Basic RV Generator Maintenance: What to Review Annually

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Most of the appliances and equipment in your RV will run on electricity, which is provided by a generator adding power to the batteries. Your RV generator is your power source when you don’t have the opportunity to plug into an outlet at a traditional campground. While most RVers would rather plug in an extension cord than run a generator to get power, the gennie is still a useful piece of equipment that can keep the lights on during long stretches between campgrounds.

Like any other piece of equipment, generator maintenance is crucial so that it stays in top running order. Keeping a generator running is a simple matter of making sure the oil in the motor is fresh and the air filter is clean. If you’re comfortable changing the oil in your car or truck, doing basic generator maintenance each year on your RV will be a simple task.

In this video, you’ll learn how to determine the difficulty in doing the generator maintenance yourself, based on where the generator is housed. If you have to drop the generator from the housing in order to change the oil, you may want to seek professional help. Otherwise, your owner’s manual is full of vital information when it comes to generator maintenance. Inside you’ll find how often the oil and air filter should be changed – which is generally based on the number of operating hours, or on an annual basis. Also, you’ll find how to change the filter and type of oil to use. You’ll need to understand the simple process of draining the used oil from the tank, and where to add the new clean oil. Keeping up on the generator maintenance is just another crucial piece in owning an RV!

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9 Responses to “Basic RV Generator Maintenance: What to Review Annually”
  1. Dan

    This is the same model I have in my 97 Itasca Sunrise, great unit, boo docked several hot nights at truck stops with it going. Mine does not hold 4 qts tho, puzzled me when I changed oil, only holds about 2.5 which is what is stated on side of unit, but manual calls for 4. Also, neither interior starter switch will start unit, but they both will kill unit, so they are hooked up, I’m guessing a bad ground somewhere. I recently reworded the jacks and slide and discovered 10 ft of additional wiring that served no purpose. This was factory flaw, surprised original owner never had it corrected. By removing the rogue wires the Aux Start Switch and Aux radio And battery cutoff switches now function, they were dead before. Odd.

    Reply
  2. Kemie

    I have a Onan 5500, will not keep running in very hot weather 90 and above high humidity. It will run about 5 or 10 minutes then cuts off and will not restart for about 1 hour. Cooler temps runs perfect. Any ideas on this.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Kemie. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your generator issue. Check your oil level first as it has a low oil switch that will typically allow the genset to start but shut it down if it’s too low or too high! Also clean the air flow fins to make sure it’s getting enough air. If you have verified these areas and it still stops, check to make sure you have spark and fuel during the none start condition. If you do, it might be a faulty low oil switch.

      Reply
  3. Tom Shain

    Have an Onan tried to start it and but does not kick over. Have not ran it for a while. Could it be a dirty fuel filter.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Tom,

      To provide more troubleshooting information regarding your Onan not starting issue we need the model and year as well as a little more information. When you state it “tries to start but will not kick over” does this mean it turns over like a normal start, just will not spark and run, or does it just click or turn a couple of times? If it just clicks or turns slow, it’s either a low battery or could be a starter issue. If it turns over normally but doesn’t fire, it’s either spark or fuel, so yes it could be a dirty fuel filter, but more likely it’s a varnished carburetor? Gas generators need to be started once a month and run with at least 1/2 load for 30 minutes. You will need to take the carburetor apart and clean it.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Craig,

      We are sorry that you are not able to play this video. We have tested the video successfully. We would suggest trying to clear your cache/internet history. We also suggest using browsers like Chrome or Firefox. If you are still not able to access the video successfully, please contact our customer service team at 1-855-706-3536, and they will troubleshoot the problem with you over the phone.

      Thanks,
      Becky RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  4. Leonard

    Aren’t you supposed to warm the engine before draining the oil? I am a firm believer in a small amount of good info compared to any amount of not good info.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Leonard,

      According to most Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (:OEM) engine
      companies the only advantage of warming the engine is the warmer oil is
      less viscous and will flow faster. Leaving the unit in a heated
      building will do the same, so it just takes a little longer for the oil to
      drain if it’s cold. Some blogs state that warm oil will not stick to
      the inner workings as much and you will drain more oil, however all OEM
      companies claim that it’s not a significant amount to make a
      difference.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply

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