Forget Under the Hood – What’s Underneath Your RV?

The phrase ‘under the hood’ is an idiom we use to express investigating things that are not normally seen with the naked eye. It comes from the automotive world. Looking under the hood at a car show means looking at a car’s engine. We can apply the same principle to the RV world.

Motorhomes have engines, so we can certainly look under the hood in a literal sense. But what about fifth wheels, travel trailers, and the like? Forget about what’s under the hood. What’s underneath your RV?

Mechanics Are Underneath

Regardless of whether you are looking at a motorhome or some sort of trailer, you will find most of an RV’s mechanics underneath. By ‘mechanics’, we are referring to plumbing, wiring, cabling systems, and so forth. Most of the mechanics that make an RV as comfortable as a traditional home are located under the floor.

Incidentally, this is why Connecticut-based AirSkirts recommends protecting an RV with skirting whenever temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing. Like other types of skirting, AirSkirts inflatable skirting takes up that space between the bottom of the RV and the ground. Cold air is kept out and the space underneath the unit stays warmer.

In some of your more expensive fifth wheels and motorhomes, the mechanics are sandwiched between the RV floor and a secondary panel underneath. This secondary panel protects mechanics from road debris, salt and sand, etc. It might not protect against extremely cold temperatures.

Storage Is Underneath

Your typical low-end travel trailer will not offer any underneath storage. However, underneath storage is fairly common for high-end travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes. The bigger the rig, the more underneath storage it tends to offer.

Underneath storage is invaluable to people who spend more than just weekends in their RVs. It is ideal for all sorts of things from lawn chairs to picnic tables and extra camping gear. Underneath storage also trends to be minimally insulated though, so storing anything affected by extreme temperatures is not a good idea.

The RVs Chassis

Most of what is found underneath an RV relates to the chassis or its components. For all intents and purposes, the chassis is the frame. On a Class C motorhome, the chassis is likely to be something from Ford, GM, or Mercedes-Benz. It would be similar to the chassis on which Class B and C delivery trucks are built.

Your biggest Class A motorhomes are built on chassis similar to those found on 18-wheelers, fire trucks, buses, and the like. These are heavy-duty chassis designed to not only accommodate a lot of weight, but also provide the necessary stability during travel.

As for fifth wheels and travel trailers, chassis can vary. They obviously have to be able to handle the weight of the RV space on top of them. But because there is no engine or transmission involved, a trailer chassis doesn’t have to be nearly as strong. Some trailer chassis are little more than a set of steel rails with wheels.

Take Care of It

Regardless of the particular type of RV and what is found underneath, it’s important to take care of mechanics, storage space, and even the chassis. Ignoring what’s underneath is really asking for trouble. Again, the biggest risk for underneath spaces is related the cold weather. RV skirting is the best tool available for protecting against the consequences of falling temperatures.

And now you know what is under your RV, or at least the basics. You might want to crawl underneath and look around for a little bit. You might be surprised by what you find.