We’ve all heard the phrase “better safe than sorry,” and we have to admit that it’s proven to be true over and over again. It’s a concept that certainly applies to towing an RV. Once you get the hang of it, RV towing is something that’s fairly straightforward and almost becomes second nature.
Becoming too relaxed or nonchalant about it can lead to trouble, however. This is why it’s important to always use safe practices when it comes to RV towing. Below are 5 safety tips to keep in mind.
#1 Understand Your RV & Truck Weight Limitations
You might think “my RV has a hitch, so it should be fine, right?” Not necessarily. With tow vehicles, it helps to know some numbers. Cars, trucks, and SUVs have limits based on a few factors. For example, torque, suspension, and horsepower as well as what kind of transmission and cooling system you have.
It’s a good idea to learn the meaning of common terms such as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GCWR). Another important factor is axle ratio, which is how many times the drive shaft rotates in comparison with the wheels.
Hauling too much weight can do serious damage to the vehicle. It’s a good idea to play it safe by never exceeding 80 percent of a listed towing capacity.
#2 Know if Your Tires are Matched with your Carrying Capacity
Are your RV tires good to go? If you didn’t know, they have load limits, too. It’s important that each of the tires has the same PSI because if they don’t it could lead to a blowout. And unfortunately, a blowout could cause a rollover.
You can find these ratings printed on the sidewall of the tire next to the recommended tire pressure. How much to inflate the tires should be based on the weight of the RV. It’s important to note that each tire could vary from side to side. Also, remember that tire pressure changes as the tires heat up during travel, so it’s important to check your tire pressure often.
Speaking from experience, tires are not the place to trim the budget. Spending a little more for better quality will definitely pay off in terms of safety. Therefore, when it comes time to purchase tires, it’s a good idea to do your homework and maybe even consult with a tire specialist with experience that’s specifically related to RVs.
#3 Make Sure Weight Is Distributed Properly When RV Towing
An uneven load can spell disaster – or at least it can cause a spill. It’s a good idea to make sure most of your load (at least 60 percent) is toward the front of the trailer. Too much on the back end will make you “tail heavy,” and it could literally whip you off the road. This is why appliances and tanks are up front, so stay mindful of weight distribution when you’re loading your RV.
#4 Know Travel Day Weather Conditions
It’s good to know the temperature and if there’s a good chance of rain or snow during your travel day. Additionally, you will want to keep an eye on wind speed. If it’s going to be a particularly gusty day or there’s a possibility of storms on the way to your next destination. Depending on how bad it could get, it might be wise to stay put for another day.
When the weather turns extreme, it can mean a nightmare for RV towing. If you’ve got a navigator riding shotgun, make sure they’re equipped with the best weather apps to keep you notified about what may lay ahead.
#5 Limit Your Hours on the Road
There’s a reason that people who drive for a living have limits on how many hours they can spend behind the wheel. When you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open, or even if you’re just a little bit fatigued, you’re not at your best.
Sometimes it’s better to turn in early for the night than to risk your safety just to get to your destination faster. If you’re looking for a quick overnight stay, read Why Do We Love Overnight RV Parking at Cracker Barrel?