Last Updated on January 2, 2022 by Douglas
Owning an RV can help you live an amazing life. If you want to live in the RV, you wouldn’t have to remain stuck to one area. Instead you can travel around and see what the world has to offer. You can also just use it during vacations. This can help you save on travel and accommodation costs. However, remember that RVs need to be maintained. You can’t just let it rust and expect it to work when the need arises. A common RV problem has to do with the generator, more specifically a generator that just won’t start.
This can be frustrating. After all, you need electricity to survive. There are quite a few reasons why your generator might not be starting. We will be discussing all of these reasons below. We will also provide solutions to these problems. Our list includes the most common RV generator issues, but it might leave out a few of the rarer problems. If our solutions don’t get your generator up and running, try to explore a few more options. Without further ado, here are some common RV generator problems and how to fix them.
Common RV Generator Problems And Their Solutions
Not Enough Oil
Oil is necessary for optimal generator activity. It can allow your generator to run quite smoothly. What’s more is that it prevents overheating from occurring due to friction. Oil lubricates the machine. If oil levels are low, various components will fail to start. They might also be stuck in one place. This can make them less likely to function optimally. If your RV generator isn’t working, there is a good chance that oil levels are low. Hence, you would need to check this every so often. Forcing the generator to run despite low oil levels can cause overheating and damage the generator beyond repair.
To solve this problem, first check the oil dipstick. This will tell you how low the oil levels truly are. You can then choose one of two options. If your oil is relatively clean, you can top it off with a bit more. Just make sure that you consult your owner’s manual to find out what kind of oil you should be using. Adding the wrong kind of oil can lead to all sorts of problems. It can also cause further damage to the generator.
Alternatively, you can replace the oil entirely. This is necessary if the remaining oil is dirty. Topping it off is a cheaper solution. But it is not a very sustainable one. Frequent oil changes can help your generator last much longer. Turning it on with dirty oil can often produce an acrid smoke. It would also cause your generator to frequently and spontaneously shut down.
Problems With The Battery
The way generators work is that they use a spark from a battery to ignite the fuel. This results in combustion which produces energy. Even if you have a top of the line generator, it won’t work at all if your battery has issues. The generator battery is connected to the main battery of the RV. Both of these should be checked for problems just to be on the safe side. Checking both batteries should show you where the problem lies.
One possible issue could be that the connections aren’t properly attached. This is an easy enough issue to fix. Just turn your RV off and tighten the connections a little bit. Try to turn your generator on and see if that worked. Also, check and make sure that you have charged your battery completely. Sometimes when it isn’t fully charged it would fail to work. It can take some time to charge, so leave it for a while and check back again later.
A major issue that could occur here is that your battery has corroded. This is common among older batteries. Sometimes the corrosion can be severe enough to cause a leak. This can be disastrous for your RV since the battery acid would damage all of the other components. If this is the case, your only option is to change the battery. Hence, checking for corrosion or leaks should be the first item on your checklist.
Low Levels of Fuel in The Tank
Most generators use fuel from your gas tank to operate. This makes them simpler to use. Instead of having to haul around fuel containers, you can just hook the generator up to the mobile home. However, high end generators have a rather unique feature. They can detect fuel levels in your gas tank. If fuel levels dip below a quarter of the tank, the generator would switch off.
This is actually a really useful feature. It can prevent you from suddenly running out of gas if you left your generator on for too long. You can also take this a sign that you need to get your tank filled. That way, your generator would stop early enough to give you a chance to refuel rather than depleting all of your gas.
Just take a look at your fuel gauge if your generator won’t start. If you have less than a quarter tank of gas, that’s your problem right there. The solution to this is pretty simple. Just go to the nearest gas station and get a full tank. Try to refuel periodically rather than waiting for your tank to run low. Otherwise you might get stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to keep going.
Some generators don’t run on diesel or gas. Instead, they rely on propane. They can be useful because they won’t use up the gas in your tank. You can have a container of propane that the generator keeps using. This would be a dedicated fuel source that wouldn’t be used for anything else. If your generator isn’t turning on, just make sure that you have enough propane in the tank. You should ideally have a spare container of propane that you can use if the previous one runs out. That way you never have to go without electricity since you can just replace the container with the spare and be on your way.
If your fuel tank isn’t running low, or if you refuel but your generator still hasn’t started working, there is probably a different issue at play here. You will have to do a bit more research to find the actual problem.
Old Fuel in The Generator
This is a problem specific to certain kinds of generators. These are generators that have dedicated fuel tanks. Most people don’t face problems like this because they tend to use their generators constantly. However, if you only use your generator occasionally then the fuel in the tank might go bad. Lots of people don’t know this, but fuel can expire over time. If you haven’t replaced the fuel in your generator’s tank recently or haven’t topped it up in a while, this might be the issue that is preventing the generator from starting up.
It’s better to avoid facing this issue rather than dealing with it when it arises. Your generator would get worn down if it uses old or stale fuel too often. Hence, you should be careful and empty out the fuel tank if you haven’t used it in a while. If you are replacing the fuel, have an engineer come and do it for you. It can be a tricky process that not everyone can get the hang of. What’s more is that the tank would need to be cleaned before the fuel can be replaced. Some sediment and other dirt might have accumulated in the old fuel. This would taint the new fuel and prevent it from being effective.
You might also need to change the fuel filter as well. This is another thing that only a trained professional would be able to do.
Faulty or Worn Out Parts
This is the most common problem that can occur in generators. RV generators tend to last a long time. Many people take this as a sign that they should never replace any of the parts. Naturally, this leads to quite a few parts getting worn down. The longevity of RV generators doesn’t mean that every part would last forever. It just means that they last a while and are easily replaced. If you haven’t replaced or checked any of the parts lately, now might be a good time to do it.
The first thing you should be on the lookout for is wear and tear. Corrosion of any kind is a serious sign. You should get all corroded parts removed instantly. One failing while the generator is on could lead to dangerous outcomes. Corrosion isn’t all that you should be looking for, though. Sometimes the parts might be new but are unable to function due to a factory defect. If you have recently added new parts, this might be the problem that is occurring. Check your generator’s internal components out just to be sure.
Ideally you should get your generator checked out by a mechanic every year. An expert can point things that need to change or be improved. They can also fix the problems then and there. Annual checkups can prevent faulty parts from ever affecting you because they will have already been replaced.
Why RV Maintenance is So Important
RVs are both vehicles and homes, which means they require double the maintenance. If you live in your RV, maintenance becomes even more important. You are using the RV a lot more than most people. Constant use can inflict a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle. There are a number of different components that need to be taken care of in a mobile home. Keeping an eye on all of them is important. However, your generator will require the most care. It is the most frequently damaged part of an RV.
A weekly general maintenance check should do the thing. You should check things like wiring, antifreeze levels and oil quality. These maintenance checks can prevent the likelihood of your generator facing problems. Prevention is always better than a cure after all. Extend this maintenance check to the rest of your RV as well. Kick the tires to see if they have enough air in them. You don’t want to encounter difficulties during your travels. You might be too far away from civilization to get help. Checking for issues can make your travels safer and more comfortable.
The Final Solution: Consult a Professional
As we have already mentioned above, the list we provided contains common RV generator issues. There is a chance that none of our solutions would work. In this case, your only option is to call a professional. Generator experts know the ins and outs of these machines. They can use this knowledge to fix your generator in no time. What’s more is they can tell you what problems might occur in the future. You can hire them to do a general cleanup of the generator. This would fix many of the issues that it currently faces. Hence, your generator would start working a lot better once the expert is done.
People that travel in RVs tend to have a DIY mentality. To be honest, such a mentality is essential if you want to live in a mobile home. That said, sometimes the problem you are facing would be too great for you to solve on your own. It would be better to swallow your pride and just call an expert rather than trying to fix it yourself. If you don’t have experience with RVs, you might end up damaging it even more. This would mean calling an expert anyway, so just do it beforehand and save yourself the trouble.