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Do I need to take a RV Driving Class


grapefrog

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Welcome, there are a lot of older posts discussing driving and parking that you may want to look through to get some ideas for your own use. We picked a lot of brains when we were getting started.

 

You don't need to take a driving class, you can go out in a big empty parking lot (no light poles) and practice until you are comfortable. Adding some home-made lane markers can help you simulate camping sites or tight corners.

 

A class is a good idea, as the founder of one used to say "my class is cheaper than getting a ding fixed" back before he retired.

 

This is a good school: http://www.rvschool.com/

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Welcome to the Escapees forums. We are happy to have you join and will do our best to be helpful to you.

 

To respond to your question is difficult because we know so little about you or your choice of RV. There is little doubt that driving classes will help even an experienced RV driver but it is difficult to say just how much they will help of if you really need them. You say that you have no prior experience with an RV, but other things that play into this are things like what you have driven in the past, the size and type of RV which you are buying, and will you be taking the RV to parking lots and areas with little traffic to practice? I think that we would be hard pressed to find an RV owner who could not benefit at least some from professional lessons, but there are literally thousands of people who buy an RV with no prior heavy vehicle driving experience who then proceed to travel the country with no problems at all. The personality and physical agility of the driver plays a significant part in the question. Some people learn more quickly and easily from books and suggestions while others have little confidence and require more help. It is something that only you can answer.

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I totally agree with Stan. You may not "need" to take a driving school class but it may certainly help with driving situations that you never even thought about. Like Stan said, find an empty lot and practice driving there. This may give you an idea of what you need to drive your RV successfully & whether or not you wish to take driving school. Best of luck with your future RV'ng. Dave.

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Depends on the size of the unit. A 40' Class A is totally different than a 30' Class C, both in driving size and how they drive. A 30' Class C would be like driving a large UHaul or Penske, just a bit bigger. A Class A, totally different.

 

The main thing is to get familiar about where your corners are, accelerating speed, stopping distances, not to mention height. Just because your roof is X feet from the ground, you have to remember the antenna, AC units, vent covers, antenna, etc. if that entrance to WalMart says 11'6" clearance, it means it. And the markings on bridges may not reflect recent repavings that have raised the asphalt.

 

Watch driving on city streets with low trees. Can cause big roof damage and damage to the side of the unit. Wide turns. Get used to taking wide turns so you don't jump the curb and nail that fire hydrant.

 

And remember to ALWAYS check that the antenna is DOWN before driving.

 

The best training is to get out and drive. Find some quiet side roads with plenty of room and take laps. Find a shopping center on a Sunday morning and practice parking and backing. if possible, have someone watching you when backing.

 

When you pick up the unit, have the seller go over the parking, set up, take down and basic driving of the unit. Take notes. You will forget something.

 

Finally, be sure you have at least a backup camera. Side cameras are helpful as well.

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Welcome, and congratulations on your purchase!

 

Sounds like you could really benefit from attending an Escapees Boot Camp session! The next one will be held in March along with the Club's annual Escapade. The location is in Tucson, not right next door to where you are but not that far away, either.

 

Take a look at the Escapade and Boot Camp information on the main Escapees web page - www.escapees.com

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Thank you all for your comments. I know big corners are certainly something. I need to learn all the hookups at a campground.. What do they all mean? And how do I hook up to them and empty them?

 

Hookups are basically power, water and sewer, all fairly simple as long as you follow some basic steps.

 

Power comes in two varieties, 30 amp and 50 amp the 30 has a 3 pin plug and the 50 a 4 pin one. Getting an adapter from one to the other is a good idea, when you need it you are likely to be miles from someone selling one.

 

Water too is simple, start with drinking water quality hoses, usually white but other colors are available. Skip the green garden hose ones as they can leach taste and nasty chemicals into your water as they toast in the sun. DO NOT SKIP a pressure regulator, you'll likely never need it but if you do and one isn't installed you can destroy your rig with a flood from burst pipes. A cheap $10 one is good enough to start with but a lot of folks upgrade at some point to one that flows more water and is adjustable.

 

Sewer is less forgiving if you are dumping and something goes wrong so look for good quality parts. You will need an RV to hose connector, hose and hose to dump fitting connector. There is a large selection of these out there, reading the user reviews is a good place to start. Carrying a spare set isn't a bad idea, you never know when one will look iffy or fail. My rule was to replace when iffy looking instead of after one failed and I got a poop bath and flooded my site with nastiness. Some folks like to add a clear elbow between the RV and the hose connector, it lets you see how your dumping and tank flushing is going, if you use one be aware that they are much more subject to UV damage than a colored fitting and will turn brittle if left exposed to the sun for several months, Shade it with a bit of foil or just put it on to dump the black tank.

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I would recommend you do Boot Camp, Driving School and get your righ weighed by Smart Weigh, attending the Escapade would be worthwhile also, it is a major learning experience. I wish we had these options available whe3n we started out many years ago, the learning curve would have been so much shorter.

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. I need to learn all the hookups at a campground.. What do they all mean? And how do I hook up to them and empty them?

When you buy an RV, the dealer will normally have someone walk you through it upon delivery and go over how to use everything. For new RV owners it is usually wise to video record the entire walk-through process so that you can review it later. At this time you need to be sure that you not only know how to connect the power, water, and sewer to the RV but you should also make sure that you know how to operate the RV refrigerator, water heater, furnace, stove, air conditioner, electric system, and leveling jacks(if it has them), If you are buying new, the RV will come with a big package of owner's manuals and the wise, first time buyer takes those all home, sits down and reads through the operating instructions for every one of them at leisure to make sure that you understand them.

 

In addition, I strongly suggest that you make your first few trips to a large RV park where there are many experienced RV owners staying and do not hesitate to ask for help. You might even want to join an RV club such as Escapees or Good Sam and make your first few trips to a place with some of them to have assistance nearby. Most RV owners are very happy to answer questions and to respond to calls for assistance and even more so if they know that they are traveling with a new member of the community. The vast majority of RV owners are very happy to help neighbors and to instruct the new owners. We have all been where you are at one time so do not hesitate to ask.

 

There is another place that has a vast amount of information/instructions for RV owners that is easily available and free. That place is the website You-Tube. If you go there and then type in "Using and RV" you will find a vast listing of videos that explain just about anything that you need to do. If you want to be more specific, search for "using RV utility connections" or perhaps you want to learn more about "RV water Systems" or "RV sewer connections." One bit of advice when using these videos is that you will find so many of them it can be a bit intimidating so don't let that happen! Just look for one that seems to be what you have and watch it, then look at yours and compare. Remember that these are mostly made by amateurs like you and I and all of them want to help. Just as on an RV forums, sometimes you can get so much help as to be almost overwhelming so just take your time an and don't try to do everything the very first time. You will learn with a little bit of time just as you learned how to use all of the things in a house or apartment. It is no more or less complicated and while things work somewhat differently in an RV, the point is to accomplish the same end so you can compare to the appliance at home.

 

Take your time and ask for help when needed. It will be worth the effort. :)

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Well.... I didn't get any special instruction. And I suspect the vast majority of RV operators out there right now didn't either. But different generations had different experiences with big vehicles. Those of us who grew up on farms or worked on farms back when high school and college students regularly got summer jobs on farms and ranches (50s and early 60s) got a lot of experience driving trucks. In many states no commercial license is required even to drive a semi if it's from a farm. If you've ever driven a semi or big truck full of cattle then you can probably handle an RV.

 

Even so, I had misgivings about driving our 36' Class A diesel pusher when we bought it in December of 2011. So I let my DW, a school bus driver with a CDL, drive it from the previous owner's home on Camano Island to a fuel stop and then to a nearby casino with an RV park. The next morning I drove the rig around the casino parking lot for 10 minutes and then we hooked up the toad (on a dolly) and headed 200 miles home (across the Cascade Mountains).

 

We had owned smaller motor homes, campers and 5th wheels so we were both very familiar with the basics but a DP, even one that's 20 years old, has "systems" that can be complex. Luckily there is a Foretravel forum (and a factory, still) with lots of model-specific help and information.

 

It doesn't seem that hard to me now... but they feel pretty big; not as big as a semi but different enough to be a challenge. Backing a motor home is much easier than a semi (or 5er or travel trailer) unless you have a toad and then backing up is effectively impossible. We have disconnected the toad a few times since 2011 in order to get the combination where it needed to be. But now we can pretty easily navigate even tight fuel stops. Never be afraid to disconnect the toad, however. I think that if the thought occurs to you, "maybe we should disconnect the toad" that's when you should disconnect the toad. :)

 

So, for other readers in this thread, if you have little-or-no experience driving anything other than a car or pickup truck, getting some instruction can't hurt. There are a thousand details that experienced operators know automatically that you'll have to learn. I am not sure just driving around a parking lot would do it.

 

Good luck... and welcome to the forum.

 

WDR

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been grappling with this issue as well. My husband had a 29' 5th wheel before, but our new one is 39'. He's driven big fire trucks and water tenders so he has experience BUT still not comfortable backing up. I've been looking for a RV class in Boise, but can't find one. I've been watching YouTube videos and I'll have to just take it to a big empty parking lot and practice, practice, practice.

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I've been watching YouTube videos and I'll have to just take it to a big empty parking lot and practice, practice, practice.

You are far ahead of may a more experienced RV owner. Far more talk of parking lot practicing than actually do it. We did some, but we also moved into the RV community a little at a time over a lot of years, starting with small, light weight popups and working our way up. Driving schools can be very helpful, but I suspect that you are well on your way to managing on your own.

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The driving schools can be very helpful. One of the things they do is force you to do structured learning, so you do not put off or overlook anything. They also make you aware of some driving practices that you have ignored driving just cars, but really need to be aware of in a larger rig. For those things alone, it is likely worth it, if it is available to you.

 

When we got our travel trailer, many years ago (before fulltiming), I took Danielle out to a school parking lot that was near us on many weekends. There she learned all about tail swing, backing, and how the trailer does NOT track the trucks tires through a turn. She did not grow up on a farm, so this stuff was not ingrained into her from her "youth". Using cones to set up "RV sites" for backing practice works well. She learned fast, and now is comfortable with the bigger stuff. I still do most of the backing, though... :)

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  • 1 month later...

I hope that "grapefrog" is still monitoring this forum as I would like to know how they made out on this and what they decided to do.

 

I find myself in a similar situation and welcome input from all of you.

 

My DW and I will fly to Texas in a few weeks to take delivery of a 40 ft. DP.

 

I have never driven anything that large before and admittedly it's a bit intimidating when I think about it.

 

A little background: I've driven different cargo vans, large u-haul trucks and flatbeds when I was working construction years ago. We also had a 20 ft. TT 25 years ago.

 

I tried to find someone from the RV driving school in Texas to get lessons from but there isn't anyone available at the time we will be there.

 

We plan to take delivery of the DP and then head west to San Diego and then come north back up to Fungus Corner. It will be a long trip for a neophyte like me to say the least.

 

Thoughts?

 

Phil

 

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I'm new to RV and am going thru the "how do I drive it" / "how do the systems work" stuff right now. We "closed" the deal on our coach and became owners on February 11th ... but as part of the deal, left the coach on the dealer storage lot until the weather broke. We're in Michigan and I didn't want my first experience with our new (to us!) coach and my first experience with air brakes being on an icy freeway! The dealer took us on a complete walk thru of the coach the day we closed ... demonstrating each and every one of the systems in the coach. It was good ... but it wasn't enough.

 

After the closing in February - I took all the documentation and owner's manuals home with me. Since that time, I've been reading them and watching every YouTube video I could find. While I was boning up on the technical stuff ... my wife did what she does best and started shopping for some of the basics we'd need (bedding, basic kitchen gear, etc.)

 

Last weekend, we returned to the dealership (which is 160 or so miles away) to have our Jeep Liberty prepped for towing - and to bring the coach home. The dealership asked for one full day to do the work on the Jeep - and offered us a night on their lot with hookups so we could take our time. We drove up on Friday with a jeep load of basics. We spent Friday morning "moving in" (putting our "stuff" away in to the coach) ... then I met with several service techs on the various systems. Now, having read the manuals and watching YouTube tutorial videos - I had real and relevant questions to ask. This time, I came away from the dealer walkthrough with a pretty good understanding of the basics. We spent two plus hours on the electrical system, an hour on the water systems (fresh water, holding tanks, de-winterization steps, etc.)

 

At the end of the day, our sales guy took us on an orientation drive. He drove us 6-7 miles down the road to a large church parking lot - where I then got behind the wheel and made my first few turns. It only took me a couple of laps around the parking lot before I felt comfortable turning in either direction. The only thing that surprised me a little was that I needed to "put some leg" on the brake pedal. After 10 minutes in the lot - I turned back onto the street and drove back to the dealership where I backed it into our spot for the evening. Although I've had some prior experience driving sizeable vehicles (straight trucks, a 32' RV, etc.) - this coach (at 43') is the biggest thing I've ever driven - however, after just a few minutes behind the wheel - I knew that I've got this.

 

Saturday morning ... they rolled the Jeep out .. and we spent an hour going over how to hook / unhook it. I hooked and unhooked it twice. Then at 11:30 on Saturday morning - our adventure began in earnest when my wife and I drove our coach with Jeep in tow off the lot and back home.

 

I've still got a lot to learn ... but, I have every confidence that between the manuals, a little common sense, YouTube tutorials, a few questions here and there on various RV forums .. and experience gained as I slowly and deliberately follow the written instructions - I'm going to master this beast pretty quickly. While I have no doubt there's something to be gained by taking classes you pay for ... I'm equally confident that you can get where you need to be if you apply yourself and use the "free" tools that are readily available to you these days (YouTube, internet searches, coach documentation, and the various RV forums).

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Did you check for RV Driving School locations along your route? Even if you need to stay along the interstate where it is easy to drive and enter/exit until you get to a class I highly recommend taking one. RV Driving School's map says Sharon Del Rosario will be in Benson, AZ, until April 12th. http://www.rvschool.com/school-locations/

 

Linda Sand

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Did you check for RV Driving School locations along your route? Even if you need to stay along the interstate where it is easy to drive and enter/exit until you get to a class I highly recommend taking one. RV Driving School's map says Sharon Del Rosario will be in Benson, AZ, until April 12th. http://www.rvschool.com/school-locations/

 

Linda Sand

Linda,

Yes I have been looking at the map but so far I haven't found anything for when I need it... the last week of April.

 

Phil

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Dick Reed, the guy that started the driving school made a good selling point, my school is cheaper than most any dent repair.

 

Both of you take the course and both stay in practice driving. Nothing worse than getting an injury on the road than getting one and not having someone that can drive the rig.

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