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Old 09-03-2010, 02:31 PM   #1
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Advice for first time RVrs

What would your advice be to someone new to RVs?

I am hoping that we can fill this thread with tidbits of sage advice from the experienced RV owners here that may be of help to first time RV owners. Without being to overly verbose, what piece of advice would you have?

Hopefully we can use this as a sort of "first timers guide" for future newbies that are lost in what to do from first time buying to how things work.

A warning though, if all you can say is "don't buy a Forest River product", your post will be deleted, this is meant to be constructive and helpful to anyone who is new or thinking about entering the RV lifestyle.

Also, if you are new, please don't post questions in this thread, you can do that in another thread in an appropriate area of the forums.

If this thread takes off and gets to be to long we will look at locking it and hopfully make it a "sticky" in an area that is most likely to be seen by new folks.

So come on all you experienced and wise ones, what advice do you have?
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:31 PM   #2
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I'll start it off...


No matter if you have bought a new RV or a used RV, you should NEVER leave the driveway with it until you are comfortable and confident in how to use it and you are sure that everything is working the way it should.

A weekend "camping trip" right in front of the house is the best way to get used to an RV. Be sure you know how to fill the water tank, turn on the water pump, connect the sewer hose and dump the holding tanks. Use the RV on battery power only, run the furnace as needed and be sure it works and get an idea for how long your batteries are going to last you under normal circumstances if you intend to go dry camping (also known as Boondocking)

Familiarize yourself with the operation of the water heater (both gas and electric sides), refrigerator, furnace, stove and oven. Start the generator (if equipped) to be sure it works. Make sure the air conditioning works. Learn how to use the stabilizers or levelers and verify the operation of all the slides.

Bottom line is, an RV isn't like your house. Things work differently. Don't leave home and expect to figure things out as you go or you could be in for a very uncomfortable trip.

If you are an owner of a motorcoach (not a trailer) look into joining the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). The FMCA has litteraly hundreds of local chapters you can join to meet other RVrs and go on monthly (sometimes more often) outtings. Learn from them by asking questions or having them show you how to do things while you are actually out using your RV.
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Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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1:Use this forum for the answers to your questions. There are no dumb questions, no one knows everything.
2: Occasionally things break!, remember it's rolling down the road bouncing around, so things will come loose or may even fall off.
3:Secure your items in the closets so you don't get clobbered when you open a door.
4:Try to keep your sense of humor when things go wrong.
5:Always do a walk around before going anywhere, check brake lights, headlights, running lights and flashers.
6:Remember to change the batteries in the smoke detector & CO detector when you change the clocks for the time changes.
I have 2 spare bulbs for every bulb used on my motorhome, same thing with fuses. I highly recommend a Multi-tester to check electrical problems, a good flashlight and an assortment of tools to fix small problems.

I rely on all of the Forest River Forum members for information on new products, modifications and help with issues I've encountered. This group of people really have some great ideas. Their experience and willingness to share their ideas is superb. They're always there to help assist everyone.

And if you're not sure what you need NWJeeper and I can help you spend plenty of money getting your RV to where you want it to be.

Most important
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:20 PM   #4
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Maintaining the exterior of your travel trailer is crucial. Inspect the roof regularly for cracks or gaps in seam sealant. Fill any gaps immediately. Water penetration is your enemy. If possible, cover your unit while it is in storage.
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:49 PM   #5
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If you get slide awnings, especially for the superslide, make sure to make something to put under them to stop the water pooling, which will stretch the fabric out of shape. I made an arch out of 1" styrofoam, 6 feet long, 6" high at the ends and a half inch higher in the middle. It is super easy to install (with a ladder), the awning fabric holds it in place, and it puts just enough of a rise in the center of the awning to direct the water to the ends.
Also, if you get an electric main awning, be sure to get the adjustable one so you can dip one end down to shed water. I don't trust the "automatic" dump feature, and you can direct the water where you want it to go.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:03 PM   #6
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Ask for help, most things are simple. Verify your set up, hitches, weight distribution, etc., don't rely on the dealer. check your lug nuts, tires, including spares and know how to change them. get familiar with backing up, turning radius, stopping distance.
Use check list's.
Take your time and enjoy the experience.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:19 PM   #7
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If you haven't already, purchase a good quality Ice Chest. Fill it with whatever makes you mellow, the use it to your advantage.
Remember, you're out there to relax and escape the hectic everyday things life delivers.

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Old 09-03-2010, 08:38 PM   #8
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Don't buy more trailer than your tow vehicle can handle!
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:23 AM   #9
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Here's how to install a weight distribution bar and sway bars.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:17 AM   #10
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Fifth wheel owners, I want you to repeat after me............

I will take the appropriate steps to NEVER drop my trailer on the bed of my truck.

I have personally known not one, but three different people that have dropped their trailers on the bed of their truck. Usually destroying the bed.

Pull test is good way to prevent this from happening depending on your hitch style, BUT and this is a big but, there are other ways to drop trailers. Brain farting is the number one reason. People get out of their rythem of doing things and get complacent.

Try and use a mental checklist and do things in order. Develope your own system.

The biggies for me are, undoing the kingpin lock with the landing gear still up, albeit with the wheels chocked, it still scares you. The other one is undoing the kingpin and getting ready to pull the truck forward with the truck still weighted down. I've also known someone who was hitching up and was too lazy to get out and adjust trailer height so it was proper, they knocked there landing gear off their wooden blocks trying to force the trailer on to the hitch. Trailer fell on the bed doing minimal damage.

My normal sequence is.....

Back truck up to trailer stopping short of kingpin.
Get out and adjust trailer if needed.
Set trailer height so that the trailer is about 1/2 to 1 inch lower than your hitch.
Open king pin jaws.
Back in to the kingpin till the trailer just jolts a little and set the parking brake.
Get out again and verify kingpin is locked.
Do a pull test if you so desire with the landing gear still nearly down.
Put landing gear up.
Hook up your breakaway and trailer wiring.
Go unchock everything.
Check lights.
Double check trailer for roadworthiness.


On a good day I can safely hitch up and be roadworthy in under 2 minutes. Try doing that with your WD hitch.
Good luck out there.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:25 PM   #11
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A word about warranties

Warranties on RVs are not like warranties on autos.

Although most all RVs in the industry have only a 1 year warranty it doesn't mean that other components installed therein don't have more.

If you have an issue with an appliance or accessory the warranty for THAT item will cover it. It is NOT necessary to take your RV to a Forest River dealer to get that item fixed. No matter if it is a Dometic refrigerator or awning, a Suburban furnace or an Amana microwave, you are better off if you need service in most cases to look online or in the back of the manual for that item for the authorized service centers for the appliance or accessory in question. If you insist on taking your rig to a Forest River dealer for a repair on such an item then they just become the middle man between you and the manufacturer and slow the process down.

In most cases the authorized service center for a given appliance or component will give you much better and quicker service than going to a FR dealer.

Be sure to read the warranties on everything in your RV as many are longer than the 1 year FR gives on the construction of the RV itself. Also, many may have limitations that can void the warranty if not followed. For instance, Dometic refrigerators have a 2 year parts/labor warranty and 3 year for parts but it is voided if you don't take your rig into a service center yearly for an inspection.
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2009 Georgetown 378TS | 1998 Jeep Wrangler | 1998 Skeeter ZX202C
Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acadianbob View Post
don't buy more trailer than your tow vehicle can handle!
ditto!

I would not buy right away. I would travel around and look at all brands and models. You will know after awhile which one if perfect for you. You know how much you want to spend and don't let them sell you more than you can afford or want.

Also no matter what the dealer says the price is it actually is much lower. If they know you have not had a trailer or 5th wheel before you get the full price quotes and see what you say. Usually you can reduce MSRP price by 25% and that falls into a general ball park of the final price.

I also feel you muct find a GREAT dealer that will take care of your warranty issues after the sale. Large professional service center with a big building. You need this because you WILL have problems with any trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome and need someone that cares.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:05 AM   #13
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I say slow it down when on the road. Get a feel of the rig. It a lot easier to control a rig at a lower speed. And most of all enjoy your RVing.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:42 AM   #14
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I have a habit of rechecking the hitch after hooking up, double check chains, elect connection. I also check for loose bolts or anything abnormal after i unhook at the site.

Grease/repack wheel bearings once a year
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:44 AM   #15
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1 more thing!

dont try to save money on a marginal hitch setup and brake controller, buy a quality setup that is rated for your application.
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