Tips for Driving an RV in the Rain

Heavy rainstorms or thunderstorms can present additional challenges when driving or towing an RV. As with driving any vehicle in inclement weather, caution must be taken, and RVs are no exception to that rule. We’ve covered the best tips for driving your RV during winter weather, but rainstorms should be treated cautiously as well. While it is wisest to wait out any inclement weather when traveling in your RV, sometimes weather can quickly change course, and knowing what to do if this takes place is essential. See the tips below for suggestions for driving in any type of heavy rain or storms.

Supplies

It’s best to be prepared before heading onto the road. After all, flash floods or downed trees can strand travelers for undetermined amounts of time. Stock up on groceries, drinking water, fuel, propane, and anything else you need, just in case you become stranded at a rest area, for instance. Thankfully, most RV refrigerators run off of propane, and most cooking can be done off of propane as well. It’s also important that your RV has an emergency roadside kit with flares and reflectors. This is helpful anytime you drive your RV, should you need to pull over on the side of the road for any amount of time.  

While special tires or tire accessories are not required for driving in the rain, it’s still important to check them before driving at all, but especially during inclement weather. Be sure to check your RVs tires using our handy guide to ensure your tires are properly filled and are not past their expiration. It’s imperative to have good traction when the roads are wet. 

Check the quality of your wiper blades before hitting the road to ensure they will provide you with the best-possible vision. Depending on how often they’re used, windshield wiper blades may need to be replaced yearly. If they’re just a little dirty, grab a towel to wipe them off to enhance their wiping abilities. Additionally, RVers can consider using RainX or other repellants on their windshield to increase visibility. Lastly, be sure to check your headlights before driving in the rain to ensure maximum visibility.

Handling your Drivable RV

Size aside, experienced RVers know that their RV drives much differently than a regular car. The main reason for this is that RVs are almost exclusively rear-wheel drive. This means that the back wheels propel your RV forward and the front wheels are used for steering only. It’s best to drive slow when driving through a rainstorm to prevent slipping and sliding on the road. Additionally, give yourself and the car in front of you more of a buffer than is typically expected. If your RV begins to slide, this will lessen your chances of getting into an accident.

Whenever windshield wipers are used in your RV, it’s a good idea to have your headlights on as well. This increases your ability to see, and allows your RV to be more easily seen. If it happens to be foggy, do not use your high beams. Surprisingly, the higher power beams will reflect the light back and create a glare in the fog. Consider installing some after-market fog lights if you find yourself driving through fog frequently.

Handling your Towable RV

Tips for handling a towable RV in the rain are a little different than tips for handling a drivable RV. Most vehicles used for towing a travel trailer or a fifth wheel come equipped with four-wheel-drive. Four-wheel-drive (4WD) or 4×4 greatly increases your traction while driving through potentially slippery conditions. Be sure to avoid puddles as much as possible to avoid hydroplaning. 

In addition, be sure to leave more space between you and the car in front of you. It’s more difficult to brake quickly when towing, especially when towing heavier loads. By giving yourself more buffer room, you will have the opportunity to slow down more gradually and reduce your risk of fishtailing. 

Location

Some areas throughout the United States receive more rain than others, such as the Pacific Northwest, for example. The “rainy season” there lasts from October-June. Alternatively, when visiting somewhere like the desert, flash floods can be cause for concern. Generally, the ground is so dry that a large influx of rain can be hard for the ground to absorb quickly enough. When this happens, rain can pool near or on roads for extended periods of time.

To combat area-specific inclement, be sure to do research about the climate and what obstacles you may run into before visiting a specific area. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to check the weather before any road trip, especially with an RV. If you’re looking to avoid extreme weather altogether, check out our helpful tips.  

Use your Judgement

One of the most important pieces of advice here is to use your best judgment. Your comfort level and experience can vary depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, it can be safest to pull over to the side of the road (or at the nearest rest area if applicable) to let the storm pass, especially if it’s windy. It’s also important to have a backup plan in the event of flooding or fallen trees. It’s best to utilize your backup plan before something bad happens. Call the local campgrounds or Harvest Hosts locations to ensure you have a place to stay for the night, in the case the roads are not drivable. 

Driving through a rainstorm can be stressful, especially while driving an RV or towing. Keep these tips in mind when traveling in case a thunderstorm rolls in your way. 

Do you have any additional tips for driving through rainstorms? Have you driven your RV through a storm before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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