Renting An RV – What you need to know before renting

Renting an RV for the first time? Picking the right rig is a combination of many things and most people just look at how many people they can get to sleep in it and what is the rental cost. There are a few other factors to consider when renting an RV. You should look at the size of the RV and ask yourself if you would be comfortable driving it.

Here are some tips to consider when driving an RV for the first time:

  • Driving an RV is not like driving a car. An RV does not stop like a car, your speed will dictate your ability to stop and you should be aware of how many feet of roadway you need to do this.
  • Motorhomes do not corner well, they do not stop well, and they are slow. All makes are different, and one needs to know how the unit handles, and then drive within those limits.
  • When driving a car, you can drive out of trouble, in a motorhome you do not have this maneuverability, driving mistakes can be difficult to correct. Control of speed is important, as unexpected sharp curves can be real trouble. Know your rig’s capabilities, this is the best advice I can give you.
  • When driving the RV, drive the speed limit posted on curves. When in my car, I usually drove five to ten miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit and still felt safe; you cannot do that in a RV.
  • Stopping distances are far greater than in a car, learn what your stopping distance is at various speeds, and then do not follow closer than what is safe. Many of the cars today can really stop fast, and a motorhome cannot stop that quickly, hence you must maintain a proper following distance.
On the run down the hill it may state a 6% grade for seven miles and with a speed limit of 35 mph for trucks. I would drop down to probably second gear and then run between 30 and 40 mph. Brake down to 30 mph rather briskly and then let off the brake and let your rig run up to 40 mph, this was information supplied by the Highway Patrol several years ago. Continuing this process will help in keeping your brakes cool, especially if you are driving a diesel. Keep your descent under control.
Many gas powered motorhomes have transmissions which respond to a tap of the foot on the brake pedal and then downshifts for you when a decline is sensed. Ask the RV rental company for their recommendation for braking when going downhill or read their manual if provided.

Gas Mileage – Many of our customers are RV renters and frequently ask us what gas mileage they can expect. The answer is really dependent on your driving habits. If you stomp on the gas pedal you can pretty much guarantee your gas mileage will be less than if you press gently and don’t worry if you are the last one to get through the intersection. Also, we recommend driving with empty holding tanks and carry no more water than what is really needed for an emergency to assist you in obtaining better gas mileage.

Another item for RV renters to consider is driver fatigue. When driving a RV, we recommend limiting yourself whenever possible, to a maximum of 250 miles per day. Try to stop every two hours, take a short break, walk around the rig, and check the tires and stretch. Driving an RV is not like driving a car and it puts a little more pressure on one to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Nobody likes to drive behind an RV, all the nuts are out there trying to pass, creating all kinds of potential accidents; we RV drivers have to stay sharp. I know what I am driving and how difficult it is to stop, I try to maintain a highway speed of 60 mph and maintain adequate space from the vehicle in front of me.

When you come into camp, you do not want to feel exhausted. If your head is a nodding, you have gone too far. Many times my wife and I will stop fifty miles from camp, have lunch, and take a short break. It makes going into camp a lot easier; parking the rig can be stressful and the little break helps.

By Norm Eichberger, RV Adventure-USA
Author of the forthcoming book, RV Retirement-Straight Talk