Your RV is a loyal companion all summer long. It travels hundreds of miles without stopping for a break. It puts up with your dusty sweat-coated clothes littering the floor and and keeps you safe from the blistering heat. The least you could do in return is give your RV a cozy setup for winter hibernation. Indoor storage is ideal, but don’t sweat it if you can’t fit renting an indoor storage space into your budget. It’s totally fine to store your camper outside this winter. Just follow these 10 steps to prepare your RV for outdoor winter storage.
1. Wash it Out
Let’s be honest, your RV is somewhere on the scale between dirty and absolutely filthy after this year’s various road trips. Don’t think you can just clear out the dirty socks, hose off the outside and call it a day. Before you do anything else, give your big rig a thorough scrub. Prepare your RV for outdoor winter storage by using mild soap and clean water to take care of the exterior, but the interior will require much more work. Check out this RV interior cleaning checklist so you don’t forget anything.
2. Take Care of the Interior
Giving the interior of your RV the royal cleaning treatment is a good start, but cleaning alone won’t be enough. You’ll need to protect the interior of your RV from sun exposure, mildew and unpleasant odors. For the sun exposure, close all windows, curtains and blinds. To keep mildew away, make sure everything is squeaky clean and all perishables have been removed. It’s impossible to be completely odor-free come springtime, but draining water tanks and cleaning the pipes will help.
3. Jack it Up
Sitting in one place for months at a time will create flat spots on your RV tires. If your tires develop flat spots, your only option is to replace them in the spring. Use jacks and blocks to keep the pressure off your tires and prevent a costly replacement. As an alternative, you can take your RV out for a spin once a month or so to keep the tires safe from pressure damage.
4. Keep Pests Away
Those fuzzy little critters scurrying around may seem harmless enough, but just wait until they chew their way into your RV. You’ll be cursing rodents for the rest of your life. Small animals can cause extreme damage to your RV by chewing through almost any material. Let’s not forget the nice little surprises they leave everywhere as well.
You can protect against these furry forces by sealing every possible entrance into the RV. Cover pipes, windows, vents and any place you can see sunlight seeping through the cracks. Lightly-scented dryer sheets are a fantastic pest deterrent, so shove those things everywhere you can think of. You’ll save yourself hours of time and hundreds of dollars by practicing pest control beforehand.
5. Use a Winter RV Cover
Prepare your RV for outdoor winter storage by using a cover. This is one item you cannot overlook, especially for outdoor storage. Invest the extra money into getting a cover specifically tailored to RVs. Other covers will most likely trap moisture between the cover and RV which could be detrimental to your beloved camper. Secure your cover tightly, and don’t forget to cover the wheels too. Covers will protect from UV rays, weathering, animal droppings, tree sap and more.
6. Pick a Safe Spot For Your RV
Keeping your RV outside means you won’t have walls and locks to protect it. This means you’re going to have to be selective about where you choose to park. For example, parking your RV in the abandoned field off the back road at the edge of town probably isn’t a safe choice. Parking your camper behind a locked fence on an RV pad is a much better choice. If you don’t have room to give your RV the security it deserves, try renting space from someone in your neighborhood.
7. Take the Battery Out
Winter temperatures are bad news for RV batteries. Keep your battery safe from freeze damage by disconnecting it from your RV before storage. Store the battery somewhere climate controlled and cool, like a basement. Be sure to check and recharge the battery every couple months as needed to ensure it doesn’t die.
8. Use Fuel Stabilizer
Fill your fuel tank to maximum capacity before storage. Any empty space in the tank could lead to damage via condensation. Letting a full gas tank sit around for months isn’t exactly ideal, so add a fuel stabilizer. This will stop the gas from breaking down or becoming stale over the off-season. Run your RV for several minutes after adding the fuel stabilizer to make sure it gets through the entire engine.
9. Add Antifreeze
Chances are if you’re storing your RV for the winter, it’s because the temperature dips well below freezing for weeks at a time. This means you need to take precaution and prevent freeze damage in your water system. To do this, drain and clean your pipes and tanks. After that, run antifreeze through the whole system. Bypass your water heater to save yourself an extra 10 gallons of antifreeze.
10. Do Periodic Checks
Now that you’ve got your big rig ready and tucked away for the winter, don’t just leave it sitting there. Even if you’ve done everything on this list, there’s a chance something could go terribly wrong. You don’t want to open up your camper in the spring to any unpleasant surprises. Plan to check up on everything at least once every couple months.
If you follow all these steps then your RV will be ready for winter storage. Unless you plan to travel all throughout the winter! Then you should check out our RV travel guide. Did we miss anything? Comment below your own tips and tricks for keeping your RV safe through the winter!