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]

Be Sure to Routinely Inspect the Brakes on Your RV

Photo courtesy of FullTime-RVing.com

As I’m sure you already know, with owning an RV comes routine maintenance. Some of these maintenance tasks are meant to extend the life of your motorhomes, while others are required to ensure your safety while traveling through Minnesota in your new or used RV, such as checking your brakes.

It’s a no-brainer why this is an important part of RV maintenance seeing how your brakes are what stops your vehicle from moving. It’s recommended by most that you check your brakes at least once a year, but depending on your driving habits, you may want to check them more often. A full-timer, for example, may need to check their brakes four or five times a year especially if they are constantly on the road.

Checking your brakes can be a pretty simple process, but it will take a little bit of time and possibly another soul for good measure. To get started, park your RV on a flat surface and block the front and backs of your tires to keep the RV in place. You can use 2x4s or cinder blocks to do this. Next you’ll need to remove the hub cabs (if applicable) and then remove the tire to get to the brakes. Once you’ve located the brakes, inspect the following:

Rotors. Your rotors should appear scratch- and warp-free. Run your hands along the flat part of the rotor. It should be smooth.

Brake Pads. These are what press against your rotors and cause the RV to slow. Inspect the pads for wearing and tearing. You should have at least a quarter of an inch of brake pad. If they are too thin, you’ll risk damaging the rotors. Trust me, replacing brake pads is a lot cheaper than replacing rotors.

Electric Brake Systems: Inspect the connections for corrosion. If you can, enlist someone to press the brakes while you watch the rotors to make sure that the brakes are being evenly applied.

Surge Braking Systems: With these type of brakes, you’ll want to make sure that the sensor is still properly detecting speed change. Also inspect the sensor for rust and corrosion. It’s also a good idea to have someone press the brakes with you watching for pressure to be evenly applied.

If you find anything out of place or off beat while inspecting your brakes, give Pleasureland RV a call or swing by one of our four Minnesota RV dealership locations. We’re more than happy to give you a hand. After all, nothing is more important than your safety while cruising around Minnesota in your new or used RV.

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.

Does Your Minnesota RV Need New Windshield Wiper Blades?

Driving in inclement weather is bad enough in an average passenger vehicle, but doing it in an RV? Awful. Especially if you don’t know what you are doing. The most common weather you’ll probably drive through in your RV is rain, and there’s nothing worse than flipping on your windshield wipers and realizing it’s only making it worse. If you’ve been on the road for awhile and haven’t been able to clean the bugs off your windshield, you can bet your visibility will decrease even more.

Many things contribute to the deterioration of your RV‘s wiper blades including the sun, oil from other vehicles and the random dirt and other debris carried by the wind. When blades start to deteriorate, they may start to streak, skip or split.

Skipping: This is caused by a curvature due to lack of use. If your RV has been parked for a long period of time, your wipers may have molded to the curvature of your RV’s windshield. This curvature will mess up the contact the wipers have with the rest of the windshield’s surface as it moves causing the blades to skip.

Streaking: When your wiper blades harden and crack, the result is streaking. Usually this is due to dry rubber, but tree sap, bugs and grime from the road also contribute to this issue.

Splitting: Over time, your blades will naturally wear down and split. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays will also contribute to split rubber.

Seeing how our RVs spend a lot of time on the road, their wiper blades are prone to wearing out quicker than those on our cars. There are  few simple things you can do to help prevent this, though. First and foremost, you should add checking your blades to your regular maintenance list. Look for broken frames, tears and missing pieces and curvature. It’s also good idea to clean your windshield often and wipe the rubber part of the blades with a damp paper towel. During the winter months, pull the blades away from the windshield and never use them to try to get ice off of your windshield.

As a general rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced once a year.  This can very a little bit depending on the amount of usage, and as I mentioned earlier, RV wiper blades will probably wear out quicker. So be sure to always inspect your blades before heading out. If you need any help inspecting your blades or installing new ones, you can always give Pleasureland RV a call or swing by one of our locations in Minnesota.

Organizing Your Motorhome Will Help You Keep Things In Place While Driving Down the Minnesota Highway

Because our Minnesota motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels spend most of their time in motion, our belongings can easily slide around. Not only does this create a mess, but it can become a safety hazard for the driver. Have you ever had something in your lap while driving a regular passenger car, and suddenly you have to jerk or slam the brakes? If you have, you know that whatever was in your lap or lying loose next to you is probably now in the floorboards and possibly stuck underneath your gas or brake pedal. It’s stomach-turning to realize that something is jammed underneath your brake pedal. I know because it’s happened to me.

Unless you’re living out of your car, you are much more likely to experience things rolling into the floorboards of your RV. That  should be reason enough for you to want to get organized and make sure everything has a place inside your home on wheels.

Just making sure you don’t have loose articles rolling around the RV floor isn’t enough in my opinion. Have you ever noticed that after a long drive, you open up a cabinet to pull out a can of green beans and everything falls out or is tipped over? Now you have to go in and clean up or reorganize the mess.

Luckily, I’m not the first person to realize that RVs need some sort of organization in order to prevent these things. There are a few inexpensive and really helpful things you can do including:

    • Line all of your cabinets and drawers with non-slip liner. You can find non adhesive shelf liners almost anywhere and they are great because they also cushion and protect your contents.

 

    • Add slide-out shelving in your cabinets with attached baskets. Not only will this help keep your belongings in space, it will also maximize the space your working with. Slide-out shelving is also a great idea for your RV kitchen. Shelves with lips on the end are perfect for your pots and pans and there are even ones you can find that are specifically for food items like cans and sauces.

 

    • Use stacking bins or shelves to divide your cabinets or cubby space to further help prevent items from shifting. You can find inexpensive, freestanding drawer units that serve as shelves. Be sure to use ones with lips on the end, though. That way your things won’t be able to slid off the edge.

 

  • If you have limited space in your RV bathroom, try using containers with suction cups on your mirror. This is great for organizing and keeps your toiletries in place while you’re driving. Another option is to use a hanging shoe holder to store.

Though it may sound like a lot of work, it’s really not. And besides, you will thank me for it in the end when you arrive to your destination and everything is exactly where it should be. If you need any help finding anything I mentioned above, don’t hesitate to give Pleasureland RV a call. We’re more than happy to help. If you’re in the market for a new Winnebago Adventurer or Dutchman Denali to organize, then swing by one of Pleasureland RV’s four Minnesota locations in Ramsey, St.Cloud, Willmar and Brainerd.

The Minnesota Roads Will Be Extra Crowed During the Holidays

Hey Minnesota RVers, what are your plans for the holiday? AAA is forecasting that more Americans are planning to travel this year for the holidays, and that 91.9 million will travel 50 miles or more from their home during the year-end travel season, up from last year’s figure of 90.7 million. For those of you out there who are full-timers, it looks like the roads are going to get a little crowded this holiday season!

AAA also said that the majority of these holiday travelers will take to the roads. Some 83.6 million people (91 percent of total holiday travelers) plan to travel by car, a 2.1 percent increase compared to last year. The year-end holiday season is defined by AAA as beginning Friday, December 23, 2011 and ending Monday, January 2, 2012. So if you are thinking you’ll be on the road during one of those 11 days, be sure to take extra caution.

It’s been reported by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers — a 12 percent increase over the rest of the month of December. So make sure you keep your attention on the other drivers around you. Stay safe out there Minnesota RVers!

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!

Minnesota Winter RV Driving 101

The winter months are starting to arrive bringing those unexpected snow storms that can put a damper on your RV travels. On average, Southwest Minnesota gets about 35 inches of snow a year and Northeast Minnesota usually sees around 70 inches. While many Minnesota RVers decide to winterize their motorhomes during the cold season, others enjoy utlilizing their RV for the duration of the winter season. Most full-timers out there would say that driving a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer during the winter is highly difficult due to the snow and ice on most Minnesota roadways.

If this is going to be your first Minnesota winter in your RV, it’s good to know how to handle your RV in snowy and icy conditions. Follow these tips below and you’ll be able to weather the storm with no problem.

Use your low beams and windshield wipers. Snow contributes to low visibility and reduced traction, so be sure to use your low beams and take it slow.

Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly to avoid skidding. Although a skid is almost inevitable in icy conditions, keeping focused and taking it slow and steady can help you keep the skids to a minimum.

Don’t forget that RVs are rear wheel drive. Most passenger cars are front wheel drive and for the past two or three decades, most of you have been trained on how to regain control in a skid. When you’re in an RV though, remember that you steer with the slide and pump the brakes lightly in order to regain control.

Turn off your exhaust brake in icy conditions. If you are driving a diesel RV, shut off your exhaust brake; otherwise, if you let off the accelerator, the back-end of your coach could “fishtail” and land you in the ditch (rvtoads.com).

Keep a full tank of gas. This is very important in snowy conditions. If you come across an area you can’t pass or you would rather throw in the towel all together, you’ll definitely want to have enough fuel to park it for the night and wait for the weather conditions to improve.

Always have a set of snow chains handy. There is nothing worse than driving your RV to higher elevation, and experiencing an unexpected storm without chains for your motorhome.

See? It doesn’t sound too terrible, does it? If you follow these snow safety tips, I’m sure you can weather those Minnesota winter roads. If you need some reassurance or just want to talk to an expert before you head out, come by Pleasureland RV and chat with the RV experts. We’re always happy to help.

Do You Consider Yourself a Good RV Driver, Minnesota?

Photo Courtesy of MobileLifeStyle

If you currently own an RV or you’re thinking about purchasing a new RV in the near future, then it’s probably safe to say that you’ve been driving for several years now. Every driver forms their own driving habits over the years and most consider themselves to be a good driver. But obviously, this isn’t true. Not everyone out there is as good of a driver as they think they are. In fact, more than 33,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents last year — most of which were preventable.

In the motorhome world, we tend to spend more time driving than the average person. Therefore, we of all people should practice safe driving and be considered the best drivers out there. You’d be surprised at how even the smallest things we do behind the wheel of our RV can make a difference. Let’s take a look at some statistics from Consumer Reports and see how we can prevent ourselves from becoming them.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids between 3 and 12 years old. By placing all children 12 and under in the back seat, you can reduce injury risk by 64 percent for children under 8 and 31 percent for 9-12 year olds.

Secure you children. Not only will this possibly save their lives in an accident, it will also prevent you from losing control of the vehicle due to the children bouncing all over the car.

Speeding is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes, killing nearly 900 Americans every month.

This one is a no-brainer, don’t speed. Sure there’s a window of five to eight mph over the posted speed limit, but the only time you should ever exceed that window is if you are passing someone. This pertains to RV owners mostly because our RV, travel trailer or fifth wheel is much larger than our passenger cars.  (So this pertains to RV owners more than anyone.) As a bonus, not speeding will help with your fuel consumption.

In 2009, over 5,400 people were killed due to distracted driving and 448,000 were injured.

Keep your eyes on the road at all times. Don’t text, email, eat, play with the GPS or anything else that may cause you to become distracted. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds can result in a deadly crash.

The use of seat belts saved the lives of 13,000 people in 2008.

Buckle up. Seat belt laws are there for a reason, people. Should you happen to be involved in an accident, your seat belt will prevent you from flying through the huge windshield of your RV.

Another way to prevent an accident is preventative maintenance. Be sure to routinely check the tire pressure and tread of your tires, your fluid levels and battery. You should also always use your signals to alert other drivers of your vehicle and what you are planning to do.

As I mentioned before, a high percentage of motor vehicle accidents are preventable. So Minnesota RVers, what will you do to be the best RV driver you can be? Let us know!

Tire Care – Checking The Tread

The tread of your RV’s tires plays a crucial role in the performance of your vehicle as well as its safety. Knowing how to inspect the tread of your tires yourself and being able to keep a mindful eye on their condition is extremely important, especially for those of us who are avid Minnesota RV travelers.

In order to prevent dangerous occurrences while driving, such as skidding and hydroplaning, tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to a certain amount. All tires produced since 1968 have a built in tread wear indicator already in them to help you see any signs of tread concern, before it becomes a much larger issue. These ‘wear bars’ look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and will begin to appear when tread is wearing down. When tire use degrades the tread depth to 1/16″ (1.5mm), smooth 1/2″ (13mm) bands seem to rise toward the surface. This indicates that these tires should be replaced. Many states have laws making this replacement mandatory once the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. These wear bars are the first sign that your tires need replacing.

Visually check your tires for signs of uneven wear before every RV road trip. You may have irregular tread wear if there are high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Tire trouble, if gone undetected, can shorten your RV tire’s lifespan. Unforeseen issues with your tires can only lead to money down the drain. Trouble detected can also give you clues to other areas of your RV that may need attention. Being aware of what to look for and knowing how to test your tire’s tread is RVing in the smartest way.