One of the common sources of damages to RVs involves drivers hitting low-hanging objects, such as signs, bridges, canopies, or branches. Depending on the object, this can damage the waterproof seal on your roof, tear off accessories, or completely rip a section of your roof off of your RV. With planning and increased awareness, it is easy to avoid this type of damage and the costly repairs associated with them.
Measure Your Clearance Height
The first thing that you must do to prevent roof accidents is to accurately measure your roof height. While your owner's manual likely lists the height of your vehicle, the listed height will not include any after-market accessories such as a new air conditioner or a satellite dish. For the most accurate measurement, you should get on the roof of your RV and measure the height of the tallest accessory to your roof. Then, measure from the roof down to the ground and add these two values together. If you are not comfortable on your RV's roof, you can take your RV into a professional to be measured.
Once your RV is measured, you should keep this measurement taped to your front console, where you can easily see it. Keep in mind that any repairs to the suspension, new tires, or updated accessories will require you to take a new measurement.
Plan to Avoid Low Bridges
If you are traveling along and run into a low bridge or tunnel, you may be tempted to go through it if it is close to your RV's height and there are no alternative routes nearby. Turning around and backtracking until you find an alternative route can be a waste of time. Instead of getting caught by surprise by a low bridge or tunnel, you should create a route plan that avoids any overhangs that might be too low.
Before you leave on your trip, you should check your route for possible problems using an online low-clearance map. Alternatively, you can download an app that works with your smartphone or GPS that allows you to input your vehicle's height and will map out viable routes for you.
When In Doubt, Go Around
If there is no sign stating the height of a bridge, tunnel, sign, or canopy, you may want to avoid it. It can be difficult to visually assess the height of objects and you may end up hitting a low-clearance object. Alternatively (as long as there's no traffic), you can always get out and measure the available clearance with a tape measure that you keep in your glove compartment.
Know That Signs May Not Always Be Accurate
There are several other things that can affect the accuracy of a low-clearance measurement. Occasionally, signs and canopies can warp or bend, slightly lowering their clearance. If a road has been recently paved, it may be higher than it was originally, which can make old signage inaccurate. Also, hitting a bump while you are in a tunnel or under a bridge can cause your vehicle to bounce, momentarily increasing its height. For these reasons, you should make sure that you have several inches of clearance before going beneath an object. If you are near the clearance height, you should find an alternative route.
It is always best to just avoid low-hanging objects, when possible. If you do bump one, however, it is important to take your RV in to be inspected by a professional. You may not notice damage immediately, but tears in your roofing material or a damaged accessory can lead to more dangerous and expensive repairs in the future. For more information, consider contacting a professional like those at Orangewood RV Center.