By Chuck Woodbury
I wish we had more readers. As it is, at least 100,000 different people read RVtravel.com each week (it’s likely more than that). A bigger audience, obviously, would be good for business. But another reason is that we could help educate more RVers. As is, every day we receive the same basic RVing questions from readers who just found us; they haven’t benefited from all the information we’ve published in the last 20 years.
The sad truth is that a lot of RVers are doing bad things because they have not learned how to properly use their RVs. They overload them, they drive on defective tires, they don’t understand the dangers of carbon monoxide or LP gas, they don’t maintain their rigs properly – some don’t even know how to correctly empty their holding tanks. Many put themselves and their families in jeopardy because they don’t understand RV electricity. We have received at least a few letters from readers who said what they learned from Mike Sokol about RV electricity may have saved their lives. If we had five times the readers, we could do more good.
Most RVers do not have an exit plan – or any plan – should their RV catch on fire. And RVs DO catch on fire and they burn fast. Mac McCoy, the nation’s expert on RV fire safety, advises that if you can’t extinguish a fire in 45 seconds, then get out. RVs are replaceable, humans are not. And, sad to say, many RVers think the tiny fire extinguisher that came with their vehicle is all they’ll need to suppress a blaze. Truth be told, that’s like fighting a war with a BB gun.
The reason I bring this all up was prompted by a reader’s letter. Our tire safety expert Roger Marble had discussed whether RVers really need to carry a spare tire. The fact is, many new RVs do not even come equipped with one. Roger noted that most tires today seldom fail. His advice: if your vehicle has a rare tire size, then carry a spare. The reason, he explained, is if a tire fails in a rural area and it’s a rare size, your emergency road service may not have one in stock to bring to you: You could be stranded for days while one is shipped from afar. On the other hand, if your tires are a popular size, the emergency road service can usually bring one right to you.
A READER WROTE TO ME about Roger’s advice. He thought it was wrong to suggest you didn’t need a spare tire. He wrote: “Of course you should carry a spare. We just returned from our first two-month trip with our 5th wheel Montana and had to buy five tires.” I responded: “You need to examine why you are experiencing a failure over and over. Something is wrong.” Finally, after another email exchange, he confessed: “My problem turned out to be that I bought a five-year-old 5th wheel with original tires. Almost no wear was showing but apparently the RV had sat in the Florida sun for five years and the tires must have been rotted or at least very weak.”
Well, no matter how many times we have warned our readers that they should never buy or ride on tires older than 6 or 7 years – even if they look brand-new – countless RVers still don’t know that. “If it looks good, it is good,” they assume. So they ride on old and dangerous tires. And in this man’s case, the fact that the tires had received so much sun exposure would make them fail much sooner than if they’d been protected.
I am happy to see our readership grow because as it does we are helping more people.