Saturday, May 29, 2021


Tires, even with good tread and good sidewalls have a lifespan.  Different brand tires have different lifespans. Our Roadtrek came from Roadtrek with Bridgestone tires. Checking on the Bridgestone website, Bridgestone tires have a lifespan of 10 years - as long as the tires are inspected each year to be certain that they are still good. Each year our Roadtrek is inspected for the New York State required annual inspection by the local mechanic that we bring it to (along with our car) who does has done all of the work on our Roadtrek and our car.  I ask him to inspect the tires when he does the inspection. Our Roadtrek is inspected in May each year which coincides with the month that the Roadtrek was registered and received its New York State license plates. While not planned, this gives the Roadtrek a thorough inspection before the start of traveling season.

I knew this year we would need new tires for the Roadtrek because they were 10 years old.  They were in very good condition - and they wore well. I have liked Bridgestone tires on my cars and I wanted to replace the Roadtrek tires with Bridgestones. We have not had good experience with Michelin tires on our cars, but I know many do like them.  I went on line and checked on several models of Bridgestones that would fit the Roadtrek.

The Roadtrek has tires that are LT245/75R16E.  LT stands for "Light Truck". R is the speed rating of the tires. The E is the most important in the size - this is the weight load rating of the tire and the Roadtrek must have an "E". There are other 245/75/16 tires that are not E. I discovered looking at tires that to find the tires for the Roadtrek, if you put in Chevy Express 3500 the correct tires do not come up. I also found that if you put in both Chevy Express 3500 and the size you get "This size does not fit your vehicle."  I put only the LT245/75R16E and tires came up for the Roadtrek. I saw "All Terrain" and "All Season" tires. I took down the tire names and read reviews and then went to the Roadtrek Group on Facebook to find out if anyone has these tires on their Roadtreks. Some did - and I heard good things about the ones I was considering. One of the tires I was uncertain about as while it should be fine many descriptions of this tire online was that it was an All Terrain tire that was best for Off Roading -and we drive on the highway and never go Off Roading - into the muck and the mire, the snow, the sand, etc. The closest we come is the gravel in the campground RV site or the driving on grass. It was the tire I most leaned to - and one Roadtrek owner said he liked it. More had the other tire I was considering. I was prepared to go shopping. 

I never expected, however, that getting tires for the Roadtrek locally was going to be so difficult.  

The difficulty was not because the tires are not available - they are very available. The problem is finding a tire shop that will install them on a van that is 9 feet tall and weighs over 8,000 pounds. Their shops are not tall enough or their lifts are not strong enough. Now, some reading this will say but X tire shop or Z tire shop did mine and that company is all over the country. It seems though that some of the very popular chain tire shops are not in New York - at least not anywhere near here. The Discount Tires chain is very popular but it turns out the closest one to us is in Pittsburgh is 420 miles one way. That is a little far to go to buy tires - and to drive with tires that are ready to be changed. There is one local tire chain that dominates tires here - and they are in every town, but the shops are small, the parking lots are small - and the Roadtrek would not fit through the doors into the bays. Independents are even smaller shops with even smaller property to bring the Roadtrek onto. I knew from the forums and Roadtrek groups that Costco is a popular place to go to have tires put on the Roadtrek and we have Costco here.  I went to one of the Roadtrek groups and asked about going to Costco for tires for the Roadtrek. The response was maybe - as it seems some Costco Tire Centers will install on a Roadtrek and some will not. Oh boy? What would the one here do? 

We are just starting to venture out of the house on a semi-regular basis following our Covid-19 vaccines and do so with caution. As it was, we had to go to the Costco for a few items and while we were there we stopped into the Tire Center and asked the man at the counter. His answer was you have to ask our manager. The manager who was standing nearby talking to a customer came over when he was done and we asked him. I described the Roadtrek - because no one around here knows what you are talking about is you say Roadtrek - as a van RV built into a Chevy Express 3500 van. I told him it is 9 feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds (which is approximate). He stood there not saying anything and then said that they no longer put tires on RVs - they did up to two or three years ago but they don't any longer. I, again, tried to give him a description of how the Roadtrek is not the image of the large Class A that comes to mind when "RV" is said. He considered it for a minute or so and said, "I have to see it to decide!".  hat was better than a flat out "No!". I asked when he would be in, he gave me when he would be there over the next several days and we left. 

The next day I decided we need to find out from him as soon as possible and called the day after that which was one of the days he would be at the Tire Center. It turned out that he was not the overall manager but the Assistant Manager of the Tire Center. (Perhaps all department heads at Costco are "Assistant Managers" but whatever his title he was the man in charge at the moment.  We went to Costco with me hoping that he would say yes looking at the Roadtrek and have the tires - and we would be coming home with them on the van.   

When we got there the Assistant Manager who we had spoken to came out and looked all around the Roadtrek. He looked under it. He looked at all sides. He looked at the tires. He stepped back and took photos of it.  While he was looking, we were standing by watching him look. He asked some questions and was writing on a pad the entire time.  Finally, he said. "I will have to let you know - tomorrow!" Oh boy! Before he walked away I pulled out the paper I printed out from the Costco website that had the tire I was thinking about on it. This was the one that more Roadtrek owners said they had on the group I asked. He looked at it and said, "These tires would be ripped up in no time on this. You need a tire that will last!" My response was to suggest the other tire that I was considering. He said, "That one would be much better. It will last!" 

The next day we got a call from him. YES! He said they will do the install. He would have to put the Roadtrek up using a floor jack to lift the van at each tire to change each one. This was what I had told him both times we had spoken in person. Putting the Roadtrek up on a lift - one that uses the chassis and not under the tires to lift it - needs to be positioned so that none of the tanks, plumbing, etc. is not crushed. This is something most shops do not want to chance. And I would not want them to chance. He told us on the phone that we needed to come in and order the tires and make an appointment to have them installed.  We went there the next day in the afternoon.

This time I bought a print out of the tire he said would be good. We went in and started talking about the install and I handed him the paper. He took it and went into his computer to get more details about the tire. I asked him how smoothly it would drive on the road.  He said that since they are All Terrain tires they were more intended for off road - and while they are OK on a highway they would not be as smooth ride on a highway. I told him we primarily drive on highways.  I had looked at another tire - the same name as this tire we were talking about but was described as an All Season tire. It had many of the hard wearing characteristics of the tire we were talking about - there was a minor difference in specs. He looked that tire up and said it would be just as good for the Roadtrek and would drive much smoother on highways than the tire that was the All Terrain version of this tire. He ordered four Bridgestone - DURAVIS R500 HD in LT245/75R16E. They were coming from a Bridgestone distribution facility in Allentown, PA and would arrive in four days - a Friday - the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. He told us that he personally would do the install.  They would call us when they came in.

That Friday morning we got a call. The tires were there  - when did we want to come in to have them installed. I took a shot and said - "We can be there this afternoon if you can take us!" Sure - either 3 or 4 pm. I picked 3:00 pm.

I have written about how long it can take us to back the Roadtrek out of our driveway into the four lane road our house is on. It can take up to a half hour to get a clear break in traffic to back up across the the lanes on our side of the street. It took only fifteen minutes that afternoon - Meryl in the street with a walkie talkie telling me - "NOW!".  The weather report was for rain starting at 7:00 pm - no problem at all! We headed over to Costco which is a half hour drive all on streets - the Roadtrek cannot go on any of the parkways that would get us there quicker. 

It was 2:45 when we walked into the tire center and handed the Assistant Manager the keys. We would go into Costco and walk around while the tires were installed. I asked about how long and he told us about two to two and a half hours - because he had to use the floor jack. OK.

I set a timer on my phone to go off in two hours.  We walked around the store in those two hours - some of it through parts of the store we had walked earlier again.  We went outside to see what was happening. I did not want to go into the Tire Center - we could see where we parked the Roadtrek and into the garage from a distance. As we got outside it was raining. So much for 7 pm!  The Roadtrek was no longer in the parking lot. It was in a bay in the garage being worked on. We went back into the store to walk around - some more! I set my phone alarm to go off in another hour. 

Before Covid, it would not be hard to waste time in Costco. There would be food samples being given out. The snack bar/lunch counter would have tables set up all around to bring a hot dog, soda, pizza, etc. to a table to eat - but with Covid-19, the tables were all removed and the snack/lunch bar became take out only. While it is open like this, there is no place to sit. In fact there is no place to sit in the store. We kept walking. 

The alarm went off - now three hours after we arrived. We were very tired of walking. We went back outside  and it was raining harder. Now there was a white Sprinter van sitting next to the Roadtrek in the next bay - just as tall - but it did not look like an RV conversion. The Roadtrek was not finished yet.  We went into the Tire Center and there was a young man at the counter. We asked about the Roadtrek - he said that it takes a long time. We asked if they had our cell number to call us when it was ready. He looked up our service ticket on the computer and read us our home number. I said if he calls us on that to tell us it is ready, we will not be there because we are in the store! He took down the cell number. 

We returned to the store wondering when store security would come over to question us for wandering around the store for more than three hours. This time I did not set the timer - I set the stopwatch on the phone going to see when we got the call to come and get the Roadtrek. We continued walking through the store. At a half hour I could not walk around the store any longer. We had not gotten a call and we left the store and walked into the tire center. We saw that the rain had gotten worse. As we went through the door to the tire center we saw the young man standing at the counter holding up the keys to give us. I just smiled. I did not ask why he had not called us. I just wanted to see the Roadtrek with its new tires. and go home. I asked where it was parked. He told us. We went out into the rain and ran through the rain to the Roadtrek - Meryl got in and I walked quickly around to see the tires. They were hard to see in the rain. It was 7:00 pm as we were driving home. 

I do not know why it took this long. I can tell you just about where everything you might be looking for is located at this Costco. It will be awhile before I want to go to shop in a Costco.  

They did us a favor putting the tires on the Roadtrek when they don't usually do this. We are very happy that we were able to get tires put on and they are good tires. They rode very well driving home in the heavy pouring rain and it was a smooth ride. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021


The water pump is what pumps the water from your fresh tank(s) into the plumbing in the Roadtrek. THE water pump is 12 volts. It uses the coach battery(ies) to work. Before you turn on the water pump you must turn on the battery switch. 

Normally, when you turn on the water pump switch on the wall inside the Roadtrek you will hear the water pump turn on and then shut off right away. It should stay off until you either open a faucet handle, a shower handle, or flush the toilet. Then you will hear the water pump start to pump water to the faucet, shower, or toilet.   It will keep running - as it should - until you turn off the handle to the faucet or shower, or take you foot off the flush pedal on the toilet. Then the water pump shuts off and waits for the next open faucet, etc. There is a sensor in the water pump that starts the pump when there is a demand for water.  If your hot water tank is empty and you fill your fresh tanks, the hot water tank will fill the first time you turn on the water pump and open a hot water faucet handle.  What will happen then is the water pump will start and it will seem like it is running for a long time. First any water left in the sink hot water pipe will come out (cold) and along with it a burst of air. That burst of air is the water pump starting to pump cold water into the hot water tank to fill it and the air it is displacing in the tank is coming out through the open sink hot water side. The hot water tank holds 6 gallons of water and it takes awhile to pump that much water into the tank - and it must fill the tank. This is all normal and with an empty hot water tank being filled the wait for the water pump to shut off is normal. When the water starts coming out of the faucet steadily the tank is full and then you shut off the hot water handle and the water pump will shut off.  (Never turn on the hot water heater switch if there is an empty hot water tank - you will burn out the hot water heater. Wait until the hot water tank is FULL! -And it take awhile for the water to heat up - 6 gallons is a lot of water to heat.)

If something is wrong , however, the water pump might run when it shouldn't. First, understand that to for the water pump to run - correctly or not correctly -  THERE MUST BE POWER TO THE WATER PUMP  - SO - if the water pump wall switch is OFF - the water pump will be off and stay off. There are two things that you might find happening.

1) The water pump runs and runs and does not shut off.

2) The water pump runs for a few seconds, shuts off, starts running again, and repeats this cycle of runs, shuts off, runs, shuts off - and keeps doing that. 

 Each of these happen under different issues with the plumbing.  

Let's look at #1 first.  If the pump runs continually - not run, stop - run, stop - then there is a problem between the tanks and the pump.  This means the problem is on the INTAKE side of the pump. The pipes to the fresh tank(s) are on the intake side of the water pump. (Note - this does not include the hot water tank. The hot water tank is on the OUTPUT side of the water pump.) With the tanks in summer mode or in a one water tank Roadtrek, this means that the problem is between the exterior fresh tank in the front of the bottom of the van and the water pump. If a two fresh tank Roadtrek is in WINTER Mode - which is set to have water come from the rear interior tank directly to the water pump - then the problem is between the water pump and the rear interior tank plumbing. (See our article Summer Mode/Winter Mode to understand what this is.) 

What then should you do or look for? 

SHUT OFF THE WATER PUMP SWITCH - that cuts off the power and stops the pump while you try to diagnose or fix the problem.

 This can be caused by as simple as a dirty filter on the water pump or more complicated a kinked pipe or something blocking the fresh tank output - or, again, simple - the fresh tank is empty. 

 The filter is the first thing to look for. Go to the cabinet with the water pump and look around for a black connection in the pipe going into the water pump intake side. In the middle of that black connector on top of it there is a clear/whitish flat topped dome. That is the filter. Here is a photo of what to look for:



In my Roadtrek this is connected to the winterizing valve that I had installed to pump RV antifreeze directly into the water pump for winterizing the plumbing in the Roadtrek. This is what it all looks lime in my Roadtrek 190 - yours will not have the brass valve on the right side of the filter. It will have a white PEX pipe connected to that side that comes from the water tanks' connections. The pipe on the other side, not seen in this photo goes into the water pump. What you do see in this photo when compared to the photo above is that with use, the dome turns a milky white in color.

Shut off the pump. Open the sink to clear any water out of the line. Opening the filter will pour out some water so put a towel under it. The dome screws off. 

Inside around the inside edge there is a metal screen that goes all around. That metal screen pulls out. Do this where you can flush this all with water - and not let what is in the filter go down any drain - in the RT or in the house. Clean the metal screen and clean the inside of the dome. Look into the hole left open where the filter was and see if there is anything in there that is blocking it. Get this all clear of any debris that was inside (nicely filtered out as it is supposed to do -  yes, this gunk was in your fresh tank) and put the screen back into the dome.  Take the dome with the screen inside and screw the dome back on the filter base. Just that dome being loose can cause the pump to do this too. The pump is sucking air and that is why it runs and does not shut off unless you shut the pump off with the switch and putting the pump back on will start it doing it all over again.

We had the problem - and a pipe was kinked. This happened when the Roadtrek was about 6 months old new.  How did that happen? We don't know. We took it to the Roadtrek service and they cut the kink our of the PEX pipe and joined a new piece of PEX pipe to rejoin the pipe. 

 A kink or blockage or leak could happen anywhere in the pipes going to the fresh tank(s). A hole in a pipe from the fresh tank(s) will also cause the pump to suck air. If the pump sucks air it continues to run and not shut off.  The pump will keep running unless you  or an RV service technician fix it. AND while the Roadtrek plumbing is fairly basic, if you are not experienced with plumbing or have never worked with PEX pipe before, take the Roadtrek to an RV service shop to deal with this problem. 

The lucky solution is that you find that the filter was clogged or you thought the fresh tank had water in it and it was empty (or your summer/winter valves were turned the wrong way). 

Now, let's look at #2. The water pump runs, shuts off, runs and keeps doing this - always shutting off a little in between. 

What then should you do or look for?

If the pump was running and stopping repeatedly that is a leak on the output side of the water pump and that can be as simple as a clogged sink faucet end tip screen or a faucet handle that is not closed all the way. Those are the easy to fix things you hope to find. 

SHUT OFF THE WATER PUMP SWITCH - that cuts off the power and stops the pump while you try to diagnose or fix the problem.

The sink faucet is just like any that you have at home. There usually is a screw off tip at the end of the faucet where the water comes out into the sink. Inside that there is a small round screen - sometimes it is a plastic disk with holes in it. Like the pump filter this also stops gunk from the pipes going into the water coming out of the sink. If this gets clogged. water wants to flow - and doesn't. Unscrew the tip of the faucet and clean the screen. Screw it back on and hope for the best. The water pump when you turn it on now should act normally - run for a few seconds and stop - and not start again until you want it to. 

If the screen was not clogged and you still have the problem, the next thing to do is go to every faucet handle - shower handle (inside shower and outside shower) - check the toilet that there is no water or dripping into the toilet - and close the handle tight. If the handle was open even slightly it will cause the water to drip - you may not even notice the drop - but the water pump does. It senses some handle is open and it wants to make you happy and send water there. of this is the problem, tightening down the handle will stop the water pump from starting,stopping, and keep doing that. 

Worse cases - 

1) There is a leak in a pipe on the output side of the water pump somewhere in the Roadtrek.

2) There is a loose pipe connection between two pipes or a pipe and a plumbing fixture.

3) The toilet valve is broken and is leaking. Look around the toilet on the floor. If you see water it is likely coming from the toilet valve what is broken. The toilet valve is located on the back of the outside of  toilet under the rim against the bowl on the left side facing the toilet. This happened to us TWICE - once the valve had to be replaced and the second time the valve was able to be repaired - both times by an RV service shop. How did we know? The pump was running, stopping over and over. I went looking and found water collecting in the aisle in front of the toilet. The water was dripping from the valve and coming down from the toilet and found its way to the floor. We shut off the water pump and since we were in the Roadtrek we had no choice but to turn the water pump on when we needed water and shut it off right away to avoid flooding the floor which by then was covered in towels. 


The water pump may be broken. Like any other appliance it wears out over time and needs to be replaced. It is also possible that the sensor inside is broken. Some might take the water pump apart and find parts to fix it themselves. Many - who are not so skilled or inclined - will take the RV to an RV shop and let them replace the water pump. I know there are many skilled who own Roadtreks that can do these things for themselves  - but like you and me, who do not have those skills and who need articles like this to figure out what might be wrong and they might be able to do - or not do - take it to an RV service shop to fix. The Roadtrek uses PEX pipe for its plumbing. This is pipe that is joined together using crimp connectors - not glued together like PVC pipe or welded together like copper pipe and mostly not screwed together. PEX plumbing work requires special tools to work with the pipe and the crimp connectors. 

Also do not figure that you will just shut off the water pump and connect to city water. If there is a leak, a broken toilet valve, a broken pipe - is is going to leak more connected to city water. 

And speaking of city water - if the city water fill valve is turned to fill - the water pump does not work and even city water will not flow into the plumbing.(But we have an article all about that!)

How does the water pump know to run when a water faucet is opened? The water pump senses a drop in pressure and sends water to increase the pressure in the pipe - and it comes out of the faucet.





Sunday, May 2, 2021


One day you walk past the back of your Roadtrek and you look down at the center of the bumper and you discover that the cover that goes over the opening to the propane tank fill and off/on knob is GONE!  Forget about trying to find a new one. If you could it will cost you more than you should spend. There is an easy way to replace that cover with a simple DIY project that only requires a trip to a home store like Home Depot and a decent pair of scissors. 

 This is what you have lost -  



A very similar cover to the original can be easily made with some bathroom rubber wall cove base. This is sold on a roll at Home Depot or Lowes. It comes on a roll or you should find it to cut to length by the foot at the store. You don't need a lot - two feet is enough to make two - spares are good to have. Black blends with the bumper but it comes in other colors as well.  You don't want it thick so look for one that is thin.

 This is what rubber wall cove base looks like: 

It can be cut with a good pair of scissors. Use the measurements of the opening combined with the turn latches at the center of each side that hold the cover in place. The height of the cove base should be fine as it comes. All you have to measure is the width you need it to be for the cover. Not much has to be done to the cove base other than cut it to size and cut notches for the turn latches to fit into so that they turn to hold the new cover in place. This comes with a lip at the bottom - just like the original cover has. It sits on the bumper the same as the original and is just about the same height as the original. The cove base comes two ways - with adhesive on the back and without - you want it WITHOUT ADHESIVE. Once you make it, it is going to attach exactly the same way the original did. It will fit in the space between the two turn latches. Set it in place with the slots over the open latches on each side. Turn the latch into the cover. If the latch does not fit, trim the slots for the latches so that they turn easily over the rubber. It may be tighter than the original but that is OK as it will be harder to open on its own and get lost.

For anyone who has not lost their cover - use the original to make a template which will make creating a new one even easier. Don't put it off - as it is even easier if you have the original to use a template - before you lose the original.

AND when you have the new cover on you should make a leash for it so that it will not get lost again. All you need to do is put a small hole in the corner and take a length of strong nylon fishing line through the hole and tie the ends around one of the brackets along the bumper just inside. Make the fishing line long enough to be able to take the cover off and sit it out of the way on the bumper or hang off the bumper when filling the propane tank.

For a few dollars and very little time you have a new cover!