Do I Need Antifreeze When Winterizing My RV

Do I Need Antifreeze When Winterizing My RV

Across the country, people are winterizing their RVs and travel trailers. In mild climates, they blow out their water lines and call it good. In cold areas, they use antifreeze to protect their RV.

RV or Automotive Antifreeze? What’s the difference?

You’ve seen gallon bottles of pink antifreeze in your local hardware or RV store. Take a close look and you’ll see it is RV antifreeze. When winterizing your RV, you want RV antifreeze and not automotive antifreeze.

Here's why.

Automotive antifreeze mixes with water, and it is toxic to humans and animals. Regular automotive antifreeze mixed with water absorbs engine heat which lowers engine temperatures.

RV antifreeze is used in RV and boat plumbing systems. RV antifreeze replaces water and isn't poisonous or harmful to humans. It keeps pipes from breaking because of expanding liquid. Because it's designed for drinking water systems, it isn't toxic.

WARNING: Never drink antifreeze. And never put automotive antifreeze into your RV water system. At the least antifreeze will make you sick. At worse, it will kill you.

Is Winterizing An RV With Antifreeze Necessary?

It depends. Are freezing temperatures normal where you live? If not, you don’t need to winterize with antifreeze. But if you live where temperatures are below freezing day after day, you need to winterize your RV. If you don't, cold weather may damage your RV. The best way to protect your RV is to flush the water lines and tanks before winter. In freezing areas replace any water with antifreeze made for RVs.

The Problem With Water

The problem with water is it expands when frozen. RVs' water lines won’t expand, so they may break when the water in the lines freezes.

A good example is what happens when you put a full bottle of water in a freezer. By morning, either the top will break off the bottle or the bottle will break. As water freezes, it expands. Something has to give. What gives is the water bottle.

RV antifreeze doesn’t freeze unless it's extremely cold. When temperatures drop below freezing, it turns into a slushy-looking fluid. And even though it's slushy frozen, it won’t expand. Without expansion, your RV's water lines will not break.

How Much Antifreeze Do You Need

In most cases, 2 or 3 gallons of RV antifreeze is all you’ll need.

You don’t need to fill your tanks with antifreeze. After you’ve emptied the RV's tanks, you should add a quart of RV antifreeze to the tanks to protect the seals and valves.


Part of winterizing an RV is knowing what antifreeze to use and why. By winterizing your RV you'll protect it from freezing damage. Us RV antifreeze in your RV or travel trailer tanks and you'll be fine for winter storage.

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