RV Buying Guide: How to Choose a Recreational Vehicle

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So you have decided to buy an RV. When getting to Jim’s RV Center to select an RV for sale, there may be so many to choose from on the lot that you just won’t know which one would be right for you. Between RVs that you drive, RVs that you tow, RVs using diesel and ones that use gas, which works best for you?

With all these available options, you can certainly find something to fit your needs. To narrow down the search, make a list of your personal preferences you would like in an RV. If you are having trouble making a decision, you can ask questions to yourself that revolve around the following topics.

Topics To Ask To Narrow Down Your RV Choices

Trip Length

Deciding on the length of your trips can help you determine if you need a large or small RV. If you are going on short trips to local sites or spending a weekend or two a year on a camping trip, you can choose a smaller RV. Longer trips, especially cross-country adventures, would require a larger RV to bring more supplies as you will be spending more time in the vehicle.

Towing

Some people don’t mind towing other vehicles behind their car or trucks. Other people hate the way their driving changes due to having something hitched on the back. Decide whether you would feel comfortable towing your RV or driving one.

Sleeping Arrangements

Will it just be you and your spouse in the RV, or will you also have the kids and grandkids along on your trips? Determining how many people will be using the RV on a normal basis will help you pick the right one that has plenty of sleeping places as well as extra storage.

Camping Preferences

Another important topic is deciding on whether you love being out on your own in the wilderness when camping or do you prefer to be around other people. This helps you determine if you will need to bring along an RV that has a generator when out on your own or one with full hookups for when you are at an RV park.

Price

Have a rough budget in mind when you are searching the lot at Jim’s RV Center. Price ranges can start at $14,000 and go up $100,000.

Types Of RVs

Once you have a list of the things you want in your RV, now is the time to choose just the right one. There are several different makes and models of trailers: travel trailers, toy trailers, fifth-wheels and motor homes.

Travel Trailers

These types of trailers can be towed behind your vehicle, so you will need to know the towing capacity of your truck or SUV. They are affordable and are perfect for destination-type camping as you can unhitch it anywhere. You will have hookups for gas, electric or water, but will need a generator if camping in remote places. Smaller types, called toy haulers, are perfect when you are looking for something to haul your recreational equipment.

Fifth-Wheels

Fifth-wheels are also RV trailers that you can tow. The difference is that these trailers extend over the bed of your truck. Very similar to travel trailers, these offer more cargo room and living spaces. A fifth-wheel is a great RV when you are planning an extended stay vacation or want to spend more time living in the RV.

Motor Homes

Motor homes give a variety of options for the full-time RV adventurer. You can drive or tow a motor home, or use your motor home to tow your car or truck. Passengers can move around and do things while the motor home is moving, giving more freedom and allowing you to be independent. Most motor homes have a generator along with hookups. Motor homes come in three classes depending on their size: Class A, Class B and Class C.

Financing For RVs

Not everyone has the extra cash on hand to purchase an RV. For this reason, you can get great financing with affordable interest rates. For you to qualify for most RV loans, you will need to have a good credit rating and a down payment of at least 10-percent of the value of the RV — including taxes and tags. You can also trade-in other vehicles for the down payment to the RV. Most RV loan terms are from seven years to twenty years depending on the loan amount and age of the RV.

Once you choose the right RV and arrange for financing, go out on your RV adventure. Enjoy the countryside in a vehicle that will always get you to your destination.

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Get Ready to Roll

Whether you are planning a weekend road trip or a longer trip, you still need to ensure that your RV is in tip-top shape, especially if you have a motorized RV. This means checking everything inside and out; and ensuring that you have everything you need.

If you find something that needs to be replaced, such as a sewer hose or even a hot water heater, you can pick up what you need or drop off the RV at the service center at Jim’s RV. We have a large selection of parts and accessories for the do-it-yourselfer, and we also have a large service department for those things you can’t repair yourself.

You can check some things about a week before you go; however, certain things need to be checked about a month before you go so that you can get your RV in for service. While the service department is quick, if you need something that has to be ordered, there will be plenty of time to get it – even if the warehouse sends the wrong part.

Motorized RVs

Check all fluids to ensure they are full, including the oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze. Check the engine carefully to see if you find any signs of leaking fluids, even if the fluids are full. Be sure to check the belts and hoses. Test drive the RV to ensure that the engine and transmission are working properly.

All RVs, Including Motorized

Check the air pressure in the tires and check for worn or dry rotted tires. If the tires look less than stellar, have them replaced by Jim’s RV Center. We will check the tires for you and advise you if you should replace them.

Check the trailer wiring. Plug into the tow vehicle to make sure everything works. If you are driving a motorized RV and towing a trailer, plug your trailer in to ensure that everything is working.

Turn on the water pump and hot water heater to ensure that the plumbing system is working properly. Check the heat and air conditioning even if you don’t think you’re going to use it. If you have a generator, fire it up to ensure it runs and to make sure it runs the interior of the RV.

Check the exterior of the RV for anything that might need to be tightened up. Make sure the slides work properly.

Stop by Jim’s RV Center for any service, parts or accessories you might need. If you are in the market for a new RV, stop by to look at our many floor plans. If you have an RV you are considering trading in, stop by with the RV so that we can check it out.

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Getting Your RV Ready for Spring

Leaving Fairbanks

Spring is just a few weeks away so it’s time to break out the checklist of things to do to get the RV ready for travel time. No matter if you had everything prepped before parking it for the winter, there are things you can do to spruce it up before hitting the road.

At Jim’s RV Center, we’re ready to take on any spring preparations you have in mind from service and parts to an array of RV accessories for that next trip.

Exterior Cleaning

Grime can build up on the exterior of the RV whether it’s covered with a tarp or sitting inside a garage, and dirt has a way of creeping into cracks and crevices, no matter what you do. There’s also the issue with pesky green mold and mildew that likes to make its home on rolled up patio covers, awnings, and outdoor furniture.

Start with a sponge and a clean bucket of water combined with vinegar to wipe down affected areas including outdoor tables, chairs and barbecue grills. Use cleansers for wheels and windows, and a washing agent formulated for RVs to clean the exterior body.

Interior

The interior needs its own freshening up process so everything is squeaky clean and smelling like roses. To do a thorough spring cleaning regimen, include some extra steps along with the basics of vacuuming, window washing, wiping walls, washing or dusting window curtains or window shades, and polishing furniture.

Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom countertops and cabinets with a disinfectant or use a mixture of fresh lemon juice and water. Replace or add new paper lining on kitchen cabinet shelves, and give the oven, refrigerator, and microwave a good once over with a sponge and cleanser. Air out the bedroom mattresses and consider spraying these along with sofa and chair cushions with a formula that eliminates odors and allergens.

Decorative Updates

Spring into act with a few upgrades to change the theme of each room with a new style such as incorporating a French Country or Art Deco décor or a Southwest or English cottage motif.

Add new accessories such as lamps, dinnerware, throw rugs, and wall decor and add new linens to the bathroom and bedroom.

Stop by and visit us during open house through March 2 and let our team at Jim’s RV show you around.

Photo by James Brooks (Flickr Creative Commons)

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Safety Tips for Your Upcoming Road Trips

dangerous driving in the rain - tips

Photo by Woodley Wonder Works

Located one mile from Tioga Downs, Jim’s RV Center has 20 bays available for service and complimentary facilities for overnight customers with scheduled service calls. Before starting your next journey, make this the first stop to ensure your RV is safe and ready to roll.

With so many people enjoying the option of traveling the highways of America in motorhomes, fifth wheels, or pulling a travel trailer or folding camper – all available at Jim’s – the roadways can become a safety issue.

Check your list of safety tips before leaving home and consider adding any of these you might have overlooked.

  • To help keep your recreational vehicle secure and your things safe while sightseeing or hiking, install a dead bolt to RV doors.
  • Make sure smoke alarms and fire extinguisher are in working order.
  • Remove excess grease build-up from the kitchen’s cooking vent/hood.
  • Give a once over to towing or hitch equipment.
  • Schedule a service appointment to have belts, hoses, tires, lights, signals, brakes, engine, transmission, and battery checked.
  • Check all the wire coverings to ensure the plastic or rubber coating hasn’t been chewed by hungry rodents.
  • Always leave a copy of your travel itinerary with family or friends in case of an unforeseen emergency.
  • Keep a road atlas by your side and be aware of the clearance levels of any bridges, tunnels and overpasses along your travel route.
  • Be comfortable with the size and weight of your RV so you don’t attempt to cross trestle bridges or covered bridges that won’t accommodate the weight or height of your RV.
  • Do visual maintenance throughout the trip each time you stop for the night.
  • Never leave the RV unattended while cooking.
  • Don’t store ignitable items such as curtains or fabric blinds close to the stove or portable heaters.
  • Check that retractable steps and awnings are securely stored or put away before taking to the road.
  • Keep the weight inside the RV balanced and secure. Uneven weight distribution and things sliding around the interior can cause problems.
  • If your RV has been stored, check for any birds nests that may be blocking the flue.

Contact our friendly staff at Jim’s RV Center today and be on your way to a safe trip no matter what time of year you’re traveling.

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Jim’s RV Do-it-Yourself Edition

While Jim’s RV can take care of any maintenance needs for your new or used RV in Nichols, NY. We also share tips and hints for work you can do yourself, so when you’re out of town, you can still care for your RV properly. Here are some practical do-it-yourself directions:

1. How to dump RV waste water holding tanks and thoroughly clean the black tank. Keeping your sewage tank super clean requires following a few simple procedures which will make it stay odor-free.

These step-by-step instructions will ensure that your RV holding tanks stay clean and fresh providing a healthier environment for your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel.

2. How to install your own window awnings. Window awnings can help tremendously to keep your RV’s interior cooler on hot days and to also reduce the fading of the fabrics on your chairs and couch from the sun. This video by Carefree of Colorado shows how easy it is to install your own window awnings using only a few handy tools.

RV Window Awning from Webster City RV on Vimeo.

3. How to hang things on the interior walls of your RV.  Most walls on RVs and motor homes in Nichols, NY are the same thin material that isn’t strong enough to hold wood screws. Without access behind the wall panels, there’s no way to use bolts, since you can’t tighten down the nuts. Velcro generally only works for lightweight items. The solution as demonstrated in this video: Pop Rivets.

We enjoy helping our customers with the little details that make owning and personalizing your RV an exciting experience. From maintaining the sanitation, to the cosmetics – we do our best to leave no stone unearthed. Feel free to share with us any other great Do-it-Yourself videos to add to our blog. And if or when your D-I-Y RV project becomes overwhelming, stop in and see us. We love to help out our customers!

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Germs and Your RV New York, Prevention is Key!

There are several common areas where germs lurk around campsites. One source of contamination comes from the misuse of your  RV’s black water tank — which holds waste. There are many diseases that are spread through contact with human waste – cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, measles, polio, typhoid fever, amoeba, giardia, hookworm, pinworm, roundworm, tapeworm, trichina worm – to name a few. Gloves are a must when handling black tank hoses and valves.  Always be sure to close the valve and tip the drain hose below the valve to catch any spillage that may continue to flow. After draining the tank, rinse the drain hose and drain area with water. Do not use the same hose you use to connect to your RV for fresh water. The key is to isolate clean from dirty.

The water supply (city water connection) to your RV can also be a source of germs. Before you go ahead and hook your hose to your campsite water hydrant, you may want to give it a wash down with some bleach or disinfectant spray. Dogs are a staple in most campgrounds and they tend to use the water hydrant for purposes other than drinking, if you get my drift.

Prior to using your fresh water holding tank disinfect it with chlorine bleach or an RV product made specifically made for this purpose.  Always use cleaners according to the specifications in your Jim’s RV manual.

The galley is a typical area for germs. Your RV kitchen can be a playground for cross contamination of foods.  After you have handled uncooked meats wash your hands, this will keep germs from being a part of the meal at your dinner table.

Germs that can cause disease or illness include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Germs really can’t harm you until you come in contact with them, so it’s a great idea to focus on prevention. Germs typically enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth; often transmitted from our own contaminated hands and fingers.

The key to prevention is to create a barrier between your hands and the infectious matter. Caution should be used when dealing with anything that can possibly be contaminated. Sanitary gloves can go a long way in these scenarios. There are many styles and materials to choose from. I, however,  recommend a disposable sanitary glove so that you can just trash it when you are done.

With so many odd bugs and illnesses surfacing from time to time, hand sanitizer is all the rage.  Therefore, another preventive measure is to sanitize your hands following any contact with germs. Oddly, people pass their hands through a faucet of running water and then rub them against a hanging towel which only makes the germs “wet”. To effectively control the spread of germs you must use soap. If there is none, then a bottle of hand sanitizer or antiseptic hand wipes are the next best thing.

Is this approach to germs obsessive compulsive, is it over-kill? It is up to you whether or not you want to fight this war, traveling sick isn’t optimal. Prevention is necessary and gives you a one-up in the battle with germs.

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10 Five Minute RV Maintenance Tips

Of course, Jim’s has a state-of-the-art RV service department with the latest in diagnostic and repair tools and parts that can handle just about any problem your RV faces. I say, why not just avoid RV problems all together. Here are a few quick and easy RV maintenance tips you can follow on your own to keep your camper in great shape from year to year.

Quick And Easy RV Maintenance Tips

Check sealants twice each month – check the rubber sealants around your windows to make sure they’re tight and not cracking. Cracked or loose sealant can let air in which causes drafts and leaks.

Check tire pressure before every trip –this one should be a no brainer. Make sure your tires are fully pressurized before you set off on your next road trip – it’s an easy RV maintenance tip that will prevent blowouts and it also  improves your gas mileage!

Run generator 2 hours per month under 50% load –letting your RV sit unused for months is not good for the generator. Run it under a light load for a few minutes each month to keep it primed so that it is ready the next time you decide to hit the road.

Check battery water level–making sure your batteries have enough water in them is crucial to ensuring that they will hold their charge. Check your battery water level frequently and add distilled water when necessary.

Clean holding tanks regularly –clean out your gray and black water tanks frequently to prevent bacteria and odors from leaking into the rest of your RV. Black and gray water tanks can get really gross, really fast – this is one RV maintenance tip you don’t want to forget! If you have to spend a vast amount of time on the road, cleanliness is a must.

Lube slide rails and gaskets twice each year –make sure all your slideout rails and all gaskets on your RV are properly lubricated to avoid friction. This will help make sure your slide rails stay in working condition all season long.

 Torque lug nuts before each trip – it is very important that you always make sure your lug nuts are fastened tightly before you head out. This RV maintenance tip is crucially important – if you’re not careful, your whole wheel assembly could fly off! Accidents slow down trips and can drain your pocket book, this type can be easily avoided.

 Sanitize fresh water system each spring – this is an RV maintenance tip that you should follow at the beginning of the RV season. Before your spring RV season starts, make a point to thoroughly sanitize your fresh water systems to keep your drinking water fresh and clean.

 Properly winterize each fall –this is one of the most crucial RV maintenance tips that you can follow. Before the winter hits it’s absolutely necessary to follow all of the steps to winterize your unit to protect it from the winter cold and lack of use (if you need help, check out our previous posts about how to winterize your RV!).

 Retract awning during heavy wind and rain – this RV maintenance tip is extremely important. On at least one of your camping trips you’re going to have to weather a storm. Make sure your awning is pulled back – otherwise, it’ll collapse like an umbrella and bend like crazy!

If you follow the above RV maintenance tips throughout the season, you may end up saving thousands of dollars in service costs! And remember, for all your RV maintenance and service needs, visit Jim’s RV Center in Nichols NY.

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It’s Almost Time To Winterize Your RV Nichols

 

A lot of full time RVers are making their final plans to load up their rig and head south for the winter. For them, winter time means changing locations and doing things as usual. If you are not a full time RVer, and you don’t plan on using your RV or trailer during the winter months, then that means that you are probably getting ready to winterize your RV. Winterizing your RV is a very important part of RV ownership if you keep your RV in cold weather areas during the winter months. It protects your rig from common problems that occur during cold storage.

One of the most important parts of winterizing is taking care of your water system. If you have water in your pipes during freezing temperatures, there is a good chance that the pipes will burst, and leave you with thousands of dollars of repairs on your hands. It is important to drain and flush your entire water system. This is also a great time to give your tanks one last heavy duty cleaning for the year. Replace your tanks with water and antifreeze, and then run your faucets and toilets until you see that the mixture is coming through all of your pipes. Don’t use regular car antifreeze, but instead use antifreeze designed for RV winterization.

If you don’t have a garage or indoor facility to store your rig, then you will want to completely cover your RV and tires. The environment and dirt, dust, and grime can have their toll on your RV’s exterior and tires, so make sure you have a high quality heavy duty cover to keep all of these elements off of your RV.

With Fall quickly coming to an end, it is time to make sure that you have your RV ready for a long winter at home. If you are looking for help to winterize your RV, or products that are made to get your rig through winter, then be sure to come in and see us at Jim’s RV.

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Get to Know Your RV’s Propane Tanks

 

One of the most essential components of your RV is the propane tanks and valves that deliver the gas to your RV. The propane does more than create heat, it also is used to run your refrigerator, power your water heater, and other appliances that are needed to make your RV into a home. It is important for you to know how it works and what kind of valves you have in order for you to troubleshoot problems down the road.

The first thing to know about is the actual propane tanks themselves. While you can get these filled at any propane station, you should still do a little bit of research on the tanks. Whether you own your own tanks, or trade them out for new ones, it is important to know their age. While you will likely never encounter a propane tank that is over eight years old, you can never be certain. Propane tanks are only certified for 12 years of use after the date they were manufactured. If you have tanks getting near that age and don’t want to let go of them, then you must  have them re-certified, which will only add five years of life to them.

The other important component is the valve system that connects your propane tanks to your gas line. It is recommended that you have ACME valves, which are sometimes known as QCC or OPD valves, on your RV. These are the kinds of valves that are easier to connect because they have a coupling that goes over the exterior of the tank valve. Not only are they easier to use, but they also have an over-flow protector which allows your tank to billed filled at the proper level without risking over filling. Your RV may have POL valves, which attach to the interior of the tank valve, which is okay, but you may want to think of changing them.

Knowing how your RV works, especially if you are a new RVer, is a great way to diagnose problems and do preventative RV maintenance in Nichols. Be sure to check out your RV’s propane system, or come by and we can help you with your RV questions.

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Get your RV ready for the coming cold weather

 

With the weather getting colder you need to make sure your RV is ready for the coming season. This is not the same as winterizing your RV, only making sure that you can enjoy the cooler fall nights without problems while camping. Just like how you need to change your wardrobe from summer to fall, your RV needs to prepare for the coming change in the elements. Unlike winterizing your rig, giving your RV a cold weather check only takes a few hours at most, and it allows you to hit the road and get back to camping when you are finished.

The first thing that you should do is inspect your batteries. Give them a good cleaning with a baking soda and water mixture, and check and refill with distilled water if necessary. Also, check their charge with a voltometer to ensure that they will continue working in the cooler weather. Next, it is time to check your engines antifreeze and coolant system. With winter coming, you want your coolant mixture to be around 70% anti-freeze and 30% water. You can check this with testing strips or a refractometer. Also, be sure to check all the hoses and lines for your colling system to make sure there are no leaks or holes.

No one wants to freeze in their RV, so be sure to check your rigs furnace and heating system. If you haven’t run it yet, turn it on high to get rid of any mold that has developed in your furnace over the last 6 months. Also, make sure that you are not losing any of that warm air due to holes or open seals in your roof. Make sure that your roof has no leaks or hole in it, and give the roof a good was while you are up there. Finally, check all your devices inside your RV. Fire detector and carbon monoxide batteries, appliances, and any other electrical advice. You don’t want to lose power when you are in the middle of no where with a cold front blowing in.

Keep your RV ready this fall and winter, and enjoy the off season if you are keeping your RV in storage. If you’re looking for a new RV, then be sure to come into Jim’s RV.

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