The question was asked: What is the safe and correct way to pull a bumper pull RV Travel Trailer or Camper?
For safe bumper pull RV camper pulling, obviously driving safely is a concern, so we will touch briefly on a couple of subjects. We will also discuss the safest set up for pulling your RV Travel Trailer / RV Camper.
Pulling your RV Camper Travel Trailer
- Pulling your RV trailer, swing corners wide, and pay attention to overheads and clearance while driving. Adopt the “don’t break my big glass bubble” attitude. Watching your corners is important, clearance in parking lots you might want to use, including gas stations. Plan your route in a gas station before you enter! Be cautious to the proximity of things that you could hit including how wide your lane is. Make sure your turning radius wide enough for your RV pull behind trailer to clear. Don’t forget to watch that Air Conditioner sticking up on top! Walk in if you have to, as many drive through Fast Food Restaurants do not accommodate tall RV Travel Trailers very well.
- To back up a bumper pull travel trailer rv, simple trust in your mirrors when backing helps. Practice mirror driving or backing. Start with backing a straight line, then when you turn and back into an RV Site, that inside mirror is the one you will want to watch. When backing in, it is always best to have the driver’s side, driver’s mirror, on the inside of your backing turn. It is much easier to watch your trailer. The adjustment of your steering wheel to get that angle is helpful. You might take a few stabs at it, but be patient, you will get her in there!
- Watch your driving conditions, feel the vehicle, watch the trailer, and show caution towards sway, pull, or noises. Slow is always better than fast. Take your time, enjoy the ride!
- Pump, not hold brakes. They can heat up on down hill grades. Gear down!
- Give yourself much more room when following someone. Increase your following distance when pulling any weight.
- Be cautious on which roads you choose. Main highway passes are best in altitude, and scouting without the RV is never a bad idea when in doubt.
- Be in concert with your rider, two sets of eyes are better than one. It is best the rider not yell either. Warn in advance, and drive slower in traffic areas. Be prepared to easily slow down, and always approach any situation with caution. Remember, you are probably approaching 4 to 5 tons or ten thousand pounds, possibly much more!
Note: Wal*mart parking lots are known for accommodating RVs pretty well, so you can unhitch or check things there: if there is one nearby. They also have some supplies inside, but nothing too technical or heavy repair related, just general supplies. Auto Parts Stores, Trailer Dealers, even Utility Trailer Dealers have many parts you might need. Many Wal*marts allow you to spend the night for free. Truck stops also have a place to spend the night, and some of them have a few supplies too. It is called “Boon-docking” to spend the night with your RV in these places. You are not charged when Boon-docking.
Pulling an RV Travel Trailer Safely:
To start, it is always best to know what your pulling weight is on your Pick up, SUV, or pulling vehicle for your RV Trailer. All vehicles have a towing capacity and a GVWR. the GVWR is the gross vehicle weight ratio, and the towing capacity is shimply the weight that your vehicle can tow. I stay pretty close, because of an experience at pulling a Travel Trailer up a 26 percent grade by surprise. We did not know it was that steep, as we crossed the Senora Pass in California. We geared it down all the way, and lost all power in first gear! Our truck completely ran out of power, and did not have enough horse power to pull the trailer up the pass!
Luckily, I remembered my RV travel trailer towing vehicle had four wheel drive low. That is always a plus when pulling an RV. You never know when you need more gear, or traction. I shifted down to 4 low, and we were in 3rd gear in a matter of moments. Everyone stopped behind us however, and wondered how much they liked stopping on the middle of a steep hill. Everyone followed, so all was good, and we were on our way. This is what happens when you don’t have enough pulling capacity. We were on switchbacks too, where the road goes back and forth with bends to climb a hill, not a good place to run out of power! This can happen to you, especially if you head to real mountains with altitude, that also has lower oxygen, starving your RV Pulling Vehicle from full power that it would have at lower altitudes.
RV Travel Trailer (Bumper Pull) Style Electric Brakes
RV Travel Trailer Brakes. RV Travel Trailer brakes are a must. Do not skip this part! RV Travel Trailer brakes keep the trailer from wanting to pass you when your RV Pulling Vehicle is wanting to stop, or you apply the brakes! In slippery, wet, or gravel laden roads , these conditions could be magnified. The condition of your pull behind RV Travel Trailer brakes should be in like new condition, personally never trusting brakes that someone else has run. Travel Trailer brakes can crystallize if someone that used the trailer before you rode their brakes, and made them hot. This reduces the effectiveness of the brake pads tremendously!
I replace brakes on used RV Travel Trailers before I do any long trip. It is easy to replace RV Trailer Brakes. If you go to a trailer supply house, the entire assembly is sold, so all it takes per axle is four bolts and a wire for electric brakes. They sell the back plate, complete with new shoes, springs, and everything all ready to use! Simply remove the four bolts on the back of the back plate, then slide on the new one. I also do wheel bearings, as when they freeze up, they can hold you hostage on the road. With new axle bearings, and new back plates, you have covered most of the moving parts on the bumper pull RV Travel Trailer! With everything else in order, you should be set for a safe trip. If you do not do it yourself, try most any Trailer dealer, RV or Utility, as they all have similar axles and parts: common trailer axles.
Never, but never, ride your brakes with your bumper pull RV Travel Trailer. We always gear down, then use the brakes in short spurts to reduce speed further. It seems that the motor is working hard to reduce your speed, and it is, but controlling speed and not heating up brakes is much worse! Let the motor do the work, and if your speed keeps wanting to run away at the speed you want to run down hill at, then reduce your speed thinking and go to a lower gear. Even if you do a mountain grade at 20 mph and it seems to take forever, yet your motor speed and safety is more comfortable, that is what you are looking for. You are not wanting to choose 35 mph for example, as a safe feeling, yet you are using your brakes all the time because you are in second gear. You might have to adjust your mental speed to be ok with 20. I try to keep my rpm below 5000 RPM, more like 4000 RPM as a desired maximum. With a low enough gear choice, I can hit the brakes, and slow down to say 3300 rpm, then let it ramp back up as I let the brakes cool.
RV Travel Trailer Inside Brake Controller. Most never vehicles, mine yet a 2002 because of our preferred “paid for status on RV and Trailer”, has an inside RV Travel Trailer Brake Controller socket, that matches the controller plug. The brake controllers plugs right in, so ask your RV or Auto Parts salesperson which brake controller fits your make and model of pulling vehicle. The RV Brake controller is a small black box, and mounts under the dash. Mine has two knobs, one flush on each side of the box, and a slide brake lever on the front, with an LED indicator to show it is functioning, and the light changes color when the brakes are properly set and applied. Once installed with the plug, and mounted to the dash, your Trailer hitch wires should work properly.
RV Travel Trailer, inside cab brake controller continued: you must fully hitch up the pull behind RV Travel Trailer and get ready to pull it. Make sure all connections are secure, ball, hitch, and brake wires. With all clear around the tires, pick a straight line to pull the rv, with some distance if desired. While accelerating forward, apply the brakes and slide the knob on front. This applies the trailer brakes only, not your pulling vehicle, so you should feel strong resistance. If it stops you from a slower speed, the brakes on the trailer are excellent!
Continuing with Travel Trailer Brakes, now to set the knobs. One knob applies the brakes at the same intensity or “foot strength” as your truck, so you will want to adjust that knob while rolling and braking, and roll the knob until you feel resistance from the back too. The other knob makes it grab gradually, or grippy. This knob set too high will make the brakes on your RV Travel Trailer lock up. You might want to make sure when you hit the brakes that it doesn’t grab and skid. It can grab to the point of locking up a tire and smoking the tire! With a dual axle RV travel trailer, you might not notice it right away, so can be damaging your tires! I set my knobs so the the pull behind RV travel trailer doesn’t grab, yet the trailer brakes seem to be just slightly stronger than the truck. It is not uncommon to dial one knob up or down for highway and city driving. Do test the brakes every time you hit the highway, knowing they are set and ready for your use, as you need your trailer brakes to be adjusted correctly. Play with the knobs at a slower rolling speed until they feel right. There is no magic, just touch. Lightly pump your brakes as you roll down the road, and feel the difference as you move the knobs. My controller light also shows red over green when the brakes are properly working. I set my brakes just slightly stronger than the pulling vehicle, so you can feel the braking improvement just slightly when they are set right. This keeps the RV Travel Trailer behind you in stopping situations.
RV Pull Behind Travel Trailer sway bars and levelers.
RV Travel Trailer Levelers. These are two fat and heavy bars that fit in the hitch assembly. (make sure you have the hitch that has the leveler sockets, not just a standard trailer hitch off your receiver on your vehicle. It will also have the sway bar fitting too.) Levelers provide an amazing amount of control and add safety when pulling your pull behind travel trailer. Levelers not only are made to level your trailer to your pick up, SUV, or pulling vehicle, but it also raises the back of your pulling vehicle, and puts weight on the front end. Without levelers, headlights shine high, as well as have very little weight on your front wheels.
If you hit a slippery or gravel intersection and are turning, with levelers installed correctly you will have more downward pressure on your front tires or front end, and have much better turning traction. With the front end high and weight on the back of the pulling vehicle, you loose steering traction when you turn your pulling vehicle! Levelers are highly recommended, as I would never travel without them. The entire set is about four hundred dollars at last check with the two leveler bars and receiver that goes in your vehicle hitch. Put it in your RV budget, and get RV Travel Trailer levelers. To install them, mount the two hooks on your travel trailer frame, then insert the leveler bars in the hitch, then with the short piece of pipe included, hook the chain and give a yank up, then as it latches, step back and see if you are level.
Level the RV with the hitch height bolts on the trucks hitch assembly, aligning the right holes that make your trailer level, you might have to do this a couple times to get it right. Take your time, as correct set up will serve you for the rest of the years of pulling this combination RV Trailer and pulling vehicle. Do it while your RV Trailer and Pulling Vehicle are in a level parking lot. Then level your pulling vehicle with the bars, hooking that chain to the tightest link, then pulling as hard as you can to latch the mechanism. Be careful, as it can whip back on you. Keep everything out of the way of that bar, including your legs, and be ready for a heavy spring feeling! Amazingly enough when you latch that hook on the RV travel trailer levelers, it brings your vehicle front end down, and puts the weight back on the front tires. I feel hugely safer with levelers, easy to put on too, once you do it a couple of times. The bars are a little heavy too, so is probably the most strength requiring step to safely pulling your RV Travel Trailer.
RV Travel Trailer Pull Behind Sway Bar
The sway bar is a sliding bar with two little “hitch style” balls on the end. The sway bar should include these two small balls, and one should be mounted to the side of the frame of the RV Tongue, and the other ball should be mounted to the hitch assembly. With the sway bar snapped on the balls and the little clip keepers placed so it does not fall off, the sway bar consists of a sliding mechanism with a lever lock on it. The lever lock should not be too tight, but be loose enough for the assembly to slide. The purpose of the sway bar is to keep violent swaying down to a minimum, creating a little resistance to the sway action.
Watch your sway bar while backing or turning tighter corners. Clearance is reduced on both sides, as the sway bar is attached to the pulling vehicle and RV travel trailer both! You might consider taking off the sway bar if you are in a maneuvering situation, such as backing in to your RV site. Always watch clearance of your hitch, levelers, and sway bar while backing.
To minimize sway, pay attention to your driving, and sway condition. Sway bars will not stop the RV travel trailer from swaying back and forth. Good driving and attention to sway with your driving conditions will help a lot. If you have a swaying problem, you could have a problem with your pulling vehicle front end, alignment, possibly a bent axle on your Travel Trailer. If it sways, have it checked out if you can’t seem to stop it. You should not allow sway while going down the highway as a standard condition. This is not a safe way to pull a bumper pull RV travel trailer. I am not as big a fan of sway bars if everything else is in good condition.
A valuable tip: Do not load your bumper pull Travel Trailer tail heavy. This will reduce sway potential a lot! Tongue heavy is much safer than tail heavy, in how you load your RV Travel Trailer, and heavy things should not be stored in the very back.
Converting an RV Travel Trailer bunk bed room to closet or box storage can be a bad thing! A common mistake that incurs swaying in handling is to convert a Bunk House Travel Trailer into a storage closet, and putting a large amount of weight in back. RVs are designed to distribute weight correctly, so that area is only designed for sleeping quarters. Remember, load in back, sway a lot. This is not a safe feeling, so keep the storage in areas that provide for it, and stack the heavy boxes over the axles, not near the back bumper. This will reduce any chance for sway.
RV Travel Trailer Tires. When you buy RV Travel Trailer Tires, make sure they are trailer tires. These are made specifically for trailers, and do not have any unusual characteristics such as tire roll that might incur sway. Stay with the recommended tires from any quality Tire Dealer. Carry a spare, and tire jack, to change the tire in case you have a flat.
When changing a RV Travel Trailer tire, place the bottle or scissor jack right under the specific axle that you want to raise, as you will not raise the entire vehicle and pair of tires. Some of the weight will shift to the other axle. I recommend changing tires every four years, regardless of wear. They dry rot, and a flat tire on an RV is always better in the situation of prevention, rather than reaction to poor tire conditions. Proper inflation is key! Tires will build heat when the tire pressure is too low on your RV Travel Trailer. If your travel trailer tires are inflated too much, any higher temperature could inflate the pressure more, and tire failure in the form of blowing out could occur. Check your tires at every stop, and check pressure frequently. When your tire pressure is correct, you have confidence knowing your tire temperature is “cool as possible”, and that is very important. Good tires results in a much safer experience.
Pulling your RV safely is the most important thing, and will result in a much more relaxing travel and RV pulling experience. There is nothing that feels better when you get the feel of your RV Travel Trailer and pulling vehicle combination, one that tracks straight, handles well, and you feel the sense of being a truck driver with a load. The vehicle responds much better, doesn’t sway or wander, and feels solid going down the road.
There are many more safety considerations when pulling a RV Travel Trailer, but with our Full Time RV travel experience, we wanted to share a few tips on driving and set up of your Pulling Vehicle and RV Travel Trailer combination.
Enjoy your RV experience, and safe RV travels! Take your time, stop a lot, walk around your vehicle, don’t forget to check your tires, and enjoy the scenery! It is best not to be in a hurry while traveling with your RV. Again, it is time to enjoy!
Full Time RVers .net