RV 101 – How to Increase Vehicle Engine’s Life

Today I want to talk about some easy ways to increase the life of your tow vehicle or RV’s engine. There are lots of ways to increase engine life in a vehicle, but I want to narrow the list to what I consider the most important. Let’s get started.

A little preventive maintenance (PM) now pays big dividends in the long run. So, what can we do to extend the life of your tow vehicle, motorhome, generator or automobile’s engine?

Routine Oil and Oil Filter Changes

This is number one on my list. I know people who I think change their engine oil and filter more than it is necessary, but it is usually the other way around. You should follow the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines for changing the engine oil and filter. If possible, try to change the oil and oil filter prior to any long-term storage. Acids accumulate in used oil and can corrode the engine bearings. Don’t forget the generator oil and filter, too.

Help the Engine Breathe

A dirty or clogged air filter can rob life from your engine. When the engine can breathe properly it will last longer, and it is more fuel efficient. Recommendations for checking and replacing air filters are normally based on driving conditions. It only takes a couple minutes to check the air filter. I check mine whenever I change the engine oil, and the filter gets replaced if it is dirty.

Pay Attention to Service Intervals

The vehicle manufacturer recommends service intervals for a reason. You guessed it, to maximize efficiency and extend the life of the engine. Whether it’s a diesel or gasoline engine it’s important you pay attention to and follow these recommended service intervals. If you do not perform your own routine maintenance, find a local dealership, or repair shop you can trust and put the vehicle on a routine service schedule.

Keep it Running Cool

Clean engine oil lubricates moving parts and extends the engine’s life, and clean engine antifreeze helps the internal components of the engine stay cool. Follow the engine manufacturer’s guidelines for flushing and replacing the coolant (make sure you use the proper type of coolant for the engine). Every time you lift the hood, check the coolant level, and inspect coolant hoses for damage. Coolant hoses deteriorate from the inside out. Inspect all hoses for wear, cracks, soft spots, brittle areas, and leaks. Replace any damaged hoses or hose clamps as required.

Perform Pre-Trip Checks

Before moving the tow vehicle or RV, make the following checks concerning the engine. Check all fluid levels in the power steering reservoir, engine coolant, engine oil, windshield washer and brake fluid. Check the transmission fluid while you are at it. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for the proper procedures to check and add fluids. Start the engine, allow it to reach operating temperature and check for proper readings on all gauges. Look under the vehicle for signs of leaks. Have any leaks checked out and repaired before using the vehicle.

Driving is Important too

Smart drivers can extend the life of their vehicle engine. Always warm an engine up before driving. Do not race a cold engine; accelerate slowly until the engine is up to operating temperature. Avoid quick starts and fast stops whenever possible. Always monitor your gauges. If a gauge is reading outside of the normal operating range, pull over when it is safe and have it checked/repaired.

Proper Storage Procedures

Proper storage procedures can extend the life of your engine, whereas improper procedures can harm the life of your engine. I already mentioned changing the oil and oil filter prior to long-term storage (say three or more months) can help your engine. Acids accumulate in used oil and can corrode the engine bearings. Start the engine periodically when the motorhome is in storage and run it until it reaches operating temperature. Fill the fuel tank and add a fuel preservative to the tank. Run the engine and generator (if equipped) long enough to get the preservative through the fuel system. Protect the engine compartment from critters. Squirrels and mice love to chew on plastic, rubber, and anything else they can find, and a vehicle engine compartment makes a safe and cozy winter home. If the RV is stored outside, I recommend starting the engine more often to deter these critters from calling it home.

If the RV has a generator exercise it on a regular basis. When you run the generator make sure there is at least a ½-rated load on it. Check your generator owner’s manual for instructions on exercising it.

I mentioned earlier there are many other factors that can extend the life of your engine, but I think these are some of the most important. If any one of these items is not properly maintained, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. Maintaining your vehicles engine is not that difficult to do, and in times of uncertainty it is what I would call cheap insurance.

To learn more about using and maintaining your RV visit RV Online Training

Happy Camping

Mark J. Polk

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