13 Common Newbie Mistakes to Avoid When Driving Your RV

We are only humans and mistakes happen. Our nature is to learn from mistakes, but when Rving some mistakes can come as an very expensive (and also dangerous) lesson. These mistakes can be easily avoided so please read carefully and take the necessary action!

1. Not checking your tyres

Maintaining your RV tires should be one of the highest priorities when RVing. It’s important to check every tire on your RV before every trip as this is one of the most common failures.

Important tip! Know the load capacity of your tires. Never exceed the vehicle load capacity found in the RV owner’s manual.

It is advised to check the tires when they are “cold” before you start driving as the pressure in a “hot” tyre may be as much as 10-15 psi higher.  On long trips, check tires every morning before driving.

Important tip! Check the date on your tyres. Have a look of the date on the inside of your tires. Even if you have recently bought a brand new RV it doesn`t mean that the tires are brand new. This is something that your dealer might have “forgotten” to mention to you.

The average life of a tire is five to seven years. If you drive your vehicle every day, you’ll probably wear out the tread in less than five years.

Every tire has a code on the sidewall of the tire.  The date code always starts with the letters DOT and ends with a 3 or 4 digit number. The first two numbers indicate the week of the year. The last one or two digits tell you the year.

When buying new tires always ask to see the manufacturing date of the tires as you don`t want to pay full price for tires that already have sat somewhere too long. Aim to buy tires that were produced within few months.

Another mistake is not balancing the axles so too much weight is on one set of tires. So make sure your tires are properly balanced.

2. Going too Fast and Ignoring Road Signs

A lot of stupid and easily avoidable mistakes are made when we are feeling rushed. You should slow down and give yourself time not only when you are on the road, but also when you are at the dump station or camp site. You might feel pressure of time as you see other campers queuing behind you, but just stay calm and take all the time that it is necessary for you. Stop rushing!

Taking curves too fast is a typical mistake for new RVers. Remember that you have much higher centre of gravity in an RV. When driving your car, you might have ignored a lot of these sharp curve signs previously, but don`t ignore them when driving your RV. They are there for a reason! Slow down and drive carefully. Don`t worry if there are other cars behind you.  Make safety your number one priority!

3. Not Knowing Your RV Measurements

This is one of the most expensive mistakes and can also be very dangerous, so you have to make sure you know all of your RV measurements. Write down your measurements and keep them in visible place when driving.

RV Height

Measure your RV (make sure it is on a level surface) from the ground to the tallest hard item on your RV. Damage to the top area of an RV is very common so make sure you know the length of your RV.

Watch out for low hanging tree branches, gas station canopies and other obstructions.

RV Length

There are a lot of places where the roads are so windy that there are vehicle length limitations.  Also, a lot of national parks prohibit certain lengths of RV`s. So, check before you leave and don`t ignore the road signs!

RV Weight

If you you are towing your trailer, then improperly matching the tow vehicle to the trailer is a HUGE mistake and can lead to a serious disaster.

You must know what your vehicle can safely tow and understand the weight ratings.

Each Camper, Fifth Wheel and Travel Trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This is the MAXIMUM weight that the trailer can carry (including passengers and everything inside).

Do not buy a rig that is heavier than what your vehicle can tow- it extremely dangerous!

When weighing your RV, make sure that your RV and tow vehicle are completely loaded as if you would go on a trip and all the tanks are full (or at least take this into consideration).

4. Leaving the awning extended when you are away from RV

RV awning is one of those parts on your RV that you want to make sure is properly maintained as getting it fixed or replaced can be quite time consuming and expensive. Never leave the awning extended when you are leaving your RV even if it is a nice sunny day as you never know when a windstorm can hit the area which can severely damage your awning. Even if it is only rain, when your awning gets full of water it can stretch the fabric or even break the entire awning.

5. Not replacing the built in Carbon Monoxide Detector

Yes, most of today`s RVs come equipped with Carbon monoxide detectors. But the built-in carbon monoxide detectors can go off when they are low on power, so it is highly recommended to replace it to the one that has a sealed battery in it (like this Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm that has 10 years sealed battery).

Carbon Monoxide is an odourless and invisible gas. I am sure you have heard some of the horror stories, but I believe that none of it should have happened if people would take all the necessary precautions.

Make it a habit to test the carbon monoxide detector before every trip.

6. Saving on the RV Back Up Camera

As you have already discovered, reverse driving has a lot of challenges especially when you are in a gas station or backing into a camp site. Good back up camera can improve safety, not only when you are on a driveway, but also when you are driving on a highway.

Sure, you can save some money by buying cheap RV back up camera, but it may result in large RV repair bills later. Having proper camera also significantly increases safety for pedestrians (especially children) walking behind your RV.

I consider this one of the best investments in your RV. Not only it improves your safety, but it is also very convenient.

This Furrion Back Up Camera (available on Amazon) is really good for delivering clear and bright live videos on daylight as well as it offers good night image. Also, you can install it in less than 10 minutes as it uses the latest digital wireless technology.

I would rather invest in good back up camera then spend all that money later on repair bills.

7. Not having essential tools

Yes, space is always limited when you are RVing however there are some essential tools that you absolutely must have if you don`t want your trip to get ruined.

Small accidents and issues usually arise when least expected. So going unprepared and thinking that “this shouldn`t happen to me” is one of the most common newbie mistakes.

I recommend that you always have in your RV:

  • comprehensive First Aid Kit that is packed with everything a person would need on camping trip.
  • tire PSI reader – remember the importance to monitor the pressure in tires?
  • portable air compressor.
  • levelling blocks – proper levelling is very important if you want to make sure you have a good night’s sleep and your refrigerator runs properly.
  • Basic tool kit that contains tools needed for most small repairs

Read my article here about the most essential tools for RV.

8. Using the Wrong Toilet Paper That Doesn`t Dissolve Quickly

If you use the wrong toilet paper, then you risk clogging up your sewage system or tank. You need toilet paper that dissolves easily and completely, to prevent possible blockage when you dump your black tank.

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper is exactly what it says- it dissolves quickly! Obviously, it is more expensive than the regular toilet paper (check the current price on Amazon here), but it is a nightmare to realize that the drains are clogged. Save yourself from this mistake!

Some tests by other Rvers have proven that there are also some regular toilet papers do as good job as the special RV toilet papers. An effective way to check whether the toilet paper is fast dissolving is making a small test by putting a piece in a glass of water and seeing what happens after a few minutes. Swirl it around and see if it dissolves. Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper is proven to be perfectly fine for RV toilets. If you choose to use “non-RV toilet paper”, make sure you do the test before!

It is recommended to use toilet paper in conjunction with RV toilet treatment, like this Walex deodorizer that helps to break down waste and water.

9. Using Sewer Hose Without Clear Connector

When the time comes and you have to dump your RV black tank, you will be thankful if you have a hose that has a clear connector (like this one on Amazon) so that you can see what is coming out of the tank and when it`s done emptying. It just makes the job so much easier and less “dirty”.

Trust me, you really don’t want to make this stupid mistake and pull out the hose too early… I don`t think I need to get in more details here, do I?

It is also recommended to use sewer hose support. This Camco 20ft sewer hose support is made from sturdy lightweight plastic and will make everything flow with no problems to the dump station. In fact, some RV parks even demand that you use some kind of support system so check before you head out to the camping site.

Tip! Empty the black tank first and then empty the grey tank so that the soapy water from grey tank cleans out the hose.

10. Forgetting To Disconnect (Very embarrassing…)

The most stupid mistake (this happens not only to newbie Rvers) is driving off while you are still connected to the utilities. It is not only very embarrassing, but can also make expensive damages.

It is not that rare to see that someone drives away from dump station forgetting to disconnect the sewer hose (remember – don`t rush and take your time).

Always remember to disconnect all utilities and save yourself from embarrassment.

11. Not securing everything inside

Double check before driving if everything is properly secured. Make sure that the refrigerator is closed properly till the end, cupboards are latched, and all items are properly stowed.

Make sure that the storage units under the RV are locked as it could be very dangerous if something was to fly out on a highway.

12. Skipping The “Walk Around” Check

You might be in a hurry and feel tempted to leave as soon as possible, but don`t save time on checking if everything is as it should be. You will be surprised how easy is to forget the most basic things.

Using a checklist can be very helpful. Create your own based on your RV, but here are the top things to check before leaving:

  • The stairs are in
  • Antenna is down
  • The levelling blocks are removed
  • Wheel blocks are removed
  • All windows and ceiling vents are closed
  • RV is disconnected from all utilities
  • Storage cabinets under the RV are locked
  • Stabilizer jack is raised
  • All storage compartments are secure
  • All appliances inside are switched off

13. Not Leveling your RV

If your RV is not levelled properly then you risk damage refrigerator`s cooling unit. Levelling is also important if you value a good night’s sleep and don`t want to sleep on an angle.

It is very simple to level your RV by using these Lynx Levelers.

Have you made any of these mistakes? Or do you have any tips? Share your experience with other Rvers and leave a comment below.





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