I bought a travel trailer this year and made tons of RV mistakes in the school of hard knocks. In this post I want to share some of the blunders I’ve made with my trailer, as well as mistakes I’ve seen from other RVers as we’ve traveled around.
The 27 Big RV Mistakes Every Newbie Should Avoid
Hopefully, you can learn from my RV mistakes–and those that I’ve seen other RV newbies make. Here’s how to keep your trailer or motorhome in pristine condition.
Leaving the Awning Open
At the family reunion this summer, my brother-in-law set out his RV awning on a hot day. Then he went to the store. The wind picked up suddenly, and the awning tore apart in a matter of minutes before I could make my way over there to fix it.
Lesson learned: Always retract the awning during anything more than a light breeze. Never leave your RV with the awning open even if it’s not windy when you leave.
After a few hours with 6 people working on it, we were able to fix the awning. Fortunately, none of the poles actually bent, they just became disassembled. If your awning does tear, check out our step-by -step guide about how to repair a torn RV awning.
Street Parking Alongside Trees
My neighborhood has beautiful tree-lined streets. When I park my RV against the curb in front of the house, I have to be very careful to make sure the tall RV behind my truck doesn’t hit the limbs. One day I was trying to be careful while parking. But I still made one of the most common RV mistakes when pulling away.
The trailer hit a thick limb and tore the roof. Whoops! Needless to say, I broke out the chainsaw and amputated the limbs sticking out over the street.
Using the Built-In Carbon Monoxide Detector
Relying on the built-in carbon monoxide detector is a big RV mistake. Seriously big. Yes, it keeps you safe, but they unfortunately go off when they are low on power. Which means they go off all the time if you are using battery power for the heater at night.
When they go off, they usually don’t tell you if it’s going off because of low power, or if there is an actual emergency. This creates a “carbon monoxide alarm that cried wolf” scenario. You may not believe the detector when it’s an actual emergency!
I replaced my built-in carbon monoxide detector with this carbon monoxide detector that has a 10 YEAR sealed battery in it. I’m protected for 10 years and don’t have to worry about that pesky alarm! Genius!
Not Checking RV Tires Before Driving
RV tires are the #1 most common point of failure. RV tire blowouts are the most likely reason that you’ll eventually end up on the side of the road with cars zipping past you.
There are three things that, I believe, cause the most problems for RV tires:
- using cheapo tires from the manufacturer or choosing cheap tires when you buy them
- driving too fast (over 35mph) on gravel roads
- overloading the RV or not balancing the axles so too much weight is on one set of tires.
Lesson learned: Check your RV tires before every single trip.
No excuses. It’s worth a minute to check because it can save an entire camping trip. How long do camper tires usually last? Here, you can find an article we wrote answering that commonly asked question. Go ahead and read it to see how long RV tires should last.
Taking Curves Too Fast
I didn’t necessarily make this mistake this year, but it’s a mistake that I saw a fellow RVer make. Unfortunately it resulted in their entire rig flipping over into the ditch beside the road. Nobody was hurt but it didn’t look like the camper trailer survived.
Lesson Learned: Don’ take curves too fast. You have a much higher center of gravity in an RV.
This type of accident usually happens for one or all of these reasons:
- uncontrolled fishtailing
- driving in strong winds
- taking curves too fast
You know all those road signs about sharp curves that you usually ignore when driving a car? When driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, those signs become extremely important.
Buying a Cheap Backup Camera
My RV backup camera is necessary equipment. I was hesitant when I bought this wireless backup camera on Amazon. I wondered if it was really a necessary expense. It was! The RV backup camera has saved me so many times! For example:
- when I’m at the gas station and need to backup and twist around with cars moving all around me
- when I’m backing into a campsite and want to watch out for stumps and tree limbs
- backing the RV into the storage facility without someone to direct me
- and many other situations!
Lesson learned: the backup camera is a choice between spending a little money now to buy one, or spending a lot of money later to fix my RV.
My RV backup camera has saved me multiple times when I saw a danger in the wireless backup cam that I would have missed otherwise.
The install was a piece of cake (under 10 minutes), and it has worked flawlessly. I even look at it when I’m on a winding mountain road. This way I know if I’m holding up traffic behind me and need to pull over. Read my review of the Furrion backup cam here.
Not Knowing My RVs Distance-to-Empty
I just got back from a camping trip where I learned this lesson the hard way. I was planning to visit the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. It’s an incredibly cool but also very remote area. I filled up gas in the last tiny town and started driving to the desert.
My 2011 F-150 gets 8 miles to the gallon when I’m towing my 25′ travel trailer. Sure enough, the gas gauge hit half a tank before we made it to the camp site. Knowing we’d have to make it BACK, we had to stop our trip. We were only 20 miles from the camp site, but we wouldn’t have enough gas to get back to the nearest gas station. We had to turn around and find a new camp site. We had an extra 5 gallon gas tank, but we’d need some of that for the generator, so we didn’t want to risk it.
Lesson learned: Check the range of your rig on a tank of gas before heading into very remote areas. Also, you can’t have too many gas cans.
Check out this Guide to Motorhome Gas Mileage, including 21 examples of specific motorhomes.
Using RV Stabilizers as Leveling Jacks
I didn’t make this big RV mistake this year, but I learned about it. I asked the repair guy at Camping World:
What is the most common RV repair that could be easily avoided?
His answer: people using the stabilizers to raise up the trailer to change a flat, or just generally cranking them too high.
Lesson Learned: The stabilizers on your RV are not leveling jacks.
RV leveling jacks should lightly touch the ground to keep the RV from bouncing as you walk around, and that’s it. If you continue cranking them to raise the RV a little, they are likely to break.
Neglecting to Winterize the RV
Your RV holds a lot of water. You really do need to winterize, BEFORE the temperatures at night hit 32 degrees (0 celsius).
Lesson learned: Even when tanks are empty a small amount of leftover water at the end of the camping season can cause trouble in the winter.
Learn how to store an RV in the winter without causing damage.
Not Waiting for 4×4 Low to Activate
This big RV mistake was really one of not knowing my truck, since it was new and towing for the first time. We were coming out of a steep incline in a dirt road from a camping spot. The truck lost traction and started digging a hole. Bummer.
We tried multiple times and couldn’t make it up the steep incline before the truck lost traction again. I put the truck into 4×4 and tried again and again.
Lesson learned: I didn’t realize is that my truck takes about 2 seconds of sitting in neutral before it kicks into 4×4 LOW.
My truck kicks into 4×4 high immediately. So although I thought I was in 4 wheel drive, I actually wasn’t. As soon as it engaged, we got out immediately. We wasted a bunch of time filling the hole with branches and rocks and all sorts of things, which turned out to be wasted effort.
Moving the Slide Without Checking for Obstacles
Many RVers place a TV just outside the slide on a side wall of the bathroom exterior or the bunk exterior. That’s what I did. And twice I’ve come extremely close to ripping my TV off the wall because it is on a tilting bracket that gets caught in the slide.
Lesson learned: Check everywhere–outside and inside the RV–when closing or opening the slide.
Forgetting to Check Ground Clearance
I let my friend borrow my travel trailer last week and this was the mistake he made. He went up a rough dirt road and the bottom-front of the trailer contacted the ground. The impact bent the stabilizers. It was an inexpensive and quick RV repair, but it’s something I’ll be more careful to avoid in the future.
Lesson learned: drive slowly to avoid bottomming out.
It isn’t a real big deal to replace RV stabilizers. For $70 you can easily pick up a couple stabilizers and bolt them on in 20 minutes. Still, it’s not exactly fun when you make a mistake like this.
Traveling Without Essential Gear
There are a few essential RV items to have with you so that you can prevent issues from ruining your trip. My first few trips I packed these items from home, but after forgetting them a few times, I just bought a separate one of each of these to keep stored IN the trailer so it’s there when I need it.
Each one of these items is a link to get the item on Amazon.
- DC-powered Air compressor for RV tires. This is the one that I bought. I recommend it for travel trailers, fifth wheels, and Class B motorhomes. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for Class A and C motorhomes, which need a more powerful compressor.
- First aid kit in case of a human emergency
- Basic tool kit that stays IN the RV
- And these other things to buy for your new RV.
Neglecting the RV Walk Around
My wife and I have developed a “walk around rule” which has saved us DOZENS of times. Each of us separately walks completely around the RV and truck once before we drive away. NEARLY EVERY TIME we do this, we find something we would have missed otherwise.
It can be easy to forget to lock one of the storage cabinets under the RV. This can be extremely dangerous if a block of wood, jack, or something else were to fly out and go bouncing down the freeway behind you. It’s also easy to forget to retract the stabilizer jacks, or the stairs, etc.
Lesson learned: always do the RV walkaround before, during and after travel.
There are a dozen or more things you need to remember before pulling out from a campsite. Make a list and memorize it.
Failing to Change Generator Oil
I didn’t make this mistake with my generator. But I did make it with another small engine (my lawn mower) this year which destroyed it.
Lesson learned: check your RV generator manual and follow the maintenance recommendations.
At the start of each camping season to put new oil in the old generator to keep it humming.
Setting Locked Hitch on Top of Ball, Then Driving Away
I made this mistake once with my boat and it almost caused a major disaster. I lowered the front jack so the boat hitch lowered down onto the trailer ball. HOWEVER, I was distracted and forgot to open the lock.
Then I hooked up my chains and everything else and started driving. Fortunately, I only made it three or four feet before I recognized my error after feeling some odd bouncing on the trailer.
Lesson Learned: To ensure the ball is locked in place, lower it down and then raise the jack again to make sure it picks up the back of the truck. That’s the only way to be certain it’s locked and properly seated.
Falling Asleep at the Wheel
If you’re going to die in your RV, it’s probably going to be because of this one. I never fell asleep while driving my RV this year, but I certainly saw lots of wrecks. I’d bet that a significant number of major freeway wrecks are from falling asleep.
Lesson learned: Don’t drive too long or too far. Pull over before getting sleepy!
This is one reason why I am buying a Tesla. It drives itself!
Neglecting RV Roof Seals
Check roof seals twice a year. This is to ensure there are no cracks, tears, or anything else. Even a hairline crack can spell disaster! I haven’t made this mistake yet in my first year, but as I’ve looked at other RVs (considering a fifth wheel), it’s the mistake that others have made that has ruined many RVs.
Lesson learned: Have the people at the dealership do the checking. They are financially incentivized to find something. They will tell you if there’s any potential for water intrusion.
Powering Down the Winch with Extended Stabilizer Jacks
I have made this mistake twice now. Fortunately I caught myself before doing major damage to the jack. Stabilizer jacks cannot hold the weight of an RV. They are for stabilization only.
If you power down the winch in the front to lower the RV onto the ball, then the stabilizer jacks will almost certainly bend. It’s also easy to put three down, get distracted, and forget the fourth stabilizer jack.
Lesson learned: Do a full walk-around of the RV before powering the winch down.
Using the Wrong Kind of RV Toilet Paper
This isn’t really a mistake I made this year, but rather a discovery that led me to prevent a mistake. I almost bought the expensive “RV toilet tissue” to prevent it from clogging the drains in my trailer.
Instead, I went with Charmin Ultra Soft after watching this youtube video that shows that it does BETTER than the RV toilet tissue.
Lesson learned: you don’t need to buy expensive RV-safe toilet paper. Surprisingly, some of the RV toilet tissue did not perform well in this test.
Towing a 5th Wheel with a Half Ton Truck
One of the things I’ve been looking at is trading in my trailer for a fifth wheel. I LOVE the layouts in fifth wheels for having a family. However, I own a Ford F-150 half ton.
Many people check the tow capacity of their truck and the weight of the RV and say they’re set. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
I’m not saying that there aren’t half ton towable fifth wheels. I’m just saying that usually when someone thinks their rig is half ton towable–it isn’t.
Lesson learned: Know your RV’s GVWR (and why it matters). You really need to check into EVERY number to stay safe on the road. Usually, pin weight is the sticking point.
Blowing Out the Stove Burner (Instead of Turning It Off)
This is another mistake that I learned about this year that I was able to avoid. We all know the danger of carbon monoxide in RVs. If not, you need to.
I learned that one common cause of poisoning is when cooking with the stove.
Lesson learned: always turn your stove burner off at the dial. If your burner blows out instead of being turned off, then the propane is still being piped into the RV.
Mounting Too Much Weight to the Trailer Bumper
When we first bought our travel trailer, we had an SUV so there wasn’t a convenient place to store the generator. Inside the SUV made it smell like gas in the car, and inside the trailer had the same issue. So I wanted to mount my AWESOME Champion generator to the RV bumper. That would have been a huge mistake. A friend was able to talk sense into me before I did it.
Lesson learned: The bumper on many RVs just can’t handle that kind of generator weight.
Soon after, we got a truck so we were able to simply store it in there. But I also learned about these RV bumper supports that you can put on the back of the RV to fix this problem as well.
Storing the RV without a Cover
Another mistake I’ve seen others make this year is leaving your RV uncovered. I’m a firm believer that you’ll save money in the long run by paying for a covered spot at a storage facility or getting a cheap carport at your house.
Lesson learned: If it costs you an extra $30 per month at the storage facility, but makes your RV last longer and need fewer roof repairs, it will pay for itself many times over.
All it takes is one hole in the roof during the winter and you could let in a tremendous amount of water. I’d venture a guess that the number 1 killer of RVs is water intrusion.
Assuming Your RV is Four Season When it Isn’t
The term “four season” to an RV salesperson does not mean “four season” to manufacturers. I was amazed how many sales people showed me “four season” trailers with obviously exposed lines, tanks, and pipes.
Lesson learned: Do a little inspection and don’t trust the marketing.
Get on your back on the concrete and look underneath the rig. Are there obvious lines that have no insulation or heating?
Leaving the RV Ceiling Vent Open During Rainy Weather
I made this mistake one day. Fortunately I found the mistake before leaving the RV ceiling open too long.
We were sitting down as a family enjoying a nice game of Clue when I suddenly realized that I’d left the vent open in the bathroom and was able to close it. I cleaned up the little bit of water that came in. No big deal.
Lesson learned: Keep the RV ceiling vent closed during bad weather, while driving and when you store the RV.
Buying My RV from Camping World
I purchased a brand new Rockwood MiniLite 2504s (watch my video review of the Rockwood trailer here) this year. I love my trailer and I’d probably choose it again if I could go back in time.
However, I would not have purchased at Camping World. I also would have gone in with a different expectation. First of all, Camping World gave us wonderful treatment until the instant that we gave them our money. The instant the deal was done, the customer service became pathetic.
Our trailer has spent more days at Camping World being fixed than we’ve actually used it. Our Rockwood has had a few minor issues (entertainment system didn’t work on delivery so it was replaced, two pieces of trim became loose, etc.) Small things. Yet, Camping World has had the trailer in for months to fix them.
Lesson learned: I will never, ever buy from Camping World again. Period. Instead, I would know how to get a good RV deal with these tips.
I hope you can learn from the common small and big RV mistakes people make. Don’t let these rookie maneuvers happen to you. Remember, no-hassle RVing usually begins with the RV owner. Keep learning how to keep your RV in pristine condition and you’ll be rewarded with years of trouble-free RVing.
83 thoughts on “Big RV Mistakes I Made With My Trailer This Year”
Be careful you aren’t blaming the dealerships for problems that belong to the manufacturer. I used to haul RVs to places like camping world and others. They would come out of manufacture with damage. It would be reported and we would be told to take it to delivery anyway. Then the dealership receives the damaged product and has to sit and wait for whenever the manufacturer decides to send parts and supplies to fix them. (They aren’t allowed to use part from the sales floor per contract) So most of the long wait times are manufacturing not dealership.
RV fenders are perfect for improving the car’s overall appearance. Additionally, these add-ons aid in decreasing drag, improving fuel efficiency, and lowering maintenance expenses.
You are sooo right about Camping World… We bought a 2023 Keystone 5th Wheel about a month ago.Already made our 1st payment, and haven’t even hooked the truck up to it yet. It has been in the shop for a month for them to fix some broken trim and wiring. Absolutely horrible experience…
General RV is just as bad. I bought a brand new 2021 RV. The customer service is horrible.
Yes I hear that about them. I bought mine from Recreation RV and I now know why they call it Wreck RV. 😞
Omg, I wish I would have done my research on where to buy my RV!!! Wish I would have came across this articles as well.
I have to agree Camping World is by far the worst business I have ever dealt with. All they care about is your money and once they have that, they could care less about you as a customer. I have been trying to get them to call me back since the day they delivered the rv which was Oct 15th!! Bunch of BS!!
I agree about never purchasing a unit from Camping World. They were absolutely wonderful until the deal was done. And little did I know that they sold me a unit that wasn’t adequate for full-time living. I am a single mom and I can’t do anything about the situation I’m currently in. They made a bad situation worse for me in so many ways.
Good list. Regarding stabilizers, one can switch them out for actual jacks made for that purpose. I bought four “Stabilizing Scissor Jacks” for my bumper-pull from Amazon for under $150. Each jack can lift and support as much as 5000 pounds, depending on the set you get. Makes it vastly easy to level a trailer on extremely unlevel sites and avoids the common issues with (useless) stabilizers. And you can legitimately use them to change a tire. Just don’t lift all four tires off the ground because jacks could possibly bend sideways — keep one side with chocked tires on the ground.
Excellent article with some very sound advice. I will add: Forgetting to lower your tailgate when backing up to hookup your fifth wheel.
There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed. Any tips? Appreciate it!
It’s good to know that the stabilizers on the RV aren’t meant to jack up the vehicle at all and are just for making it not rock when you’re inside it. My wife and I went on a trip in my father’s old RV two weeks ago, and we might have cranked those too hard when we set up camp. We should look into what it will take to fix that, and we’ll be sure to keep it in good condition in the future. https://www.pikespeakrv.com/page/service
Curious, what SUV did you have and which travel trailer did you mate with it?
Small roof leaks might not seem like a big deal, but it can lead to bigger and more expensive problems like mold, and roof damage. Finding the exact cause of a roof leak isn’t always easy, especially for an untrained eye. Keep a close eye on roof leaks, narrow down the culprits and patch up them with RV Liquid Roof before the problem gets out of hand.
It’s really great that you mentioned here that it’s terrible to take curves too fast when driving an RV as this will have a higher risk of getting into an accident and cause huge damage for your vehicle. I must admit, I am guilty of such practice. Whenever there’s a curvy path, I tend to drive fast because it gives me thrill. Apparently, because of this habit, it had led my RV being wrecked while striking on a line of traffic cones along the highway. It truly is a lesson learned. Hopefully, I can find a good auto repair service that can bring back my RV’s life like it’s brand new again.
you DO realize that If you have Issues and need to take your trailor in to a pro to get fixed, About 1000 other people Also need those same Pros
Lines and waits can get quite long during the “season” Its always best if you can hold off for the “off season” or do the repairs yourself
Based on the picture, that tree appears to be after the sidewalk, meaning that’s city property. Please don’t cut/trim/modify trees that don’t belong to you. If your neighborhood street is lined with trees, they are for your neighborhood to enjoy. Not for you to trim them as you see fit because your rv doesn’t fit in that spot. Park somewhere else or ask the city to trim it (if they will).
I’d be way pissed if my neighbours started trimming trees to park their RVs in front (many cities don’t even allow RV street parking).
Nope. Entirely wrong. I own this tree and it’s my property–not the city’s. Actually, I’m legally obligated to maintain this tree in a way to not negatively impact traffic on the street in front of my house.
Also, street-side RV parking IS allowed on this street as long as the vehicle does not remain in one spot for over 24 hours. I’m not sure why you think you are some kind of expert on the property rights in my city, for my property, and in my neighborhood, but you were wrong on all accounts.
*hands on waist, turns nose up in the air, “Uh excuse me, you’re entirely wrong on ALL accounts, this is MY tree”
Well that is what the net is all about. Half-assed arm chair experts that never do anything but give advice that nobody asked for. Idiot probably lives in a rented single wide in a trailer park.
Amen, some people are not happy unless they are looking for ways that you are wrong and how they are right, or simply said they are busy body’s who think they know everything about everything ! Don’t let them get under your skin, or they will naw at you like a chigger !!!
Thank you for explaining that the RV stabilizer is not a car jack and shouldn’t be used to raise your trailer to change flat tires. Uncle Charles should remember this, so the next time he wouldn’t be tempted to crank his stabilizer or risk breaking them. Should he unwittingly set his stabilizers too high and it breaks, he should make sure to immediately get his RV repaired by experts since he’s literally lived in it most of his adult life. It would be good if he could also have them check on his breaks.
If my travel trailer is sitting parked in the yard, tires are on wood boards, but trailer is not level, can this cause water leakage ?The floor is damp in the slideout area, which the slideout is closed. I am new to all this, just brought the trailer home 2 weeks ago. Working on getting it setup. Ordered a cover but it’s not here yet. We have had 2 nasty snow/ ice storms, one just this week, and one last week. Aren’t using it yet, it was winterized when I bought it. I did get a cover for the rooftop ac unit too. I plan on calling dealer tomorrow, but wondering what I may have done wrong?
Thank you for reminding us that RV’s need to be covered at all times when not in use to lengthen its lifespan. Getting in an RV is quite an investment, so it would be good to protect it from the elements when you’re not traveling. I would suggest that a new, bigger garage be constructed to protect the RV should it arrive by July.
I just purchased a vintage 13′ fiberglass egg to tow with my mini van. I haven’t done this since I sold my 24′ TT 25 years ago! I have forgotten more than I remember about rv life so thanks for the checklist, even though some of it doesn’t apply.
I was nice that you mentioned about not parking your trailer on tree-lined streets because trailers are known to hit the limbs. It definitely pays not to either scratch the vehicle or damage the tree. My uncle is planning to buy a trailer truck mid-year and this is one of those tips that I share to him, since he lives in the woody and hilly part of the state. Nevertheless, nothing would be too hard for a professional trailer truck repair.
Thank you for the informative post.
We should always take care of our RV’s to protect our investment.
There is no love list with me when it comes to Camping World. Our RV just spent 6 months at Camping World getting the back cap fixed. I took it there in August so I figured it didn’t need to be winterized. Long story short they gave me the run around for the entire 6 months and also told me they had winterized it…. We got it back finally last weekend, it’s Jan. 20 and guess who’s wintetizing it today? Luckily I haven’t noticed any leaks.
Camping World is the RV dealer from hell. But, there are many more like them. It is the industry standard. The worst Craig’s List deal is better than CW.
Safety is the main priority when you travel. In order to do so, you must check your car always and have car maintenance regularly.
I recently got an RV,I will keep these in mind and use it for sure.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for explain these twenty seven mistakes about campervan. i will like to say that is awareness article which is a good step for everyone. I have picked these tips and i will say thank for this.
Great article. .Super helpful and realistic feedback, etc. Thanks. My wife & I are shopping for a smaller trailer( 16-18′) to do weekend So. Calif. beach trips, etc. I am curious about the side AC units vs rooftop. Ac operation and potential service or replacement is a concern. Also it’s very difficult to determine a good resource for ranking quality of trailers. Any thoughts?
As far as air conditioners, side mounted ones are cheaper and can save you hundreds as compared to replacement of a roof top one. performance of each? Not sure but I can imagine both kinds work fine. If you want a quality camper, look for Rockwood and forest river (they are essentially the same), Jayco and Heartland edge series. You will spend at least 5k more for the same type of camper but the quality you get is worth it. I’m not sure if there is a database rank of camper quality but these brands are the best quality especially rockwood.
It is good that you shared with us some of the errors you committed with the use of your RV like parking your vehicle against the curb of the house. As many are not really that well versed in how to use and take care of their RV, many will definitely find your article helpful and a good thing to pin on the ref for a constant reminder. Since our RV was damaged by the recent typhoon that hit our place, we are looking for a new RV nearby that is right for our budget and preference.
LOVE IT! A great list that absolutely guide me the right way.
We have a 2016 Gulfstream Gulfbreeze Champagne Edition 30RKS and we wanted to put our 130 pound ” Honda EU3000iS Generator ” on the Rear Bumper… Luckily we came across a FaceBook post showing a TTs rear bumper broke from its Weld’s to the frame,,, lying in a neighborhood street with a Bike Rack attached and 2 Bike’s strapped to it… The person living next to it dragged it into his front yard leaving it for the owner to come by and retrieve it… Then we got on YouTube and saw some video’s showing how to ” Reinforce ” a TT Rear Bumper with various additional Welding… But then we saw a video about the “”” Safety Struts “”” product that you bolt to your TTs I Beam-Frame or Box-Frame or C-Channel Frame with your bumper riding / setting on them… One set,,, a bracket for each side is rated to suport 500 pound’s but I did my usual Overkill Thang and bought 2 Set’s… We installed 2 Bracket’s on each side of the Frame,,, in our case we have the 8 inch I-Beam Frame,,, and now my carry “Weight Capacity is 1,000 pound’s”… Now we can have the peace of mind hauling the Honda Generator and other “Stuff” on our TTs Rear Bumper…
As far as awning go, mine got torn off the side of our RV with just a slight gust of wind. After evaluating how the manufacturer mounted it into the side it didn’t surprise me why it happened. They screwed it into the fiberglass side ONLY, no internal support at all. After getting everything back in place I installed from the inside some support blocks and reinstalled longer bigger screws coated with an epoxy. Not to worry about that side anymore. Now when I have it out I strap the 2 outer corners down to a solid item with a spring attached to one end. Never had any issues since. Safe travels
Great article with many great responses. If I may iterate on a couple things,
First, leveling your RV. Yes, use blocks under your tires. Pay attention to the type of surface you are parking on. On soft dirt or sand those common plastic leveling blocks are not going to be good enough, you will need wider boards to help prevent you from shifting or sinking in the ground. In loose ground you will need something with a much bigger footprint to put under your tires. Jack’s, and stableizers. I have heard of people parking next to there truck only to find their trailer had slid into it overnight due to undersized blocks for the ground. And to add to this if you are on a slope you might want to drive in some deep stakes to help support your RV blocks from shifting.
Camping World, it appears that EVERYONE is aware of the terrible service they provide. I have also incurred problems with their on-line purchasing. The ONLY time I use them for anything is if it is on the shelf. This way there is no question with the purchase and i usually only by toilet paper and black water tank chemicals from them anyway. I do ALL of my own repairs and that included warranty work as well, due to the lies i was told when they “fixed” my light and brakes wiring under warranty. Nearly got my wife and i killed and blew my motor due to dragging my brakes up a 20 mile grade and overheated my truck. The dealer was partially at fault for this to. I trust my work, I am a Certified Master mechanic anyway. I just don’t know what to do when I get to old and fragile to do the heavy work.
So, alot of learning experiences. To help others, I can suggest one little test tool to help ensure that your 7 pin RV connector is functioning properly. It’s a little plug in device that plugs into the vehicle side of the trailer wiring harness that flashes you a code for each circuit to let you know if it works or not. So for example if your left turn signal on your trailer is not working this tool can tell you if the problem is on the truck or the trailer in just a minute.
I 100% agree on your Camping World . They could care less about customers once they have your money.
CAMPERS WORLD, 2Thumbs up ….
My wife and I bought a Coleman ( C.W. exclusive T.T.) yesterday. The one we wanted was there but already sold so our salesman walked us around in the pouring down rain and showed us about 20 different campers. Other than being a little pissed off he had to work on Sunday, he was very knowledgeable and professional. We ended up with a Travel Trailer with a nicer floor plan for the exact same sale price. He gave me his personal cell number and told me not to hesitate to call him with any questions or concerns. 5star service, Thanks Mike. Campers World of Manassas, Virginia…
After reading these comments and main article about “leaving the awning down”, I am surprised that no one has mentioned how the cited disasters can be avoided by using the latest items to prevent wind and rain damage – awning protection poles. I have used them for several years on my awning. I camp in Ohio and PA. When I get to my camper, I put the awning up and never take it down until I go home. A friend of mine boasts that she puts her awning up at the beginning of the season, attaches the protection poles and never takes it down until the end of the camping season. They are available on E-Bay and craig’s List. If you have an interest in learning more about these poles, contact me at [email protected].
Hello There, Thanks for sharing your experiences in here, It just helps people to in the future to keep their car safely in anywhere. I’m going to share your post in our Community. Thanks for your dedication to this Post.
My husband and I just got an RV, and we could use some tips for driving it so we can keep it in good shape. This article had some great tips for this, and I liked how you said to make sure you winterize your RV and clear it of all water before the temperature hits freezing. I would’ve never thought of this, so we’ll keep this in my when taking proper care of our RV.
I bought a 5th wheel few months ago. Dealer didnt tell me my rig has 2 gray tanks, and rear tank valve was open. I dumped nasty gray water on ground at rv park and couldnt figure out why it was gushing out when I knew valve was shut. The park ranger figured it out quick, then wrote me a citation for dumping tank on ground. I also forgot to lower tv antenna on roof. A tree lowered it for me, and tore most of it off my trailer. Best one was opening my slideout, right into electric panel and pulling it out of ground.
Gee, makes me want to run right out there and buy myself a passle of problems.
Great advice. I have found that dealers that are service only or primarily provide great service, can get parts much faster and keep you informed of their progress. I bought from CW and had my fifth wheel in for service, after a month they had done anything, I called and said I needed for a spare bedroom and picked up (possibly true, I had company coming for Thanksgiving). I took it to local service only shop, they completed the work in a couple of weeks and called twice a week to give me an update.
My husband and I just purchased an RV, and already its having some issues and will need to be taken in for repairs soon. We want to learn how to properly take care of our RV so we can avoid problems like this in the future, and your article had some great tips for just that. You mention to be aware of your clearance so you don’t rip off you stabilizers, as this can be around a $70 repair, and we’ll keep this in min when properly caring for our RV after repairs.
I have a problem that I cannot find the answer to anywhere. The guy that delivered my 5th wheel to its current home did a really great job of backing it backwards much to the owners dismay (he was gone for 3
For the day and knew of my arrival ). Now that I am moving on, the landlord is telling me that thenRV has to be pulled out from the rear ……and then when there is enough room for the tow guy to hook up he can back the RV from there. Is possible to pull a 5thnwheeler out this way? Wouldn?t the front fall forward? hope someone can answe this question.
Hard to know, unless you see the site. Typically if you can get a 5th wheel in a site you can get it out. Not always tho since a tow vehicle and rv, tracks differently in reverse than it does in forward. Towing a 5th wheel backwards would require a rolling jack to support your hitch pin. Maybe the landlord has one.
Always take down the awning in anything more than a lightbreeze, and never leave your RV with the awning down even if it’s not windywhen you leave. Applying Liquid Roof RV
Is able to fix all type of problems.
Thank you for your help! It is a blessing to keep learning in life sometime it is a hard pill to swallow at learning something new. Yes , Camping World is through with you once you make the sweet purchase.
Anyone know if you dont put your room pop outside, out completely will it leak?
Have a question. We are looking at parking our 26 foot camper on clay ground permanently at our sons house and was wondering if it is safe to do this. My husband is afraid it will sink into the ground if we don’t put a slab under it. Has anyone ever experienced this?
I have a couple of comments and suggestions – and I?m in the 25? travel trailer crowd as well, 25? Dutchman Kodiak, but plan to move up to about a 40? 5th wheel in 5 years when we retire. First, I dug around on Amazon until I found a pickup toolbox that would fit in the space between the propane tanks and the diamond plate on the front of the body. I used 4 frame bolts and a couple of tacks with the mig-welder to secure it, painted it black with some plasti-dip, and it became the perfect spot for 2 marine batteries in parallel, a solar charge converter, and the inverter for the 400 watt solar panel I put on the roof. Off-grid is no problem now, between the 3000 watt inverter/generator and the 400 watts from the solar panel, I can actually run the air conditioner without shore power. I then mounted a switch for the backup camera transmitter (basic toggle switch) on the side of that box as well, so I can just flip it on & off. I wired my camera though to a receiver in pickup and just run it full time when I?m driving like a rear view mirror, not just when backing up. Third, buy good tiers – Salun, Carlaisle, etc. None of that China bomb junk. Fourth, bring a second spare tire – I mounted a second one on the back after blowing a tire out exactly 5 miles into Death Valley when crossing it end to end. The road was garbage and I had to hobble without a spare the next 100 miles before finding a tire store open (one of the China bombs before learning lesson #3) – now, I carry 2 spares.
Comments – wow.. 8 mpg? Eek.. I won?t be venturing into a Ford dealer. I get around 14 with my Ram half-ton towing about 7,000 lbs, 32 gallon tank, 8-speed / HEMI. 16.9 if not towing and city driving, 20?ish freeway not-towing.
My last suggestion, the new Ram I bought last year is the first I have had with the Ram Box. I will NEVER have another truck without the Ram Box. For all of the reasons you mentioned above, it solves a lot of the problems. Power ports in the back of the truck, lighting, lots of space for tools, locking, out of the weather, and I just leave all the crap in the Ram Box and it?s always there when I need it, with or without the trailer connected. Driver side – tools + air compressor + cargo straps + cargo nets, tow-chains, etc. Passenger side – holster for 3 rifles or shotguns for my numerous hunting trips every year.
Sailun not Salun tires are made in China. China tires are junk, I agree. Goodyear and Cooper are the only tires made exclusively in the USA. Michelin tires are the best you can buy but even some of them were made in China for awhile. The side of the actual tire will tell you where it is made. Don’t forget to check when your tire was made, you can lookup how to tell on the internet. Some brand new tires have been sitting around for years.
I would buy the highest load rating on a steel belted radial tire you can buy that fits your wheel. Don’t leave all the weight of the trailer or motor home sitting on your tires while your unit is in storage. This creates bulges that will heat up when you hit the road and can cause damage or failure before they even out.
Please clarify your statement, “Don’t leave all the weight of the trailer or motor home sitting on your tires while your unit is in storage”. What do you suggest?
If you are getting 16.9 mpg towing 8,000 pounds you are not going over 55 mph and no hills
Leaving the Awning Down While at the family reunion this summer, my brother-in-law set out his RV awning on a hot day and then went to the store. Lesson learned: Always take down the awning in anything more than a light breeze and never leave your RV with the awning down even if it’s not windy when you leave.
A wench is typically a pejorative term for a woman engaged in pleasures of the flesh. A winch is a machine that typically coils a rope or chain to lift or haul.
This is a great article and a good guide for a check list so those errors are avoided.
Happy trails, David
I’ll fix the typo, but I had to respond to the comment. I think your feedback made my day for some reason.
After living and traveling in my older 5th wheel all I can add is….. this is all good stuff. They should print this blog and hand it out with each title transfer!!!
My most recent lesson, TIRE AGE!!! After 7 years they need replaced as almost every mfg recommends.
Here?s my Camping World story. Went in to look at some TT?s. I was led to a salesman?s office where apparently their policy was to get your email, phone number, address and what your interested in buying.. Ok, I gave him my email and phone number but I didn?t think he needed my address at this stage so I refused. He kept insisting he have my address and I kept telling him I wasn?t comfortable with it. So, get this, he stands up and says he was done and wasn?t gonna show me any trailers. I was flabbergasted. I initiated a complaint that made its way to their Denver office and I was offered $50.00 to go back into their store. Needless to say I bought a trailer from their competitor. True story.
Very good article. A lot of good advice. I second the purchase at camping world. We had a $30,000 camper for 3 months free and clear. We had to call and tell them they weren’t getting paid by the bank because the pasted the loan approval time frame. We have several things that need fixed but we are waiting until end of season for that exact reason.
My husband and I have just purchased our 1st Travel trailer and we are staying at our family’s property. The driveway is not level so they had to use jacks higher on one side then the other.
When we walk inside we feel movement. Is this normal?
The “jacks” are not JACKS to level your camper, trailer, 5th wheel or whatever! You need levelers, squares of sturdy plastic, or even pieces of wood to put under the tires to level the trailer. The stabilizers are to stabilize the trailer – to keep it from rocking when you’re in it. When you use the stabilizers, they are to hit the ground and as mine are manual, I give them one more pump so they are steady on the ground. I’m not being ‘nasty’, I just want you to use the stabilizers as intended, and save yourself replacement money when they bend. The first thing that helps is to stop calling them jacks … call them what they are – stabilizers.
I agree 100% about Camping World. All they care about is the sale.
Excellent information! Bought our first travel trailer from camping world spur of the moment 3 weeks ago. Same response, soon as cash hit the table all pleasantries disappeared! Won?t buy from camping world again.
Dropped mine while camping at disney fort wilderness. Did?nt hurt the trailer but my bed sides did have a small crease where the trailer landed. I built an aluminum flatbed for my truck.
How was the camping there?
I was thinking of bringing my grandsons there! Please tell me about your experience!!!!!!
Campingworld customer service is terrible. They had my FR class A for 6 wks. We only had it 5 days. EXCUSES,EXCUSES,EXCUSE. Thanks for a great article. As newbies it is nice to read about others mistakes so as to possibly avoid them.
Checking your tires in the morning each travel day is good but that is no substitute for running a TPMS that will warn you if you get a puncture. If you get a puncture you can destroy a tire in just a few miles and that could lead the $thousands in damage to the RV. I cover the advantages of using a TPMS in my RV Tire Safety blog. http://www.RVTireSafety.net
I didn’t realize that the most common repairs are needed when people misused the stabilizers. My husband and I recently got an RV, and we used the stabilizers this way. I didn’t realize that this could cause problems, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future. I’ll take my RV to a repair shop to see if they need to be fixed.
If you own an RV this is your ultimate guide. These are RV mistakes that you should avoid on a regular basis. You can avoid these RV mistakes to keep it in good running condition. The most important thing is to check your tires to ensure smooth running.
Amazing article, You have explained every point in a good manner and in a efficient way. The ideas are amazing and content is good.
Keep it up.
Jim, I have a question for you. I noticed that you had a Dodge Durango Hemi when you first bought your 2504S, but it appears you now have an F-150 according to the photos. So my question is: was it a mistake to think the Durango Hemi was adequate to tow the 2504S? If so, why? I ask this because I am thinking about the exact same setup (a Dodge Durango Hemi w/2504S).
@JasonL – We didn’t have any trouble towing with the Durango. Just bought the truck for fun.
Excellent! Thanks for the feedback, Jim! Helps put my mind at ease.
This was very useful, thanks. I agree totally about Camping World — they almost caused us a MAJOR issue this past week after having our new travel trailer in the shop for weeks. I took it in for them to replace a bent electric jack. Unfortunately, in doing so they removed the cable for the breakaway switch. We picked it up , drove off, and went over a mile before another driver waved us over to alert us that the brakes were smoking. We had to stop on the road — no shoulder available — and direct traffic while we prayed the trailer wasn’t about to catch fire! When we called them, the person on the phone new immediately what the issue was and said she was sending someone to help us. Turned out it was just a friend of hers who brought us a replacement cable! We appreciated him, but Camping World was to blame and should be at least acting concerned.
My 72-year-old mother just bought a 35 foot Puma travel trailer from Camping World in New Braunfels, and they were so very helpful while they were closing the deal, but my husband and I were pulling the camper for her from the dealership, and we did not get 30 miles from the dealership when the entire tire tread came off one of the tires on the right-hand side of the camper and came through the floor and put a nice size hole in the bottom of the camper along with the tire tread and splinters of plywood all over the inside of the camper. When I called Camping World to let them know that we did not even make it 30 miles and explained the incident to them, their response was, “Well, that’s why you have insurance.” So, we told them that we felt that they should be responsible for this and they said absolutely not and hung up the phone. We put the spare tire on the travel trailer and were heading back to the dealership to return the travel trailer to them, and low and behold we had a tire blowout on the left-hand side of the travel trailer with the tire tread doing the exact same thing. Thank goodness we were not far from a service department who was nice enough to help us get the travel trailer to his parking lot so that we could leave it there because we did not have another tire to replace the second blow out. I WOULD RECOMMEND THAT NO ONE EVER BUY ANYTHING FROM CAMPING WORLD!!! What are other’s thoughts on this situation? Does anybody feel that it would be common for you two have two blowouts within 30 miles of the dealership when it was supposed to have gone through a thorough inspection?
Always, always check the build date of the tires on any trailer you are considering. Over three years old and just sitting on dealer’s lot waiting to be sold is a death knell for tires if you head out on the highway. Insist upon new tires before leaving the dealer’s lot.
I made my first rookie mistake and I am surprised I didn’t see it written anywhere in any post, so I will share to hopefully prevent someone else from doing.
I opened my faucet after boon docking to help drain the water out, then left the faucets open. The next time I went camping I hooked up to city water… the drain stopper must have fell in place and plugged the sink. Very quickly the faucets filled the sink and started to flood my RV.
Yikes. I guess that is why they call them rookie mistakes. Luckily I caught it quickly and was able to clean up all the water with 3 beach towels.
Just a note about RV repairs…we bought a very large standard bumper tow TT 4 years ago, and had it for two years before we traded it for a huge class A. It was very nice, and was our first foray into RVing. My experience is that pretty much anywhere you buy it, the customer service is great until the cash hits the dealership account. Then, its horrible. You make an appt for service…three weeks in the future. But the reality is that you are making a drop off appointment not a repair appt. Then, they tell you that it will be 3-4 weeks before they check the problem, then order parts, that usually take 6 weeks to arrive, then another 2-4 weeks in the queue to have the repair done. This is not unique to Camping World…it’s pretty much everywhere. So, my advice, is to keep an eye on the TT/RV year round. As soon as you notice a few issues in January-February, get it in to the shop, so you have it back by mid-late May, in time for camping season.
BTW, I enjoyed your video on trailer length for national parks. What I’ve discovered is that anything much more than 22-24′ makes it really hard to tow a trailer into ANY state park in California. (Ours was 35′, our new RV is over 40′, limiting us to private RV parks and resorts for the most part). We went to the RV with the idea that it would be for long cross country trips, and that we’d add a small TT, 22′ or so, later on to enjoy the state parks closer to us. I grew up tent camping with my folks in Yosemite. At my age now, I’d hesitate to tent camp anymore.
Another wonderful post. Good selection on the generator and we already switched to the Charmin Ultra Soft at home because of having seen that video a year ago or so.
Unfortunately, other than for safety concerns, I doubt there will be much improvement in trailers being built without problems. On the safety side the government has already been handing out some hefty fines because of failure to recall or track safety issues. Unlike the auto market, where after World War 2 the Japanese dominated because of our throw away views in society. Then Dr. Deming worked it all out with Ford Motor Company where Quality was Job One. The US auto market learned and came back to what it is today. Lack of true competition will most likely prevent any great improvements in the RV industry other than in some of the smaller companies which build a nice unit. Most of those smaller companies build out of a the typical mass market price points where most are not willing to pay for quality given how quickly an RV depreciates.
No wonder so many people fix their own trailers when they can given how long a dealership keeps it. Other than major repairs and when one wants to use their warranty. Fortunately, there are mobile repair techs.
If you get a chance, check out Augusta RV and their business model. Really like their Ambition fifth wheel. But – they are costly. You get what you pay for really does apply to the RV industry.
Great information in your series of write ups.