Winter Driving Safety Tips For RV Or Trailer

While winter RV vacations can be a peaceful, uncrowded time to experience the beauty of the country with its wintery white blanket, towing a trailer or maneuvering a motor home safely through unpredictable weather requires some preparation and patience to avoid turning a pleasure trip into a white-knuckle adventure.

Before You Go

Safety for a winter trip begins at home. Make sure you and your RV are prepared for winter travel – which means expecting the unexpected.

Winter road safety is not a splurge; before heading out on a journey where winter might mean snow and ice on the roads, make sure your RV is up to the rigors of winter travel. While there’s much you can do yourself, a certified service technician can make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition. Let the winter experts at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, N.J. prepare your trailer or RV for safe winter travels.

If you’re headed for snow and ice, consider swapping out your tires for snow tires with greater grip.  If you’re not investing in tires, inquire about the right snow chains for your vehicle.

Check battery, fluids, seals, and wipers. Have brakes and lights serviced. Make sure your emergency kit is up to date and all components are in useable, working order.

Planning and awareness are keys to a safe winter driving. Be prepared to make a quick exit and a safe stop if the weather turns treacherous. Research the number and location of service stations, grocery stories, campgrounds, and RV Parks that are open year-around along your planned route.

On the Road

Take some driving advice from truck drivers, road warriors who keep moving no matter the conditions. The folks who teach truckers how to drive, Roadmaster’s Driving School, start and finish their advice with the most basic of instruction: slow down. Bad things happen faster when weather conditions are poor.  Your best defense is slowing down. Driving slower gives you more time to react and reduces the chance of hydroplaning.

Don’t be bullied or influenced by smaller vehicles, or those not towing, who are frustrated by your slow speed; stay steady and take advantage of passing areas by moving to the right to allow other vehicles to pass when the opportunity is available.

Allow additional space between your RV and the vehicle in front of you to allow more reaction time in hazardous conditions. Even if the road doesn’t seem slick, plan for extra stopping time.  Avoid last minute decisions to turn or change lanes and use your turn indicators early to give the driver behind you plenty of time to react.

Do not use cruise control when conditions deteriorate.  Stay in complete control.  Keep a relaxed but firm, two-handed grip on the steering wheel.

Go light on the brakes; if you start to slide, or there’s a hazard ahead, break gently and steadily to keep your RV in control or prevent a jack-knifed trailer. Retain contact with the road on accelerations by increasing your speed slowly and steadily. If you need to stop suddenly, focus on a safe escape route and avoid jerking at the steering wheel.

When you’re driving in the mountains, be aware winter can bring swirling winds and gusts that will make towing a trailer or driving a lumbering RV even more dangerous. Avoid proximity to other vehicles when possible and drive slow and steady.

Be seen by other vehicles.  Keep your lights on low while on the road.

Always have a Plan B.  Twenty miles in treacherous weather may be too much; be flexible and willing to get off the road. The cost for an unplanned hotel stay pales in comparison to the cost and trauma of having your RV pulled out of a ditch or the expense and danger of a jack-knifed trailer.

Before tacking any winter trip in your RV or trailer, let the service experts at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, NJ, winterize your RV.

Winterizing Your RV Or Trailer

Whether you’re preparing your RV for a long winter’s rest or getting ready to take advantage of smaller crowds, lower prices, and unspoiled wintery beauty with an RV trip, be sure your RV is ready to brave a wintery blast.

Winterize your RV for safe storage or safe travels. Winterizing done right means protecting the electrical, water, and living systems from freezing cold. Failure to properly winterize an RV can lead to costly problems in the spring when it’s time to awaken your RV from its hibernation – or a catastrophe on the road during a cold-weather adventure.

A starting point for winterizing your RV is deciding what you can do yourself, and what should be left to trained professionals. While skilled owners can do much winterizing work themselves, the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association/Recreational Vehicle Industry Association recommends a RVDA/RVIA certified service technician to avoid damage to complex systems.

When it’s time to winterize, let Crossroads Trailers in Newfield, N.J., handle it for you. With over 20 years’ experience in RV service, Crossroads’ technicians are experienced to meet and exceed your winter preparation needs.

Ready for Storage

While there’s lots of advice on do-it-yourself winterizing, for many owners, winter is the cue to take the RV in for a deep service and thorough check. Even with leaving the heavy lifting to a certified technician, there’s much work an owner should do before tucking an RV away for the cold months.

First, decide what you should leave to the pros. The RVDA suggests choosing a professional saves money down the road in several instances.

Leak Detection and Repair

Even the most experienced owner may miss a small leak, that could turn into a big problem during winter storage. By pressurizing the water system, a technician will be able to detect the sneakiest of leaks and repair it promptly.

Water Removal

Luxury RVs have complicated water systems. A certified brand-specific technician will have deep understanding of water systems and won’t overlook any part of the distribution, manifold, and lines snaking through your unit. Technicians will also be able to distribute anti-freeze through the cold-water lines without filling the tank.

Empty Tanks

A little water – or waste – can turn into a big problem during winter storage. Let technicians empty the holding tanks and check macerator pumps and transmission lines.

Do It Yourself

Even with the help of a trained technician, there are many tasks a smart owner should take before storing an RV. Don’t let moisture build up inside; check the seals of your doors and windows, and reseal yourself — or put it on the list for your certified technician.

Clean out food storage areas and wipe out crumbs and any residue. Clean out the refrigerator and wipe dry. Leave the refrigerator door slightly ajar. Leave cabinet doors and drawers open. Remove batteries from remote controls, clocks and small appliances, and turn off antennas and boosters. Close the window blinds and shades to protect your interior from sun damage.

Batteries

Consider your plans for storage when it comes to batteries. If you plan to start the RV periodically during storage, plugging it in to power, leave the batteries with the unit.  If the unit will be tucked away for the long haul, consult your service professional to make sure the batteries are fully charged and stored.

Heading Out

Winter is an ideal time to take a snow-mobile loaded toy hauler out for a weekend, or visit some of America’s snow draped parks in the RV.  Visit a certified technician to make sure your RV is cold-weather ready, pack carefully, and be prepared for tons of frosty fun.

Windows and Doors

Keep the toasty warm in and icy leaks out by checking the seals on doors and windows.  Re-caulk before heading out or have the unit resealed by the service center. Consider beefing up your window treatments with panels of foil-backed insulation hook-and-loop fastened to window frames. What the temporary window covers lack in curb appeal, they will make up for with insulating properties. If the unit isn’t already equipped with insulating blinds or curtains, swap the existing coverings out with weather-wise thermal treatments. As a bonus, insulated window coverings will help keep your unit cool when summer returns.

RV Skirt

Before leaving home, consider assembling a cold weather skirt cut from insulating foam boards. Build the barrier from the bottom of your unit to the ground to shield tanks, water lines, and the floor. A purpose-built RV skirt will help, but won’t keep the underside of your unit as warm as the insulating material.

Be Prepared

Check the forecast before you head out. Have materials at hand to protect your water pipes and systems from extremes and pack a blow dryer for quick thaws. Bring along a safety compliant space heater for when temperatures bottom out. A fast-moving, violent storm means you may be snowed in for the long haul or face power outages.  Don’t leave home for a winter’s journey without cold weather staples, including extra warm clothing, a weather radio, extra blankets, full propane tanks, extra food and cash, and plenty of batteries.