November 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 13 Recalls Involving 8 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer must fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 13 recall notices in November 2023. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (4 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Gulf Stream (1 recall), Jayco (2 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (1 recall), Triple E (1 recall), Airstream (1 recall), and Newell (1 recall).

Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Sandstorm, Stealth, and 2024 Shockwave travel trailers. The wire routed from the 50AMP inlet to the transfer switch in the distribution panel is the incorrect gauge, which may cause the wire to melt.

Dealers will replace the incorrect 10-gauge wire with a 6-gauge wire, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 13, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-951-357-2327. Forest River’s number for this recall is 67-1700.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018-2024 Coachmen Adrenaline and 2020-2024 Work and Play fifth wheels and travel trailers. The side marker lights may not reflect light as intended, which can make it difficult for other drivers to see the trailer. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Dealers will install reflector stickers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 13, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-6302. Forest River’s number for this recall is 320-1697.

Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Forester and Sunseeker motorhomes. The park brake signal wire may not be connected to the house battery control center, which can allow the slideroom to extend during transit.

Dealers will connect the signal wire to the battery control center, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 27, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 34-1707.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Forester and Sunseeker motorhomes. The park brake signal wire may not be connected to the house battery control center, which can allow the slideroom to extend during transit.

Dealers will connect the signal wire to the battery control center, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 27, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 34-1707.

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2024 Solis motorhomes. The fasteners that secure the sliding seat in the extended position are missing. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 207, “Seating Systems.”

Dealers will install the missing fasteners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 23, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 180.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Micro Minnie travel trailers. The murphy bed may raise unintentionally if there is weight at the head of the bed and the button strap is not properly latched.

Dealers will install a new automatic latching mechanism, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 5, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000031.

Palm Springs Joshua Tree KOA, Desert Hot Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Stream

Gulf Stream Coach Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain 2024 Conquest, Independence, Trailmaster, Friendship, and Ameri-Lite, model 177BH, travel trailers. The Federal certification label may contain incorrect tire size and tire pressure information. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims,” and 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Gulf Stream will mail replacement labels to owners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 4, 2023. Owners may contact Gulf Stream at 1-800-289-8787.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Jayco White Hawk travel trailers. A window may be incorrectly marked as an emergency exit.

Dealer will replace the red handle and red screen knob and remove the exit decal, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 8, 2023. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901596.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Entegra Emblem, Vision, Vision XL, Jayco Alante, Precept, and Precept Prestige motorhomes. Corrosion in the Smart Data Link Connector (SDLC) may interfere with the Controller Area Network (CAN) communication, resulting in an inoperative instrument panel. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard numbers 101, “Control and Displays” and 105, “Hydraulic and Electric Brake Systems.”

Ford dealers will install a wire harness connector, and inspect and replace the SDLC module, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 15, 2023. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2021-2024 Thor Rize and Scope motorhomes. The solar panel frame may fracture around the mounting bolts, allowing the panel to detach from the vehicle.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 9, 2024. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000298

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Triple E Wonder W24RTB, W24RL, and W24FTB motorhomes. The wire insulation on the 120-volt wire routed to the air conditioner may become damaged, which can cause electrical arcing.

Dealers will install a grommet and 2 screws, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 21, 2023. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#10438-1.

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019-2024 Interstate 19, Interstate 24, Interstate 24X, Rangeline and Atlas motorhomes. The Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard may indicate incorrect tire pressure and tire size. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Airstream will mail corrected labels, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 16, 2024. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 ext. 7401 or 7411.

Newell

Newell Coach Corp. (Newell) is recalling certain 2024 P50 motor coaches. The low beam headlights may be installed incorrectly.

Dealers will adjust the low beam headlights, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a schedule for recall notification. Owners may contact Newell customer service at 1-888-363-9355.

Please Note: This is the 57th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

The Real Dangers of Camping in an RV Park or Campground

Sure, you’ve thought about theft and petty crimes but there are other dangers of camping in an RV park or campground you probably haven’t considered. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

We know that it’s important to be on the alert for petty crimes and should lock our doors and windows. But have you considered the more subtle but real dangers of camping in an RV park or campground?

I’m talking about fire-starting, stomach-upsetting, water-logged dangers that too many campers often overlook.

In this post I’ll discuss five real dangers to be aware of. Then, you’ll know what to look for and what questions to ask when booking your next camping site.

PLUS, at the end, I’ll link to other articles on staying safe while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

CreekFire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, some of these dangers are more prevalent in different parts of the country. You’re not likely to encounter tropical storms or hurricanes in South Dakota, for instance. However, I’m sure you can apply the wisdom of each danger to whatever location you’re traveling to.

The point of this article is not to scare you but to PREPARE you for less-obvious dangers you may not have considered. I LOVE camping and think everyone can and should enjoy it too.

So, whether you’re a solo traveler, a senior, a young newbie, or a family with a gaggle of kids, don’t let these dangers deter you from camping. Just consider them and how best to prepare for them as necessary.

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

1. Bad electrical

Unfortunately, it’s far too common for electrical hookups not to be properly maintained. RV parks that are under poor management or laissez-fair attitude often delay electrical maintenance and repair.

That leaves RVers at risk of using a faulty outlet and two big dangers. The first big (and costly) danger is a power surge that fries your electrical system. 

The second big danger of bad electrical is FIRE! It’s no surprise that sparks or surges of electricity can catch your RV on fire. It’s important to know your RV fire safety.

That’s why I recommend you always inspect your electrical connection before you plug in. Does it look badly unmaintained? Do you see any exposed wires? If it’s scary-looking, you probably should be concerned.

I also recommend you always use an Electric Management System like the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard.

Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Unclean water

Living in the U. S. and Canada, we often take safe drinking water for granted. In many of our homes, we can drink straight from the tap. But that doesn’t mean we can do the same while camping.

Flint, Michigan has certainly served as a warning to all Americans that we should think twice before blindly trusting any water spout.

Unclean water is one of the top unseen dangers of camping and should be taken seriously. Do you really want to chance ruining your trip with a sick stomach at the very least (or possibly far worse)? 

I suggest always using a water filter for your RV.

Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bad site location for flooding

This camping danger applies to campground locations as well as individual campsites. You can unwittingly park in a flood zone and not be properly prepared if a storm hits. 

Granted, this isn’t usually a year-round risk. However, at the very least, you want to be aware of the possible necessity to pack up and move if a big storm is headed your way.

It’s important to learn flood basics and note where your campsite is in relation to:

  • Rivers and streams
  • Mountains and steep hills
  • Rocky and shallow clay soils

Note that notably dry locations like Arizona are not immune to flooding! In fact, they can be more at risk of flash floods. So, take heavy rains seriously wherever you’re camping. 

Be sure to check that out Flash Floods: Safety Tips for RVers.

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Unsafe neighborhoods

RV park websites can paint a picturesque setting that may be located in an unsafe neighborhood. Theft and violent crimes may prevail in the area and you’d have no idea until you drive through and get that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

While RV parks and campgrounds are generally very safe, you should always be aware of your surroundings. And you do need to take extra precautions whenever parking overnight at truck stops, Walmarts, or other lot-docking locations.

You can easily research local crime in the area online. SpotCrime.com is one such helpful resource you can use to search by address or state. For more peace of mind wherever you travel, you can install an RV security system.

But please be assured that theft isn’t as common at RV parks as one might think and violent crimes are even rarer. So, be aware, but don’t be scared!

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

5. Unstaffed RV park office

You might think of an unstaffed RV park office as an inconvenience but it also poses a safety risk. An unstaffed RV park or campground is also more at risk of crime since it’s not being monitored 24/7.

Having someone familiar with the campground and nearby area can be vitally helpful in an emergency. This is especially true if you’re a solo RVer. 

Regardless of whether RV park or campground staff is available at all times, I do have a life-saving recommendation for you! 

Always keep the campground address and your campsite number within reach, like on a post-it on your fridge. Plus, the name and address of the nearest hospital! Having this info at your fingertips can save precious time when trying to get emergency services to your location.

Grandma’s RV Camping, Elizabethtown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additional safety concerns while RVing

The above are common dangers of camping wherever you travel but there is one more safety issue I want to leave you with.

Fire safety

Fire represents a risk that RVers need to keep top of mind. An RV fire can spread in a fast and furious manner leading to devastating damage, injury, and even loss of life.

RVs have numerous potential sources of fires—RV refrigerators, propane appliances, space heaters, washers and driers, gasoline or diesel engines, and electrical wiring that take a beating when traveling on less-than-ideal highways. So, every RV owner needs to develop a safety plan that covers how to deal with a fire.

I have a few helpful articles on developing a plan to deal with RV fires:

And finally the Safety List For when your RV is Parked.

Worth Pondering…

Take care of yourself. You’ll find it hard to get a replacement.

How to Prevent and Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV

We need to know how to detect carbon monoxide in our RV. This is serious if you want to stay safe.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that you don’t expect to encounter when traveling the great outdoors. However, some RV appliances emit carbon monoxide which can be dangerous to your health. It’s important to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional right away.

There are fewer topics more important than how to detect carbon monoxide in your RV. So pardon me for this just-the-facts article.

With the large number of newbies embracing the RV Lifestyle, we need to be aware of the dangers of carbon dioxide poisoning. Besides, even longtime RVers need to refresh themselves on how to detect carbon monoxide in their RV and make sure all our CO-emitting appliances are well maintained.

Be aware of CO when using a space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangers of CO

Several years ago while on an extended road trip we heard an incessant beeping late in the evening. I had immediately assumed it was the smoke detector but it wasn’t the source. It took a few minutes (in my sleepy haze) to realize it must be the carbon monoxide detector.

Thankfully, the beeping was just a warning that the CO detector’s battery was low. If it had been a warning for CO saturation, my sleepy haze could have been a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in the blood. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, the body replaces the oxygen in the red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damage or even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 50,000 people end up in the emergency room each year due to accidental CO poisoning. Worse, at least 430 people died. 

Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no odor, taste, or color. Burning fuels, including gas, wood, propane or charcoal, make carbon monoxide. Appliances and engines that aren’t well vented can cause the gas to build up to dangerous levels. A tightly enclosed space makes the buildup worse.

CO poisoning is a serious risk especially where any fuel-burning machines or appliances exist. As we all know, an RV itself is a fuel-burning machine with plenty of fuel-burning accessories in and around it.

Be aware of CO when using a space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

CO risks in an RV

Essentially, any fuel-burning source contributes to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. The following are common culprits for carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • The towing vehicle (if you have an RV trailer)
  • Generators
  • Gas ranges
  • Refrigerators
  • Camping stoves
  • Space heaters
  • Grills
  • Lanterns
  • Furnace

Some of these risks are located inside your RV but many surround your RV at camp. So, you need to be mindful of things that emit CO not only in your RV but around it. Including your neighbors’ equipment! The first rule in how to detect carbon monoxide in your RV is to be aware of the sources.

How to detect CO in your RV

You can’t! Humans cannot detect CO. It is odorless and colorless which is why it’s called the quiet killer. We must rely on sensors to detect CO.

Be certain your RV is outfitted with a CO detector. A quality CO detector costs from $15 to $30 and can save your life. Talk about a great investment!

If the detector senses an unsafe amount of CO, it will sound the alarm. The alarm is much louder than the beep that warns of a low battery. Since carbon monoxide makes people light-headed and pass out it takes a loud noise to bring them to their senses.

Be aware of CO when using a space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Early signs of CO poisoning

Though humans can’t detect carbon monoxide, we certainly show symptoms of it. If you are aware of these symptoms, you can realize there’s a serious problem more quickly.  Besides the detector, the symptoms are another way to detect carbon monoxide in your RV. These symptoms progress fast. DO NOT try to shake them off!

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Loss of consciousness

Who’s at Risk of CO poisoning?

Everybody is at risk of CO poisoning though some succumb more quickly to its effects. CO poisoning is particularly dangerous for people who are sleeping, intoxicated, older, young, or unwell. Plus, humans aren’t the only ones at risk.

An intoxicated person could easily dismiss the symptoms as being tipsy. A sleeping person may lose consciousness before ever realizing any symptoms. The elderly, children, and infants are also more susceptible to CO poisoning. The poison will normally affect them more quickly due to their underdeveloped or weakened constitutions.

People with pre-existing health conditions will also be at greater risk. For example, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory issues like asthma.

And don’t forget about your pets! Despite their superior sense of smell, dogs and other pets cannot detect carbon monoxide either. They will be affected much more quickly than humans due to their smaller size.

Be aware of CO when using a space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to prevent CO poisoning

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to prevent it.

Setting up a CO detection system is essential but it shouldn’t stop there. The best way to ensure your safety is to get ahead of the problem. This means you should take regular precautions to prevent CO from saturating your RV.

CO poisoning prevention tips

  • Replace the batteries in your CO detector every 6 months
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris; debris can block ventilation lines
  • Place your (portable) generator away from your RV and your neighbors
  • Point your generator’s exhaust away from your RV and your neighbors
  • Have your generator inspected and serviced by a qualified technician on an annual basis
  • Inspect your generator’s exhaust system every time you use it to ensure it’s not damaged
  • Keep doors, windows, and vents closed if in close proximity to a running vehicle or generator
  • NEVER use a range burner to heat your RV
  • When cooking with a gas range, use the range fan and keep a nearby window cracked open
  • Follow all directions and warning if using gas-powered heaters
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside your RV
  • Be aware of your neighbor’s setup and make sure they are not directing any exhaust your way
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year

RV safety

RVing is not without some degree of risk. Driving on the open road, dirt roads, and even being parked can cause damage to your RV and equipment. In some cases, damage or improper maintenance results only in repair costs. But other times, it can have catastrophic results.

Don’t overlook something as simple as replacing batteries in your CO detector. Don’t take safety for granted. Don’t cut corners by not clearing vents or by waiting for your CO detector to beep in the middle of the night. 

Since we’re talking safety, here are a few related articles:

Worth Pondering…

Safety and comfort comes with complacency and that’s never a good place to be working from.

—Elijah Wood

October 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 14 Recalls Involving 7 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 14 recall notices during October 2023. These recalls involved 7 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (6 recalls), Winnebago (3 recalls), Jayco (1 recall), Tiffin (1 recall), REV (1 recall), Brinkley RV (1 recall), Alliance RV (1 recall),

Las Quintas Oasis RV Park, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 East to West Tandara and Blackthorn fifth wheels. The rear ladder may not be anchored properly in the rear wall, which can allow the ladder to detach.

Dealers will install a new ladder that mounts to the roof, free of charge. All affected trailers are still within dealer inventory and therefore no owner notification letters will be mailed. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-264-6664. Forest River’s number for this recall is 500-1678.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Salem and Wildwood fifth wheels. These vehicles may be missing a secondary emergency exit.

Dealers will install an emergency exit window, free of charge. All affected vehicles are still within dealer inventory and therefore no owner notification letters will be mailed. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-534-3167. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1683.

Red Bluff KOA, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021-2024 Coachmen Prism and 2023-2024 Coachmen Concord vehicles. The Federal Placard may indicate incorrect information about the number of seat belts.

Dealers will provide corrected labels, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 8, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service and Coachmen Concord & Prism at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1682.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Coachmen Brookstone, Chaparral, Chaparral Lite, and Shasta Phoenix fifth wheel trailers. The affected vehicles may have been manufactured with an incorrect fuse in the power distribution center.

Dealers will replace the fuse with a 15-AMP 12-Volt fuse, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-7101. Forest River’s number for this recall is 110-1686.

CrossFire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Cross Trail Class C motorhomes. The 12-volt refrigerator may dislodge and fall from its cabinet.

Dealers will reinstall and secure the 12-volt refrigerator, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 29, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8487. Forest River’s number for this recall is 215-1691.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Concord Class C motorhomes. Installation of the air ride suspension system resulted in an incorrect pinion to driveline angle.

Dealers will install a shorter control arm, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 29, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 210-1693.

Hollywood Casino RV Park, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2022 Ekko, 2020-2022 Minnie Winnie, Spirit, 2020-2022 View, Navion, and 2020-2021 Vita, and Porto motorhomes. An incorrect hitch label was installed, which can lead to overloading of the vehicle.

Dealers will install the correct labels, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 14, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 177.

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2020-2024 Revel motorhomes. The cables near the lithium batteries may contact the battery hold-down brackets, which can damage the cables and cause a short circuit.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 28, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 178.

Portland Fairview RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2020-2024 Era, View and Navion recreational vehicles. The retractable awning may extend unintentionally during transit.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 15, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6936 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 179. This recall supersedes and expands NHTSA recall 22V-695.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2024 Jayco Precept and Entegra Coach Vision XL motorhomes. The window shade may obstruct the emergency exit window opening.

Dealer will inspect and replace the window shade, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 3, 2023. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903592.

Buckhorn RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2016-2024 Allegro Bus, and 2017-2024 Zephyr motorhomes. The 240-Volt induction cooktop may not be grounded, which can create an electrical shock hazard if the wires short-circuit.

Dealers will install a ground for the metal junction box, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 17, 2023. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-133.

REV

REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Fleetwood Fortis and 2024 Holiday Rambler Invicta motorhomes. The exterior griddle may be stowed while still connected to the LP gas line.

Dealers will install a 90-degree fitting and quick disconnect on the griddle, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 1, 2023. Owners may contact REV customer service at 1-800-509-3417. REV’s number for this recall is 231002REV.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Brinkley RV

Brinkley RV is recalling certain 2024 Brinkley RV Model G fifth wheel toy haulers. The power control system was manufactured with undersized 10-gauge wire instead of 6-gauge wire.

Dealers will replace the power control system, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed October 16, 2023. Owners may contact Brinkley customer service at 1-574-501-4280. Brinkley’s number for this recall is PCI-2023-01.

Alliance RV

Alliance RV, LLC is recalling certain 2021-2023 Paradigm and Valor fifth wheel trailers. A wire connector from the solar panel ports to the solar charge lines may loosen.

Dealers will replace the existing wire nut with a new connector, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 19, 2023. Owners may contact Alliance customer service at 1-574-218-7165.

Please Note: This is the 56th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

Is It Safe For RVers to Travel Under Current Global Threats?

Nerves are on edge as lone wolf terror threats are on the rise in the U.S. Is it safe for RVers to travel during such threats?

There’s been a lot of chatter in the RV community about whether it’s safe to travel amidst the global and national threats hitting the media. At the time of this writing, Homeland Security has not released a new advisory since the Israeli-Hamas conflict began.

However, the FBI Chief warns of growing lone wolf terror threats on US soil that we should “be on the lookout” for.

We are not altering any travel plans at this time. But, I want to share what information I’ve heard so you can make a better-informed decision for yourself.

RVs parked at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The FBI Chief’s warning

On Saturday, October 14, 2023, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the US is facing a growing number of terror threats especially from lone wolves who may be inspired by the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict. This warning came a day after the “Day of Jihad” declared by former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Wray recently spoke at the International Association of Police annual conference. According to FBI transcripts, Wray stated, “In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we’ve got to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own.”

Wray did not provide information on any specific domestic threats but he urged law enforcement officials to stay vigilant.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current travel advisories

Since the conflict started, the U.S. Department of State has (as expected) elevated the risk level of traveling to certain Middle Eastern cities and countries. You can see the threat levels on this interactive global map.

However, there has been no official increase in the threat level domestically. No specific domestic threats have been released to the public on a national level.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What does this mean for RVers?

Since there are no elevated domestic travel advisories, there is no official reason to alter any domestic RV trips you have planned. Traveling in Canada is still at the “exercise normal precautions” level, as well.

As with any road trip, you should always exercise precautions and it doesn’t hurt to be extra vigilant as this conflict continues. It is advisable to pay attention to the news for any credible domestic threats that may arise as this conflict continues.

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How can RVers prepare for potential threats?

If you want to “wish for the best but plan for the worst,” you can take standard safety precautions as you would any threat whether for a weather threat or international threat.

Here are some things you can do to help feel better prepared for an upcoming RV road trip in this social climate:

  • Review the cancellation policies on any upcoming RV park and campground reservations. That way, you know if and when you can cancel and how much you will be refunded if you decide to cancel.
  • Stock your RV with extra food and water.
  • Take inventory of your emergency supplies and restock accordingly.
  • Leave details of your travel plans and how to contact you with friends and family.

Now let’s look at several articles for more pressing dangers relating to the RV lifestyle.

Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit

Anyone who takes a road trip of any distance or duration should be prepared for potential roadside emergencies. But, RVers who tend to travel roads unknown with some frequency while carrying heavy loads in their home-on-wheels need to be well prepared for unexpected events that can occur based on weather, tire blow-outs, and other breakdowns. And they can (and often do!) happen in the most remote areas. This is why having an RV roadside emergency kit is so important.

Keep reading…

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.

Keep reading…

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to Stay Safe When RVing

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Keep reading…

Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

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.

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

Keep reading…

Worth Pondering…

The road is there, it will always be there. You just have to decide when to take it.

—Chris Humphrey

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

Are RV Parks and Campgrounds Safe?

Staying in a campground or RV park is a fun and convenient way to travel. Is staying at these facilities a safe option?

For people that are new to RV camping and even seasoned RVers, safety is an issue of concern that crops up time and time again. This is very understandable as daily news reports are littered with stories of various crimes.

In this post, I’ll offer some safety tips, talk about the different crimes that are likely to occur in RV parks and campgrounds, and allay any fears you may have about the RV lifestyle.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are significant safety advantages to staying in RV parks and campgrounds while on a road trip. Some offer gated areas and security check-ins meaning con artists and others up to no good won’t be able to easily wander around your campsite. And many feature surveillance cameras to catch would-be criminals in the act. According to KOA, RVing is relatively safe since most campgrounds don’t typically attract the criminal element. 

Even the busiest RV parks see much lower crime rates than other areas. According to VEHQ.com, the odds of being a victim or a major crime in an RV park are 1 in 25,000. That’s much lower than in many residential areas in the U.S.

Of course, some are safer than others depending on location, the number of people in the general area, and security efforts and surveillance systems. Despite the secure nature of the managed campground environment, it’s always best to prioritize your safety and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself when you’re RVing.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crime in RV parks and campgrounds

RV parks and campgrounds are considered by many to be safe havens where one can relax and connect with Mother Nature. And that’s true, for the most part.

We know that crimes occur everywhere. Your preferred RV campgrounds are no different. The good news is that most of these crimes prove to be petty and inconsequential to personal safety. After reviewing several camping blogs and forums, I can break RV park crimes into two broad groups:

  • Petty crimes
  • Major crimes
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petty crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

When discussing RV parks and campground safety, petty crimes are the main concern as they are far more common. The incidence of these crimes is still low but sometimes they do happen.

Many avid campers report that they have never witnessed a petty crime take place. Others have tales of criminals stealing bicycles, BBQs, and propane tanks, and trying to break into parked RVs. The best thing about petty crimes is that you can usually stop them by being security-conscious. Locking your RV with a deadbolt, keeping windows locked, padlocking your Electric Management System (or surge protector), and keeping all valuables hidden and out of sight can deter the odd petty criminal.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resorts, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Major crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

As mentioned earlier, the odds of you being a victim of a major crime in an RV park or campground are extremely low. Most campgrounds have security systems put in place to stop them from happening.

On any given day, a lot of people move in and out of RV parks and campgrounds. The large number of people and unpredictable factors present seem to deter perpetrators of major crimes. Apart from the odd bomb scare which usually proves to be a prank call, significant crimes in RV campgrounds are few and far between.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park security systems

With the availability of high-tech equipment many RV parks are using technology to secure their facilities. Total security can only be achieved with the assistance of every member of the camping community. However, it all starts with RV park management.

The following are a few security measures adopted at many camping facilities:

Surveillance cameras: In many RV parks there is an eye in the sky watching the comings and goings. Of course, these cameras are not situated in your private spaces. However, as long as an area is public, it is likely covered by surveillance cameras. Since nobody wants to be caught on camera carrying out criminal activities, surveillance cameras do a pretty good job of stopping crime at campgrounds.

Entrance security: Many RV parks have gates, security checkpoints, and speed bumps at all access points. It may seem inconsequential but it contributes to the air of security around a campground. These checkpoints are there to prevent non-campers from gaining access to the RV park and by extension, you and your RV.

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

How to pick a safe RV park

Staying safe starts with you! Before committing to days or possibly weeks camping in a particular RV park, do your due diligence. You may not be wise to stay in the first campground you come across.

Do your research and plan ahead

Your first line of defense for staying safe in an RV park or campground is to do your research and plan ahead before you ever show up to the campground. This will help you to avoid most of the poorly-rated and unsafe campgrounds altogether while RVing. 

There are numerous ways to research RV park safety but the best ways are to check independent user reviews of the campground as well as check out Google street view to get a better feel for the area the campground is located.

Jackson Ranchero Casino RV Park, Jackson, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three favorite websites for independent RV campground reviews are:  

  • campendium.com
  • allstays.com
  • campgroundreviews.com

In addition to independent campground reviews check out the RV park website and Facebook page. 

Also, goodsam.com rates its RV parks and campgrounds using a three-number rating of a campground’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment/visual appearance. Each category is rated on a scale of one to 10 and a star is added for exceptionally clean restrooms. If you’re looking for the best of the best, Good Sam annually releases a list of top-rated RV parks and resorts. For 2023, a total of 156 Good Sam Parks scored flawless 10/10★/10 rating.

Before committing to an RV park I recommend checking out available photos of the campground on their website, Facebook, and Good Sam to get a better feel for the facility. In addition to any security concerns, I’m interested in the general layout of the park and invidual camping sites.

While it’s true the photos displayed on the RV park’s website will usually put the campground in the most favorable light, you can still get a pretty good idea of what the campground is like from the photos. 

Pro tip: If the RV park or campground doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page this is usually a big red flag and warning sign. And if they don’t this usually indicates it’s a good place to skip especially if you’re concerned about safety.  

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Personal safety tips

Always lock up your RV whenever you want to leave your site. Even if it is only for a short period, lock up to avoid problems. All outside storage spaces should also be afforded the same level of security.

Keep your shades and window blinds down. This is the best way to eliminate temptations.

Park near other RVers. The expression safety in numbers also applies in RV campgrounds. If you are near other campers, they can watch out for you and vice versa.

Staying at an RV park or campground should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to have fun!

Worth Pondering…

Take care of yourself. You’ll find it hard to get a replacement.

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

Gone Without a Trace: Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks

National Parks provide immense natural beauty as well as vast expanses where it’s easy to get lost

A 57-year-old woman died after hiking in 100-degree temperatures in Grand Canyon National Park on July 2, 2023. Park officials received a call about a distressed hiker in the Tuweep area at 6:30 p.m. but she was later found dead when rangers arrived.  

A 33-year-old man fell 4,000 feet to his death from the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West on June 5, 2023. A horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet out over the canyon’s rim, the Skywalk is managed by the Hualapai Tribe. The Skywalk has seen more than 10 million visitors since 2007, according to the Grand Canyon West website.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since the National Park Service (NPS) oversees more than 84 million acres of preserved woods, deserts, mountains, and other wilderness areas, it’s no surprise that in the past 100 years, there have been a number of cases of hikers going missing. Many of those who vanished were young children and inexperienced hikers but some were healthy and seasoned outdoorspeople. But is there more to these disappearances than kids wandering off or hikers becoming disoriented?

What could cause someone to seemingly vanish into thin air? There are two approaches people take to explaining these mysterious disappearances: earthly and supernatural. Most hiking experts would say that these missing hikers made common mistakes like taking on more than they could handle, inadequate planning, or failing to turnback to beat the sunset.

However, some disappearances have become a focus for urban legend, online message boards, and nonfiction books. In fact, David Paulides, author and former police officer at Yosemite National Park thinks something more intriguing is afoot. In Missing 411, he examines more than 1,100 cases of people who mysteriously vanished in United States national parks.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Let’s be honest—although it might be fun to imagine monsters or aliens, no proof for any supernatural disappearance has ever been provided. But there have been some mysterious disappearances at NPS sites as well as in related spaces like national forests, recreation areas, state parks, and wilderness areas. Here are some of the most fascinating cases to date, starting in the early 20th century.

People have been disappearing inside US national parks at an alarming rate with at least 10 vanishing, never to be seen again, since 2016, reported The New York Post.

One was a hiker whose last message was to his son telling him he was on his way to Yosemite National Park.

Another got separated from his group during a nine-day excursion through the stifling Grand Canyon heat.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A young river tour guide with his whole life ahead of him also vanished during a group trip.

“No trace of man missing on Colorado River in Grand Canyon,” read a Williams-Grand Canyon News from the time.

At least 1,180 people were reported missing from NPS parks between 2018 and the first two months of 2023. Most were located safe and well, often with the help of search-and-rescue teams. Others were found injured or dead either from suicide or accidents but a small number of disappearances can’t be explained at all.

An examination of the data shows Grand Canyon National Park had more deaths, missing persons’ reports, and suicides compared to any other park. Most deaths result from falls over the canyon, helicopter crashes, or dehydration.

One disappearance with no easy explanation is Charles Lyon who has not been seen in just over two years. The 49-year-old from Tyler, Texas, was last seen at a Best Western motel in Tusayan, Arizona, on June 10, 2021. His car was found around the Grand Canyon’s South Rim the next day and police believed he was alone.

Padre Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jonghyon Won saw a similar fate in September 2017 when his car was found parked at the South Rim of Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park. The 45-year-old did not tell anyone about his plans to be in the area and was never seen again, the NPS reported.

Florida teacher Floyd E. Roberts III disappeared from Grand Canyon National Park on June 17, 2016 while hiking with a group on a nine-day excursion. The area had been rocked by extreme heat when the 52-year-old was separated from his group. Roberts, a business technology and web design teacher for a Florida middle school, was last seen in a remote portion of the western Grand Canyon near Kelly Tank heading toward the Shanley Spring area.

With no body recovered, explaining their sudden disappearances isn’t easy. Some who fall into the canyon are not found for years as in the case of Scott Walsh who disappeared in 2015 but whose body wasn’t found until 2021.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Harder to explain is the disappearance of 22-year-old Morgan Heimer. In June 2015, he was guiding a tour group through an area of the Colorado River near Pumpkin Springs when he vanished. NPS records show Heimer was helping “clients to jump off a low cliff into the water” in the minutes before he was last seen around 4 p.m. June 2.

“The last client had completed the activity and Heimer and the Lead Guide had switched positions,” states a search and record report.

“The Lead Guide had just talked to Heimer about taking a bit of time off that afternoon. The Lead Guide walked away from the cliff to talk to a client. When the Lead Guide turned around Heimer was gone.”

The guide told searchers he thought Heimer had left to take a break but realized something was amiss when Heimer failed to turn up for dinner. Heimer, from Cody, Wyoming, was described as having advanced/superior skills. He was on day six of the eight-day excursion. Heimer’s family joined searchers in Arizona. Crews spent six days scouring the area before scaling back their efforts.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The immediate response to disappearances in some of the most treacherous landscapes in the country falls into the hands of search-and-rescue workers who are battling the clock due to the extreme elements in an environment like the Grand Canyon. Rangers usually have only the smallest clues—a shoe impression on the ground, a credit card receipt—to find whom they’re looking for.

Bodies are not only difficult to find within an already treacherous landscape but also often exposed to the extreme weather conditions including drying heat known to expedite deterioration. In colder climates, bodies and any evidence left behind often grow harder to find as snow accumulates. Remains are also subject to scavenging by wildlife.

Such examples in expansive Grand Canyon National Park are only a handful of cases nationwide that have gone cold.

National parks elsewhere in the country have seen their own spates of mysterious disappearances.

Barry J. Tragen, 68, visited Glacier National Park at the end of July 2020. His whereabouts raised alarm bells five days later when rangers noticed his car was still parked near Kintla Lake, the NPS said. Rangers searched for any signs of the Columbia Falls, Montana, man for weeks and came across a pair of sunglasses they believed were his.

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

K9s were brought in and showed interest in an area of the lake’s outlet. They also used boats, ground search teams, and underwater equipment but no signs of Tragen were found, the agency said. The NPS scaled back its search efforts beginning August 10, 2020 and Tragen remains missing.

Beverly, Massachusetts man Matthew Silveira’s July 2020 disappearance also reached the NPS which was called in to assist the Wellfleet Police Department after local officers discovered his car abandoned just miles from the Cape Cod National Seashore, according to reports from the NPS and the Boston Globe. Camping gear and his cellphone were found inside according to the NPS report which also described the 32-year-old as having a history of making suicidal statements. Silveira’s car was found over 120 miles from his hometown but he was never located.

James Pruitt drove 1,400 miles to Rocky Mountain National Park from his hometown of Etowah, Tennessee on February 28, 2019. The 70-year-old parked his car in the lot of the Glacier Gorge trailhead, according to the NPS. Park rangers discovered his car March 3 and grew suspicious when the vehicle did not have an overnight parking permit.

Pruitt’s family told rangers they did not know where within the national park he had planned to hike and said they have not heard from him since 10 a.m. February 28. They also said Pruitt had not planned on staying in the park overnight.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But Glacier Gorge had received two feet of snow by the time rangers caught wind of Pruitt’s disappearance which added to the already challenging search, police said. Rangers scoured 15 square miles until March 11 when their search “entered limited continuous operations” on March 11, 2019, the NPS said.

A team of 40 searchers briefly resumed their efforts in October after months of small, sporadic searches during the summer but by that time it’s possible his remains could have been almost entirely consumed by wild animals, leaving no trace.

In California, Peter Jackson texted his son on September 17, 2016 to say he was on his way to the high-traffic Yosemite National Park. He had been staying at the White Wolf Campground and had paid to park through September 21, 2016. The avid hiker’s backpack was discovered in the area of Ackerson Meadow and Aspen Valley on August 19 but neither he nor his remains have ever been found, officials said.

On the other side of the country, John Squires was rafting with friends on June 20, 2018, when their vessel overturned in the American Creek within Alaska’s Katmai National Park. He and the others were thrown into the fast-moving water when their raft collided with a submerged object, the NPS said. Squires was last seen swimming downriver and trying to get to the shore. His friends were ultimately able to swim to safety but were unable to get to Squires.

He remains missing five years later.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The disappearance of Gabby Petito made international headlines when her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned from their road trip all by himself. They had posted heavily about their travels on social media, had an ambitious schedule of coast-to-coast national park visits although several fights between the pair were noticed by others (including the police) along the way.

Petito’s family says that their last contact with the 22-year-old was at the end of August 2021. Laundrie arrived back at home September 1 without Petito and refused to speak with police or her family. Her family reported her missing September 11 after a lengthy lack of contact. In fact, they don’t believe the last text they received from Petito was actually from her.

Sadly, on September 19, Petito’s remains were found in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation. Laundrie disappeared on September 17 and on October 20 his skeletal remains were found inside the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Florida.

Worth Pondering…

Stay safe wherever you are and find time to enjoy each day!

What Is Tongue Weight and Why Is It Important?

One of the most important things you can do to keep your family and yourself safe while towing a trailer is making sure you know the various weights and weight limitations associated with your rig

When you’re traveling down the road hauling a travel trailer or a fifth-wheel or any other kind of open/enclosed trailer, various weights factor into your towing experience and, more importantly, your safety and the safety of everyone traveling the roads with you. Many people are well aware of what terms like GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), dry weight, and tow capacity mean but the meaning of factors like tongue weight is not as well understood.

So, what is tongue weight and how might it impact your travel?

In today’s post I’ll answer those questions and more as we investigate the term tongue weight and the reason why it’s so critical to understand. If you ever plan to tow a trailer you’ll want to pay close attention because in order to tow safely, you’ll need to understand this important topic.

Fifth-wheel trailers at Rain Shadow RV Park neat Clarkdale, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is tongue weight?

Tongue weight is a term related to towing. Sometimes denoted as TW, it’s defined as the downward force that the tongue of a trailer applies to the hitch of the tow vehicle. In other words, the force the trailer tongue exerts on the hitch ball.

Improper tongue weight can be the difference between a safe towing experience and a very dangerous one.

The trailer is like a lever and the axle of the trailer is the pivot point (or fulcrum) for that lever. If too much or too little weight is applied to the tongue of the trailer, a dangerous situation can result (more on that in a minute). Tongue weight can’t be too heavy and it can’t be too light. It has to be just about right—balanced—like the weights of a couple of people on a seesaw at the playground.

Travel trailers at Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is tongue weight the same as hitch weight?

Yes. The terms tongue weight and hitch weight are interchangeable as both refer to the force a trailer exerts on a hitch.

Sometimes the term pin weight is used instead of either of the other terms but while pin weight refers to the very same concept it’s usually used in reference to fifth-wheel trailers specifically.

>> Related article: The Pros and Cons of Buying a Travel Trailer

Regardless, all three terms refer to the downward force the trailer/fifth-wheel applies to the hitch on the vehicle towing it.

Travel trailer at Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do you calculate tongue weight?

To calculate tongue weight you’ll take the weight of your tow vehicle alone and subtract it from the weight of your tow vehicle with the trailer attached. 

Weight of tow vehicle while trailer is connected–tow vehicle’s weight=tongue weight

If the result of your calculation is within the proper tongue weight range for your loaded trailer and the capacity of your hitch and tow vehicle, then your setup is properly balanced. If not, some adjustments need to be made.

At the end of this post, I’ll describe a few different ways to check the weight of your trailer’s tongue.

Trailers and a tow vehicle at A+ Motel and RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is proper tongue weight?

Proper tongue weight for a trailer with a ball-mounted hitch is between 10 and 15 percent of the Gross Towing Weight of the trailer.

For example, the proper tongue weight for a trailer that weighs 1,000 pounds would be somewhere between 100 and 150 pounds.

Using a real-weight scenario if a 3,000-pound trailer is loaded with 1,000 pounds of cargo, the proper tongue weight of the loaded trailer should be somewhere between 400 and 600 pounds (between 10 percent and 15 percent of the 4,000 pound total).

There are some complexities to navigate here, however. For instance, fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailers are designed to handle significantly larger loads so proper TW for these trailers is generally agreed to be between 15 and 30 percent of the total loaded trailer weight.

Fifth-wheel trailer at Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What happens if tongue weight is too heavy?

If the tongue is too heavy, the tow vehicle’s steering will be impacted. Traveling ahead of its axis, a too-heavy trailer tongue will also affect the way the trailer moves along the road and the way it stops.

When TW is too heavy, stress is placed on the frame, suspension, tires, drivetrain, or brakes of the vehicle being used to tow. Because of the excessive weight transferred through the hitch ball, the rear tires of the tow vehicle can become overloaded, pushing the rear end of the vehicle around.

>> Related article: RV Weight Distribution Tips for Packing your RV

A too-heavy tongue weight may also negatively impact vehicle handling especially when rounding curves and taking corners. This is due to the fact that the front of the tow vehicle is being lifted up, reducing the weight on the front tires and thus their grip and steering effectiveness. Moreover, the vehicle’s stopping distance may be impacted such that you’re unable to stop fast enough after depressing the brake pedal.

These are very dangerous situations owed to improper tongue weight. Fortunately, tongue weight can be adjusted relatively easily. If you’ve ever seen the rear of a vehicle in a low position while towing, what you were likely seeing was an improperly loaded trailer resulting in excessive tongue loading. In such a case, the load in the trailer would need to be adjusted so that more of the weight was moved toward the back, behind the trailer’s axle.

Trailers at Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What happens if tongue weight is too light?

If there is insufficient weight on a trailer tongue, the trailer may be difficult to control and may sway from side to side. If the tongue is too light, cargo needs to be moved forward of the trailer’s axle.

What happens with a too-light tongue weight is that the tongue of the trailer isn’t exerting sufficient downward force on the tow vehicle’s hitch ball. This leads to trailer sway, a very dangerous situation that puts the trailer at risk of slipping off the ball and disconnecting from the tow vehicle.

Fifth-wheel trailer at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to check your tongue weight?

There are a few different ways to check.

>> Related article: Meet the RVs: The Towables

The first method requires you to drive to a public scale or weigh station and follow these steps:

  • Load your trailer and the vehicle you’ll be towing it with exactly as they’ll be loaded for an upcoming trip (including food, fuel, water, and propane)
  • Drive onto the scale at the weigh station making sure all four wheels of the tow vehicle are on the scale while also making sure the wheels of the trailer are NOT on the scale
  • Make a note of the weight of the tow vehicle
  • Without moving the vehicle(s), unhook the trailer and jack up the trailer tongue so that there is no weight on the hitch ball
  • Make a note of the weight of the tow vehicle only (this is your GVW or gross vehicle weight of the tow vehicle)
  • Subtract the GVW from the weight of the tow vehicle with the trailer attached (this is your tongue weight)

The second way to check is to use a trailer tongue weight scale.

A scale with a 5,000-pound capacity would be appropriate for most fifth-wheels and goosenecks). Scales are also available with 1,000 and 2,000-pound capacities.

If you expect your tongue weight to be less than 300 pounds, you can use a bathroom scale. To do this, you’ll place the tongue or jack directly on the bathroom scale (or, you can place a small piece of plywood on the scale to protect it).

If you anticipate that the weight may be more than 300 pounds, you can use a special arrangement of boards and pipes to reduce the amount of weight being placed on the bathroom scale, multiplying it appropriately to calculate the actual weight. That method, complete with instructions and diagrams can be found on the Curt Manufacturing website.

Travel trailer at Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why is tongue weight so important?

As I’ve noted throughout this article, tongue weight impacts the operation of the tow vehicle and the trailer. Improper tongue weight can have very serious consequences.

In the case of too much, the rear tires of the tow vehicle can be overloaded resulting in the rear end of the vehicle being out of control and reducing the tow vehicle’s ability to both steer and stop.

>> Related article: 6 Great Tips for RV Beginners

In the case of too little, extremely dangerous trailer sway can result even to the extent of the trailer being moved off the ball and disconnecting from the tow vehicle. This could easily lead to a horrible accident involving not only damage to your trailer but injury and loss of life.

So, tongue weight is extremely important—and fortunately, also easily adjusted.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign