Tips For Learning Your New RV

Stacey Powers Airstream Trailer parked at a campsite

So you bought a new RV, now what? Before you hit the road on your first trip, take some time to learn all about your new rig. This includes testing all of its features—things like your shower, stove and air-conditioning—practicing your set-up and take-down process and, finally, doing a test drive to a nearby campground. Here are Stacey’s tips for ensuring you know everything about your new RV, both inside and out.

  1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

    Your RV’s owner’s manual is an excellent place to start. This will include detailed information about all of the moving parts in your RV and how to properly use them. Take some time to read through the whole manual, and take notes if needed. Having an initial idea of how the different systems operate is really helpful before you start testing and using everything.

  2. Test All Of Your Systems

    Once you’ve read through your owner’s manual, then it’s time to start testing all of your features and systems. This could include:

    • Running the water in your kitchen and bathroom
    • Testing the shower, sinks and toilet
    • Testing your kitchen appliances (stove, oven, refrigerator)
    • Checking all of the interior and exterior lights
    • Pulling your awning in and out
    • Pulling your slide outs in and out
    • Checking your tanks and learning how to monitor your tank levels
    • Testing your heating and air-conditioning
    • Checking your water pump, propane tank, batteries, and generator

    As you start to test all of your systems and features, keep note of which ones run off propane versus electricity and how you can switch between the two. For any running water, be sure and know the difference between when you’re connected to a water hook-up versus needing to use your tanks and water pump. If you’re unsure about any of the systems or what their power source might be, you can always reference your owner’s manual or call your RV’s manufacturer.

  3. Once you’ve mastered the inside of your RV, it’s time to move to the outside. While your RV is still parked, pretend you’ve just arrived at your camping destination and do a full campsite set-up. This could include:

    1. Putting your wheel chocks down
    2. Putting your stabilizers down
    3. Unhitching your RV from your tow vehicle (if you have a towable RV)
    4. Leveling your RV
    5. Locating your exterior hoses and knowing how to connect them
    6. Locating your propane tank and knowing how to unhook and fill it
    7. Learning how to lock and unlock your RV's door(s)
  4. The final step is to take your RV on a test drive. This not only includes practicing hitching and driving your new RV, but also going to an established campground and doing a “camping trial run.” Spending a night or two at a nearby campground with hook-ups is a great way to get some hands-on experience with your RV. Having hook-ups will allow you to test all of your water and electrical systems, but you can also unhook and pretend to boondock. Pretending to boondock will give you a good idea of how long various systems and features can last, including your freshwater reserves, your batteries and your propane tank.

There’s always a learning curve when you try something new, but with some preparation, practice and patience, you’ll come to understand everything there is to know about your new RV. Staying safe and prepared is key, and hopefully these tips will help jumpstart your exciting new RV journey.

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