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Do your headlights need aligning?

| Updated May 1, 2024

This week on the RV Podcast:

  • Do your headlights need aligning? If you are having trouble seeing the road while driving at night, your headlights could need adjustment. We’ll learn about this in the interview of the week.
  • There’s a lot of controversy about excessive frame flex and fifth wheels these days. We’ll answer those concerns in our questions of the week segment.
  • How to save money with all those road toll fees. Our RV Lifestyle Community shares some tips.
  • All this and much more coming up in Episode #492 of the RV Podcast

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.

Eclipse debrief

Do your headlights need aligning? 1

Well… what did you think of the eclipse? A lot of RVers sure watched it.

Over the weekend, we drove through the zone of totality along I-65 in Indiana and spotted lots of RVs. Campgrounds, Harvest Hosts, and state parks were filled, and farmers were renting out their fields for parking. All along I-65 in Indiana, roadside signs warned of big traffic jams after the event, urging people to stay put.

It’s been estimated that one-quarter of all eclipse tourists were RVers – and the excitement was palpable.

Campgrounds within the path of totality in the north opened early, and campgrounds throughout the country were fully booked.

Clubs and various groups held rallies. Airstream Club International members, for example, held nine rallies along the path. Then others were dry camping in places like Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, farmers' fields, and church parking lots all along the path.

New York, Texas, and other state parks were sold out for weeks, and it was THE talk in both our RVLifestyle Community and our RVLifestyle Facebook Group.

Jennifer and I just got home from three months of traveling, so we decided to stick this one out at our 10-acre Michigan property. But we were not too far off the path, so we were definitely outside watching the partial coverage of this not-to-be-missed event.

Our Current Whereabouts

We brought our fifth wheel back to Michigan after keeping it on our Tennessee property for the past three months. We have a busy camping season throughout the Great Lakes Region planned for the next couple of months.

If you're curious about our day-to-day activities, we share regular updates and photos on our rapidly growing RV Lifestyle Community at https://community.rvlifestyle.com

The Community is completely separate from Facebook and now has over 10,400 members. If you haven't become a part of it yet just go over to https://community.rvlifestyle.com. It is warm, welcoming, and very friendly, with some 20 different special interest spaces devoted to various aspects of the RV Lifestyle.

Do your headlights need aligning? 2

Our next Amazon Live – 25 Must Have Camping Products for the New Season – will be Thursday at 7 PM on our Amazon Live site at https://www.amazon.com/live/rvlifestyle

And starting Saturday on the RV Lifestyle Channel, we start our six part series on Class B RVs. We just drove, camped, and tested out the industry’s leading models. We tested Class B RVs on three different chassis: 2-wheel, all-wheel, and 4 x 4 chassis. The video reviews will start on Saturday, April 13, and be released each day for five days next week. Then, on Saturday April 20, we’ll tell you what we liked the best. Find them and subscribe to our YouTube Channel at youtube.com/rvlifestyle

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ – Wendy Bowyer

Do your headlights need aligning? 3

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on social media and our RV Lifestyle Community group.

In our RVLifestyle Community Campground Space, Audra recently asked: “Who knows about toll roads? If I end up on a toll road will they bill me later, or do I need to get a pass?” Audra is from Arizona, where there are no toll roads, and was planning a trip where she was anticipating running into some.

Randall told her toll roads will bill her later by reading her license plate, and suggested she get a toll reader like one available through Open Roads before her trip because she can get a 30 percent discount. Randall shared a personal experience where one toll road near him in North Carolina is about $1.13 per segment if you pay as you go, but after getting a toll reader the price dropped to $0.45 per segment. Also Open Roads provides discounts on fuel.

Others echoed Randall's recommendation. Bud and Sue, who are also from Arizona, said they left for a trip recently and were not prepared for toll roads. One bill arrived six months after the trip—and no one wants that.

There are lots of helpful tips in this thread.

Also in the RVLifestyle Community, in the Mods & DIY Tweaks Space, Randy wrote: “Today's project was to make a laminated cutting board insert for the new sink in our Outlook 31 C.”

He then shared a picture of his cutting board/sink cover that was just stunning! It was wood, with light, medium and dark stripes. It fit snugly in the sink, creating extra counter space, and Randy made it with two holes so you could easily put your finger in there to lift and remove it. 

Everybody loved it – great job, Randy!

Meanwhile over in our RVLifestyle Facebook Group, we had a post from Becky that last I checked was viewed by 5,060,675 people and received thousands of comments, tens of thousands of likes … So what did she say?

Well, you know how we all get frustrated sometimes with bad camping neighbors? Becky read some comments from people complaining about kids cutting through their spot, a dog that wouldn't stop barking, a person's heater that is super loud, etc. and she decided to write a different kind of post about kindness. 

First, Becky told the story of a camping neighbor arriving during pouring rain, clearly parking his rig at least 6 feet on to her spot, getting super close to her picnic table, before unhooking. She ran into him when she let the dog out and he apologized profusely and said as soon as the rain stopped he would unhook and move his rig. They got to talking and he was at this campground for two nights to visit his aunt in the hospital; she was there for three weeks to visit her dad in nursing care. She said she told him not to unhook and move – for two nights it was not a big deal. They ended up becoming great friends.

Then she told a story that happened at another campground a few months ago. She said a couple pulled in, and the man started revving his motorcycle right away for what felt like an hour. But as she got talking to the couple she learned this was their last camping trip. The husband had stage 4 cancer and they were visiting their kids and grandkids to basically say goodbye. She said she was getting tears in her eyes remembering and is so glad she didn't go out yelling at them because of the motorcycle noise.

Her point was to be grateful for good health and enough money to camp, and give that fellow camper a little grace.

And boy – she got so many encouraging comments. My favorite: The world needs more Beckys!  And I have to agree.

RV Interview of the Week – Aligning your headlights

Do your headlights need aligning?

All of us are getting older. And as we age, one thing that often becomes more difficult is seeing the road at night. That is why making sure your motorhome or truck's headlights are properly aligned is so important (ask us how we know!) 

AND making sure you are doing all you can see the road is key. Our guest in this episode is Mike Sokol, of RVElectricty

In this conversation with Mike Sokol, we discuss the issues with headlight alignment in motorhomes and tow vehicles.

Sokol explains the different types of bulbs, particularly LED lights, and the importance of proper alignment. 

He also provides tips on aligning headlights and the considerations for upgrading to LED lights. Additionally, he touches on the topic of upgrading to lithium batteries and solar panels.

Takeaways

  • Headlights in motorhomes and tow vehicles can often be misaligned or not bright enough, causing visibility issues for the driver and other motorists.
  • LED lights are becoming more popular and offer better visibility with a defined cutoff line, but they need to be properly aligned and may require upgrading the headlight assembly.
  • Signs that headlights need upgrading include dimness, lack of contrast, and difficulty seeing the edge of the road.
  • Aligning headlights can be done by following specific steps and using painter's tape to create reference lines.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

Do your headlights need aligning? 4

Newmar latest RV maker to layoff employees

Newmar is the latest RV manufacturer to lay off employees, citing decreased customer demand, dealer inventory levels, and other business considerations.

We were not able to find the exact number of employees laid off at Newmar's Indiana site, but as interest rates stay high and the economy remains uncertain, many people are postponing expensive RV purchases, and the industry is feeling it.

Newmar is a luxury motorhome maker that was purchased by Winnebago Industries in 2019. Winnebago has been in the news recently for falling profits and sales.

Forest River announced it was laying off 83 employees in February. Keystone RV has also cut back production. The industry is hoping for an upturn with the expected interest rate cuts, but if you are shopping for a new RV, it's now a buyer's market!

Three rabid fox attacks reported in Saguaro National Park

If you're heading to Arizona's Saguaro National Park, keep a LOT of distance between you and any fox you may encounter.

The National Park Service is reporting three separate fox attacks on people hiking along the Hugh Norris Trail. The hikers, in each case, fought off the fox, two with trekking poles.

Then last Friday the same fox approached a park service officer and was euthanized, its body sent for rabies testing.

All three victims of the fox attack are being treated for rabies.

Bats, raccoons, fox, and skunks are all animals that can be infected with rabies. If, in your travels, you encounter an animal that's unusually aggressive, has lost its fear of humans, or is acting unusual, be sure to keep your distance.

Woman riding in a moving Airstream killed after wind opened trailer door, and she fell out

A woman died over the weekend after she fell out of her moving Airstream travel trailer after the camper door swung open.

The trailer was being pulled by a Ram pickup truck and strong winds were blamed for causing the Airstream's door to swing open.

The woman, a well-known physician from Long Island, was traveling with her husband and family in Brownsville, New York, and they were about 20 minutes away from their home when this tragic accident happened.

Our hearts go out to this family.

RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

QUESTION: We just bought a 12-year-old meticulously kept Class C RV. I have been told online that many parks won't let us camp there because our rig is over 10 years old. Is this true? We are very worried we made a mistake.– Daryl and Traci

ANSWER: Don't stress. If your rig is well-maintained and looks good, you should have no issues at all. Some RV parks and campgrounds do indeed have that rule but it is very discretionary. RV parks don't want decrepit-looking, poorly maintained RVs. If your Class C looks good and runs well, we can’t imagine you having any problems.

QUESTION: I keep hearing about frame flex issues affecting various fifth wheels? How concerned should I be about camping this? – James

ANSWER: The issue is getting a lot of bad press these days, after several RV YouTube influencers documented their problems with the issue. 

We have owned two fifth wheels and neither has had issues. In fact, despite a lot of recent controversy, frame flex is very rare. 

Some estimates have it that maybe 1% of very large and heavy fifth wheels – over 17,000 pounds – have a problem with this… a very small segment of the fifth wheels on the road.

The RV frame flex issue refers to a problem when the frame of the RV flexes or bends excessively, often leading to structural integrity concerns and potential safety hazards. It’s important to note that ALL RV frames are designed to have some frame flex. They’re supposed to do that. 

This problem with excessive frame flex can arise due to various factors, including:

  • Overloading: Putting too much weight on the RV can strain the frame and cause it to flex beyond its intended limits.
  • Poor design or construction: In some cases, RV manufacturers may use inadequate materials or construction techniques, leading to frame flex issues.
  • Road conditions: Rough roads or frequent travel on uneven terrain can exacerbate frame flex by subjecting the RV to constant stress and vibration.
  • Aging and wear: As an RV ages, its frame may weaken due to corrosion, fatigue, or other forms of deterioration, making it more susceptible to flexing.

Excessive frame flex can manifest in various ways, such as visible bending or twisting of the chassis, uneven weight distribution, difficulty in handling or maneuvering the RV, and increased wear and tear on components like tires, suspension, and body panels.

More often it shows itself at the front portion of the fifth wheel involving where the upper deck (the front floor) attaches to the frame and towards the pin box. It often shows from the inside when the cabinetry becomes uneven or showing gaps or the inner wall loosens from the frame area.

Addressing the excessive RV frame flex issue typically involves reinforcing or upgrading the chassis, redistributing weight more evenly, and taking preventive measures such as avoiding overloading and maintaining proper maintenance. In severe cases, professional repair or retrofitting may be necessary to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the RV.

OK.. as to the recent controversy. Grand Design has been the object of complaints about this and conceded last month that a “small number” of its Solitude and Momentum Fifth wheels had excessive frame flex. They’ve promised to work with any customers in fixing the issue. And Lippert, the huge RV parts supplier that produces most of the fifth wheel and toy hauler frames used by manufacturers, has said the same thing.

So… my take is… if you think you have an issue, contact your manufacturer. If you are not noticing any of the issues we’ve described, don't worry about it. Again, this has mostly affected only a small segment of the very large RVs out there. By all means regularly inspect your RV but to answer your question, don't be overly concerned with this.

Are You an RV Newbie? Or Thinking of Joining the RV Lifestyle?  

newbie guide

THIS is the ebook to get first – before you purchase anything- to make sure you are heading in the right direction with the right RV and plans.

So, buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life. Consider this not just a guide—but an invitation to discover the joy of RV travel and the freedom of the open road.

You’ll find it all in this 64-page ebook (digital PDF – NOT a print book) The Newbies Guide to the RV Lifestyle

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-10

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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