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How do I.....Prepare my RV for U.S. travel?

With the Nov. 8 reopening of the U.S. land border crossings to non-essential travel, it’s once again possible for snowbirds with RVs to spend their winters in the sunny south.
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With the Nov. 8 reopening of the U.S. land border crossings to non-essential travel, it’s once again possible for snowbirds with RVs to spend their winters in the sunny south.

Tires demand extra mention as they’re one of the most overlooked safety concerns with any RV or trailer. Not only do RV tires almost always “age out” before wearing out, but in most cases they carry a much heavier load than your average passenger vehicle’s tire. The consequences of a highway-speed blowout in a motorhome can be catastrophic.

Inspect tires (including the inboard tires on duallies and the spare, if equipped) for dry-rot cracking on both the sidewalls and in between the treads the whole way around – when sitting for long periods, it’s not uncommon for just one location to be badly deteriorated. Look also at the date that’s part of the DOT code on one side of the tire; the last four digits are the week of the year (of 52) and year, e.g. “2716” is the 27th week of 2016. The general industry consensus is that the safe lifespan of a tire is between six and 10 years; tires older than 10 should be replaced regardless of their visible condition.

RV/trailer brakes tend to suffer corrosion from sitting, so should be inspected prior to resumption of use. You’ll also want to check the health of both the coach and chassis batteries, the condition of belts and hoses, fluid levels/quality (maybe do an oil change), and the operation of onboard water systems, generators, fridges, and HVAC units; all easier sorted out here than on the road. If you are delaying departure until after Christmas, leave the water system winterized until leaving.

Lastly, while verifying that your rig’s paperwork and registration is up to date, consider a CAA RV membership as cheap peace of mind.

Brian Early is a longtime Wheels contributor and a Red Seal automotive technician with over 25 years’ experience.

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