Does Your Minnesota Travel Trailer Need a Sway Bar?

As I’m sure most of you who own travel trailers in Minnesota know, our rolling homes tend to sway side to side while we are traveling down the road. To top if off, Spring is starting and you can definitely count on encountering some high winds along the way. If you’ve already experienced a sway, then you know how unpleasant it can make your travels. Lucky for us, someone came up with the ingenious idea of a sway bar to help stabilize and reduce swaying. The cool thing about sway bars is that they actually use your travel trailer’s weight to create stability by bracing the weight of the vehicle’s axle against the chassis.

So are sway bars actually worth it? Yes, hands down. Think about traveling along a winding road and a gust of wind suddenly hitting the enormous amount of surface area on your box-on-wheels. Scary, isn’t it? Not only will a sway bar make your RV travels safer, it’ll also help prevent your travel trailer and the vehicle you are using to tow it from unnecessary wear and tear.

Sway bars come in a wide variety and vary depending on the size of that which you are towing. Pleasureland RV has several makes and models you can check out at our online parts catalog. If you’re ready to get a sway bar installed on your Minnesota travel trailer, swing by one of the four Pleasureland RV dealerships in Minnesota. We’ll be happy to help you find the right one and even install it when you’re ready.

How to Choose a Safe Rest Area While Traveling in Your Minnesota RV

During those longer road trips we take (from Minnesota to California for example) in our new or used Minnesota RVs, you may find yourself in need of a break that wasn’t originally part of your plan. For instance, let’s say you had planned to stay the night at a specific campsite, but unforeseen reasons have put you behind schedule and you could really use a break. This is where “rest stops” come in. If you haven’t already guessed, a rest stop should be used for exactly what its name says. A rest stop.  While the average family or person stopping at a rest stop will have a pleasant experience, there are some rest areas known to be commonplace for criminal activity and potentially dangerous situations. Luckily for us, TLC has provided some great tips on how to choose a rest stop and what do once you are there. Stay safe out there, Minnesota RVers!

Be Aware of Your Surroundings. As you pull into a rest area, it’s important you remain alert. Take note of the stop’s name or the closest mile marker, so if you have an emergency you can give the authorities your location. Avoid individuals who seem to be hanging around parking lots and restrooms; that’s a good indication he or she is up to no good. It’s also a good idea to stay away from places where criminals might hide. Don’t park beside large trucks, which can block your view of the parking lot. When you’re walking up to the building, be wary of blind corners, recessed areas and thick vegetation. A well-designed rest area will have a rectangular design with few walls or bushes behind which people could hide.

Look For Secure, Well-Lit Areas. Proper lighting can go a long way in discouraging crime at rest areas. Buildings are often well-lit, but look for places where the parking lot is illuminated as well. At night, avoid the peripheral parts of the rest area, like picnic tables, trails and surrounding woods, where illegal activity sometimes occurs. At rest stops where crime is particularly bad, frequent police patrols or even permanent security officers may be present. If this is the case, approach the trooper or security guard and ask them to look out for you while you visit the facilities, especially if you’re alone.

Choose Your Stop Carefully. While crime can occur at any time of day, a rest area is most dangerous after the sun goes down, especially if it’s isolated and empty. If you’re traveling alone at night, it might be a good idea to visit a staffed facility like a fast-food restaurant or a convenience store instead of a rest area. If you want to know how safe a rest area is before you visit it, there are a limited number of resources available to help you plan your trip. One such book is the “Interstate Travel Guide,” a directory of America’s rest stops that, among other details, employ onsite security.

Take All Reasonable Precautions. Often the simplest safety measures are enough to keep you out of trouble at a rest stop. When you pull in to a parking place, don’t linger in your car. Closed up inside with the music on, you can easily become oblivious to your surroundings, giving criminals the time and opportunity to target and confront you. When you get out of your vehicle, lock the doors to prevent theft. Also, try not to enter the rest area facilities alone. If you’re traveling with young children, see if a family restroom is available. Even older children and adults should have someone accompany them to the restroom or wait for them outside.

Don’t Spend the Night. While it may be cheap to spend the night at a rest area, it isn’t necessarily safe. Many states have banned sleeping at rest stops due to increased crime, and many others have put up signs that discourage it. Your best bet is to look for campgrounds or state parks along your route where, for a small fee, you can more safely snooze in your car. If you have to sleep at a rest area, in an RV or car, keep the doors locked and don’t open them to strangers. Talk to any strangers through the window or door, and if you feel threatened, drive away.

 

Go Green in Your Minnesota RV Part II

The phrase “going green” means different things to different people. Broadly put, going green is the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the environment. As Minnesota RVers, we spend a lot of time out in the environment. It’s clear to see that RVers love the outdoors and nature, but sometimes it’s not so clear to see that we respect it. As an RVer, it’s always important to be mindful of the environment your in and leaving it in a better state than when you first arrived.

The other day, we talked about little ways we can go green in our RVs. After all, on top of helping the environment, we’re helping our finances, as well. With April being the Earth Day month, I thought I’d share a few more tips for going green.

Water Heater. When you aren’t using your water heater (at night for example), turn it off. If you can, try to time out your showers and dishes. This one may be a little difficult for some, so just try and turn off the heater as much as possible.

Shade. Try to park your vehicle in the shade where you can during the summer and spring months. You’d be surprised at home much it helps with your A/C usage.

Organics. Use organic bug sprays and sunscreens. These are better for both you and the environment.

Dish Towels. Reduce your paper towel usage by using dish towels.

Lights. Switch to LED lights everywhere possible (i.e. cabin lights, flashlights, etc.). You could also try using motion sensor lights or timers for our outdoor lights when you’re at a campground.

Remember Minnesota, if we want our future generations to be able to enjoy the same Earth we enjoy now, we have to take care of it. For more ideas on how to go green, call Pleasureland RV.

Gas Pumping Tips for the New Minnesota RV Owner

Photo courtesy of KitsapSun.com

Though most of you have probably been pumping gas for decades, it’s not something we should do without care. This is especially true now that you own a new Minnesota RV. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 5,020 fires and explosions occurred at public service stations per year from 2004-2008. To put that in perspective, one in every 13 service stations experienced a fire (on average). The result of these fires? Two civilian deaths, 48 civilian injuries and $20 million in property damage. I’m not sure what percentage of these fires involved an RV or rig, but I certainly hope the percentage is low.

Seeing how we have a large portion of our lives on board our RVs (all of your life if you’re a full-timer), we should take extra precaution at the pump to avoid a fire or hazardous condition. Just for good measure, let’s review some gas pumping safety tips.

Before Pumping: Turn off the engine. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen friends get preoccupied and forget to do this. Another no-brainer? Smoking. NO SMOKING at the pump or even at the gas station period! In fact, avoid using matches and lighters for anything while at the gas station.

While Pumping: Do not top off or overfill your vehicle. This is how spills happen. Use only the refueling latch on the gasoline dispenser nozzle, if there is one. Do not jam the latch with an object to hold it open. When you finish pumping your gas, leave the nozzle in the tank for a few minutes. This way, you’ll avoid drips when putting the nozzle up.

If a fire should happen to start, get out of there and call for help. If anyone is on board, get the them off, as well. Do not try to remove the nozzle from the RV tank or try and stop the flow of gasoline.

Like I mentioned above, most of us already know these “rules” and guidelines. But it never hurts to be reminded of them. Remember, we must take every precaution possible when it comes to our beloved Minnesota RVs.

[Source: NFPA.org]

Take Safety Measures While Driving Your New or Used RV During the Minnesota Night

As an RVer in Minnesota, there are going to be times when we may drive through the night to reach our destination. Others find driving their RVs, travel trailers and fifth wheels during the night hours easier because there’s roughly 60 percent less traffic. The crazy thing is, though, that while there is 60 percent less traffic on the road, more than 40 percent of fatal car crashes occur during the night according to SeriousAccidents.com. This is probably due to the fact that an estimated nine out of ten drivers base their decisions on what they see. Even though we can see with some light at night, headlights and other lights along the road can really play tricks on you.

A friend and I were driving through a rural area a few years back at night and I’ll never forget when he slammed on his brakes out of nowhere. There weren’t any other vehicles close to us, so I assumed he was avoiding hitting an animal. Turns out, his eyes played a trick on him and he thought a motorcycle, which was several miles down the road from us at the time, was heading straight for him. Has anything like this ever happen to any of your while driving your RV through rural Minnesota or surround states?

Though we can’t really control what our minds perceive during these hours, we can try to prevent our mind playing tricks us at night. There are some really excellent tips out there for driving your RV during the night hours. Several of them revolve around out headlights along including:

  • Turn them on an hour before dusk and and leave them on until an hour after dawn. Some RVers prefer to leave their headlights on all of the time, and that’s fine, too.
  • Check to make sure that your headlights are aligned. If not, your coverage may be decreased and you might also blind oncoming traffic.
  • This is a general rule, and one of my biggest pet peeves: brights. Our bright lights are a wonderful thing, and I recommend using them whenever you can. However, it’s imperative that you switch to low beams at the sight of another vehicle! I know sometimes it’s easy to forget, especially on though rural, two-lane highways, but try to make yourself conscious.

When driving at night, you should be more alert. This is especially true on the weekends. It’s a known fact that the majority of drunk-driving-related accidents occur on the weekend. So be wary during these nights especially from 1-3 a.m. On top of worry about the other drivers out there, you need to also worry about yourself. Don’t ignore fatigue. Falling asleep at the wheel is another top cause of accidents that occur at night. So please, make sure you are fully rested before heading out in your RV.

Your safety is a top priority at Pleasureland RV. If you have any more questions about driving at night, don’t hesitate to give us a call or swing by one of our four Minnesota RV dealerships.

[Source: DMV.org]

Extreme RV Weather: Fog

Photo Courtesy of OutOfTheFog.com

Driving a Minnesota RV through inclement weather can be somewhat difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve already talked about driving our RVs through high winds and what to look out for, and today we’ll discuss another extreme condition: fog. Some of you are probably wondering why I consider fog to be an “extreme” condition, but when you take into account that your visibility drops significantly, you may change your mind.

Fog is basically a huge cloud that has dipped down to ground level. It happens when the temperature drops to the dew point and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets.  The main threat posed by fog? Visibility. Fog can reduce our visibility to a quarter mile or less. This is not only dangerous for us in the RV, but those around us in passenger vehicles. Obviously, our RV outsize and outweigh almost every passenger car. The damage we can cause is bad enough when we can see that we’re about to hit something or someone. So imagine how bad it would be to have a collision when you didn’t see it coming at all.

Luckily, we don’t have to be completely in the dark when driving through fog. There are several things we can do to increase our chances of arriving at our destination safely.

Don’t turn on your brights. High beams reflect back off the fog and make your visibility worse. Use your low beams only.

Reduce your speed. I know we all hate getting stuck in traffic, but trust me. Reducing your speed is crucial especially because there are a lot of people out there who continue to drive at high speeds in inclement weather. Make sure you keep an eye on your speedometer because fog can create an illusion of slow motion, and you may not realize that your speeding.

Use your windshield wipers and defrosters. It’s also a good idea to crack your RV’s windows so you can hear potential traffic that you can’t see. If you’re having a really hard time seeing the lanes in front of you, use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

Don’t stop on a highway or heavily traveled road. If you have RV trouble, do your best to move as far away from other vehicles as possible. Headlights off. Hazards on. Foot off the brake pedal. It’s a known fact that other drivers will subconsciously follow tail lights in fog, and they may not realize you are stopped.

The number one thing you can do when driving your RV through Minnesota fog? Be patient. Take your time, survey your surrounding and remember all of the tips above. Fog tends to appear in the early morning and late afternoon, so if you can avoid traveling through it, I would. Get a few extra hours of sleep or have an earlier dinner. When it comes to foggy conditions, you won’t want to take any chances of damaging your beautiful Minnesota motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer.

Beware Of Mold In Your Minnesota RV Refrigerator

Because our Minnesota motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers sometimes serve as our home-away-from-home, it’s easy to think that the appliances function the same way as they would in our house. For example, cleaning out our refrigerator isn’t something we do routinely in a home (unless you happen to have a lot of spills) and we don’t usually have to worry about mold. This is not the case in an RV.

After an RV outing, many of us know that we need to empty out our RV refrigerators. What most people don’t realize, is how thoroughly this must be done. Why? Because even though we empty all of the food out, moisture and mold may still remain, and the smallest amount of frost or ice left inside will eventually melt and leave the inside susceptible to mold. Eventually a new, warm and moist environment will grow and replace the coldness of your fridge. This creates the perfect atmosphere for mold to grow.

If you’re starting to panic wondering whether or not you cleaned out your fridge well enough before putting it away for the winter season, relax. While ridding your fridge of mold isn’t the most pleasant thing for those with a weak stomach, it isn’t as difficult as it may sound. In fact, you can have it completely cleaning in as little as two washes. Follow these steps and sooner than you know you’ll be mold free!

  1. Scrub the entire fridge with warm, soapy water. This will remove most of the mold itself.
  2. Make a bleach and water solution by mixing a gallon of water and 1/4 cup of bleach. Once you have your mixture, do another scrubbing of the entire fridge. This solution will disinfect and sanitize the fridge and help prevent the mold from reappearing.

See, Minnesota RVers? Not too terrible. I’m willing to bet that you won’t be having a mold issue in your RV refrigerator again any time soon.

 

Don’t Let Road Salt Rust Damage Your RV During the Minnesota Winter

When it comes to winter in Minnesota, half of the RVers decide to put her up for the season, while the other half hit the road. If this is your first time taking your RV on the road during the winter season, it’s really important that you know how to properly maintain your RV’s exterior and protect it from damage.

Driving through the snow and ice is tough enough, but there’s one thing many RVers don’t take into consideration: the possibility of rust. When the roads ice over or a new blanket of snows falls, the first thing officials do is salt or sand the roads. Though these methods significantly help the drive, one of them can be extremely damaging to our Minnesota motor home, travel trailers and fifth wheels. In case you haven’t already guessed it, it’s salt.

Unwanted rust is often times the result of salt and moisture. So when we travel on these salted roads, we need to keep an eye on the under bellies of our RVs.  After each outing, you should check for rust. Safely climb underneath your RV and simply look. If you happen to find any rust spots, grab a wire brush and scrub it off or sand it until you see metal. If the rust was severe, you’re going to want to prime the area with a rust inhibitor and possibly even a fresh coat of paint. Even if the rust spot was small, I still recommend priming the area. This will help prevent the rust from coming back.

If you find yourself frequently traveling through the snow, make washing your RV a priority after a trip. If your RV is really salty, you can add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the wash water to help remove and neutralize the salt. Rust can eat holes through metal and seriously damage your RV. So make sure you have a hold on the situation and consistently inspect your RV this winter. If you need any help at all ridding your RV from rust, you can always head to one Pleasureland RV’s service departments located in Ramsey, St.Cloud, Willmar and Brainerd.

Garmin Navigation Apps Make the Perfect Gift for the Minnesota RV Owner

Hey Minnesota RVers, we’re only days away from Christmas Eve, and I’m sure some of you out there have not finished all of your Christmas shopping. Or maybe you’re just stuck on gift ideas for your spouse or friend. Well, I have a great idea for you at a great price: The gift of navigation! I know that navigation systems can be a little pricey, but  the good news is you can now buy extremely capable navigation apps for smart phones! Here’s some even better news… Garmin has slashed prices for its apps and traffic services for the year-end holidays!

Last week, Consumer Reports said that Garmin announced price cuts of up to 40 percent for its Navigon navigation software for both iPhones and Google Android-powered smartphones. The holiday promotion will last through January 5 and allows users to download and navigate U.S. maps for $30 instead of $40 (Android) or $50 (iPhone). For both U.S. and Canadian maps, Garmin will charge about $40 for its app on either iOS or Android platforms.

Garmin’s live traffic update service will also be discounted from $20 to $15. This app is great for when Minnesota RVers venture out and have to bravely navigate through large cities.  The StreetPilot app for iPhones also dropped $10 to $50 for U.S. and Canadian maps ($40 for U.S. only) during this promotion. So Minnesota RV owners, if you’re in need of a last minute gift, go check out these different GPS apps. Any owner of a motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel will be more than happy to have this service with them while on their RV adventures!

Avoid Hydroplaning in Your Minnesota Motorhome, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel

Have you ever been driving during a rain storm or shortly after and hit a semi-shallow patch of water causing you to skid? Odds are, the majority of you have seeing how we spend a lot of time on the road in our RVs. This is known as hydroplaning, and in my opinion, it’s one of the scariest instances an RV driver encounters.

What is hydroplaning? The skidding or sliding of a RV’s tires when they come across a wet surface and occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter. Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water losing traction and causing the driver to experience a loss of steering, braking and power control.

When and where exactly does hydroplaning occur? According to SafeMotorist.com, hydroplaning can occur on any wet road surface, and the first 10 minutes of a light rain is usually the most dangerous time. Slippery conditions arise when light rain mixes with oil residue on the road surface. It’s especially dangerous to vehicles traveling over 35 mph.

Tire manufacturers specifically aim at creating tread patterns, or grooves, on our tires to channel water from beneath the tire creating higher friction with the road surface. This helps to prevent or minimize instances of hydroplaning. If your tire tread is worn, you will likely be hydroplaning more than others.

The best way to avoid hydroplaning is proper tire maintenance. I’m sure the tires on your RV are in great condition already since you know how important tire maintenance on RVs in particular is, right? You need to keep them properly inflated, rotate them at the recommended times and replace them when your tread starts to become worn. In rainy conditions, slow down. The faster you drive, the harder it is for your tires to scatter water. Avoid puddles, standing water and driving in the outer lanes because water tends to accumulate there.

If you can see the tire tracks left by other vehicles in front of you, try to drive in them. Most likely, they have already pushed a large portion of the water out of the way. Never use cruise control and avoid hard braking and  making sharp or quick turns.

As I mentioned before, hydroplaning is a scary thing for drivers. So when driving your Minnesota RV through the rain, remember these tips and avoid hydroplaning as much as possible!