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1999 Ford Super Duty F-53 Motorhome - How to get a motorhome running

Thank you for your column! It gives me a chuckle always and sometimes some really good advice that even I can find beneficial.

My 1999 Tioga motorhome with 18,500 miles has been sitting in place since summer 2015. It was in perfect running order when we parked it. No, I did not start it and drive it a few feet over those years, as my son instructed. I became a widow a few months after our last trip and life was overwhelming.

What things would I need to do to get it running again? If emptying the gas tank would be one of them, how could I safely do that? Should I get it towed to a service center or change batteries and drive it? Please help.

( I came as close to the the specifications your site offered as I could.)

Remove the gas cap and take a whiff.

If doesn’t smell anything like gas, the entire fuel system will need to be disassembled and cleaned.

The brake fluid should flushed.

Then do an inspection of the vehicle to determine what else needs to be done to make it safe.


Tow it, don’t drive it to a service center. Sitting for 5 years means the gas is roached, the battery is stone dead, there is moisture in the brake fluid.

Call around. Be honest with them over the phone. Don’t tell them what to do, just that the coach has been siting for 5 years. They’ll tell you if they are equipped to fix it.


I would plan on new tires also.


+1 to Barky Heck, YES, new tires. Likely flat-spotted and dry-rotted

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Plus any thing rubber and any place there could be rodent nest’s.

Everything inside the gas tank is probably ruined . . . I’m speaking from experience here

But it’s up to you if you want to take your chances

If you’ve even attempted to start the engine, you may have also damaged the fuel filter . . . which should mount on the frame rail . . . along with the injectors

If you’re going to remove the tank, do yourself a favor and replace everything inside. It should be a module, consisting of fuel pump, float and sock, all pre-assembled

Also replace that fuel filter mounted on the frame rail

Why do you want to get it running? If it’s to sell it, then I might sell it “as-is, where-is”, and avoid a lot of headaches.

If you’re wanting to use it, then follow the advice above and have it towed to an RV service center.


in addition to all the engine stuff, you need to get the house section in shape. The house batteries are almost certainly as dead as the vehicle battery. There are usually two, often in a compartment under the steps inside the door.

And you likely have nasties growing in the water system:

Drain the water heater, and find the water line drains (they’re in the basement somewhere). After it stops draining water, flip the pump on briefly to eject water from there. Close all the drains.

Now put a quarter cup of bleach per 15 gallon freshwater tank capacity into a bucket, fill it with water, and pour it into the freshwater tank, then fill the tank with fresh water.

Open all the faucets, hot and cold (don’t forget the outside shower) and flip the pump on. Run it until you smell chlorine at every faucet. Close all the taps, turn of the pump, and drive it around for a few minutes to slosh the water in the fresh tank. Now let it sit for a day, then drain the whole system, fill it with fresh, and run all the faucets again until you don’t smell bleach.

You’ll probably also need to get the generator serviced because the carb is probably gummed up with stale gas at this point.

And have all of the propane lines inspected for leaks before you run the furnace, water heater, refrigerator, or range.

And before you do anything any of us listed, have the roof checked, especially if it’s a rubber roof. If it’s got a tear or cut anywhere, inspect the whole coach for water damage, and if you find any, sell the thing now and hope the buyer doesn’t care.