Valuable Driver Tips for RV owners before hitting the road.
Stupid is as Stupid Does
I had just watched the classic Forrest Gump movie and the line "Stupid is as Stupid does" stuck in my head. Of course, this soon made me think of the many stupid things I have done in the past when I was traveling the country's highways.
As you know, my wife and I have been campers for most of our lives. And along the way, we have had numerous opportunities to make mistakes while traveling and while camping.
Looking back, most of our mistakes make us look Stupid, when in actuality, they were just simple mistakes made by people who didn't understand what could go wrong.
Many of these things, I had forgotten until we were sitting with a few fellow campers recently, and started talking about mistakes we had all made and also mistakes that we had seen our fellow campers make.
So, this morning, while everything was fresh in my mind, I decided to put together an article that listed some of these little things that can go bad for RVers if they don't keep their mind on what they are doing.
A typical pull over spot on a highway in Texas
Check your Hook Ups!
It is amazing how absent-minded we can get when we are pulling out. It doesn't matter whether you are pulling out from your home, from your storage area, a rest area or a campsite, you really do have to clear your head and do a walk-around of your RV.
It's the Stupid things we do, or forget to do, that causes so much damage to most RVs. We just need to do a walk-around and inspect for those obvious things that must be remedied for a safe pull out.
Here are some things that you can check that can save you a lot of misery;
If you have been camping, and are preparing to leave your campsite, double and triple check that you have properly disconnected your electrical water, sewage and campground video cables as well as hoses. And, make that you put these away in the containers you store them in.
From past conversations with my fellow campers, many of us can remember seeing a fellow camper, somewhere, trying to repair damage to their camper caused by hookups that were still connected as they tried to pull out.
Towing Accessory Kit
Check your Outside Gear
One of the things that makes our camping experience so enjoyable is our personal collection of campsite accessories that we use while in a campground. And, one of the nuisance things we always have to do, is put away everything that we have pulled out of our storage compartments.
I'm not sure if it has ever happened to you, but one sure sign that the previous camper may not have taken the time to put his camping gear away is when you pull into your "empty" campsite and find gear still sitting there from the previous campers.
I, and our friends, have found such things as; outdoor Light strings, perfectly good chairs, folding tables, picnic table coverings, lanterns, landscape lighting, portable table-top grills, campsite rugs, and more.
It only takes an extra minute to walk around your campsite and pick thes items up and store them away, but so many of us are in a hurry to leave that we just hop into our motorhome or towing vehicle and pull away.
Set of Wheel Chocks
Check your Jacks and Chocks
For some unknown reason, a lot of campers just forget that their camper i sitting on Jacks. They put the jacks down and leveled their camper but often they will try to just pull away while these jacks are still down.
Most motorhomes have alarms that go off and some will even have control systems that will not allow the vehicle to move if the jacks are down.
But those of us that pull fifth wheel and tag-along trailers do not have the same protections and if we are not careful we can really mess up some expensive jacks by just moving a foot or less, with these jacks down.
And those Chocks we put at our tires so that our camper will not roll in the campsite? I have actually watched as a camper, in his truck was revving the engine to thousands of RPMs with a confused look on his face.
He just couldn't understand why his truck and camper wouldn't move. The smart ones will back off and get out of their truck and walk back and se the chocks still in place. The others? Well, it is an ugly thing to watch as a camper is pulled over the chocks.
Baggage Door Lock
Check your Storage Door Locks
Oh, I know, it sounds silly, but you need to walk around your camper and make sure that your storage compartments are not only closed, but that they are securely locked.
Sure, the locks give you a sense of security when your camper is sitting somewhere and you are not around, but I can tell you from experience that these doors can pop open at times.
A number of years ago, we had a long drive planned to get to our next campground. I don't like to drive at dark, so we were up promptly ad dawn and packing things away for our trip. We got everything into the storage compartments and then we hit the road.
Well, we had been on the road for about 45 minutes, and I was driving along and sipping on my coffee when a trucker pulled up beside me and using sign language, he let me know that something was wrong at the rear of our motorhome.
I waved to thank him and then I slowed down and took the next ramp off of the interstate. I finally found a place to stop and jumped out of our motorhome to check what the trucker was trying to tell me about.
And, there it was. I had two aluminum fold-up chairs sticking half out of the storage compartment. Both were touching the road, and the metal tubing had been worn through from rubbing on the road. Cursing, I pushed them back into the compartment, locking it firmly this time and we continued our trip.
Needless to say, the chairs were ruined and I had been lucky in that they had not flow out of the compartment and damaged someone else's vehicle.
So, lock those storage compartments.
RV Hitch Pin and Clip
Check that towed vehicle hitch.
Whenever you pull out of a campsite, and before you get out and onto the road, you should stop and check your hitch connections.
OK, so you know how to hitch up your towed vehicle to your motorhome or your fifth wheel or trailer to your towing vehicle.
But, you would be surprised how many cables come loose and hitch connections, slide loose on campers.
The electrical connector can easily be bound up with other parts of the hitch and get pulled loose as soon as you make your first turn.
Trailer hitches can pop off of the ball even though they seemed to be firmly latched down. And fifth wheel hitches are notorious for only being partially latched.
So, if you want to be safe, drive a few hundred feet, make a turn if possible and then re-check your hitch to assure that it is latched properly and the cables are connected and hanging free.
Oh yeah, and double check that safety cable. You know, the one that if pulled free of its connector will lock the towed vehicles brakes? Make sure it is connected properly at the same time.
Also, the tow arms for your towed vehicle should be double checked. The arm latches should be engaged so that the vehicle is being towed straight. The pins should be in the tow arms and the pin locks should be firmly snapped onto the pins.
Blue Ox Tow Bar
The Door and the Steps
After all of this, you are probably ready to get back into your vehicle and start your trip.
But two little things should be checked as you enter your motorhome;
Did you hear your power steps engage and retract? They don't stick out far, but they can collect some ugly stuff if they stay out for a couple hundred miles.
Did you latch the door? Always close your entrance door firmly, and just to make sure, lock it. Unlike your truck or car, most motorhomes do not have an alarm that tells you one of your doors is partially open.
And, I can tell you from experience, my wife will not go near a partially open door with the wind whistling wind blowing into the motorhome while we are moving. And it is really a pain to immediately find another exit to pull off of the highway so you can close a door that you were to lazy to close properly in the first place.
In Summary, it only takes a minute extra to be safe
If you look at the things I have listed here, you can see that if the driver is not diligent, there can be some serious and even costly repercussions.
But if he takes the time to walk around the RV and double check your handiwork you can make a safe pull out every time.
Benefits of Auto-Sliding Fifth-Wheel Hitch
How to hook up a Blue ox Tow system
© 2014 Don Bobbitt