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HOW TO: Service an Onan RV Generator

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Published on Apr 25, 2012

One of the greatest freedoms we get from RVing is the ability go anywhere, any time, completely self-contained. Our Onan 7.5 kW QuietDiesel generator is a key part of that freedom. Proper care and maintenance of the "genny" will lead to a long life of trouble-free operation.

Each spring, we service our genset as part of routine spring cleaning. The oil and oil filter get changed every year, along with cleaning the spark arrestor. Some years also call for air & fuel filter replacement and coolant system service too. Generator service intervals are based on time or hours they've run, but we generally don't use our generator enough to need service more than once a year.

We take care of all of these items ourselves, and in nine years of RVing, we've never had anyone else work on our Onan. We have never had a day of trouble with it, and the routine service is so easy that we've never needed any outside help. We'll cover the three most basic service items here.

We just changed the fuel filter last year, so we won't be demonstrating that today. And the coolant system service is involved enough to require its own video, so we'll be covering that within the next few weeks. In this video, we'll show how to change the oil & filter, replace the air filter and clean the spark arrestor.

From everything we've heard and read, the single biggest cause of generator trouble is lack of regular use. There are times when we're hooked up for fairly extended periods and don't need the genset, but we make sure to exercise it regularly anyway. The generator should be run at least once a month for about 2 hours under about half load. This means firing it up even if it's not needed for power, and turning on both air conditioners (or heat pumps) and heating a tank of hot water, or plugging in our portable space heater.

Whenever staring the generator, be sure to let it idle for a short time to warm up before putting a load on it (turning anything on that draws power). Also, before shutting the genny down, be sure to turn off all loads first, then let it idle for about two minutes to cool down before shutting it off.

Our generator will likely see more use this coming year than ever before. After being hooked up all winter, we're about to spend our first year out on the road with a new residential refrigerator that recently replaced our dead Norcold.

Our Onan (an extremely popular brand) is a diesel model, and runs off the same fuel tank as our engine. We have no experience with gas generators or other brands, so many things about them may be different than ours. Be sure to follow your manufacturer's instructions for operating and maintaining your generator.

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RV Geeks offers basic DIY (do it yourself) RV service, repair, maintenance and travel tips from full-time RVers who have been handling most of their own maintenance since hitting the road in 2003.

Be sure to confirm that all methods and materials used are compatible with your particular recreational vehicle. Every type of motorhome, motorcoach, fifth wheel, travel trailer, bus conversion, camper and toy hauler is different, so your systems may not be the same as ours.

RVgeeks is proud to be affiliated with RVtravel.com.
http://www.rvtravel.com

While we're not RV technicians, we're very mechanically inclined and have learned a lot about RV systems over the years. We handle most of our own minor service, maintenance and repair work on our 2005 43' Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher. We also maintained our 2002 39' Fleetwood Bounder Diesel during our first two years on the road.

We meet lots of newer RVers who are eager to learn some basics about maintaining and caring for their rigs. After more than 10 years on the road, we want to share what we've learned (some of it the hard way). ;-)

We hope our experiences can help other RVers go DIY, saving some time, money and effort, while experiencing the satisfaction of a job well done.

We do not pretend to be experts on any particular RV topic, and mostly know about maintaining our own rig. But lots of things are the same on RVs in general, and diesel pushers in particular.

Comments welcome! Thanks for watching!

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