All Airstream travel trailers come standard with LP (liquid propane) tanks. These tanks provide a source of power to your Airstream that fuels everything from your stove, refrigerator, furnace, and your gas water heater (if equipped). Learn how to access, safely use, and troubleshoot your liquid propane tanks so that every Airstream adventure has the fuel you need, when you need it.
Why Do I Need to Access My Airstream’s LP Tanks?
There are several reasons why you may need to access the LP tanks on your Airstream:
- To turn your propane on and off. For safety reasons, don’t travel with your LP tanks turned on. You’ll need to access the tanks every time you set out on the open road (to turn them off) and again when you make camp (to turn them on).
- When you winterize your travel trailer, you’ll want to remove the propane tanks to deter theft.
- To refill the liquid propane tanks.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Access Your Airstream's Liquid Propane (LP) Tanks
- Locate your LP tanks. Most Airstream LP tanks are mounted to the hitch of the travel trailer.
- Disconnect the latch on the LP Cover and open the lid.
- Remove the wingnut by turning it counterclockwise. Remove the cover by lifting it up and over the tanks. Set it aside.
- Rotate the regulator knob towards the full tank.
- Close the empty bottle off and disconnect the hose. You can then remove the tanks for storage during the winter (to deter theft) or take the tank to get filled.
Special winterization note: Removing the aluminum bottle cover and propane tanks makes it easy to manually raise and lower your hitch jack.
Proper winterization involves removing your batteries and storing them in a warm place, ideally with a battery tender or trickle charger maintaining the charge. However, removing the batteries disables the ability to raise and lower the hitch using the powered hitch jack, which can pose a problem when taking your trailer in and out of storage.
You can manually raise and lower the hitch, but it's helpful if you remove the aluminum bottle cover first. To level your Airstream without the electronic jack, first locate the bullseye level on top of the jack post.
You can remove the level by turning counter clockwise, revealing a nut that can be cranked to manually raise or lower the trailer. Your Airstream comes with a special Z-shaped tool sized for that nut. Affix the tool to the nut and rotate to manually raise or lower your hitch jack.
The LP tanks and the aluminum bottle cover restrict the range of rotational motion you can achieve on the hitch, so it's helpful to remove the cover and tanks to make this job easier.
Safety Guidelines for Airstream Propane Tanks
Do not travel with the propane valves turned on. We recommend closing both valves whenever in motion, and any time you’re hitching or unhitching, as this can be a fire hazard.
At the beginning and end of your camping season, visually check your entire propane system (at least twice a year). Check all your hoses, lines, and connections while looking for wear on the lines, and make sure nothing is out of place that could rub on the hoses or lines. Remove any debris (including spider webs and nests) gathered around your tanks and where your propane runs to appliances and your water heater.
Check your fire, propane, and carbon monoxide detectors before every trip to make sure they are operational. It’s a good practice to change any batteries in your detectors at the start of every camping season.
How Do I Fill the propane (LP) Tanks on My Airstream?
The propane tanks must be removed when refilling, so we recommend finding a refill station that’s conveniently located where you can pull up as close as possible to limit the distance you need to carry the empty propane tanks. You can always remove the propane tanks and carry them to the refill station in your tow vehicle.
Always ensure you've properly remounted the full propane tanks before hitting the road again.
How To Troubleshoot LP Tank Flow Issues
Make sure the valves on your tanks are “on.” When refilling your propane tanks, they have to be closed before they can be filled. It’s easy to forget to open the valve when you arrive at your camp spot, so double check and make sure they are open.
Check your Automatic Gas Regulator. Most modern Airstreams have an automatic gas regulator that allows for an uninterrupted switchover when your first tank runs empty. Both tanks are connected to this regulator.
Make sure there is propane in both tanks before you check the regulator.
Then rotate the regulator knob toward the tank you want to use first – this is now your service cylinder, while the other tank is the reserve cylinder.
If propane is available, the indicator will turn bright green and stay green as long as there is fuel coming from the service cylinder.
Bleed the Lines. If you run out of propane, it’s possible that air can get trapped in the lines. If you just refilled your tanks, there may still be pockets of air in the lines. Turn the gas to your main stove burner "on" and light it. It may take a second if there is air in the line. Leave it lit until the flame burns steadily.
Check other propane-using appliances to ensure they are working as well.
Check the excess flow valve. The excess flow valve is a safety feature to stop or slow the flow of propane in the case of a leak, and it’s a standard feature of most propane tanks. If you turn your propane valve on too quickly, it can spring/engage the valve. Close the propane valve, turn off propane appliances, and wait three to five minutes before trying again – this time, opening the propane valve slowly.
If the excess flow valve was tripped because you have a leak, you need to turn off your propane, turn off your appliances, and extinguish any fire or heat sources that could ignite the propane. A propane leak is a serious issue that requires a visit to your Airstream dealer for service.
Make sure your pressure regulator is working. Pressure regulators last about 8-10 years. If you have an old regulator or yours isn’t working properly, you need to get it replaced.
If you complete all of these steps and are still not getting flow to your gas appliances, contact your nearest Airstream dealer for service.