Towing a caravan or camper trailer, driving a motorhome, or being behind the wheel of any other recreational vehicle can be tricky enough as it is. Throw in wet roads and you have an even bigger challenge.
There is no doubt that extra care is required when driving an RV in the rain but there’s more to it than that. It requires the right preparation and mindset.
To help you have a smooth ride, we have these crucial tips to ensure you don’t fret when it’s wet. Because you never know when the clouds might burst open…
Time spent on preparation never goes astray. Ensuring that the RV is waterproof should be a high priority. An RV that keeps out the water when standing still may well let rain in when it is assisted by high wind pressure while out on the road.
The average caravan, camper trailer, or motorhome should not be considered as being suitable for travel along flooded roads or through creek beds when the water level has risen. A few manufacturers make special off-road units that have features like increased ground clearance that are designed to cope with these conditions. In some cases, modifications may be able to be carried out on existing touring caravans, but advice from experts is needed.
When having your RV serviced, it is a good idea to tell the business owner where you intend to go and asking if any items need special attention. Checking the condition of sealants on older caravans is highly recommended.
Never leave home without first checking the road or likely weather conditions, particularly if venturing in to unfamiliar territory. During the ‘wet’ season and when rain is likely to fall, a dry road or track can become treacherous very quickly. Where possible, consult locals or check with someone who has travelled in the opposite direction.
In regard to safety, by far the most important components are the tyres. Contrary to popular belief, the tyre tread does not provide grip or traction – not unless you are driving a tractor that is. The sole purpose of the tyre tread is to remove water from the road so that the tyre itself has contact with the road surface. So the greater the depth of tread, the more water can be removed.
Tyre experts suggest that there should be a minimum of 1.5mm of tread depth. Many tyres have tread depth indicator bars that show up once the tyre reaches its minimum depth. Ask a tyre specialist to point these out to you.
Correct inflation pressures are also important. The car’s tyre placard will show the recommended tyre pressures for maximum load conditions.
Accurate tyre pressures for the caravan or trailer can only be determined after weighing the unit. A tyre dealer should be able to assist in determining the most suitable pressures for the load carried. It is not necessary to deflate tyres just because the road is wet.
When it is raining or there is a likelihood of water over the road, travelling slower is a must. Slower driving reduces the chance of aquaplaning and makes it easier to maintain control. While driving with the headlights on is recommended, make sure that the headlights are switched to low beam.
Avoid sudden braking or change of direction. All actions should be gradual and smooth. While engine power is being applied it is easier to maintain control over the car/trailer combination. On slippery surfaces, applying the brakes can cause loss of control. Avoid braking while negotiating a corner or turn.
Any puddles should be considered as potential danger. Where possible, drive around these or straddle them. You never know how deep the hole might be.
When it comes to creek crossings or deep floodways, always stop and check out the depth. Sometimes there are roadside depth markers. Alternatively, wait for another vehicle to go through so as to establish the depth. If in doubt as to whether to proceed, walk through the crossing to check the depth and look for snags or areas that may be washed away. Do not drive through if there is strong water flow.
Do you have any tips for driving an RV in wet weather? Please leave a comment below.
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This article first appeared on The Caravan & Camping Industries Association of South Australia Inc website under the headline 'RVs and the wet season'.