How to winterize your RV

As the summer season begins to wind down and cold temperatures start rolling in, you are probably thinking about getting your RV or camper ready for winter. The freezing north Idaho temperatures we experience in Coeur d’Alene can wreak havoc on an unwinterized RV, potentially putting your rig out of commission and causing thousands of dollars in damage. When you prep your RV or camper to sit for the winter, there are steps you must follow to ensure no damage will occur.

Step-by-step RV winterizing 

Follow our RV winterizing guide to ensure all the systems in your RV are prepped to sit. Proper winterization serves two purposes; it protects your RV from damage, and it makes your life much easier when you pull it out of storage in the springtime.


There are a couple of basic tools and supplies you will need to winterize your camper or RV.

  • Non-toxic antifreeze
  • Water supply
  • Hose
  • Sprayer or wand
  • Basic hand tools

Winterizing the water system

Any system that uses water is the primary focus of winterization. When water freezes it expands, and this expansion can crack pipes and holding tanks. By flushing the water system with antifreeze, your water system will be safe from damage.

  • Safely drain the grey and black water tanks and clean them thoroughly 
  • Empty the freshwater holding tank
  • Drain the water heater
  • Open all faucets and water fixtures
  • Find and open low point drains
  • Use the water pump to force water out of the system. Turn it off as soon as the water is no longer coming out of the fixtures
  • Close all valves and turn off water fixtures
  • Put the water heater in bypass mode to keep antifreeze out
  • Using a water pump converter kit, pump nontoxic RV antifreeze into the system
  • With the system pressurized, turn on the closest water fixture and wait until antifreeze runs from it. Repeat this process with all fixtures on your RV, including the toilet
  • Finish off by pouring a cup of antifreeze down each drain

When you are winterizing your water system, be sure to consult your owner’s manual. The above steps are generalizations, and every RV or trailer is different. There may be extra steps required when winterizing your RV.

Winterize your RV’s engine

Getting your RV’s engine ready for winter is not complicated. In reality, you are just performing regular maintenance items to keep it running as it should.

  • Check your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty
  • Check your engine’s coolant level. If it appears low, check for leaks.
  • Check transmission fluid levels and make sure it doesn’t smell burnt.
  • Perform an oil change
  • Check the life left on your brake pads and tires. Remember to replace tires that are over six years old regardless of the tread.
  • Remove batteries and store them inside
  • Add a fuel stabilizer to your gas tank

Store your RV correctly

An RV can be safely stored outside or inside, but there are a few things an owner should do to keep it safe through the winter.

Check the exterior

Look over the outside, bottom, and roof of your rig. If you notice any holes or cracks, reseal them. It’s important to keep water out of places it isn’t supposed to be during the winter months to prevent damage from expansion during freezing.

If you do notice areas on your rig’s exterior that need to be resealed, consult your owner’s manual or RV dealer to make sure you are using the correct caulk or sealant. Using an improper sealant may not keep water out as effectively.

Store your RV in a safe place

Storing your rig in a garage or other covered space provides the most protection from the elements, but this option isn’t available for every owner. If you are not able to store your rig under a roof, try to find a parking location that keeps it out of the direct wind and bad weather. Additionally, make sure it’s parked far enough away from trees that may come down during a winter storm.

Use an RV cover

If you are storing your camper outside, purchasing a cover specifically made for it is a good idea. A well-fitting cover will protect the exterior from UV rays, wind, snow, and water. Additionally, an RV cover will stay in place far better than a tarp when it’s windy.

Bring your RV to Lake City Auto Care!

At Lake City Auto Care, we have the skills and equipment to service heavy line vehicles like your RV. If you have questions related to your rig’s engine or drive line, give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

North Idaho's Best Warranty

We stand behind our work 100%. That's why we offer a five-year, 50,000-mile warranty on all services and repairs. You can rest assured that when you bring your vehicle to us, we've got you covered no matter what happens down the road.

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