Our Biggest RV Mistakes
It’s typical when you start anything new to make some mistakes as you get the hang of it. Although we had been camping with our family for years with a pop-up trailer and then a travel trailer, we still had a lot to learn about camping with a fifth wheel and a dually truck. Here are some of the biggest mistakes we’ve made thus far.
You may have seen those truck tailgates that dip down in the center to allow a fifth wheel hitch to slide right over without contact. We don’t have one of those. We stuck with a traditional tailgate to keep anything in our truck bed secure under our Tonneau cover.
The very first time we took our fifth wheel out for a test run, we got set up and disconnected from the truck just fine. But, we kept the truck bed underneath the hitch while Bob worked on the electrical connection. With his job complete, he closed the tailgate and went to drive the truck away from the trailer.
BAM! The whole trailer shook. I emerged from inside it to see what had happened … and discovered our dented tailgate. Closing the tailgate before driving away from the trailer put the tailgate in the direct line of the kingpin. A crash was inevitable — and expensive to fix.
We ordered a new tailgate from Amazon, painted to match the color of our truck. The first one we received arrived dented. So, we ordered another one. As you can imagine, our Amazon driver wasn’t too happy with us. The second one arrived intact, and Bob replaced it on Gulliver. Now we always follow a checklist when hooking up to and unhooking from Tagalong.
Although the control panel in our trailer shows gauges for two gray tanks, we thought one valve controlled emptying both of them. And every time we opened the cap to drain our sewer, meaning both black and gray tanks, we’d get some leakage.
We had a mobile RV repair tech come out to our rig for an evaluation, and he suggested we get a see-through attachment with a built-in valve that we could connect to our sewer pipe to help us see if leakage continued. We tried that for about a week and, sure enough, leakage continued.
So, we had the mobile RV tech come back out to replace the leaky gray valve. He and a partner showed up and completed the job and gave us the $350 bill. Before they left, he informed us we have two gray tanks and showed us the location of the valve for the second one.
Most likely, we threw $350 down the toilet (pun intended) because the second gray valve had been open the whole time. And that was the real cause of the leakage.
While en route to a beautiful campground on the Mississippi River on the Minnesota/Wisconsin line, we encountered quite a few low-hanging branches. Bob did a great job slowing down and maneuvering to one side of the road or the other to avoid as many of them as possible, and we successfully made it to our campsite.
Upon examination of the roof after arrival, Bob noticed a ruffle in the rubber membrane of our roof covering. Upon closer examination, he discovered our TV antenna had been pulled up from the roof, a screw in the corner protruding. And this snag on the TV antenna had pulled the rubber membrane partially out from under the nose cap of the trailer.
When we had packed up at our previous site to head to this one, I checked the TV antenna from inside but, unfortunately, didn’t turn it all the way to the proper direction so that it wouldn’t catch on tree branches. The way it was positioned left it prime for snagging any low-hanging branches we encountered.
With rain in the forecast, we had to scramble to fix the issue to avoid leakage inside the trailer. So, we bought some specialized roofing tape and self-leveling roofing sealant, and Bob pulled the membrane back into place as best as possible and resealed the popped-up screw on the antenna enclosure. This turned out to be a cheaper fix, and we’ve had no trouble since.
Now, we always make sure we follow our checklist, and I double-check that the antenna is facing the right direction for travel before we go anywhere.
If you’d like to learn about more of our mistakes, you might enjoy:
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2/5/2021 03:20:02 pm
Interesting. Especially liked seeing the pictures. Thx.
2/7/2021 06:47:04 am
So sorry to hear about your RV mishaps. But I really appreciate your honesty. You may have saved lots of people from making the same mistakes. Glad your healthy again. God bless you both.
2/16/2022 06:00:45 am
It's awesome that this article talked about there was still a lot of learning to do when we went camping with our family for years, first in a pop-up camper and later in a travel trailer. I'm glad that you explain it thoroughly and now it makes more sense. You did a great job of explaining mobile camper repair.
9/12/2022 05:45:05 pm
I love that you talked that you should consider having a test run to check the quality of your project. A couple of days ago, my father mentioned he was planning to have an RV gate in their home to have a more convenient entry, and he asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. I like this instructive article, I'll tell him they can consult a trusted RV gates service as they can help provide more information about the process.
12/14/2022 02:24:23 pm
Thanks so much for talking a bit about the issues that RV trailers can have. My brother has an RV and he wants to make sure it's all good to go for the spring season. We've been looking at finding local repair shops to take it to get fixed up.
3/13/2023 06:06:28 am
My wife and I recently got an RV, so we want to make sure that we take good care of it. It makes sense that getting the right repairs would be important. I'll make sure that we work with a repair tech that has a good reputation so we can ensure we get the proper fixes.
3/15/2023 08:41:01 am
Congratulations, Braden! I hope you enjoy RV life as much as we do.
4/10/2023 06:26:37 pm
I'm glad you talked that prioritizing the proper function of your control panel could help prevent leakage. I have a cousin who has an RV and he was hoping to find an RV repair servicing that could provide engine parts because he's not able to use his RV due to a transmission problem. Thank you for the tips on how he can find a service that can help him with his concern, I'll tell him the advice that I learned so that he can use his RV again.
5/3/2023 08:04:32 am
It made sense when you mentioned that the test run had your fifth wheel taken out. My friend wants to secure the performance of his vehicle. I should advise him to look for an auto service to maintain his car.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.