Driving Tips for RVersFrom the experts at All Seasons RV
New RV drivers learn very quickly that driving a motorhome is nothing like driving a car. Navigating bridges, parking spaces, gas stations and right turns in your RV will take practice, patience, and courage.
Need an introduction to RV driving? Here are our top RV driving tips.
Your RV is long and wide, and your turns will need to be long and wide, too. Especially right turns, because you’ll be up against the curb. Watch your rear-view mirrors and keep as close to the center lane as you can. Take your time! It’s okay to go slow with it—don’t worry about the traffic behind you. Better to do it right and slowly than to suffer damage you’ll have to live with for a while.
Always remember that braking your large, heavy RV will take longer than braking your car. You’ll need to maintain a greater distance from the vehicles in front of you, and you should keep a very sharp eye out for signs of trouble ahead of you so you can react immediately.
On downgrades, downshift and let your engine do as much of the braking as possible. The increased engine resistance in a lower gear will help slow your vehicle down while reducing the wear and tear on your brakes.
If you can’t see clearly, stop! Get someone to be a spotter to help direct you into the parking spot. There’s no shame in using a spotter—even the most veteran RVers do it when they need to. Take your time, and make good use of your mirrors and your spotter. If at all possible, avoid tight spots—move on to an easier parking spot, even if it means you’re wandering the lot for a few minutes. If you’re towing, remember that when you back up, the trailer will turn in the opposite direction from your steering wheel.
Are you veering too far left or right in your lane? Your RV is so wide, it can be hard to tell how close your passenger side is to the shoulder. It’s pretty disorienting for a while, but eventually you’ll get used to the width and lane position will become second-nature. Until then, watch your mirrors and note how close your back tires are to the lane markers. Stay in the right lane whenever possible so you can go slowly and focus your concentration on the traffic that’s close to you on the left.
You’d be surprised how often new RVers forget to pay attention to bridge clearance. Know your vehicle’s height and be aware of low bridges. Plan your routes using an RV GPS device, which can alert you to low bridges and plan routes to avoid them.
Mountains and High Grades
Slow it down in the mountains! Keep to low gears, both going uphill and downhill. Stay in the right lane and don’t worry about the other vehicles passing you.
When going downhill, be absolutely sure not to let your vehicle gain too much speed. Keep it in low gear and let the engine keep your RV’s speed down.
Don’t take your motorhome to just any ol’ gas station. Use truck stops. Many gas stations aren’t built to easily accommodate the height or width of your RV, and you could spend several frustrating minutes trying to wiggle your way past the pumps. Many new RV drivers have ruined their fenders, sides, and roofs trying to pull up to the pump.
There are some terrific RV driver training schools and resources out there! Take advantage of them.
Final Word: Go Slow and Look Behind You
The most important thing about learning to drive an RV is to take it easy and use your mirrors. Don’t be embarrassed about going slower than everybody else—better slow and safe than too fast too soon, and paying for it! Before you know it, driving your RV will start to feel natural and you’ll truly enjoy every moment of RVing.
Adventure awaits! Enjoy your RV!