Be Safe Out on the Road With These RV Safety Tips: Part 1

trailer sway control

Camping is a great past time, especially if you have an RV to help you explore the open roads. However, it is important to follow some basic RV safety precautions to ensure you have a safe vacation. Here is a checklist of maintenance and safety tips to follow before you get behind the wheel.

1. The propane tank

Propane tank maintenance is an important job. To prevent a gas leak or a fire, follow these simple rules:

  1. Never paint your propane tank. A darker color will absorb more of the sun’s rays, which could then cause an explosion.
  2. Do not travel with the oven, burners, or stove lit.
  3. Do not refuel your propane appliances while the engine is running.
  4. Inspect older propane tanks regularly for gas leaks.
  5. Invest in a propane gas detector.

2. The brakes

Brakes on RVs are different than the hydraulic brakes found on cars and trucks. Electric trailer brakes are pretty touchy and sensitive, so be easy on them and purchase a trailer brake controller so you will be in complete control when driving. It is best to use a 2-point system with these trailers as they have surge brakes.

3. Don’t cut corners, literally

When driving a RV, you will have to take into consideration the extra height, length, and weight of the vehicle when you drive around corners. Here are some cornering tips that will help you stay safe on the road.

  1. Approach the turn slowly.
  2. Arc the turn, meaning you should swing your vehicle in the opposite direction of the turn so the body will follow the wheel.
  3. Install a trailer sway control hitch so you are steady on the turn.
  4. Finish the turn only once the back of vehicle has completely cleared the pivot point.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Practice on side roads and parking lots until you feel comfortable behind the wheel.

4. Follow the 20% rule

A fully loaded RV takes longer to brake and to accelerate than a typical vehicle. To compensate for this, give yourself about 20% more following distance and side clearance when braking, merging into traffic, or judging if you have enough clearance to go around a turn.

Protect yourself and your family today by investing in trailer sway control and electric brake controllers from Hayes Towing Electronics.

5 Tips for Any RV Beginner Before Heading Out on The Road

sway controlAre you a beginner to RV travel? At first, this method of traveling can seem to be exceptionally intimidating; there is so much information to know before you head out on the road. However, in order to make things easier for you, we have come up with a quick list of tips any RV beginner should know before getting behind the wheel.

1. Do you want to rent or buy?
There are plenty of different reasons to rent an RV, and an equal number of reasons to buy. It depends on your lifestyle, and how you see yourself using your vehicle. If you are looking to travel frequently and would like to get up and go on a whim, buying may be for you. Or, if you are simply looking to take a vacation once in a while, you may want to offset the costs and just rent an RV when you need it.

2. Do your research
It is always important to do as much research as possible before you get behind the wheel of your RV. This means looking up and understanding every aspect of its operation, before you’re on the road and in trouble. Some details to research include how to properly handle your trailer brake controllers and your sway control hitch. Trailer sway control devices come in two basic types: those that reduce sway once it has begun and those that work to prevent sway altogether. As long as you have one on your vehicle, it doesn’t matter what you option you choose.

3. Bring a “professional” with you
Chances are you have a friend or family member who has had some experience in the world of RVs. Bring them along on your next trip, and you won’t feel as if you are going at it alone. If that’s not feasible, ask them for their best tips and tricks, or maybe their “do”s and “don’t”s.

4. Do a test drive
No, we don’t mean a test drive from the dealership. We want you to get in your RV and drive around a little bit before you set off across the country — or wherever you may be headed. You’ll want to be completely comfortable when you’re on the road, so take a couple of spins around the neighborhood to practice turning, braking and backing up. That will help ease any jitters once you’ve set off on your RV vacation.

5. Set up a checklist
Have a checklist of important things you must do before buckling your seat belt, and put it right on the windshield so you won’t have an excuse to forget! Some ideas include checking storage compartment doors, making sure the step is up and stored, turning off the emergency brake, checking fluid levels, and securing all the interior cabinets.

Just follow these tips and you’ll soon be off to a great vacation!

Going on a Trip? Here are 4 Things to Remember When Driving an RV

electric trailer brake controllers

Owning a recreational vehicle (RV) can be a lot of fun for the whole family. You can all go on family trips to just about anywhere in the country and essentially live in your vehicle for as long as you want. Although they are used for recreation, you have to treat RVs with respect. These large vehicles need to be handled correctly both on and off the roadways.

If you’re buying or renting an RV for the first time, here are some things to remember before you hit the open road.

There are Two Types of RVs
The two main categories of RVs are motorhomes and towables. Motorhomes are motorized vehicles that you physically drive, while towables (sometimes called fifth wheels) are simply towed behind a pickup truck or family van. Each have their own unique benefits, but they are both difficult to drive for beginners as well. It’s important that you drive safe in both vehicles.

Weight Limit
These are very large vehicles and can carry a lot of items, but every RV has its limitations. If you exceed the recommended weight inside your RV you could have serious trouble out on the road. Make sure you read all the instructional manuals that come with your RV, talk to the dealer, do research online, and read any warning labels to make sure you’re following all the proper weight and other restrictions.

That goes for height, too!

Electric Trailer Brake Controllers
This is absolutely necessary if your RV is a towable. Just because your truck’s brake lights work properly, that doesn’t mean vehicles following behind your RV can see them. You have to make sure the electric trailer brake controllers are working on the actual trailer that’s towing your RV. Contact Hayes Towing Electronics today to find quality electric trailer brake controllers.

RV Roadway Safety
These vehicles are much larger and longer than typical vehicles out on the road. They are certainly much more difficult to drive. They require your full attention and heightened awareness because of the sight restrictions you’ll experience. It’s much easier to see all around you when you’re driving your truck or sedan. Whether you’re driving a motorized RV or towing one behind a truck, these vehicles require much more time to break. Remember to take your turns wide enough to avoid clipping vehicles, structures, or pedestrians at each side.

Proportional vs. Time-Delayed: Which Type of Trailer Brake Controller is Right For You?

trailer brake controllersIf you’re one of the estimated 30 million RV enthusiasts in the U.S., you’ll know how important it is to stay safe while driving your trailer on the open road. Of course, one of the best ways to ensure your family’s safety is by knowing your RV is equipped with the best trailer brake controllers for your needs. But because there are different kinds of trailer brake controller solutions out there, how do you know which will be best for you? We’ve laid out some information on the two main types of electric brake controllers for trailers: proportional vs. time-delayed.

Proportional

Proportional trailer brake controllers automatically sense when your tow vehicle slows down or stops. This type of brake controller will replicate your own braking intensity for your trailer’s brakes — whether you slow to a gradual stop or have to slam on your brakes. This means you’ll have smooth, seamless, and coordinated braking for both vehicles.

Positives include…

  • Emergency braking
  • Quick reaction time
  • Smooth driving
  • Less wear for vehicle
  • Efficiency and safety

Negatives include…

  • A bit more expensive
  • More complex installation

Time-Delayed

Time-delayed trailer brake controllers get a signal every time you engage your tow vehicle’s brakes. This signal in the controller then sends power to your trailer’s brakes at a pre-determined rate of intensity set by the driver. This rate can be adjusted depending on the vehicle, conditions, and simply what feels right. Like the name suggests, there is always a bit of time delay between when you put on your own brakes and when the ones on your trailer will be activated.

Positives include…

  • Easy installation
  • A bit less expensive
  • Can be mounted in any position
  • Good for casual RV users

Negatives include…

  • More wear and tear
  • Chance of brake pulsing problems

Let’s face it: there will always be both pros and cons for any piece of RV equipment you buy. You just need to decide which type of electric brake controllers will work best for you, your family, and your vehicle. Whether you have a lot of RV experience or you’re just starting out, we can help you to determine which type of brake controller will best suit your desires and needs.

The Best RV Must Haves to Invest In

sway controlAre you a camping aficionado? Lucky for you, there are more than 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds nationwide, according to the latest figures. So if you have an RV, it is time to roam the campsites from sea to shining sea. But before you go, make sure to equip your camper with some of these necessary RV accessories and tools.

A solar device charger
It is no secret that there is a lack of plugs on your RV. To bypass this, bring along a solar device charger. After all, power is always available when the sun is out! These battery packs just need some time in the bright sun, and they’ll provide hours of power to your handheld devices.

Walkie-Talkies
Two-way radios are a must-have for any group of campers to keep track of each other at all times. They’re great for keeping in touch in large campsites, during hikes, and even when it’s dark outside so you won’t have to constantly shout.

Sway control hitch
For ease of comfort when driving, you will want to invest in a trailer hitch sway control. This little device will prevent your RV from swaying on the road, which is a significant safety risk. It also works as a brake controller, as the RV sway control system provides simultaneous braking when sway is detected.

A bike
Don’t forget that your camper is only a vessel to get you from one destination to the other. You will want to explore the different campsites you end up at, so make sure to get an all-terrain bike to bring you wherever you want to go.

Tankless air compressor
You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road when you have a flat tire. A tankless air compressor takes up very little space and will be a lifesaver when you are in the middle of nowhere.

Flameless operated candles
Not only are these accessories great for decoration, they are a great source of light. They are also perfect to be used around kids to prevent any burns, and are good if you want to sit under a canopy in the rain.

Folding step stool
Everything is higher than you’d like it to be on an RV. Having a small, folding step stool will help you fiddle around with the awning, reach high cabinets, wash your RV, and pitch a tent.

Keep stock of these RV must-haves and you will be good to go for your next camping vacation!

Tips for Pulling a Trailer Safely

brake controllerTowing a trailer behind your vehicle takes some getting used to. It’s not as fluid as simply driving a car, so there are a few tips and tricks to be learned before you start hauling.

  • First things first, before you get behind the wheel, make sure to check your state’s driver handbook for road rules of operating a trailer. Many states require operators to stay in the far right lane, for example. You can obtain a driver handbook through your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Secure the trailer hitch correctly. For a ball hitch, the tongue on the trailer (the metal piece in front of the trailer) should fit over the towing vehicle’s hitch and should be secured with a locking mechanism. Sway control hitches are recommended in order to better control the tow behind you. Weight distribution hitches are also available, and should be used for heavier tows that exceed half of the towing vehicle’s weight.

    There is a locking mechanism on the hitch that should have a locking pin for extra security. If the tow isn’t locked correctly, the trailer could come loose and hit a vehicle behind you. Pull the trailer connection upward to see if it detaches before you continue with anything else.

  • Set up your electronic trailer brake controller according to the manual. The brake controller device, which should be installed in the cab of your vehicle, activates the trailer’s electric or electric-over-hydraulic brakes whenever you press the brakes in the tow vehicle. If the trailer brake wiring was not pre-installed in your vehicle, you’ll have to purchase a separate brake controller system.
  • Be sure to check the brake lights and signals after you’ve connected the electrical wires from the trailer to the vehicle. Pro tip: If no one is around to tell you if the brake lights and signals work, find a reflective surface, like another car or a window, to check the signals in your rearview mirror.

    If your signals and lights don’t work in the dark, other vehicles won’t be able to see you at all. Checking your lights right before you get on the road is a crucial part of preparation.

  • Especially if this is your first time towing a trailer, it’s a good idea to practice maneuvering the vehicles in an open lot. After making sure there are no obstructions, practice backing up and making left and right-hand turns, as well as stopping the vehicle — to gauge how long it will take your trailer to come to a complete halt.

    Make sure that you avoid jackknifing, especially when backing up. Jackknifing is when the angle between the vehicle and trailer is less than 90 degrees, forming a V-shape. This can severely damage both the hitch and trailer. If you feel like you’re close to jackknifing, pull your vehicle forward to straighten out. Keep your steering wheel movement to a minimum and guide the trailer gently.

Hayes Towing Electronics has the most advanced brake controlling systems available; they are easy to set up and don’t require hard-wiring to your tow vehicle. If you have a heavy load to tow, contact us for the most secure brake systems available.

5 Easy RV Maintenance Tips

sway control

Maintaining your RV is crucial so you will not have to worry about your camper breaking down when you are planning a fun vacation. No matter what type of RV you have, whether it is a motorized mobile home or a towable, RVs require routine maintenance to function properly.

So follow these tips to prevent headaches down the road.

1. Don’t forget the generator
Many RV owners forget that their camper runs on a generator that needs routine maintenance. Failure to change the oil and the filter on the generator can cause thousands in repairs, so checking the owner’s manual is crucial. Make sure to run the generator occasionally while the camper is being stored, because if you don’t, a chemical buildup can ruin your carburetor.

2. Oil changes
Just like cars, campers need oil changes in order to run efficiently and without any problems. If left undone, it can cause your engine to seize up and become clogged. A good rule of thumb is to change the oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles, but make sure to check the owner’s manual for your specific vehicle.

3. Replacing the filters
Don’t let the fuel, air, coolant, and hydraulics sit and collect dust. If you don’t change the filters regularly, you are throwing money down the drain over increased fuel usage. You may even have to deal with overheating issues and oxidation within the heating system. All of these are incredibly expensive issues to repair.

4. Invest in sway control
A sway control hitch will help give you a smoother ride while providing a simultaneous braking mechanism if it detects a small amount of sway. These trailer brake controllers are able to distribute the RV’s weight, which is recommended if your trailer weighs more than 50% of your vehicle’s weight. But most importantly, keeping your brakes maintained is important for not only your safety, but everyone else on the road.

5. Take care of your battery
If you do not plan on using your RV during the winter, take it out of your camper and store it in a warm place. Doing so will prevent them from breaking and allow them to last for about three to five years.

Just keep these repairs in mind, and you will have a quality RV that will be able to bring you to any of the 16,000 campgrounds across the United States! Spend less time in the repair shop and more time on the open road.

5 Benefits of Traveling in a Motorhome

brake controllerFor any avid traveler, owning an RV is a great way to travel and explore the greatest country on earth. They let you take the comforts of home away with you while traveling, whether you’re going to the wilds of Yellowstone National Park or planning a country music adventure to Graceland. No matter where you’re going in your RV, here are five benefits of owning a motorhome.

No lost luggage, no baggage fees, no baggage at all
Everything you need will be right there with you on your camper. Tired of limiting your liquids on an airplane, or lugging heavy suitcases onto trains and buses? With a camper you have the luxury of bringing everything you need, no weight limit required. Already, 11% of U.S. households own an RV of some kind. In particular, families are able to bring whatever they need to attend to the children without having to worry about all the baggage that normally accompanies family vacations.

Comfort
One of the biggest perks of having a motorhome is that you will be able to feel at home while on the road. You will have everything you need, including bathroom facilities, a place to sleep, a kitchen, and some comfy chairs to relax in.

Freedom
When you get in your RV you do not have to follow any plan besides getting on the road. You have total freedom to take your time to explore areas that interest you, and you don’t have to wait for public transport to bring you to your next destination. There are more than 16,000 public and privately owned campgrounds nationwide, and with an RV you can go wherever you want.

Don’t be dependent on airlines or travel connections for your next trip. When you’re behind the wheel of an RV, you’re in charge.

Versatility
There are many different RVs to choose from, depending on your traveling needs. If you only want to travel for a weekend once in a while, a good option is to buy a towable camper. But if you are looking to spend months on the road, a motorized home is a good option. Just make sure that no matter what option you choose, they both come with the proper electronic brake controllers and trailer sway control hitch for ultimate safety. Brake controllers are important especially for towables to ensure it stops when your car does, preventing accidents on the road.

Bond with family
Camping in a motorhome will not only allow you to bond with your family, but it will allow you to broaden your child’s horizons. Your family will be able to appreciate the great outdoors while gaining insights into different people and places all across the beautiful United States of America.

So what do you have to lose? Go camping today and start exploring!

A Few Quick Things RV Beginners Should Know

sway controlThere are over 30 million RV enthusiasts, and if you ask any of them, they will tell you that using RVs is one of the best ways to travel because it allows you to relax and see parts of the country at your leisure. Whether you’re a family that is choosing to spend your summer exploring, or you tend to camp every weekend, becoming familiar with an RV is crucial to ensure that there will be no headaches on the road during your trip.

But while many full-time RV enthusiasts know every little thing about their vehicle, everyone has to start somewhere. So if you’re considering buying or renting an RV this summer, here is everything beginners need to know about RVs.

There are two types

Motorhomes: these are the large campers that are driven just like a car. They include a bathroom, bedrooms, a kitchen facility, and a couch.

Towables (sometimes called fifth wheels): these are towed behind the family car, van, or pickup truck and include a television, a place for a bed, and a storage space, depending on the size you choose.

Should you buy or rent?

This depends on too many factors to give you a clear answer, so take time to consider a few factors before you invest.

To buy: buying an RV would be the right idea if you plan on using the camper regularly or are approaching retirement. If you take a lot of trips, or plan to, then it may be time to buy the RV of your dreams. Also consider whether you are able to provide storage at your home when it is not in use.

To rent: renting is a great way to save money if you plan to only use the camper for a trip or two. Renting can also be a great option for those who want to test the waters of the RV lifestyle before taking the plunge and buying one (hint: the RV lifestyle is right for everyone).

Get to know your RV

It is important for any RV user to fully comprehend how a camper works before you get in the vehicle. This includes understanding the technical aspects, like the type of brake controllers that come with the RV, and if sway control is a problem.

What is an electric brake controller?
A brake controller is a device installed in the cab of your tow vehicle that activities your trailer’s electric brakes when you hit the brakes in your tow vehicle. Basically, it ensures the trailer stops when you stop driving.

What is trailer sway control?
Sway control steadies your vehicle and eliminates the sway it may have on the road while driving. There are two basic types of trailer sway devices, one to reduce sway once it happens, and another to prevent swaying from happening.

RV beginners have a lot in store for them, as traveling in an RV is a great way to explore the outdoors. Just keep these quick tips in mind, and you will have nothing to worry about on your next trip!