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Any RV has fluids that need to be changed periodically and disposed of properly.
Fluid change requirements in an RV don’t differ significantly from those of a car or SUV you drive every day. The biggest difference may be the number of miles driven. If your RV is on the road for only 3,000 or 4,000 miles each year, you may not reach the change intervals in terms of miles, but you should still change the fluids periodically, and the filters along with them.
A motorhome has more fluids: motor oil, antifreeze/coolant and hydraulic fluid. An RV trailer may have only the hydraulic fluid.
Here are some fluid-change guidelines.
This is the lifeblood of your engine. Oil must flow freely to bathe moving internal engine parts. Oil lowers friction and heat, reducing wear. For oil to flow freely, it must be relatively clean, be the right weight for your vehicle and have a clean filter. All that information is available in the owner’s manual. A service department also will know it.
Generally speaking, an oil and filter change every 4,000 to 5,000 miles is sufficient. But certain conditions place additional stresses on oil and may call for more frequent changes: towing; driving under heavy loads, in extremely hot weather, and in high altitudes; and idling for long periods.
If you don’t travel as many miles as are recommended for oil changes, change the oil yearly.
If you change the oil yourself, buy a pan to catch the old oil. Save it for recycling. (More on that later.)
The difference of opinions on transmission oil changes is wide. Check your owner’s manual. Some sources say 100,000 miles; some say 50,000 miles. If you tow a trailer, your pickup’s tranny fluid should be changed under the “severe service” schedule, which would be more frequently. The Chevrolet Silverado “severe service” recommendation, for example, is every 45,000 miles. If you purchased an independent, extended warranty, check to make sure it does not require more frequent intervals.
It’s pretty safe to say that motor home transmission fluid should be changed under the severe schedule as well, since it’s powering thousands of extra pounds.
As a rule, check your transmission fluid seasonally, using the transmission dipstick, with the engine running. If the level is full, and if the liquid is clear and is its normal color—probably red—and doesn’t smell burnt, you’re good to go. If something is abnormal, have your transmission checked.
If you change the fluid yourself, make sure the fluid you buy is compatible. A dealer parts department or auto parts store will know the proper fluid. Catch and hold the transmission fluid for recycling.
Much like transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid is usually good if it is clean, the original color and doesn’t smell burnt. A good rule to follow is to change hydraulic fluid every two years, but always if it appears out of the ordinary.
Hydraulic fluid changes are messy. Filter requirements vary. Some models have not only an external filter, but also an internal filter. Make sure you use compatible filters.
Capture and save hydraulic fluid for recycling.
Safely and responsibly disposing of used oil isn’t as hard as you might think. The important thing is to keep it out of landfills, where it can leak and contaminate underground water and soil.
Many service stations accept used oil, including hydraulic fluid and transmission fluid, which are also classified as oil. Many service centers have setups that enable them to burn the oil, using it as heating fuel. Most Autozone parts stores and Pep Boys accept used oil, but many independently owned corner service stations do, too. Just call and ask.
Oil filters should be hot drained—kept at 60 degrees or above and allowed to drain into a container. For up to 12 hours. Drained filters can be sent to landfills in some states, including Georgia, but recycling is a more environmentally friendly practice.
Some municipalities hold annual hazardous waste collections and accept used motor oil and filters, even though normal used oil is considered regulated, not hazardous. Check your municipal government’s website or just call to find out. Hydraulic fluid, transmission oil and gear oil are all considered oil and can be recycled.
*Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
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