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Preparing Your RV Generator for Winter

July 11, 2024

As winter approaches, it’s crucial to prepare your RV for the cold months ahead. One of the most important aspects of RV winterization is ensuring your generator is properly maintained and protected from the harsh conditions. A well-prepared generator will not only ensure your RV runs smoothly but also extend the lifespan of this essential equipment. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to prepare your RV generator for winter, covering everything from cleaning and maintenance to storage tips.

Why Winterize Your RV Generator?

Winterizing your RV generator is essential for several reasons:

  1. Preventing Damage: Cold weather can cause damage to various components of the generator, including the engine, fuel system, and battery.
  2. Ensuring Reliability: A properly maintained generator will be more reliable when you need it, especially during unexpected power outages or while camping in cold weather.
  3. Extending Lifespan: Regular maintenance and winterization can extend the lifespan of your generator, saving you money in the long run.

Step-by-Step Guide to Winterizing Your RV Generator:

1. Read the Manufacturer’s Manual

Before you start, consult the manufacturer’s manual for specific winterization instructions for your generator model. The manual will provide valuable information on maintenance schedules, recommended products, and any unique steps required for your generator.

2. Clean the Generator

Start by giving your generator a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt, debris, and grime from the exterior using a soft brush or cloth. Cleaning the generator helps prevent corrosion and ensures all components are visible for inspection.

3. Change the Oil and Oil Filter

Changing the oil and oil filter is crucial before winter storage. Old oil can contain contaminants that may cause corrosion and damage internal components during the winter. Follow these steps:

  • Run the generator for a few minutes to warm up the oil, making it easier to drain.
  • Turn off the generator and disconnect the spark plug to prevent accidental starting.
  • Drain the old oil into a suitable container and dispose of it properly.
  • Replace the oil filter with a new one.
  • Refill the generator with fresh oil, following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type and quantity.

4. Check and Replace the Air Filter

A clean air filter ensures optimal airflow and performance. Check the air filter for dirt and damage. If it’s dirty, clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions or replace it with a new one.

5. Inspect the Fuel System

Fuel stabilizer is essential to prevent the fuel from breaking down and causing issues such as clogged fuel lines and carburetors. Here’s how to treat the fuel system:

  • Add fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank according to the product instructions.
  • Run the generator for about 10-15 minutes to allow the stabilized fuel to circulate through the system.
  • Shut off the fuel valve to prevent fuel from leaking into the carburetor and causing gum deposits.

6. Check the Spark Plug

Inspect the spark plug for wear and deposits. A dirty or worn spark plug can cause starting issues and poor performance. If the spark plug is dirty, clean it with a wire brush. If it’s worn or damaged, replace it with a new one.

7. Inspect the Battery

If your generator has a battery, it’s crucial to ensure it’s in good condition before winter storage:

  • Check the battery terminals for corrosion. Clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water if necessary.
  • Test the battery voltage using a multimeter. If the voltage is low, charge the battery or replace it if it’s old and no longer holds a charge.
  • Disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Consider using a battery maintainer to keep it charged during the winter months.

8. Lubricate Moving Parts

Lubricate any moving parts, such as the throttle linkage and choke, to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation. Use a light machine oil or a lubricant recommended by the manufacturer.

9. Store the Generator Properly

Proper storage is key to protecting your generator from the harsh winter elements. Follow these tips for safe storage:

  • Store the generator in a cool, dry place, preferably indoors.
  • If you must store it outside, use a weatherproof cover to protect it from moisture and snow.
  • Ensure the generator is placed on a stable, level surface to prevent tipping.

10. Regular Maintenance Checks

Even during winter storage, it’s a good idea to perform regular maintenance checks:

  • Run the generator for a few minutes every month to keep the engine lubricated and the battery charged.
  • Check for any signs of damage or wear and address them promptly.

Additional Tips for RV Generator Winterization:

  1. Use Fresh Fuel: Always use fresh fuel when running your generator. Old fuel can cause starting issues and damage the fuel system.
  2. Avoid Ethanol: Ethanol-blended fuels can attract moisture and cause corrosion. Use ethanol-free fuel if possible.
  3. Keep It Dry: Moisture is the enemy of your generator. Ensure it stays dry during storage to prevent rust and corrosion.
  4. Regular Use: If you’re using your RV during the winter, run the generator regularly to keep it in good working condition.

Troubleshooting Common Winterization Issues:

Even with careful preparation, you may encounter some common issues when winterizing your RV generator. Here’s how to address them:

  1. Generator Won’t Start

  • Check the Fuel: Ensure there’s enough fuel in the tank and that it’s properly stabilized.
  • Inspect the Spark Plug: Clean or replace the spark plug if it’s dirty or worn.
  • Battery Issues: Test the battery voltage and charge or replace it if necessary.
  1. Poor Performance

  • Air Filter: Check the air filter for dirt and replace it if necessary.
  • Fuel System: Ensure the fuel system is clean and free of deposits.
  1. Overheating

  • Cooling System: Check for any obstructions in the cooling system and clean them.
  • Oil Level: Ensure the oil level is correct and that you’re using the recommended type of oil.


Preparing your RV generator for winter is essential to ensure its reliability and longevity, especially in harsh climates like Michigan. By following a thorough winterization process, including cleaning, changing the oil, treating the fuel system, and proper storage, you can prevent damage and costly repairs.

Regular maintenance checks and using fresh, ethanol-free fuel further safeguard your generator against winter’s challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned RV owner or a newbie, taking these steps will keep your generator in top shape. For those in the Great Lake States, RV camper winterizing in Michigan is crucial to enjoy seamless winter adventures without unexpected generator issues. Stay proactive, protect your investment, and enjoy worry-free travels all winter long.

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