10 Newbie RV Mistakes

There are some common mistakes that new RVers make that should be avoided if possible! Avoiding these 10 common mistakes can save you a lot of headache, hassle and money!

1. Driving Off While Connected

As crazy as it sounds, it has happened. I’ve heard stories. You should always do a walk around before departing from your RV site! Make sure all hookups are disconnected, windows and vents are closed, stairs are up and antenna is down!

Related video: Winegard ConnecT 2.0: Take The Internet Wherever You Go

2. Not Knowing Your Size

It’s imperative that you know the size of your rig. Knowing the height keeps you from attempting bridges, awnings or parking garages that are too low. You need to know your length to know what size site you fit into!

Related video: RV Weight Ratings: Basics And Considerations

3. Not Using a Checklist

Checklists are exceedingly important on moving day. Keep a list handy of everything you need to do in order to pack up and be safely ready to leave a site.

Pre-Trip Checklist

4. Overpacking

You rarely need as much as you think you do! Weight is important in RVs, and the more stuff you cram inside, the more cluttered it will feel and the greater negative impact is has on your gas mileage!

5. Leaving the Awning out

Never leave your awning out when you leave your RV. You never know when a storm could pop up with strong gusts of wind that could rip your awning right off!

Related video: Tips on How to Clean an RV Awning

6. Crushing Your Chocks

Always check to see if you’ve remembered to remove all chocks before rolling away. Failing to do so will result in crushed chocks!

7. Failing to Plan Ahead

There are many things you should plan for when RVing. Calling ahead to reserve an RV site takes the stress out of guessing if there will be room for you if you arrive last minute. Checking a map to see if there is a grocery store near your destination lets you know how much food you should have with you with you arrive, unless you’re willing to do a lot of driving. In some parts of the country, gas stations are few and far between so planning your gas stops is really important. It’s always good to have a plan!

8. Leaving the Ceiling Vent Open

If your ceiling vent doesn’t have a rain sensor, always remember to close it when it starts raining. Leaving it open makes quite a wet mess!

9. Leaving the Black Tank Open

Always keep your black tank closed. Keeping it open allows solids to build up in the tank, creating a “poop pyramid!” Using plenty of water when flushing and keeping the black tank closed can prevent a disgusting dilemma!

Related video, How To Properly Use RV Black Water Tank Chemicals:

10. Not Documenting Your Travels

RVing is a lot of fun! Seeing different parts of the world in your home on wheels is something not everyone gets the opportunity to do. Documenting your travels can be beneficial to yourself and others!

You may choose to remember your adventures through photographs or by keeping a written account of them. Keeping little reminders of RV life that you can look back on or pass down to generations to come is a precious gift. You can also keep track of parks or places you particularly enjoyed so you remember where you want to revisit one day!

With RVing, you’re always learning something. Hopefully this list of common mistakes will get you started on a good foundation to have an incredible RV experience!

Pre-Trip Checklist

About the Author: Lauren is a wife, mother of two, photographer, blogger and lover of nature and adventure! Currently traveling around the U.S. in a fifth wheel, Lauren and her family seek to live life to the fullest and continue to look for ways to simplify their lives in order to live larger with less. Follow along on their journey by visiting their family travel blog.

You might also be interested in:

5 Tips to Improving Fuel-Efficiency
Mapping Your Adventures With an RV Trip Planner
RV Checklist Underside Inspections
Pre-Departure Planning

Comments
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78 Responses to “10 Newbie RV Mistakes”

  1. Karl J Smith

    your article says to not leave the black tank open. Does that include when I am hooked up to an active sewer? I have always left my gray and black tank valves in the open position when I am hooked up to a sewer with no problems. Thank you for further information on this

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hey Karl!

      That’s a great question!

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

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      Reply
    • Mike Stodelle

      Close your black tank while parked. You need the more full tank to dump otherwise the solids won’t all clear out. Also you get odors from sewer in your coach.

      Reply
    • Paul

      I urge you to keep both gray and black valves closed while you are camping. It will keep sewer odors down. Empty Black first using the Gray water to flush out your sewer hose.

      Reply
    • William Thorsby

      Leaving the black tank drain open allowed the liquid to drain faster than the solids. Your best to keep it closed allowing the liquid to help break down the solids. Then when you do drain it will flush out easier.

      Reply
    • Bradley Swift

      I have always left the grey and black closed while camping. Allowing the tanks to fill up gives you a better chance of clearing the tanks out better.

      Reply
    • John Wiegers

      Always keep your black tank valve CLOSED until at least 3/4 full. Then dump and use grey water tank to flush or at least use quite a bit of water to flush black tank.

      Reply
    • Lexie Gillmore

      I’ve been told by people in the know (they sell and repair rv’s) to leave your black tank closed even when parked because the solid waste can dry out and become had if you leave it open. I drain my black water tank about every two weeks. As for the gray water tank the same people say it is okay (the recommend it) to leave your gray water tank open when parked

      Reply
      • F. Lamar Allen Jr (My Phone)

        Leaving the grey water closed until it’s time clear out the hose after draining the black water tank.

        Reply
    • ik

      YES, the author means for you to NEVER leave your black tank valve left open. Exactly as she describes, if you leave it open while connected to the campgrounds sanitary sewer, all the water will flow away and you will be left with a “solid sh-t pyramid!” BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! Not easily rectified! If this happens, you need to buy one of those “Whirly-bird water-hose attachments and go in from the top of the tank (toilet side) and “whirly-bird” the brown pyramid” away. Listen to the smart lady author!

      Reply
    • Tony

      Nope leave them closed until you want to dump. Gas odor from septic and no pressure to push solids out!

      Reply
    • Ivan

      You were talking about black water tanks, we leave close while stop, and after emptying them, we usually put some water in it and put some solution in for traveling to splash around to help clean it to prevent any thing from drying up to hell keep it clean

      Reply
  2. frank ellis

    Where would smell come from? Could it be skimming off of holding tank? I’m worried septing tank draining into fresh water supply, but others do not have problem!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi there Frank!

      That’s a great question!

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

      Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

      1. Click on the email link: https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c19138
      2. Click on the Premium Membership offer.
      3. The Checkout page will display your Premium Membership purchase.
      4. Fill in your Billing Details and create an account password.
      5. Fill in your debit/credit card information.
      6. Finish by clicking Complete Order.

      If you have any further questions, please contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3536 at your earliest convenience, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  3. Cassandra Lista

    The thermostat defies programming. I want an easier to program thermostat or a non digital thermostat!

    Reply
  4. Robert Riegler

    Only been doing this for about two years. Always looking for new sources of information,storage ideas,etc. Have done several three month trips. Headed out to NM and AZ again March~~Mid May.

    Reply
  5. cg ramos

    Where is the location of winterizer attachment to add it and the bypass hose on this particular model? 33′ hurricane.

    Reply
  6. Robert

    My 5th wheel is 13’4″ high, are there maps with height limitations other than truck routes?

    Reply
  7. Jim Johnson

    How do you effectively get the attention of an RV manufacturer about improving design features? Our RV trailer is seasonally stationary and the black water tank never fully flushes. Auto level RV?-check, only drain when 2/3+ full?-check,RV TP?-check, use plenty of water?-check, use potable soft water?-check, use trailer’s built-in tank flush at every drain?-check (separate hose with no pressure restriction), use tank chemicals?-tried many. The only solutions so far are to pull the trailer down a bumpy road with a half-full tank for agitation (I did say seasonally stationary right? Besides, doesn’t always work.), or pull a separate hose with no pressure restriction through the RV door into the bathroom twice a month and flush through the toilet with a Camco flex wand at least until the sensors finally read zero and output is sparkling clear. FYI, this trailer model has an insulated bottom that prevents access to tanks or other mechanicals.

    Reply
  8. Wayne Downing

    I think the most important thing you can do is do a walk around the camper before you leave. Remember how you pack the RV just in case you have to rearrange in case of bad traveling or even good traveling. While traveling check you hitch assembly. Make sure your not overweight

    Reply
  9. Richard

    Most people drive a car till they retire then if they can afford it they buy the largest RV possible, so when making left or especially right turns you may have to pull partly into the left hand lane so that your rear tires or trailer completely clear the sidewalks or ditches.
    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen smashed tow vehicles or trailer sides damaged because people think the turning radius is the same as their car or pickup.

    Reply
    • Tom Horton

      Also, if you are in a parking lot watch your blind spot when making a sharp turn. Had a lady pull up next to me when I was making a sharp turn and I scraped the side of her car.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Nemia!

      We’d love to offer some advice!

      Is there a particular piece of advise that you’re looking for? Let us know by replying to this comment and I’ll send it to our experts!

      Thank you!

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  10. Steven Kay

    1 outlet has failed and trying to replace I noticed that it doesn’t look like any outlet I’ve seen before

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Paul!

      We’d love to help out!

      What is the year, make, and model of your RV?

      Thank you!

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Charles,

      It depends on the model but there are usually screws on the faceplate that need removed. Sometimes the glass panel lifts straight up and then can be pulled forward to gain access to the screws. There are hundreds of different styles of fireplaces and all are different but usually you just need to figure out how the glass on the front lifts off and then you should find access to the screws. Some models also have fascia pieces on the sides that just pop off and you don’t even have to mess with the glass. Again, there are many different styles so it is best to look at the owners manual for the fireplace to find out how it can be removed.

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  11. Robert & Vickie Bohannon

    Your article says to not leave the black tank open. Does that include when I am hooked up to an active sewer? I know people who always leave their gray and black tank valves in the open position while hooked up to a sewer with no problems. My son-in-law does. I wait till they are half or better full before dumping. Which is correct?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Robert,

      You never want to leave the black open, even when connected to a sewer. You want to leave the valve closed to allow the water to fill up and give the chemicals in the tank time to digest the solids into liquids. When you leave the valves open the liquids will run out and the solids will build up on the inside and will eventually turn into what is called the “pyramid affect”. When using the facilities you have to add chemicals to the black tank. These chemicals digest and liquefy all contents so when you go to open the valve it all flushes out. The holding tanks in RV’s are not made to setup directly to a sewer. They are holding tanks, not sewer lines. If you only put liquids into the toilet you can leave the valves open but other than that you have to leave them closed to prevent any issues. The same goes for the gray, as long as there isn’t solids going into the tank you can leave it open. If you rinse off foods into the sink then you want to keep the valves closed. This will give a good flush of the tank contents and will pull out the solids. Leave the valves open also creates a lot of smells from the vent pipe on the roof. On hot summer days, you can always tell who has their valves open because the smell from the sewer goes directly to the open vent on the roof. You can also use the water from the gray tank to flush out the sewer hose after dumping. With all of these reasons, there is no good reason to leave the valves open. You always want them closed.

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello William!

      Could you tell us more about what your question is and what is the year, make, and model of your RV?

      Thank you!

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  12. Tracy Rice

    My a/c unit keeps tripping the main breaker. What could be causing this?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Tracy,

      Thank you for contacting us. Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. By becoming a member, you will have access to our expert’s knowledge in RV repair. With your membership you will also receive discounts on products and hours of Premium video content.

      If you are interested in becoming a member to RV Repair Club, please click on the special offer below:

      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C22856

      If you have any further questions, please chat, email, or contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3536.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Joan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
    • Gil

      The front slides behind the driver side is coming out very slowly like in 24 hours comes out one inch

      Reply
  13. Marc Lacasse

    While bringing in the living room/dining room extension, I accidentally left the washroom door open. The extension pushed the door to the point that it ripped off its hinges and left the wall damaged. I am now wondering how to repair that wall separating the living area from the washroom since now the washroom door will no long close properly. Looking for advise

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Marc,

      Thank you for contacting us. Sorry for the inconvenience but the expert will need the make, model and the year of the RV. Please resubmit your question and include that information.

      If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Joan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Tammie,

      Great question! I will need more information from you. Please resubmit your question and include the year, make and model of your RV?

      Sincerely,

      Joan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  14. Craig Seuzeneau

    Why do a lot of people tow a Jeep and what is the best vehicle is easiest tow with our motor home?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. By becoming a member, you will have access to our expert’s knowledge in RV Repair. With your membership you will also receive discounts on products and hours of Premium video content.

      If you are interested in becoming a member to RV Repair Club, please click on the special offer below:
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C25121

      Thanks!

      Reply
  15. NICK Vacca

    before leaving a park:::::roll down both (or all) windows so that you can hear all your neighbors holler at you for something you for got to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  16. Todd

    When we opened up the camper this last spring we noticed a bad sewer smell. Went to the dealer and picked up the best stuff they had to get rid of sewage and the smell. Nothing they had seemed to work, so they told us to put different roof caps on that spin to suck out the odor. It worked for the main bathroom but not the second half bath. It comes with the built in black water clean out that you hook the water hose to . We did several times on both black water tanks. It still smells, don’t know what else to do. Do you have any suggestions.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Todd. You shouldn’t be getting smells inside. Even with debris in the tanks there should be no smell inside of the RV. You want to check the seal on the toilet valve. When the valve is closed it should hold water and create a barrier to prevent smells. Put some water in the toilet and let it sit for a day. If the water is gone then the valve is bad and is either damage and needs replaced or there is debris in it. If it does hold water then the issue is elsewhere. You want to check under all sinks as well. There is usually a vent cap near the underside of the sink attached to the drain plumbing. This is a vacuum breaker valve to allow air into the tank when draining. If this valve goes bad it will allow fumes from the tank into the living area. These can only be replaced, can’t be repaired. If you remove the valve cap turn it upside down and back. You should hear a cap inside moving. If you don’t hear anything it might be bad. Other things that can cause this are cracked plumbing in the drain or vent pipes. These are harder to locate and fix and are more rare. I would start by checking the toilet seal gasket and the vent caps under the sinks. These are the most common areas to allow tank smells in the living area.
      Dan
      RV Repair Club

      Reply
  17. Peggy D Jackson

    Looking for someone in Middle Tennessee that has experience in redoing the cab over on my RV. I really got took by someone that supposed to have known what he was doing and DID NOT!

    Reply
  18. ross newmann

    this awning is disgraceful as bending in front already, canvas tearing,supports very weak.
    not as good as a roll out, but came with van and have to put up with it. the full van is great only awning problem

    Reply
  19. Jim Coursolle

    When measuring the temp oh tires withns digital thermometer, do I measure hot or cold? Do I measure the sidewall or tread? What is the OK temp I am looking for? When measuring break temp, where do Inpoint the thermometer? And again…do I measure hot or cold and what OK temp am I looking for? I’m a beginner. Thank you very much. Jim

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jim,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      You want to measure it after driving, when you stop for gas or at the destination. Measure at the hub itself, this warms up when applying the brakes. You are looking for about 20-30 degrees warmer than ambient temperature to be in the safe zone. We have a great video going over this with tips on what to do and what to look for.
      https://www.rvrepairclub.com/video/rv-driving-tips-regularly-check-your-brakes-and-tires-008134/

      If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Lindsay
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  20. Tom Englert

    Questioning the one about leaving the black water tank open, I always have it closed except when storing over the winter. years ago a RV repair man told me always leave the black tank open when storing over winter. is that not true??

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. I would be happy to send your question off to the experts. To get started, please send the email associated with your paid membership account. Thanks!
      Jean
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  21. Diana Quaranta

    What is the right water pressure for my rv. I’m new to RVing and will be living in it full time.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. I would be happy to send your question off to the experts. To get started, please send the email associated with your paid membership account. Thanks!

      Reply
  22. Johnathan Jimenez

    My awining lever latch lock is stock, I don’t know what to do. I think might break if I used a plier.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Johnathan,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:
      The best thing to try is to twist the tube of the awning back and forth while trying to operate the lock. If it does not free up then the lever is ceased and most likely the whole spring assembly needs replaced. If you force it with pliers it could break and cause the spring to retract. It won’t really hurt anything if the spring breaks because the spring and lock all need replaced together. The best thing to do is to try to relieve the tension while trying to operate the latch but if it won’t budge it may need a whole new spring assembly.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  23. Quentin Kutrich

    Does this model require a 12 volt battery to operate refrigerator even while hooked up to electric

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Quentin,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      What is the year, make, and model of your RV?

      If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Sarah
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  24. Ron Rosencrans

    We have a 2015 Wolf Pup 16’ BH . It has a spare mounted to back bumper. We’re wondering what size of RV cover to buy and do you recommend a certain brand and quality I should buy.? Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Ron,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

      You want to make sure it is a good breathable RV rated cover. ADCO makes great covers and their new Hydro line are the best that I recommend. With yours being 16′ with the spare tire I would recommend getting the 94837 cover that is for trailers 16′-18′. I will share a link with more info below.
      https://www.adcoprod.com/uvhydro

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  25. Sharon Hyde

    our black tank leaks into the drain pipe..is there a fix to this other than taking it in to a shop? We have tried that and they told us nothing was leaking.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sharon. If there are contents leaking past the gate valve then it either isn’t closing all of the way or the gaskets are bad. Usually just opening and closing the valve a few times can help clear any debris which will close it off better. There are treatments that can be added to the tank to help lubricate the valves and can help with small leak issues. If none of this helps, you will have to take apart the gate valve and see if there is a blockage that needs removed or the gaskets need replaced. This is not easy to do and gets very messy so I recommend trying anything else first.
      Dan
      RV Repair Club

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello James,

      Thank you for contacting us.
      If you really want to you could but they really don’t weigh that much to where it will make a huge difference for traveling. I would think only 100lbs or so depending on the system. They are also kind of a pain to remove and install so I would only do it if you don’t plan on ever fixing them,

      Sincerely,

      Sarah
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  26. Robert Provost

    I canmot get slideout to go out. It is binding at the top and is bending metal at top. RV is all new to me and I truly need help.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Robert,

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. By becoming a member, you will have access to our expert’s knowledge. With your membership you will also receive discounts on products and hundreds of hours of Premium content.

      If you are interested in becoming a member, please click on the offer below:

      https://go.outdoorphotographyguide.com/A37222 Thanks!

      Reply
  27. Theodore Dickerson

    Should I turn off my Hot water heater everytime I leave for the week? Same applies to my propane tanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. By becoming a member, you will have access to our expert knowledge. With your membership you will also receive discounts on products and hundreds of hours of Premium content.

      If you are interested in becoming a member, please click on the offer below:
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C38373
      Thanks!

      Reply
  28. Jim

    Actually, Karl, THAT’s A SILLY QUESTION!” When else might one “leave your black tank valve open?”, when driving down the street???

    Reply