RV Advice Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Each of the categories in which RV Advice answers questions on their respective web pages is listed below. Here you will find Q&A's to the most frequently asked questions.

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This page last updated January 12, 2011


  ALL RVs (relates to all RVs)     Appliances and Accessories    Dinosaurs(RV's twenty + years old) Fifth Wheels      Newbies/Wannabies     Pets      Popups/Truck Campers/Others      Sales     Towing & Towed Vehicles   Travel Trailers

Remember if you don't find the answer you're looking for on this page use our search engine located at the bottom of this page or browse any any of our Q&A pages regarding your subject matter. If you still can't find your answer use the form at the bottom of any page on our web site to send your question(s) to Pete directly. If you have questions or want feedback from other RVers please visit our Public Message Board and post your question directly.

ALL RVs (relates to all RVs)

1. Where can I get new decals?

2. Where can I find an owner's manual for my RV?

3. Where can I find wiring schematics for my RV?

4. How do I prepare my RV for winter storage?

5. How do I "de-winterize" my RV when the weather warms up?

6. How do I keep my tanks from freezing if I want to use my RV during winter?

7. How do I keep the "critters" out of my RV during storage?

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Appliances and Accessories

11. How do I winterize my generator?

12. What can you tell me about installing a washer/dryer combination?

13. Can I run my refrigerator continuously?

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Dinosaurs (RVs 20+ years old)

21. Where can I find information on my RV that is no longer made (orphan)?

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5th Wheels

31. Is if safe and legal for passengers to travel in a fifth wheel?

32. What does "flipping" the axles mean and is it safe?

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Motorhomes

41. Where can I find out which states don't allow wide body motorhomes?

42. Where can I find information on how to use my newly acquired motorhome?

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Newbies and Wannabies

51. Where can I learn RV slang?

52. Where can I learn about the different classes of motorhomes and RVs?

53. How can I learn more about using my RV?

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Pets

61. What about taking my pet to Canada?

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Popups/Truck Campers and Others

71. Should I get electric brakes for my popup?

72. Where can I get a replacement canvas for my popup?

73. Where can I find truck camper manufacturers?

74. Is there a book or video to help me get familiar with my newly acquired popup?

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Sales Related

81. What chassis is best for a motorhome?

82. Where can I find MSRP?

83. Is there a place on the Internet where I can look up book value?

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Towing and Towed Vehicles

91. Is there some place on the Internet that has a list of "towable" vehicles?

92. Will my car rack up miles while being towed?

93. Can you tell me the pros and cons of towing a fifth wheel with a short bed truck?

94. Where can I find towing laws?

95. Is there a place on the Internet I can get tow rating information?

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Travel Trailers

101. How often should wheel bearings be repacked?

102. Can passengers ride in a travel trailer while under tow?

103. What does "flipping" the axles mean and is it safe?

104. Where can I get more information on using my travel trailer?

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ALL RVs (relates to all RVs)

1. Where can I get new decals?

If decals are no longer available through your dealer or manufacturer you can purchase graphics at or through your local paint store. You should have a large variety to choose from. Another source for graphics would be a local sign shop.

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2. Where can I find an owner's manual for my RV?

If the manufacturer of your RV is still in business you might be able to to obtain a manual from the manufacturer. For contact information on RV manufacturers visit our RV Manufacturers page. If you can not find a manual for your RV you might try posting a message on various Internet RV newsgroups and bulletin boards, or you can post a message on our Public Message Board . If your looking for a chassis manual for a motorhome you should be able to obtain one from the chassis manufacturer through your local dealer that works with or sells parts for that particular chassis. To replace an original manual for operating/repair/maintenance your RV your best bet would just be to purchase an RV repair and maintenance guide book from your local book store, or select one from our RV Books page. For basics of how to use your RV our RV Store page offers videos on travel trailers, motorhomes and popups.

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3. Where can I find wiring schematics for my RV?

If you are referring to chassis wiring on a motorhome you can usually obtain a chassis manual from the chassis manufacturer. If you are referring to the "box" (living quarters) of a RV you can obtain these from the manufacturer of your RV. If you have an "orphan" (RV with the manufacturer no longer in business) then your best option is just to obtain a basic RV repair and maintenance book, either from your local bookstore, RV parts store, or on-line at our RV Books page.

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4. How do I prepare my RV for winter storage?

There are several things to do. Empty all the holding tanks (fresh waer, grey water and black water), empty the water heater tank, empty the water lines, and charging your battery.

Let's take these steps one at a time or order the Winterizing and Storage video from our RV Store page. The video walks you through all the steps of winterizing regardless of type of RV and also covers short-term and long term storage procedures. Video also includes printed out check list sheet for winterizing and for storage.

1. Open your main fresh water supply drain mounted on the outside of the RV and let the water flow until the tank is empty.

2. Dump your black tank first, then your gray tank (water in the grey tank helps flush solids and septic residue in the flexible hose line). Rinse out with fresh water before returning the hose to its storage compartment.

3. To empty the water heater tank, open the drain plug or petcock drain valve on the RV exterior (open the water heater hatch and drain the tank be removing the screw-in plug or opening the valve found near the bottom of the tank).

4. Once you have drained all the tanks you must either remove any remaining water in the lines or add RV rated antifreeze to prevent any remaining water from freezing. To blow dry the lines open all faucets (including the toilet flushing device and the shower head spray). Use compressed air to the city water external hose connection using a screw-in adaptor (available at any RV supply store). Apply air until the air is almost dry coming from all the open faucets.

If you don't want to blow your lines dry you can add RV rated antifreeze. Follow the antifreeze manufacturer's instructions to meet the level of freezing protection required. Close the fresh water tank and water heater tank drain(s). Pour the required amounts of antifreeze into the fresh water tank (usually around eight gallons of this mixture is required; if you do not have a by-pass system for the hot water heat, which requires six gallons to fill before any fluid can begin to flow into the hot water lines). Turn on your 12-volt water pump (it may need to run several minutes to obtain water pressure as the hot water tank will require being filled before the entire system will pressurize. With the pump on, open and close each faucet (outlet), one at a time, until the tinted mixture of antifreeze and water flows from each outlet. (Don't forget the toilet and shower head spray outlets). Add one or two cups of the antifreeze to the water traps found below or near each drain outlet.

5. Make sure to charge your battery to a full charge. Measure the specific gravity of the battery acid with a hydrometer to test for a full charge. A charged battery should survive the freezing temperatures with minimal effect.

Caution: Automotive antifreeze should NOT be used in the drinking water system as it is poisonous and leaves residue. Failure to drain the water properly from your RV prior to freezing weather can result in extensive damage to water lines, holding tanks, water heater and pumps. A discharged battery can freeze or be damaged.

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5. How do I "de-winterize" my RV when the weather warms up?

To de-winterize you need to add fresh water to the system, run the pump and open all faucets until the water runs clear. Be sure to open the hot water heater bypass and fill and drain the fresh water tank.

Blow out the burner assembly on all LP appliances, air the unit out and check all exterior seals and seams for weather cracking and reseal and caulk as necessary.

Charge the battery and test all lights and systems. Plug into electric and test GFI breakers and wall outlets, test all AC appliances. Check wheel bearings and brakes, lubricate spring shackles and check LP hoses and tanks.

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6. How do I keep my tanks from freezing if I want to use my RV during winter?

If your entire water system is not insulated so that it can be used (providing heat is maintained in the unit), then it is suggested that the water system remain winterized and portable water be used (this is also a safer method of winter camping just incase you should lose heat for any reason). Keep your portable water in containers inside the heated areas of your RV. Us this water for cooking, washing, cleaning and flushing your toilet. Put antifreeze in the waste water holding tanks to prevent them from freezing. Remember to add more antifreeze as additional waste water is added from washing, flushing the toilet, etc., while on your trip.

When you return home keep your RV furnace running until you can drain the holding tanks and add antifreeze in the drain traps.

Sometimes if driving in snow or slush the dump valves can freeze shut. You can prevent this by covering them with waterproof covers. If they do freeze, you can thaw the valves by pouring warm water over them.

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7. How do I keep the "critters" out of my RV during storage?

The best method for keeping the critters out is to use mothballs. The trick to using the mothballs is NOT to scatter them (you'll spend a lot of time looking for "strays" if you do so). Purchase some inexpensive disposable bowls with lids and pour the mothballs into these containers. Poke holes in the containers, sufficient for air flow, but small enough to keep the mothballs "contained" as they diminish in size over time. Place these containers through out your RV, even underbelly storage compartments.

When it comes time to take your RV out of storage it is a simple matter of collecting the containers and airing out your RV.

Another item worth mentioning is the use of fabric softener dryer sheets. Place these inside drawers and cabinets. These are supposed to be good mice deterents.

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Appliances and Accessories

11. How do I winterize my generator?

If you cannot "exercise" your generator during winter storage (once a month running the generator at a minimum of 50% load for two hours), then you should take measures to protect the generator during extended storage periods.

1. Stabilize the generator's fuel supply using a premium fuel stabilizer. (Follow package directions).

2. Run the generator for a least ten minutes to ensure the treated fuel has circulated throughout the sytem.

3. While the engine is still warm, drain the crankcase oil. Refill with fresh oil and replace the filter (if so equipped).

4. After the generator has been running ten minutes allowing the fuel to stabilize, spray a premium brand of fogging oil into the engine until heavy amounts of smoke appear and the engine will hardly run. When this happens shut off the generator. This film of oil will prevent condensation, minimizing moisture damage to the steel of the engine.

5. Remove the spark plug(s) and spary a liberal amount of fogging oil into the hole(s).

6. Turn the engine over by hand several times to evenly distribute the fogging oil throughout the cylinder(s). Reinstall the spark plug(s) and properly torque.

7. It is a good idea to leave the spark plug leads off and disconnect the remote start harness to prevent accidental starting during storage.

8. Check over the generator carefully. Make sure screws and nuts are tight, replace any damaged or worn parts. Make sure electrical and fuel system fasteners and clamps are tight and in good condition.

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12. What can you tell me about installing a washer/dryer combination?

I would recommend a vented washer/dryer combo. The ventless units, to me, are nearly useless.

There are a few good brand names on the market, but being an adversary of washers/dryers in RVs (as I've seen first hand the water damage), I will not recommend any brand.

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13. Can I run my refrigerator continuously?

I feel the refrigerator does better when used on a continous basis. Just make sure you maintain the proper fluid levels in your house battery. Inadequate DC voltage can damage the control board.

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Dinosaurs (20+ year old RVs)

21. Where can I find information on my RV that is no longer made (orphan)?

You might try the RV/MH Hall of Fame (link on our RV Links page). You can check our RV Links page and RV Events and Shows page to see if there are any clubs or rallies for your particular RV; otherwise you can post on Internet Newsgroups and our Public Message Board to see if you can obtain information from other owners.

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Fifth Wheels

31. Is if safe and legal for passengers to travel in a fifth wheel?

You should consider the safety of your family. I don't advise people riding in trailers. To see which states allow it and the restrictions for those states that do, visit our Travel Guide page.

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32. What does "flipping" the axles mean and is it safe?

Flipping the axles is a way of raising the trailer's frame higher off the ground without altering the springs or shackles. This is done by cutting the spring pads off the bottom of the axle and welding the spring pads on top of the axle. Then instead of the axle sitting on the top of the springs the axle is mounted below the springs, resulting in an excessive lift. In the process the load is changed on the springs and shackles. If the pads are not welded on straight the axle alignment will cause the trailer to dog track. In an extreme case, if the axle came loose, you would pull the trailer right over the axle. If the spring goes under the axle there is no way the axle can get out from under the trailer. The distance from the axle to the frame also cause less stability in the springs and allows the axles to move side to side more and make more bounce, or the trailer easier to go airborne.

The proper way to raise the trailer is by altering the spring hangers. Some trailers are built with adjustable spring hangers for raising or lowering the trailer. If the trailer does not have adjustable shackles the shackles can be cut loose from the frame rails, then steel channels (the height of the lift needed, i.e., 2", 4" 6") can be welded to the bottom of the frame rail and supported. Then the shackles can be welded to the channels. For a modest lift when the trailer is raised the tire and wheel size should also be increased to compensate for the added air space and height. When done in this way the load carrying points (springs, shackles, wheel bearings, etc.) stay the same and does not change the stability of the trailer.

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Motorhomes

41. Where can I find out which states don't allow wide body motorhomes?

You can find this information on our Travel Guide page.

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42. Where can I find information on how to use my newly acquired motorhome?

You can purchase books on the subject from your local bookstore or from our RV Books page. We also carry great videos on motorhomes and different types of RVs on our RV Store page.

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Newbies and Wannabies

51. Where can I learn RV slang?

Any RVer most likely would be happy to assist you but Liz has a nice compilation of terms used on our RV Terminology page.

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52. Where can I learn about the different classes of motorhomes and RVs?

You can get a free video from the RV industry that goes into detail all the different types and uses of RVs. You can get this free video by calling toll free 1-888-GO RVING or by ordering it on line at the Go RVing web site.

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53. How can I learn more about using my RV?

You can purchase books on the subject from your local bookstore or from our RV Books page. We also carry a great videos on motorhomes, travel trailers and popups on our RV Store page.

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Pets

Pet questions are answered by our Traveling with Pet Advisor, Barbara Foley

61. What about taking my pet to Canada?

I personally do not keep up on all the requirements to travel with a dog into Canada, so I cannot give you the exact information, but I do have several sources of information:

- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is apparently in charge of determining what and how animals enter Canada. Their address and phone number is:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Animal Health Agriculture Canada 59 Camelot Drive Nepean, Ontario K1A OY9 ( 613-225-2342, ext 4629 ) They also have a web site at www.cfia-acia.agr.ca

- There is an Automated Customs Information Service accessible through touch tone as well as rotary phones. Their web site is www.cdntrade.com or call the automated service at 1-800-461-9999 at which time you will be offered a menu of choices.

- The June 1997 edition of Good Sam Magazine "Highways" addressed the issue of pets and travel to Canada and offered 613-993-0534 as the phone number for Canadian Customs.

- Some other sites to check out:

- Import Services Centers (call the one nearest your proposed point of entry):

Regarding innoculations, make sure your dog's DHLP, Bordatella, and rabies vaccinations are up to date and you take evidence of that with you (espeically your rabies certificate, not just the tag). To be on the safe side, I would get a veterinarian health certificate even if someone at these sites says you don't need one. If it turns out they were mistaken, then you would have it and not be delayed. Check with your vet because usually these certificates need to be issued a certain number of days before they are needed. Your vet may also be able to expound further on what you will need to go to Canada.

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Popups/Truck Campers and Others

71. Should I get electric brakes for my popup?

I would go for the braking system. GM (Workhorse), Ford, Chrysler, Freightliner, Spartan and all other chassis manufacturers that I can think of recommend using tow braking systems for weights in excess of 1,500 pounds and many of the manufacturers recommend braking systems for weights over 1,000 pounds.

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72. Where can I get a replacement canvas for my popup?

I would advise you to go to an upholstery shop or someone experienced in doing marine (boat) applications or working with canvas. The custom made canvas should be very competitive to the price of finding a replacement canvas that may or may not fit.

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73. Where can I find truck camper manufacturers?

If you go to our RV Manufacturers page under the term "Truck Camper" you should find a complete listing with contact information to the various truck camper manufacturers.

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74. Is there a book or video to help me get familiar with my newly acquired popup?

I have yet to find a book (but the web master keeps searching), that is in print but on our RV Store page the webmaster has a great video for the popup owner that covers setting up the popup, backing/towing tips, and walks you through all the popup's operating system (water, electrical, propane).

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Sales Related

81. What chassis is best for a motorhome?

I personally like the Chevrolet chassis over the Ford chassis IF you stay with a 34' or shorter motorhome. When you start moving up to the 36', 37' and 38' I think the Ford chassis has more weight capacities and support for the box. Also read my article "Q&A Chassis" on our RV Articles page.

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82. Where can I find MSRP?

Unlike automobiles it is difficult to find for recreational vehicles. Dealers generally work on a 20%-40% (and up) profit margin, so there's room to negotiate.

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83. Is there a place on the Internet where I can look up book value?

You can look up the book value on-line at theweb site. If your recreational vehicle is too old to have a book value, then the value is "market value" (what you're willing to sell for and someone is willing to purchase it for). NADA will do a research for you for a $30.00 fee. You can call them at 800-966-6232.

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Towing and Towed Vehicles

91. Is there some place on the Internet that has a list of "towable" vehicles?

Motorhome Magazine publishes a list of "towables" each January issue of their magazine but now has made this information available on their web site. You can check out their towable vehicle list at: http://motorhome.tl.com/dinghytowingguide/ .

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92. Will my car rack up miles while being towed?

It depends on whether the vehicle has an electronic or manual speedometer. If it has a manual speedometer you can purchase a speedometer disconnect. If it has an electronic speedometer your owner's manual for your vehicle should tell you which fuse or fuses you can pull to keep the mileage from "racking up" while being towed.

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93. Can you tell me the pros and cons of towing a fifth wheel with a short bed truck?

First, the short bed doesn't allow adequate distance for sharp turns, which can result in the truck and fifth wheel contacting each other. It's not uncommon to hear of a rear window being knocked out of a truck. This can be overcome with the use of a slider hitch.

Second, the short wheel base truck is not as stable for handling as the long wheel base truck.

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94. Where can I find towing laws?

You can find these laws posted on our RV Travel Guide page.

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95. Is there a place on the Internet I can get tow rating information?

You can find information for towing vehicles on one of the Trailer Life web site pages at:

http://www.trailerlife.com/towratings/tr_index.cfm (for 1999 and 2000) http://www.trailerlife.com/output.cfm?id=42175 (for newer year vehicles) and another source is http://www.rvsafety.com

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Travel Trailers

101. How often should wheel bearings be repacked?

Once a year or every 12,000 miles.

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102. Can passengers ride in a travel trailer while under tow?

In most states it is illegal. For a list of states and the requirements thereof, visit our RV Travel Guide page.

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103. What does "flipping" the axles mean and is it safe?

Flipping the axles is a way of raising the trailer's frame higher off the ground without altering the springs or shackles. This is done by cutting the spring pads off the bottom of the axle and welding the spring pads on top of the axle. Then instead of the axle sitting on the top of the springs the axle is mounted below the springs, resulting in an excessive lift. In the process the load is changed on the springs and shackles. If the pads are not welded on straight the axle alignment will cause the trailer to dog track. In an extreme case, if the axle came loose, you would pull the trailer right over the axle. If the spring goes under the axle there is no way the axle can get out from under the trailer. The distance from the axle to the frame also cause less stability in the springs and allows the axles to move side to side more and make more bounce, or the trailer easier to go airborne.

The proper way to raise the trailer is by altering the spring hangers. Some trailers are built with adjustable spring hangers for raising or lowering the trailer. If the trailer does not have adjustable shackles the shackles can be cut loose from the frame rails, then steel channels (the height of the lift needed, i.e., 2", 4" 6") can be welded to the bottom of the frame rail and supported. Then the shackles can be welded to the channels. For a modest lift when the trailer is raised the tire and wheel size should also be increased to compensate for the added air space and height. When done in this way the load carrying points (springs, shackles, wheel bearings, etc.) stay the same and does not change the stability of the trailer.

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104. Where can I get more information on using my travel trailer?

You can purchase books on the subject from your local bookstore or from our RV Books page. We also carry a great video on travel trailers on our RV Store page.

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Do you have a question for RV Advice?

We answer ALL email questions submitted to us, even what other RV web sites forward to us.

5. If you want feed back from other RVers, DON'T use the form below, instead visit our Public Message Board and post your question(s) directly.

Please use the form below to ask your questions. If you have questions regarding motor homes, towing or towed vehicles or dinosaurs (20 years or older RVs), please visit their respective pages to fill out the forms there. Thank you! If you don't want to use the form, send your email to Pete @ rvadvice.com (remove spaces for sending email).

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