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How to Protect Your RV from Sun Damage

How to Protect Your RV from Sun Damage

Most RVers plan to travel in sunny weather or to sunny weather. And most RVs are outdoors most or all of the time. That’s why it’s so important to know how to protect RVs from sun damage.

So many parts of an RV need protection from the sun’s UV rays that we decided to devote an entire post to this important topic.

It’s also a good idea to protect RVs from UV damage as early as possible, because once the damage has occurred, repairing the effects of RV sun damage can be both difficult and costly.

Follow these tips to help preserve your RV’s appearance and overall integrity.

What Kind of Damage Can the Sun Do to an RV?

UV rays can be very harmful. Just as we use sunscreen to protect our skin from sun damage, your RV requires help with protection from the sun, too.

Let’s look at some of the ways the sun can damage an RV:

Dries Out Sealants

This is one of the most damaging effects of the sun.

As the name implies, the purpose of sealants is, of course, to “seal” (primarily against water). Dried-out and cracked sealants lead to leaks — specifically leaky roofs. This can not only cause mold and mildew but can also damage the integrity of the rig’s structure over time.

RV roof leaks are to be avoided at all costs. The number one way to do that is through routine inspections, including Dicor sealant maintenance as needed.

Damages Paint

There is no practical way to avoid exposing your RV’s paint to the sun.

But you can try to minimize paint damage. We’ll cover how to do that in just a minute.

Damages Decals

Like the paint on your RV, any decals will degrade from exposure to the sun.

For this reason, it’s important to know how to protect RV decals from harmful UV rays. Check out that entire post to learn the best ways to keep your decals looking as new as possible.

As we noted in that post, we like Aerospace 303 as a protectant against sun damage.

Sale
303 Aerospace Protectant - Provides Superior UV Protection, Helps Prevent Fading and Cracking, Repels Dust, Lint, and Staining, Restores Lost Color and Luster, 16oz (30308CSR)
  • ULTIMATE PROTECTION – 303 Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against the sun's damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust,...
  • NON-GREASY – This restoration product dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your outdoor furniture, spa and...

Damages and Accelerates Aging of Tires

RV tires can be really expensive! And while all tires degrade with age, exposure to the sun will accelerate that process immensely.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your RV tires to keep them carrying the load for as long as possible. Our video below is a great overview of how we care for and protect this valuable resource (besides being expensive, our lives are riding on them)!

Damages Window Seals and Slide-Out Seals

Just like sealants on the roof, window and slide-out seals can dry out and crack from exposure to UV rays.

This damage can cause windows and slide-outs to stop working properly, or allow water to enter.

Maintaining slide-out seals is important to preserve the integrity of an RV. It’s important enough that we’ve covered it twice.

While the techniques we share in both of those posts and videos help keep slide seals working better and longer, protecting against UV is another story. That’s hard to address beyond seal inspection and replacement if that should become necessary.

Decreases Resale Value

Damage to your RV from long-term exposure to the sun will decrease your rig’s trade-in or resale value.

All of the potential damage listed above is why it’s so important to take steps to protect your RV from sun damage.

So, let’s get to it!

The Best Ways to Protect an RV from Sun Damage

There are a number of different parts of an RV that require protection from sun damage. Whether you have a motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, or truck camper, the following tips will contribute to preserving your RV from the roof to the tires, and everything in between.

Regularly Inspect the RV and All Sealants!

As mentioned earlier, the primary way to avoid water damage from RV roof leaks is to inspect the sealants regularly and tend to them as needed. We always keep Dicor self-leveling lap sealant on hand for just this purpose.

Sale
Dicor 501LSW-1 Epdm Self-Leveling Lap Sealant-10.3 Oz. Tube, White, 10.3 Fluid_Ounces (Packaging May Vary)
  • Creates a secure, secondary seal along the roof’s edges, air vents, vent pipes and screw heads
  • Adheres firmly to aluminum, mortar, wood, vinyl, galvanized metal, fiberglass and concrete

Patching cracks in old Dicor is far easier and less expensive than repairing the damage undetected leaks can cause.

A tube of Dicor and 30 minutes on the roof a couple of times a year is far better than dealing with structural damage.

We routinely check the sealants on our roof as part of our annual RV maintenance and spring cleaning. It’s just so easy to touch up with fresh Dicor.

If you’re unfamiliar with your RV roof, our post “The Complete Guide to Your RV Roof” could save you from a real headache. Whether your roof is fiberglass, aluminum, or “rubber” roof (TPO, EPDM, etc), you’ll want to stay on top of roof maintenance.

RV roofs can be patched and sealed, and you can even repair RV roof holes.

If you’re not comfortable getting up on your RV roof yourself, it’s a good idea to have a friend or even a mobile RV repair technician take a look for any damage that can be easily addressed… if it’s caught early.

Keep It Clean!

One of the best ways to protect it from sun damage is to wash your RV, and wax it, too!

Washing your rig and applying quality wax will go a long way to protect your rig’s finish.

There are many good RV cleaning products. In a previous post, we highlighted 5 of the best RV washes and waxes.

These are our favorites, but the key is to keep the dirt and grime off your rig as much as possible.

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash, Car Wash Foam for Car Cleaning - 1 Gallon Container
  • CAR WASH FOAM: One-gallon container of Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash designed to both wash and condition paint in one step for easy car care
  • CLEAR COAT SAFE: Made using safe, biodegradable detergents (1), this car cleaning foam is safe to use on all paint types and clear coats ((1)...
Sale
Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax, Durable Protection that Shines, Towel and Pad Included - 16 Oz Bottle
  • IMPROVED FORMULA: Improved formula delivers a glossier finish, increased protection and more water beading action in one easy step
  • EASY TO USE WAX: Easy spread on and wipe off application – even in full sun

Keep It Under Cover!

Leaving your RV out in the elements year-round can be hard on it. In some climates, sun damage can be extreme if the RV isn’t protected.

If your rig won’t be used for long periods of time, finding a way to protect it from the sun (and snow, ice, and salt air, too) is very important.

There are several ways to keep your RV out of the elements (or at least reduce the exposure).

RV Covers

In our post on the pros and cons of RV covers, we noted that there are a few things to be cautious of when covering your rig.

You need to ensure it fits well so that the wind doesn’t cause repetitive “slapping” against the rig causing scratches or other damage to the finish.

You also need to check on the rig occasionally to ensure rodents don’t set up a home base inside. (For more information, see our post on how to keep invasive mice out of your RV for good.)

And you need to be sure the RV can “breathe” so that moisture doesn’t build up, causing mold or mildew.

If you’re interested in learning more about an RV cover for your rig, see our post on the 5 Best RV covers.

Indoor Storage

There are lots of storage options for RVs, but of course, not all of them are indoors.

If your RV isn’t in use for a long period of time, consider storage options to keep your rig safe from sun damage and damage from other elements.

Our post on some of the best RV storage options available may be helpful to you if you’re considering storing your rig.

We live in our RV full-time, so we don’t generally spend much time away from it. But when we travel outside the country, we store our rig to keep it safe.

Our video below showcases the indoor storage option we used during a two-month RV trip to Italy. It’s the best storage facility we’ve ever seen!

Park In the Shade

Another way to protect your RV from sun damage is to park it in the shade whenever possible.

This not only helps to keep damaging UV rays from drying out RV window seals, slide-out seals, and roof sealants, but also protects the paint and any decals.

An added bonus is that it helps to keep the interior of the rig cooler as well.

Of course, parking in the shade can be an issue if you’ve got solar panels that need to see the sun. That’s definitely a catch-22 in hotter weather.

This is one reason some RVers choose a ground-deploy folding solar system. It allows them to park their RV in the shade while positioning their portable solar panels in the sun a short distance away.

We’ve chosen a fully-integrated roof-mounted solar system, so we can’t do that. Either can be a workable strategy. Like my mom always says: “That’s why they make vanilla & chocolate!”

Protect the Roof!

We’ve discussed protecting your RV’s roof at length above, but it’s worth repeating how important (and easy) it is.

Not only do you need to check sealants to make sure they haven’t dried out and cracked, but, depending on what it’s made of, your roof itself may require a new RV roof coating at some point.

Protect the Tires!

RV tires can be seriously damaged by the harmful effects of UV rays. And they’re almost always exposed to it… unless you cover them when they’re not rolling.

We’ve been full-time RVers for 20 years, and we’re big believers in using good quality RV tire covers as much as possible.

The tires on our 43′ diesel are incredibly expensive, so we take good care of them to prolong their useful life.

Check out our post on the four biggest reasons why we love RV tire covers and see why SnapRing TiresSavers are the ones we swear by in the video below. (Spoiler: If they’re not simple to both install and stow, they won’t get used as much.)

SAVE 10%
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TireSavers make protecting your tires a "SNAP". The exclusive spring-steel ring design holds the TireSavers in place and eliminates the hassle of crawling around on the ground to secure straps...Show More

TireSavers make protecting your tires a "SNAP". The exclusive spring-steel ring design holds the TireSavers in place and eliminates the hassle of crawling around on the ground to secure straps, bungee cords, and/or other hardware.

Now, you can save 10% by ordering direct from Covercraft's website when you use the Promo Code "RVGEEKS"

Watch our video about our SnapRing TireSavers

TireSavers come in a range of sizes (from 19" up to 42") designed to provide snug, complete protection for your RV's tires, whatever size they are.

Show Less

We also use high-quality protectant solutions on our RV tires to protect them from tire dry rot and other damage that causes tires to age early.

Sale
303 Aerospace Protectant - Provides Superior UV Protection, Helps Prevent Fading and Cracking, Repels Dust, Lint, and Staining, Restores Lost Color and Luster, 16oz (30308CSR)
  • ULTIMATE PROTECTION – 303 Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against the sun's damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust,...
  • NON-GREASY – This restoration product dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your outdoor furniture, spa and...
Sale
303 Tire and Rubber Cleaner - Preps Tires for Dressing - Fast Acting Foaming Formula - Removes Tire Browning - Safe for All Rubber and Vinyl, 32 fl. oz. (30579CSR)
  • Watch dirt and grime dissolve quickly and easily with our color changing foam formula
  • Prevents and removes tire browning, tire blossoming, and dry rot

Final Note

Based on the condition of our 2005 motorhome — 18 years old as we write this — we’re confident that what we’ve been doing to protect our rig from sun damage will work as well for you as it has for us!

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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