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Old 08-17-2016, 08:28 AM   #1
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Is it hard to drive a motorhome

Well, I bought a motorhome. 37' class A. I am a little intimidated about driving it as I have never drove anything this long. Are there schools available or should I rely on you tube. Any opinions to build my confidence?

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Old 08-17-2016, 08:47 AM   #2
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Yes...there are instructors out there. Lazy Days offers a confidence course with a blend of classroom and actual road driving instruction. There is a YouTube video with the classroom portion..I highly recommend it.

Compared to a car...you have to plan a bit more when driving. Low hanging branches, and low clearance bridges are a new "awareness" item. Larger turning radius is a new "awareness" item. Stopping distance is a new "awareness" item... And because the coach has a long wheelbase...you have to compensate when making turns to allow for the track of your rear wheels. When you swing the nose to the Left...you have to remember that long overhanging tail end will swing to the Right.

Okay...it sounds like a lot...but it's really not any more difficult to do than driving a car. It's just NEW. (Remember when driving a car was new?... It just takes a little experience,,,then it becomes easy)

For me, the thing that surprised me a little was sight picture. When I started out...I drove the coach where I thought I was centered in my lane. When I looked in my rear view mirrors..lt turns out that I was way over to the right side of the lane. Driving in the center of my lane gave me the illusion that I was hugging the left line too much. After a bit of adjusting to a new "normal"...it becomes easy to stay centered. This is especially important when lining up to go thru a toll booth.

Our coach is actually a lot more comfortable to drive long distances than our Pickup was towing a trailer. Having a rear view monitor, and turn signal activated side view monitoring makes it easy to change lanes and see how much clearance you have.

Jump In...the waters fine!!! Take your time...and you'll have a blast.

Charlie & Ronni plus the Sammies...Conner & Ginger.
2016 Ventana 4037
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:59 AM   #3
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What chassis is it on??? Freightliner has a week long class that I hear is great....
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:02 AM   #4
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No, it's not hard

once you are used to it...

2 things -
know your height and width
put your outside tire on the OUTSIDE of all turns
'11 Monaco Diplomat 43DFT RR10R pushed by a '14 Jeep Wrangler JKU. History.. 5'ers: 13 Redwood 38gk, 11 MVP Destiny, Open Range TT, popups, vans, tents...
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:02 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bshan0711 View Post
Well, I bought a motorhome. 37' class A. I am a little intimidated about driving it as I have never drove anything this long. Are there schools available or should I rely on you tube. Any opinions to build my confidence?
There's certainly nothing wrong finding a school ... there are few out there. If you're the type that feels best having an instructor - by all means go for it.

I suspect that most of folks driving RVs on the road today - do so without having had any formal training. Pretty much everybody has lots of driving experience (albeit in something much smaller than an RV) - which counts for a lot. Making the transition to a motorhome - is basically adjusting to the size. Making that adjustment is all about time behind the wheel.

There are a ton of "how to" videos available out there ... search YouTube and watch 'em. You'll pick up a ton of tips. Find yourself a large, empty parking lot to practice .... especially backing your coach. Stack the deck in your favor and get some road experience by driving some less traveled stretches at times when traffic is light.

Seems like most of the RV driving schools seem to include 4-10 hours of "behind the wheel instruction". This isn't a huge amount of experience. Think back to when you took Driver's Ed back when you first got your driver's license. Many (if not most!) of us obviously capable of controlling the vehicle the first time we got behind the wheel back in Driver's Ed. Competent drivers don't get that way because of the first 4-10 hours of instruction - it's the countless hours of driving in all sorts of conditions that develop competency.

Watch all the "how to" to videos you can. Study the readily available CDL training materials to the point that you can pass the practice exams. Read everything available to you about how to start and "pre-flight" your coach. Spend time in the parking lot to master the basic skills of turning, stopping and backing up.

There are millions of folks out there driving large vehicles today - a thoughtful individual can easily join their ranks. It ain't rocket surgery or brain science!
2012 HR Endeavor 43' DFT, 2012 Jeep Liberty
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:03 AM   #6
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I agree with C.Martin. It's mainly about awareness. For me, everything slows down when driving the MH. Slower acceleration, speed, turns, and stops. You generally need/want more room around you. I become a completely different driver in the MH vs. when in my car or truck.

If you've never driven anything this size, a good hands on course would be helpful. If ones not available, an empty parking lot and some cones/obstacles would go a long way.

You can do it!
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:04 AM   #7
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Great advice from C.Martin--in addition--two things come to mind-- the outside mirrors are a life-saver--keeps you situationally aware of your surroundings--both while driving and while parking. If so equipped the rear-view camera helps you keep track of the towed and provides good confirmation that you have cleared the vehicles you are passing before attempting to return to the right lane. Some don't but I keep the camera on all the time.....Go out and have fun!!!!!
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:22 AM   #8
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C.Martin nailed it! Just get out there and drive! You'll be amazed at how fast you will get comfortable with it!
Joe & Annette

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Old 08-17-2016, 09:31 AM   #9
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Take your time!

Head over to a parking lot and do a bit of test driving. See how far inside the rear wheels travel compared to the front wheels. Watch for the "swing" on the rear overhang.

When backing up stop and look if you cannot see. If you have a spotter stop if you cannot see them in the mirror or beside you.
Gordon and Janet
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:56 AM   #10
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Square turns. Your rear wheels will cut inside the corner, so stick your nose way into the intersection, then turn the wheel sharply and nearly fully to make the turn. Otherwise your rears will go over the curb, or over the guy waiting to turn left.

Left lane for passing only, and then, not very often. Pace yourself off the semis, not the speed limit sign or the four-wheelers; not even the busses.
2006 Monaco Safari Cheetah 40PMT
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:13 AM   #11
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We've now had our Motorhome, our first RV, for about 18 months and 13,000 miles.

A couple specifics that we have learned that may be helpful.

Your concave mirrors make your lane look smaller than what it is, and trying to drive in your mirrors to stay in your lane is not a comfortable way to drive. Find (or make) a reference point on your windshield that when looking at it puts your right side tires on the white line. We happened to find that the center point of our left wiper is a great forward looking reference point for us. It is a bit below my normal sight line, but works very well for us.

The other thing for passing clearance to to put a reference mark on your side mirrors that when the front bumper point of the vehicle you are passing is past your reference mark you are clear to pull back over. I used the little rubber stick on dots that are commonly used to stick on things to protect furniture......

You can set up both referecened points above, find an empty parking lot and set up the coach on a proper reference line and have someone walk behind to find the correct passing clearance points.

What still gives me the most anxiety is "mirror to mirror" passing of oncoming big rigs on 2 lane roads, many which have a limited shoulder past the white line. But, you will find that most big rig drivers do thier best to get as far over to th right in those situations, and as long as you have your tires on the right line you should be fine....

I would also suggest that in that empty parking lot you try to get up to speed and slam on the brakes as hard as you can to get a feel for the ABS and just how the coach acts and how much you have to lay into the brake pedal in an emergency situation. Best to do it before you get the coach loaded up with stuff, so you don't have things flying around in your cabinets or basement .

I also suggest that you find a racing or high performance drivng school and take at least an introductory class. What does that have to do with driving an RV?; it is all about vehicle dynamics and understanding things like decreasing radius corners that could get you into real trouble in a RV (as it does to a lot of drivers in SUVs, even though they are clueless and blame an accident on "loosing control".

Good luck!
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:13 AM   #12
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I found that my biggest adjustment was keeping the coach traveling in a straight line. Starting out, the coach would "wander" back and forth and I thought there was something wrong with the steering. Come to find out, it was me over correcting due to the fact that I was watching the road directly in front of me. I found that if I looked down the road aways or at the vehicle in front of me, the coach would go in a straight line.

Most of us typically keep our speed on the highways at around 60.....there are exceptions, of course. Also, keeping a larger distance between you and the vehicle in front of you is definitely a requirement. I use to wonder why big rig trucks always had a lot of empty space in front of them....now I know.

As mentioned....everything is slower.

Ron, Sandie and Lilly
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:44 AM   #13
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Here's a link to the video I mentioned... I found some useful tidbits in it for sure!!

And just to be more prepared...hopefully you'll never need it...

Charlie & Ronni plus the Sammies...Conner & Ginger.
2016 Ventana 4037
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:53 AM   #14
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It was intimidating at first, but you'll be surprised how quickly you get used to it.

Dennis and Katherine
2000 Monaco Dynasty
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