Towing Tips for New RV Owners
This list highlights many towing tips for new RV owners, always remember that when towing safety should be your highest priority.
Make sure your tow vehicle and hitch are rated for the weight of the trailer. The trailer life magazine towing guide is a great resource to look up the limits of your vehicle.
If your RV is over 5,000 lbs then you should probably use a weight distributing hitch. Most weight distributing hitches also include sway control to help keep your trailer going straight down the road when you get passed by a semi or hit by a strong cross wind.
If you tow a 5th wheel, make sure your hitch is locked. Make this your last check every time you get in your truck.
Measure the height of your RV, write it down and keep it in your tow vehicle. Now you will know for sure if you will fit under that gas station canopy or below that low clearance bridge.
Leave more space between you and the next car when traveling down the road. Towing a heavy RV can more increase your stopping distance by 50 percent or more. Be safe and use the 6 second rule, when the vehicle ahead of you crosses an object keep a 6 second delay before you cross the same point.
If your RV has brakes make sure your tow vehicle has a brake controller. Without a brake controller your tow vehicle’s brakes will be doing all the stopping. A brake controller activates the trailer brakes lightening the load on the tow vehicle.
Load your RV evenly the tongue weight of your RV should be 10 to 15 percent of the total weight. Don’t load all you gear right up in the front or back of your RV otherwise you might end up with too much or too little tongue weight.
Check you tire pressure on your tow vehicle and RV the last thing you want on your way to the campground is a blowout. Having the proper tire pressure will also help your gas mileage.
Keep a 4-in-1 lug nut wrench in your RV. I had a blowout on one of my first trips and didn’t have the correct size wrench or socket to change the tire. I was close to home and was able to make it on 3 trailer tires going 20 mph, but you might have to unhook your RV or call for help if you can’t change the tire on the road.
Plan on bad gas mileage. If your tow vehicle has a gasoline engine plan on about ½ the range you usually get. If you have a diesel your mileage decrease will not be quite as drastic, but on long trips you should still plan more frequent stops for fuel.
If you tow vehicle does not have towing mirrors look into purchasing some mirror extensions, being able to see what is going on around you is well worth the small cost.
Download the area in google maps so if you lose cell service you won’t lose your map on your phone. If you don’t know how find out here.
Before You Tow Checklist
Once you are hooked up and think you are ready to leave take one more walk around your rig to double check the following items:
- Hitch latch and secure
- RV lights working
- RV brakes working
- TV antenna and roof vents down
- Are all doors, windows and vents are closed on your RV
- Wheel chocks removed
- RV license plate on with current tags
Tips on How to Back Up a Travel Trailer
Don’t be ashamed to pull forward and try again! Even the most experienced driver sometimes need to pull forward to get a better angle to back in.
Always use a spotter
- Work out a system of hand signals
- Use speaker phone so you can easily communicate with your spotter
- Have your spotter stand behind the RV where they can see the back and you can see them in your mirror to watch for hand signals
Backing into a spot
- Whichever side of the road the spot is on drive along that side of the road as close as possible to the edge.
- Once the middle of your RV is in line with the spot turn towards the other side of the road, this will start to angle the RV towards the spot.
- When the RV is just past the spot you need to start backing up. When you begin backing up turn the wheel as far as possible toward the side of the road the site is on.
- After the RV is turning start turning the wheel back the other way adjusting to get in line with the site.
- One tip to make backing a trailer easier is to place you hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. When backing up the direction you move your hand is the direction the back of the RV will go.
Beginner RV Tips
If you haven’t already, check out these first time RV camping tips.
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