Today we wanted to talk about 11 Common Newbie RV Mistakes. Unfortunately, I made this list from our own mistakes. These were things that we never heard of when we were researching to buy our first RV, and sadly no one warned us about them. I want to hopefully save others from making the same mistakes. Hopefully you can learn from our pain.
1. Not registering all the extra warranties:
When you buy a new RV your appliances and many of the components, like the water heater and propane furnace, will be from different manufactures. You’ll get a stack of paperwork an inch thick. So, all of these outside things will have their own warranties separate from your RVs manufacturer. The trick is that they only give you a few days to mail the warranty registration cards in, ours were all under a week. Let me say that again. To register our warranties, we only had like 3 days to mail all the cards out. We didn’t find out we’d missed the deadlines until it was a month too late. We’ve also done that with camera lenses. Oops.
2. Driving with your batteries disconnected:
I just learned what I was doing wrong this week. I had always driven with them disconnected to try and save power. And I couldn’t understand why my inverter was shutting off. It was shutting off due to low power. They couldn’t charge off the truck while disconnected, so the fridge was killing them. We’ve had so many battery problems since we bought this RV, they started with a hot converter overcharging them. But that’s a whole different story.
3. Not knowing how to disconnect the batteries:
Our battery disconnect has two positions, on and off. I thought that on meant the battery disconnect was on and working, disconnecting the batteries. Turns out it actually meant that the batteries are on, and able to supply power and charge. We killed our batteries the first week and had to buy a generator to charge them.
4. Not flushing your black tank enough, or at all:
If you have a black tank flush, use it. Use it often and use it for a long time every flush. After our first two months living in our RV the black tank was smelling HORRIBLE, I didn’t want to use the toilet it was so bad. I was using chemical every time, and flushed it for five minutes every time I dumped it. I thought I was doing everything, but the smell said otherwise. So, out of pure frustration, I tried flushing it for 30 minutes. Not only did the smell go away, but flushing for 30 minutes every dump has kept it from ever coming back. Also, keeping a window open if you use the fan allows fresh air to come in and not just your sewer gas to come up the pipe.
5. Draining batteries too far and damaging them:
Many new, and some experienced, RVers don’t understand deep cycle AGM batteries. They can’t be run below 50% without damaging them. So, where’s 50%? Our control panel only has four lit dots for batteries and tank levels. They don’t tell me if the batteries are at 70% or 30%. When it shows two dots it’s anyone’s guess. To keep your batteries healthy, install a battery monitor, we’re going to.
6. Washing laundry with the tank closed:
Our rig isn’t equipped with any kind of overflow or automatic shutoff system, whatsoever. Even though the washer is small it still uses A LOT of water. And that water is draining into a 40 gal tank. If the tank is full when the washer starts to drain that water is going on the bedroom floor. It’s a REALLY bad day when that happens. Thank God for space heaters and dehumidifiers. Open your tank before you wash laundry, Everytime..
7. Overloading your RV:
Many RV’s can only hold 2500lbs of stuff, that’s not much. Ours can hold 3200lbs, and we went over that with empty tanks when we started out. Thankfully we weighed it our first day on the road, realized our error and downsized. It can be difficult for full-timers, we want to carry everything we own with us. Just make sure your rig can handle it all. I’ve spoken with people that bent their axles being overweight.
8. Using sewer hoses for too long:
This is one that I REALLY hope you learn from my mistakes. Sewer hoses DO eventually wear out, ours did. It ripped and sprung a leak after about 8 months of continuous use. Yes that was a terrible day, yes we filmed it and put on YouTube. No, I don’t EVER want to experience that again. Please inspect your sewer hoses and replace if they’re questionable. They’re not even that expensive.
9. Take a shakedown trip when you buy it:
Many new RV owners buy an RV and park it for the first few months. Many people don’t realize that most new rigs only have a 1-year warranty. You have a very finite amount of time to find the problems and have them fixed under warranty. A shakedown trip is a short trip as soon as you buy it. Go out and use everything, drive it a ways, get your hands on everything and find what’s broken. Every RV has problems. Either they weren’t put together right, cheap parts were used and breaking already or cheap components will fail the first few times they’re used. It’s up to the owner to find these problems and schedule warranty work, before the warranty expires.
10. Don’t move in or plan a long trip right away:
When you buy an RV don’t make any big plans right away. Give yourself a few months of buffer to have everything fixed you found during your shakedown trip. They’re not like cars where you can get a new transmission in a week. Major repairs on an RV can take up to 6 months. And I’ve spoken with many people that have actually experienced that. This will also give you a good chance to learn how your rig works so that you don’t have to figure it out on your first trip out.
So, whether you’ve never spent a night in an RV, or you’ve been full-timing for years, I hope that our misfortunes can help you. I really, REALLY, hope that no one ever has to experience a leaky sewer hose. And if all goes well I won’t be making another list like this in the future. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, and hoses inspected.
11. Know your fuses and breakers:
A big problem that we dealt with our first night was fuses and breakers. You have to remember that in an RV you have a 120v power system, and a 12v power system. Because of that, you have two different sets of fuses and breakers. Our 120v set is inside, near the door, underneath the coat closet. Our 12v set is inside the front storage bay, behind the battery compartment. Knowing where these two sets are is vital. When something stops working, and that WILL happen, these are the first places you need to look. Quite often these will be the cause of your problem. Knowing how to do an easy fix will save you time and money.
Thanks for reading everyone. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so. Click the red subscribe button below the video, then click the bell that appears next to it to receive notifications for all our new videos. And if you have any comments, suggestions, or similar experiences please drop us comment below. Oh, I also wanted to give a shout out to the first people that recognized us from watching us here. If you’re watching, you know who you are, and it was nice meeting you. Thanks again everyone, we’ll see you next time.