RV travel in the USA is one of the best ways to see the country! With over 20,000 campgrounds and RV parks to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to stay along the way. However, before you begin your exciting road trip in your RV, you need to be aware of the many safety and functional procedures associated with the unit’s many features and amenities. To help readers out, we have put together this helpful guide:
The power cable and adapter that come with your RV connect to external power sources such as shoreline power. This will power the electrical outlets inside the RV, as well as the appliances, and also slowly charge the batteries. Some RVs may require that after you disconnect from external power, you reconnect the cable to the internal power system.
The generator can be operated as long as the vehicle’s fuel tank is at least ¼ full. Make certain that all electrical appliances, especially the roof air conditioner, are turned off before starting the generator. Find the generator’s Start Button on the monitor panel or on the dashboard. Press and hold it until the generator is powered on. Wait 2 to 3 minutes after starting before turning on any appliances. Check the generator’s engine oil level at least every 25 hours of use.
The water heater, stove, and oven all run on liquid propane gas, or LPG. The refrigerator can run on either propane or electricity. You’ll need to be aware of the location of the propane tank’s main shutoff valve. The tank holds enough gas to last about a week of normal use, and when the level falls below ¼ full, it should be refilled.
Your RV has both an engine battery and an auxiliary or house battery, the latter of which powers the coach lights, space heater, water pump, and the 12-volt appliances like the refrigerator and the water heater. Running the engine for 30 minutes will recharge both batteries. Dim lighting and LPG false alarms may indicate a low battery.
Your RV uses both a freshwater holding tank and a hose for using fresh city water. Turn off the water pump after connecting to city water, and turn it on again after disconnecting. You can use the same hose to refill the holding tank until water spills out of the spill port, indicating that the tank is full. Use as little water as possible while not connected to city water, and take advantage of campground shower facilities.
Empty the two wastewater tanks only at authorized dump stations. Make sure that the wastewater outlet valves are completely closed before opening the valve cap to attach the included sewer hose. Place the other end of the hose in the station’s waste receptacle. Empty the black (toilet) wastewater tank first, then empty the gray (sink and shower) wastewater tank. Whenever possible, rinse out the sewer hose before storing it in the RV. Some toilet paper and chemicals are initially provided, but you will need to replenish them during your trip.
Familiarize yourself with the monitor panel, located either near the kitchen or the side entry door. If it doesn’t display a reading, check the aux battery switch located nearby, which should be in the On/Connect position at all times.
The refrigerator can run automatically on electricity or on gas. The oven will need to be lit by holding a match to a pilot light. Always make sure to turn the oven completely off, including the pilot, when refueling or driving. Make sure to only use microwave-safe dishes in the microwave, and keep the turning plate in a drawer or safely wrapped in a towel while driving.
Air Conditioning and Heating
Connect to external power or start the generator before using the air conditioner, and remember that it will not cool the air down more than 20 degrees below the outside temperature. Use the thermostat to control the space heater.
Motor homes will include several alarms, all of which may sound due to low batteries that need to be replaced or charged. If the LPG alarm sounds, turn off the valve on the propane tank, check for the strong, rotten-egg odor of gas, and ventilate the vehicle. If the carbon monoxide (CO) alarm sounds, shut off the generator and engine, and ventilate and exit the vehicle immediately, since you cannot smell CO. The LPG and CO detectors may also react to other common chemicals.
Leveling the RV
The refrigerator won’t work properly unless the RV is level. Use a leveling bubble to find out where the RV is leaning, and then use leveling blocks under the tires, or hydraulic jacks, to raise the vehicle up in the opposite direction.
Make sure you use the right type of gasoline so you don’t ruin the RV’s engine. Make sure that all appliances and the generator are turned off, and that the propane valve is closed, before refueling.
Make sure that nothing inside or outside the RV blocks any slide-out sections before you extend them, and that you retract them completely before driving.
The dashboard and most levers in the driver’s cabin are similar to most other vehicles on the road. Be aware of how the emergency start button works, if present, and take note of any damage to the windshield before driving away from the lot.
Maintenance on the Road
Check the engine motor oil every 1000 miles, and make sure that the dual rear tires are all the same width apart from each other. They may need to be inflated if they aren’t.
Overhead Clearance and Safe Driving Tips
Be aware of the large height and length of the RV, and take care not to damage the roof or undercarriage. Avoid backing up, especially without someone outside to help guide you into position.