↓Episode 84 – New RV Owners Learn by Trial By Fire!

In episode 84 Eric welcomes new RV owners by giving tips and advice on what to do upon becoming an RV owner. There is a lot that goes into owning and maintaining an RV and researching online isn’t always a surefire way to learn the best ways to do something or even reasonable ways of doing something. Eric helps parse through all of the opinions, explains the why behind them, and helps you decide what avenues could work best for you. If you have just become a new owner of an RV this episode will help you learn how to find answers that work specifically for you and your RV along with good advice in owning your first RV!

Stay safe everyone and thank you for listening! Please subscribe, rate, and share if you enjoy!

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Eric Stark:

Hello. Today's episode is about buying a new RV and being a new RV' er and how your RV becomes the classroom. Some might say it's trial by fire. I want to welcome you to the show. This is Eric Stark with radio Arizona RV, your best RV podcast. So this is a podcast that is for everybody experienced RV' ers, New RV'ers It doesn't, matter if you own an RV. This podcast is for you. So today's episode is number 84. This is about buying a new RV, whether it's well new to you, new used RV, but you're new to RV and the principles here sometimes will apply to an experienced RV 'er. So don't just tune out. And nonetheless, if you listen to it and you're experienced RV, or you can share some of these things with someone, you know, who's buying an RV and help them out new to the RV end game. So don't forget to share this episode with your friends and family. And remember if you have any questions, you can contact me using the contact us page on Radio Arizona RV, or if you have suggestions for episodes. In fact, this episode that I'm going to do today comes from a suggestion from Jeremy from Michigan. First off, I do own a brick and mortar retail store. So I have hands-on experience in everything I talk about. And I also sell products online and our websites at Arizona RV parts center and sun pro manufacturing. So not everything I talk about is on our website though, for one reason or another. So now thanks for listening. And let's get into episode number 84 and talked about. New RVs to new RV'ers or new used RVs to new RV'ers today. You know, when you buy an RV, there are just so many things that come into play with an RV, you know, and it's, it's, it's sometimes you just got to find out the hard way. I mean, that's really what happens with when someone new to RV, they get an RV and whether it's new or used, you know, they just, sometimes you just. Got to experience to really understand how things work, but you know, that's not that shouldn't be the standard. And so that's part of this episode is to help alleviate some of that pain. You know, the one thing to remember is when you bought a travel trailer or a motor home, you just bought a house on wheels. So it has all the systems or similar systems on wheels. Now that you find in your house. Except one difference is, you know, they are self-contained to a degree, but what isn't attached to them as the propane system, your house probably has natural gas, maybe propane, if it doesn't have either, it has electric. It has, you know, there's no sewer system attached to your new RV. There's no fresh water system attached to it. There's no electrical system attached to it. All those things are attachments for the most part when it's, you know, in the uncontained mode, when you're in a self-contained and a little bit different ball game, but still it's a house on wheels. And that stuff is very different. And I know when you buy an RV, if you go to the dealership, some of them are very good at giving you a thorough through really trying to help you understand it, but they can't cover everything and they're not going to. And then if you buy the RV from a previous owner, you bought a use. Sometimes they will just talk about everything, but what you need to hear, you know, they reminisce about. You know, and their kids growing up and they propose their wife in this RV. And this is, you know, they remember the trip to the grand Tetons and, you know, and it's great if you're going down memory lane, but when you're trying to understand how an RV works, that's not a, that's not helpful. The bottom line is they're going to miss a zillion things. You know, there's just going to be a zillion things that are missed. And have you ever gone to the doctor? Of course you have. You've gone to the doctor and. He starts telling you stuff and you know, 80% of what he tells you, you forget the 20% that you remember, you mix up same thing with an RV. You're going to forget a lot of it. And you know, Oh, when he shows me this. Yeah, I probably won't remember it all, but when I at home, it'll all comes back to me. That's not the case. Sometimes it does more often. It doesn't. Trial by fire is often the classroom for a new RV or a new person to RV. And even going from a travel trailer to a motor home is a different game in some ways, because now you have a chassis with an engine transmission, so that's a different animal in itself, but a little more attainable because you already have a vehicle. So you're used to chassis maintenance, but a little bit different on a motor home. There's so much information online as well. I've I looked and man, it is overwhelming the kind of feedback you get, like typing in question, I'm a new RV or looking for help, you know, new, our new Darvina. Everybody has an opinion and some opinions are good. Some are bad, but you have to somehow parse through it and come up with a plan for you, your strategy. That's going to work for you. So I'm going to help you today. Hopefully I've parsed through a lot out of this information and there's so much, and you know, a lot of web sites I noticed too. And I've mentioned this before, when you go to them and they have links to Amazon, they have links to other websites. These are affiliate websites, and all they're doing is copying and pasting information from other websites. If you can avoid them or don't use the links, they don't deserve your support. I hate to say it because they're not even in the RV industry, half of them, they're just building websites that just, hopefully they get some affiliate clicks. You know? Now if it's a guy who's doing a blog and he's an RV year. Yeah. That's cool. Do whatever, you know, if he has affiliate links, use them. I'm not a big fan of supporting Amazon because Amazon is not in the RV industry. Not saying I don't buy from Amazon, but I just. Yeah, I'm not as fan because they do not support the RV industry. And if you have questions, you can't call them. They are not there to help you. Okay. But anyway, so if it's a legitimate RV website, the guy's up full time, I'm RVR and he's sharing his experiences. That's probably a good website. You know, some of these full-timers really have it together and they're helpful. You can tell the difference. Hopefully it can. So now I'm going to start with the black and gray water tanks. We're going to dig into this. We're going to get into the fire here, black and gray water tanks. You know, the question is, you know, when you travel, do you want them full or do you want them empty? You know, and there's some variables there and you know, right off the bat, you might say, well, you want them to empty, but some people said you want to travel with them full. Cause it doesn't matter. I say empty. And the reason why is if they're empty, you're not carrying around hundreds of extra pounds of weight. You know, if you have a 40 gallon tank, eight panel that's 320 gallon or 300 pounds, 320 pounds for a 40 gallon tank, basically. So you could be carrying six, seven, eight, 900,000 pounds around in fluids. So you're just going to get dumped at the other end. So if you can travel with empty holding tanks and not only the extra weight, you know, it's more weight in the vehicle, more wear and tear on the tires, more fuel, but it's also wear and tear on those holding tanks are already holding tanks. Aren't made of some space, age material. That's going to last for 200 years. They made of plastic basically. There's different variations of it. And even how they're they're formed, how they're mounted can also tie into how long they're going to last. But when you have three or 400 pounds of liquid in a tank bouncing down the road, it's going to wear out that tank sooner. It might just split the bottom wide open, which it does happen. People are going down the road and that holding tank breaks. And man, does it get ugly? Or even the straps that have, as, you know, holding it, securing it to the frame. Maybe they're good when it's parked, but going down the road, those things can break too. So. The bottom line is keep the holding tanks empty. If you can't. Now, if you're leaving in an RV park in a hurry, a hurricane's coming tornado, the local store has run out of beer, whatever it might be. And you've got to get out of there in a hurry, then maybe just pack up and go and empty them on the road someplace. Once he gets to safety or whatever it might be, you found a better park, you know, a hundred miles away. That's not the worst thing in the world, but try not to travel with them full, try to keep them empty or closer to the empty side. So now fresh water, little different ball game here. You know, it's not going to be the same principle because fresh water has value to it. You can use that. You're driving down the road, your tow vehicle overheats. You got water in the RV. Well, hopefully you do. You got a holding tank. Now me personally, I don't keep my fresh water tank full. I might put 20 gallons in it. Um, that way I have some drinking water. If you need to use the toilet or the sinks in the RV, while you're traveling, then you can yeah. Fresh water there to do that. If you're thirsty, someone else has car problems, you can help out. You feel kind of ridiculous if you're out on the road and. You know, your cars overheat, and then you got a travel trailer and someone stops to help. And they say, well, don't you have water in there? And you're saying, no, I don't. Um, I, I, I then fill it up. You know, you're gonna be full, pretty stupid at that point. Right. Keep some water in it. Now, you know, your circumstances, if you're not going to use any bathroom along the road, and you're only gonna use yours, then you want to use more. Or have more water in it, more fresh water. And then you also want to make sure your holding tanks are empty. So as you're filling them up, they don't become full on the road and become a chore or a hassle trying to get them emptied. So freshwater has value car problems, overheating. Um, if you're thirsty, If you do break down and you want to clean up some heck even take a shower, you know, depending on what happens if your leaf Springs break or you're underneath your RV, or just things go bad, whatever it might be, you can at least take a shower. You know, that'd be nice, you know, cause I wouldn't get in your car and keep on going. So freshwater use your, your discretion is, you know, your travel habits and what you might need, but make sure you always have some. Now propane tanks are another animal that sometimes are questioned. Now having full propane tanks, you know, traveling with it, it's a lot easier and you get to the other end and they're full. You don't have to search for propane. And sometimes if you're going out for a weekend or a few days, you know how much propane you're going to use and you know, you buy it locally at home, you know, where you can get it at the best price we're out on the road. You might pay double, triple what you'd pay at home. So having full propane tanks makes perfect sense. But while you're traveling, you really should have the valves turned off in the closed position on both tanks. And I'm going to talk about refrigerators in a minute. Cause some of you might be thinking, well, I run my refrigerator, that won't work, but we're going to get to refrigerators in a moment. Really the valves should be off. And there's reasons why, you know, if you leave the valves open, well, first if you leave them closed, then there's. Technically, no propane in the lines it's gone. You know, there might be a little bit residual, but as basically gone between, you know, there's not enough there to do any damage if there was, and. So it's, it makes it much safer. And the reason why I say that is, you know, propane lines, you might have a steel line going from the supply line, from your regulator to the, through the out the RV. Then off of there you'll have rubber pigtails or sometimes copper pigtails. Well, those things can break. They can burst things happen when you're going down the road, something on the road could fling up and hit a propane line. Any Alyssa, it puts a hole in it. You might not even realize there's a hole in it and propane's just leaking out and all it takes is something to ignite it, which if let's say you left your water heater on and all of a sudden it ignites and you got a bunch of propane, you know, spraying out a propane line. Next thing you know, you're pulling a fireball down the road and you know, those things don't happen that often, but when a propane Stires a fire starts out on the highway. It's over man, your RV is toast. Don't even try to get a, I'll let you what you want out of it. It's toast. It's just going to burn up. Unfortunately, that's the way RVs are when they catch on fire, it is not good. Same with mobile homes. I mean, I've seen plenty of mobile home fires. You know, people just barely get out with their lives if they do and out on the highways, the same thing, you know, trying to get your tow vehicle on hook from a trailer on fire, man, you gotta move quick. Yeah, you got to really have that one thought out because it goes fast and you don't, you know, if you can save your tow vehicle that's vehicle, that's awesome. You know, you might lose everything else, but at least you can save that. So propane is dangerous and sometimes we forget that because we're around it so often. So the other thing too, is if you get a blowout and there's a propane line near that tire, because remembering a tire blows out, you know, tread goes everywhere. You know, you have a $100 tire that causes $2,000 worth of damage. In some cases, no tears off the fenders, tears up the plumbing, you know, the underneath. So it can also tear open a propane line. So safety first with propane, you know, um, definitely. Because when it goes, it goes. And now the other thing too with propane is like, if you're going through a tunnel and I know there's no one there watching you, but if you're going through a tunnel, you actually supposed to have your propane off. So that way, if there was a leak, those fumes couldn't build up in a tunnel, especially for a vehicle or die in the tunnel. All of a sudden you have propane filling up a tunnel that can get pretty ugly. I mean, typically there's no cops standing at the entrance of a tunnel checking for propane leaks. Right. You know, no sensors, nothing like that. So. All in all, you know, if you had a problem pain leak, you'd probably go through the tunnel and every, and think anything of it. But nonetheless, we do want to be careful now, propane tanks just fill them up, but make sure the valves are turned off. You'd really don't need to have your water heater, your furnace, or anything else running while you're going down the road. You don't need to worry about that kind of stuff. And you know, if you're traveling and colder weather, when you pull over, you know, you can turn your furnace on and do what you need to do. You know, same with your water heater. Doesn't take a water heater that long on propane to heat up the water. So if you're actually pulled over and you're in a hurry to do it, you know, it's going to take an extra 15 minutes, big deal, and it's better to be safe than sorry is not just your lives as other people around you as well. So I'm not going to dwell on it, you know, just keep the valves off on your propane tank and make sure they're secured properly. Now refrigerators are another thing that I'm a subject that comes up, you know, do you leave them off for travel? Do you leave them on? What do you do? And there is a zillion different things online on what to do with refrigerators. It's very interesting. And you know, some might just say it boils right down to you, what you want to do, what you're comfortable with. But we do have to think about ourselves, our family and other people around us and the potential for danger or disaster probably disaster is more of a better way to describe it. So leaving a refrigerator off while you're traveling is probably just the safest thing to do. You know, it's done it's over with now. If you have propane or, I mean, excuse me, 12 volts on your refrigerator, then you could run. Run it on 12 volts. Now, 12 volts doesn't work as good as gas or 110 volts, but Hey, it's better than nothing. So you could do that if it's an option, but not too many people get 12 volt refrigerators anymore. In fact, I mean the current trend is getting rid of RV refrigerators and putting in residential ones because they're less money and they don't fail as often as RV ones. Do. And there, you know, spend 300 bucks on a refrigerator to get to the other end. It dies. You just go to another store and buy another one and put it in, you know, don't even phase your weekend where an RV refrigerator, Alison you've got a disaster on your hands and maintenance to be able to get it fixed or anything happening over a weekend or even a week sometimes. But that's a different story. You can run it on 12 volts and some people put it on 110 and run their generator. Now running a generator to keep your refrigerator. Cool is crazy. If you asked me, cause that's using a whole lot of gasoline. You're running a generator, which requires maintenance and you can be running it for hours when the refrigerators and you're running that time, that entire time or cooling that entire time. They're not just constantly cooling because they get to a certain point and they stop cooling kind of like residential refrigerator, just a different way of doing it. Now what some people do. Is if they're going to leave their refrigerator off, cause it doesn't have 12 volts. They don't want to monkey around with the propane. They want to err, on the side of caution, they're just going to bring an ice chest when they travel. In fact, that's what I do. I don't worry about buying groceries until we get to where we're going. Unless it's someplace where I know we can't get them, then we might buy the groceries along the way, but we don't ever buy them. Until we get there now I'll make sure my refrigerator works and I'll get it cooled down, but I will turn it off and leave it off. Cause I don't want to mess with the propane. You know, it just be that one time at pulled a gas station and you know, blow up the whole town. That'd be my lock-in. I don't want to be responsible for blowing up a whole town, even half a town, even a quarter of a town, you know, eighth of a town could be interesting, but there'd be some litigation with that as well. So an ice chest sometimes just makes it easier. If you're going to be traveling for two days, you just put enough food in there and you know, you have drinks, whatever. And, you know, nice chest having it at the other end is handy too. A lot of people just have an ice chest for the, for their drinks, water, beer, sodas, whatever the things are getting all day. So they don't have to go into the RV and open up the refrigerator. Cause you know, when you open up an RV refrigerator, when you open up that door, tons of cold air goes out and it just has to work harder to keep it cool. You know, it's a lot different in an RV than it is in a house. The other option would be, or one of others to get your, you know, pack your refrigerator with your food. And get it down to as cool as you're comfortable with without, you know, the perishables freezing things like that. You know, you don't want your apples frozen, but get them as cold as you feel comfortable with. And then when you're traveling, just do not open up that door unless you have to, the refrigerator will stay pretty cool, probably within your 30 to 40 degree range for hours, you know, maybe six hours, eight hours, it's going to depend on, you know, the temperature where you're at. If you open and close the door during the day, you know, if you're in and out of it, it's not going to keep the cool, but if you keep that door closed, it will keep cold and it'll keep your food fresh and alive with that. You can put in a little battery powered fan to circulate the air, and those will help keep it cooler too. It's running on his own battery and those batteries last for like 30 days. So you're not the battery isn't going to die. You don't have to sorry about that. So you don't have to keep it open up the door. Has the fan still working as a fan, still working, you know, And you can also get thermometers that Mount inside with a gauge on the outside. So you can see what the inside temperature is without opening the door. So there's ways to do that. The only downside to that is if you forget about it and you're traveling too long, you know, you don't have time to stop and maybe you're going 16 hours, 20 hours driving straight through. That could become an, a little bit of a problem. The food, you know, might start warming up. And like I said, depends on where you're at as well. So you'd maybe want to have to, you know, pull over, turn the refrigerator on propane and drive down the road for awhile. And just remember to turn it off for you at gas and that's before you even pull into the gas station parking lot, but, you know, riding it for maybe two or three hours would get it cool back down. And you're good to go for another five to eight hours depending on conditions. So that could be an option if you're up for that. And the other thing too is when you pack your refrigerator full of food and you head out on your trip and maybe it's just, you know, six hours away and you figured, you know, we'll get there. No problem, not going home. Some refrigerator door, we got an ice chest with food in it. You know, the only other downside to that is if you get to the other end, your refrigerator, doesn't turn back on it, quits working, it died for whatever reason. Then you got all that food in there. Which sucks, but that, that happens even driving down the road with propane on sometimes the propane doesn't work that well when you're traveling and it might not keep everything cold. So there's a lot of variables here. So you have to think it through, on how you travel, where you're going to, you know, if you have a family with three children and they're going to be in and out of that refrigerator all day long, And you have to make a decision. Do you want to just run it on propane and just do that? Or do you want to turn it off and get an ice chest and just tell the kids, stay out of the refrigerator and make sure they do stay out, locked the trailer so he can't get in it or something, you know, there's variables there and now running on propane, outside of having problems. If you know, it's just not working that well, while you're driving down the road, if it's windy conditions, it could affect it. You, the only thing you really have to be careful of. Well tunnels, you can't go through a tunnel that would be illegal, but you know, there's no one watching the tunnel. So you probably could, would it be an issue? The other thing is when you pull into, uh, a gas station, an open flame, a spark, if there's, or, you know, if there's, um, some fumes building up and all of a sudden, you know, it hits that flame. Or the, the, you know, the, her refrigerator turns on at that moment. There's a spark. It can be the same with the water heater too. Then, you know, you can have an explosion and you really don't want that. So if you're going to travel using your propane on your refrigerator, just stop someplace before you get to the gas station. You know, when you pull off the interstate, um, generally there's a place to park. Just turn your refrigerator off. You don't really even have to turn the propane off, just turn the refrigerator off, get your fuel. Then before you get back on the highway outside of the gas station, turn your refrigerator back on. That's going to be the safest way to do it. And if you really want to make sure that you're, you have food, food that staying cold outside of the refrigerator failing that will work. The bottom line is to just, you know, look at your refrigerator, your situation, what works best for you. Some people go on weekend trips and they drive two hours, you know, and they don't even get gas, you know, they're so close. They don't even have to stop and get gas and you're leaving your refrigerator on probably would never be an issue. I mean, I wouldn't even think twice about that, but a long haul and we drive them for a day, two days, something like that. You just have to think it through, you know, where can you stop? Can you do this as a, too much of an inconvenience is blowing up a gas station in convenience. It could be, you know, it could kind of ruin the day, the weekend, the week, the month, maybe even the year. So we want to be careful there being new to an RV. I mean, there's so much more I can go on with this, um, tires, rotating them, you know, do you rotate them on a trailer, a motor home? I mean, how do you, you know, checking the pressure wheel bearings, there are so many elements to a new RV that you have to do some research and talk to other RV owners and yeah, you're going to get a lot of information that way and you have to kind of parse through it. Now I'm probably going to do some more episodes on this. As I get more information put together. It's an interesting subject because. You know, we just don't think about it. Someone new to our, and with COVID-19, there are a billion new RV years on the road and they need help. These aren't people that should be treated bad because they're new to it. You know, they should be welcomed into the, to those lifestyle, you know, cause they're supporting an industry, they're making it better. The more people that RV, the better things become are there's more RV parks, prices become lower, you know, just, it changes things. So it's not a bad thing and we don't want to look at it that way. So very positive thing, but they're struggling. It's like buying a new house. Even if you've been a homeowner, you buy a new home. There's there's things that are different about the house. Maybe the heating and air conditioning system is different than what you're used to. So you have to ask questions, you have to do a little research and you know, another thing I want to mention too, when you buy a new RV. Whether it's you're a new RV year or you're, um, you're an experienced RV year. You know, the best thing to do is after you get it home from the dealership or the private party as a parked, I think in your house, plug it in, turn on the propane and start working the systems, pretend you're on a vacation, run it through the systems of the air conditioning turn on the air conditioning heat turned on the heat. Use the fresh water pump, fill up the fresh water tanks. Even if you have to drain them later, just fill them up, use as much of it as you can while you're at home. And you'll start getting familiarized with things. So when you're traveling, you're not asking all these, you know, trying to figure it out now using it is going to prompt other questions too. Like when you start flushing your toilet. Hmm, what do I do with all this water? When I'm traveling? What do I do with this water? Now it's in the black water tank, you know, there's probably, I've been messing around for a day. There's probably 10 gallons in there. Hmm. So, you know, can I travel with that? Well, I already answered that question, but you know, those are questions that will start coming up. You start thinking that way, you know, if I'm using the propane, how much am I going to use? And if you're worried about running out, you know, turn on your refrigerator. Turn on your furnace and let it sit for a weekend and see how much propane you use. If you use a tank two tanks, you can set your thermostat on the third, on the furnace to a temperature that you think what you'd have to use. If you're out camping nearby, or in an area that you're familiar going to and set it accordingly. And then you can do some tests to see how things go rather than just. You know, jumping in the RV, fill in the propane tanks and you're into it two nights and you run out of propane. Cause he didn't realize you can't leave the furnace set at 85 degrees. Yeah. Run your RV. Through the various systems, try them out while you're at home. And then you also find problems outweigh too. You know, all of a sudden your fresh water pump doesn't work, or maybe the city water doesn't work, you know, turn off your fresh water pump, hook it up to the hose at your house, put on the water pressure regulator, start working through it all. I mean, I talked to so many people that just, we bought an RV yesterday and we're going to Yellowstone. Um, today we're leave. We've left Ron, our way. And they don't have a clue and it's scary, you know, not that they're going to hurt anybody, not in that sense. I mean, they could, but you know, it's just, they really don't know. Then they get to Yellowstone and they're like, what do we do? You know? And, and there's no one there to help them. So that's the other thing too, buys an RV, be willing to help them if you know your family friend, whatever it might be. So I'm probably going to add some more to this, um, to the trial by fire series is, I guess we'll call it, you know, the, the classroom where you have to learn that the hard way and, you know, look online. Find you'll find a lot of information, but. You have to really parse through it and see what will work for you. There's just, everybody has their own little thing, their way of doing things. So find what works for you and what makes sense. And what's safe, not only for yourself, but for your family and for others that are around you as well. So I want to thank everybody for listening today. This is Eric Stark with radio Arizona RV. And please check out the website, radio, Arizona rv.com, where it has links to our other websites. And sometimes there's a little bit more in the episode on the website. Then once you're hearing, you know, through iTunes, Spotify, Google, whatever it might be. So again, thank you for listening, Eric Stark with radio Arizona RV.

About the author, Eric

I have been a hands on DIY'er since childhood, yeah since childhood with the idea that the job has to get done. My job (not a career) history is not the typical job history. I have run successful multi-million dollar companies, I have started RV related businesses from ground up. Over the years I have acquired many skills, some self taught and taught by others in a hands on environment. Today everything I have learned over the decades has come together and now I love to help others and keep myself involved in my favorite industry, Recreational Vehicles! This is not even close to being finished......