By Mark Polk
RV Education 101
We all enjoy traveling and camping in our motorhomes, and most of us like to think of ways to enhance our RV experiences even more. It might be adding a product to help improve drivability or address a safety concern, or just a fun accessory to have when you arrive at your destination.
In no particular order, here are my Top 7 aftermarket products to enhance your RV experiences.
1. Global positioning system (GPS)
The technology is available, so why not use it. A good GPS can make getting to your camping destination less stressful. And a GPS designed with specific RV features is even better. GPS manufacturers are getting better at catering to the RV consumer. Think about what RV features are important to you and research the GPS products that are available. But don’t throw away your road atlas … just in case.
2. Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
Now that we can find our destination in a snap, we want to get there safely. The second product I recommend is a tire pressure monitoring system. There is no easier way to check the air pressure in your tires, monitor the tires for a loss in pressure, or detect high temperature conditions than with a good TPMS. And you can monitor the towed vehicle tires, too. I use a Tire Minder TPMS by Minder Research, Inc. There are plenty of reputable TPMS products on the market. Decide which features are important to you and see which product suits your specific needs.
3. Steering stabilizer
You spend lots of time behind the steering wheel of your motorhome and you want the drive to be as enjoyable as possible. What’s the old saying? “Getting there is half the fun.” Not long after purchasing our motorhome, I realized I wanted to upgrade the steering and suspension systems. The steering can be severely affected by passing trucks, ruts or high winds. Some steering issues can result in white-knuckle driving experiences that quickly take the fun out of getting there. There are many aftermarket steering stabilizers and steering controls designed to keep a motorhome steering straight when you need it most. I use a product called Steer Safe and am very pleased with its performance. Once again, determine which features are important to you, and research the steering products that are available.
4. Anti-sway bar
For the suspension upgrade I installed a Roadmaster RSS anti-sway bar. Sway, body roll, pitch or whatever you call it, results whenever pressure is exerted against one side of the motorhome. It can be caused by a gust of wind or a shift in weight while cornering. The effects of sway on a motorhome are increased because of the height and mass of the motorhome. This sensation makes the motorhome feel like it is top-heavy.
Chassis manufacturers are aware of the problem and use a sway bar to reduce these effects. The sway bar is the link between the suspension system and the vehicle’s frame. It uses the weight of the rear axle as a brace against the chassis, so any pressure exerted against either side of the motorhome is countered by the sway bar. The RSS basically uses a bar that is thicker in diameter than a stock sway bar, to help reduce the swaying sensation. It really does work. As with everything else I have discussed, there are many aftermarket products to help counter sway. Research the products available and determine which suspension product is best suited for your needs.
5. Surge protector
When you arrive at your destination and plug the motorhome in to an electrical source, you confront a whole new set of potential problems. Number 5 on my list is a product to protect the electrical system of your RV. You have thousands of dollars worth of sophisticated and sensitive electronic equipment in your motorhome. A few short seconds of faulty power can damage appliances and electronics such as stereos, satellite systems, microwaves, televisions and computer equipment. I use a product called Surge Guard for added security and protection. It checks the power pedestal for improper wiring and it protects the electrical system from over- and under-voltage conditions. Better safe than sorry.
6. Central vacuum system
When you’re at the campground, or when you get back home, and it’s time to clean the motorhome this product makes the job much easier. I installed a Dirt Devil central vacuum cleaner designed specifically for RVs. The canister can be installed in an out-of-the-way place with easy access to the inlet valve on the interior. The Dirt Devil is powerful, has a hose that extends 35 feet, and comes with attachments that can be used on almost every surface in the motorhome. And no more storing a bulky vacuum cleaner.
7. Roof vent cover
Last but not least is a product that helps with ventilation. If you’ve been around RVs for a while you already know that your motorhome needs ventilation for many different reasons: to reduce heat buildup, to let stale, musty air and cooking odors escape, and to improve the inside air quality. Unless you full-time, chances are your motorhome sits in storage for periods of non-use. If it is stored outside, the roof vents can be opened only when the weather is nice. Roof vent covers can solve this problem and many other ventilation issues. I use MaxxAir vent covers and other MaxxAir products on our motorhome. If you place vent covers on opposite ends of the motorhome, it helps promote good cross ventilation.
|RV expert Mark Polk owns RV Education 101, a North Carolina-based company that produces and sells educational videos, DVDs and E-books on how to use RVs. Mark has more than 30 years of experience in RV maintenance. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1996 as a Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. He and his wife, Dawn, started RV Education 101 in 1999. They travel with their two boys in a 35-foot Type A motorhome.