RV driving in bad weather

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scottydl

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For you veterans, what are your experiences driving or towing RV's in bad weather?  I'm particularly interested in how a MH would handle in the snow & ice.  The weight seems like it would help push through light snow cover, but perhaps that advantage is nullified by the sensitivity to high winds.  Our MH would ideally take the place of a hotel room when we visit family, but since the weather in Illinois doesn't always cooperate around Thanksgiving and Christmas I was wondering what we'd be up against.  Would it be better to leave the rig at home and just deal with the hotel?
 

Karl

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Being from Wisconsin, I know most 'flatlanders' could handle light snow without too much trouble, but I wouldn't even consider driving on hilly, twisty roads in the stuff on purpose. Sometimes you don't have a choice, and slow and easy are the watchwords. Another concern may be the temperatures. If it gets really cold, you could have problems with plumbing freeze-ups and trying to keep the rig warm. Space heaters (electric if hooked up; propane if not) can help immensely. I also use an electric matress pad - much better than an electric blanket. Also, make sure your plans are flexible enough to stay longer than expected; should the weather get really bad.
 

John From Detroit

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Well, last winter I took my class A up to Salt Lake City... Drove straight into the worst blizzard of the season.

I had no problems with handling at all, However I was on a freeway (save for the last quarter mile of bad weather) and it was more or less "Straight and level"  Visibility was dropping, could no longer see the lines on the road, other conditions were getting.... Kind of nasty and the sign said "REST AREA NEXT EXIT" so the last quarter mile was the exit ramp, crossing over the freeway to the rest area and pulling into it's lot.  Bed time.

Next morning, bright and sunny, storm gone, snow plows came and went, roads clear and black once again, and driving just like Arzonia
 

Ray D

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John: That wouldn't have been Wyoming, was it? Nebraska? Seems familiar, though I have only done that in a car - not a motorhome.

Ray D
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I've occasionally driven our motorhome in snow, in Alaska, Canada and Utah, and never had any problem.  Our rig does have ABS brakes, which I found helpful.  And I grew up in snow country and my snow driving skills remain, even though we have pretty avoided snow for the last 25 years.  In my opinion, those who have not developed snow driving skills in passenger cars should not attempt to drive a large vehicle in any sort of snow. A large vehicle on the edge of control problems can be a a handful, to say the least, and having the back end of your 35-40 foot vehicle pass you is not something to contemplate!

Yes, the weight of a motorhome does help in either rain or snow - they seem glued to the road.  Class A's have high clearance as well, so deeper snow or drifts are less problme than with a passenger car.

I'd say that driving a big rig in snow is not something that should inspire terror. Just go slowly and carefully.
 

JohnSandyWhite

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:( Last November on our tour we had left Amarillo heading west on the I40. Ten minutes into the journey it started to rain and then snow. Then it turned into a blizzard. Snow was sticking to th e windscreen and freezing. The wipers were useless in these conditions. So we pulled off the Interstate to find parking. Not long after. Lorries, Cars and Motorhomes were joining us. Driving hadn't been the problem. We just couldn't clear the screen fast enough.  ???

http://f10.putfile.com/7/18414150056.jpg
 

John From Detroit

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Ray D said:
John: That wouldn't have been Wyoming, was it? Nebraska? Seems familiar, though I have only done that in a car - not a motorhome.

Ray D

Salt Lake City, Utah Ray... Home of Motosat (Which is where I was headed)

Of course I'm Michigan Trained so a little snow is not a problem for me, and the 22.5" tires on the MH can plough through a LOT of snow (much better than the 15" jobs on the towed) but when you can't see the road any more it is time to get off safely.

I should add, when we hiked across the lot to the attached eatery for breakfast the nest morning (After snow plows had done their job) the news was all about the number of folks who were not as smart as I and did not pull off into the rest area.... In other words, the ditches were well occupied as we continued our trip unscathed
 

scottydl

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Sounds good all, it's very helpful to read all your experiences and tips!  :)


Karl said:
If it gets really cold, you could have problems with plumbing freeze-ups and trying to keep the rig warm.

Is the trick to avoiding freeze-ups just like a house (keep it warm on the inside, and everything should be okay)?
 

Ned

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I freezing weather, keep your cabinet doors open to prevent the inside plumbing from freezing, and if you're bays aren't heated, you can put a small (100w or less) light in any bay that has plumbing in it.  I've done that with my fresh water tank bay a few times.
 

Jim Godward

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This is something on winter travel that happened to us in 2003 on our way south.  we had waited for a break in the weather and it did not seem that it was coming soon so we left.  quite a learning experience.  G

>>The result was that we had to travel on a day with freezing rain, snow and COLD temperatures. Not a good idea but doable. However we did learn a few lessons and found some problems with our Dutch Star.

We had no problem keeping warm with the dash heater and the bays stayed above freezing by using the furnace whenever we stopped to rest or eat. The defrosters worked well with assistance from the overhead fans. We did have a problem with the windshield wipers because of the ice build up on both the window and the wipers themselves. The washer fluid would not clear the ice. I use a Rain-X fluid that is good to -25 degrees F so was somewhat surprised that it did not clear the ice.

We found a RV Park that was open about 4:30 and things started to get interesting! That was when I was hooking up the electricity. I couldn't get the bay latch to work, froze tight. My heat gun was at home in MT but we were able to use Pat's hair dryer to heat the latch AND the metal edging of the door to free the latch. Newmar has the latch exposed so that moisture/ice can get into it. Thus the freeze up. Lesson learned, carry the heat gun and an extension cord INSIDE the MH! Now we were nice and cozy warm, had lots of power for the tank heaters, the engine block heater and the TV. So far so good! VBG

Then we started to go out for dinner as it had been a long and tiring day, WRONG! The Jeep and tow bar/rock shield were covered with ICE, DIRTY ICE and we had no way of de-icing it. No problem, we ate in the MH, that is what is for isn't it?? The next morning, we got the electric cord stored, the TV dish stored and we were ready to go. Oh yes, we did not extend the jacks, they freeze to the ground, we learned that a couple of years ago in Missoula. Since the jacks were not down we did not extend the slide out, again a NO, NO with snow and ice as it can damage either the slide topper or the slide out or both. The engine started right away, remember the block heater! The air came up and we engaged the trans to go. NO movement. The parking brakes were froze. Called Coachnet (Newmar ERS) and they sent a service man out to free them. After 1 1/2 hours of waiting and actual pounding and banging, they were free. Tow drivers advice, after driving in this kind of weather, apply light brake pressure for a few miles to get the brakes warm and dry. If this is not possible, DO NOT SET the parking brake but block the wheels and park this way. He gave me a few examples of calls he has had where truck drivers set the brakes on the 18 wheeler and had to have the brakes released as we did. Worse, in some cases the last trailer axle brakes did not release and the driver drove off with the last 4 wheels sliding.

Back to Jacks, if you must use them be sure to have blocking under them so the jack will retract and then you can pry, hammer or ?? to release the block before you leave. Finally, as soon as you can get the heat gun and either some silicone spray, WD-40, or some other water replacement stuff and heat the latches of any and all the stuck latches and get the bay doors open. Continue heating and drying out the latch mechanism. Lubricate with whatever stuff you have and allow to sit for a while to be sure ALL the water is gone from the latch.

Missoula in 2002:
It was 16 degrees when I started the inspection. The jacks were slow to retract, and I needed to pump the suspension to better see under the coach as I had a loose rear fender on the right side. The left-front jack was still down when I started the engine. I left the jack control panel in the "store" position, and assumed that the jack was slow because the low temp had increased the viscosity of the oil. Wrong. The jack foot was held fast to the cement by a thin film of ice. When I raised the coach, the jack stem rose about 2 inches while the foot stayed. (The stem is not attached to the foot. The springs hold it on the stem, which is rounded on the end to fit into a cup in the foot.) It took a minute or so for the strain from the springs to break the foot loose. The foot wound up off the stem, and well above the end of it. Fortunately, it didn't damage anything when it whacked the frame after if was freed. I used an 8 foot 2x4 for leverage to retract the stem. Then I was able to move the foot back onto the stem by using a carpenter's pry bar. Took about half an hour, including the time it took to analyze the problem. Moral: Don't pump the suspension until you know the jacks are free. <<

 

Shadowman

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Scotty,

Seems like everyone has addressed the snow issue, which I agree with everyone. Living in SLC, we get used to driving in the snow. If I could remember who said it I would quote it, but SLOW AND EASY. You shouldn't have any problems in rain or snow.

Now to address your other concern about wind!  Some of the larger rigs with wider foot prints might not have the same effect as me, but when we came home this weekend we found ourselves driving with side winds in excess of 50 MPH. I would swear that a time or two the winds gusts almost lifted my right side off the ground, at the very least it pushed me into the next lane over.  There was no way of pulling off and it seemed like every direction we turned on the interstate the wind was always hitting us on the right side.  It was the absolute longest 30 minutes on the road I have ever experienced. I slowed it way down and turned my flashers on hoping people would know to stay clear. Needless to say, I will be much smarter next time. If it blows that hard, I'm taking the first exit and set up camp till it passes.  To me,  I think the wind effects me more than rain or snow ever would.

Just be smart and take your time.
 

John From Detroit

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Since you mentioned wind... I have driven in moderate to high winds (Never 50 mph, but 20 to 30) everything from an English Ford Anglia (Basically a pre-pinto) adn Cortenia (Likewise) and a Mercury Tracer (IS a pinto, just a different label) Assorted traditional cars, both 2-door and 4-door, a Chevy Lumina APV, a Dodge Tradesman B-250 high top maxi van, and my Motor Home.

Strangely enough the ride most affected by wind was the Tracer (One of the 3 smallest of the lot) the ride LEAST affected by wind was the MH, the Dodge van came in #2 on the least affected.

I do note that the van and MH have genuine TRUCK grade suspension, the rest are car grade and I think this makes a major difference,,,, The Chevy Lumina has had it's suspension upgraded from stock with better rear shocks and rear air bags (Air-Lift brand) and this too may well make a difference.  The Anglia needed new shocks bad
 
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