How Long Does a Travel Trailer Last?

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Travel trailers are dependable RVs to tow to a destination and enjoy vacationing in or living long-term. When asking how long do travel trailers last, the answer varies. However, because they’re quite expensive to purchase and are built to a good quality standard, they’re fairly durable.

There are different contributing factors to how fast a travel trailer ages and when it’s no longer viable. This article covers a few different areas to give you a good idea of how to care for a travel trailer properly and what problem areas to look out for.

Travel trailers last different amounts of time. If asked, how long does a travel trailer last, the answer we’d suggest is 25 years at the maximum and 10-20 years if poorly cared for. While the travel trailer brand and the miles covered do make a difference, taking proper care of a travel trailer is paramount to extend its life as long as possible.

Read Also: How Long Do Camper Tires Last?

Average Life of a Travel Trailer

Travel trailers are all designed differently. They’re produced by separate companies to varying quality levels. Some use durable parts and others will need extra care with occasional repairs or the replacement of inferior parts for better ones as they wear out.

How the trailer is treated during its long life also has a bearing on the average life of a travel trailer too.

On the low end, it’s fair to say that a travel trailer treated well, not towed over unpleasant, rocky terrain too often, not ignored through winter, and well maintained is likely to last between 10-13 years in a reasonable, worst-case scenario. However, just like with humans and longevity, the better the travel trailer is treated, an improved outcome is likely. In RV terms that means probably 15 to 20 years is not improbable and 25 years at best. To get the longest possible life, then choosing to own one of the best travel trailer brands is often required to achieve that.

The roof is of particular concern. These we’ve covered in several sections below. However, it’s fair to summarize that the roof will need repairs here and there as the travel trailer ages. Indeed, the roof will need repairing before other major aspects of the travel trailer likely do.

Also, the engine will need to be maintained and services properly too. The mileage added each year will take a toll on the chassis, and the remainder of the parts that make up the travel trailer. Nothing lasts forever, so you need to be realistic about that.

How Long Do Travel Trailers Last

Read Also: Driving Class A RV in Windy Conditions?

How Long Does a Travel Trailer Roof Last?

Much like with a camper or RV, the roof is something that will not last as long as the RV overall. It will require tending to periodically fix it up. Maybe even an entire roof replacement will be required while the body of the travel trailer may still be intact and usable for years to come.

Roofs Taken Care of Last Longer

With a roof that’s well taken care of, the travel trailer will last longer. It’s worth inspecting the roof annually for any damage. This avoids waiting until there’s water leaking into the travel trailer from above. At which point, it’s likely made any insulation in the ceiling wet and rotten too. Don’t wait for that to happen.

Inspect the Roof Regularly

Inspect the roof regularly. Look for any cracks, dents, or edges of the roof that require filling in or otherwise repairing. It’s useful to get some Dicor Lap Sealant [affiliate link] or a Polymer-based one like Heng’s Rubber Roof Coating [affiliate link] to add reinforcement to the seams around the travel trailer’s roof each year. Hopefully, this will be enough.

Heng’s Rubber Roof Coating (1 Gallon)

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This is a type of caulking that’s similar to what’s used inside homes around weakening windowsills and window frames, to give you some idea.

Also, Eternabond over Dicor works well too. We cover Eternabond tape in the next section.

Add RV Roof Coating Too

You can also use an RV roof coating on the travel trailer’s roof to protect it.


This isn’t usually needed until a good few years into its useful life where the protective coating might have started to come off and it’s obvious that there’s less protection from rain and the weather elements than before.

There are elastomeric roof coatings [affiliate link], acrylic roof coating, Fibered EPDM rubber white roof coating [affiliate link], and also RV roof repair tape like Eternabond RV rubber roof repair tape [affiliate link] is handy too. When the time comes, pick the product that’s most suitable for your travel trailer and the roofing issues you’re having at that time.

EternaBond RoofSeal White MicroSealant UV Stable Seam Repair Tape (4″ x50′)

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Climb on and Move Around on the Roof with Care

Also, when climbing up on the roof to inspect it, use due care. Roofs are fallible and people have fallen through. If there’s a weakened spot, don’t stop onto it! Work along the edges of the affected area to get the reinforcement task accomplished.

Get help from professionals with major roofing issues. Stay safe!

How Do Travel Trailer Roofs Get Damaged?

The travel trailer roof goes through a lot during the first few years.

It will stand tall when the rain showers, storms, hailstones, or snow drifts down and make a home there. It also may be supporting a MaxxAir roof fan system [affiliate link] or a solar panel installation to supply off-grid power when not living on hookups from an RV park or campground.

Maxxair Vent Corp 00-04000K Maxxfan Plus Vent 14″ 12V (White)

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When you get up there, it may be surprising to find a tree branch has fallen, landed, and got stuck up there. Or, it’s drifted around scratching the surface and maybe even making a dent. Also, squirrels and other small animals may have jumped onto the roof or even tried to make a home there.

For newer travel trailer owners, the roof can also get damaged from trying to get under low-rise structures such as overpasses or bridges and failing to clear them. Or the odd signpost caught you by surprise on the road and scrapped all along the top of the roof until you cleared it. The signpost may not have punctured the roof, but it could have done some cosmetic damage that if left unrepaired will likely worsen over the years.

Furthermore, it’s also possible to damage the roof by overly cleaning it, being too rough with it, or using abrasive cleaning brushes or liquid solutions. These can remove the protective RV roof coating which leaves your roof less well-protected in the future.

Travel Trailer Roofs: The 3 Main Types

There are 3 main roofing types for travel trailers. Each has a bearing on roof durability and protection, along with maintenance concerns.

The three roof types on a travel trailer are:

Fiberglass

Fiberglass roofs are found on some travel trailers like a Scamp travel trailer.

So, if you see a Scamp trailer for sale (you might even get a great Scamp trailer price), it’s good to know that it often has lower roof maintenance requirements. With that said, they’re heavier than most and are more expensive to repair or replace.

The rooftop surface is hard and exceptionally smooth to the touch with Scamper campers and other travel trailers sporting this roof type. However, if you climb up on it and it’s rained recently, you could slide around dangerously as they get awful slick! Furthermore, they may require a periodic oxidizing treatment, so look out for that too.

Metal Roofs (including Aluminum)

Metal including aluminum is heavier than a rubber roof (which we cover in the last mini section) and so it’s currently less popular.

With that said, it’s low maintenance because it’s more difficult for it to get seriously damaged by a falling branch or worse.

Rubber

A rubber roof surface is much lighter and is the best fit for a travel trailer. Subsequently, it’s currently the most popular choice. The rubber is Ethylene Propylene-Diene Monomer (EPDM) which is relevant if you’re looking to get a new RV EPDM roof protective coating [affiliate link] – you’ll need that one specifically.

Liquid Rubber RV Roof and EPDM Rubber Primer. Weatherseal Roofing Coating (1 Gallon)

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Rubber roofs are easier to walk on because they’re soft and a little bouncy. They also have a grip on them, so you’re far less likely to slide off the roof because your footwear should provide a good purchase on the roof’s surface too. So, getting up on the roof and performing RV roof maintenance is safer to do, generally speaking.

As rubber roofs get older, they become less reliable and can have a chalky-like look and feel after a few years. So, be aware of that to not make it worse.

Perform Repairs Early and Often

Don’t put off checking around the travel trailer to see if repairs are needed. They might not be urgent, but damage can worsen when not attended to and resolved promptly.

Whether it’s a faulty door lock mechanism, a water system that’s getting a bit backed up, or minor damage to the roof that keeps worsening, do not leave it too long. Also, travel trailer roofs need the correct protective coating based on the roof type. So, do know the roof type of your travel trailer before purchasing supplies for it.  

Also, RVers are all too happy to lend a hand or, at least, make useful suggestions on how to proceed with a repair when asking politely. We’re a friendly group as a whole and know we all eventually get into a jam and need help.

How Long Do Travel Trailer Tires Last?

The trailer tire lifespan is around 5-6 years or 5,000 to 12,000 miles for the best RV trailer tires.

They’re not as durable as RV tires because they’re built firmer to be directionally led by the towing vehicle. The harder rubber compound of trailer tires isn’t as able to withstand off-grid travel unless getting a specific type of travel trailer tire.

Also, we do have an entire article “How Long Do Camper Tires Last?” which talks about the best camper tires. It explains the two types of tires that are used with campers. It should round out your knowledge in this area and for safety reasons, it’s especially useful information to have too.

Should I Cover My Travel Trailer?

It helps to use a cover for your travel trailer when it’s not in use.

This protects it when its outdoors and in direct sunlight. The UV rays are damaging to the paintwork, the RV protective roof coating, and the tires too. It can also protect it from flooding or collapsing in a particularly bad storm if the water runs off the cover and down to the ground nearby instead of pooling on the roof.

Best Travel Trailer Brands

There are too many travel trailer brands to cover in this article, but we’ll list a few of the better brands to look out for if you’re shopping for a travel trailer:

  • Jayco
  • Forest River
  • Grand Design
  • Nest Caravans
  • Big Foot
  • Airstream
  • Scamp

Travel Trailers Not to Buy

Any travel trailer that’s already fairly old and having significant issues should be given a strong pass. While the seller may try to be persuasive about its value, they’re most likely selling before it’s costing them a lot to fix up and that’s only going to get worse!

If there are any significant roof issues, major damage, or occasional leakages inside the travel trailer especially, that’s a big fat “No, thank you!”

Also, while minor damp and bacterial issues in the walls can be rectified, when pulling off some panels later, more could reveal itself. Special equipment and materials will be needed to remove them all. And how will you know if you got rid of all the mold before moving in? It’s tough to tell what’s lurking there. You cannot really perform a proper inspection and strip down a travel trailer’s interior until you already own it…

Stick to renowned travel trailer brands. They have a reputation to protect, especially if they’re still in business selling new travel trailers and aren’t just a discontinued brand that remains popular on the resale market. Subsequently, they build their travel trailers to last.

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