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Old 02-08-2016, 08:45 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Feeling Anxious about driving / gas stations.

Hello there seasoned veterans.

I have just picked up a new 39 foot gas RV with about a 10 foot overhang on the back and I will be 4 down towing a jeep 4 door. I have taken a driver's training class at Lazy Days and that was nice for some nice tips and we drove around the parking lot. I have also driven home from the dealership putting about 100 miles of expressway and 2 lane road miles on the setup and that all went well.

What has me anxious is dealing with gas stations. Since this is a gas motorhome I suspect I will be dealing with tight turns in and around the pumps and other automobiles. Now I understand I am not the first person to deal with this so hopefully others out there can provide me with a few good tips.

New to the RV'er world.

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Old 02-08-2016, 08:53 AM   #2
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Just relax, take your time to look the situation over, and don't let anyone rush you into something you can't get put of. You'll be fine.

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Old 02-08-2016, 09:07 AM   #3
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You might want to go out to an empty parking lot somewhere with some rubber cones and practice maneuvering. An empty lot gives you enough room so you can watch your mirrors to see where the rear tires track when you make turns and how far the back end swings out.

As far as gas stations go, many states (including Florida where Lazy Days is located) have RV symbols on the names of gas stations at interstate exits. In order to display the RV symbol, the stations have to meet certain minimum clearance requirements that make for easy entrance, maneuvering and exit.

Also when on the road, most Flying J stations have special RV lanes. Although there can sometimes be some minor conjestion around the RV lanes, they are generally easier to maneuver than most regular gas stations.
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:19 AM   #4
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Cooperhawk is right. Look and learn to assess the situation quickly as you approach a station or possible fueling location. Don't commit to the turn until you can basically satisfy yourself you can get in and out, even if you find you cannot reach the fuel pumps at the last minute. Get your gas early - like just as the needle crosses into the bottom half of the tank.
We have found over the years, the in-town stations are harder to get in and out of because they are generally smaller (property cost more maybe??) However many of the mega-stations here in the SE such as Quik Trip and Race Trac are building BIG stations to accommodate rigs of all sizes.
Think and it will become relatively easy after a few trips. There is no shame in unhooking to maneuver out of a tight spot - a bit of trouble, but that is about it.
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:30 AM   #5
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Here's the first thing the guy at the truck driving school where I spent a few hours driving, turning, and backing into spaces, told me "GOAL" Get Out And Look.

If you are ever unsure of what will happen, take your time and if needed stop, get out and see what's what. He pointed out that a few minutes of stopped traffic are much better that the hours a wreck of some type may cause.

As for fueling statioins I first use gasbuddy (website) to see what the fuel prices are and follow up with Google Maps in image mode to actually have look at what I might be getting into and out of. The rule with a toad is that, in general, "you cannot backup" so having an idea what the situation on ground actually is hepls me in my decision process.

By the way - more an more "big" "fuel centers" have separate RV pumps so if you cannot see them from the camera in the sky image you might call an ask.

Our MH has a gas filler pipe that comes from the back and has a tendency "burp" and stop the flow of gas from the hose. To solve this I am careful to watch the slope of the concrete around the gas pumps and try to have the front of the MH lower than the rear. There are times when I put the rear jacks down to accomplish this tilt.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:45 AM   #6
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This interstate driving book is a big help:


It will tell you RV-friendly stations.

Flying J has specific RV pumps but we've found that even those can be tight.

Your best bet are truck stops. Quite often at the normal vehicle pumps out in front, the two end pumps will give you the most space.

The big thing you have to watch for is pulling in and having the convenience store parking right in front of you. Sometimes that's a difficult situation. If you use the end pumps you can avoid that and have an easy out. Good luck! Many others do it so you will, too. Just stay calm and don't let the other drivers behind you make you rush. You'll never see them again. Stop just as you pull in if you can and look over your possibilities before pulling up to a pump.
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Old 02-08-2016, 09:53 AM   #7
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I start looking for a station at about a half tank. If the pumps are not parallel to the station I drive on by, get back on the highway and go look some more.
Clay WA5NMR - Ex Snowbird - 1 year, Ex Full timer for 11 years - 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N Workhorse chassis. Honda Accord toad.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:01 AM   #8
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Lots of good advice above.

I find if you go slow, stop - get out and check if in doubt and remain calm you can get in and out of most situations.

Worst is to panic and have an accident. People will be angry at you for being slow and inconveniencing them for a few minutes but will be mad if you have an accident and tie up the access for a long while.

Look up for clearance and have your partner watch the back for swing if you have any doubts. Unhook the toad and back up if you cannot go ahead with good clearance.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:07 AM   #9
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As mentioned you could use flying js for your first fuel ups as they have the separate rv island which supply gas and diesel. Most gas stations should be fine when using the outside pump. Usually the only obstacles are vehicles parked where they shouldn't be. In this case if you cant negotiate the turn you can wait for the vehicle to move, back up a couple feet if you have to or as a last resort unhook the toad. If you scope out the station as you enter it, should never have to unhook. Or you could simply not overthink it and just pull in and fuel then worry about how to get out and chalk it up to experience.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:12 AM   #10
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I might add...don't park TOO close to the pumps either. With that much overhang, the turn to leave might get expensive.
Dave and Holly
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by davismills View Post
I might add...don't park TOO close to the pumps either. With that much overhang, the turn to leave might get expensive.
I am going to give you the counterpoint to all the good advice you have gotten so far. Because of the very issue you are concerned about we rent when we get there. I don't want to tow with a gasser because of gas stations. Sure you can unhook each time you have to back up. But that is a PITA. And what about the many times you may not have to back up, but it helps to be able to? Just sayin.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:27 AM   #12
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If you do use a "standard" station where the pump lanes T into the building, only use the pump lane on the very end opposite your fill cap. So if your cai is on the left, only fill at the last pump on the right. This usually allows the most room to manuever when leaving and helps elimate tail-swing concerns when leaving. Most importantly, sizing a station up BEFORE you turn in is crucial. Pick your station by if you can get out rather than if you can get in. Patience and planning! Dont be afraid to drive on by many stations rather than risk it. I also find that gassing at the end of the day beats any other time. Mornings are the worst. A full tank of fuel at a camp site is a comforting thing.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:29 AM   #13
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Where is your fill pipe? Ours is more toward the drivers side on the rear end cap. But generally can be reached by either side (drivers or passenger side pumps). I also have a long overhang. So I try to get the pump on the drivers side with my pathway out with a left turn. That keeps the island stuff and those menacing bollards on the inside of the turn not the outside. Normally plenty of room for the swing on the passenger side unless another RV is there. We also use the Next Exit - good guide most of the time. We also like the "older' stations off the interstates where the pump islands are parallel to the "store" rather than perpendicular. Usually look for the older stations when heading to or from the campground. Wherever we pull into a station my wife is the ground guide so I get right next to the pump I want and with hose to spare.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:42 AM   #14
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Good advice above. I always let the DW out to watch what I can't see and alert me. We use small "walkie talkies" rather than cell phones as being more reliable when you really need to say STOP!. Take your time and remember the back side tracks to the inside of your front, and the overhang swings way outside the rear tires. Happy camping.

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