21st century RVing: Apps make maintenance simple

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By Kevin Hulit

Maintaining your RV and protecting it as an investment is a wise choice. Whether you’re passionate about your RV and want to get a long life from it or want to plan the best maintenance schedule to help holds its value for a possible upgrade a few years down the road, making time to keep up with care is necessary.

However, a busy, or in some cases mobile lifestyle, can make it challenging to meet maintenance requirements. Luckily, there are options available that simplify RV maintenance and management. With the ever-increasing presence of the Internet and productivity capabilities via cloud technology and WI-Fi, RV maintenance is as easy as streaming music from your smartphone.

An RV is many things. In the case of a fifth wheel or travel trailer, it is home, be it a for a long weekend or a retirement. A motor coach is home too, only with the added feature of being a truck at the same time.

Most importantly, and RV is a recreational vehicle, emphasis on recreational. RVs are built for fun, for travel, and for making memories. They are not built to be maintenance headaches or problems that end roadside.

Managing your RV may not fall into the category of fun, but it is necessary, and critical. Engine oil, tire pressure, fuel economy, hot water, waste management, heating, and cooling can all role up under one roof in an RV, and on a single trip are all vital to its success. Without a plan to manage an RV’s systems, unchecked items could spell disaster, or at least discomfort when all you want is a little fun with family.

In order to maximize fun, you must first minimize risks. In a busy life, you must also minimize the time required to minimize risks. The good news is, there is technology for that.

One solution for RV maintenance is a service called Maintain my RV. Co-creator Rob Willard is an RV enthusiast himself and understands the real need for RV care.

The Maintain my RV program is an online tool that allows an RV owner to track important things like engine oil and air conditioning maintenance and create alerts for items that need, or will need, attention. Email notifications from the tool can help ensure that servicing the RV is not left until the last minute or altogether overlooked or forgotten before that family summer road trip.

The service boasts the ability to build maintenance schedules, track fuel economy, manage important documents, and track expenses as well, a useful tool for those that utilize RVs for work as well.

A quick search in the Apple App Store or in Google Play will also bring up three or four downloadable apps for use on a smartphone or tablet to help plan RV maintenance as well.

Togo, an app that populates in searches in both App Store and Google Play allows you to build maintenance schedules, set reminders for things like registration, and has pre-trip checklists and trip planning capabilities.

A great asset to these types of maintenance planning tools is that they can be preset and then left to run on autopilot, but taking a little time to input the information necessary for the programs to maximize their usefulness is a key component to their success. The more information you feed them, the more helpful they are.

Inputting information, especially from a tablet or smartphone, is easy, and is no different than taking time at night to sit down with Facebook or Instagram to catch up on friends and interests.

While pre-trip planning and maintenance tools make critical vehicle and coach maintenance requirements easily manageable, the “Internet of Things” is making time in the RV and on the road easier, too.

In September last year, AT&T and Airstream announced a partnership that combined AT&T 4G LTE capabilities with the iconic Airstream Silver Bullet. With manageable data plans, including an annual unlimited data plan, the two companies effectively created a “Smart RV’ comparable to what folks in homes have been able to do with smart technologies like Amazon Echo, Nest thermostats, and Ring doorbells.

In this smart RV, people can now monitor and control climate, water, lighting, awnings, and more remotely just like if it was a stick and brick home.

Aftermarket products are also available to duplicate AT&T and Airstream’s RV team up. Powerful modems that convert LTE into WIFI for RVs can be built and installed in any RV, and with WI-FI access, it is possible to incorporate smart technologies into older models.

RVing is a longstanding American tradition. The dream of hitting the road in an RV to see the beauty of nature in between great towns full of culture and unique experiences, or to just get away, is a worthwhile pursuit.

Interestingly, despite the immense capability of smartphones and the Internet, they cannot duplicate the RV experience. They can, however, enhance that experience and make it more enjoyable.

Utilizing 21st century tools in the old American tradition of RVing will heighten the enjoyment and become part of what makes so many wonderful memories happen while RVing.

Kevin Hulit

Kevin Hulit

Kevin Hulit is published author of science fiction and poetry, an avid fly fisherman, and overall outdoorsman. His experience working with aftermarket RV products and services led him to an interest in researching and consulting RV enhancements and modifications that improve the RV lifestyle and life on the road. Originally from California, he also lived in New England before settling in New Jersey with his wife and children. Kevin attended Rutgers University where he earned a B.A. and has worked professionally in sales and marketing for nearly 20 years.

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