Managing temperature and moisture in your RV can be a challenge, particularly as you travel between climates. Too much humidity can cause problems like mold, rust, and allergies.
Too dry of a climate can cause discomfort from dry skin rashes and drying out the sinuses, although rarely affects RV performance. Those RVing with pets or who work on the road need to be particularly concerned with the climate in their RV as tools and electronics can corrode and pets can have health issues related to humidity and temperature.
Govee is a new smart home company that specializes in research and development of artificial intelligence and intelligent hardware. More than 60% of the 200 employees are tasked with research and development of new products and interfaces.
Govee’s mission is to provide better products through connectivity and smart technology, such as smart LEDs, smart sensors, and home security.
One of Govee’s products is a WiFi thermometer-hydrometer that is compatible with your iPhone/Android smartphone. This device monitors indoor temperature and humidity and can give real-time data even if you are not in your RV.
The WiFi thermometer-hydrometer was developed by one of Govee’s employees who worried about his dog, named Foamy, spending the day at home while he was at work. He used a camera to watch his dog and thought it would be an added benefit to be able to monitor the environment to ensure Foamy was comfortable and not getting too hot during the summers.
Many RVers will relate to this situation during times that they may not be able to take their pets with them (such as in many National Parks). Being able to monitor the humidity and temperature in your RV and ensure your pet is comfortable can give you more freedom to go for a hike and explore an area with less worry.
The Govee device includes a highly sensitive Swiss sensor and an App system that has been specially developed. The App is easily set up and allows for real-time monitoring as well as the ability to set specific alerts that are sent directly through the App.
The folks at Govee are continually working to improve and add to their product line, and take pride in their rapid response to customer inquiries and solutions to customer’s needs.
Buying a used RV can be a nerve-racking experience, but it can also be a way to avoid breaking the bank on a brand-new model. If you know what to look for in your potential purchase, you might just score the deal of a lifetime.
Shopping for a used RV
Before you decide to start looking for an RV, figure out what type of motorhome or trailer will best suit your lifestyle. If possible, rent or borrow an RV and take it on a weekend excursion to see what you’re comfortable with. Can you drive a 40-foot rig? Do you enjoy camping in smaller vehicles, or do you need more space?
What floor plan is most convenient for you? When you have what you’re looking for in mind, establish a budget for yourself. Remind yourself of your budget while shopping for RVs and don’t exceed it. This will prevent you from overspending. You can also request quotes from your insurance company to determine what your insurance will cover.
Do some research to educate yourself; you’ll feel much more prepared to bargain. Remember that low prices and gas mileage are not always a good sign. Why does the owner want to get rid of the vehicle so quickly? Why didn’t they drive it often? Are there issues with handling? RVchecks offers $25 history reports for some vehicles. The more you find out about the RV’s history, the less likely you’ll be to buy a piece of junk.
Buying from a private owner versus a dealership
When shopping for a used vehicle, you have two choices. You can visit a pre-owned RV dealership, or you can buy from a private owner. Private purchases through craigslist or another site are better in many ways since they put the seller and the buyer at the same level of experience.
There is more freedom to negotiate, as the seller is usually eager to get rid of the large RV taking up their yard. For even more bargaining leverage, you can offer to pay in cash and take the vehicle immediately. Oftentimes you will pay a much lower price when buying from a private source.
Alternatively, you can visit a dealer, who will most likely mark up the price for pre-owned RVs. However, if it is your first time purchasing an RV, you might feel more comfortable buying from an RV dealer without having to conduct a full inspection.
Visually inspecting the RV
If you decide to buy from a private source, always ask to take a look at the vehicle. Never purchase a used RV without thoroughly inspecting it!
One of the biggest reasons to avoid buying an RV is if it has water damage. Walk through the rig, checking for mold, bubbling, and rot in all corners. Check for soft spots on the walls and around bathroom fixtures. If you see brown spots on the floor or ceiling, rust on the exterior screws, or dips in the roof, you should probably steer clear.
Don’t be afraid to peer into cupboards and closets with a flashlight and stand in the shower to check its size. Jump on the floor and push on the walls to test structural integrity.
It’s also important to climb onto the roof and examine the seals. If the caulking appears crumbly or blackened, there’s a good chance that the roof will leak. While you’re up there, check the ladder for loose screws. Remove all vent covers and take a look at the seams underneath. If possible, use a garden hose to spray the roof and windows, then check for leaks inside.
Ask the owner to pop the hood so that you can check the RV’s oil. If there is engine damage, the oil will smell burnt. Check the power cord and battery bank, and make sure the battery is running at 12.6-12.8 volts. If the date on the battery is older than 7 years, it needs to be replaced. Examine the tires as well; the last two digits on the inscription will tell you the year they were manufactured. If the tires were made more than 5 years ago, they need to be replaced.
Testing RV functions
Before purchasing, ask the owner to let you take the rig on a test drive. If they won’t let you test it, don’t buy it! Drive at top speeds on the freeway and practice maneuvering in an empty parking lot. You may also want to have the owner drive part of the time and experience the ride from the passenger’s seat. Check for odd noises or jolts while driving, and make sure that all systems are operational.
After the test drive, make sure to run all other functions and look for issues. Check that all locks and latches are secure, and turn on light fixtures. Run all electrical systems, including air conditioning and heater.
Check awnings for proper function and make sure that no tears are present. If the RV has slide outs, make sure that they are fully operational and without damage. Inspect tanks and water heater for any leaks and check the plumbing as well. Check the water pump and turn on all faucets. Turn on the oven and stove and sniff around for any propane leaks.
If you find a few minor problems during your inspection, don’t panic. You may still get a good deal, though you will have to pay a little extra to fix the issues. Estimate repair costs and add them to the seller’s price to determine whether the purchase is worthwhile. You may even be able to point out problems that the seller had missed and use them to your bargaining advantage.
Questions to ask
One last step you should be sure to follow is to ask questions. Before starting your interrogation, make sure the person who is showing you the RV actually is the owner, not some friend or relative who happened to be available.
The owner’s mother is not likely to know much about the RV and most likely won’t be able to answer your questions. You should also make sure that the RV’s vehicle identification number (VIN) matches the registration and paperwork with the owner’s name. If the owner can’t provide you with the vehicle’s registration, steer clear.
Asking about the RV’s history can provide you with valuable information about the quality of the vehicle. How many people have owned the RV? If it has been through several owners and is still in good condition, chances are that it will last longer.
Have animals lived in the RV? This is a very important question to ask if you are allergic. Has anyone smoked in the RV? Did its past owners take good care of it and regularly check the safety features? Has the RV spent a lot of time in areas with extreme weather? Ask about warranties, past repairs, and the reason that the owner is selling it.
If you follow these steps when buying a used RV, you’ll find that it’s possible to own a high-quality rig without spending a fortune. If you remember what to look for and what to avoid, your next purchase will be a walk in the park…the RV park.
Are you considering buying an RV? Maybe you’re new to RV travel, or maybe the vehicle you had before just didn’t work for your lifestyle. Either way, learning more about the different types of RVs that are on the market can give a sense of which one is right for you.
Motorhomes are some of the most popular RVs out there. They come in three different body styles and offer an array of comfortable camping opportunities.
Class A motorhome:
As the largest and most luxurious type of RV, Class A motorhomes range anywhere from 35 to 45 feet in length. Benefits include a spacious interior and full utilities. There is plenty of storage and room for extra appliances. Both diesel-powered and gasoline-powered motorhomes are available.
On the other hand, the size of a large motorhome can be intimidating. Class As are difficult to maneuver, hazardous to drive, and expensive to operate. Based on the difficulty of running errands, many RVers choose to tow a separate vehicle behind their motorhome.
You should consider buying a Class A motorhome if:
Also known as camper vans, Class B motorhomes are easy to drive and to park. They can be powered by either diesel or gas and are cheaper to operate than most RVs. Class B’s are also easy to store. They require minimal campsite setup and are convenient for day trips and errands.
However, this convenience does require you to sacrifice some storage and comfort. There is limited space inside since Class B motorhomes are built like vans with raised roofs. Expect to spend a good amount of time outside during the day.
You should consider buying a Class B motorhome if:
You don’t feel comfortable driving larger vehicles
Class C motorhome:
Class C motorhomes fall somewhere between a Class A and a Class B. They reach lengths of 20-30 feet, making them slightly easier to park than Class As. Basic facilities are included in the vehicle, and sleeping quarters are more spacious than in a Class B.
Some Class Cs offer pop-outs on the sides or convertible furniture. However, the challenge of driving a Class C motorhome makes it difficult to leave the campsite for a quick trip.
You should consider buying a Class B motorhome if:
You are looking for more luxuries than a camper van
You travel often or full-time
You can’t afford a Class A motorhome
You desire space and comfort while camping
Trailers and other detachable units are a popular choice among full-timers and part-time campers alike. Their flexibility and versatile designs make them the perfect solution for some RVers.
Travel trailers vary in length and connect to several types of tow vehicles with a standard ball hitch. Travel trailers are often fairly roomy and come equipped with facilities, heat, and air conditioning. They also make it possible to detach your tow vehicle and run errands, leaving your trailer at the campsite.
On the other hand, travel trailers can be difficult to level properly and maneuver. Issues like weight and tail sway may come into play, and it is almost impossible to reverse when towing a travel trailer.
You should consider buying a travel trailer if:
You own a large vehicle, like an SUV, that can handle the trailer’s weight capacity
You often leave your campsite to run errands
You want spacious and comfortable living quarters
You want complete protection from the elements
Like travel trailers, fifth wheels connect to a tow vehicle and include plenty of storage. The main difference is that 5th wheels have a gooseneck connection instead of a standard ball hitch. This connection is safer, more reliable, and makes the trailer easier to maneuver.
The overhang also provides extra space in the trailer’s interior. However, a gooseneck connection also limits the type of vehicle that can tow your trailer—a 5th wheel can only be towed by an open-backed pickup truck. This can make traveling with a large family difficult since truck cabs are often very small.
You should consider buying a 5th wheel if:
You own an open-backed pickup truck
You want a trailer with enhanced stability and maneuverability
You are looking for extra storage and a roomy interior
You plan on traveling with several people, but no more than can fit in your truck
With their small, lightweight frames and reasonable costs, tent trailers are a popular choice for part-time campers. They are easy to store when not in use, and give campers a more comfortable alternative to a tent. However, they offer limited storage once collapsed and on the road. Tent trailers provide less protection from the elements and require more time to set up at the campsite.
You should consider buying a tent trailer if:
You are looking for a more convenient alternative to tent camping
You plan to travel only occasionally
You don’t plan to store much in your trailer
You have limited space to store a trailer
Sport utility trailers, or toy haulers, are designed to transport sports vehicles and recreational equipment, but most also feature small living quarters. The size of your toy hauler determines how much space you will have.
These types of trailers can be outfitted with appliances, and their dual functions make them ideal for recreational events or excursions. However, some RVers may feel nervous about camping in close proximity to fuel, oil, and other substances that may exude toxic fumes. Storage of equipment takes first priority in this type of vehicle, so living quarters tend to be cramped.
You should consider buying a toy hauler if:
You need transportation for your ATVs, bikes, or kayaks
You are looking for a trailer with facilities and storage
You participate in outdoor sporting events
You prioritize storage of gear and sport vehicles over personal comfort
Truck campers are designed to incorporate the benefits of both trailers and motorhomes. Consisting of a single detachable unit that is transported in the back of a pickup truck, truck campers are easy to store and to detach from your truck at the campsite. They function like small trailers but are easier to transport. Some truck campers have pop-out sides, and many include basic necessities. However, space in a truck camper is minimal compared to many trailers.
You should consider buying a truck camper if:
You don’t require much space or storage
You often go on spontaneous, short-term trips
You want the convenience of a trailer without having to tow one
You have limited space to store an RV
Teardrop trailers are a specific style of travel trailer that is smaller and lighter than most. It fits in any campsite and offers protection from the elements. Some teardrop trailers include kitchen facilities that open to the outside.
Most include air conditioning and room for a two-person bed. However, space is very limited in teardrop trailers, and there is usually not enough room to stand. Be prepared for tiny but cozy sleeping quarters with 1-2 windows.
You should consider buying a teardrop trailer if:
You plan to travel solo or with one companion
You need extra storage on the road, but not at the campsite
You are looking for a simple yet effective way to camp
You camp in many small campsites
A hybrid trailer is very similar to a travel trailer, but it also encompasses certain elements of a tent trailer. It can be partially collapsed during storage and transport, but its pop-out tent sections provide more interior space than most trailers its size.
Hybrid trailers often include full facilities and can entirely disconnect from their tow vehicles. However, they also take more time to set up and can be more difficult to store than an ordinary tent trailer.
You should consider buying a hybrid trailer if:
You enjoy the experiences of both tent camping and trailer camping
You want interior space without having to tow a huge trailer
You feel confident about setting up your campsite
You camp occasionally but are not a full-timer
Though a brand, Airstream creates iconic trailers that belong in a category by themselves. Because of their aerodynamic body shape, Airstreams receive better gas mileage. They have unique durability, causing them to last for up to 40 years.
The low center of gravity found in Airstream trailers makes them more stable and safer to tow. On the other hand, the interior of the trailer is narrower than most, making it hard to move around inside. Airstreams also lack in insulation, making them slightly uncomfortable to live in during extreme weather.
You should consider buying an Airstream trailer if:
You plan to travel often and invest in it long-term
You camp in areas with mild weather
You have a limited budget for gas
You want added security when towing a trailer
Some RVs serve specific purposes. While less versatile than common trailers or motorhomes, they are a good choice for RVers who choose to pursue a specific habit or hobby.
Equestrian motorhomes or horse trailers are essential for those who wish to bring their horses camping. The size of the RVs and their living quarters varies, but they usually house 2-4 horses and up to 3 people.
The horse compartment of an equestrian RV features lightweight stalls to keep your horses safe on the road. The living quarters sometimes come equipped with facilities. However, equestrian RVs can be very difficult to store or to maneuver. They are also fairly expensive.
You should consider buying an equestrian RV if:
You plan to bring your horses with you
You don’t want to tow a separate horse trailer behind a regular motorhome
You can afford a horse trailer or equestrian motorhome
You aren’t traveling with a large family
Ice fishing trailer:
Ice fishing trailers are one of the most obscure types of RVs. Lightweight and often custom-built from salvaged travel trailers, they are designed to be towed onto solid ice.
With complete facilities, luxuries, and protection from the elements, these unique trailers are some of the best RVs for cold places. Campers can uncover an opening in the floor of each trailer to access holes in the ice. However, ice fishing trailers are rare. They are built specifically for ice fishing and won’t be as durable on other trips.
You should consider buying an ice fishing trailer if:
You own a vehicle that is safe to drive in icy areas
Park models are an option for those who stay in one place for long periods of time. They include home-like floor plans and luxurious comfort, sometimes connecting to regular city facilities.
Space and storage are plentiful. However, they are very expensive, and not the most mobile form of RV. Boondocking is definitely not an option.
You should consider buying a park model if:
You are a full-time RVer
You plan to move to a new location only once or twice a year
You want the experience of living in a small house, but with some mobility
You want full facilities and lots of storage
Disability access RV:
Many manufacturers will make RVs with certain specifications on demand. They can modify motorhomes, trailers, and other types of vehicles to meet the client’s needs. Features may include roll-in showers, ramps, and lifts, low kitchen cabinets, or wide doors. These types of modifications allow RVers with disabilities to travel in the comfort of a familiar environment.
You should consider buying a disability access RV if:
You are confined to a wheelchair or have some other physical disability
You find that hotels have a difficult time meeting your needs
You are prevented from using a regular RV
You require specific features in a living space
By paying attention to your lifestyle and the features of an RV that would suit you best, you can invest in a vehicle that will meet your individual needs and make trips a real breeze.
Awhile back, I provided a tip on an easy way to check the operations of your brake lights. While recently checking the lights on my travel trailer via the method outlined, I discovered one side wasn’t working.
Popping the lens off, I discovered the inside of it had become a mini solarium hosting green plant life, compliments of the dust that had accumulated inside of it and the right amount of moisture, which probably entered the same way the dust must have.
Obviously, it was the right amount of soil, water, sunlight, and humidity, as moss or whatever it was seemed to be thriving despite the dry summer conditions.
Not surprisingly, the bulb and contact were a bit corroded, which I quickly corrected and had the brake light back in operation. Checking the other side revealed a similar greenhouse.
Rinsing out both taillight lenses had me ready to hit the road. However, I have since wondered what to do to prevent a repeat. Searching the internet, you will find suggestions from using a thin layer of Vaseline around the edge of the lens to prevent entry of dust and water to sealing it with silicone or using glass tape.
Have you had a similar experience with your RV taillights? Have you found a way to prevent a reoccurrence? If so, please share.
Taking the greenhouse with you, just another adventure in RVing!
Visiting the beach is a must in the summer, but it also means you’re going to be bringing back tons of sand. Here are a few things you can do to help keep sand from getting tracked in and around your RV.
Use a brush to clean off
Pack a small brush to wipe off your clothes, shoes, and pets before stepping inside. Find one with soft bristles like this sand brush or a better quality (though pricier) horsehair brush with a sturdy wooden handle. Brush off all your items like your camping chair and beach bag before storing them away.
Rinse off your feet
If you wore flip-flops or went barefoot, you will want to thoroughly wash off your feet before stepping back in your RV. Use a portable showerhead or just a water bottle to wash off your feet, hands, and gear.
Take your shoes off and leave them at the door
This may seem simple but it can make all the difference. Storing your shoes by the door will not only keep them from tracking in sand but also any dirt, mud, or leaves.
Find a place by the door where you can set up some hooks and mesh holders or somewhere that you can set up a small coat rack to hang your shoes. Shake them off well and wash them off if necessary before bringing them inside.
Store clothes and towels in a separate laundry bag
Shake off your beach towels and store them in a separate laundry or trash bag before bringing them inside. Toss in any clothes you wore, your swimsuit, and anything else that needs to be washed.
Use a patio mat
Laying out a mat in front of your door is a good idea no matter where you’re camping to help keep dirt out. These RV patio mats are very lightweight and can be conveniently washed off, folded up, and stored in a travel bag.
Keep a small broom and dustpan in your RV
No matter how hard you try, there will still be sand that somehow manages to get in on the floor. Keeping a compact broom and dustpan on board can be very handy for doing a quick sweep after coming back in from the beach.
From a folding camping trailer to large fifth wheels, Brent and I have owned our share of RVs. After four years of full-time RVing, our family finally settled down and decided we needed a smaller RV for weekend camping and summer road trips. We looked at all sorts of RVs, visiting RV shows and dealerships, but finally settled on a vintage Avion, Airstream’s second cousin. We spent the summer exploring Route 66 and couldn’t have felt cooler. Literally, because the air conditioner wouldn’t stop dripping on me while I slept. Ha! Regardless, of the quirks we loved that trailer. A year later, we came across a great deal on a rare front kitchen Airstream. We had dreamed of owning an Airstream for years, so we sold the Avion and finally became part of the Airstream club. Having owned new, used (newer used RVs), and now a vintage trailer we’ve learned a few things. Many of the same things that apply to buying a latemodel trailer, like towing capacity of your tow vehicle, also apply to buying a vintage trailer with a few more things to consider.
1998 Airstream Excella 34’ FK
Things to Consider Before Buying a Vintage Trailer
Usage – How do you plan to use the vintage trailer? Weekend trips? Full-time RVing? Airbnb or guest house? Winter RVing? Most vintage RVs (Not all, our Avion was great in cold weather.) aren’t going to be suited for winter camping without significantly upgrading the insulation, a BIG job! If having more space is a priority, as it often is when full-time RVing or camping with large families, you won’t find many, if any, vintage trailers with slide outs.
The Princess is a fully renovated 1969 Streamline Princess Photo courtesy of Marmalade Vintage Trailers
Handyman Skills – Are you handy and do you enjoy learning that sort of work? Vintage trailers will often need more work than their newer counterparts. It really helps if you have some handyman skills or else maintenance and repair expenses can add up very quickly. Just as
important as having the skills is actually enjoying the work. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you want to! I’ve found most vintage trailer owners, including myself and my husband Brent, really enjoy the process of renovating. Of course, it’s always possible to buy a fully renovated vintage trailer.
Photo courtesy of Marmalade Vintage Trailers
Campgrounds – It might come as a surprise, but not all campgrounds are vintage RV friendly. There are campgrounds that place age restrictions on the type of RV they will allow. Others place restrictions on length limits and many vintage trailers are on the shorter side. We once stayed at a campground and our friends came to camp with us in their adorable little vintage trailer. Unbeknownst to us, the campground had a length rule and our friends weren’t allowed to camp there! (It worked out because we were camping in a huge fifth wheel at the time, so they just stayed with us. It was cozy but great fun!) If you visit specific campgrounds regularly, you will want to make sure they don’t have any of these types of restrictions in place before purchasing a vintage trailer.
Before and After of a 1963 Shasta Compact Photo Courtesy of Guy Bratton
Scope of Work – It’s really important to carefully and fully consider the scope of the work before buying a vintage trailer. Vintage trailer renovations run the gamut from shell off renovations
(where the camper is stripped of everything and the shell, the walls and roof, is lifted to work on the chassis) to simpler repairs like replacing worn awnings. You’ll want to take a full inventory of what might need work. Some things to consider are: leaks, water damage, electrical system, water lines, water pumps, heaters, toilets, showers, sinks, air conditioners, axles, floors and subfloors, tires, body condition, the frame, tires, windows (vintage windows can be hard to find), appliances, propane line, awnings, and a clear title. We called about many vintage trailers that were inexpensive and looked good in pictures only to find out the title was salvaged or it didn’t have a title at all!
Be Prepared to Walk Away – It’s really easy to get emotionally attached to the idea of a vintage trailer (Trust me, I know!) without full consideration of the amount of work involved. Take an inspection checklist and take your time going over the trailer from top to bottom and front to back. Be sure to ask the owner lots of questions and if the answers don’t add up then be prepared to walk away.
1957 Airstream Bubble Photo courtesy of Guy Bratton
Be Patient – Along the lines of being prepared to walk away, it’s important to be patient. Finding a vintage trailer is more difficult and time consuming than going to your nearest RV dealer. It will take searching at multiple sources like RV Trader, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. You may have to look at many trailers before you find the right one. Personally, we prefer to buy vintage trailers that have had fewer owners. We bought our Airstream from the original owners who had retired and were no longer RVing. They took the time to explain all the quirks of the
trailer and pointed out all the things that they knew needed repairs. This is an ideal situation but not always possible. Don’t give up! If something doesn’t feel right, don’t worry there will always be another one!
Be Prepared for Surprises – So you’ve found your perfect trailer, inspected it thoroughly, and you pulled it home to start working on it. Don’t be surprised if you pull up the carpet only to find a section of soft or rotting subfloor or you realize you forget to check the stove and it doesn’t work. It happens. There is a good chance you will miss something when checking the trailer out. It’s okay, almost everything is repairable. Just prepare yourself for surprise repairs ahead of time and you can roll with it.
Photo courtesy of Guy Bratton
Budget – Once you find a prospective vintage trailer make a list of all the things that are important to you in order of importance. Start with the non-negotiable components like axels and wheels and work your way to down to the cosmetics like curtains. It’s likely you won’t need to do everything on the list but it’s a good starting point to have. Visit sites like Ebay and VintageTrailer Supply to get an idea what these renovations or repairs will cost and make a budget.
Photo courtesy of Guy Bratton
Community – One of the best parts of owning a vintage RV, other than enjoying the charm and history, is the instant community. There are many clubs, meet ups, and rallies for vintage trailer owners. There are even dedicated groups and clubs for specific makes of vintage trailers. These groups tend to be really welcoming and enthusiastic. It’s definitely a perk to owning a vintage trailer. (Note: There are meet-ups and clubs for nearly all major brands of late model RVs as well!)
Photo courtesy of Riverside RV
After some contemplation, you may have decided a true vintage trailer and the potential work that comes with it is not for you. Perhaps you really just want the peace of mind that comes with a warranty? If it’s the vintage charm you are after and not the possible surprises then you might want consider one of the new trailers that look vintage like the Retro from Riverside RV. It’s got charm and modern convenience.
What about you! Have you ever bought or considered buying a vintage trailer? Any advice to share?
Do you need to lose weight? No, I don’t mean go on a diet or start exercising more. I’m talking about trailer weight—you know, those extra pounds that stack up every time you buy a souvenir or invest in a new DVD player for your RV.
According to the RVSEF, about 60% of travel trailers exceed their maximum weight capacity. A couple extra pounds may seem like a minor problem, but the truth is that excessive trailer weight is responsible for the majority of RV safety issues. Keep reading to find out how to avoid these hazards and make your next trip a safe one.
How to find out if you’re overweight
The first step is to find out if your trailer actually is overweight. Check the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) in your tow car’s manual to determine the maximum weight your vehicle can handle, including itself and its passengers. Also note your trailer’s GVWR, which is often found in the user manual or printed inside the trailer. When you have these numbers, you need to take your vehicle and trailer to a weighing station.
The most accurate method of weight measurement is wheel position weighing, which determines how much weight is resting on each of the vehicle’s wheels. This allows you to see if the trailer’s weight is unevenly distributed. Only a few companies offer wheel position weighing, but many of them travel the country. If you’re willing to pay the $75 for an accurate measurement, you can make an appointment online.
A cheaper and more convenient way to get a semi-accurate weight measurement is by using a certified CAT scale, found at many truck stops. These cost about $10 the first time you measure, and only a couple dollars each time afterward. CAT scales take an axle-by-axle reading, which still gives you a good idea of your trailer’s weight. Just make sure it falls far below your trailer’s GVWR. You can also use a CAT scale to weigh your tow vehicle and make sure that the weight of your car doesn’t exceed its limits. After weighing your vehicle and tow trailer, you can add the two weights together and compare it to your car’s GCWR. This will tell you if your vehicle is able to tow your trailer.
Dangers of traveling with an overweight trailer
If your trailer’s weight (including all cargo and passengers) does exceed its maximum capacity, driving with the trailer attached is a huge risk. Overweight trailers put more pressure on the wheels and axles than they are designed to handle, which can cause tire blowouts or trailer sway.
Excess weight causes tires to wear more quickly and makes it harder to stop the vehicle. If your vehicle is involved in an accident, you will be liable. Insurance companies will be less likely to help pay for damages. Police officers can also pull you over and give you a hefty fine if they suspect that your trailer is overweight. In other words, traveling with extra weight just isn’t worth the issues that it can cause.
How to lose weight
“So,” you may be asking, “now what?” The answer is simple—it’s time to lose some weight. Obviously, you can’t throw out large items like your mattress or toilet, but you might be surprised at how much you can downsize by paying attention to the small things in your trailer.
Every time you buy a souvenir, a decoration, or even a storage basket, you add weight to your trailer. These tiny amounts really add up, so consider getting rid of some of the extra stuff. Ask yourself which items you need to keep, and which ones you hardly ever use. This could be clothing, extra bedding, unnecessary dishes, or the camp stove you never cook with. Be frugal with what you decide to buy and keep the weight of your trailer in mind.
Top tips for trailer weight
Fill it up: Keep in mind that water, propane, and fuel add extra weight. Fill all your tanks before weighing for an accurate measurement.
Weigh in advance: Don’t wait until the day you start a long trip to weigh your trailer. Give yourself time to make adjustments and make an appointment at a weighing station if you need to.
Balance your weight: Even if your trailer falls within the weight limits, too much weight on one side can cause a serious accident. Rearrange your things to evenly distribute their weight.
Leave room to grow: Don’t go traveling with a trailer that falls just a pound or two under the weight limit. Leave as much room as possible in case you absolutely have to add something.
Weigh your stuff: When packing your trailer, consider stacking food, clothes, and anything else that you’re bringing in a cardboard box and weighing it on a bathroom scale. This can give you an idea of how many pounds you’re adding.
Overweight trailers may seem like a small problem, but surpassing your vehicle’s maximum capacity can be disastrous. Pay attention to your trailer’s weight and stay safe on the road.