For Safety's Sake, Prepare Your RV or Motorcycle for the Season

March 27, 2018

Got wheels?
Are they and the seasonal vehicles that travel on them ready for spring?

Even if the weather is highly unpredictable, as it is this time of year, now is the perfect time to ensure your RV or motorcycle is fully prepped for those wonderful days of leisure travel that lie just around the corner.

If you're an experienced seasonal biker or RVer, you probably have your ownroutine for preparing your vehicle for spring-summer-fall but it's still easy to overlook some of the not-so-obvious essentials.

And if this will be just your first, second or third season out, it's important to build a good checklist to make sure you're all set for future years.

In all cases, whatever type of vehicle you're preparing to roll out, safety should be your watchword.

With that in mind, let's take a quick run through a list of actions.

RV Preparations Checklist

  • Interior and exterior inspection. That is, a full visual check of the general structure, especially if your motorhome/trailer has been in storage for winter. In particular, look out for signs of water penetration and damage to insulation. Reseal cracked or damaged seams.
  • Tires. Look for signs of wear and tear. If tire tread is less than 3/16" or getting near that point, it's time to replace them. If the tread's good, check tire pressures according to manufacturer's recommendations. Tires can lose up to 15 lbs of pressure during the winter months.
  • Batteries. Connect the battery, (if removed for winter), check and recharge. Unless you kept it charged through the winter, expect your battery to be at 50% charge or less. After recharging, check and top-up the water.
  • Power train and generator. You may need a professional to do this for you since this involves checking fluid levels from transmission to windscreen washers. Once done, check generator functionality, exhaust and all lights. The generator must be serviced according to manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Propane tanks. Check levels and, if you're not an expert yourself, get a pro to perform a leak and pressure test
  • Appliances. Turn on the fridge electrics. Open the LP flow to the stove-top and test-light one of the burners. Once you've done that, you can switch the fridge to gas and run that for a while. Now do the water heater and furnace.
  • Alarms and detectors. Install fresh batteries and test. Check your fire extinguisher too. While you're doing this, check fuses too.
  • Water supply. Flush the system, essential if you used non-toxic RV antifreeze. Consider sanitizing the potable system. You can buy purpose-made products for this or mix your own with a weak solution of bleach and water -- a quarter cup to 15 gallons of water. If you bypassed the water heater for winterizing, reconnect it. Ensure general plumbing, including lines and valves, are in good working order. If you have a water filter cartridge, replace it.
  • Waste tank. Ensure holding tanks have been rinsed. If you didn’t do this during winterization, go to a dump station before inspection. Check that valves are properly seated and operating optimally. If the open/close valve doesn’t operate easily, lubricate it.
  • Awnings and slide outs. Test operation and lubricate where appropriate. Ensure awning fabrics are not damaged.
  • Check everything is in order with your registration and emissions certificates.

Now, roll your sleeves up and begin the big spring clean!

Motorcycle Preparations Checklist

Some of those RV tips, like checking batteries, fluid levels and tires apply equally to motorcycle preps. With tires, you should be thinking not only about their current state but also if they're fit to carry you through the entire season. If you have spoked wheels, test these for tightness.

Here are some additional considerations:

  • Inspect the frame and forks, checking for cracks and rust. Make sure all bolts and nuts are the correct torque. Check for looseness in the steering head. Check and tighten the chain if necessary. If your bike is belt driven, give it the once over, looking for uneven wear. Ensure mirrors are clean and firmly positioned and the stand is working correctly.
  • Air filter. The airbox is a favorite over-wintering spot for tiny critters. Check and, if necessary, clean the area and replace the filter.
  • Fuel. Did you know that gasoline can deteriorate quite significantly when left in the tank for extended periods? Ideally, you should have drained the tank or added a fuel stabilizer as part of your winterization program. But if you didn’t do this, now's the time to drain. Check the inside of the tank for rust and the externals for cracks and leaks. Refuel.
  • Brakes. These are your most important safety lifeline. If the brake fluid level is low or dirty refill/replace it. Ensure brake pads meet manufacturer's minimum requirement. Lubricate levers, check brake lever pivot bolts and clean rotors
  • Change the oil and filter if you didn’t do this at the start of winter. Even if you did change it before winter, check the condition and oil levels before riding.
  • Lights. Give these a thorough review, but remember you should check these -- and your brakes -- before starting out on any journey. Make sure you have a well-stocked spares kit.
  • Get cleaning. Remove any winter coating you pay have applied. Otherwise, dust it down -- then apply polish and get it in pristine condition to hit the road.

Finally, if you have any doubts about the roadworthiness of your motorcycle or there are issues you've been unable to solve, take it to your local shop and get it thoroughly checked out. Otherwise, your safety could be at stake.

Before You Hit the Road

Don't take your RV or motorcycle out without being sure you're adequately protected with good insurance.

For motorized vehicles, insurance is a legal requirement. Fifth wheels and other trailers may be covered via your auto insurance but it's highly likely this may not be adequate to cover all potential losses.

For your peace of mind, why not contact the RV insurance and motorcycle insurance experts at Newbridge Coverage to check you have the right protection for your needs. We'll tell you for free and without commitment. Call us today 516-781-9000.