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15 Longevity Hacks to Help Your RV Camper Last a Lifetime

When you invest in an RV, you want it to provide endless adventures. But how long do RVs last, and what can you do to ensure yours stands the test of time? We’re personal fans of older RVs, with an 18-year-old fifth wheel, a 23-year-old truck camper, and a 15-year-old motorhome. So today, we are looking at 15 hacks you can use to extend the lifetime of your rig as well. Let’s get started!

How Long Do RVs Last?

The lifespan of an RV depends on several factors. Maintenance and care are paramount. Correct upkeep, regular inspections, and timely repairs can significantly extend an RV’s longevity. Usage patterns also play a role, as occasional weekend trips tend to be less demanding on the vehicle than continuous, full-time use. The type and quality of the RV also matter. Motorized RVs typically have a shorter lifespan than towable ones, and build quality varies greatly among manufacturers.

There’s no straightforward answer for how long RVs last. On average, a well-maintained RV can last between 15 to 30 years. The good news is, that there are many things you can do to help your RV camper last many years. 

Commonly Missed RV and Vehicle Maintenance Items | Preventing Catastrophic Failure and Breakdowns

What Type of RV Lasts the Longest?

Towable RVs like travel trailers and fifth wheels tend to have extended lifespans because they lack complex engines and drivetrains, making them easier to maintain over time. Among motorized RVs, Class B and Class C motorhomes typically last longer than their larger Class A counterparts due to their simpler systems. Additionally, pop-up campers, which enthusiasts like for their straightforward design, can endure with minimal maintenance. 

For those seeking an RV with a reputation for longevity, fiberglass campers are worth considering. Fiberglass construction offers exceptional durability, resistance to water damage, and longevity compared to traditional materials like wood.  

Tom replacing RV batteries
Some simple upgrades and regular maintenance can help extend the life of your RV.

Help Your RV Camper Last a Lifetime With These Hacks

While many factors can influence how long your RV lasts, there are plenty of preventative things you can do to help extend its lifetime. Let’s take a closer look at the fifteen hacks you should do to your RV.

1. Use Covered Storage When Not in Use

Sheltering your RV in covered storage can be a game-changer for its longevity, and is our #1 recommendation for increasing your RV’s life. UV rays and water damage are notorious for silently eroding the integrity of RVs.

UV rays can fade exterior paint, damage decals, and degrade rubber seals, making your RV vulnerable to leaks. Water can seep into separated seals, causing hidden structural damage and promoting mold growth. When storing your RV, fully indoor storage is best. However, if you can’t store your rig indoors, you can use motorhome covers or tire covers to protect your RV from the elements. 

2. Regularly Clean, Wax, and Reseal Your Rig

The practice of routine cleaning, waxing, and resealing is akin to providing your RV with a spa day or a physical check-up. Beyond the aesthetics of a sparkling exterior, this routine ensures you remain closely acquainted with your rig’s condition. Regular cleaning allows you to spot early signs of damage like cracks and wear on seals before they escalate into costly issues. 

Not only will regularly cleaning, waxing, and resealing your rig help protect it for many years, but it will also help it stay looking as good as it did on the day you bought it.

Washing your RV isn’t just cosmetic. You’ll find any damage or cracked seals that need your attention.

3. Dehumidify Your Camper

Inside your RV, moisture from daily activities like showers, dishwashing, breathing, and condensation can accumulate. This moisture isn’t only uncomfortable; it can also lead to severe issues like mold growth and structural damage. 

To combat this, regularly opening windows to air it out, using a dehumidifier, or running the air conditioner can pull moisture out of the air. A dehumidifier helps maintain a healthy and dry interior environment, preventing moisture-related problems. Running your air-conditioner does the same thing, but you may not want to run it when it’s cooler outside.

Without excess humidity, your RV’s interior components, like wood, fabric, and electronics, remain in better condition for longer. If you’re not ready to invest in a dehumidifier, you can use DampRid. You can hang or place it throughout your camper to remove moisture from the air.

DampRid FG100 Unscented Disposable Moisture...
  • Prevents moisture damage
  • Removes excess moisture from the air to eliminate musty odors
  • Lasts up to 60 days

Pro Tip: We found six of the best RV dehumidifiers on the market to keep your camper humidity-free.

4. Properly Winterize For Cold Weather

Before winter’s chill sets in, correctly winterizing your RV is an essential step to ensure its longevity. Cold weather can wreak havoc on unprepared RVs, potentially causing frozen pipes or cracked tanks, which can be costly issues.

You can winterize your RV using antifreeze or by using an air compressor.

The trick is getting all the water out. Because of this, the longest-lasting RVs don’t even have a water system.

5. Get Regular Chassis Inspections and Maintenance 

The chassis serves as the foundation of your RV, and regular inspections and maintenance are necessary. Ensuring the suspension is in good condition, greasing bearings, and checking brakes are proactive steps that not only enhance your RV’s performance but also extend its lifespan. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on mileage and age maintenance.

Regular inspections can catch issues before they become significant problems, saving you from unexpected breakdowns and expensive repairs on the road.

Greasing Trailer Bearings and Replacing Electric Brakes - Full Job

6. Rotate and Replace Your Tires

Your RV’s tires’ condition directly impacts safety and longevity. Regularly rotating and replacing tires is more than a precaution against blowouts; it’s about ensuring a comfortable and secure journey.

Tires endure constant wear and stress from the weight of your RV on the road, making them susceptible to damage. Replacing worn-out tires before they become a hazard is a safety measure that you should not overlook. Note that you may age-out the tires well before you put their max miles on.

Tom rotating tires and installing wheel balancers on their overland truck camper
Your tires are essential for getting you where you need to. Regularly rotating them can help you avoid a tire blowout.

7. Reseal Windows

Windows can become vulnerable points for water infiltration as your RV ages. Resealing around the window seams should be part of your annual routine.

For older campers, a proactive approach is to periodically remove windows, reseal them, and reinstall them. This preventive measure, typically required every 20 years or so, is crucial for keeping your RV’s interior dry and protecting against hidden structural damage.

Pro Tip: Use our guide on how to replace your RV window seals to make the process quick and easy. 

8. Use and Regularly Clean Bug Screens on Furnace Exhaust

Bug screens on your RV’s furnace exhaust may seem like a minor detail, but they play a substantial role in maintaining your furnace’s health. Some RVs don’t have these critical pieces of gear. Regular use and cleaning of these screens prevent debris, insects, and foreign objects from entering the furnace exhaust system, ensuring it operates efficiently. Clogged furnace exhausts can lead to reduced heating efficiency, higher fuel consumption, and system damage.

To clean your bug screens:

  1. Remove the bug screen, typically secured with screws.
  2. Use a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush to gently clear away debris, then soak the screen in a mixture of mild detergent and warm water.
  3. After a few minutes, scrub the screen gently, paying attention to heavily soiled areas.
  4. Rinse and dry it completely before reinstalling it with the screws.
  5. Finally, turn the furnace on to confirm correct operation.

It’s best to perform this maintenance task before the heating season as part of your regular RV maintenance routine.

9. Wash AC Coils Regularly

Your RV’s air conditioning system relies on clean and efficient coils to keep you comfortable on warm days. Regularly washing the AC coils helps maintain the system’s efficiency, reducing strain on its components and extending its overall lifespan. Neglecting AC coil maintenance can result in reduced cooling capacity, higher energy consumption, and potential system breakdowns.

Washing AC coils is relatively straightforward:

  1. First, turn off the AC unit and ensure it disconnects from the power.
  2. Access the coils by removing any protective covers or panels.
  3. Use a soft-bristle brush or a fin comb to gently remove dust and debris from the coils. Be careful not to bend the fins.
  4. Use a mild detergent and water mix and use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the coils. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen dirt and grime.
  5. Rinse the coils thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Finally, ensure the coils are completely dry before reassembling any covers or panels and turning the AC unit back on.
RV air conditioning maintenance
Don’t neglect AC coil maintenance in your rig!

10. Clean Propane Fridge Coils

A well-maintained propane fridge is essential for keeping your perishables fresh. Cleaning the fridge’s coils routinely ensures optimal cooling efficiency, prolonging the life of the appliance and avoiding potential breakdowns.

Neglecting to clean the coils can lead to reduced cooling capacity, increased energy consumption, and even complete fridge failure.

11. Inspect and Reseal Roof Often

Your RV’s roof is its first line of defense against the elements, and standard maintenance is vital for preserving its integrity. Yearly roof inspections, along with timely resealing of any cracks or wear, are vital practices. Use an RV roof sealant or Eternabond tape to repair small cracks or leaks. For older RVs, consider upgrading to better roofing materials to enhance longevity and protection.

EternaBond RoofSeal White 4" x25' MicroSealant UV...
  • MULTI-USE: Perfect for use on metal buildings, trailer/RV roofs...
  • NO ADDITIONAL SEALING REQUIRED: Aluminum backing, combined with a...
  • DURABLE SURFACE: Industry leading one step repair system that...

A compromised roof can lead to water leaks, structural damage, and costly repairs. By making roof maintenance a regular ritual, you’re ensuring that your RV remains leak-free and structurally sound. Investing in better roofing materials further fortifies your RV against the elements, prolonging its lifespan and shielding it from costly water-related damages.

RV Roof Sealant
Reseal your RV roof yearly to avoid water leaks, structural damage, and costly repairs.

12. Keep High-Mileage Engine and Drivetrain Maintenance Up-To-Date

For motorized RVs, keeping the engine and drivetrain well-maintained is a top priority. Maintenance like fluid flushes, filter replacements, hose and belt changes, and valve lash adjustments are critical. These proactive measures become even more necessary for older, higher-mileage RVs. Neglecting engine and drivetrain maintenance can lead to reduced performance, breakdowns, and expensive repairs.

13. Don’t Overload Your Rig

Overloading your RV places immense stress on its various components, from the chassis to the flooring and slideouts. This excess stress can lead to premature wear and potential structural damage, shortening your RV’s lifespan. Adhering to recommended weight limits and practicing weight distribution are essential for preserving your RV’s structural integrity.

Pro Tip: If you don’t know how much your rig weighs, use our guide on How to Weigh Your Truck or RV on a CAT Scale

14. Slow Down While On the Go

High-speed travel may be exhilarating, but it places considerable stress on your RV. It can lead to accidents and increased wear on various components. Slowing down and driving at reasonable speeds not only enhances safety but also reduces stress from wind and road conditions, ultimately contributing to your RV’s longevity.

15. Invest in Renovations and Upgrades

As your RV ages, it’s natural for some components to become worn out or outdated. Investing time and money in renovations and upgrades not only keeps your RV looking fresh but enhances your desire to use and take care of it. Upgrading appliances, modernizing the interior, and enhancing insulation can improve the comfort and efficiency of your RV.

Bigfoot Truck Camper Pre-Renovation Tour - We're Turning This Old Truck Camper Into an Overland RV!

Extend the Lifespan of Your RV Camper

In the world of RVs, longevity isn’t just a measure of time; it’s a testament to the adventures you share and the memories you make. It’s the promise of countless more open roads, hidden campsites, and starlit nights. Extend the life of your RV and your ability to make lifelong memories by regularly using a few simple hacks to keep it in its best condition. 

What are your tips and tricks to extend your rig’s lifespan? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Sunday 1st of October 2023

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