Pennsylvania RV owners keep your RV properly sealed.

On your RV regardless if you own a tow-able unit or a motorized one, sealants perform a very important function by keeping water from getting into places it should not get into. When manufacturers build RVs,  they incorporate many different types of sealants, including butyl/putty, black butyl-encapsulated foam, silicone (clear and colored), roof sealant and foam to the places that need it. However, over time, these sealants may become damaged by ultraviolet exposure, air pollution, freezing temperatures and exposure to other elements. That is why it is important to inspect, maintain or reseal your RV. Failure to properly maintain or re-seal your RV may result in serious water damage to the roof and other parts of the RV. For most RV owners, failure to maintain proper seals disqualifies your unit from coverage under the most Limited Warranties.

To ensure that you are properly maintaining and re-sealing your unit, here are a few things you or your dealer’s service team should do:

Visually inspect all seals and sealants, a minimum of every six months. Make sure to check the roof and all four sides of the RV including all moldings, doors, vents and exterior attachments. A quick walk around the RV before leaving may help prevent potential problems during trips and vacations. A little preventative maintenance goes a long way, especially when compared to the high cost of repairs. Another great time to have your RV looked over is during your annual state vehicle inspection(if your state requires your RV to be annually inspected).

  1. Have the sealant replaced if you notice any cracks, peeling, voids, gaps, breaks, looseness or any sign of physical deterioration. Re-seal at least one time each year as preventative maintenance.
  2. Always use the same type of sealant that was removed. Your dealer service or parts manager can help you obtain the correct sealant(s).

If you do find water inside of your RV, be sure to immediately have your local central Pennsylvania dealer check for the source of the leak. If the leak is not fixed, it may result in serious damage to your RV, which may not be warrant-able.

A small amount of time now, can save you a large expensive headache later!

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Pennsylvania RV Owners Be Aware! Please USe Safe Towing Tips

Defensive driving skills and practice result in safe, enjoyable towing

Towing a trailer is certainly not difficult, but it does represent a step up in complexity from driving a solo vehicle, requiring new awareness of combined vehicle length, trailer width, braking distance, turning characteristics and several other vital factors that must be considered while towing a trailer. Most of us drive trucks, SUVs or passenger cars daily, and graduate to RVs only occasionally. Thus, it’s always necessary to make a mental transition and try to keep the size and handling characteristics of the larger rig in mind. Allowing solo-vehicle habits to take over may result in a tendency to make turns too tightly, run over curbs, hit stationary objects such as overhanging tree limbs or to follow too closely.

Eyes on the Road
The first towing precautions are those that precede towing — matching the tow vehicle and trailer correctly, adhering to weight limits and making sure hitch selection and adjustment are correct, as described elsewhere in this guide. And it’s also important to refresh defensive driving skills. From there, the real fun begins. The combined length of tow vehicle and trailer, as well as the combined weight, must be in the forefront of your mind, right from the start. Maintaining extended following distances is one of the most important towing-related driving habits that initially is difficult to adhere to because we tend to fall into our typical driving habits. Even though trailer brakes may be functional, braking distances almost always are extended.

It’s also important to make lane changes carefully and slowly, and to allow extended distances for passing. Good, solidly mounted extendable mirrors with large reflective areas — adjusted properly — are also essential. Speedy traffic seems more tolerant of slow 18-wheelers than of slow RVs, which makes courtesy an important safety factor for RV owners because an irate driver trying to pass can be a serious safety threat; courtesy is not only the consideration of others, it’s a safety issue. Frequent monitoring of rearview mirrors is necessary; when a vehicle is tailgating and trying to pass, we should help by driving slightly to the right to give the other driver a better view of the road ahead, even if a passing opportunity does not exist at the time. We should use turnouts whenever possible and avoid following another vehicle so closely that a vehicle overtaking from the rear cannot return to the proper lane.

Time for a Brake
While RV brakes are adequate for most situations, care is necessary to avoid overheating, which can lead to brake fade. If brake fade occurs, it will likely be on steep downgrades. If this happens, friction will raise the temperature of brake pads and linings to extremely high levels, resulting in temporary loss of braking. The cure is prevention — downshifting to a gear range that is low enough to retard speed sufficiently that brakes need not be used more than occasionally. This way, enough braking performance is reserved to make an emergency stop, should it become necessary.

When braking on a grade is necessary, apply the brakes intermittently, with moderate pressure, and release the pedal to allow the brakes to cool. The action of electric trailer brakes should be apparent to the driver, and sufficient enough to handle the trailer’s weight. The controller should be adjusted so that maximum braking action does not cause trailer-wheel lockup. Improper controller adjustment is a major cause of inadequate braking, so it’s wise to study the manufacturer’s instructions. Travel-trailer instability (fishtailing) should not occur in a well-balanced, well-hitched combination, but if it does, independent activation of trailer brakes usually will bring the trailer back into line.

Back-Up Plans
All trailers require more space for turns, and travel trailers follow the tow-vehicle track more closely than do fifth-wheels, which track farther to the inside of a turn. There is need for continual awareness, which should eventually become second-nature after a modest amount of on-the-road experience. Fifth-wheel trailers are different to back than conventional trailers, and require more practice for someone accustomed to backing a conventional trailer. A well-used technique involves placing one’s hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and moving it in the same direction the trailer is intended to go. It’s more effective with travel trailers than with fifth-wheels, which often require more turning of the steering wheel. Hand-held two-way radios can allow an assistant to more effectively relay backing instructions to the driver.

Before each trip, it’s essential to check the tires to assure that inflation pressures match those molded on tire side walls (cold), or that they are appropriate for your load (consult load/inflation tables). Also, be sure to inspect all vehicle fluids and make sure trailer-wheel lug nuts are tightened to factory specifications. Trailering is a great way to explore the new horizons and a great way to check out the wonderful camping destinations that are available to owners of recreational trailers. But always keep in mind that defensive driving will pay off in safe travel.

If you have any questions about safe towing practices, call your central Pennsylvania RV Dealer at 800-722-1236.  We will gladly answer any questions that you may have.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Portions of this blog are a re-posting of an article from Trailer Life Magazine

RV Propane Tank Safety..LPG in PA

RV Tanks at Lerch RV in PA

Dual 30 lb LP Bottle Sketch

One of the main systems that helps your RV function on all levels is your propane system.  Without your propane, you lose most of the accessories that make your RV comfortable to use.  But did you know that you have to keep your propane cylinders certified?  If you are the owner of an older RV, then this is something that you need to check out to make sure that your propane system meets safety standards.

When you buy a new RV, you can go twelve years before having your cylinders certified.  After the first twelve-year check, you need to have it certified every five years after that.  Here’s some more information about propane certification from rvbasics.com:

If you have an older RV you should know that according to Federal law, DoT cylinders may only be used for 12 years after their manufacture date. After that, the cylinders must be “re-certified” which provides another five years of use. The cylinders can be re-certified every five years thereafter.Propane dispensers are legally required to look at the date stamped on the cylinder before filling it. Some dealers actually do look. We’ve been reminded a few times that our cylinders were about to expire. Check the date stamped on your cylinders… don’t rely on your rig’s model year even if the cylinders are original. It’s quite possible they are a year or older than your rig. Ours were.

Re-certification is usually done by the large bulk propane suppliers but we found one of our local RV repair shops was certified to do the job and they do it for free! Call around to see who may do it in your area.

Some other simple tips to follow as well:

Inspect your Propane Appliances

You should also have the tech check your fridge and any other propane appliances inside your RV.

Install Properly and Identify

You should have a way to identify the presence of a propane tank if your tank is hidden. ASME-identified tanks should be installed horizontally, and DOT-identified cylinders are installed vertically.

Replace Damaged Tanks

If you have a damaged tank, including dents and rust, or damage to a hose, you should replace your tank.

Don’t Overfill

Since the late 1980s, tanks with capacities of 40 lbs. and less have a overfilling protection device, or OPD. If you have an older tank, have a OPD installed. Don’t fill your tank with the RV running, or with anyone in it, if you are filling the tank while still attached to the RV.

Detecting a Leak

If you think you have a leak or smell gas, everyone needs to get out of the RV quickly. Leave the door open to your RV and shut off the supply valve.

If you have any questions regarding your propane bottles/cylinders, please give your Central PA RV Dealer a call.  You can reach the Lerch RV Service Department at 800-722-1236.

And if you are looking for that new travel trailer or fifth wheel, do not forget to give our Sales Team a call as well.

A Checklist Before Hitting the Road (with your RV)

Many RVing accidents occur because of simple neglect or carelessness. Forgetting to check one area of your RV could end up in a disaster, costing you thousands in repairs. To make all of your camping trips carefree and easy, make sure to do a safe check before leaving the driveway or camping site to return home.  Here are 3 distinct areas that need to be checked before hitting the road.  Regardless of it you are towing your coach or manning the wheel of one.  Safety should always come first.

Open Range H397 RGR from Lerch RV

Open Range H397 RGR Toy Hauler from Lerch RV

RV/Trailer Check:

  1. Disconnect all power, TV, phone, water and sewer lines. Make sure all lines are rolled up and securely in their storage areas.
  2. Visually inspect the inside of the unit. Make sure all furniture is secure using straps, do not forget to secure those TVs. Put away anything that might roll around and damage the interior.
  3. Retract jacks, steps and awnings. If you have a slide-out, make sure it has slid back into the trailer and is secure.
  4. Make sure all storage and main doors are closed and latched or locked.
  5. Look under the coach for signs of any fluid leaks.
  6. Make sure smoke and propane leak detectors are working
  7. Double-check tow bar and safety cables
  8. Check your brake lights, tail lights and turn signals are working properly.
  9. Check to make sure your air brakes, parking brake and tow brakes are engaging properly.

Propane Check & Tips:

  1. Never paint your LP tanks a dark color. It will absorb the sun’s rays and can cause it to over heat.
  2. Don’t travel with the stove, oven or heater burners lit.
  3. Never refuel while any propane appliances or your engine is running.
  4. If you have an older propane tank, make sure it has an overfill protection device. Most places will not refill LP bottles that do not have this important safety device.
  5. Have tanks regularly checked by a certified dealer.

Engine Check:

(on your tow vehicle or if you are driving a motor home)

  1. Check oil, transmission and coolant levels
  2. Inspect tire inflation pressure and tread wear on your truck and trailer.
  3. Check all your brakes to make sure they are engaging properly and the lights are working.
  4. When driving, know your surroundings (weather, overhangs and ground hazards)

Outback purchased from Lerch RV

Camping Season is here!

An Extra Safety Tip:
Practice S.A.F.E. Cornering – When pulling a trailer, fifth wheel or driving a motor home, you have to compensate for the extra weight, height and length of the vehicle when taking corners. Use S.A.F.E. when turning corners with your RV.

  • Slowly approach the turn.
  • Arc the turn, taking a wider turn. Watch your surroundings and the cars around you.
  • Finish the turn completely. Don’t straighten the wheel until the back-end has cleared the pivot point.
  • Experience is key. The more you drive your RV or tow your trailer/fifth wheel, the more practice you will have – improving your RV towing skills. And in the long run, making your RVing experiences more enjoyable and memorable.

With camping season finally beginning here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The above check list should be useful.  If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your unit, please feel free to contact our service department.