Traveling in an RV is a great way to see the country. Just like with any vehicle, though, you should be prepared for anything that can arise with mainteanace while you are on the road. Things can break, come loose, or malfunction at inopportune times when you are traveling.
Fortunately, if you are prepared with some essential tools on board then you will be equipped to handle some of the problems yourself. Especially with the large amount of RVs on the road these days and longer wait times to get into a repair shop, you will be glad you have some key tools handy. Here are some tips for a few of the best items to keep with you in your RV.
Guest Post by Robin Buck
Things to Consider
When deciding which tools to take in your RV, you will first need to consider some specific factors that apply to your situation. For example, keep in mind the storage space you have available and the weight that some tools will add to the RV. Also, some equipment choices will be determined by the type of RV you have –for example, diesel motorhomes have some different components than travel trailers.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Some of the most important items on your RV are the tires. Whether you are parked or driving, it is crucial to keep them properly inflated for the best performance and long life. You should have a good tire pressure gauge so you can check cold tire pressures before you head out on each trip. Tire pressure gauges come in several different styles, including a pen style and digital (don’t forget to have extra batteries for the digital one!).
Once you have checked your tire pressures, you need to be able to inflate any tires that are low. It’s not always easy to find a place to air up when you need it, so having your own portable air compressor can come in very handy (even for your car or truck, too). However, it needs to be strong enough to inflate your highest-pressure tires.
Our biggest motorhome tires require 125 psi, so we needed a heavy-duty compressor like the Viair 450P-RVS. While this tool is heavier and more expensive than most, it has saved our bacon on more than one occasion. After all, if your tires aren’t doing their job then your RV isn’t going anywhere!
Basic Tool Set
While you might have a large toolbox at home, you have to be more selective about which tools will go in the RV. It would be nice to take them all, but space and weight limitations need to be accounted for. With that in mind, a multi-bit screwdriver, a battery-operated drill and bits, assorted pliers, and a set of socket wrenches come in handy for a variety of tasks and fixes. Check your owner’s manual or your RV manufacturer to narrow down specific sizes needed.
You never know when you might need to investigate a problem at night. Having a flashlight or headlamp will illuminate the area you need to check out. Another tool that can be helpful is a multimeter. RVs have a lot of complex electrical systems and a multimeter is very useful in troubleshooting voltage issues. Just like in your car, having a set of heavy-duty jumper cables or a portable battery jumper can be a lifesaver if your battery dies out in the middle of nowhere.
There is a variety of other items that can help you repair or temporarily fix an item. Duct tape works on everything from a leaky roof to a shower door that won’t stay closed. Likewise, zip ties can keep a cabinet door locked, hold wires together, or take the place of a broken shower ring. Some other handy items we use are a tape measure, work gloves, level, electrical tape, and pocketknife.
We like our telescoping ladder which makes it easy to get up on the roof to take care of any problems with awnings, a satellite dish, or air conditioning units. There are several items on our motorhome that need to be torqued to a certain specification, so we carry torque wrenches for that. Talking with other RV owners will help you decide if you are missing anything important from your toolkit. Don’t forget that you can always buy a tool if you don’t have it or possibly borrow one from a fellow RV neighbor for that one-time need.
It is important to be prepared for emergencies while you are traveling. Having an emergency roadside kit will provide markers to let other drivers see you if you are stuck on the side of the road. All RVs should also have a fire extinguisher on board just in case the worst happens and something catches fire. In addition, a first aid kit will allow you to take care of any minor personal injuries.
Having the right tools in your RV can help you fix a problem or at least get you to a place for more extensive repairs. Each person’s needs will be different, but the best way to start figuring out what you need is to educate yourself on your RV’s systems through owners manuals or your manufacturer’s resources.
Most RV companies have customer support lines for guidance. Their advice and insight have literally saved us thousands of dollars and made several repairs a much easier task. While you shouldn’t expect to be able to fix everything yourself, having some key tools can often prevent a visit to a repair shop and make your travel life much easier.
Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who travel full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends, and discovering America’s many hidden gems. Robin chronicles their adventures and experiences on her travel blog RVing with Robin.