By Ron Jones
Dragging the rear end of your motorhome, especially while flat-towing a car with the tow bar attached, is not good. This is a common way to cut or damage your safety cables. Plus the noise sounds like you are ripping apart the rear end of your coach.
Crossing depressions or ditches (very common in parking lots, fuel stops, or cross streets) is a prime time for you to drag the rear of your coach, especially if you are using a drop receiver. Sometimes the depression does not look too bad but a history of hitch marks in the pavement provides evidence that you, too, will likely drag. If possible, go around the block one time to take a closer look. We once entered a parking lot and were forced to exit onto a different street. It was nearly a disaster with its steep ramp.
Watch the traffic entering/exiting. If you observe vehicles going up or down, like the one in these photos, you will likely drag. After all, the distance from your rear wheels to the rear end of your RV may be 4-5 times longer than that of a car. Therefore, if you observe a car dragging (or almost), it’s practically guaranteed that you will, too.
We suggest two driving maneuvers you can easily use to prevent this from happening.
Here’s the first trick… Approach the depression as straight as possible and keep your drive wheels pointing straight forward until both front wheels are down into the depression as far as possible. Then stop.
Turn your wheels as far as possible before moving the coach (no creeping while turning). Then creep out slowly—dead slow—less than idle speed!
Following this procedure will cause the rear wheels to pass through the lowest part of the depression at slightly different times. This, in turn, causes the rear end of the coach (where your hitch is located) to literally stay up, at a higher point above the pavement, and the result is no dragging. The one major negative in doing this procedure is that you need lots of time and little cross traffic. You literally have to put the front end of your coach into the lane of cross traffic, then stop, then maneuver out very slowly. You will need ample time as this must be done slowly.
Here’s the second trick… If possible, enter and cross the depression at an angle to make the turn into traffic. Doing this creates the effect of the rear wheels entering the depression at different times. If you have the space available, this is the easier of the two maneuvers.
As we always suggest in our driving seminar, find an empty lot and practice these driving procedures before you have to use them. The classic church parking lot at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning is a great place to practice or an empty mall or vacant store lot will also do nicely.