RV covers are a vital part of any owner’s list of gadgets. Not only do they keep your baby looking shiny and clean, but they increase the lifespan of your RV and protect it from the elements and animals.
Most covers last between 3-5 years, with warranties rarely going beyond that. It’s best to replace covers when they’re showing wear rather than waiting for failure.
Now here’s what you need to know to make sure you’re getting the most out of your RV cover.
Dangers In The Life Of An RV Cover
As with all things in life (unfortunately), quality comes with a higher price tag. This means that if you’re looking for an RV cover, going the cheap route will likely cost you in the long run. Here are all of the factors that can affect your RV cover’s lifespan.
Just like with your skin, extended exposure to UV light can damage your RV and its accompaniments. Unlike your skin, however, a sweet tan on your RV isn’t really ideal. Not only does it damage the paint, but it can damage the actual frame of the vehicle.
This rule is the same for your RV cover. If left in the sunlight when not in use, your RV cover will degrade more quickly than if it was under shade. While this is an unfortunate reality of RV ownership, it’s important to know. After all, you bought a cover for this exact reason – to protect your RV from the elements, sun included.
Hot And Cold
Proper RV covers will have thermal insulation and safeguards against UV light. This means that regardless of where you live, the cover will keep your RV from getting too hot or cold when in disuse.
If you opted for the cheap route of that blue tarp laying in your garage, here’s where the problems begin. Yes, those things are waterproof – but they’re not designed with an RV in mind. This means that it can tear, the metal eyelets on them can scratch the exterior, and it won’t do too well in extreme hot or cold.
This can lead to shrinkage or cracking, rendering the waterproofing useless.
My arch nemesis seems to be wind. No matter how well I try to tie down a cheap cover, it comes off. This often results in the straps or anchoring points tearing, which is a massive pain to deal with. This means that finding a cover that fits snugly onto your RV is vital to its long-term survival.
Dirt & Moisture
If your RV cover is too tight or loose, it can trap dirt, moisture, and even animals inside. This is where I emphasize again that getting a properly fitted cover is vital. I’m willing to bet that every person with a negative experience with an RV cover opted for the first one they found. Then they struggled to get it to fit, and eventually said, “good enough,” and packed it up.
So it’s no surprise that common complaints online involve scratched exteriors, the buildup of mold and mildew, and even damage from animals! If you don’t get the right cover for your RV, you’re likely to experience the same issues.
Letting dirt or moisture under the cover can result in damage to the paint, cracking, or even damage inside your RV. So be smart and take the time to fit your cover.
How To Improve Your Cover’s Lifespan
So with that out of the way, what can you do to make your RV cover last a bit longer? Beyond finding the right fit, it’s important to look at the quality of each part of the cover. Straps, anchoring points, and material are all going to affect your experience.
You want to find a material that’s breathable, first. This allows moisture that may make it through to evaporate, rather than sit and fester. Beyond that, test the strength of straps and make sure anchoring points are sturdily reinforced.
Some cheap covers try to get away with cotton straps simply sewn into the cover – you don’t want that. You want metal (padded to prevent scratching) anchors with a strong connection to the straps, so flimsy stitching won’t do it. Elastic sections and vent flaps will help too, allowing a bit of flex without tearing.
- Regularly reapply UV protectant to your cover if it’s showing age. You can use this product for UV on most materials – but be sure what your cover’s made out of before use.
- If possible, store your RV under shade or in a garage, ideally. Not everyone has this option, so if you’re willing to spend the money, you can buy makeshift carports to lend a bit of extra life to your cover. This is especially handy in wet or extremely hot environments.
- Inspect your cover regularly. Even though you’re not actively using the RV, that doesn’t mean you should just forget about it. Every few weeks, take a couple of minutes to inspect the cover for damage. And don’t be afraid to replace it! The ~$500 you spend on a new cover is much less than the ~$2,000+ you’ll have to spend to resurface your RV.
RV covers take a lot of damage, by design. They’re meant to keep your RV looking good and prevent damage, even if it means they take the damage instead. While they can be a little expensive, it’s worth replacing them after 3-5 years when they show damage. You don’t want to be stuck with a massive bill to repair your RV just because you got lazy.
Are All RV Covers Waterproof?
No. Some are water-resistant or repellent. You generally want waterproof covers, as they’re going to actually keep water out. Other options simply limit the amount of water that makes it though – and some will make it through.
Does My RV Cover Have A Warranty?
Most covers will have a warranty. However, these warranties usually stop after three years – right when most covers begin to show issues. When buying, be aware of when the warranty stops to avoid unnecessary headaches.
How Expensive Are RV Covers?
Generally, RV covers range from $300-500, with high-end models capping around $1,000.