Written by: Anna Sibal
07/08/2011 10:30 PM
I am planning on doing a big RV trip through the Rocky Mountains later this year. But I'm a bit worried about mountain driving in my RV. Do you have any tips you can share?
Many times, RV road trips require driving on mountain roads. Mountain road driving challenges driving skills; you have to fight gravity to push your rig uphill and then fight gravity again when coasting downhill.
Mountain driving is thus a challenge no matter how experienced the RV driver. But by keeping a few pointers in mind and with a little practice you'll be able to confidently and safely climb and descend mountain roads like a champ. Here are a few mountain driving tips for RVers to help you out.
Practice driving before you go on your trip
Safe driving on mountain roads begins long before you go on your trip. After all, as that old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. By making sure that you are confident in your ability to drive your RV before you begin your trip, you increase your likelihood of a safe journey.
The first thing you need to do is to become totally knowledgeable with how to drive your RV. If you're a novice driver one of the best places to start is at an RV driving school.
Here is are list of RV driving schools to consider :
If you have the opportunity to practice your RV driving skills before your actual trip we recommend finding a nearby hilly location spend a few hours driving up and down the hills. These practice runs will give you a better feeling for how your RV will perform on steep ascents and descents.
Another thing to pay attention to before going on your trip is the condition of your RV. Pay close attention to your brakes and tire treads, and make sure your spares are in good condition too.
In addition, check out the weather forecast on the day of your trip. As we all know, the weather can affect the conditions on the road. It always helps to know if you'll have to deal with rain or sleet while mountain driving.
To get your RV through an uphill climb more easily, you need to run your RV within its power band. Your RV's power band is its engine's RPM span that delivers the most horsepower. Depending on your RV's type, the power band can range anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 RPM. When you drive uphill within its power band, your rig will generate the extra pulling power it needs to ascend the incline.
It is important that you start getting your RV within its power band before you ascend the hill. To achieve this, will have to down shift to a lower gear and then step very gently on the gas pedal. Keep your feet off the gas pedal entirely at times so your engine can do its job more comfortably. If you keep pushing hard on your pedal, you'll end up with black smoke out of your exhaust and the smell of burning rubber from your tires.
What happens when you are out of your RV's power band while you are making the climb? If that happens, there is a risk that your RV will be unable to ascend at all. In case your engine stops in the middle of your climb, the first thing you need to do is not to panic. Pull the handbrake, shift to neutral then restart your engine. Once your engine is running again, release the handbrake, downshift to first gear once more and step gently on the gas.
Experienced RV drivers claim that driving their RV downhill on mountain roads is more difficult than driving uphill. That's because when driving downhill, you need to maintain absolute control of the wheel and be fully aware of your surroundings. Failure to pay attention can be disastrous - think runaway rig.
To drive your RV safely downhill, prepare for the downhill descent while you are still on top of the hill. The first step is to use your engine for braking, as opposed to using your brakes. To accomplish this, bring your speed down to 40 mph and shift to second gear. At this point, you should feel your engine slowing down to a more comfortable coasting speed. If the engine is not slowing down as much as you'd like it to, shift down to first gear and then decrease your speed to 20 mph.
Slowing down, downshifting and using your engine to brake while driving downhill ought to keep you at a safe speed during your descent. If, despite these efforts, you feel that you're still going down too fast, don't hesitate to step on your regular brakes intermittently. Step on your brakes in hard and short bursts instead of pushing the brake for the duration of the descent. If you keep your foot on your brakes, they will end up overheating and your RV's brake components could be damaged permanently.
Other tips for safe mountain driving
Here are a few more tips to make sure that you'll come out safe and sound from driving your RV on mountain roads:
RV mountain driving challenges even the most experienced of RV drivers. But if you keep these mountain driving pointers in mind, you will be able to enjoy coasting along mountain roads and come out of your journey safely and soundly.
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