Conduct a Pre-Trip Safety Check

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness or inattention to detail: Leaving cabinet or cargo doors unlatched, TV antenna up, or steps extended.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A pre-trip safety check and inspection is an essential step in preparing to exit your camping site. Unlike commercial drivers who can be fired for failure to perform a pre-trip safety check, many RV drivers fail to do so out of laziness.

That is the reason you may see RVers exit a campsite while still plugged into a power source or with their awnings fully extended.

Create a step-by-step pre-trip safety checklist, and like a pilot on a jet, conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away from your camping site.

If you fail to perform a pre-trip safety check, you will have a problem. If not today or tomorrow, at some time in the future.

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Interior

Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Secure all loose items: Toaster/toaster oven/coffee maker/dishes

Ensure stove burners and oven are in off position

Lower roof vents

Securely latch cabinet and closet doors

Close roof vents and windows

Turn OFF air conditioner/heat pump/furnace

Turn OFF refrigerator and securely latch doors

Turn OFF water pump

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn OFF interior RV lights

Fully retract slides and secure

Fully retract TV antenna/roof-top satellite dish/exterior steps

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Exterior

Pack and secure all outside items: Mats/chairs/grills/bikes

Check oil/transmission/coolant levels and condition of belts/hoses

Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks

Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required; inspect tires for cracks/uneven tread wear

Check RV wheel lug nut torque

Retract and secure patio and window awnings

Check slide toppers for water and debris

Empty black/gray tanks and close valves

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Disconnect and store power cord/cable TV cord/Satellite TV cord/water hose/sewer hose

Turn OFF propane at tank

Retract/remove stabilizer jacks

Store leveling blocks/boards

Close/latch/lock all doors/exterior bins

Tow bar and safety cables in place

Check head lights/fog lights/signal lights/4-way hazard lights/clearance lights/brake lights

Check surroundings for hazards before departure: Low branches/ground obstacles

Check campsite to ensure it’s clean and no items are left behind

Final 360-degree RV walk-around

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

Read More

Why RV Tires Fail

Heading out with a recreational vehicle this summer? Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and stay safe!

Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios. Pictured above Newmar Essex diesel pusher traveling west Utah 12 Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios. Pictured above Newmar Essex diesel pusher traveling west Utah 12 Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tires deteriorate as soon as they roll out of the factory. But as a responsible RV owner, you can extend the life of your tires, combat the deterioration process that’s been set in motion from the birth of a tire, and ensure your RV is safely ready to roll whenever you are.

It is impossible to predict when tires should be replaced based on their calendar age alone. However, the older a tire, the greater the chance that it will need to be replaced due to the service-related evolution or other conditions found upon inspection or detected during use.

The common causes behind tire failure are as varied as the experiences and scenery you encounter on an RV road trip.

Most RV owners can expect about five years from a new set of tires. Proper tire care, regular inspection, and periodic maintenance may eke another year or two of tire life. When a tire fails, it can not only cause extensive damage to the body of an RV, or shocks, etc., but it can also pose a life-threatening situation to you and your passengers if a blowout causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Additionally, bits of tire from a blowout create a hazard to other drivers who are sharing the road with you.

Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and arrive safe at your destination. Pictured above Class C motorhome camped at Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Check the condition of all tires before leaving home—and arrive safe at your destination. Pictured above Class C motorhome camped at Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take precautions against tire failure to avoid disastrous trip scenarios.

There are four main offenders behind untimely tire failure.

Overheating Due To Under-inflated Tires

It’s a given that tires lose air over time. Temperature fluctuations and road use impact tire pressure, so it’s extremely important to check tire pressure regularly. Under-inflated tires generate a lot of heat while they’re rolling down the road. More rubber comes into contact with the road surface, causing excess friction and, therefore, overheating.

Overloading Your RV & Improper Weight Distribution

OOPS! Not a smart move! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
OOPS! Not a smart move! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An overloaded motorhome or other recreational vehicle leads to under-inflated tires. Too much stress on one or more tires can mean premature tire failure on the open road.

Dry Rot From Sun (UV) Damage

The sun is notorious for setting physical or chemical changes in motion. Your RV tires are no exception. Destructive UV rays affect a tire in such a way that damage to the integrity of the tire’s rubber may be nearly invisible. If you detect any cracking or splitting, especially on the tire’s sidewalls, the tire is unsafe.

Old Tires That Appear OK

A ten-year-old tire may have excellent tread, look good, and appear road-worthy. But tires are meant for rolling down the open road, not for standing still. Over time, the material that makes up a tire begins to deteriorate.

Preventive Measures

Following are a few tips that can prevent the potential tire problems listed above:

  • Check tire pressure with a trusted tire gauge every day you’re on the road, and every month when you’re not
  • Have your RV weighed to ensure proper weight distribution
  • Cover tires to protect against damaging UV rays
  • Examine tires for defects, cracks, uneven wear
  • Check the DOT’s sidewall information to determine tire age

Roadside Assistance Plan

Y'all Come back...safely! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Y’all Come back…safely! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your personal safety and the safety of your passengers is priority number one. Ensure that you have a quality roadside assistance program in place before venturing out on the open road this summer.

In the event of a blowout, a quality roadside assistance program enables you to get back on the road by arranging to have a flat changed, providing you with a comparable new tire, or towing you to a repair facility.

Roadside assistance programs are available from a host of sources including Good Sam and AAA. For the past 17 years we have relied on Coach-Net’s RV Technical and Roadside Assistance Plan. Whether you own a Class A diesel pusher, a 5th wheel, toy hauler, pop up camper—or all of the above—Coach-Net has a membership plan suited to your needs.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Dos & Don’ts of Towing a Travel Trailer

Don’t confuse towing a travel trailer with driving a car—they only look the same. If you’re preparing to tow a trailer, it’s time to brush up on the basics.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: West Valley Icon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Small travel trailer camping at White Tank Mountain Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two of the most important things to have when you tow are basic common sense and the ability to adjust your driving. In other words, when towing, everything you do while driving needs to be done at a lesser speed when compared to driving without a trailer.

When you turn, go much slower. When you accelerate, do it much easier. When you brake, allow yourself considerably more space to stop. And when you change lanes, allow room for your vehicle and the trailer.

Towing a travel trailer requires regular inspection of the equipment, especially the hitch, brake lights, and signals.

Beginner drivers are advised to find an empty parking lot and get used to maneuvering the tow vehicle-trailer combination. Jackknifing happens to the best out there though, so don’t give up after your first try.

Regardless of the shape and size of your trailer, there are several dos and don’ts of towing a travel trailer.

Spare tire

Always travel with a fill-size spare tire for your trailer as well as your tow vehicle.

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A flat trailer tire without a spare equates to a massive headache, especially in a remote area. Carry two spare tires: one for the tow vehicle and one for the trailer.

Check the tire pressure

Proper tire inflation is essential when towing a trailer. It optimizes handling, fuel economy, and safety. Check tire inflation and tread wear often. Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Every morning, check the tow vehicle and trailer tire pressure, as well as the trailer lights and brakes.

Adjust the side mirrors

Available in a custom or universal fit, towing mirrors increase visibility. This makes backing up and passing other vehicles easier and safer. Adjust the side mirrors in a way that the rear of the trailer can be readily seen. That ensures a clear view of what’s behind and beside the trailer when changing lanes or turning a corner. The lower mirrors are there to help you with judging curbs.

Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pictured below is the beauty of Valley of Fire at Atatl Rock Campground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Load adjustments

Do not overload the rear of the trailer as this will lead to excessive swaying and general instability. Distributing the weight so that at least 10 percent is on the hitch.

Reversing

Position your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. As you begin looking over your shoulder, move the hand to the right to make the trailer turn right and left to make it go left. If the trailer jackknifes, straighten the trailer by pulling forward and start over again, at a slower speed.

90-degree corners

The extra length can also cause problems on turns. Because the trailer does not follow the exact path as the vehicle on turns, remember to swing out wider when traveling around bends and corners.

Braking

The addition of a trailer adds weight and length to the tow vehicle. More weight means more time to speed up and more importantly, slow down and stop. Allow for extra time when changing lanes, stopping, and passing other vehicles.

Highway driving

To conserve fuel when towing, travel at moderate speeds. Faster speeds increase wind resistance, reduce fuel mileage, and place added strain on the tow vehicle and trailer.

Do not overload the rear of the trailer
Do not overload the rear of the trailer

DO – Good Towing Practice

  • Gradually reduce speed
  • Steady the steering wheel—sudden turns can cause more sway

DO NOT – NOT Good Towing Practice

  • Do Not slam on the brake—jackknifing can occur
  • Do Not tow a trailer that continues to sway

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Prep Your RV For Summer In 5 Easy Steps

The weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here.

Ramblers Rest RV Resort, Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ramblers Rest RV Resort, Venice, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now is the time to start planning your summer vacation. But prior to booking a campsite, owners of recreational vehicles should perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure that their road trip goes smoothly. Preventative measures and maintenance will reduce the risk of problems.

It is a much better to take care of any problems while at home rather than having to deal with costly repairs while on the road. Trouble-free camping makes for happy camping.

Plug it In – Turn it On

After taking the RV out of winter storage, plug it in to shore power, turn on the LP gas, and connect to city water to ensure that all electric and propane appliances function normally and there is no evidence of water leaks. Also run the air conditioning units and furnace, turn on the refrigerator and freezer, start the water heater, and power up the generator and run with a full load.

Check and Double Check

Top off the fluid levels in your batteries, check all hoses and belts for cracking, and all fluid levels on a motorized RV. Also check the converter and/or inverter for proper voltage. Check the headlights and turn signals. Take a look at all your hitch and towing equipment. Check fire extinguisherssmoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and propane sensor.

North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at North Llano River RV Park, Junction, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kick the Tires

Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means more money for fuel. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowout.

If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Clean the tires and rims and inspect them for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls and weatherization damage.

Jack it Up

Regardless of your RV type, check the jacks and leveling systems, the awnings, crank and run the generator and service if required.

Open awnings and check for frayed or ripped material. Remove stains and mildew with special awning cleaner and allow awning to dry before rolling back up. Check hardware for functionality and replace as needed.

Tips For Cleaning Your RV Exterior
Products For Cleaning Your RV Exterior

Keep it Clean

Regular cleaning of a recreational vehicle is essential for its maintenance and to ensure the longevity of your RV especially after a long winter in storage. Cleaning starts with your RV roof, because whatever lands on your roof eventually ends up everywhere else on the RV. Always exercise extreme care when working on the roof of an RV, especially when wet.

When inspecting the roof look for tears or holes. Beware of small slices that can allow water intrusion. Get any holes or slices repaired immediately.

Look for peeling, cracking, or openings in the sealants and if found should be cleaned, dried, and resealed.

Next clean the front of the RV including side mirrors, the side walls, and back using a quality RV wash such as McGuire’s. The safest and easiest way to reach the upper part of the RV is with an extension pole system.

Pay special attention to the seams where the wall joints, storage bay doors, marker lights, and appliance outlets are found. Remove dirt, bugs, tar, and other road residue from the surface of your RV.

Inspect the side walls and around windows and doors for cracks or voids in the seams and seals. Scrape and reseal any affected areas with the appropriate sealant.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After a general clean with the soap and water it’s time to wax the beast with a quality product such as McGuire’s Wash and Wax.

Worth Pondering…

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

—Ben Stein

Read More

6 Ways To Save Money On an RV Road Trip

One of the great pleasures in life is the road trip.

Alabama's Gulf State Park offers 2 miles of whie sand beaches, a 1,512-foot-long fishing pier, and 496 improved camping sites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Alabama’s Gulf State Park offers 2 miles of whie sand beaches, a 1,512-foot-long fishing pier, and 496 improved camping sites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A road trip can get expensive, though.

Saving money on unnecessary spending frees up bucks for other things. While an RV is one of the biggest investments we can make, the ways we can save when camping with our RVs, are almost limitless.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying life ‘on the road’ in your RV.

Many RVers take measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 or 70 mph and packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV.

Following are six ways to save money on fuel this summer:

  1. Avoid High Speeds

Decreasing your speed saves money. The greatest improvement in fuel economy is the speed we drive. As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases. Driving faster pushes more air ahead of the RV which creates more resistance to forward movement. Driving 62 mph rather than 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.

  1. Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard
Dead Horse Point State Park features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.
Dead Horse Point State Park (Utah) features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.

  1. Anticipate Traffic Flow

Look at the traffic as far ahead as possible in order to avoid unnecessary stopping and starting within the flow of traffic. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.

Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to. Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.

When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.

  1. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Another fuel saver is to keep tire air pressures at the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure can severely affects fuel economy.

Monument Valley
One of the grandest – and most photographed – landmarks in the United States, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sprawling, sandy preserve that spans the border between Arizona and Utah, © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the tires are low on air, the engine has to push harder to move the RV ahead. It is important to know that tires can look normal when they are seriously under inflated.

Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving).

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency.

Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

  1. Reduce Idling Time

Be kind to your RV engine by idling it the proper amount of time at your starts and stops, but never idle for excessive amounts of time. Besides polluting the air and wasting your fuel, this will cause your valves, pistons, and injector to build up with carbon which will hurt your pocketbook in the long run. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations related to your model.

  1. Control Your Weight

Added weight significantly decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America
Located in the Texas Hill Country, Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

  • Water—8.3 pounds/gallon
  • Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon
  • Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon
  • Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

Now Let’s Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason

Read More

New RV Tires Website Launched by Michelin

Michelin North America launched a new RV tires website that includes information on tire selection and maintenance for recreational vehicles including campers and motorhomes.

Michelin-RV-Tires-HomepageMichelin RV tires offer a wide variety of technical and reference materials to help keep you on top of the latest RV tire maintenance tips, technical information, and tire management solutions.

The mobile-friendly site offers RV customers online tools such as a new RV tire selector which assists with size, tread design, and application selection.

“Our goal for the new RV site is to provide a user friendly experience for our RV customers with information and tools to assist in their decision making and maintenance practices,” said Bianca Hogan, U.S. country marketing manager for Michelin Americas truck tires division.

The reference section of the site contains materials including warranty information, bulletins, load and inflation tables, RV tire maintenance tips, technical specifications, and videos.

The dealer and service tab can be searched by address, city, state, and ZIP code. It can also be refined to select the dealers with the specific services needed.

Customers can create a personal account so they can save their tire and dealer searches, as well as reference materials and videos.

RV Tires Recommendations

Proper Tire Inflation Chart
Proper Tire Inflation Chart

Tires are composed of various types of material and rubber compounds, having  performance properties essential to the proper functioning of the tire itself. These component properties evolve over time.

For each tire, this evolution depends upon many factors such as weather, storage conditions, and conditions of use (load, speed, inflation pressure, maintenance, etc.) to which the tire is subjected throughout its life. This service-related evolution varies widely so that accurately predicting the serviceable life of any specific tire in advance is not possible.

That is why, in addition to regular inspections and inflation pressure maintenance by consumers, it is recommended to have RV tires, including spare tires, inspected regularly by a qualified tire specialist, such as a tire dealer, who will assess the tire’s suitability for continued service. Tires that have been in use for 5 years or more should be inspected by a specialist at least annually.

Consumers are strongly encouraged to be aware not only of their tires’ visual conditions and inflation pressures, but also of any changes in dynamic performances such as decreased fuel economy, noise, or vibration, which could be an indication that the tires need to be removed from service to prevent tire failure.

It is impossible to predict when tires should be replaced based on their calendar age alone. However, the older a tire, the greater the chance that it will need to be replaced due to the service-related evolution or other conditions found upon inspection or detected during use.

While most tires will need replacement before they achieve 10 years, it is recommended that any tires in service 10 years or more from the date of manufacture, including spare tires, be replaced with new tires as a simple precaution even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit.

The Importance of Tire Pressure

The most important factor in maintaining the life of RV tires is making sure they are always properly inflated. Incorrect pressure for the weight of the vehicle is dangerous and often leads to like premature wear, tire damage, or a harsher ride.

An underinflated or overloaded tire will build up more heat that could go beyond the endurance limits of the rubber and radial cords. This could cause sudden tire failure. Under inflation will also cause poor handling, faster and/or irregular tire wear, and can decrease fuel economy.

Over inflation, on the other hand, will reduce the tire’s contact area with the road, which reduces traction, braking ability, and handling. A tire that’s overinflated for the weight it’s carrying is more prone to a harsh ride, uneven tire wear, and impact damage.

Details

Michelin North America

michelin-logoPhone: (888) 622-2306 (toll free)

Roadside Assistance: (800) TIRE-911 (toll free)

Michelin RV Tires Website: www.michelinrvtires.com

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Dumb Mistakes RV Owners Make

When you RV as much as we have, you see people do many dumb things that are the result of lack of planning or common sense, or just plain stupidity.

Virginia: Mechanical Failure Causes Motorhome Fire (Credit: Sid Choudhari)
Virginia: Mechanical Failure Causes Motorhome Fire (Credit: Sid Choudhari)

It does not seem possible that people could make so many bad mistakes when they travel by RV—but they do.

Most people who enter the world of RVing do so with little or no prior experience with recreational vehicles. Unfortunately, they often make mistakes that are costly.

Everyone should experience traveling the country in an RV. There is no other way of travel that compares. You can enjoy the scenic wonders of nature without compromising on comfort no matter where you travel.

But along with the countless benefits to traveling by RV, there are numerous details to consider in order to travel safely and ensure that your travels don’t end in disaster.

The most common mistake by RV owners is negligence concerning the maintenance of their recreational vehicle.

Before you hit the road, ensure your recreational vehicle is roadworthy, and that you’re prepared in case of emergency. The proper maintenance of your recreational vehicle is a key to keeping you on the road to safety. An RV that’s mechanically sound will be less apt to break down.

Although it may never seem that anything could go wrong when you’re all packed and eager to leave for your trip, forgetting to check on all the important areas of your RV will, sooner or later, come back to haunt you.

Always check the pressure and condition of your tires before taking your RV on the road.
Always check the pressure and condition of your tires before taking your RV on the road.

Maintenance falls into two basic categories: routine and preventive. Let’s look at some of the tasks you’ll need to perform in each category.

Routine RV maintenance includes tasks required by warranty to be done at scheduled intervals. The most important routine maintenance task you can perform is checking your owner’s manual and warranty. These documents spell out which tasks must be performed, when, and by whom.

Routine maintenance performed on motorhomes include changing engine oil and filter, lubricating the chassis, and servicing the transmission.

Performing routine maintenance will help you avoid costly emergency maintenance down the road. If you neglect your routine checks and maintenance, the cost of repairs increases tenfold when the RV does break down, usually at the most inconvenient time.

Preventive maintenance is not required by warranty. Rather, it’s designed to identify and address potential problems before they arise.

Inspect all belts and hoses for cracking and replace as required.

Inspect the engine, battery, and fluids for proper levels. A good rule of thumb is to check fluids levels—engine oil, power steering, transmission, coolant, wiper fluid—and tire pressure prior to each day of travel. Use your owner’s manual as a guide.

Check headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals.

Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight, and ample bottled water.

Ensure your tires have the recommended air pressure, sufficient tread depth, and have not aged out (NOTE: RV tires typically should be replaced due to age after six to eight years).

Correct tire pressure is vital to your safety on the road. Under-inflated tires affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior and are more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially on high-speed Interstate journeys.

Carefully study the parameters of your RV, especially the cargo carrying capacity (CCC), because it’s the maximum permissible weight that can be safely added to the vehicle.

Did you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio's Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Did you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio’s Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Exceeding the legal weight can make the design of the RV unstable and ultimately lead to various risks when on the road. Overloading is the number one cause of tire failure.

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height (remember to include A/C)

Avoid these common causes of RV accidents:

Fires that occur from leaking LP gas (propane)

Tire blowouts due to overloading or to under inflated or worn-out tires

Ensure that you retract outside steps prior to traveling

Antenna down?

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

5 Ways To Save Money On Fuel

More than 20 million Americans will travel in RVs throughout the summer months, heading to our country’s 16,000-plus campgrounds, and enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

In spite of rising fuel costs, RV travel is still the most economical and efficient way to vacation with your family this summer. Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In spite of rising fuel costs, RV travel is still the most economical and efficient way to vacation with your family this summer. Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel can be expensive. Knowing where to cut costs, save money, and be more efficient in our travels is the key to staying within your travel budget.

Fuel prices, every summer, rise to higher and higher heights. While we have no control over the price of fuel, we can do a few things to help save money.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying life ‘on the road’ in your RV.

Many RVers take measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 or 70 mph and packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV.

Following are five ways to save money on fuel this summer:

1. Avoid High Speeds

Decreasing your speed saves money. The greatest improvement in fuel economy is the speed we drive. As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases. Driving faster pushes more air ahead of the RV which creates more resistance to forward movement. Driving 62 mph rather than 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.

2. Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard

scenic view point in Canyon de Chelly National Park
Before leaving on your road trip, check your tire pressure to make sure it is at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. This little tip will save you on MPG over distances. Pictured above a Fleetwood Providence DP parked at a scenic view point in Canyon de Chelly National Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.

3. Anticipate traffic flow

Look at the traffic as far ahead as possible in order to avoid unnecessary stopping and starting within the flow of traffic. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.

Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to. Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.

When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.

4. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Another fuel saver is to keep tire air pressures at the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure can severely affects fuel economy.

If the tires are low on air, the engine has to push harder to move the RV ahead. It is important to know that tires can look normal when they are seriously under inflated.

Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving).

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency.

Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

5. Control your weight

Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico.
Control the weight you carry in your RV. When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full. Pictured above camping at Leasburg Dam State Park, New Mexico. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Added weight significantly decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

Water—8.3 pounds/gallon

Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon

Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon

Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

Now Let’s Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason

Read More

Reduce Risks of RV Tire Blowouts

Heading out with a recreational vehicle this summer?

It's important to check RV and trailer tires regularly to reduce the risk of blowouts. Pictured above Class A motorhome at Canyon de Chelly National Park campground, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
It’s important to check RV and trailer tires regularly to reduce the risk of blowouts. Pictured above Class A motorhome at Canyon de Chelly National Park campground, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check out the condition of your tires before leaving home… and stay safe!

RV tires are put to a rigorous test during the summer travel season. After many months in storage, RVs are often driven day after day, through extreme heat; the tires supporting heavy loads, often with incorrect tire pressure.

Because of the risk associated with blowouts on a large motorized vehicle or towable and the cost of RV tire replacement, routinely maintaining RV tires is essential.

With more than ten million RVs on American and Canadian roads, Vogel Talks RVing reminds drivers of important tips to reduce the risk of tire blowouts during family road trips this summer.

Proper tire maintenance is an important safety function often neglected. The importance of properly maintaining your tires cannot be overemphasized. Remember, tires are the only part of the RV in contact with the road surface. Safety in acceleration, braking, steering, and cornering all rely on the tires’ relatively small contact area with the road surface.

With such an important role, it is essential that tires are properly maintained and regular checks are carried out. With the correct care and attention your tires will help to ensure you arrive safely at your destination, without disruption and with minimal cost.

Proper Tire Inflation Chart
Proper Tire Inflation Chart

Regularly inspect the tires. Check for cracks, worn treads, and correct tire pressure.

Drivers also need to ensure they have the right type and size of tires before leaving home. Passenger tires are not adequate for most trailers. While RVs can be equipped with light truck tires, most trailers require special trailer (ST) tires. These tires are built to have stiffer, heavy duty sidewalls to accommodate heavy loads and track straight to reduce bounce and sway problems.

A tire’s ply rating describes the maximum load the manufacturer recommends the tire be used to carry (at a specified pressure). It is imperative that you calculate the correct minimum ply rating suitable for the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your RV, and this should be done by a professional.

Three tips to avoid RV tire blowouts this summer:

1. Check tires for signs of tread wear or damage

Check the sidewall and tread blocks for damage. Inspect the sidewalls, tread, valves, and caps for nails and other objects, cuts and bulges, and signs of cracking and weathering.

Ensure this is done prior to starting the road trip, and keep a regular check on tires during the trip.

2. Maintain proper tire inflation

The most important aspect of tire maintenance is proper tire inflation. Correct tire pressure is vital to your safety on the road. Under-inflated tires are more prone to damage and failure. They also affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behavior. Under-inflated tires are also much more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout, especially at high speeds on an Interstate.

By keeping your tires at their optimum pressure, your travel costs are also reduced. Since under-inflated tires require a bigger force to make them turn, your vehicle uses more fuel.

Additionally, tires which are not set to their correct pressure wear out faster.

Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure. Your tires can be as much as 50 percent under inflated before it is visibly noticeable.

Tires can lose one psi (pounds per square inch) per month under normal conditions.

Using either the Michelin or Goodyear tire care guide (available online), determine the weight on each wheel position for your coach. Then, adjust the pressure in each tire according to the heaviest side of each axle—but ONLY when tires are “cool” (have not been driven for even one mile).

3. Never overload your RV

Inflate, Rotate & Evaluate: Tips For National Tire Safety Week
Inflate, Rotate & Evaluate

Maintain an even load and never exceed Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

Over-loading your RV can lead to poor handling, braking, fuel economy, and tread wear. But it can also lead to extra heat generation in the tires – which can cause tire failure.

Exceeding the GVWR is one of the leading causes of RV tire failure.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Tips for RV Safety: How to Avoid Common Accidents

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.

Did you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio's Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Do you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio’s Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Before you hit the road, ensure your recreational vehicle is roadworthy, and that you’re prepared in case of emergency.

The proper maintenance of your recreational vehicle is a key to keeping you on the road to safety. An RV that’s mechanically sound will be less apt to break down.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance and proactive attentiveness.

While the hazards are numerous, taking simple steps to avoid them is much easier than finding yourself facing the consequences of an RV accident or mishap.

Knowing the most common mistakes and having the knowledge to prevent them will keep RV drivers safe and their trip enjoyable.

Awnings are the number one repair for RV maintenance and repair companies. Drivers that forget to retract and lock their awning in the evenings, or sometimes before they start driving away, will quickly discover that awnings aren’t designed to withstand high winds.

When entering or departing a camping site check your surroundings for low branches, obstacles sticking out of the ground, and other hazards. Pictured above Sesquicentennial State Park, affectionately known to locals as "Sesqui", is a spacious, green getaway in the heart of the South Carolina Sandhills region near Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
When entering or departing a camping site check your surroundings for low branches, obstacles sticking out of the ground, and other hazards. Pictured above Sesquicentennial State Park, affectionately known to locals as “Sesqui”, is a spacious, green getaway in the heart of the South Carolina Sandhills region near Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accidents such as fires or lack of clearance can cost more than just the expense of the RV repair—such disasters can harm the traveling family as well.

Know Your Height

Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people forget the extra height of an RV while driving.

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height (remember to include A/C)
  • “We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

Also be aware that the typical width of an RV is 8.5 feet and the typical highway lane is 10 feet in width. This gives you about a foot-and-a-half to work with.

Tighten Up: Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Create a step-by-step checklist, and like a pilot on a jet, conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away.

A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

Pack and secure all outside items, e.g. store mats, chairs, grills, and bikes

Ensure bay doors are closed, latched, and locked

Slide out rooms fully retracted and secured

Secure all loose items, e.g. toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, dishes

Kitchen cabinet drawers, closet doors, and refrigerator closed and securely latched

Ensure stove, oven, heater burners, and refrigerator are in off position

Turn off water pump and water heater

Power cord, cable or satellite TV cable, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely

Lower roof vents

TV antenna, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted

Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels

Turn propane off at the tank

Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required; inspect tires checking for cracks and uneven tread wear

Some road are best explored in the toad after parking the RV. Pictured above Mokee Dugway (elevation 6,426 feet) looking south to the Valley of the Gods (Utah), an 1,100 feet drop in 3 miles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Some road are best explored in the toad after parking the RV. Pictured above Mokee Dugway (elevation 6,426 feet) looking south to the Valley of the Gods (Utah), an 1,100 feet drop in 3 miles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tow bar and safety cables in place

Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational

Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks

Checking your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground

Check campsite to ensure it’s clean and no items are left behind

Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More