In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How hard is it to drive a Class A RV? We will discuss the factors that can influence your driving skills and how to manoeuvre a Class A RV like a pro (even if you are a beginner).
How hard is it to drive a Class A RV?
Driving a Class A RV is definitely harder than driving a regular car, Class B or C RVs. Class A RVs are impressive in size. They can even become intimidating for someone used to driving a simple passenger car.
No matter the size or type of your RV, know that you won’t need a particular driver’s license to drive one. Indeed, a simple Class B driver’s license issued to all passenger vehicle drivers will also allow you to drive a motorized RV or tow a small RV with your vehicle or an SUV or even a larger one with a van or a pickup.
But driving a Class A RV requires a certain degree of skill so as not to endanger your life and the lives of others on the roads. Your safety depends on your type of driving, depending on the circumstances!
A few tips for successfully driving a Class A RV
- Don’t underestimate blind spots: First, due to their size (some can get to 45’) Class A RVs obviously have more pronounced blind spots than for a regular passenger vehicle – much sharper than you would expect or suspect.
That is, those cars passing you on the highway, you will lose sight of them for a long time. If a lane change seems necessary, take the time to complete the manoeuvre safely so as not to corner an unfortunate motorist who has taken too long to leave your blind spot.
- The wind factor: When we refer to a Class A RV, we also refer to a beautiful large surface that lets itself be manhandled by the winds. In a surprise squall, if you don’t grip the steering wheel properly, you could end up in the other lane.
A good way to reduce the wind effect? Slow down. Either way, you’re in no rush, you’re on vacation … And your wallet will thank you for every mile of reduced speed, as you’ll cut your fuel bill even further.
- Slow down when taking a curve: Take turns at low speed and while manoeuvring, do not use a sudden steering wheel. Otherwise, you risk losing control.
Even for the first few rides, we recommend reducing your speed below the legal limits. “Do the signs indicate 60 mph?” Enter the curve at 55 mph, enough time to tame your RV and see how it behaves. Otherwise, it becomes stressful for everyone on board.
- Pay attention to height signs: This is perhaps the biggest challenge of driving an RV: watch out for electric wires. And at the height allowed for the bridges. And branches, both along roads and in campsites. It may sound obvious, put it like that, but remember to ban … underground parking lots.
- A cheatsheet – in meters and feet: Certainly, whoever has been piloting an RV for years has the necessary reflexes to prevent, among other things, the air conditioning unit from being torn from the roof – a component that is very expensive to repair or replace, note well.
If you are a novice, however, you should keep a checklist handy indicating the length, width and height of their RV … in meters, but also in feet, if you plan to walk south of our borders.
- Braking smoothly, please: Whoever is driving a Class A RV (up to 25,000kg – that’s 55,000 pounds!), knows that the braking distances are much, much greater than for a car or even a utility van.
So give yourself all the feet you need to come to a smooth stop – if only to avoid messing around in the back of personal belongings in cupboards and drawers.
- When parking: ask for help! In the parking lots of shopping centres or rest areas, give yourself a little chance: park away from buildings and heavy traffic, so as to give yourself leeway that will always be welcome. As much as possible, park the nose of the RV towards the exit, which will prevent you from reversing.
Do you doubt your parking manoeuvre? Get out of the vehicle and check the situation firsthand. And don’t be embarrassed to ask a second set of eyes to assist you. But… Make sure that this person remains visible in your mirrors throughout the reversing manoeuvre!
The factors that can make driving a Class A RV harder
Like it wasn’t hard enough (mainly due to their size), Class A RVs don’t always behave in a straight line on the road. And not always someone else’s RV! If your RV behaves like one, you shouldn’t be living with this problem as there are a few remedies.
Sometimes the cause is a subtle error in the driver’s technique; sometimes it is a problem with the chassis or other mechanical factors. Sometimes it’s just the wind. In fact, it’s YOU really in control of all of these factors!
WIND is one of the annoying culprits, but at least it’s obvious to you. Those 40 mph gusts can almost push you out of your lane because your RV is a real WALL on the road!
There are only a few ways to deal with the wind and sometimes the best is to just park and wait for better weather conditions. If you absolutely must ride, keep your speed down to 55 mph or even less and you will find that the wind will have a lot less grip on your RV.
Watch for terrain breaks or foliage that will affect your RV during surprise guests. Above all, be sure to steer your RV and avoid a wind correction. Only a really severe wind can really take you “the fields’ ‘ but even a more modest gust can cause over-correction and unintentional swerving off-road or even on the other lane! If this happens, then you will be in a real mess!
The factors concerning the CHASSIS are much more insidious. They may have been around forever, with design flaws, or they may have developed gradually through wear and tear on bushings, tires and/or ball joints.
Regularly check your RV’s alignment, suspension wear and also keep an eye on your tire wear. If you drive a motorized RV, have an on-road performance evaluation performed by an authorized technician. This assessment will tell you if something is wrong with your RV and also what could be done to improve its condition on the roads.
Most RV chassis manufacturers are driven by the lowest cost, not the best handling. Inexpensive shocks and “rickety” stabilizer bars are unfortunately often the norms. Then, RV manufacturers load the chassis almost to the maximum of the vehicle’s loading weight (GVW)!
This is a formula that guarantees “scaly” handling. Consider adding heavy sway bars, a track bar, and/or a steering stabilizer if your motorized RV doesn’t already have one. And be sure to get expert advice on installing any modifications.
A towed vehicle could have a terrible effect on the steering stability of your RV. If you are towing a vehicle, make sure your setup is installed correctly, in good working order, and that it meets the legal standards of the country or state where you are driving. If the towed vehicle is too big or too heavy on your hitch, prepare for “sport” on the rear motion!
The technical aspect of your driving is perhaps the most challenging factor to deal with because our egos hamper our objective judgment.
Do you tend to over-correct the steering with your steering wheel? Are you holding the steering wheel as tight as if you were hanging from a rope? Are you looking at the lane immediately in front of your windshield instead of focusing further ahead? Do you force yourself like hell on the wheel in a corner instead of taking a gradual approach?
All of these “quirks” will get you to manoeuvre and swerve no matter how good and long the RV you are driving. There is not enough room here to suggest remedial techniques. Still, if you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, you might consider getting help by taking a few courses in RV operations or heavy vehicles.
Driving a Class A RV is certainly not a walk in the park, but it is not impossible either! And if you think about it, you don’t even need a special licence for it. But you do need practice, lots of practice!
Always ensure your RV is adequately maintained and that everything is in order before a trip (even before a short one).
Do you have any questions or comments on the content? Perhaps some suggestions for driving a Class A RV? Feel free to get in contact!
FAQ on How hard is it to drive a Class A RV?
How to drive with a motorhome?
To drive with a motorhome, you have to know the following tips:
- Know its dimensions. It is as essential as it is fundamental.
- Spread the load evenly.
- Avoid overtaking.
- Drive at a steady speed.
- If there is a strong wind, slow down.
- Use the side mirrors.
- Do not leave loose items inside.
Which is easier to drive, Class A or C?
The difference in size between Class A and Class C RVs makes the difference in this case. Class A motorhomes can be 40 feet long (thus more challenging to manoeuvre), while Class C motorhomes generally cut around 28 feet! When it comes to driving comfort, Class C RVs are easier to navigate.
How fast can you drive a Class A motorhome?
How fast you can drive a Class A motorhome will depend on the size of the vehicle, and frankly, on which state you are going in. On average, the recommended speed for a Class A motorhome is between 60 to 65 mpg.