RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm

Driving or towing an RV is an exciting experience but it’s a totally different ballpark compared to driving a car. You’re dealing with a lot more weight and bulk which will give you less control and precision on the road.

Driving an RV, whether it’s a motorhome or a towable isn’t the same as driving a car. No matter what RV you operate there’s a learning curve to RV driving. RVs are usually longer and heavier, they take longer to stop, and there are more (and different types of) mirrors along with a host of other RV driving techniques to consider.

In today’s post, I’m offering 20 RV driving tips from the perspective of an RVer who has been driving 37- to 41-foot motorhomes (and towing a car) for nearly three decades. That would be me!

Whether you have a motorhome or a towable RV, driving can be a daunting experience for new RV owners especially if you choose a larger model. However, with practice and patience, you’ll be a pro at navigating parking lots, fuel stops, and narrow campsites in no time.

Here are 20 RV driving safety tips for beginners to help you stay safe on your RV journey.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Practice driving your RV

A big, empty parking lot is a great place to get acclimated. A set of small traffic cones can be a big help for safely practicing turns, backing, and maneuvering. The single biggest difference to get used to when driving an RV, versus a car, is length—the overall length of the vehicle(s), the length of the wheelbase, and the length of the rear overhang.

Yes, RVs weigh more than cars and they’re taller. Those factors do come into play but nothing is more critical than learning to manage the length of your RV. More about those topics below but practicing maneuvering in a safe environment is hugely helpful for new RV drivers.

2. Be a patient driver

Other drivers of large vehicles (think truck and bus drivers) are working often on a demanding schedule. As RVers, we’re able to (hopefully) operate at a more leisurely pace.

Whenever possible, allow sufficient time to arrive at your destination early enough that you won’t feel rushed. This will help you to maintain a better mindset throughout your travels—one of not feeling rushed or in a hurry… being patient. This not only provides a safer driving environment but a more relaxing one as well. Stay safe by avoiding the rush.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pay attention to your speed

In the same vein as the previous tip, higher speeds can increase stress and reduce safety. Things happen faster at higher speeds reducing the amount of time you have to think and react.

There’s no specific speed that’s right for every RVer. But since the demise of the 55 mph national maximum speed limit in the late 80s, some speed limits are now far higher. Many U.S. states especially in the West have maximum speed limits of 75-80 mph. But that doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast!

RVing shouldn’t be a race. In my opinion, there’s no RV on the road that isn’t safer being operated at a speed slower than those very high limits.

There is no one speed that works for every RV, every RVer, and in every situation? But you’ll know when you’re traveling too fast when your heart jumps into your throat or your right foot buries the brake pedal. But by then it might be too late. Take your time, both speed-wise and in figuring out what speeds are safest for you, your RV, and current driving conditions.

If you’re not sure about correct speeds when you first start driving an RV, figure it out from the bottom up. By that I mean it’s better to realize that you’re driving a little slower than you can safely manage rather than the other way around! Take your time and enjoy the journey.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Keep to the right whenever possible and appropriate

In general, the best place for a large vehicle on a multi-lane highway is the right lane. A primary tenet of Defensive Driving is to leave your self an escape route in the event another vehicle should come into conflict with yours.

The right lane is adjacent to the shoulder providing some built-in advantages:

  • It’s usually empty allowing a safe space to take evasive action if needed
  • Since the shoulder isn’t a travel lane the threat of another vehicle moving into your lane from the right is reduced
  • Because drivers in North America sit on the left side of their vehicles, the right side is the weak side due to your reduced ability to see what’s directly alongside or approaching your rig at an angle

Keeping the right side of your vehicle as clear of collision threats as possible provides better safety. Being alongside the (often empty) shoulder also provides a place to go should a mechanical problem require you to move off the road.

Of course, there are exit and/or entrance ramps to consider. If you’re approaching one but you’re not exiting be alert for vehicles entering the highway. If traffic allows, move over one lane to the left to avoid conflict.

If you’re traveling on a highway with three or more lanes of traffic in each direction, consider staying one lane over (the middle lane of a three-lane highway, the second lane on a 4- or 5-lane highway) in areas with a high concentration of exit and entrance ramps. That’s especially helpful during high-traffic periods preventing you from having to repeatedly change lanes to avoid traffic merging onto the highway.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Know your rig’s braking power and plan accordingly

Large, heavy vehicles take longer to stop than passenger cars. That requires thinking ahead—and planning ahead. Keep your eyes scanning far down the road; be alert for brake lights in the distance or other indicators of slowing traffic or potential conflict. Use your height advantage to see as far ahead as possible. Slow down earlier and avoid braking hard.

Besides the longer stopping distances required to stop an RV you should also keep in mind a disadvantage that your large vehicle creates simply by being on the road—other drivers can’t see around you. That virtually guarantees that someone behind you isn’t able to spot potential conflicts up ahead.

But we’ve all seen how simple facts like lack of visibility seem to have little to no effect on other drivers. They often tailgate vehicles that block their view, like RVs. If you’re being tailgated especially by someone who can’t see around you (your vehicle is big!) the last thing you want to do is stop suddenly. Increasing your following distance is the best course of action to prevent you from having to stop suddenly and potentially getting rear-ended.

An additional braking consideration with RVs is the fact that you’re carrying around cabinets full of dishes, glassware, food, toiletries, and many other items not normally stored in a passenger car. Stopping suddenly can lead to things falling out of cabinets the next time they’re opened as contents may have shifted.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Keep your distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is one of the most basic safety practices to which any driver can adhere. Rather than attempt to guesstimate the number of feet between you and the vehicle ahead, use time instead.

Passenger cars generally follow the 2-second rule: Watch the vehicle in front of you pass an object (such as the shadow of an overpass or a utility pole alongside the roadway) and count one thousand one, one thousand two and you shouldn’t reach that same spot before two full seconds have passed.

Since RVs and other large vehicles take longer to stop, use a 4-second following distance. When the roads are wet, use a 6-second following distance. With snowy- or ice-covered roads, use 8 seconds. Keep in mind that these are minimum following distances. There is nothing wrong with leaving even more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

If you’re thinking “If I leave that much room in front of me, other vehicles will simply move over into that space,” you’re correct. They will. Other drivers will indeed change lanes in front of you (often right in front of you). But the only way to prevent that is to fill the space between you and the car ahead yourself. But that is tailgating—something that’s so critically important to avoid.

The best practice is to maintain a speed on multi-lane highways that’s slightly slower than passing traffic… about 2-3 mph is usually good. That way, vehicles that change lanes in front of you will continue to move ahead, re-opening that all-important safety cushion directly in front of your RV without you having to do anything about it.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Follow the 330 or 3/3/3 travel rule

The 330 rule refers to a policy of driving no more than 300 miles a day and arriving at your destination no later than 3:30 pm. That allows plenty of time to set up camp in daylight, get to know the amenities of the campground and the surrounding area, and further relax after your day of driving.

When we first started, I would hit the road and keep hitting the road until we crammed as much into one day as possible. In my mind, the more we drove, the more we would see, and the more fun we’d have. I recall a 2,000-mile trip we made in three and one-half days. And yes, it was tiring and exhausting! And, I vowed never again!

You may have heard of another RV rule of thumb called the 3-3-3 Rule. This rule is similar to the 330 Rule.

The 3-3-3 Rule is as follows:

  • Don’t drive more than 300 miles in a day
  • Stop by 3 pm (or stop every 3 hours, depending on who you ask)
  • Stay at a campground for a minimum of 3 days

I won’t go as far as saying every RVer needs to abide by the 330 rule. However, I will say that I do highly recommend it. I know that from my own experiences (and mistakes) and from countless RVers who say the same, the 330 rule makes traveling more enjoyable—and safer.

Read my earlier post for more on the 330 Rule.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Don’t overload your rig

It’s very important to take note of the weight limits associated with your particular RV and to stay within those limits. When you overload an RV you’re putting yourself and everyone traveling with and around you at risk.

Both weight and weight distribution are important. RVs have several specific weight limits. There’s the maximum allowable weight of the loaded RV itself (GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).

There’s the maximum allowable weight for the entire rig which includes anything being towed (GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating). Then there’s the maximum weight capacity on each axle (GAWR, or Gross Axle Weight Rating). Be sure to learn and follow your rig’s weight limits and avoid overloading it.

9. Don’t drive in high winds

Many RVers learn this one the hard way by traveling down the highway in high winds at too high a speed for the conditions. Remember that RVs are tall and frequently flat-sided. The aerodynamics of many rigs lends themselves to being blown about to some degree by high winds.

And while you may feel secure traveling down the highway on a relatively windy day, you may find yourself hitting a crosswind and hanging on with white knuckles for all you’re worth.

Avoid this at all costs. Travel in safe conditions. If you find yourself with a very windy day ahead either stay put or take a slow drive over to the beach or a field to have a picnic and fly a kite!

If you must travel during windy conditions, the most important adjustment to make is to slow down! The faster you’re moving when your rig gets hit with a gust from the side, the more likely you are to lose control of your vehicle. And the more severe the consequences will be.

Read my earlier post for tips on driving an RV in windy conditions.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Don’t drive distracted

Distracted driving is the cause of far too many accidents… many thousands annually.

Driving distracted can include anything from checking your phone to eating, to driving with a pet in your lap. Distracted driving refers to anything that takes your attention away from the road and the task at hand—safe driving.

Any non-driving activity that you engage in while operating your vehicle reduces your safety and that of your passengers and fellow travelers on the road around you.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting is the most dramatic driving distraction: “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Don’t drive distracted! Your life and the lives of those around you are depending on your vigilance. That’s especially true for large vehicles that take longer to stop and maneuver than a passenger car. And doubly true for the largest vehicles capable of inflicting truly substantial damage if not kept under control at all times.

11. Never drive impaired

Impaired driving refers to driving while under the influence of anything that has the potential to degrade your reaction time as a driver, reduce your attention, or impact your driving ability in any way. This would include substances like alcohol or marijuana as well as narcotics and even prescription or over-the-counter medications that have the potential to impair a driver.

When you get into your RV to drive or into your vehicle to tow an RV, you need to be at your absolute best. And it’s always best not to self-determine whether you’re fit to drive. If you’ve had a drink or two, no matter how you feel, don’t drive. If you’ve been exposed to a recreational drug or a medication with the potential for altering your mind or reaction time, don’t drive. Read the labels on all medications. Benedryl is a good example of an over-the-counter medication that can have a significant impact on reaction time.

Part of the responsibility of driving a large vehicle is being aware of your own abilities. If you’re not sure you’re up to the task of continuing, stop as soon as safely possible.

Just don’t drive if there’s a potential for you to be impaired at all. It’s really that simple.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Use proper steering technique

Turn the steering wheel slowly or partially when rounding a curve in the road (as opposed to making a sharp turn). This maintains the right hand on the right side of the wheel and the left hand on the left side of the wheel at all times.

Keep your hands on the outside of the steering wheel rim. This avoids getting your hands crossed up or reaching into the wheel where one of the spokes is in the way of your grasping it.

13. Learn proper mirror adjustment and use

It’s essential when RV driving to be able to see well all around you and to avoid blind spots. Depending on the size of your rig you’re driving or towing, this can be somewhat complicated but once you become comfortable with proper mirror adjustment and use, you’ll be amazed at how much it assists your safe driving.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Monitor the weather and travel accordingly

This one is also known as Embrace Plan B.

Monitor the weather in your current area and along the path you intend to travel. If weather conditions are likely to impede an easy-going driving experience, make a plan B and settle into it. But be ready to adapt if conditions change.

RV driving means understanding that your plans can change at any given time. Not being rigidly controlled by a plan is part of RVing and its great! I know that most RVers aren’t full-timers and may have limited time to enjoy their RV vacation. But within those constraints, do your best to avoid traveling when conditions increase the risk to you and your RV.

15. Never drive when tired

Driving an RV while you’re tired is another version of driving impaired. When we’re fatigued, everything is affected including our sight and reaction time.

Besides substances, one of the most common and potentially most serious forms of impairment is fatigue. Calling back to the 330 rule above, make sure you don’t drive longer than your ability to stay alert. That includes getting a good night’s sleep the night before.

Studies have demonstrated that extreme fatigue can be as or even more dangerous as driving under the influence of some substances. And it can be more insidious as it takes no other action beyond staying on the road too long to create a risk.

This also includes driving while you’re feeling ill. If you have a fever or cold or another ailment that may affect your driving ability, leave the task for another day or to someone else.

Once again, if you’re tired, I strongly encourage you to embrace plan B and stop for the night and get some good rest, good food, and hydration—then drive again when you’re in top shape for the task.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Have a good roadside assistance plan

Having a reliable roadside assistance plan is essential when traveling in an RV.

Choose a plan that suits you best but be sure to have a good, solid, reliable plan for roadside assistance. Having the peace of mind that if something DOES go wrong while on the road you have resources available to get you out of a bind can help keep you calm should something happen.

Read my earlier post for tips on choosing the best RV Roadside Assistance Plan.

16. Carry an RV roadside emergency kit

An RV roadside emergency kit is one of the most important things you can carry when you travel in an RV.

Read my earlier post for 25 must-have items to carry in your roadside emergency kit. Chances are good that you’ll use many of those items—if not in the event of your own roadside emergency, then perhaps to help a fellow traveler.

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Use trip planner apps and/or GPS to plan RV-safe routes

Remember that when you’re driving an RV, the height, weight, and contents of your rig are factors that you don’t generally need to consider when driving a car. This is why having excellent trip planner apps or an RV-safe GPS is so important.

There are areas (tunnels, in particular, and some ferries) that you can’t enter if you’re carrying propane on board your RV. Or you may be required to confirm that it’s been turned off at the tank. This is information you’ll want to know in advance of approaching the entrance to a tunnel. You want to be offered alternative routes based on what you’re driving and the best way to achieve this important end is to plan RV-safe travel routes.

Some GPS units and RV trip planner apps allow you to input the specifics of your RV and then you’ll be guided according to those specifics.

18. Keep current with RV maintenance

A well-maintained RV or tow vehicle is a safe vehicle. Be sure to keep up with the preventive maintenance and conduct regular inspections of your RV systems especially those that can cause an accident while traveling.

Make a pre-trip checklist and do an inspection of these items every time you get behind the wheel:

  • Belts and hoses (check for cracking)
  • Headlights, turn signal, tail lights
  • Hitch or towing equipment
  • Tires for the correct air pressure and sufficient tread depth

Read my earlier post on RV maintenance tips

Staying safe and calm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

 19. Know how to back up your rig

The best way to learn how to back up your RV is to practice, practice, practice! Here again, an empty parking lot is a great place to get comfortable backing up your rig effectively.

I encourage you to first have a look at my post on backing up a motorhome where you’ll find some very helpful tips and techniques.

BONUS TIPs for drivers towing a trailer:

20. Understand trailer sway control

I mentioned this tip in a previous section related to RV weight and weight distribution but its well worth mentioning again—it is that important.

It is critical that you understand trailer sway control BEFORE you need the information. We strongly encourage you to consult my linked post on this topic before you tow.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day and Here’s Why

Proper tire pressure is critically important not only to your safety but the life of your tires. Here is why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

RV tires are vital to a safe, smooth trip, yet they are often the most overlooked parts of an RV. People know they need to check them but they don’t realize how often they should check them.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Isn’t that overkill?! It’s really not and I’ll tell you why. (Spoiler alert: it’ll save you time, money, and headaches!)

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV tires: What you need to know

I’m writing this article because I realized I have been neglecting the topic up to this point. In truth, I started to get too lackadaisical about my tire maintenance (like all RVers do from time to time). I needed a kick in my pants to remind me of how important RV tire care and maintenance really is. 

When I got my kick in the pants, I checked my blog to see what posts I had to help my readers that I could update. Too few, it turns out! That spurred me to write a series of new blogs. 

So, let’s start this series and answer why checking RV tire pressure is so important.

Why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

Checking your RV tire pressure takes less than 5 minutes and makes a big difference in keeping you safe, keeping you off the side of the road, and keeping money in your pocket. 

Let’s begin with the most important benefit: your safety.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The danger of underinflated tires

Underinflated RV tires lead to blowouts. It’s as simple (and as dangerous) as that. I hope you’ve never had an RV tire blowout but if you have you know how scary it is. 

When your RV tire blows, it can cause serious problems like loss of steering control, swaying, and even a fire. The debris from the blown tire can cause bouncing and possibly damage your RV, too.

Needless to say, you want to do everything you can to prevent RV tire blowouts. While some causes are out of your control (like debris in the road), tire pressure is something you can properly maintain.

If tire pressure is too low, too much of the tire’s surface area touches the road which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tires to overheat which can lead to premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts.

Let’s talk about premature wear and tread separation now.

Incorrect tire pressure shortens the lifespan of RV tires

You might think that tire dealers and manufacturers try to get you to replace your tires earlier to make more money but the lifespan of RV tires is truthfully quite short. 

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 5-7 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well taken care of. Underinflated tires can drastically decrease that projected lifespan.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3 products to help you check and maintain tire pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is easy if you have the right tools. I recommend the following (or some comparable version of the following).

1. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Every RVer should carry a tire pressure gauge. However, there is a better tool. Instead of checking your tire pressure manually, you can monitor it with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). With this system, you just have to look at the display to check your tire pressure before you leave.

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System does exactly what its name implies. It displays a readout and/or gives you real-time status reports on all of your RV tires.

If a tire gets too low, it alerts you with a sound and flashes a message. Some show you exactly which tire is underinflated while others just alert you to check your tires.

Some RVs have a TPMS built in, but not all do. If yours doesn’t, you can install an after-market system.

2. Portable Air Compressor

A recommended air compressor is the Viair 40047-400P RV model. The RV means it is made for RVs and the unit is powered by jumper cables that attach to the battery of your vehicle.

It comes in a sturdy canvas bag and has all the accessories including a hose, inflators, and a pressure gauge. It is very easy to hook up and operate. 

It’s not the cheapest air compressor but it is considered by many to be the best.

3. Emergency Roadside Kit

No matter what precautions you take, RV blowouts can still happen. So, at the very least, you should carry LED road flares and/or orange warning triangles. Better yet, you can carry a whole kit.

In addition to having an emergency roadside kit, I highly recommend RV roadside assistance. At some point or another, every RVers ends up on the side of the road. It’s just a fact of the RV lifestyle.

Check your RV tires at every rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight distribution and loading your RV

It’s extremely important to balance your cargo throughout your rig so that the weight is evenly distributed across your axles and each tire. If one side or tire is loaded to more than its weight rating you are more likely to experience a blowout. When loading your RV, keep in mind that certain items like batteries and a generator weigh more than others. You’ll also want to pay attention to your layout—if your kitchen is on one side of your rig, load cargo on the opposite side to even out the distribution. Make sure you distribute the weight equally from front to back and side to side. 

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FAQs about tires

Why should tires not be underinflated?

Underinflated tires can negatively affect a vehicle’s performance in several ways. For one, underinflation can reduce a tire’s load-carrying capacity which means the tire is more likely to fail when carrying heavy loads. This can be especially dangerous when driving on highways or other roads where high speeds are common.

Underinflated tires can also reduce a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Because underinflated tires have a larger contact patch with the road, they create more rolling resistance which means the vehicle’s engine has to work harder to maintain the same speed. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased fuel consumption.

Finally, underinflated tires can also cause a vehicle to handle poorly. Because the tire’s contact patch with the road is larger, the vehicle is less stable and more likely to hydroplane or lose traction in wet or slippery conditions. This can increase the risk of accidents especially on roads with poor visibility or other hazardous conditions.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the best way to check tire inflation?

The best way to check tire inflation is to use a tire pressure gauge. A tire pressure gauge is a small tool that measures the air pressure in a tire and displays the reading on a dial or digital display. To use a tire pressure gauge, you simply remove the valve cap from the tire’s valve stem and press the gauge onto the stem. The gauge will then display the tire’s air pressure allowing you to determine if the tire is properly inflated.

It’s important to check your tire pressure regularly as it can fluctuate due to changes in temperature and other factors. Most tire manufacturers recommend checking the tire pressure at least once a month and before each road trips. Additionally, you should always check your tire pressure before driving after your vehicle has been parked for an extended period of time as this can cause the tire pressure to drop.

When checking your tire pressure, it’s important to use a reliable tire pressure gauge and to check the pressure when the tires are cold as driving can cause the tire pressure to increase. It’s also a good idea to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This will help ensure that your tires are properly inflated and operating at their optimal level.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many accidents are caused by tire problems?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many accidents are caused by tire problems as tire-related issues are not always the primary cause of accidents. However, tire failure can certainly contribute to accidents and it’s important to properly maintain your tires to help prevent accidents and ensure safe driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire failure is a contributing factor in approximately 11,000 car accidents each year in the United States. These accidents can range from minor incidents with no injuries to serious accidents that result in fatalities.

To help prevent tire-related accidents, it’s important to properly maintain your tires and regularly check their inflation and tread depth. You should also inspect your tires for any signs of damage or wear and replace them when necessary. By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure that your tires are in good condition and reduce the risk of accidents.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How are RV tires different than motor vehicle tires?

RV tires are specifically designed for use on recreational vehicles such as motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, and camper vans. These tires are typically larger and more heavy-duty than regular passenger vehicle tires as RVs tend to be larger and heavier than most cars and trucks.

One of the key differences between RV tires and regular tires is their load-carrying capacity. RV tires are designed to support the weight of the vehicle and its contents which can be much greater than the weight of a passenger vehicle. As a result, RV tires are typically larger and have stronger construction than regular tires.

Another difference between RV tires and regular tires is their tread pattern. RV tires are designed to provide good traction on a variety of road surfaces including wet and slippery roads. They often have a more aggressive tread pattern than regular tires which helps improve traction and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

Additionally, RV tires are typically designed to withstand the unique demands of long road trips. This means they are often made from special compounds that resist heat, wear, and punctures which helps extend their lifespan and improve their performance over long distances.

Overall, RV tires are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of recreational vehicles and are typically larger, more durable, and more specialized than regular passenger vehicle tires.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do I know when a tire is bad?

There are a few signs that a tire may be bad and in need of replacement. One of the most obvious signs is if the tire has a visible bulge or blister on the sidewall. This can be a sign of a serious issue with the tire’s structure and can cause a sudden failure while driving.

Additionally, if the tread on the tire is worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch, it is likely time to replace the tire.

Another way to tell if a tire is bad is if it is showing signs of age such as cracking on the sidewall or tread. It is generally recommended to replace tires every six years even if they still have tread on them.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

There are RV roadside assistance programs with just about every level of coverage throughout a wide price range. Yet which RV roadside assistance program is best?

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one… and we wouldn’t be without it, despite the fact that as we step into our 26th year of RVing, we’ve only very rarely used it.

Roadside assistance plans are like a type of insurance, though they’re not insurance. So just what is a roadside assistance plan, who needs one, and what are the best RV roadside assistance plans available to us?

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There’s RV insurance and then there’s an RV roadside assistance plan. The two are not the same, they don’t provide the same type of coverage and they exist independently of one another even if they’re offered by the same company.

Let’s take a look…

Perhaps your RV insurance policy’s collision coverage protects your RV if it’s damaged in an accident and liability coverage addresses damages and injuries on the road and when your rig is parked. Medical bills and vehicle repairs may be covered here and comprehensive insurance covers your rig in case of theft, vandalism, fire, weather-related incidents, collisions with animals, etc.

That’s very different from what roadside assistance offers. The so-called insurance offered by roadside assistance is a sense of peace of mind should your RV be disabled due to a mechanical failure or if your rig runs out of fuel or has a flat tire or a dead battery.

A roadside assistance plan may send a tow truck out to tow your rig to the nearest repair facility (depending on your plan’s details) or to change a tire right where you’re stranded. It may send a truck out with enough fuel to get you to the nearest fueling station.

Roadside assistance plans exist to help you if you’re stranded by something that renders your rig incapable of moving to a location where you can obtain the assistance to get back on the road.

You may opt for roadside assistance coverage through the same company that provides your RV insurance (or through an independent company) but they’re different plans and provide different types of reassurance. While an RV insurance plan provides insurance coverage, a roadside assistance plan provides assistance—at the roadside.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What should I look for in an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There are a few factors you’ll want to look into prior to settling on a roadside assistance plan. Let’s review those briefly and then I’ll take a look at some of the best RV roadside assistance plans available.

Does the plan cover your RV?

You’ll first want to be sure that the type of RV you have is covered by the roadside assistance plan you’re considering. There are plans that will cover any type of RV but there are also plans that will only cover non-motorized RVs. If you have a travel trailer, that plan might work. If you’ve got a Class A diesel pusher as we do you’d need to find another plan.

You’ll also want to make sure the plan includes coverage for any other vehicle type you’re RVing with. We tow an SUV, for example. Perhaps you carry a motorcycle or other type of vehicle. Details are important here, so before signing on with any RV roadside assistance plan, make sure the plan applies to your particular situation and will cover the vehicles with which you regularly travel.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Allowable towing distance

This can be very important and sometimes it’s hidden in the fine details of a plan. You’ll want to sort out the towing details in advance of committing to any roadside assistance plan. It’s great to do something like this via email so that you have responses in writing to fall back on if necessary.

Some roadside assistance programs will take you to the nearest service station regardless of whether they’re capable of working on the type of rig you have. You may wish to have the ability to choose where your rig will be towed to and you may want to sort out other details such as whether they’ll provide a flatbed (if that applies to your rig) or whether they’re capable of towing a motorhome that weighs 18 tons, like ours.

Check out the fine details of the plan in advance, rather than being disappointed to learn that your needs aren’t covered at the time when you find yourself stranded. Not all plans are created equal.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Specific provisions

If you’re interested in a plan that offers emergency fuel delivery, you’ll need to make sure that’s in the plan you’re considering. How about assistance in the case of a lockout or a plan that provides for tire changes on the side of the road? How about a jump for a dead battery or even delivery of a new battery if you’re stranded on the side of the road?

Might you one day need the services of a professional who can use a winch to pull your rig out of a ditch? Is it conceivable that you could get stuck in sand or mud?

You need to be absolutely certain that the roadside assistance plan you choose will be able to provide what you need to pull your rig out of an unexpected situation.

The services provided by roadside assistance plans are all in the details and you’ve gotta sort out those details in advance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cost

A good RV roadside assistance plan needs to be reasonably priced. This isn’t something you’ll use every day, after all. Or even every week. In fact, you may never use it in the course of a year but peace of mind is valuable (priceless, even) and these plans are very important for helping ease concerns of getting stranded.

That said, the cost shouldn’t be excessive, nor does it need to be. Some plans do cost more than others but in general, it’s because they offer more. So, when you’re evaluating roadside assistance plans take cost into consideration while paying very close attention to the features offered by the plan.

What are the best RV Roadside Assistance Plans?

Let’s take a look at the best RV roadside assistance plans for your peace of mind. These are plans you’ll buy, hoping you’ll never need to use them. They’re also plans you’ll be grateful to have if you DO find yourself in need of roadside assistance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coach-Net

Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best… because it’s the plan we use.

Coach-Net offers a couple of different plans—one for drivable RVs like ours at a cost of $249/year and a plan for towable RVs at a cost of $179/year. The features of the plan are excellent and coverage includes your entire family of drivers (including your dependent children ages 24 and under). Coverage extends to your RV and all other personal vehicles owned, rented, borrowed, or leased. This means that even if you’re not driving your RV you’ll be covered by Coach-Net in whatever vehicle you’re driving.

We haven’t had to use our Coach-Net plan very often in the past 26 years but I can say that when we needed the plan it was put into action quickly, carried out professionally and effectively, and we were extremely grateful to have it. We feel its well worth $249/year for the peace of mind and the service provided.

Now to the details of that service…

Coach-Net’s Premier Motorized Plan ($249/yr) offers 24/7 roadside assistance that includes towing your disabled vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility with no out-of-pocket expense to you and no mileage or dollar amount limits. It also includes unlimited tire assistance such as changing a flat tire or delivery of a comparable tire for towing your vehicle to a repair facility (which may be necessary if they are unable to source an exact replacement for your existing tire but need to get it moved until they can).

This plan also includes delivery of fuel and emergency fluids to your disabled vehicle, unlimited battery boosts, and lockout assistance that includes locksmith services or assistance in unlocking your vehicle or obtaining a replacement key.

Coach-Net provides a concierge-like service that will assist you in obtaining the first available appointment at the closest qualified repair facility and they’ll provide winch out or extraction services up to 100 feet off a maintained road or in a commercial campground equipped for camping vehicles.

You’ll also receive up to $2,000 reimbursement for vehicle rental, food, and lodging made necessary by the disablement of your RV due to a collision that occurs more than 100 miles from your home.

Discounts on tires, RV products, hotels, motels, and camping are also offered as are a number of other features and coverage can be obtained for trailers, tow dollies, boat trailers, and utility trailers.

Coach-Net offers a number of other services, all of which you can check out on their website.

While we’re most familiar with Coach-Net’s services, there are four other RV roadside assistance plans that are highly reputed for excellent service. Below we’ll provide a brief description of services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA Plus RV

One of the most popular RV roadside assistance plans is AAA Plus RV. Many drivers already have AAA for their personal vehicles and adding AAA Plus RV is a natural inclusion. Additionally, in order to buy AAA’s RV roadside assistance plan, you must already have a AAA membership.

AAA offers a couple of different RV-specific plans. The first is the AAA Plus RV plan and the second is their Premier plan. In general, the Plus plan will run you somewhere around $140 annually while the Premier plan will cost around $210/year. These prices include AAA coverage for your car or truck but you’ll need to obtain additional coverage for each driver in your household.

Unfortunately, cost varies from state to state (and province to province) and there may even be coverage differences from state to state. This makes the services somewhat cumbersome to navigate for a general post like this one but typing in your zip code on their website will bring you to some information pertinent to your state and making a phone call may be even more helpful.

AAA Plus RV does offer towing to a service station (your choice) though this may not be available to you if you camp in very remote locations so this is something you’d want to check directly with AAA in your state.

RV coverage also includes fuel delivery, flat tire and battery services, locksmith, and winching services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Progressive Roadside Assistance

Progressive’s 24/7 roadside assistance is extra coverage that you have the option to add to your existing RV insurance coverage through them.

Towing services are limited to anywhere within a 15-mile radius, however, if there isn’t a repair shop within 15 miles, they’ll tow you to the nearest qualified repair shop. You can choose to have your vehicle towed to another shop (other than the closest one) but you’ll have to pay for the additional mileage.

Winching services are provided within 100 feet of a road or highway—they’ll pull your rig out with a motor-powered cable or chain.

They also provide the typical battery jump-start, fuel delivery (delivery and service are free, you pay for the fuel), locksmith services, flat tire change (as long as you can provide the spare), and up to one hour of on-scene labor if your car is disabled.

Progressive notes that there may be a limit to the number of roadside events a policy covers and in some states (i.e. North Carolina and Virginia) roadside assistance coverage is subject to limits noted in your insurance policy.

I can’t offer you a precise cost of Progressive Roadside Assistance due to its integration with your motor vehicle insurance policy.

But, you’re probably starting to see the importance of reading the fine print… and then reading the finer print. It’s very important that you understand the coverage you’re buying before you need to use your roadside assistance plan.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Escapees Roadside Assistance

If you’re already a member or plan to become a member of Escapees RV Club, you’ll be entitled to purchase an Escapees Roadside Assistance plan for your RV for $109/year. This gives you unlimited access to all of the features/services provided by the plan.

Escapees offers unlimited roadside assistance coverage that includes towing of your disabled RV to the nearest repair facility suited to your needs, a mobile mechanic (you’re responsible for the cost of any needed parts and labor), tire change service (even if you don’t have a spare in which case a similar tire will be mounted for towing to the nearest repair facility), fuel delivery, lockout services, battery jump-starts, winching, trip interruption, and a variety of other features.

Escapees Roadside Assistance even offers technical assistance (24/7) from RVIA/RVDA and ASE Certified Technicians who’ll have a conversation with you to try and troubleshoot the issue(s) you’re having. Should they be unable to troubleshoot the issue successfully in this communication, emergency roadside service will be sent to your location.

The roadside assistance program will cost you $109 annually. This is in addition to your Escapees RV Club membership which is $39.95 for residents of the United States and $49.95 for residents of Canada and Mexico.

Escapees RV Club offers a number of amazing features and is well worth your time to check out.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

Good Sam offers three roadside assistance RV plans: Standard ($129.95), Platinum ($159.95), and Platinum Complete ($239.95).

These plans vary widely, so I won’t post all of the details here.

While we’re sure Good Sam offers very good roadside assistance in many situations, their website notes that they’ll get you the right tow truck for the size of your rig. That may be true, but I feel I should note (particularly for folks with larger diesel RVs) that I’ve heard stories about tow trucks arriving on scene that were too small to handle a large Class A or diesel pusher. This issue may have been remedied but I suggest that if you have a large Class A motorhome and you’re interested in Good Sam’s roadside assistance program, you confirm your precise expectations with them ahead of time and ask if they’d be able to assist you appropriately.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Roadside Assistance Plan

FMCA is another terrific RV club with a multitude of great benefits including the ability to opt into their roadside assistance plan. You’ll pay $159 annually for a driveable RV and $129 for a towable rig.

The general FMCA membership is $60 for the first year and $50 per year thereafter so if you’re not already an FMCA member you’ll want to figure that into your annual cost as well.

FMCA’s roadside assistance covers your RV, your tow car or other vehicles, and your spouse and children age 25 and under. They offer towing to the nearest qualified service shop no matter the distance. You can opt for the services of an on-scene mobile mechanic.

In the case of a mechanical issue that leaves you stranded, FMCA’s plan will allow you up to $300 a day for five days as trip interruption compensation. And as with all of the other plans, you’ll be entitled to tire and battery services, fuel delivery, lockout services, and winching.

FMCA’s general membership is worth checking out and if you’re interested in that, then the roadside assistance program might interest you as well.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

The answer to this question really has to be based on your own evaluation of your circumstances. But, for us, an RV roadside assistance plan is a must and we wouldn’t be on the road without it. Again, we’ve rarely used ours but the peace of mind it offers and the services we have at our fingertips should we need them makes our annual fee well worth paying for sure.

Remember that if you break down, depending on where you’re located, what type of tow truck has to be sent to rescue you, and how far it needs to tow your rig, you could very quickly find yourself paying more than an annual fee for any one of these excellent RV roadside assistance plans.

Worth Pondering…

I’m still learning.

—Michelangelo