Driving an RV in the Snow: The Ultimate Safety Guide

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Being from Colorado, I know that even if you didn’t plan on driving in snow, it can happen. Every autumn, I end up driving over a mountain pass in an unexpected snowstorm, never fails! Especially in early spring or late fall, it should still be your top priority to prepare your RV for winter driving.

Be prepared for driving an RV in the snow!

First, avoid driving in snowy conditions by checking the weather. Second be prepared with a basic tune-up, good tires, chains, and winter supplies. Then when driving, go slow and leave plenty of room for braking.

Of course, driving an RV in the winter is not as simple as just these basics. Here are 25 more expert tips for driving an RV in snow and ice.

If you are planning a winter road trip you can get our full winter driving checklist in this article:

Safety Precautions for Winter Driving are the key to driving an RV in the snow

Travel trailer pulled by a pick up on a snowy road
Driving a travel trailer in the winter can be a challenge – MCCAIG via Canva.com

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for any driver. Winter storms, icy roads, and the winter season makes all these things even worse. It can be challenging and dangerous, especially so in an RV. When driving an RV, you must take extra precautions in comparison to your everyday driving due to the more difficult maneuvering and size of the vehicle.

Be prepared for snow

Before leaving the comfort of your current location, it is extremely important that you have all the necessary items required for driving in winter weather. It is always better to be on the side of caution and prepare for the worst. This means that in case you get stranded somewhere you must have enough stored food and supplies, prepared an emergency kit.

Make sure that your RV is in peak condition prior to the drive, and most importantly make sure that you have proper snow tires as well as spare.

Drive Slower

Aside from checking your supplies and vehicle condition, it is also important to take note of the vehicle itself and how you will be handling it.

Driving an RV normally can already be a challenge, but driving it in the winter, becomes a whole new level of difficulty.

Be sure to drive at a much slower speed to reduce the chances of losing control. Just know bridges freeze before the road.

If you own a diesel pusher motorhome, turn off the exhaust brake to reduce your chances of sliding.

If it is actively snowing, be sure to only use your low beams. Similar to fog lights, high beams can reflect more light, causing lower visibility.

Prepare your RV for a Winter Road Trip

An rv heads travels on a snowy scenic highway.
MCCAIG via Canva.com

Before taking a vacation in the winter, make sure your RV is ready for the cold weather.

Upgrade to winter tires. Most rigs come with highway tread or summer tires, which are quiet but do not have as much gripping power.

Make sure to protect your RV from the cold because RV pipes can freeze. Winterize your RV by wrapping the pipes in heat tape. Add RV-specific antifreeze for potable water systems and into the toilets and holding tanks. **Do not use the regular automotive stuff.

Further reading:

Winter Accessories for your RV

Before hitting the road, it is important that you have the right gear to stay safe and comfortable. A winter RV trip presents a unique set of challenges, many of which may not be at the forefront of your mind. In order to face these challenges, you’ll appropriately need these accessories that you otherwise wouldn’t immediately think of getting outside the winter season.

  • A Working Furnace or Space Heater
    • The number one thing you should consider when preparing for a winter road trip is staying warm. One of the easiest ways to beat the cold is the furnace. Larger RVs and motorhomes, like Class A motorhomes or Fifth Wheels, come standard with an electric fireplace. Medium-sized rigs like Class C’s and travel trailers typically include a combination heating/AC system with a thermostat. If your RV has either, make sure they are in top condition before heading out. A broken heating system or fireplace can become a safety hazard, depending on the conditions.

  • Protection Pipes from Freezing
    • As part of the winterization process when traveling in cold temperatures, heat tape needs to be applied to the pipes to keep them from freezing. Pipe insulation or covers are other great products to keep your RV’s pipes from freezing during a winter trip. Best for exposed PVC or metal piping along the undercarriage of your RV, pipe insulation and covers are affordable solutions that hold up in most conditions.

RV Cover

RV cover is a great accessory to have even though you are out and about and not in storage for the winter.

A cover helps shield your RV from the elements and keep it somewhat warm. If you are on a winter trip and plan on being away from your RV for a long time during the day, there are a few cover options to use:

Full CoverA full-sized RV cover, which is more commonly used during long-term winter storage, can be used during the day to keep your RV protected. If you have a small RV and have the time to throw one on before heading out, a full-sized cover does a great job of maintaining heat.
AC Cover an AC cover is highly recommended. Since you will not be using your AC unit during the winter, a cover will help protect it from the elements and prevent heat from escaping.
Windshield or Roof CoverA windshield and/or roof cover is another layer of protection. If you are hitting the road where hail or strong winds are a possibility, a windshield cover helps protect against nicks and cracks. Both can help keep heat as well, as a compromised windshield or roof seals allow warm air to escape your RV’s interior.

Snow Tires for your RV

Snow Tires for your RV are absolutely essential especially if you plan on going to a snow-prone area. Tires are an important component of any RV and even more so during the winter season. 

What size of tires do you need?

The first step in choosing snow tires for your RV is finding out what size you will need. Tires come in all different sizes, but each vehicle has a specific size, or range of specific sizes, that works best. If you look at the sidewall of your current tires you will see the size listed there.

The specific size of your RV tire should be listed in your owner’s manual and typically, you should stick with what the manufacturer recommends. Choosing snow tires for your RV is quite similar to choosing a pair for your regular vehicle but the sizes will just usually be bigger. 

All-Season Tires vs. Snow Tires

You could choose all-season tires for your RV which are good for most terrain and would have good success in winter driving, just make sure that when purchasing all-season tires the all-season symbol on it looks like a snowflake, raindrop, and mountain logo.

Here are some good options for snow tires. A new set of tires will always provide a good grip, but all of these are specifically designed to fit winter conditions. You should remember to change back to your regular all-season or radial tires once the winter season has passed and keep these for exclusive use when the roads get icy again.

  • Bridgestone Blizzak – These are great snow tires that come in a variety of sizes that should work well and fit different RVs. These tires have a special Multicell compound that offers great grip and handling in snow and ice and has special extended depth cell blocks for added grip.
  • Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow – This is another excellent winter tire option. The sizes run a little small so these might not work for every RV but if you can find your size, the special compound and focus on tread design of these tires will have you feeling safe and secure in the winter under just about any condition.
  • Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor Pro – These tires have excellent grip and tread depth making them a great option for RVs in the winter. Not exclusively a snow tire but designed for many different conditions, these tires will also work well for boondocking and other situations involving off-pavement travel.

Emergency Kits

With any situation, one should always have an emergency kit ready in case of the worst possible scenario comes to fruition. Driving an RV in the snow is no exception and should be always ready. 

First Aid Kit – The very first item on your list should always be a first aid kit. Preferably a water-resistant bag that contains everything you will need in case of an injury or sudden illness during the drive. 

Safety Vest – The next item you will need for your kit is a safety vest. Make sure to have one for each passenger you will have during the trip as they could be vital in being seen at night should you be stranded due to an accident or vehicular failure.

Foil Blankets – Next up on your list should be foil blankets for each of your passengers as compared to normal cotton or wool blankets, foil blankets can retain up to 90% of your body heat. 

Going from here will be items you will need to be rescued in the event of an accident such as Road Flares, High-Powered Flashlights, Pop Up Traffic Cones/ Warning Triangles, and Safety Whistles to alert others to your position. Of course, to avoid the situation of getting stuck in the first place, an amazing item to have ready in your kit is a pair of Traction Pads as these pads are designed to go under your tires to give you the traction you need to pull yourself out. Finally, to finish up your emergency kit, prepare at least 3 days’ worth of food and supplies such as canned food, drinking water, medicines, and extra batteries and chargers. 

Snowy road with pine trees covered with snow with a driving an RV in the snow

Final Thoughts on Driving in the Snow

If you can help it, avoid traveling during the winter season, or at least avoid driving in the snow as this may be the most dangerous time to drive. Especially with an RV that has added weight compared to normal vehicles. If it can’t be helped, the next best thing is to prepare. Winterize your RV and drive slowly.

It might not be the best to plan your trip during the winter season but over at my Etsy Store, we do have amazing planners and journals that might make wonderful presents for friends and family members who love to go camping as well.

Further reading:

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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