Here are 9 pop up camper maintenance tips because we like to believe that pop-up campers can be so many things – comfortable, beautiful, rustic, versatile, and safe.
To make your road trips as smooth as possible, you’ll want to take care of your pop-up camper so that it can take care of you on your adventures. This is where regular maintenance comes in – and it’s not as impossible as it sounds!
- Always Use the Right Cleaning Products
- Waterproof Your Windows from Water (and the Rain)
- Don’t Forget the Awning
- Clean the Camper’s AC Filter
- Inspect your Camper Tires
- Check the Battery
- Apply a Protectant to Your Camper Exterior
- Use a Stabilizer Kit to Protect Your Camper Awning
- Test the Camper
- Pop Up Camper Maintenance Summary
We have created a list of our 9 favorite (and simple) pop up camper maintenance tips that may not be on your checklist.
Always Use the Right Cleaning Products
My first pop up camper maintenance tip is very important. Even though your dishwashing liquid cuts through grease and grime like clockwork, it’s not the thing to use on your pop-up camper’s finish.
Doing so could shorten the life of important oils on your camper’s finish. Use it repeatedly, and you could damage the paint job. Instead of dishwashing liquid (or any other general-purpose cleaners), use a cleaner formulated for RVs.
This is because regular soap often contains harmful chemicals that could damage the surfaces and fabrics of your pop-up camper.
Waterproof Your Windows from Water (and the Rain)
The last thing anyone wants is for water to slowly seep into your camper after a few minutes in the rain. This is why it’s important to weatherproof your camper’s windows to keep the interiors free from water damage.
Start by inspecting the putty-like seal around the windows of your camper. You may have to re-seal each window if the original factory seals have worn out.
Simply apply some silicone caulk around the exterior of the window frames (make sure they are dry). Allow the silicone caulk to dry within 24 hours.
Don’t Forget the Awning
Before you start cleaning your camper awning, find out what material you’re working with. This is important because cleaning for a fabric awning is not the same as properly caring for a vinyl awning. Most vinyl camper canopies are made from marine vinyl, while fabric canopies are solution-dyed acrylic fabric.
Use a special RV cleaner designed to work on both fabrics and vinyl. Follow this up by using a surface protectant (use this for fabric and this for vinyl). Depending on how much you use your awnings, regular cleanings may be required more or less frequently.
Pro-tip #1: Be as gentle with the scrubbing as possible because it can wear down the fabric and water-repellant coating.
Pro-tip #2: Allow the awning to dry completely before you roll up and store it. Give at least three days to dry to eliminate the risk of mold and mildew growth.
Clean the Camper’s AC Filter
While your camper AC is working, the outside air is constantly circulating through it. This air is not clean and contains all kinds of contaminants that could damage your AC. Most camper air conditioners use a filter system to catch the contaminants.
The filter system must be cleaned properly to get rid of the debris built upon it. The dirty filter will restrict the effectiveness of your camper’s cooling system and force it to draw more energy to achieve the desired temperature settings.
To clean the filter, take it out of the camper and run a vacuum on medium settings to remove the visible dust from the surface.
Next, wash the filter in a mix of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Allow the filter to dry. You can also use a soft brush to remove the grime off the filter. Once the filter has completely dried, put it back into the AC and reinstall the cover.
Inspect your Camper Tires
As a general rule, you should inspect your camper tires once every month. Keeping them properly inflated is essential in order to prevent flats.
Remember, the wear and tear is much worse on pop-up campers because they tend to carry too much weight. It also goes without saying that your camper should use specially designed tires that can withstand the higher operating pressures.
Pro tip: Buy a tire pressure gauge and check the pressure before going out.
Check the Battery
Batteries are a must-have for pop-up campers these days to provide electricity and heat when spending time off-grid.
They are essential for amenities like air conditioning, heating, lighting, cooking, and more. Make sure to never overcharge your batteries (especially if they don’t have an automatic system to stop charging when full).
Apply a Protectant to Your Camper Exterior
This pop up camper maintenance is super easy to do. Apply a coat of high-quality wax to protect your camper’s exterior. We understand this can be time-consuming, depending on how large your camper is, but it’s well worth the effort.
Just make sure the exterior is dry before you start waxing, and always spot test on a small area.
Use a Stabilizer Kit to Protect Your Camper Awning
We highly recommend using a stabilizer kit if you camp in areas with high wind speeds. This will protect your camper awning from haplessly flailing against the wind currents, which can damage the fabric and parts.
This device may not be necessary for you, so make sure to do your homework before deciding if it’s needed. This one made by Carefree is my recommended kit.
Test the Camper
Make sure your pop-up camper is road-worthy before taking it out for a drive. Do a quick test drive on the local freeway and keep your eyes peeled for signs of trouble, including weird noises and vibrations.
Don’t assume everything is fine just because you drive the camper every day. Roll down the windows and turn off the music – do you hear your wheels groaning or moaning? This could be a bad wheel bearing. Does the camper pull? Check for worn-out tires or problems with the alignment.
Pop Up Camper Maintenance Summary
Consider checking off each camper maintenance item listed above before you leave because if your pop-up camper acts up later, it could ruin your entire day (or vacation). It’s not fun waiting for a mechanic to fetch new tires while you’re camping.