Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Essential RV Parts and Tools to Carry While On the Road

Can You Fix It?

By Alan Lidstone

One of the goals of all RVers is to carry a tool box, but never have to open it. Unfortunately, since RVs are essentially rolling homes loaded with the conveniences that make traveling and relaxing more fun, we have to be prepared to “fix” something that is not working quite right or not working at all.

Carrying the right tools, spare RV parts, and batteries can help to avoid a service call or visit or the need to buy a replacement product. It’s important for RVers to consider what may be needed to keep the RV happy and keep everything on or in the RV working properly.

For starters, make sure you have the Operation and Maintenance documents for the RV and all the systems and equipment in the RV when you are out on the road. Besides operating information, the documents and brochures usually provide excellent troubleshooting steps to take when the equipment is not operating properly. Also, make sure you have the necessary information to contact emergency roadside service providers and extended warranty or continuing service plan providers. It's always important to be aware of local RV services available in the areas you will be traveling.

We strongly recommend that all RVers travel with an air pressure gauge and an air compressor (that can reach all tires) to keep all tires properly inflated, along with a jack capable of lifting the RV, triangular reflective safety markers (in case of breakdown), and wheel chocks. Keeping the last set of windshield wipers and engine belts when you replace them may help you or another RVer should the need arise.

An RV tool box should include a flashlight and spare batteries, 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch socket set including a 3/8- to-1/2-inch adapter and extensions, an open-end hex wrench set, a heavy-duty adjustable wrench, pliers, work gloves, safety glasses, slotted and Phillips head screwdrivers, a rubber mallet, and a hammer. You may also want to consider a battery-powered 3/8-inch electric drill and drill set.

Some other items that RVers should carry are silicone spray lubricant, silicone adhesive (tube), electrical tape, WD-40 lubricant, Kwik-Lube lubricant (for steps and slides), and heavy-duty duct tape (handy for leaks and temporary repairs). RVs with slideouts or leveling systems may require special tools to retract the slides or leveling system in the event of malfunction. Please consult your manual for those essentials.

Having battery jumper cables, a battery filler container, and a specific-gravity tester will enable you to check (and jump) batteries when necessary. RVers should also carry extra engine oil, hydraulic fluid for the transmission, brake fluid, and windshield cleaner.

Also helpful is a one-gallon water bottle (can be filled from RV fresh water tank) and funnel for adding water to your radiator.

You can easily buy just about everything you need at dollar stores, automotive stores, discount stores such as K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and Big Lots, and home supply stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. We recommend that you leave an extra set of tools in the RV.

RVs have lots of lights. We recommend you carry spare light bulbs for all interior and exterior RV lighting needs, including light fixtures as well as all exterior marker, tail, directional, and backup lights. Carry spare batteries for the smoke detectors, cameras, emergency radio, and all entertainment system remotes to get the most from your entertainment and personal electronics gadgets and ensure personal safety.

Don’t forget silicon spray for crank-up and electric-powered TV antennas and satellite dish antennas as well as manuals for these and all entertainment system equipment onboard (TVs, DVD, VCR, radios, video switch, etc.).

We had a poor video switch connection temporally disable our TV antenna and satellite dish, losing any ability to get TV weather information during a hurricane evacuation. Fortunately, we were able to rely on our NOAA emergency radio as our only source for real-time information. The video switch maintenance instructions provided the information we needed to restore video switch operation.

Consider purchasing and setting up a universal remote for use with all installed entertainment system equipment as a backup in case of loss or malfunction of an existing remote.

Most entertainment system equipment operates on 120-volt AC power. We recommend you carry an inexpensive backup inverter (at least 600 watts) to power up equipment for situations where there is no shore power or you do not want to power up a generator.

Whether you are at your home base or on the road, things are bound to break down. Having spare RV parts are essential. You’ll find that “Be Prepared,” the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, often means a good outcome for most RV problems.

Alan Lidstone is a freelance author and writer living in southwest Florida. Alan, and his wife, Barbara, co-authored RVs - Getting out and STAYING Out, from Fulcrum Publishing of Golden, Colorado, and they write and publish the Roads ‘n Toads website and the 24-page Roads 'n Toads - RVing in Florida newsletter providing timely information on activities and products that help RVers get the most from the RV lifestyle.

Search for RV dealers who offer RV services and repairs.