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Avoid our two most common RV and trailer breakdowns

With the kick off to RV and trailer season starting soon, many British Columbians may still be determined to get back on the road with their RVs and trailers, despite the high cost of gas.

Whether we’re keeping up our traditional annual RV trip or heading out to nearby lakes and campsites in our beautiful province, there are a few things we should do before we load up and start our adventures.

Tires and wheel bearings

The largest volume of roadside assistance calls revolves around tires and wheel bearings. RVs and trailers are stored for months where tires sit still on a flat surface, some also exposed to direct sunlight that can compromise the rubber material. As a result, tires on RVs and trailers tend to disintegrate rather than go flat, which can be even more dangerous.

Inspect tires - RV and trailer tires are susceptible to dry rot due to the amount of time they sit unused, especially if they’re exposed to direct sunlight. Check for small cracks in the rubber material, if you have any at all, then it’s time to replace your tire before it blows. RV tires have an estimated shelf life of five to seven years before the rubber starts to break down, so replace them earlier than later.

Check pressure of all tires: Low tire pressure can cause the tire to overheat and can risk it exploding. Getting an accurate reading is important so check tire pressure when your tires are cold and have not just been driven on recently. Always revert to the manufacture’s’ recommendation for proper air pressure

Check batteries - when sitting for months RV batteries can become sulfated and reverse the state of the charge. We recommend that RV owners charge and test both engine and accessory batteries before heading out on their first trip of the season.

Have wheel bearings serviced before you leave and regularly, particularly for trailers: The majority of wheel bearing-related problems, especially for trailers, stems from bearings not being routinely greased resulting in the metal components moving in direct contact with each other and creating heat. Overheated bearings can melt, disintegrate or break apart, along with send unwanted heat into the hub and brakes. Boat trailers have the added problem of overheated bearings suddenly becoming submersed in water, corroding the metal even further.

Avoid other common roadside breakdowns

Service the cooling system: Summer heat and steep hills put strain on hard-working engines, making overheating a common problem. While you’re travelling, slow down, especially on hills. Trying to rush a motorhome or fully loaded trailer wastes gas and can lead to trouble. Always carry an extra jug of antifreeze or water.

Stay cool to prevent vapour lock. The problem is more likely to happen in hot weather, high altitudes or when hauling up a big hill. Added heat can cause the fuel to change states from liquid to gas which disrupts the pressure needed to deliver fuel to the engine—what can happen next is loss of power or complete stalling. To minimize heat, travel during the early parts of the day or later in the evening when weather conditions are cooler.

Keep gas tank more than half full to avoid an overheated fuel pump: Having as much fuel in the gas tank as possible helps keep the electric fuel pump from getting too hot and stalling out. Also, a fuller tank of gas will be helpful in case you’re stuck in crawling or stopped highway traffic due to an incident or road closure.

BCAA Auto Service Centre in Victoria provides full RV and trailer service. Please contact the facility to speak to an expert about your needs.

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