Preparing Your RV’s Exterior for Safe Winter Storage

Is Your RV's Exterior Ready for Freezing Temps

Oh, the woes of RV owners and their freezing exteriors! Just like a bad haircut, freezing temperatures are definitely not a good look for RVs. It’s like Mother Nature decided to give your beloved home-on-wheels an icy makeover.

But fear not! With proper RV winter care, you can ensure that your RV’s exterior is ready to brave the chill. From protecting against frostbite (or rather, frostbite for your vehicle) to preventing those unsightly cracks and leaks, taking care of your RV during the winter months is crucial.

So, before the cold weather hits, ask yourself: Is your RV’s chassis and exterior ready for winter? Don’t let it suffer through freezing winter temps. Give it some TLC and make sure it’s dressed to impress even in the coldest of climates. I mean c’mon only an ice cream truck could pull off looking like a popsicle on wheels.

Joking aside, let's take a look at some ways you can protect your RV's exterior from less than ideal weather.

From the Tires to the Roof, Keep your RV Leak-Proof

  • Tires and Wheels: Covering your tires and wheels with tire covers, is an easy and inexpensive way to protect your tires from weather rot. Weather rot can cause your tires to lose air and ultimately damage the wheels/rims of your vehicle. Adding this layer of protection to your RV’s tires can also save you a ton of money for your summer-time adventures.
  • Propane Tanks and Generators: If you have propane tanks or a generator stored outside of your RV or travel trailer and storing it at an offsite facility, it is generally best to remove them completely if you can, as they hold value. If you cannot remove these items, the best way to protect them from weather damage is to securely cover them in a photo-durable tarp that strong winds cannot easily blow away. Be sure to close the valves on propane tanks, and follow the generator’s user manual before you fully close down for the cold months.
    • Pro-Tip: Do not leave any fuel to sit in the generator. Old fuel left to sit can turn into a varnish that thickens and dries if exposed to air. Old fuel can also clog the carburetor, and rot out the primer bulb. – It is getting harder and harder to find parts for small gas-powered engines, and their mechanics due to California Assembly Bill #1346
  •  Exterior Shell: Start by completely cleaning the shell of your RV, as you clean check for cracks and split seems, mending areas that need repair. Add an extra layer of protection with an application of good quality wax, or recommended protectant for your RV’s composite material.
  • Awnings/ Pop-Ups, Pop-Outs, and Fold-Out Trailers: To prevent accelerated wear and tear clean and dry your awning. Decaying leaves and acidic evergreen straw eat away at canvas and weather stripping causing premature rot. Keep in mind if you are washing these areas you will want it to be able to completely dry them before closing it back up to prevent mold growth.
    • If it is too late in the season to guarantee your awning, pop-up, pop-out, or fold-out can dry properly, it is still a good idea to remove organic debris that might be hidden in the folds. If these items sit they can cause corrosion damage.
  • RV Roofs: RV Roofs should be treated the same as Awnings. RV Covers or well-secured high-quality tarps (a tarp that can withstand high UV rays, and will not easily photodegrade) can extend the life of your RV, or Travel Trailer’s exterior. 

In the long run, taking care of the outside of your recreational vehicle will translate to a longer-lasting interior. I don’t know about you, but I would rather update the flooring and countertops in an RV I love, or would like to recoup my money on, rather than repair dry-rot issues that could have been easily prevented.