When the colder months come around, most RV owners reluctantly turn their attention to winter storage.
For those who continue using their vehicles all year round, living in a camper during the winter is a fact of life.
But if you’re no snowbird and definitely not one for cold weather camping, you’ll need to find somewhere safe, dry, and clean to store your camper for the colder months.
It’s important to find a suitable location and to take some steps for good winter storage. Following this guide will ensure that your RV is ready to go when spring arrives.
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#1 Don’t Winterize Your RV – Rent It Out!
As an alternative to storing your RV for the winter, have you considered renting it out? Renting is a great way to make some extra cash while avoiding the work and costs of winter storage.
With a rental firm like Outdoorsy, you can rent your RV out for a good price. They make sure your pride and joy is only rented to verified users so you be confident it’ll be taken good care of.
Plus, every rental is covered by up to $1m of liability insurance and free roadside assistance.
You set the rental price and the available schedule too, then take the keys back in the spring with your RV in good shape and some extra money in your pocket for the year ahead! Winner!
#2 Winterize Your RV for Storage
If you’re not planning to rent out your RV, you need to get it ready for seasonal storage.
Before putting your RV in storage, carry out a thorough winterization process.
The process involves deep cleaning the RV, disconnecting all electrics, isolating propane tanks, and preparing your toilet system and water pipes, among other important steps.
You’ll need an RV winterizing kit to complete the job, like the Camco RV Winter Readiness Kit, for the job.
Make sure you’ve fully completed this process before putting your RV into storage. Taking shortcuts on the winterization process could lead to serious problems over the winter or when spring arrives.
Check out our detailed guide to winterizing your RV camper. You can download a free winterizing checklist over there too.
#3 Rent a Storage Unit if Possible
We don’t all have access to a garage large enough for an RV. Even if you do, you may not want to use it solely for storing your RV throughout the harsh winter months.
If you’re willing to take on the expense, consider renting a storage unit.
It’s not cheap, but it will provide total peace of mind. You can rest assured that your RV will be protected from the elements and from animals throughout the winter.
While you should still take other precautions to ensure that your piping and electrics are protected, you can be confident that the interior, exterior, and wheels of your RV will be just as you left them, come spring.
#4 Invest in RV Covers
Invest in reliable RV covers for your RV before storing it for the winter. They’ll help to protect the underbelly and exterior from cold and damage.
Any dirt that builds up on the exterior is likely to freeze and cause damage. Covers help to prevent this.
They also stop rodents from getting at your RV and can help to prevent your water system from freezing.
Even if you’re storing your RV indoors, make sure you have adequate-sized cover. They can be fairly pricey but worth it when they can prevent serious problems.
You can buy specialized RV covering from a range of reliable providers. It’s best to avoid plastic covers as they prevent air from circulating in and around the RV.
A more breathable material will help to prevent mold and mildew.
#5 Cover your Tires
Once you’ve cleaned your tires, you’ll want to cover them to protects them from the elements.
Frost can be particularly damaging for tires, although ultraviolet rays can also affect them. Some critters will also happily take the opportunity to shelter around them if given the chance.
Your manufacturer’s instruction manual should provide a recommended max cold pressure for your tires.
Inflate them to this level before covering them. There are various types of tire cover – your instruction manual should also provide advice on which type is the best option for you.
#6 Wash the RV Exterior
Washing and waxing your RV’s exterior will help to protect it through the winter.
Any residual dirt or road salt left on your exterior will likely freeze during the winter. It can cause cracks and damage to your paint job and rust.
Cleaning off dirt helps to prevent this, and a thorough wax job helps to avoid any new dirt attaching itself to the exterior. Remember to give your awnings a good wash as well to prevent mold.
A good quality, all-in-one wash and wax solution, like the Gel-Gloss RV Wash and Wax, is a great wash and wax combo.
#7 Fill Up the Fuel Tanks
Fill up your fuel tank before storing your RV to help to protect the inside of your tank from rust.
Use a fuel stabilizer for further protection. Even with all of the other precautions discussed here, your fuel tank may be vulnerable during the winter if you don’t do this, particularly in freezing temperatures.
It’s also worth changing your oil and oil filter before putting your RV into storage as corrosive acids may accumulate in oil that has already been in use.
If possible, run the engine for a short period once every month or so.
#8 Find a Level Parking Spot
Try to park your RV on a level surface for winter storage.
Having the full weight of your RV on the same part of the tires all winter can cause flat spots. It can also cause damage to your rims.
You could also remove your tires and store them separately in tire covers.
If you leave them on, periodically moving the RV slightly will also help to avoid excess pressure on particular parts of the tires.
#9 Avoid parking your RV on Grass, Sand, or Dirt
Parking your RV on grass, sand, or dirt for the winter may cause problems. Dirt may accumulate around your exterior and may freeze over the winter, causing damage.
Your RV may also sink into the sand or dirt over the winter, damaging the tires and making it difficult to move come spring. Moisture from earth or sand may also affect your RV’s exterior.
Ideally, you should park your RV on a firm, flat surface such as concrete. If this isn’t possible, place your RV on durable material such as tarpaulin or sheeting.
#10 Avoid Parking Under Trees
Even using RV covering, it’s still best to avoid parking under trees or in areas with tall grass or weeds.
It will help to avoid dirt and weeds damaging the exterior of your vehicle or even growing inside. Any dirt that does attach to your RV over the winter may freeze and damage your exterior.
Animals and insects are also more likely to take up residence in or around your RV in areas with a lot of trees or other growth. Ideally, park your RV in a covered area.
#11 Protect your RV Batteries
When putting your RV in winter storage, it’s worth removing the batteries and storing them separately.
If you leave the batteries in place, the liquid in them may freeze. As a battery discharges, it loses sulfuric acid and water emerges. Take the appropriate safety precautions before removing batteries.
Buy a charger and maintainer to keep batteries charged while in storage. Store them in a cool, dry place where there is no danger of freezing.
If possible, check on them each month and try to keep them charged to at least 80%. Discharged batteries are more likely to freeze.
Don’t store batteries directly on the floor- place them on a material such as cardboard. Turn off the isolator switches to and from your batteries.
This may seem like a lot of work, but batteries aren’t cheap to replace. Looking after them through the winter will ensure that they’re ready to go come spring.
#12 Install a Quality RV Security System
When storing your RV for the winter, you should take measures to make sure it’ll still be waiting for you come spring.
There are reliable RV security systems available at a whole range of prices. You can spend under $100 on one, or if you really want to sleep soundly, you can spend several hundred.
#13 Raise the Wheels off the Ground
By raising the wheels off the ground with hydraulic jacks, and reducing the tire pressure a little, will help keep the tires in good shape. And by good shape, we mean round!
When a camper is left for a few months in one spot, the tires can develop a flat spot where it’s come into contact with the ground.
If the tires are already in pretty good conditions and relatively young, it will probably recover after driving it for a couple of miles. But older tires don’t recover so well and the bump…bump…bump may become a permanent feature.
At least until you change the tires.
#14 Leave It In Neutral with the Handbrake Off
If you’ve lifted the camper off the ground, leave it in neutral and with the handbrake off. It helps protect the brakes and gears from seizing. Not something you want to return to in Spring.
If you haven’t lifted the camper, use chocks on the wheels so it stands no chance of rolling.
#15 Inspect Your RV Regularly throughout the Winter
If possible, inspect your RV periodically during winter. This means that, if any issues do emerge, you can deal with them before they become serious problems.
If you haven’t raised your tires off the ground or removed them, move the RV slightly so that a different part of each tire is on the ground.
Starting the engine will also allow you to check that it’s still functioning properly. Inspecting the water lines is also a good move, even if you’ve winterized them.
All of this should only take a few minutes and will help to ensure that there are no (costly) surprises when spring arrives.
We hope this guide is useful for planning your winter storage. Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your RV during the winter.
Follow these steps closely and avoid taking shortcuts. Once you’ve gone through the process once or twice it’ll all be very straightforward, and you’ll have nothing to worry about during the winter months.
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