With the right products, tools and a little elbow grease, you can keep motorhome cargo compartments easily accessible for years to come
In 1980, Pete Townshend released the hit song “Let My Love Open the Door.” That was almost 40 years ago, but showing a little love to your motorhome’s cargo doors today will make them easier to open in the future. We all use our cargo bays a lot, but few of us dedicate much time or energy to maintaining them. The basement is where we store all of the outside-related camping items such as chairs, grass doormats, cleaning supplies, grills and other items that we simply can’t fit (or don’t want) inside the living quarters. When the cargo doors are properly adjusted and the weather seals are cleaned up and protected, you can enjoy many miles of trouble-free operation.
The major parts of a cargo door that require servicing are the hinges, locks, lock latches or strikers, gas springs and weather seals. The seal is the only thing that prevents moisture and road dirt from getting past the door, so you really need to take good care of them; otherwise your entire basement contents are subject to getting wet and dirty during travel.
We are going to show you how to clean and lubricate the hinges and locks, and clean and lubricate the weatherstripping. We will also show you how to adjust the striker latch for proper operation of the door and lock. Last, we will check all the bolts and screws to ensure the hinges and doors are tightened properly for smooth and trouble-free operation.
This project can be completed in about an hour or two, and if you work in the shade, you won’t even break a sweat!
In order to service the doors you will need a few supplies as well as some hand tools. Most of these items you probably already have, but if not, here is what we used. First, to clean and lubricate the hinges and door locks we used a combination cleaner/lubricant. In our case, we used good ol’ WD-40 (take caution to minimize overspray on your motorhome’s skin). If your hinges are very greasy or dirty you may need to use a separate cleaner/degreaser, but for most of us WD-40 will work for both purposes.
For cleaning the weatherstripping we used two different products specifically for rubber. They are from Griot’s Garage and they are called Rubber Prep and Rubber Cleaner. The Rubber Cleaner is designed for normal cleaning, while the Rubber Prep is more of a deep cleaner that removes all previous silicones or old protectants that have built up. To protect and treat the rubber weatherstripping we used 303 Aerospace Protectant. We also used a special heavy-duty aluminum cleaner from Aero Cosmetics for cleaning the door skirts, and an automotive paint cleaner from Griot’s Garage called Spray-On Car Wash. There are many types of degreasers, rubber protectors and lubricants on the market, but I have tested all of these and they have proven to work great, plus we already had them “in stock” in the garage so we are sticking to what we know works.
Depending on the type of hinges and striker plates, you will also need some basic hand tools such as a wrench, screwdriver, pliers and maybe a socket wrench. These items will be needed to tighten the hinges and the cargo-door mounting bolts, and to adjust anything that is not perfectly aligned. This is a very easy project that should take no more than one or two hours, and if you work in the shade you will never even break a sweat.