You are grinning from ear to ear. It is almost as exciting as the day you first got your driver’s license and got to drive solo. You are about to drive away with your new RV in tow! You can’t wait to pull into the driveway at home and start planning your first camping trip! You jump behind the wheel and check your mirrors. You realize you can’t see behind you. Suddenly, the other feeling you had the day you first got your license hits you…fear. You wonder, How in the world do I maneuver this thing?
Just like the driving practice you needed before you drove a car solo for the first time; it’s a good idea to plan some practice drive time with your new RV before you hit the road. With these RV towing tips and a little practice, you and your new RV will be safer and happier on the road.
The Most Important RV Towing Tip: Know Your RV!
Accidents with RVs often happen because of misjudging height or weight. The most important of our RV towing tips is being sure you know the specs of your RV. It is imperative that you know the height of your RV with absolute certainty. This helps you recognize when you’re approaching a low overhead that may cause an issue. If you’ve never driven a large vehicle or towed one, you also need to learn to pay attention to clearance signs! You can avoid damage and costly repairs when you know – without a doubt – that you have enough clearance.
Knowing your RV weight – and the weight of the items you pack in it – is another important factor and a good RV towing tip to keep in mind. You need to know your vehicle’s tow rating to be sure that it has the capacity to pull your trailer safely. You can cause damage to your vehicle’s transmission, brakes or tires if you attempt to pull an RV that is too heavy. Camping out on the side of the road because your tow vehicle broke down is not how you want to spend your vacation!
Before You Start the Engine
Double Check Your Hitch
Even if you have towed an RV before, it is important to check – and double check – your hitch. No matter how experienced you get, it’s always worth double-checking the trailer hitch; especially if you are towing a new RV. Remember, losing the hitch is more than just a problem – it’s an extreme danger to you, your family and everyone else on the road! Another important RV towing tip to remember is to check that the cables are properly connected.
Keep Everything Visible
Like driving any vehicle, using your mirrors is important. Keep in mind that your rear-view mirror won’t help unless you are towing a pop-up or collapsible travel trailer that you can see over. So you need to make sure that you have as much visibility as possible before you start moving. You may want to consider mirror extensions in order to get a better field of vision on both sides. Keeping everything visible and eliminating blind spots are key RV towing tips.
Safe RV Towing Tips
Start Small (and Slow!)
If it’s your first time towing, find somewhere safe to practice just like when you first started driving a car. Large, empty parking lots can provide ample space for building your RV-towing confidence.
Towing a vehicle isn’t as difficult as it may appear, but it isn’t easy either. The changes in handling require you to relearn some muscle memory. It shouldn’t be a surprise that starting out slow until you get the hang of it is one of our RV towing tips. Once you feel comfortable, try a small trip such as through a neighborhood or down a quiet side street. Be sure you are familiar with the area and that there is a route out. Nothing spells stressful like coming to a D-e-a-d E-n-d when you’re learning to tow your RV!
Practice the Tough RV Towing Techniques
Turning while towing is no different than normal turning, except that it is critical to learn how to effectively gauge how wide of a turn you’ll need to make. The sharper the turn, the more careful you need to be. Small vehicles can make really tight turns. Long trailers, however, will cut earlier in the turn. This can easily lead to side-swipes if you aren’t careful.
Another worthwhile RV towing tip is to keep in mind that the larger your trailer is, the higher its center of gravity. This means you need to remember to slow down before turns in order to prevent tipping over. It’s much better to take a turn very slowly than to end up on your side!
One of the tougher aspects of maneuvering a trailer is traveling in reverse. Therefore, one of the most valuable RV towing tips to remember is that reversing is a skill that has to be acquired. You can only learn how to reverse properly with practice. Empty parking lots are a good choice of places to help you learn the art of backing up your RV. You can practice trying to angle your RV into the lines. The more you practice this, the more you will improve your reversing accuracy. Be sure to watch out for signs and light poles!
You may not have eyes in the back of your head, but if you have an RV back up camera, you’ll have “eyes” in the back of your trailer. Some RV models come with cameras. If yours doesn’t, you may want to consider installing one.
Ultimately no matter how good you get at reversing, the less you must back up, the better. Knowing your route and the type of site and terrain you’ll be camping at before you go can help minimize reversing!
It may seem like stating the obvious, but we would be remiss if we didn’t include this in our RV towing tips: extra weight means longer stopping times. So, no matter how fast or slow you are traveling, you need to give yourself ample breaking time. A properly installed brake controller can aid in the braking process by automatically activating your trailer’s brakes when you apply the brakes in your tow vehicle.
If you are naturally a tailgater, it is time to learn new driving habits. Even if you have installed a brake controller, tailgating is not safe under any conditions with a trailer!
Inclines & Declines
Going up hills won’t typically be a problem unless your trailer is maxing out your tow capacity. Like braking, this otherwise simple task is made a little more complicated due to your trailer.
Make sure to keep to the right in traffic. You’ll likely have to go slow if it’s a steep incline and other drivers will be able to more safely pass you on the left. This will not only keep you and your trailer safe, but will cut down on any potential impatient drivers who may otherwise be stuck behind you.
While going up a steep hill may seem challenging, declines are the bigger challenge. Anticipate the decent; start slow and stay slow. By keeping your speed slow but steady, you’ll avoid any situations in which you’d need to slam on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes on a decline is extremely dangerous and can wreak havoc on you, your trailer and the other vehicles on the road. Remember, the lighter you are on the brakes the better.
Whether you plan to visit tourist attractions or camp off the beaten path, there are many things to learn when towing a new RV. But with patience and practicing these RV towing tips, you’ll soon be confidently driving down the road thinking, Why was I so worried about maneuvering this thing?
The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871
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