You finally own that RV you’ve been dreaming of and you’re eager to hit the open road. Before you head out for that first glorious trip, consider a shakedown trip.
What is a Shakedown Trip?
Shakedown trips are those first trips with your new rig. Quite honestly, you just never know what might happen during that first trip and it’s good to keep a few things in mind.
If you bought your RV new you should have been treated to a walkthrough of the entire RV both inside and out. All of the systems should have been thoroughly explained and you’ll at least have a starting point for the functionality of your new RV. We bought two brand new RVs and the first walkthrough was so completely over my head I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time. Take lots of notes and ask questions when something comes to mind.
If you bought your RV used from a dealer or a private party, you may not be so lucky. Don’t just drive away. Ask for information, manuals, helpful tips, etc.
Tips for Making Your Shakedown Cruise a Success.
Be sure your check all of your RV and tow vehicle or vehicle you plan to tow for regular maintenance points such as fluid levels, tire pressures, etc. Towing is hard on a vehicle so make sure it is up to the task.
Online Resources Are Important
Find online resources for information about your brand and model of RV before you go. Almost all of the major RV manufacturers have online forums filled with information about your specific model. If something goes wrong, odds are it will happen when your dealer is closed. Forums allow you access to people with experience with your specific RV and they are usually really helpful when you have a problem.
This really came in handy for me when our leveling system wouldn’t retract and we needed to vacate our site as someone else was coming in. I was able to communicate with other owners which lead me to a stand-alone breaker under the stairs of our motorhome. I would never have figured that out on my own.
Don’t Travel Too Far On Your Shakedown Trip
Stay close to home on the first trip. It’s a good idea to stay within a couple of hour’s drive. If something does go wrong, you’ll be close to home. With a new RV or one that is under warranty, you’ll want to make a list of all the things you notice in need of repair. Be prepared, the list may be a long one.
Choose a Full Hookup Campground
Stay in a campground with full hookups. This will allow you to test all the systems. Go through and flip all the switches. There’s always the one you can figure out what it does no matter how hard you try. Watch your holding tank levels, figure out what you can run at the same time without tripping a breaker. Test and try everything. If you want to test battery life or how long it takes you to go through a tank of water, just disconnect and stay put. This gives you a safety net.
Another reason for a shakedown trip is to prepare you for a longer trip. It’ll give you a better idea of what you need to bring along. Even if this isn’t your first RV, there will be different things you’ll likely need. It will also help you get organized for your first distance trip. Keep a running list of things that come to mind so you don’t have to rely on your memory. That just never seems to work for me.
What To Do If You Encounter a Problem
If you do run into problems, contact your dealership for advice. If you can’t connect with the dealer, try that online forum I suggested. Other campers may be able to help too. RVers as a whole are a wonderful community. I once had a neighboring camper help me make a repair that I wasn’t strong enough to make on my own.
When you return home from your trip, schedule with your dealership’s service department, and get any issues taken care of. Sometimes it takes a while to get in and if they need to order parts that can take a while too. Be patient. Unfortunately, most dealers are in no hurry to get you taken care of and back on the road. I have found over the years, the nicer I am to them, the faster we get back on the road. The important thing is, you’ll be ready to roll when the time comes.
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