RV 101® – RV Generator Preventive Maintenance

Your RV generator is powered by an internal combustion engine. When it comes to maintenance internal combustion engines need two things to operate properly and help prolong engine life; it needs fresh air and clean oil.

It only takes about 20 minutes to change your generator’s engine oil and filter and to clean or replace the air filter. Here’s how you do it:


The first step is to start and run the generator for a couple of minutes. This warms the oil up making it easier to drain the crankcase. Just keep in mind the engine, oil filter and oil itself will be warm so be careful. Shut the engine off, place a drain pan under the oil drain plug or tube and drain the old oil.

When the oil stops draining you can remove the oil filter. Note: Not all generators use oil filters, and depending on the type and model of generator you have the location of the oil filter can vary. Consult your generator owner’s manual for more information.

Wipe the  area on the engine where the filter installs with a clean rag. Put a thin layer of clean oil around the rubber gasket on the new oil filter and reinstall the filter. Snug the filter to get a good seal, but do to over-tighten it.

Using a funnel add the recommended type and amount of new oil to the crankcase. Consult your generator owner’s manual for oil viscosity and capacity.

Start and run the generator for about 30 seconds. Shut it off, wait a few seconds for the oil to drain back into the pan and check the oil level. Adjust the oil level as required. Check for any oil leaks around the oil filter and oil drain plug or tube.

Internal combustion engines are basically big air pumps. The engine needs clean air to operate properly. Remove the air filter housing cover and check the air filter for cleanliness and for any dirt and debris.

Sometimes it’s possible to clean an air filter, but for the cost of a new filter it’s easier to just replace it, and your engine will thank you for it. Usage on a generator is based on hours. Check the hour meter and record the oil, oil filter and air filter replacement in the maintenance section of the generator owner’s manual.

That’s all there is to a 20 minute RV generator service. Follow the service intervals recommended by the generator manufacturer and your generator will always be there for you when you need it.

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk


RV Online Training 

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