RV Weight And Towing Masterclass – What You Need To Know


In this article we’re going to be talking about RV weight. And how to know what your RV should weigh.

Now I know that there’s some folks that just go and buy an RV. And when they do, they buy it, and off they go to enjoy their RVing adventures.

But if you do that, the problem is that you’re not giving consideration to your RV’s weight. Or in other words, how much your RV should weigh safely.

And without knowing that information, you could be putting yourself and your loved ones at serious risk. And nobody wants to do that.

So in this article we’re going to discuss RV weight ratings. And help explain them so that you can make sure that you’re RVing safely.

RV Weight – Why It’s So Important

You know, with RV’s, sooner or later it all comes back to weight. It’s so true!

It simply means that the bigger your RV is. The wider it is. The more luxuries and amenities that you’re carrying along. Well then, the bigger engine you must have to move that weight down the road.

But it doesn’t stop there! You have to have a bigger transmission. And you have to have a beefier suspension. You also have to have bigger brakes, etc.

Now some folks assume that if the engine can move it all down the road, then everything is fine. But that’s not the case.

This is because with too much weight, your transmission could easily break. With too much weight, you could be going down the road, but you can’t stop that RV in a safe distance.

And with too much weight maybe the suspension breaks down. It could affect your tires too. Because too much weight on the tires will cause them to run hot. And they could even blow out.

So you can see where I’m going with this. Weight is very important when it comes to RVs.

RV Weight Ratings – Why We Need Them

And that’s why RV manufacturers do their best to help us out. They publish a list of weight ratings for each RV.

And there’s a spot somewhere on every RV that tells you what the RV weight ratings are for that particular RV.

As long as you stay within those weight ratings, you’re fine. You’re operating the RV the way it was designed and in a safe manner.

But some folks kind of get scared about these weight ratings. The truth is though, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know about how weight ratings work.

There’s really only a few things that you need to know about to be able to travel safely.

And what we’re going to do in this article is identify those weight ratings first. Then I’ll explain them, so you can understand them.

And that way you can use them correctly as you go down the road with your RV.

So let’s get started. First of all, I’ll explain what the weight ratings are for RV’s and what they mean.

RV Weight Rating #1 – GVWR

So let’s identify our first weight rating that we want to talk about. And that is the GVWR.

It stands for “gross vehicle weight rating”. Now what does that mean?

Well here’s the sort of everyday definition. It’s the most that a vehicle can safely weigh while traveling down the road. So what does that mean?

Well it means that it includes the total weight of any vehicle that’s on the road. And that includes the driver, the passengers, cargo, fuel, and any accessories that you’ve added to that vehicle.

Whatever that vehicle weighs with everything in it and on it, it cannot exceed the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

That’s the maximum weight that you can safely propel down the highway with that vehicle.

RV Weight Rating #2 – GAWR

Now let’s go to the second weight rating. And that is the GAWR. It stands for “gross axle weight rating”.

And the everyday definition is that it’s the most weight that any one axle can support while traveling down the road. Now why is that important?

Well, you may have your total weight under the GVWR. But that weight may be distributed in an uneven way. So one axle may have way too much weight on it and it can’t safely support that weight.

So then, using these two weight ratings together helps us understand whether the weight is under the safe limit. But also whether it’s distributed and proportioned correctly.

Now using these two weight ratings, let’s actually see it at work on a vehicle.

An Example Of How To Use Weight Ratings

Now to illustrate how these weight ratings actually work, we’re going to use the example of our little towed vehicle. Our 2011 CRV.

If you open the driver’s door and you look inside on the pillar you’re going to see a label right there. Like this:

A typical label for vehicle weight information
The Vehicle Weight Information Label For Our CRV

And that label is very common to almost all passenger vehicles. You’re usually going to see a label of some kind somewhere around the front door.

When you look at the label right at the top, you are going to see the vehicle’s GVWR. That’s the most that vehicle should safely weigh.

Then you also have GAWR for the front axle and you have GAWR for the rear axle. And they tell you what the RV weight rating should be on each axle.

Now they they usually have the weight listed in kilograms. But of course, we use pounds. So the GVWR for my little CRV is 4560 pounds.

That’s the most that it should weigh going down the road. And the front axle at most should have 2310 pounds on it. The rear axle at most should have 2290 pounds on it. Now let’s see that in action on the car itself.

Let’s Put It All Together

Our towed vehicle - Honda CRV

Here’s a side picture of my little CRV. So the total that vehicle weighs as it travels down the road is the GVWR. And it should not be more than 4580 pounds.

But then we break it out to the front axle and the rear axle too. And the rear axle should never have more than 2 290 pounds, the front axle never more than 2310 pounds.

Now suppose that I am within the GVWR and each axle rating as well. Then I am operating this vehicle the way that it was designed by the manufacturer. And in a safe manner as I’m going down the road.

So that’s how these weight ratings work. Now the important point to understand here is that this principle applies to all vehicles going down the road.

So if you have a motorhome, then the motorhome has to conform to the same guidelines. It has a GVWR, a total weight limit. It also has limits on each axle, the GAWR.

You need to find both of those weight ratings and work with them to make sure that you’re operating them safely.

RV Weight Ratings

Well that’s a close look at GVWR and GAWR for RVs and what they mean. Let’s see how we can use those weight ratings in real life.

First of all, suppose you have a motorhome that doesn’t tow a vehicle behind it. Then GVWR and GAWR may be the only weight ratings that you really need to know about.

For instance, suppose you have a Class B motorhome or a small Class C. They’re both small enough that a lot of RVers just use them for their around town vehicle too.

And it would work fine for that. So there’s no need for a towed vehicle at that point. And really the only weight ratings that you need to focus on in that case are the ones for the motorhome itself.

Once again, you find the RV weight ratings on the label inside your RV first.

Now how do you find out though, how much that motorhome or your RV actually weighs? Well that’s a fairly simple process.

How To Find Out What Your RV Weighs

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you take your RV and put everything in it. All the stuff that you’re going to use going down the highway.

For instance, you need to make sure you have the passengers in it that you will be taking with you.

You also need to have a full tank of fuel. And make sure you have a full tank of propane too.

Also include whatever fresh water or wastewater that you feel you’ll normally have traveling down the road.

Then make sure you’ve got all the cargo that you’re going to be taking with you too. In other words, everything that normally would be with you as you’re going down the highway.

Once you have the RV outfitted that way, now you need to take it to a scale to have that RV weighed. That way you know whether you’re within the stated weight ratings of that RV or not.

How To Find A Scale For Your RV

Now I personally like to use CAT Scales to do that. CAT Scale is a company that produces weight scales mainly for truckers to use.

You know, truckers really have to know what’s going on with their vehicle weight. And they’re checked very often to make sure they’re not overweight.

So CAT Scale places these heavy duty scales all across the country. And there’s a lot of them.

It’s kind of rare if you don’t have one within driving distance to where you are. But you can use their scales to also weigh your RV to compare with your RV weight ratings.

But now how do you find a CAT Scale? Well the good news is the company has a website that you can use to do that. And it’s called catscale.com.

How To Use The CAT Scale Locator

So here is how you can use their website to find a scale that’s close to you. On catscale.com all you need to do is go up to the top menu and there you will find the CAT scale locator.

Press that and you will come up with the locator page. As you go down the page, first of all there’s a section there where you can enter in where you’re located. And it’ll pull up however many scale locations that are in that area.

So you can do it that way. Or you could also go a little farther down the page. And there you’ve got a map of all the CAT Scales in the country.

Then you can zoom in anywhere you want and find where the CAT scales are that are nearby. By using their website, you should be able to find something that’s usable around the area where you are.

So that’s how you can use catscale.com to find a scale that’s close to you.

RV Weight – Weighing Your RV

Now you’ll find that many of these scales are at large truck centers. At places like Loves, TA’s, Petros and Flying J’s. And the first time you pull in there you might feel kind of intimidated.

You’re there with the big rigs all around you and it is intimidating. You may even question whether you even belong back there at that scale with them. Let me assure you though, you do belong.

The truth is they will weigh anything, as long as they get paid for it. So here’s what I normally do before I get on the scale.

I’ll usually go inside to the counter first. And I’ll tell the person there that I have an RV and that I’ll be weighing it. That way they understand what I’m doing.

Then I get in line for the scale. Or sometimes you can just pull right on it. And once you’re there, very often you’ll find that you can communicate with the counter inside through a speaker.

They’ll tell you when they’re about to weigh so you know what they’re doing. And then when they’re done, they’ll tell you they’re done so you can pull off.

Afterwards, just go find an area to park. Then go inside, get your report, and now you know your list of actual weights. And you can compare that with the weight ratings for your RV.

That report will tell you what your total weight is, what the weight is on each axle, and so on. Then you will have a complete understanding of what’s going down the road with you in your RV.

RV Weight – What If Your RV Weighs Too Much?

Now let’s suppose that you get your information from the scale. And you find out that you’re overweight.

Maybe your GVWR weight has exceeded the weight rating for your RV. So you’ve actually got more weight than you should in the RV. What do you do?

Well there’s only one thing to do. You’ve got to find ways to economize on the weight. And usually that’s in your cargo.

So you might just need to start pulling out some cargo. Some things that you really wanted to take with you, you might want to keep them.

But maybe there’s some things that you could do without. Then you need to start moving those out of the RV. And get that weight down under the GVWR rating for sure.

RV Weight – What If An Axle Is Overloaded?

Now suppose though, you find out that you’re under the weight rating for the GVWR. But you’re overweight on an axle. So one of the axles has too much weight on it.

Well that’s another matter to address. And that means you need to reposition some of the weight in your RV.

Maybe the way that you pack your cargo needs to be rethought out. And repositioned so that axle doesn’t have too much weight on it.

You can position it so that you distribute the RV weight a little bit more evenly. Now you would never have known that if you hadn’t gone on that scale and gotten the information.

But once you do, you can make the adjustments needed to make sure that you’re going down the highway safely.

RV Weight – How About Towing?

Now suppose you tow another vehicle with your RV though. For instance, suppose you have a motorhome that has a little towed vehicle behind it.

Or suppose you have a travel trailer or a fifth wheel. And you have a tow vehicle that pulls it. Now what do you do with the weight ratings? Because you’ve got two vehicles involved now!

Well, let’s talk about that subject. And how to use the weight ratings that that you’re given for your RV and whatever other vehicle is involved.

That way you will be able to to know what you can tow safely using the correct vehicle weight ratings.

Now to do that I’ll give you a little hint. We’re going to add another weight rating beyond the ones we have already discussed.

So far we’ve talked about GVWR and GAWR. But we’re going to add another one called GCWR. And that means “gross combined weight rating”.

It’s one that a lot of folks kind of forget about in this whole process. And therefore they’re not actually driving safely.

Misinformation About RV Weight And Towing

Now the first thing I want to talk about at this point is that I know the way a lot of people get their information on towing. And that is that they just ask their salesperson or the dealer that they’re buying the RV from.

So the dealer salesperson tells them what they need to tow or what they need to be able to tow their RV.

And then they go out and they get that. But you know I really don’t think that’s the best source of information for towing. Why?

Because the internet is filled with stories on RV forums and also in social media about folks that did that. And then they were very sorry because the tow setup that they got just really didn’t work correctly.

So that’s not the best way to do it. But why is it not the best? Well, the RV salesperson or dealer really has one major thing in mind. And that is selling you an RV.

So naturally they’re going to be way too optimistic about how easy it is to get something to tow. Or to get something to tow it with.

Therefore that’s really not your best source of information. Instead, what we’re going to talk about in this article is completely different.

RV Weight Rating #3 – GCWR

And that is how you should know just a few weight ratings that are established by the manufacturers of RVs. Or of vehicles that are towed by them or tow them.

Then with those weight ratings you can easily figure out what you need to know about how much you can tow in your RV travels.

Now so far we have covered how to make sure that your RV itself is not overweight. And really we covered two weight ratings up to now.

That’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). And then GAWR, which is (gross axle weight rating). And just using those two weight ratings alone you can make sure that your RV itself is not overweight.

But now we’re going to add another vehicle into the mix. So here is where we need a little bit more information.

And there’s two more pieces of information that you need to know about here. Then you can pretty much figure out what you need to tow with almost any rig.

So let’s go ahead and add one more weight rating that you need to know. It is GCWR. Or (gross combined weight rating).

How Can GCWR Help Us?

The real world definition is that it’s the most both vehicles can weigh in total while they’re going down the road.

So what it simply means is that first you take the GVWR, of the RV itself. Then add that to the GVWR of the towed vehicle.

And when you do, it should never exceed the maximum limit established by the GCWR. So using these three weight ratings you can really keep things under control.

You know where your limits are for RV weight as you’re towing. All right, so let’s see these weight ratings in action.

An Example Of Using Weight Ratings For Towing

We’ll use a couple of examples to explain it in action. And the first one is our own rig here:

Using RV Weight Ratings on our whole rig
Using RV Weight Ratings On Our Own Rig

As you can see in the this picture, we’re parked at a rest stop. And it’s actually a very good place to make this explanation of weight ratings.

That’s because the whole motorhome here must have a weight that is under the limit that’s set by the GVWR. It can’t go over that weight limit.

So everything in my motorhome. Us, our cargo, our fuel, our water tanks, everything, cannot exceed the limit established by the RV’s GVWR.

But then I’ve also got a limit that’s established for my towed vehicle, the Honda CRV. So it’s got a GVWR too.

And all of the weight that it carries cannot exceed the limit set by the GVWR for that vehicle too.

But now there are four axles in this rig. There’s two on the CRV. But there’s also two on the motorhome.

And they have their own weight rating limit as well. That you can have for weight on each individual axle.

RV Weight – How To Use GCWR For Towing

But now let’s take the the total GVWR of the motorhome. That is, the limit of the weight that could be in it. And the limit of the weight for the CRV, or it’s GVWR.

Now, let’s add these two together. Then we see how it compares with the GCWR, or the combined weight rating of these vehicles.

In other words, if I add the maximum weight for the CRV to the maximum weight for the motorhome. And together they’re under the limit of the GCWR, then I’m doing fine.

So this is very important to understand. Because this is how you can establish that you are towing safely.

One More Important RV Weight To Consider

However, we still have one more thing we have to consider. And that is the hitch or pin weight where the two vehicles are connected. Because the CRV is attached to the back of the motorhome.

So there is some weight being transferred to the back of the motorhome by the tow bar.

Now there is some good news on motorhomes here. Suppose you’re towing a little towed vehicle behind your motorhome, like my CRV.

With a tow bar, all four wheels are down on the ground for the CRV. So there’s not very much weight being transferred to the motorhome by the tow bar.

Indeed the car is taking the vast majority of it’s own weight. So there’s not much here for hitch weight that you have to worry about.

But there is some transfer. And that transfer will contribute toward the total weight, or the GVWR, in the motorhome.

It could also have some influence on the motorhome’s rear axle too. Because the hitch is on the back of the motorhome.

So any downward pressure on the back of the RV transfers weight onto the rear axle of the RV.

All right, so this is the first example. This is a situation where you have a motorhome that’s pulling a towed vehicle.

What About Using Weight Ratings For Towable RVs?

But now we’re going to look at a different example here for a towable RV. And the next example involves our good friends Mark and Julie Bennet from RVLove. And maybe some of you recognize them.

Now there’s a good reason why I asked them if I could use their example in this article.

That’s because they’ve had to take the weight ratings that we covered today and adjust them somewhat. From a motorhome pulling a vehicle to a vehicle pulling a towable RV.

Now normally for the last few years they’ve had a large motorhome that pulls a smaller vehicle. It’s a car, like we have. But now here you can see they’re doing just the opposite.

Using weight ratings on the Bennet's rig
Using RV Weight Ratings On The Bennet’s Towable Rig

Now they have a small travel trailer. And it’s being pulled by the vehicle that was previously being pulled by their motorhome.

So they had to work things out to make sure that they are towing safely. With that in mind, let’s go over their rig’s RV weight and see what we can learn from it.

Using RV Weight Ratings On The Bennet’s Rig

First, they had to make sure that they knew the weight of their Jeep Cherokee. And that’s with everything in it, including them and any cargo and a full tank of gas.

And all of that could not go over the limit established by the Cherokee’s GVWR. Remember, that’s the top limit of the weight that is allowed for their Cherokee.

They also needed to do the same thing with their travel trailer with everything in it. All the cargo, all of their water and waste tanks, and all of that going down the road.

They had to be sure it didn’t exceed the limit of the weight established for its GVWR.

But now they also needed to make sure of one more important thing. That the axle on their travel trailer didn’t have too much weight on it either. And the same thing for the axles on their tow vehicle, the Jeep Cherokee.

Then they needed to add the GVWR for their Cherokee to the GVWR for their travel trailer. And make sure that putting those two figures together did not exceed the GCWR for the whole rig.

But now here is where things get much more important to watch with towables. Because the hitch weight comes into play here very significantly.

Applying The Hitch Weight Correctly

Remember, that each travel trailer applies some downward pressure to the hitch on the back of the tow vehicle. Now where does that weight transfer? To two places.

It will now be included in the total weight of the Jeep Cherokee. So it’s got to be considered in the amount that cannot exceed its GVWR.

But it also has to be added to the rear axle of the Cherokee too. Since all of this weight is going on the vehicle’s rear, it’s going to affect the rear axle.

So whatever weight it contributes to the rear axle, it cannot exceed the limit of weight the rear axle can carry. Or its GAWR.

Now suppose their tow vehicle here, the Cherokee, is all within specs with these weight ratings. Also, suppose the trailer is all within specs of its weight ratings too.

And the two together are under the GCWR for combined weight rating. Finally, the hitch also has not put too much weight on the tow vehicle or its rear axle either.

If this is all true, then they are all set for towing happily down the highway.

A Little Review About RV Weight Ratings

Now let’s kind of cover this information again just briefly as a review. And it’s as simple as this.

You need to weigh each vehicle in the rig. Then make sure that the weight of each one is under its GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).

Then put the two weights together. And make sure that they are under the GCWR (gross combined weight rating).

Then make sure each axle in the rig is not overloaded as well (GAWR). And there you have it. You’re ready to go!

Don’t Listen To RV Weight Misinformation

Now let me address one other point here. And that is that I often see people try to skirt around vehicle weight ratings. Since it probably seems too difficult for them.

In fact, I see RVers on forums actually get on there and brag to no end about hauling some really heavy weight with a smaller truck.

And they talk about how they soup up their engine a little bit to give it more power.

Then they talk about how they they beefed up their suspension too. And then by doing all that, they say they’re all set to go. My friends don’t fall for that!

How RV Weight Ratings Are Established

It’s just not the way to do things. You’ve got to understand these vehicle weight ratings are established by the manufacturers. The designers of these vehicles. And under very strict guidelines I might add.

Now when they establish the vehicle weight ratings it’s really based on a lot of things. It’s not just engine size or suspension. In fact there’s many things that go into it.

For instance, the engine, the transmission, and the braking components are very important. And yes, the suspension too. But also tires. And even things like the size of the radiator and so on.

So many things are taken into consideration here with the vehicle weight ratings by the manufacturer.

Therefore, be sure that you know and follow the weight ratings for your particular rig. And how do you do that?

Well you need to weigh the rig. You need to make sure that you weigh each vehicle in your rig. You know, the RV and the tow or towed vehicle.

How To Find Out Your RV Hitch Weight

And if a hitch is involved, you need to find out how much that hitch weight is. So how do you do that?

Well on Amazon, there are hitch scales that you could use that will tell you the weight of the hitch. But you know, most people actually do it a little different way. And it works as well.

You just simply need to know something about towable manufacturers. And that is that they design their products to be balanced the right way.

So with travel trailers, generally speaking, they try to design them so that the hitch is providing no more than about 10 to 15 percent of the total weight of the RV on the hitch. For fifth wheels it goes up closer to 20 percent.

But you know what I would do? I recommend contacting the manufacturer and just give them a call. They’ll be happy to answer the question about your RV’s hitch weight for you.

Because they want you to safely tow their product down the highway. So just ask them how have they designed their particular travel trailer or fifth wheel to have the weight on the hitch?

How much percentage should you use? And using that information, you can get very close to the actual hitch weight.

Now suppose both of the vehicles in the rig are under their GVWR ratings. And the whole rig is under the GCWR rating.

Also suppose the hitch weight does not bring it over any axle ratings. Then you’re really good to go at that point in most cases.

An Important Warning To Consider

Now one other point I want to mention. Try not to get all the way up to the limit on your RV weight ratings.

Leave yourself a little head room if you can. And why do I recommend that?

Because RVers have a habit of bringing things into the RV as we travel. You know we buy this, we buy that, and we’re bringing new things in.

And we’re not even thinking about the weight of these items as they come in. Little by little all those things accumulate. And their weight keeps accumulating as well.

Before you know it, if you started right at the limit of your weight ratings to begin with, well it’s not going to be hard to go over them very quickly.

So try to leave yourself a little bit of head room there to work with on your RV weight ratings. Because you’re probably going to be accumulating some weight as you go along.

Now where do you weigh all of this? Where do you get the information you need? Well, once again, I think CAT scales are very useful in this.

You can use pretty much any kind of heavy duty truck scale, but I find CAT scales work really well. And to find one that’s near you just visit catscale.com. And follow the directions I mentioned above for using a CAT scale.

Conclusion

Now I’ve tried to make this as understandable and clear as I can. And there is a reason for all of this RV weight information I’ve covered here.

It’s because I get the feeling that a lot of people don’t look into these weight ratings very deeply. Maybe because they feel overwhelmed by them.

And I visit a lot of RV websites that discuss towing. Mainly they’re covering all kinds of acronyms, not just the vehicle weight ratings.

They often go into every kind of acronym you can imagine. And honestly that’s just complicating things unnecessarily.

But you just need to understand the few RV weight ratings explained in this article. And then make sure that you work within their guidelines.

If you do, then you’re pretty much all set for towing. So I hope what I’ve showed you in this article has been beneficial and helpful for you.

That’s it for now. Have safe and happy travels my friends … until next time.

RV Safety Tips And Information That Could Save Your Life

In this article we’re going to be talking about a very important subject. And that is RV safety tips.

And we’ll cover items and procedures that can save your life.

Now I know that there’s a lot of folks that are a little hesitant to talk about safety issues.

Either it kind of bores them or they may feel a little uncomfortable talking about things that could possibly happen.

But as RV inspectors, it’s amazing how often RV safety items are not getting the attention that they deserve.

Maybe the owner is taking care of all the other items that are mechanical. Or maybe they are maintaining all of the RV appliances.

But very often they are not thinking about the safety items in the RV. And that’s really not a good thing to do.

Watch my video about RV safety tips by clicking here

Why Talking About RV Safety Is Important

You know, most of my articles and videos are usually about how to save money with RVing.

Or how to make your time spent RVing more enjoyable and that kind of thing.

But this article’s information is some of the most important that I can share with you.

And that’s because I’m really not going to be talking about saving money in this article. Instead, I’m going to be talking about saving lives.

So this is very, very important information to consider.

RV Safety Hazards When RVing

Now there’s several things that could become issues that can arise around an RV. And the first that could become very hazardous is fire!

I mean that could happen anywhere, almost wherever we go in an RV.

But you also have to be careful about inhaling too much LP or propane. That’s because propane is a big part of RV living for the most part.

You also need to be concerned about inhaling too much carbon monoxide as well.

Carbon monoxide is formed whenever there’s combustion of any kind of fuel.

And because there’s usually a few different kinds of fuels on an RV, there is the possibility of that being an issue.

Also there’s the whole subject of road safety. As you know going down the road, there’s the possibility of a tire blow out.

And that could cause a loss of control or you could get in an accident, things along that line.

So clearly there are hazards that we need to be aware of and that we need to prepare for.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. Ways to prepare so that we don’t get into a major issue and problem.

Or if a major incident does unfortunately develop, we know exactly how to handle it when it happens.

RV Safety Tips #1 – Smoke Detectors

Now the first thing we want to talk about is fire safety. And with fire safety, the first line of defense really is your smoke detectors.

So, along that line many wonder how many should you have?

Well for us, we have a 40-foot motorhome and I’m not comfortable with just one. We have one in the front and one in the back.

There is one important thing to note here. And that is no matter how many you have, you need to make sure that they’re not only there.

But you’ve also got to make sure they’re actually working and functioning.

To do that there’s usually a test button on it somewhere. So when you press the test button, you are making sure that the power is available for that smoke detector to actually work.

Now if it does not test as working, usually it’s just a battery or maybe a couple of batteries.

And if they need to be replaced, replace them right away!

Smoke detectors do no good if they don’t have the power to actually be able to function.

Now the other thing is, you need to make sure that smoke detectors are not out of date.

And it’s generally recognized that there’s a 10-year life span for most smoke detectors.

However, make sure that you consult the manufacturer for the ones that you have and follow their directions.

Generally speaking, in most cases it’ll be about a 10 year life span. And if they’re beyond that, don’t take the chance, just get rid of them.

Get some new ones. They’re not that expensive anyway, and once again, it’s really about saving your life.

RV Safety Tips #2 – Fire Extinguishers

Now the next line of defense on fire safety is fire extinguishers. If a fire breaks out, you want to be able to curtail it as quickly as possible.

The number one place to have a fire extinguisher is right by the entry door to the RV.

And that’s where you’ll notice almost all manufacturers put them, right by that front door. Why?

Well because that enables you to use the fire extinguisher both inside and outside. It’s quickly accessed for either place.

But now once again, if you have a bigger RV, you may consider having more than just one.

For instance, we have three fire extinguishers in our RV. There’s one by the front door and we have one in the very back closet too.

But we also have one right in the middle of the RV underneath the sink.

The point is to make sure you have a fire extinguisher that’s easily available to you.

And that you can access it within just a few steps from anywhere you may be in the RV.

But, as with smoke detectors, you need to make sure that these fire extinguishers are not out of date.

Generally speaking, most fire extinguishers are out of date after 12 years.

However, once again, make sure that you follow the manufacturer guidelines on that extinguisher. And if it needs replacing, replace it immediately! Again, lives are at stake!

RV Safety Tips #3 – Exit Windows

Now there is a third point we want to make about fire safety. And this is one that I see a lot of folks do not follow.

They may be good about smoke alarms and great about fire extinguishers. But they don’t know where their exit windows are in the RV.

You know we all generally think, if a fire happens I’ll just run out the door. But what if there’s a fire by the door?

Well that makes things a lot more difficult. So manufacturers of RVs usually place an exit window somewhere.

This is a window that is easily removed. And one where it’s big enough that you can actually get out of your RV.

For us, in our RV, we have two of them. So, you need to know where they are. How do you do that?

They’re very often actually labeled and say “exit window” on them.

Or another dead giveaway is red levers on that window. If you see red levers where you pull them to push the window out, that’s usually where your exit window is.

So know where they are! And make sure everyone who’s going to be traveling with you in your RV knows where they are as well.

Again, it could really save a life!

RV Safety Tips #4 – LP Detectors

All right, let’s move along now from fire safety to LP or propane safety.

The RV manufacturers usually put an LP detector on every single RV out there.

You’ll find them usually kind of low to the ground in the RV. The reason for that is because propane often stays low to the ground.

And since it stays in a lower area, they put it down closer to the floor. Usually it’s on a wall or maybe a cabinet.

But it’s often going to be within about a foot or two from the floor. And when you find it, once again there’s a test button.

Usually that test button allows you to make sure that the detector has power, and it’s actually able to function.

If it’s functioning, the next step is to take the screws off. There’s usually one on each side of the detector.

After taking those off, then pull the detector out and look on the back plate.

And what you’re often going to find there is the manufacture date of that detector.

Now this is important because you don’t want one that’s beyond its lifespan.

Typically LP detectors are designed only to last for about five years.

Once again, check the manufacturer guidelines for the one you have. But most are around five years.

If it is beyond its lifespan, take that one out and get another one in there right away.

Is Your LP Detector Actually Detecting LP?

Now there is one more thing to do. So far, you have made sure you’ve got a current LP detector. And you made sure that it’s got power coming into it.

But all of this still doesn’t tell you if it’s actually working . So here is what I do to test a LP detector while I’m inspecting an RV.

It’s a little trick that inspectors like to use to test LP detectors. It helps make sure that they’re actually detecting LP gas like they should.

All you need to do is use a little butane lighter which is a very common thing to purchase.

First you pull the trigger and ignite the flame. After the flame is lit, while still keeping the trigger depressed, blow out the flame.

Now because the trigger is still depressed, there’s a little bit of butane that’s coming out of the end.

All you need to do then, is put the end of the torch down by the sensor of the LP detector.

It’ll still be emitting that little bit of butane. And usually within two to three minutes the detector will pick up on it and it will sound the alarm.

If it does, then you know everything’s working the way it should. Now if it doesn’t, have it examined by a qualified RV technician or just go ahead and replace it.

You don’t want an LP detector that does not detect. So this is a little trick that RV inspectors use to make sure that LP detectors are actually working.

So there you have it for LP safety. Make sure that you’ve got a current detector. And that it has power, and that it is actually detecting LP or propane properly.

RV Safety Tips #5 – Propane Leaks

Now next on our list is that we want to check for LP leaks too. You can forestall a lot of problems if you know that a leak is starting to happen.

So look for wherever there’s some kind of connection for the propane line coming out of the tanks. For instance, maybe going into the hot water heater or the furnace.

Or wherever else you find an LP line that has a connection.

Then get some soapy water that will allow you to be able to test those connections. Or there’s also solutions that are actually sold on Amazon for that purpose.

Now you never want to test those connections with any kind of flame. But what you can do is take that soapy water and spray it on the connection.

Initially you’re going to see some bubbling take place just from the soap that’s in the water. But that’ll fade very quickly.

Then before the water in the soapy solution actually evaporates, look for bubbles.

See if you see any bubbles happening while there’s still solution on there after that initial bubble up.

If you do, there’s a leak there. And that’s something that needs to be addressed right away by a qualified RV technician.

All right, so we’ve covered LP safety. Now let’s move along to talk about carbon monoxide detectors.

Why Carbon Monoxide Is Dangerous In An RV

We mentioned before that carbon monoxide takes place whenever there’s any combustion of fuel.

Well often, especially if you have a motorhome, you’re going to have a few sources of combustion.

Number one, you have your engine. So the engine itself is combusting fuel as it’s moving down the road.

Also, you could have other kinds of things running that could produce carbon monoxide.

You could have carbon monoxide being formed by your generator when it’s running.

Or by the propane that’s being used by your hot water heater or by your furnace.

All of these are things that can create carbon monoxide. And if you aren’t careful, sometimes these items may not be working like they should.

So some carbon monoxide can begin to build up inside in the living area and could be lethal to you.

RV Safety Tips #6 – Carbon Monoxide Detectors

So you need carbon monoxide detectors or “CO detectors” to warn you.

Now in order to do that you’ve got to have enough for the size of your RV. They’re similar to smoke detectors in that respect.

You need to have enough for your RV’s size. And once again, make sure they’re not expired.

When it comes to CO detectors, it’s generally a five year life span. But again, check with the manufacturer of the one that you have and follow their guidelines.

And make sure that you test them to verify that they’re actually working. You want to be sure that they have some kind of power going to them.

And if batteries need to be replaced, go ahead and do that immediately.

With CO detectors and smoke detectors, they need to be RV approved too.

So don’t go down to Home Depot and buy ones that are used in residential homes to put in your RV.

You really need RV approved smoke detectors and CO detectors.

Now sometimes the CO detector will be combined with the LP detector.

But if it’s not in your LP detector, make sure you have a separate CO detector.

RV Safety Tips #7 – Your Tires

So far, we’ve covered a lot of RV safety topics. Now let’s shift gears a little bit to start talking about road safety.

This is an area where I often see more problems than almost anywhere else. There are many RVs on the road not being handled safely.

The first way to make sure that you’re practicing road safety is to take care of your RV tires.

You know, tires are the thing that actually is gripping the ground.

So that’s the one thing that makes your connection with the road. And if something goes wrong with that, well you can easily lose control.

So the first thing you want to know is: what should the tire pressure be for the weight of my RV? That’s number one.

And the manufacturer of your RV tires usually makes a chart for this purpose.

Then you need to make sure that you keep your tires at the correct tire pressure.

And if you have a tire pressure monitoring system, well that makes it pretty easy.

In fact, you can at a glance make sure that the proper tire pressure is in your tires.

But if you don’t have one of those, then make sure that you regularly check that tire pressure manually. And that everything is what it really should be.

RV Tire Age Is Very Important

Now you also don’t want to run on tires that have aged out. And the truth is that RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

In your car, you run your tires so often that they usually wear out before they age out. But not so on RVs.

So there’s a need for you to monitor the age of your tires. How do you do that?

Well on the tire sidewall just look for a four numeral code.

Know your RV tires date code for RV safety tips
A typical RV tire date code

It may be difficult to find sometimes. But if they’re located on the outside of the tire, that’s when it’s easy.

There are other cases when it’s on the inside of the tire because that’s just the way it was mounted.

Now after locating this four digit code, notice the first two digits of that code. This is the week that the tire was manufactured.

The second two digits is the year of its manufacture. And check to see if that year of manufacture date is more than six years old.

Why? Because most tire manufacturers recommend that you replace them at six years of use.

So make sure you know the age of your tires. That way you won’t be driving on tires that have aged out. That could be potentially a very serious safety hazard.

So monitor the age of your tires very, very closely.

RV Safety Tips #8 – Highway Speeds

Now the next point we want to make on road safety is to drive at a safe speed.

I can’t tell you how many times that we’re going down the road and we get passed like we’re standing still.

By RV’s, big RV’s, going 80 to 85 miles an hour and sometimes more. I can tell you that those tires were not made to be traveling at that kind of speed.

So it’s better to slow down a little bit. Most tires for RVs are made to travel somewhere between 60 and 65 miles per hour.

Maybe a little bit more at times, but don’t make a habit out of it.

If you run those tires at the right speed, then heat doesn’t build up excessively in the tire. And that is what often causes a blowout in many cases.

So that’s the number one reason for driving at a reasonable speed. It’ll make sure that your tires have the optimum conditions for traveling.

Keep Your Distance On The Highway

But there’s a second reason that you want to slow down and keep a normal speed. And that is because your RV weighs a lot.

So since RVs have a lot of weight behind them, what happens if you’ve got to stop them quickly?

Well the longer you have to do that, the better the likelihood you will stop safely.

I personally like to have plenty of space between us and the vehicle in front of us.

That way if anything happens, then I can stop that RV as quickly as possible. And without fear of running into something when I do.

So it’s important to make sure that you keep that space between you and the next vehicle.

By the way if you’re traveling at a little bit slower speed that kind of happens automatically. Because people just go around you and pass you and go way ahead.

And that’s great because that gives you plenty of room in case something does happen.

So for road safety make sure that you keep a safe speed. And that you keep those tires in really good condition as you’re traveling down the highway.

Why RV Safety Is So Important

Well my friends, RV safety is just not that exciting until your life is in danger.

And then it becomes very exciting! But the wrong kind of excitement at that point.

That’s the kind of excitement we can all live without, right?

We just don’t want to be in those stressful kinds of situations. And remember you can’t unring that bell when tragedy has already struck.

So the solution is prepare well beforehand. Put safety first!

And that’s the way that very often you can avoid different kinds of bad situations. Or maintain control if they do happen.

Now we don’t want to say that you’ve got to live in fear of RVs. Or worry about traveling in RVs. That’s going a little too far in the other direction.

But what we can say is this. If you practice the safety procedures that we have talked about today.

And if you keep them as part of your regular RV maintenance routine.

Then most likely that will ensure that you can safely enjoy your RVing adventures pretty much anywhere you want to go.

Have safe and happy travels my friends… until next time.

RV Inspectors – What They Do And How You Can Find Them

RV inspectors – increasingly more RVers are realizing the value of these skilled RV experts when its time to buy an RV.

But there is still a lot of confusion about them as well.

What exactly do they do? How do you find them? How much do they charge? When should you hire them?

These are all great questions that need to be answered. The good news is that I am an NRVIA certified RV inspector and I will be happy to explain what you need to know.

RV Inspectors – What Do They Do?

Probably the best way to think of RV inspectors is to think of them as the equivalent of a home inspector.

In other words, buyers often hire the services of a home inspector before they buy a house. And that inspector goes through the house thoroughly and provides a detailed report about its condition.

Many people these days would not even consider purchasing a home without a thorough home inspection beforehand.

Well, an RV inspector does essentially the same thing, only with RVs.

Why RV Inspections Are Complicated

One advantage that home inspectors have is that their subject doesn’t have to move. It’s only for living in as a residence.

But RV inspectors have to be knowledgeable with more than just the living area of an RV. That’s because RVs are mobile and can travel long distances.

So this means that the inspector has to also be familiar with the mobile components of this traveling home as well. Because it is actually a blend of both a house and a vehicle.

In addition to that, it can often have multiple fuel and power sources. And some appliances can run on more than just one source of power.

For instance, a typical RV refrigerator usually needs 12 volt, 120 volt and LP gas lines to function correctly.

So clearly, RV inspections require experts with specialized training and experience.

What Does An RV inspection Cover?

First of all, it’s important to note that RV inspections do not involve repairing any problems that are found.

That is not the function of the inspector. Instead, the inspector focuses on testing and examining all components of the RV. And the goal is to determine whether they are in workable and acceptable condition or not.

To do this, the RV inspector will go over the RV from the roof all the way down to the tires. The inspection will include every major system on the RV.

These include roofing, plumbing, electrical, safety equipment, waste systems, appliances, and much more. It’s really a time-consuming and comprehensive endeavor!

If a problem is found, the inspector will note it and often take a picture of the issue. Then a brief recommendation about how to address the issue is provided.

And this brings us to the RV inspection report. Because that is what communicates the inspector’s findings to the prospective buyer.

The inspection report readability is absolutely critical for the RV buyer. Because it doesn’t matter how much the RV inspector knows about RVs, if that knowledge isn’t communicated clearly.

What To Expect From An RV Inspection

In addition to a written report that is comprehensive and understandable, the inspector should be available for questions afterward.

Most RV buyers aren’t familiar with all of the components of an RV rig. So naturally, they may not understand some of the report information.

That’s why a good inspector makes themselves available to help answer questions on the part of the prospective buyer. It’s best to save this question and answer session until after the inspection is finished though.

That way the RV inspector can focus on the job at hand while involved in the inspection process.

But here are a couple of insights about what questions an RV inspector can’t answer:

  • Don’t expect the inspector to provide an estimate of the cost of repairs for issues found. RV inspectors are not necessarily RV repair technicians or service people. So any estimate they provide could often be inaccurate. But armed with the information in the report, an accurate repair estimate can be ascertained. Just a few phone calls to local RV repair facilities is usually all that’s needed.
  • The other question RV inspectors won’t answer is “Would you buy this RV?” Of course, that is what many prospective RV buyers want to know. But the answer to that question is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what the inspector would decide about the buying decision. What matters is whether the prospective buyer feels the RV is still worth buying after learning its true condition. So please don’t try to shift the buying decision to the RV inspector.

Qualified RV inspectors – How Do You Find Them?

The best way to find a truly qualified RV inspector is to visit NRVIA.org online. The NRVIA is an organization that trains and certifies RV inspectors.

Once an inspector passes their certification process, they can be recommended by the NRVIA for use by the public.

Then the NRVIA tracks the locations of their certified inspectors nationwide. Then all prospective buyers have to do is visit the organization’s website to find a local available inspector.

You can find certified RV inspectors by clicking here

To find an inspector, just click on the link at the top of the page entitled “Locate An Inspector”. On the following page, enter your location and a list of local certified inspectors will be provided.

From there, just contact them and inquire about their availability for the RV inspection. Some may not be available when you inquire. So just expand your search further outward from your location to find one that is available.

In some cases, an RV inspector may not be found easily though. If that is the case, just email the NRVIA or call them at the contact information they provide on their website.

If you explain that you have done all you can to find an inspector, they often can still help further. To do this, they put out a notice to all inspectors in their network for help.

Many RV inspectors are willing to travel since they are RVers too. So they may be willing to come to your location to help out.

What Does An RV Inspection Cost?

I get a lot of questions about how much an RV inspection costs. The answer is that it depends on what the RV inspector chooses to charge for the inspection.

RV inspectors are allowed by the NRVIA to set their own fees and charges. So you may find a fairly wide disparity in what each one charges for an RV inspection.

And there can be quite a bit of difference in how labor and time intensive inspecting different types of RVs can be. For instance, a small travel trailer will not take nearly as much effort to inspect as a 40+ foot diesel pusher motorhome.

Having said all of that, let me provide some general expectations for RV inspection costs.

Larger RVs like big fifth wheels and larger motorhomes can cost on average between $600 – $900 in most cases. Smaller RVs like travel trailers and shorter motorhomes are often less.

You may find an inspector that charges more than the range mentioned above. But you may also find someone who charges less as well.

But there is an important point to keep in mind here. And that is that whatever an RV inspector charges, within reason, will usually save you money in the long run.

That’s because an RV inspection provides a true picture of the condition of the RV you may be considering. And in many cases, the inspection will reveal issues that you would never have known about otherwise.

And very often, the issues found during an RV inspection will give the buyer bargaining power with the seller. So if a repair is found to be needed, you can either ask the seller to handle it or negotiate for a lower price.

Either way, a quality RV inspection often saves the buyer money in the overall deal.

When Should You Hire An RV Inspector?

Clearly then, hiring an RV inspector before you buy an RV is a great idea. But I don’t recommend having them inspect every RV that you may be considering.

If you do, there may be several inspections that are performed before you find the one that is worth buying. And that could get very expensive.

So you only want to hire an RV inspector on the rigs that you are really convinced could be a good candidate for purchase.

Toward that end I recommend that the buyer learns enough about RVs to be able to perform a personal inspection first. This personal inspection isn’t really technical or difficult.

But if you know what to look for, you can spot many serious issues without having an advanced knowledge of RV components.

I explain the whole process of how to perform a personal inspection before the RV inspector is hired in my new ebook. It’s entitled “How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit”.

The ebook explains how to find a quality RV, how to personally inspect the ones you like, and how to hire the RV inspector.

There’s really nothing that I know of available online that compares with the information in the ebook. And I also make myself personally available to help you with any questions you may have.

And if you aren’t sure about any part of the personal inspection process, I’ll be happy to help.

Get my ebook “How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit” by clicking here

RV Inspectors And Inspections

I hope that you can now appreciate the value of having a quality inspection before your next RV purchase.

If you get a certified RV inspector to do a thorough job on the prospective RV, it can be helpful in many ways.

Fisrt of all, if there are plenty of hidden problems with the RV, the inspection may help prevent you from buying an RV money pit.

Some RVers have spent many thousands of dollars on repairing problems with uninspected RVs they bought. But a thorough RV inspection helps prevent being surprised by hidden problems after the purchase.

And if issues are found during the inspection, it gives you more bargaining power before the purchase.

Finally, when you buy an RV that has been inspected and found to be worthy of purchase, it puts your mind at ease. You can now have more confidence that the purchase you are making is a good one.

So before you buy your next RV, get it inspected by an NRVIA certified RV inspector. You’ll be glad you did!