Knowing what to do before driving, while driving, and after driving your RV in winter weather and snowstorms may save you from a terrible accident. Winter weather and snowstorms are harsh conditions an RV driver should really take into consideration. Driving your Recreational Vehicle or RVs is significantly different from driving your car, and most certainly preparing your RV for winter weather is different from how you prepare your vehicle for the same weather conditions.
What are the travel tips an RV driver should know in driving over winter weather? An RV driver should:
- winterize your RV
- use snow chains
- buy freeze-resistant wiper fluids
- check your tires
- find possible places to camp
- prepare food and water
- drive with extra caution
In this article, we will discuss how to prepare yourself and your RV before you even begin your snowy journey, the tips you should remember while driving an RV in winter weather, and the proper storage of your RV in preparation for your next travel destination. You will also learn the importance of investing in snow chains and whether or not you can tow trailers in snow.
Preparing For Your Winter Travel
Before you even start your trip, you should prepare not only yourself but your RV. Preparation is critical to avoid accidents, inconveniences, and unnecessary expenses. Minimizing the possibility of having problems on your snowy trip before you even begin is very important. Practice having a checklist before you start traveling in snowy conditions with your RV.
Driving an RV is different from driving your ordinary car
Your RV is bigger, heavier, slower, and less maneuverable than your ordinary car. As such, you need to understand that you are driving a miniature house with you. Being extra careful will not only save you and your passenger’s lives but also those around you.
All the more, you should take extra caution when driving an RV in snow or sometimes, even in ice. Due to the less maneuverability of an RV, you should be extra careful in pumping your brakes as your tires might slide across the ice. Visibility is also an issue when driving in snowy conditions, especially through a blizzard or snowstorm.
Know the weather conditions of your destination
Before you even start your journey, you should know beforehand the weather conditions of your destination. During the winter, not all places receive the same amount of snowfall. For instance, the state of Vermont gets the most amount of snowfall, averaging at around 89 inches. By knowing ahead of time that part of your journey passes through Vermont, you get the opportunity to prepare extra food and water, just in case you need to camp overnight.
Avoid as much as possible known roads and highways that are accident-prone. Accident-prone highways become even more dangerous during the winter. By preparing the route you want to traverse, you significantly reduce the probability of getting in an accident.
If you cannot avoid driving through roads with harsh conditions, you might want to invest more in vehicle maintenance. An RV with poor conditioning is not a good thing to operate in cold and icy conditions. You will risk the possibility of being in an accident or worse getting stranded on the road with temperatures dropping to freezing point.
Prepare your RV tires
Be aware of your tires’ condition, and as much as possible, use snow tires or winter tires as they specifically engineered and designed for snow and ice. Snow tires have larger gaps in its treads, compared to your ordinary tires, in order to increase traction. In snowy or ice-covered roads, there is less friction, and thus braking is an issue. That is one of the reasons why you should never drive at high speed during winter because you might not be able to estimate the braking distance between you and the car you are following.
RV tires for snow are also available in the market. These tires are specially made for RVs and are more or less similar to your ordinary snow tires, except that RV tires are bigger. RVs are heavy, and so a big snow tire with a better grip will be very helpful in avoiding accidents. If possible, use snow chains as they provide maximum traction when your RV drives through snowy and icy roads.
Check your low beams and batteries
Your low beams must be functional as it will come conveniently during a snowstorm when visibility is very low. You do not want to regret not replacing a faulty low beam light in the middle of a blizzard with zero visibility. Low beam lights are attached to vehicles for winter fog.
Aside from checking your low beam lights, you should really check your batteries before venturing out into the snow. Having a car battery die out is bad enough in normal conditions, but having one die out when you are in the middle of the road with the freezing cold, and zero visibility may end very badly for you. RV batteries die out very fast, and so you must diligently check your batteries before you even start driving in the winter weather.
There is also a possibility with your RV batteries freezing in the winter weather. To minimize the risk of having your batteries freeze, always check the insulation in and around your battery. In order to be sure, always use 100 % charged batteries as they do not freeze even in the coldest places of the world, such as Alaska and Siberia.
Winterize your RV
It’s not just your RV’s engine and tires you should prepare for the winter, but also the RV itself, specifically the pipelines that supply you water inside the RV. When water freezes into ice, it expands. You do not want to have water in your pipes freeze as it will damage or even break said pipes.
To avoid water freezing in the pipes, you should put Antifreeze in your RVs water system before you start your driving through the winter. The Antifreeze will lower the freezing point of any water-based liquid. So even if the temperature around you drops to the freezing point, the water mixed with Antifreeze won’t.
To properly apply Antifreeze, you must remove your water filters first. Then proceed to drain your black and gray water tanks to remove wastewater. After draining the black and gray water tanks, continue to drain your water heater and water lines. When all water lines and tanks have been drained, open your faucets and add Antifreeze into your RV with the help of a water pump.
Prepare your winter wiper fluids
Winter fog might cloud your windshield when driving through the winter. Usually, you would use your wipers to clean it, but when you use ordinary wiper fluids, such as plain water, it might make things worse as it may freeze.
Luckily, wiper fluids that are winter-resistant are available in the market. These winter-resistant wiper fluids do not easily freeze in cold temperatures making them very important in traveling in winter conditions. So before you drive into the snow, replace your ordinary wiper fluid with winter-resistant ones.
Never forget to bring food as there is a possibility that you may have to camp overnight, especially during severe snowstorms and blizzards. In these conditions, driving is not an option as sometimes visibility is so bad you won’t be able to see anything in front of you.
Aside from food, you might want to bring a few bottles of emergency drinking water. If ever you get stranded, water is the most important thing you need to survive. So you really need to stack up on some water bottles.
You must not forget to winterize yourself too, specifically by wearing appropriate winter attire. You do not want to get stranded on the road with no winter jacket, winter gloves, and winter headcover.
Know the possible places to Camp overnight
During the trip, you might be forced to camp overnight for multiple possible reasons. So before you even get started, identify first places along the road where you could possibly camp overnight. Camping overnight is not a big deal as you are riding an RV; you even have your own heating system. But there are places where you should avoid camping too.
Avoid areas near cliff sides as you might get blown off the side of the mountain. Winds may get strong during blizzards, and so camping near a cliff should never be an option. Also, with the minimal visibility you have, you might accidentally steer into the cliff.
Avoid areas where bears are common. Bears are powerful creatures, and they can definitely break into your RV if they really want to. They have a strong sense of smell, which makes them attracted to your camped RV. You do not want to wake up with a bear knocking at your door.
If possible camp near areas where there are houses. Crimes are everywhere nowadays. Your new and temporary neighbors will come in handy if burglars are trying to break into your RV.
Driving Tips In Winter Weather
After going through your checklist, you have started your trip in winter conditions. You must remember a few things while driving to avoid getting into accidents. Your RV is not your ordinary SUV because it has less maneuverability. To avoid getting into accidents, you get exercise greater caution than when driving an SUV.
The phenomenon called oversteer
Making sharp turns in winter conditions is very dangerous. The sheer weight of your RV is already enough to make it unstable in icy roads. When making sharp turns while at high speed, you run the risk of oversteering.
Oversteering happens when your RV, or any other car, turns more than what you want it to. This is a result of losing grip on your tires as you turn the corner. It is very dangerous as you might skid across the road or, worse, spin and ram over trees.
To avoid oversteering, slow down before you turn the corner. This is to prevent shifting of the weight of the car to its front portion. With RVs, you should be very concerned with oversteering due to its weight and size.
Do not over-accelerate
Avoid jamming into the accelerator when moving from a dead stop. If you over-accelerate, you run the risk of having your massive RV slide and skid across the snow. With the weight and size of an RV, it is hazardous for you and the things around you.
Check your speed
Do not drive at high speeds in winter conditions, especially when driving an RV. Driving an RV is very dangerous. You cannot quickly decelerate due to its weight. By driving at high speed with zero visibility, an RV may cause fatal accidents.
Check for winter road signs
Learn to read winter road signs as they may very well save your life. Important winter road signs inform you if the road is probably icy as some roads build up ice quicker than others. You might want to slow down on icy roads.
There are also road signs that indicate if the road is closed during the winter. By noticing those signs, you avoid the hassle of retracing your steps back. There are also road signs that indicate the necessity of having snow tires and snow chains.
Stay alert for obstacles on the road
You should also be aware that with minimal visibility, there is a possibility that you may not notice obstacles on the road such as boulders, fallen trees, and even animals such as deer. Stay alert for obstacles that may cause accidents.
Advanced Preparation For Your Next Travel
After driving your RV in winter conditions, you must learn the proper ways to park your RV. If possible, park your RV inside a garage where it will be protected from the harsh winter conditions. If you must park it outside, cover it with a winter cover to protect it not only from the heavy snow that might pile over it but also from car theft.
It may sound crazy, but cat litters are used by many to avoid moisture from developing inside their vehicles, including RVs. The moisture build-up may cause foggy windows, and worst of all, molds. Due to the lack of ventilation when your RV is parked, molds tend to grow inside. You surely do not want those in your RV.
Drain your wastewater tanks frequently as they can freeze overnight. As already discussed, water freezing will destroy the water tanks and pipelines. To avoid damaging your RV, always drain them after driving it.
Investing in Snow Chains
Consider investing in snow chains as they come in handy during the winter season, especially for your RV. The snow chains increase friction with the road, which is very important to your massive RV that might come skidding across the snow.
Snow chains are not even that expensive. The price ranges from $50 to $100 per set. However, they are not supposed to be left in your tires throughout the winter. Snow chains are to be used only in deep snow and ice. Using it in shallow ice or on direct concrete will damage your tires.
In summary, we have learned that there are things to prepare before you even start your winter RV trip. Even when you have adequately prepared for your trip, accidents may still happen if you are careful or by just not knowing the basics of driving an RV in winter conditions. There is no stopping people from driving their RVs in snow and ice. So there is a necessity to learn things that may very well save your life, the life of others, and your RV.