Is It Safe To Drive an RV in the Winter?


No matter how well you prepare for a trip, things don’t always go as planned. This is often the case with inclement weather, where the weather forecast might say one thing, but Mother Nature says otherwise.

Driving during winter can even be more challenging, as it brings other dangerous elements not normally encountered the rest of the year. It’s a good thing RVs for cold weather exist for battling the wind, rain, and snow.

Regardless of what type of RV you own, driving during cold weather usually isn’t off-limits. You simply have to follow these tips for boosting safety and comfort on the snowy road.

Tips for RV Winter Driving

If you find yourself driving a recreational motor home in the snow, these tips should help you make the best of the situation.

1. Bring Enough Supplies

The snow and the cold means you can’t make grocery and supply stops as frequently. So, make sure you have everything you need before the trip, including meals and snacks for every stop. Stock up on water, propane, fuel, and other supplies in case you get stuck or stranded somewhere.

Though you won’t likely die of hunger or thirst, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. After all, this is Mother Nature we’re talking about, and she never operates according to a script.

On that note, make sure to get the roadside emergency kit in order. More often than not, you should find this a big help in every less-than-ideal on-the-road situation.

2. Keep Your Tires in Order

Worn-out tires have a higher probability of sliding or skidding off the road. That’s not something you want to happen in any scenario. What’s worse is the snow only increases the risk of that occurrence. Hence, it’s paramount to keep RV tires up to snuff at all times, especially when driving in cold weather.

Tire type also impacts how a recreational motorhome can handle the snow. A tire can be summer- or highway-specific, which should still be appropriate, but not ideal for winter driving. Tires for winter driving not only make navigating snowy paths smoother and easier, but they also make it safer.

Another way to boost how tires handle the snow is by using tire chains to increase traction, which is essential in certain areas than in others. Installing tire chains properly requires practice, so make sure to do so ahead of time.

You must also consider your type of RV, as it can be more challenging to install on motorhomes with dual back wheels. On the other hand, a towable or Class C RV offers easier installation for tire chains using a rapid jack.

3. Check the Battery

While this should be a given, cold weather or not, the cold weather can take more of a toll on auto batteries. To prevent your RVs main and auxiliary batteries from suffering from the cold, check if they’re fit for powering your vehicle through long distances. Having them run in poor working conditions is a recipe for numerous challenges down the road.

Battery levels can be checked using a multimeter or by bringing your ride to a shop. If you’re checking the batteries yourself, make sure not to overlook the auxiliary batteries. Over time, batteries start to lose their ability to hold a charge, which means less power for the RV. If you find this being the case in one of your inspections, consider replacing the batteries or upgrading to lithium batteries.

4. Drive Slower

Driving an RV during winter means giving yourself a little more time to reach your destination. RVs operate differently than regular cars, especially in winter. The rear-wheel-drive powers most RVs, while the all-wheel or front-wheel drive operates most cars. Thus, the front wheels help steer an RV, and the back wheels propel it forward.

Unfortunately, rear-wheel-centric vehicles are more difficult to operate in snowy conditions. They’re harder to control, and the slightest error or misjudgment could cause them to skid. That could cause you to lose control and your vehicle to fishtail. We all know where that’s headed, and it’s not pretty.

Driving slower allows for more control over your vehicle on slippery roads and snowy paths. If your RV runs on diesel, power off the exhaust brake to reduce the chances of slipping. Use low light beams if it’s actively snowing for better visibility.

Use Your Best Judgment

Ultimately, you decide if you want to take on a particular winter day or not. Sometimes, it’s doable, and other times it’s too much trouble. Your experience and comfort level should help make the decision for you. Contingency plans are also necessary for these scenarios because you never quite know what could happen. Safety should be the utmost priority, and you should back out of any plan and stay put the moment you feel conditions would compromise that.


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