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Avoid common RV and trailer breakdowns with these tips

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 to explore beautiful BC.

Before loading up and starting your adventures, take some time to get your trailer or RV and vehicle ready for the road:

Towing capacity

Make sure the vehicle and hitch have the tow capacity required to tow the trailer and load. Towing can put a real strain on the transmission, so it is important to check and service the transmission, especially if travelling through higher altitudes like on the Coquihalla Highway. Checking the towing capacity before you leave will not only prevent an inconvenient trip interruption but possibly an expensive repair down the road as well.

Tires and wheel bearings

The largest volume of BCAA’s roadside assistance calls for RVs and trailers are for 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 very 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. If you have any small cracks in the rubber material, 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 refer to the manufacturer’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.

Check trailer wheel bearings every year - The majority of wheel bearing and axle-related problems, especially for trailers, stem from contamination and lack of lubrication to the bearings. Boat trailers have the added problem of possible water intrusion. This may result in accelerated wear, overheating and in some cases, even catching fire while driving down the road. If unchecked, the hub and wheel assembly could break away from the trailer and cause an accident. Be safe and get your trailer checked out before you tow.

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, causing 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.

Get tips on how to drive your rig safely.

Review your BCAA Membership coverage

Before you hit the road review your BCAA Membership plan and check that you have added coverage for your RV as well.

Plus, Members save!

BCAA Members save 10% on BCAA RV Insurance*.

* BCAA Member savings on insurance products are only available with Basic, Plus, or Premier Membership plans. For full details, please visit