Everyone starts out as a new RV owner. No one is born an expert. RVing is absolutely achievable, but there are some preventable RV mistakes you can avoid before getting into the lifestyle.
MISTAKE: Not Enough Research or Education
You are making a huge mistake if you don’t do enough research on which RV is right for you and your family. Should you buy a new or used rv and what are the pros and cons? There are so many manufacturers, models and floor plans that it can make your head spin.
Giving in to the overwhelm and impulsively buying something that doesn’t meet your needs will be a costly mistake in the long run. Not only will it cost you money to sell one RV and purchase another, but it will also cost you precious time and create frustration. Once you find the right RV for your family, learn as much as you can about it before embarking on a trip. This begins with purchase. Most dealers will give you a comprehensive walk-through of your rig. This is your time to ask ALL the questions!
Whatever is keeping you up at night about owning this RV should be discussed to limit costly mistakes. If you are still a little confused, video tape the areas of instruction that you may not remember later.
MISTAKE: Driving or Towing Off the Lot With No Practice or Education
You may be experienced in owning other RVs but everyone is different in the way they handle and practice will limit future RV mistakes. Some dealers offer courses especially if you are buying a large Class A RV.
Driving or towing an RV is unlike driving a car. The centers of gravity are different, turning radiuses are much wider, and height makes you a moving target for wind gusts. Without practice and consideration of these limitations, accidents will happen resulting in major costs and in some cases, even death.
Take advantage of any help provided and don’t leave the lot until you’ve practiced as much as possible to feel comfortable.
MISTAKE: Not Upgrading Security
You've spent all this money on your new rig, don't let it go to waste. Did you know that roughly 90% of all RVs have the same door locks and keys? While you and your family are away from the RV, your travel trailer is an easy target for theft. Most factory installed RV door locks are keyed the same. Why? First, it eliminates the need for salesmen to carry multiple keys while showing potential buyers new RVs. Second is money. It is far less expensive for RV manufacturers to install mass produced locks instead of installing different locks for every RV. This is why we recommend upgrading your RV door lock.
We recommend upgrading to a keyless entry lock like this one from RVLock. This lock is the original keyless entry lock for RV’s. RVLock is extremely durable and will not only protect you and your belongings, but also will make your life easier and more convenient.
There is an extensive product line that fits most campers, travels trailers, fifth wheels, horse trailers and motorhomes. The locks come with all the mountain hardware and only takes 10 minutes to install.
MISTAKE: Not Having a Checklist
There are many steps in setting up your RV once parked, as well as similar (but different) steps to get back out on the road.
Many RV social media groups offer checklists that you can utilize. These are good starting points, but every RV is different, and every lifestyle is different. Perhaps you are a solo traveler or maybe you have a cohort with you to assist. Determining all the things that need to be completed before takeoff is key so you don’t make a costly mistake.
Are the antennas down? Did you get your surge protector from the power box? Did you ensure the landing jacks are fully retracted? Build and refine your checklist until you are confident in your setup and teardown to ensure your financial and physical safety.
Are you following the 3/3/3 rv travel rule? Check out how the 3/3/3 rule will help save your travel day!
MISTAKE: Not Planning Your Route
There are wonderful tools available, such as RV LIFE Pro, that allow you to map your origin to your destination. These tools allow you to put in your rig’s height and weight to ensure that you don’t scrape the air conditioners and antennas off your rig or risk driving over bridges that are not rated for your weight.
If you are driving a Class B van, you’re likely not going to have any issues, but for the rest of us, height and weight matter! Part of this mistake is not even knowing the height and weight of your RV. Learn these numbers!
If you plan to drive in Canada, know these numbers in meters and kilograms as well. It has been often suggested to put them on a sticky note inside your windshield to ensure the data is always available to you at a glance.
MISTAKE: Choosing the Wrong Tow Vehicle
Our budgets are all different, but ensuring you have the right vehicle with the right capabilities to tow your rig will reduce accident potential, vehicle breakdown, and increase overall safety and peace of mind. While it is better to “go big or go home”, having a vehicle that is too large will result in wasted fuel and higher maintenance costs. Check the manufacturer specs on your tow vehicle to ensure you understand bumper pull and pin weights. It can be daunting but it’s worth the time you invest to become an expert.
If you’re planning to pull a vehicle with your Class A or Class C motorhome, understand what allowed weights are for your rig. Also, know the toad. Can it be flat towed? How do you disengage the transmission? Do you require a tow dolly? How will this impact parking in the types of campgrounds you plan to visit?
If you don't want to upgrade your vehicle, here's a list of great lightweight trailers that you can most likely pull with your current vehicle.
MISTAKE: Not maintaining your RV service and repairs properly
If you want your rig and vehicles to last longer, don’t skip the maintenance. A little graphite in the locks, regular oil changes, checking the torque on the lug nuts, inspecting the suspension, repacking bearings–all these things go a long way to ensure your safety and the longevity of your home on wheels.
Both your RV and vehicle owner’s manuals should contain lists of suggested maintenance items. Some of these you can do yourself, others will require a planned trip to the dealer or engaging a mobile RV tech.
We’ll admit, we may not wash the rig as often as we’d like, but we do remember to use manufacturer-approved lubrication on the slides and seals, check our rig and tow vehicle air pressure before every trip, and stay registered with the manufacturers for recall notices.
Don't know what questions to ask your RV technician? Here’s what you need to know before you let someone work on your RV.