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How to Avoid Low Clearances in Your RV (Tips+Warning Video)

| Updated Mar 2, 2024

In this article, we share a video that shows the danger of low clearances. Plus, tips and resources on how to avoid low clearances in your RV…

Avoiding low clearances is something passenger vehicle drivers take for granted. However, it's something RVers need to take very seriously.

Just below is a video that shows you just how dangerous low clearances can be. We warn you that the video is disturbing, but we think it's important for RVers to watch it so it really sinks in how important it is to avoid low clearances.

If you don't need or want the visual example, scroll past the video but read the importance of staying aware of clearances.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Why RVers Must Take Low Clearances Seriously

**WARNING: THIS VIDEO'S CONTENT MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS**

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After seeing the above video, it is drilled into our minds to always double-check clearances. As RVers, we often just think of bridges and overpasses, but we have to be aware of all overhangs. This is especially true when pulling up to hotels and into gas stations.

Low clearances can destroy your RV, completely stop traffic (which can result in steep fines), and, worst of all, hurt or kill someone.

We don't mean to scare you. Or rather, we only mean to scare you enough to take it seriously. You really don't have to be scared if you plan accordingly and are always aware of your RV height. And we're going to help you do just that…

5 Tips & Resources for Avoiding Low Clearances

avoiding low clearances

Rest assured that giant semi-trucks travel the country while expertly avoiding low clearances. You can do the same. It does take a little work and extra precautions, but it's relatively easy to do. It'll become second nature as you plan and travel.

1. Know Your RV Height

First and foremost, you need to know your RV's height, including any additional height from AC units. Bridges, overpasses, and overhangs almost always have their clearance height posted. If you know your height and always pay attention to signage, you can avoid low clearances on the go.

However, you don't just want to pay attention to clearance heights on the go. It's also highly recommended that you check your routes for low clearances before you hit the road.

We'll give you resources to help with that, but first, one more important tip you should always follow.

2. Don't Go Blind to Signage!

These days, it's very easy to go on auto-pilot as GPS directs us. We no longer need to look at signage to get to our destination. However, that leads us to becoming blind to other important signage, including clearance signs!

Make it a habit to look for clearance height signs wherever you travel. This includes on highways, on city streets, in parking lots, on tunnels, and so on! Be intentional about training yourself to look for these signs.

You cannot rely on GPS (even RV GPS!) to keep you safe. You should always, always verify for yourself that an overhang is safe to go under.

3. Plan Ahead with RV Planning Tools

Our next piece of advice is to plan ahead. As you make your RV plans, route your trip around low clearances. There are planning tools to make this easier!

When planning an RV trip, we use RV LIFE Pro. There are other tools available but RV LIFE Pro is a favorite resource among RVers (including us!).

We love RV LIFE Pro so much that we became partners with them so our followers can save 25% with the discount code RVLIFESTYLE.

The RV LIFE Pro suite comes with four tools in one:

  1. RV LIFE Trip Wizard
  2. RV LIFE Campground Reviews
  3. RV LIFE App (RV-Safe GPS)
  4. RV LIFE Maintenance Tracker

RV LIFE Trip Wizard is especially helpful as an RV trip planner tool. It can create unique routes based on your rig’s height and weight, helping you avoid dangerous low clearances, propane restrictions, and weight limits. And a community tip on this point – where you put in your rig's height – add a few inches to be safe.

It basically takes the guesswork out of routing your rig and saves you many hours tracking down information piece by piece. 

The RV LIFE Pro suite includes the RV LIFE GPS App, which brings us to our next point…

Avoid Low Clearances

4. Use RV GPS

RVers should NOT rely only on mainstream GPS, like Google Maps or Waze, to route them. Small RVs and campervans may be able to do so, but most RVers should rely on an RV-specific GPS.

RV-safe GPS, like the RV LIFE app, factors in your RV specifications (including height!) to take you on the best route. You can buy the RV LIFE app a la carte, but we recommend getting it as part of the RV LIFE Pro suite. (Save 25% with the discount code RVLIFESTYLE.)

Planning ahead with RV LIFE Trip Wizard and then using RV LIFE GPS on-the-go is the perfect strategy for any RVer.

Garmin's Super Expensive RV GPS – Is It Worth It?

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

As you'll learn from the above video, we prefer using our RV LIFE Pro suite to plan our routes rather than relying on an expensive RV GPS system like Garmin's. That being said, some RVers think Garmin is well worth the expense. To each their own 🙂

5. Get a Trucker's Atlas

We always recommend that RVers keep hard-copy maps and Atlases in their RV. You never know when you might lose your phone or cell service. Not to mention, you should never completely trust GPS (here's a tragic story why).

In fact, we include a couple of road atlases in our list of the 21 Best Travel Guides for RVers. Although, that list does not include what we are recommending here, which is a trucker's atlas.

A trucker's road atlas includes restricted routes, low clearance, and weigh station locations. It's a good resource for RVers with big Class As and 5th wheels, as well as any RVers that want a hard-copy resource for low clearances.

(FINAL REMINDER: NEVER STOP LOOKING UP FOR CLEARANCE SIGNS! Especially when entering a gas station or hotel!)

Do 5th Wheel Campers Have to Stop at Weigh Stations?

Speaking of weigh stations, most RVers don't have to stop at them. However, larger motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers weighing over 10,000 pounds may need to stop in certain states.

To learn more about RVs and weigh stations, click here to keep reading…

Plan Your Next Adventure to Coastal Maine

By popular demand, we announce the publication of the latest in our library of RV travel guides – a 7-Day Adventure Guide to Coastal Maine.

How to Avoid Low Clearances in Your RV (Tips+Warning Video) 1

With its dramatic rocky coastline, enchanting fishing towns, and windswept sandy beaches, Coastal Maine is a destination that should be on every RVers’ bucket list. 

We call these guides “7 days,” but they really are seven stops. They’re meant to be experienced at your own pace, a couple of days at one stop, a week at another, however long you want.

We have carefully curated this 66-page digital guide (not a printed book) so you can take in all Coastal Maine has to offer. We give you the routes to drive, the spot to stop, the places to eat, and the museums, excursions, hikes and adventures we think you will enjoy the most.

For an RVer, Coastal Maine has it all: stunning landscapes, short drives between stops, spacious campsites, that perfect small city and nature mixed with a seemingly endless variety of things to see and explore.

RVLock

How to Avoid Low Clearances in Your RV (Tips+Warning Video) 2
just a sample of what's available…

Had it with finicky key fobs that don't unlock the RV door? That is a common problem.

One of the first things we’ve done with our last three RVs is to replace the standard center door lock with something called the RV Lock.

The RV Lock is a combination lock. It also comes with a fob (that DOES work all the time) and it does have keys, but you don't need to use them. The way most people use it is simply by entering a combination.

The RV Lock is very easy to install. You can DIY. I had a technician install the first two. On our most recent one, I installed it myself. Here's a video that shows the process on our previous RV:

For more info go to https://RVlifestyle.com/RVlock

UPGRADE WITH AMERICA'S FAVORITE KEYLESS HANDLE!

Simple. Secure. Trusted. See why RVLock has been the #1 keyless handle solution for RVs, fifth wheels, travel, cargo, and horse trailers for over 10 years.

Last update on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-03-02

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.

4 Responses to “How to Avoid Low Clearances in Your RV (Tips+Warning Video)”

March 03, 2024at9:49 am, Dawn Dewitt said:

How do you accurately measure your rig height?

Reply

March 03, 2024at1:22 pm, Marty deWin said:

We take a four foot level and place one end on the highest point on our roof – in our case it’s the air conditioner – then hold it so the other end is off to the side of our rig. While holding it level using the bubble as the guide, have someone else use a tape measure to measure from the ground to bottom of the level. That will be the total height of your RV. If you’re not comfortable climbing on the roof, you can always use a ladder if you have one tall enough. You can always have someone measure it for you at an RV maintenance facility, too. My measurement and my local repair shop’s were both identical. Just be sure to measure from the highest point on your rig: the A/C unit, an antenna, clearance lights, or whatever it is. I know someone who lost a very expensive cell phone antenna because he was sure it was the same height as his fan cover only to have it ripped off by a low bridge.

Reply

October 22, 2023at8:26 pm, christine fleming said:

Mike the Truckers road atlas is laminated at Pilot truck stops for $39.

Reply

October 24, 2023at10:59 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Wow! Thanks for sharing that, Christine – Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

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