Hello Arizonians! Kevin Valente here to give you some pro tips on how to keep your RV safe and in top notch condition during the summer months. If you’ve lived in Arizona for one summer, you know that we experience one of the harshest summer seasons in the country. We’ve all seen the video of an egg frying on the sidewalk in the AZ heat, right? Imagine what that heat does to your RV! With extreme temperatures upwards to 120 degrees and not much shade in the desert, things can heat up rather quickly. We naturally take extra precautions to protect ourselves, our homes, and our vehicles when the temperatures are triple digits. Purchasing an RV is a big investment, make sure you are taking the proper precautionary steps to protect that investment. Let’s discuss different components that are particularly vulnerable to heat damage and how you can fight back against the elements.
Problem: The sun is powerful. The harmful UV rays that the sun emits cause oxidation and fading of RV paint if the paint is not well cared for. Just like a car, your RV has one or more coats of clear coat. The clear coat acts a barrier between the elements and the paint of your car. If the top layer of your RV is compromised, your rig will be more susceptible to sun damage and fading.
Solution: Store your RV where it is covered and protected from the elements, indoor storage or covered are best. You can also clay bar your RV once a year and wax your rig twice a year. Using a clay bar will remove contaminants and increase the lifespan of the clear coat. By waxing your rig, you create another protective layer that goes on top of the clear coat for added UV protection. Dirt and other debris also come off much easier if there is a coat of wax on your paint. If your RV has already been damaged and is starting to show signs of oxidation, we recommend a product called Polycoat. Polycoat is great option for restoring the shine and removing oxidation from your rig. One advantage is that Polycoat is relatively maintenance free, meaning that once applied, you do not have to wax or buff your rig for one year, possibly more depending on how often you wash it. Polycoat is a specialty product that is best applied by a professional shop. At UCRVAZ, we can Polycoat any size RV, trailer, or 5th wheel. We use this product in house and have seen great results. If you are interested, we offer free estimates.
Problem: The number one cause of a roof leak is damaged or missing sealants on the roof of your rig. Sunlight and extreme heat can cause sealants to pre-maturely crack and weaken over time. If your sealants are weakened or damaged, they could start to come off the roof during a wash, monsoon, or other severe weather conditions. Even small voids in the sealants can cause big problems for water intrusion. Water takes the path of least resistance and if there is a crack, void, or missing sealant on top of your roof, water will find its way to the inside of your roof. This can cause damage to the roof, ceiling, flooring, and even wiring and electronics that run through the cabin of the RV. Yikes!
Solution: Clean and inspect your roof a minimum of 3 times a year to see if there are any signs of cracking or voids in the sealants on your roof. When cleaning the roof, do not use any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning equipment. You can use rubber specific cleaning materials or a combination of warm water and dish soap. Inspect all roof top fixtures and look for any physical damage or voids in the sealant. Most modern RV roofs are rubber, which is great for preventing rust and adding flexibility to your roof. Find out what material your roof was constructed with. This will determine what type of sealant you will need to repair any cracks or voids in the sealants.
CAUTION – Being on top of an RV roof can be dangerous. This is one maintenance items that I strongly recommend having a professional repair facility take care of. If you want to inspect the roof yourself, please make sure you have a sturdy ladder and someone close by in case you need assistance. Do not walk on the roof when wet and make sure you are wearing non-slip shoes.
Problem: There are different types of RV batteries, the most common is what is known as wet cell, or “flooded” batteries. These types of batteries contain liquid electrolyte solution and the fluid level must be checked and maintained frequently. Extreme climates can have a greater effect on the battery life due to the electrolyte solution inside the battery having the ability to evaporate or freeze. In the Arizona, we are obviously more concerned about the fluid level getting too low and damaging the batteries. Batteries in general do not like excessive heat and any measure that can be taken to prevent your RV batteries from extreme heat should be taken.
Solution: Check the fluid level of your RV batteries frequently by inspecting the battery to see if the water level is below the plates, aka fill-well or split-ring. There will usually be access ports on the top of the battery to inspect the fluid level. If the fluid level is below the plates, use distilled water to get the fluid level back up to specification. Charge the battery and then check again to see if more fluid needs to be added. Another possible solution is to upgrade your batteries to a maintenance free style battery such as an AGM, or Lithium-Ion battery. Both are considered “maintenance free” because there is no fluid level to hassle with and check. Both AGM and Lithium-ion batteries are sealed and generally last longer than wet cell/flooded batteries, but are also more expensive. The higher cost for an AGM or Lithium-ion battery could be well worth it if you do not want the nuisance of having to check your battery fluid levels. In addition to heat, batteries also do not like to be overcharged. Overcharging your batteries can actually lead to gassing and generation of excessive heat resulting in a shorter life span of your batteries.
Problem: Windshields. If you have a chip in your windshield, get it filled immediately, especially during the summer months. When the temperature outside is 100+ degrees the structural integrity of the glass is actually weakened making it more susceptible to damage. When I was a service advisor, the glass company I worked with strongly disliked having to replace windshields in the summer because they had to be extremely careful not to crack the glass just when setting the windshield in place.
Solution: Get any damage to a windshield repaired immediately. If you are on the road and cannot schedule to have a glass company come to you, you can buy DIY glass chip fill kits that you can use for a quick-fix temporarily while on the road. Also avoid any contact with cold water in excessive heat, this can also cause cracking.
Problem: It is no secret that in additional to being extremely hot in the summers here in AZ, it is also very dry (with the exception of an occasional monsoon). This combination of high heat and low humidity can wreak havoc on the wood and trim inside your rig. Most commonly, wood cabinets, trim, and furniture can develop cracks or split completely due to the lack of moisture in the air and high temperatures.
Solution: The easiest way to create moisture inside your RV is to place five gallon buckets of water in your coach while storing. The rule of thumb is about one bucket for every 10 linear feet. Be sure to fill the buckets up at least half way, and check/refill buckets every 2 weeks. This trick works because the evaporating water will tend to raise the humidity inside the rig and help prevent the wood from drying out and cracking. In addition to water buckets, keep a little water in the toilet bowl at all times. The ball-valve gasket needs to be kept moist to prevent it from cracking and leaking. If this seal leaks, your toilet will not be able to maintain the water level needed inside the toilet bowl.
Problem: Just like the paint on your RV, the sun can also be very damaging to the tires of your rig. The combination of UV rays and dry heat can cause pre-mature cracking in the sidewall of your tires if they are not well cared for. Another common issue is flat spots. You may not associate flat spots with being a “heat problem”, but read on to see how the two can be related. While some of us may not be able to make it on a trip this summer due to scheduling, work, life, Covid-19, etc. It is important to make sure that your RV is moved periodically to prevent flat spots on the tires. Flat spotting occurs when your vehicle sits to long without moving. The rubber on your tires actually changes shape and flattens where your tires sit on the ground, hence the term “flat spot”. A flat-spot’s severity is often determined by the tire size, internal structure, load, ambient temperature, and time spent stationary. It is strongly recommended not to let your rig sit stationary more than a month. If the vehicle sits longer than a month, there is a higher chance that the tires will have permanent flat spots and/or permanent damage.
Solution: The good news is preventative measures are easy. To prevent cracks in the sidewall of your tires, put tire covers over your wheels when your rig is parked and exposed to direct sunlight. Preventing flat spots is also an easy fix. Check the air pressure on your RV tires at least once a month (more if you are traveling) and make sure that they are set to the manufacturer’s specification. Make sure to verify that you are not over the weight limit for you RV’s tries. Also, when parking your RV for extended periods of time, make sure that you are moving the RV at least once a month, taking it on a quick 5-10-minute drive. If you store your RV at a facility that offers a concierge pick up/drop off service, check with them to see how frequently your rig is being moved.