Fluid Analysis | Like Blood Work for an RV

Fluid Analysis with an RV Inspection

When you visit your doctor for annual checkup, chances are, they order blood tests to determine what might be going on inside your body. 

The same thing is true for the inner workings of an RV. A fluid analysis will provide results like a blood test will and help prevent any issues in the future with your RV or tow vehicle.

A complete fluid analysis is the only way to reveal what’s going on inside an RV or tow vehicle’s engine, transmission, and cooling systems. It can also be performed on generator motors and cooling systems (if equipped). Completing this analysis can save you thousands of dollars if performed prior to purchase or on repairs down the road as a part of routine maintenance, just like routine doctor and dentist visits.

When do you need to order a fluid analysis for your RV or tow vehicle?

Previously Owned RV purchase – When you are researching used RV’s and have found the right one to fit your price range, style, and mileage the final step should be to order a fluid analysis along with a Pre-Purchase inspection. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous sellers may be looking to unload a lemon on an uneducated buyer not requesting a fluid analysis and Pre-Purchase inspection.

Regular Maintenance – You want to minimize major repairs and routine fluid analysis will help reduce risks. You probably already get regular oil changes and tire rotations on your car or truck. It’s just as important for your home on wheels and tow vehicles. Adding routine fluid analysis to the maintenance schedule will ensure you have happy and safe adventures in the future.

Selling Your RV – What could be more powerful than showing your buyer a recently completed fluid analysis to seal the deal? This gesture will show a potential buyer that you are forthcoming, and it will also help to instill trust with the buyer.

When is the best time for fluid analysis on an RV or tow vehicle?

Since everyone travels differently and through different conditions, your situation may differ from others. This requires everyone to assess the need based on their traveling conditions. In fact, performing a fluid analysis may reveal different time spans for routine fluid change intervals than what is recommended by the manufacturer.

How long will a fluid analysis take?

Receiving fluid analysis testing results ranges in time; however, most reputable RV inspectors and technicians will detail the process and provide you will a more definitive time frame to meet your schedules and conditions.

Typically, fluid analysis results can take 3-7 business days because the samples need to be shipped to or dropped off at affiliate laboratories for careful examination. Almost all labs offer “Rush” testing results for an additional fee so be sure to ask your RV inspector or mobile RV technician about the time frame for results to be available.

What are the most common concerns in engine, generator, and transmission fluid analysis results?

• The engine and generator oil analysis will focus on three key areas: contamination, oxidation, and viscosity.
• An oil analysis can also be extremely helpful to uncover issues related to your oil deterioration. The analysis can show if the oxidation or viscosity loss is excessive and what type of contamination may be present in the RV or tow vehicle engine, transmission and generator.
• If your oil begins to deteriorate, this can lead to fuel or coolant leaks and water infiltrating your RV. It is important to understand that all oil will degrade over time leading issues such as oxidation, viscosity challenges, and contamination.
• An engine or generator oil analysis will indicate if the current maintenance intervals are appropriate for your RV, tow vehicle or generator.
• Testing the transmission fluid will reveal wear and tear plus point out a possible shorter life span of your RV or tow vehicle’s transmission which may reduce the overall performance.

What are the most common concerns in coolant analysis results?

• An analysis on engine or generator coolant will uncover gas leaks, corrosion, and contamination.
• An engine or generator coolant analysis will indicate any deterioration of coolant as well as seal damages.
• Performing a coolant analysis will help to determine if your coolants need to be changed according to the current maintenance schedule of the RV or tow vehicle’s systems.

What are the most common contaminants found in fluid analysis and what do they mean?

There are several commonly found contaminants that you should be aware and how they impact your RV. We will explore 4 of the most common contaminants to look out for. They include; road contaminants, fuel contaminants, coolant contaminants, and water contaminants.

Road Contaminants – These are normal contaminants you would find driving your RV or tow vehicle anywhere. They focus mostly on sand, dust and dirt particles. Depending on what region of the country you are considering driving your RV or tow vehicle, you may experience more dust, dirt, gravel, mud, snow, or rain. This can lead to more wear and tear of your RV or tow vehicle’s mechanical parts.
Fuel Contaminants – These are contaminants that will impact your engine. Excessive exposure to heat may cause sludge to form impacting your engine.
Coolant Contaminants – The most common contaminants are ethylene and propylene glycol. This can lead to metal corrosion, gas leaks, overheating, and chemical breakdown. There can even be contamination in the air causing issues.
Water Contaminants – Water particles can be found in many forms such as solid, liquid and in the form of humidity. Water can create and enhance the formation of sludge. If your water is contaminated it can also lead to corrosion and scaling of your RV.

It is important to understand that RV drivers use their vehicles differently and in different climates and conditions. These factors will impact your RV or tow vehicle uniquely and a fluid analysis will always help to make sure problems are not causing greater concerns in the future.

A blood test for your RV or tow vehicle will explore normal, abnormal, and critically important issues impacting your RV. Relying on a regular fluid analysis will help uncover problems before they lead to extremely costly repairs.

To find RV inspectors, RV repair shops or mobile RV technicians plus many other RV specialty services across the United States, please visit myrvresource.com.

Lisa Carletti

Lisa Carletti

Lisa and Jason are NRVIA certified Level 2 inspectors and RVDA/RVIA registered technicians who run My RV Inspection based in Tampa, FL. They also built My RV Resource which is a map based directory as a resource to help consumers find RV related services like RV inspections, RV repair shops and mobile technicians, RV towing and transport companies as well as RV storage lots.
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