Your Airstream is – in many ways – your home on wheels. Even if you’re not full-timing in your camper, you’re towing your mobile travel accommodations down the highway at 65 miles per hour – an experience often equated to a house enduring a sizable earthquake. Bumps in the road, potholes, and the constant rumble of the pavement mean things inside your Airstream are shaking, rattling, and bouncing as you make your way to your destination. So how do you ensure your Airstream is kept in optimal condition, ready for your adventures when you are? Here are tips and recommendations for completing routine maintenance on your Airstream.
Do Airstreams Require Maintenance?
While your Airstream is made to withstand the typical forces applied while towing down the highway, the truth of the matter is that every road is different, every driver has a different towing style, and some potholes are bigger than others. When it comes to maintenance, it’s often a matter of how much you use it and how big your adventures get to be. Understanding the weight limitations involved and using common sense when packing cabinets, wardrobes, and roof lockers goes a long way to ensuring you avoid maintenance mishaps.
And with premium materials, expert craftsmanship, and quality informed by 90-plus years of experience built directly into the design, it’s more than likely that your Airstream will need far less maintenance than you might find with other brands.
What are the top recommended Airstream routine maintenance tasks?
Keep your Airstream in optimal condition with these top recommended maintenance tasks:
Regularly clean your Airstream’s exterior. We recommend washing Your Airstream about every four weeks and waxing with Walbernize Super Seal, or high quality clear coat-safe wax, in the spring and fall. In coastal and industrial areas, cleaning and waxing should be done more frequently. When traveling through winter weather, all road treatment chemicals should be removed immediately.
You can use any automotive wash or wax on your Airstream, as long as it is safe to use for clear coats. Be sure to check the label before use.
When cleaning the exterior, be sure to work with the grain - horizontal strokes, not up and down. Using an up-and-down motion will cause fine scratches in the clear coat and you’ll be able to see them easily when the sun hits them.
Clean your Airstream’s interior regularly. Gentle household cleaners are great for use inside your Airstream travel trailer or touring coach. Pledge is great for dusting and polishing furniture and Swiffer is great for the floors. You can also use soapy water to mop the floors. Baby wipes work well on upholstered furniture. Be sure to not over saturate anything surface with cleaning products and allow it to air dry before use.
Prevent your windows from sticking to the gasket. Apply 303 Protectant or olive oil every 3 months to the exterior of your Airstream where the window connects with the exterior. If you will be adventuring in hotter climates, you should do this more often. If your windows do get stuck, gently slide a credit card in between the window and the Airstream and work your way around the window frame until it releases. (Do not use petroleum-based products – it will cause the sticking to increase.)
Inspect your tires before every trip. Check the tire pressure on all tires before leaving on any trip. You can find the tire pressure information on the tag for your tires and in the owner's manual. Inspect your tire for dry rot. Finally, look for uneven wear on your tires, as that may point to an axel being out of alignment. If you notice uneven tire wear, take your Airstream to the nearest dealer for inspection. Finally, test all lug nuts on each tire to ensure they are tightly secured.
Regularly check all interior screws for tightness. Your Airstream experiences a sizable and lengthy earthquake every time you embark on a journey. Even 30 minutes traveling at 65 miles per hour vigorously shakes and rattles everything inside your Airstream. It’s good practice to regularly check anything that latches (windows, door hinges, etc) and tighten any loose screws or bolts. Ensure all doors are closed and all loose items are secured before traveling to avoid damage from flying cargo.
Time sealant inspections to the seasons. It’s a great time to inspect sealants when you winterize and de-winterize your travel trailer (Fall and Spring). Check the roof around the vents, along the awning rail, side sheet seams, doors, and windows to ensure the sealant is not deteriorating or cracking. If it is, take your Airstream to your local dealership to get it replaced.
Control humidity inside your Airstream. Monitoring and controlling interior relative humidity is one of the most important steps to minimize the risk for moisture-related damage on your Airstream. Ideally, relative humidity should be at 60% or less. Relative humidity can be monitored utilizing a portable hygrometer, a small device that measures temperature and relative humidity. Hygrometers are available at electronics or building supply stores for approximately thirty dollars ($30).
Use exhaust fans, the air conditioner, and/or a portable dehumidifier to manage moisture inside the RV to maintain relative humidity at 60% or less. In cold climates, relative humidity may need to be at 35% or less to avoid window condensation issues.
If the RV is used the majority of the time in a hot-humid climate, it may be difficult to keep relative humidity below 60%. A dehumidifier will help, but it is important to check the condensation (water) collection bucket regularly or discharge the condensation (water) directly to a drain.
For more information on managing humidity both inside and outside of your Airstream, read “Managing moisture and preventing moisture-related damage.”
Clean the drains to avoid backups. The only cleaning agents that can be used without causing harm to the drain system are household ammonia and trisodium phosphate in small quantities. Do not use any product that contains any portion of petroleum distillates. This type of product will attack the rubber seals of your toilet and dump valve. Also, do not use any dish detergent or abrasive cleaners. All products should be marked as approved for ABS drainage systems.
Clean your Air Conditioner’s air filter. Pop off the vent cover and spray the filter with an air can or rinse with water. Once it’s dry, replace the filter and the vent cover.
Flush your black tank. Once you dump your black tank, hook up a water hose to a water source to flush the tank, removing any sediments that may have been left at the bottom to avoid buildup.
Is there a Recommended maintenance schedule for my Airstream?
Failure to maintain your travel trailer can cause premature and unexpected parts breakage and/or erratic operation that may be hazardous. The following guide is the recommended maintenance schedule for any Airstream travel trailer:
Every 1,000 miles or 60 days
- Escape Window
- Check operation of latches and upper hinge.
- Check water level, lead acid only. * As a battery ages and becomes less efficient, the water level should be checked more often and replenished only with distilled water. Checking water level does not apply to Glass Mat Batteries.
- Smoke Alarm & CO Detector
- Test and replace battery as required.
- Check tire pressure (See Specifications).
- Check for loose bolts or unusual wear.
- GFI Circuit Breaker
- Test and record.
Every 5,000 miles or 90 days
- Main Door Latch
- Lubricate with dry graphite
- Exterior Door Locks
- Lubricate with dry graphite.
- Exterior Hinges
- Lubricate with light household oil.
- LPG Hold-Down
- Lubricate with light household oil.
- LPG Regulator
- Check bottom vent for obstructions.
- Wheel Lug Nuts
- Torque Aluminum Wheels to 110 ft. lbs and Steel Wheels to 100 ft. lbs.
- Breakaway Switch
- Pull pin and lubricate with household oil. (See further instructions in this section.)
- 7-Way Plug
- Spray with contact cleaner.
- Hitch Ball
- Lubricate with hitch ball lube or wheel bearing grease.
- Range Exhaust Hood
- Clean fan blades and wash filter.
- Main Door Step
- Lubricate and inspect moving parts.
Every 10,000 miles or 6 months
- Inspect or replace as necessary.
- Visually inspect wheel bearings at tire rotation. Refer to Dexter’s recommendation www.dexteraxle.com or call (574) 295-7888.
- Inspect and rotate.
- Spare Tire Carrier
- Lubricate moving parts.
- Windows, and Door Seals
- Clean with mild detergent and coat with “Slipicone.”
- Escape Window
- Lubricate latches with WD-40 or light household oil.
- Clean, neutralize, and coat terminals with petroleum jelly.
- LPG (liquid propane gas) Tanks
- Have purged by LPG supplier.
- Check and reseal exterior seams, windows, lights, and vents as needed.
- Hitch Coupler and Ball
- Ensure all parts operate freely. Replace any component if worn or damaged.
- Interior Cabinetry
- Visual Inspection of latches Locks, Hinges and Slides. Silicone Spray as needed.
See appliance manufacturer’s literature for further information.