inspect awning arms, fabric, and wiring

- Inspect your batteries – chassis, coach, chassis, tow vehicle, and even the batteries in the remotes

Inspect & Prep RV Systems

Get the internal functions checked thoroughly alongside the annual maintenance service. If you have the skills and experience, you can carry out the check at home without taking it to the professionals. You should increase the frequency of checks if you RV all the time or frequently. Ideally, you'll be monitoring all the functions vigilantly.

The checks should involve testing the electrical circuits for any issues. Look for corrosion, wear and tear, damage, or parts that are stuck. Also, apply the recommended lubricants, fluids, and conditioners to maintain and protect components.

Open and extend the windows, awnings, slide-outs, patio decks, and slide-toppers. During the test, ensure they move freely. Naturally, during storage, all these parts should be retracted and closed. Inspect the hooks, latches, hinges, and other movable parts. During these functional tests, you should inspect the batteries as well.

- Inspect window seals, ensuring they're no cracks, chips, or leaks in the glass

- Inspect the mounting points, slide-out seals, and visible slide mechanism components

- Inspect the awning and topper as well as tubes, arms, and wiring

- Inspect the doors, patio deck, and storage compartment seals

You should give your RV a proper deep clean if it has been washed for weeks or months. A clean RV is easier to inspect, especially when you want to check for water leaks on the roof and around the doors and windows.

De-winterise your RV if necessary. Test the city/campground water hookup when pressurising the water system.

Inspect the water heating system. Ensure you replug the heater. Also, inspect the panel wiring for debris and dry rot.

If you have an electric or gas refrigerator, check its panel wiring for debris and dry rot.

Please inspect the condition of your HVAC and its subsystems

Sterilise the fresh water tank if you've stored your RV for over six months.

Inspect for mildew, mould, and pests inside the bathrooms, cupboards, refrigerator, and closet, under sinks, and throughout the interior of the RV.

Inspect all the batteries for fluid levels, corrosion, and recharge where necessary.

Inspect the entire propane system. Turn off the system, and conduct a sniff test for propane odour. Check the labels to know if you need to recertify the system. Thereafter, inspect the seals and hoses for cracks. Finally, conduct a bubble test on your propane tank.

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