RVs provide a freedom that is hard to find anywhere else. The ability to travel anywhere you wish, always certain of accommodation wherever you may be. Camping lacks versatility so it’s easy to see why so many of us love the RV life.

Buying an RV is a significant investment, a worthwhile one of course but there is no getting around the fact that they are expensive. One question that is frequently asked is how long a new RV will last. That matters not to those buying new a RV but anyone thinking of saving money by purchasing a used one.

Extending your RV’s life

It makes sense to take action and do what you can to extend the life of your RV. If your RV is brand new, you should start right away. For those who have RVs that have a few miles under their tires, getting everything checked over and back to its best now and then ensuring it stays that way with regular checkups is the way.

Why is this a good idea? Because keeping your RV in good shape can mean 20 years or more life, that is double the industry expectation. Yes, it does mean spending money on maintenance but that is significantly less than a new RV every 10 years.

Taking care of the weak spot

We begin with an area that is traditionally the cause of many problems for RV’s and travel trailers of all kinds: the roof. This is perhaps the weakest point of the RV, it is continually exposed to all kinds of weather, UV rays from the sun and depending where you park - tree sap. For inexperienced drivers it is also one of the more common areas to suffer damage from driver error. The problem is, in many cases the roof is out of sight and out of mind, and that leads to neglect. When was the last time you cleaned the roof of your RV? If you can’t remember, it’s probably too long ago.

If you are buying a used RV, get up on the roof and take a good look around or get a mechanic to do it for you. You are looking for any obvious damage, cracks or other failure points that could lead to problems later. If you do this yourself, there are a couple of points to remember. Always walk with care, spreading your weight as evenly as possible to avoid causing problems yourself. The roof will last 10 years that the industry says but you can take measures to keep it intact for much longer. You can’t stop everything of course; bad weather is part of life and your roof will be exposed to it at some point but there are things you can do, particularly when the RV is not in use, it can make a difference.

The biggest factor regarding the wear on your roof is the weather. Not just harsh rain, wind, ice and snow but extended exposure to the sun and its UV rays. The more you shield your RV’s roof from the elements when you are not using it the better.

An RV cover or even a tarp will provide a level of protection that can have an effect over time and help maintain your RV roof. Protection helps avoid damage but to keep your RV on the road for longer, you also need to be proactive with maintenance.

Maintaining your RV Roof

Whether in a barn or under a carport your roof will definitely be safe but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Maintenance is essential and you need to be proactive so don’t wait for the problems to appear.

A regular check of the roof (around every 4 to 6 months) is sufficient to see issues before they become potential problems. Look for any wear or damage to seams, cracks or other issues that could allow water to get inside. Examine the roof finish; you are looking for dull areas where the glossy waterproof coating may be worn, as that is an area that could fail in the future. Once you have checked everything completely, carry out any repairs as soon as possible. Don’t be tempted to leave problems until you are sorting your next trip.

For areas where the finish is dulled and worn, a roll on sealer is a great solution should there be cracks or punctures use caulk-style sealant to fill the gap. You can have a specialist repair this for you if you are unsure but the repairs are quite simple and most of us can manage ourselves.

Your RV can last for many trips

There are other aspects to your RV that will need regular attention of course. The mechanical parts should follow suggested servicing schedules and for safety you should regularly check tires, brakes and so on anyway.

But the biggest cause of RV issue is the roof. However, by following these simple steps and paying attention, you can enjoy your RV for more than 10 years with 25-30 years possible if well looked after; make the effort to maintain everything mentioned and your RV will have many miles ahead.