How to maintain your RV and tow vehicle exteriors

Ian Bellert — 9 November 2023
Your RV is a mastery of engineering given the travels and places it can take us. Let's look at how to keep it looking its best from the outside

A protective layer

One product to look at in the early stages of ownership and vehicle life, is a paint protection body wrap for an extra layer of protection. These wraps protect the paintwork from scratches and the ol’ bush pinstripes. BushWrapz are an Australian company and offer three levels of paint protection. One for single trip protection, a DIY application and a pro-level protection kit which needs to be fitted by a recommended installer. The website details the different levels of protection afforded by their paint protection film (PPF). They have a range of products to protect an RV's windows and doors. They are well worth investigating, preferably for vehicles whose paint work is still in good condition. Most existing scratches can be hidden, though if you can feel the scratch in your camper or vehicle's paint, it probably can’t be disguised. You can order a sample to test before going ahead with a complete kit. BushWrapz customer service is brilliant too (phone the team on 07 3521 5090). 

A thorough cleaning regime

This option not only enhances the appearance of your camper, but also helps get rid of dirt, dust and mud from the underneath of your camper or RV (and tow vehicle). If you don’t clean the underbody of your units, the buildup of dirt and road grime can increase wear and tear on components. One of the first things to do once you get home is clean the underbody of your tow vehicle and camper. A good trick is to put a garden sprinkler underneath and crank it up. This is best done on grass so that your lawn gets the benefit of watering and some added top dressing! The front, middle and rear of your camper all need a good clean as you’ll cover suspension systems, drive shafts, differentials and brakes. It’s ideal to do this as soon as possible so that any dirt, grime or mud doesn’t get a chance to set. If you have external batteries, be sure to check the IP rating first to determine how water-resistant they are.

(Image Justin Gill)

Moving on to the wheel arches, a high-pressure hose or pressure washer is a great way to really clean out mud and dirt and while cleaning, pay attention to suspension towers and leaf springs (if you have them). Giving these a good clean prevents wear and tear. And don't forget to clean the camper roof while you're at it. Regular cleaning and routine maintenance can make all the difference when preserving the lifespan of recreational vehicles.

Then it's a case of getting out your car wash kit and elbow grease and going over your RV. Not only do you end up with a shiny camper but it's a good way to check the body of the vehicle to see if there’s any marks or scratches that need buffer or repair. A wash and wipe down with a chamois or microfiber cloth (taking care not to leave swirl marks) and you’re all done.

A final round of TLC

Using a car polish or wax adds a next level finish to your RV. There are plenty on the market and Meguiar’s have a good reputation, as does Turtle Wax and a myriad of others. Some products are just a polish, while others have a cutting compound. The cutting compound can remove some blemishes and kits come with an applicator. Expect to build up a sweat when applying and removing the cutting compound. Then apply polish or wax to give your RV a new car look. Here’s a good video showing the process. The final step is to get planning your next getaway while you admire your hard work!


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