Protecting your Trailer From Critters

Westland Camping critter prevention

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Mice, squirrels, raccoons, mountain goats, and hippopotamuses can all do major damage to the inside of your trailer while you aren’t looking.  They can build nests in the confines of your furnace where you cant see them, they can chew wires, they can destroy insulation, wood, bedding, and really anything they touch (or pee on).  And the worst part?  A lot of insurance policies don’t cover the damage, leaving you holding the bag.  After years of talking to customers and working on trailers, I have heard dozens of different ways to keep mice and other critters out of your trailer, and I have heard dozens of attempts that have failed.  For every story I hear, I also hear how somebody tried it and it failed.  This is a hotly debated topic in internet forums and discussions in campgrounds, and there are a couple of things that I have found to be the best strategies to keep nature outside your home away from home.

NOTE:  THIS IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS.  If critters are determined, they can and will defeat any defense you put up.  This article is basically designed to help you put forth the best efforts, and outline what I have found to be the best strategies.

1) Clean it out.  Seems simple, but I am always surprised by how many people don’t give critters enough credit, and leave food, crumbs, and other tasty mouse-vittles.  Folks that camp with pets have the added responsibility of making sure they clean up all of those errant dog/cat food crumbs that seem to get everywhere, cuz those dogs and cats eat like animals…  These are things that can draw mice to your camper.  their sense of smell is incredible, and they will follow their noses to your camper if you tempt them.

2)  Use their noses against them.  There are a lot of folks who swear by the use of the original scented Bounce dryer sheets.  The smell is such that it keeps the mice away.  The added bonus is that they keep your trailer smelling very fresh; not a bad deal.  However I have seen where mice have used these to pad their nests, so it isn’t exactly bulletproof.  In the store, we have been hearing great things about Fresh Cab Mouse Pouches, which are pouches filled with pine resins and chips.  The theory behind this is that the pine smell is strong enough where it cancels out the mouse’s sense of smell, which is one of their most important defense mechanisms.  If they can’t smell danger, they don’t hang around.  And like the Bounce Dryer sheets, they have the added bonus of making the camper smell like a pine forest.

3) If they can’t get in, they won’t get in.  This is probably your first and most important line of defense from the critters.  Mice can fit into all sorts of tiny gaps and holes.  Your trailer’s underbelly or floor does have gaps and holes.  It just does.  Go around the outside of the camper especially underneath and plug any and every hole that you can find with either expanding foam, or brass wool, which mice don’t like chewing on.  Don’t use steel wool, as steel rusts, brass doesn’t, so it should last you longer.

Do you have any strategies that I didn’t cover?  If so, then let me know on our Facebook page, I would love to hear about them.

How Long Do Trailer Tires Last?

cracked tires

cracked tires

No matter is you have a travel trailer, 5th wheel or pop up camper, spring is a really great time to go over everything on the trailer and do a thorough cleaning and checking of all the appliances.  One of the most overlooked components of your trailer are the tires.

Hardly a week goes by without somebody asking us how long trailer tires last.  Trailer tires are different from automobile tires, and to really understand the differences, think about the life these tires live.  Automobile tires tend to run every day, and have direct attention.  Trailer tires on the other hand spend 90% of their lives in one spot, sitting in mud puddles, and losing air pressure.

How Long Do They Last?

The harsh truth is, after three years, you should really start looking closely at them and checking for cracks, uneven wear in the treads, bulging, or any other abnormality.  After 5 years, go ahead and start planning the funds to replace them, even if they still look ok.  If you have gone 6-7 years, now is the time to just go ahead and replace them, again, even if they don’t look bad, you are probably living on borrowed time.  If you aren’t sure how old your tires are, know that there is a code stamped in every tire made in the last decade or so that gives an exact date.  Here is a great article I ran across that breaks down the tire code so that you can be sure.

How can I Get More Life Out Of My Tires?

As with all of the other parts of your RV, UV light can be the worst thing for your trailer tires.  Over time, the plastic parts of the trailer will yellow, or become brittle and prone to cracking.  Tires, being black, tend to absorb even more rays, which can leech life from the tires, and cause them to dry out and start cracking.

The best way to help combat this is to use a tire cover over each tire that helps keep the damaging UV rays off the tire.  This is not a sure-fire solution  but it will help minimize the damage, and prolong the life of the tire.

The other main issue is tire pressure.  You want to check your tire pressures regularly, and make sure it is sitting at the max pressure when cold.  Especially when towing.  Running the tires while low can lead to “cupping”, which means that the tire is running on it’s outer edges, leading to uneven tire wear.  The opposite is also true, over-inflating your tires will make the middle portion of the treads to wear out more quickly.

Here is a video detailing a good routine for checking your tires regularly.

Do not forget your tires, they are the only thing between your trailer and the road; and a blowout is a very good way to cost money and raise your insurance rates.