RVgeeks Driving School: Off-Tracking & Rear Overhang

TheRVgeeks Driving School 101 Comments

When it comes to RV maintenance, we stipulate that we’re not professionals. For the first time, we can remove that disclaimer, because one of us is indeed a bona fide expert in one area: driving.

As is typical with pre-retirement-age full-timers, we both have “past lives” working more traditional jobs. In one of those previous lives, I (Peter) was both a professional driver and driving instructor. I drove charter & tour buses in a big city and was Safety & Training Manager for one of the largest bus companies in North America. I’ve hired and trained literally hundreds of professional motor coach operators, along with training and overseeing a team of instructors.

I suppose it’s fitting that I ended up in a motorized home, as I’ve been licensed for just about everything powered by an engine: cars, boats, motorcycles, buses, double & triple tractor trailers, hazmat & tanker trucks and even airplanes (750-hour private pilot). I was also a regular competitor in the annual American Public Transit Association Bus Roadeo driving competition, winning a shelf full of trophies at both state & national levels.

So this time our footnote about not being professionals doesn’t apply, as we’re providing authoritative, expert content — no disclaimer required. Sharing tips on the operation of large vehicles and advanced defensive driving techniques is something we’re pleased to be adding to our portfolio of videos for our fellow RVers. Anything that helps keep us all safer can’t be bad!

This first video in the series covers Off-Tracking and Rear Overhang, which are conditions caused by turning the steering wheel in a large vehicle. Both require special attention to prevent impact with other vehicles or fixed objects. Stay tuned for more safe driving videos in the future, which we’ll be releasing as we have them available.

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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.

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Comments 101

  1. I am pulling for the fist time my vehicle and am wondering if you have any videos about dinghy towing. All I can find is what equipment, how to hook up etc. I am looking for instructional for going down the road turning etc.

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      Hi Robert! We haven’t made a video about towing, but that’s primarily the result of there being so few differences between driving with or without a car attached. That’s because the wheels on the toad will follow almost precisely the exact same path as the rear wheels of the motorhome. If you go around a corner and the right rear wheel of your RV clears the curb, so will your car’s right wheels. It’s literally within an inch or two the exact same path. If you cut the corner SO close that your right rear RV tire is within an inch or two of the curb, you MIGHT scrub the car’s tires, so it’s good form to leave a little extra space. I try to keep my right rear tire about a foot or more away from the curb, when turning, and the car will never graze the curb that way. Not even close.

      It’s good practice to keep an eye on it all in your right side-view mirrors, but if you concentrate on successfully navigating your RV around a corner, the car will follow. The only special consideration when flat towing is that you should not back up with the car attached. That could break something (like the tow bar, or base plate connections), so is to be avoided. Because of that, the best course of action in parking lots or other tight areas is to avoid getting yourself penned into a corner. If you do get stuck, and have to back up (happens to the best of us), keep calm, take your time, disconnect the car, and re-position as needed before re-connecting. Hope this helps a bit!

  2. Guys, this is a tremendous video as are all of them. After our RV purchase (a used 2012 Ventana 3433) we did a two-day driving course which vividly demonstrated what you’re talking about in the video.

    I have a question about driver fatigue though… and it may be a subject for future a video or discussion.

    We (me, mostly) drive a 2012 Newmar Ventana 3433 and have been full time for around three months now. We’ve camped our way from Seattle to our current site in Interlochen Michigan with a lot more to go.

    We try to limit our days to two or three hours actual driving at the most. Even with that I find myself arriving at the campground fatigued and a bit wrung out.

    So I started thinking about all that goes on while driving a 35 foot, 28,000 pound vehicle. A non-RV driver might think all one did was sit in big comfy leather seats while blissfully sailing down the road without a care in the world. I wish that were so…

    Consider the multi-tasking involved:

    Maintaining your scan of road, mirrors, gauges, navigation and back again. Maintaining lane position. Dealing with wind gusts, exits, turns, merging and “what was that sound?!?” Now add in small town streets. Traffic. Finding the campground entrance and finally getting parked.

    No wonder fatigue becomes a factor.

    My questions to you are, what warning signs of fatigue do you notice? What strategies do you use to combat fatigue? Do you notice deterioration of driving skills?

    We build in lunch stops at interstate rest stops or large empty parking lots. 30 minutes minimum. That seems to help, but still, by the end of the day its definitely martini time!


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      Hi Les, and thanks so much for your comment! Fatigue may be something you’re experiencing due to your current spot on the learning curve (still getting used to driving a large vehicle, so lots of things to concentrate on), or it may just be that you’re not the type to drive for extended periods. If you drive very long car trips without a problem, it’s probably the former. But some people never do take to long days at the wheel, no matter how long they’ve been doing it. We know long-time RVers who rarely drive more than about 100-200 miles in a day.

      We’re on the other end of the spectrum, partly because of my driving background, which makes it easy without working to keep track of things (I’m on auto-pilot most of the time), partly because I just love to drive, and partly because John is a fantastic navigator…. and brings me all the food and water I need! We can tick off 500-600 mile days without breaking a sweat, sometimes literally without stopping once (I also have a “bus driver’s bladder”, which combined with a 150-gallon fuel tank can make for some long hauls at times).

      I’d suggest that you’re doing it right. When you’re working to pay attention to so many details, stress builds over time, and stopping periodically (or for the day) to stretch you legs, get something to eat, use the bathroom, get some fresh air…. all helps keep you fresh and safe. If you’re feeling taxed, you’re doing the right thing by stopping. There’s nothing that says you have to drive a certain amount in a day. Know your limits and comfort level, and plan you days and entire trip accordingly. To answer your question most directly, I combat fatigue by getting off the road. I don’t wait for deterioration of driving skills. Being tired behind the wheel is no way to travel!

  3. Another great video. You guys deliver the message clearly and effectively. Well done. As a suggestion, can you do a video on idling, warm up and cool down of a diesel engine. This is a pet peeve as so many people run their engines too long, especially in campgrounds. I worked for many years as a diesel engine rep and was amazed how professional drivers let their engines run too long. Some even believed idling as good for a diesel engine – it is not.

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      Thanks so much for your kind words, Terry. And thanks for the video suggestion. We’ll add it to the list for a possible future video topic. Although we’re not very hopeful on this one, as we’ve told personal friends right to their faces that they shouldn’t be idling their engines, and nobody seems to listen. 😒

  4. How about doing a video on how to do a brake check – before one enters the mountains.
    Ed, Ohio

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    2. Best advice I can give you, as a CDL holder, turn towards your issue when backing up. Also the fastest way to back a trailer up is as slowly as possible

  5. Hi guys! We are brand new to RVing and I have learned so much from your videos. We got our 27′ Class C this past fall just in time to winterize it. We have not even taken our first trip yet. In the mean time I’m trying to learn everything I can before we do and your driving tips have been especially helpful -I’ve never driven anything so big before.

    We purchased it about 250 miles from where we live and driving it home in the dark and pouring rain was especially scary. One thing that really freaked me out was I had no visibility behind me. My side mirrors had huge blind spots (I’ve since learned how to adjust them from watching your video ion that topic). The rear view mirror mounted on the windshield only give a nice view of the bedroom -nothing behind the RV. I’ve thought about getting a rear mounted camera -do you have any suggestions as to which one? I’ve found they range in price from a few bucks to hundreds! I don’t want to spend more than I need to -but I also don’t want to buy junk either.

    Another question (a little off topic from this video I know): What about a Nav system. Would you suggest anything more than Google maps? I’ve seen some that have RV specific programming to input your specific weights and clearances. But again I don’t want to spend more than necessary. Any thoughts?


    1. Ron,
      Welcome to the wonderful world of r.v. life! Your mirrors and camera(s) are an extension of your eyes, so I highly suggest you add both. I just did a 1,600 mile trip, my first really long haul. And I did it with a Smart Car atop a trailer to boot! That was also a first. The entire trip was on highways. Both my factory installed regular and convex mirrors were in constant use, as were the additional mirrors I added to each side to help eliminate my blind spots. My camera is a factory installed unit with a black and white image. Having one is beyond useful, and not just in backing up situations. With one, you’ll know whats going on behind you at all times. Don’t skimp… go color picture!

      2006, Itasca Cambria, 26.6′, F450 Triton V-10
      Kendon Smart Car folding trailer
      2014 Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet

      1. Thanks for the info. We thought about a tow vehicle too, but I want to get used to just driving the thing first! As for the camera selection, you confirmed my thought that it’s more of a necessity than a newbie being intimidated. I’ll look for a color camera with a strong wireless signal. I found one that has the monitor in the shape of the rear view mirror that just clips over the existing mirror. Since the existing mirror is completely useless that may be the way to go. The problem is it’s almost $300!

        My Rig: 2001 Jayco Designer 27′ F450 Triton V-10. It has only 38,000 miles and the interior is in great shape. I was a little concerned about the age, but we have a truck mechanic friend that gave it a close inspection and pronounced it in good mechanical order. That put me at ease somewhat.

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      Hi Ron! Congrats on your new rig! As far as back-up cameras, we’re sorry we’re probably not much help on this one, since we’ve never bought bought one before (both our RVs came with them). We’d suggest searching on Amazon (just because there are so many ratings & reviews) and see what’s out there. The big thing is that you need a wireless model so that you don’t have to run wires (which would be really challenging in an aftermarket installation) that has enough range to reach the rear of your rig. As far as GPS, we’ve heard about people using RV-specific GPS units that have failed them when it comes to low overpasses. We use a combination of Google Maps, Apple Maps and/or a regular automotive GPS (Tom Tom) with no height or weight warnings. We mostly RV out west, where low overpasses are much less common. But even so, we depend on our observational skills to see low overpass signs and heed them.

      1. Thanks for the advice. I’ve been trying to decide whether to get a wireless camera or not. I am a little intimidated running wires for the installation; but am also concerned as to the signal reliability of a wireless model. Your input makes me lean toward the wireless with a much longer range than just the minimum to ensure it reaches. As for GPS, your thought about low overhead clearance is a good one. I’ve already planned to have a “cheat sheet” card attached to my dashboard with dimensions in inches and feet, and weights in pounds and tons, just to make sure I have all possible measurements at hand while driving. I have a few months to continue my research/installation before my “new” rig (2001 vintage) thaws out from the block of ice it’s currently encased in.

  6. Thank you for this very clear and concise explanation of off-tracking. The aerial view is an excellent learning tool:-). While I am familiar with off tracking, the rear overhang is obviously much more pronounced in an RV. Your use of the cones to demonstrate really brings the point home. Thanks for all the great content you bring to the RV community.

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      Hi Joe! Thank you for your kind words on both of our driving videos this morning. As a former bus driving instructor, these two videos are near and dear to me… my absolute favorites we’ve ever done, and of which I am quite proud. So you really just made my whole day! Thanks so much.

  7. Thanks for all the great advice and tips. Have you ever used or attempted to use your quadcopter as an overhead camera to help you park? BTW, about the 6 gallons of vinegar you are saving for next year – I’d use that in about 6 months. I keep a spray bottle of half white vinegar & half water by the sink for cleaning, spraying dishes before wiping & washing, and killing the occasional ant and also use it in place of fabric softener in every load of wash to remove a soap residue.

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      Hi Elizabeth! I honestly can’t imagine how difficult it would be to manage the flying of a drone and the parking of an RV all at the same time. I like your thinking outside the box, but I’m gonna have to pass on that one! :)

  8. I’ve said the same thing numerous times about the lack of a cdl or advanced training required to drive a motorhome. Its just creates unnecessary dangers on the road.

  9. As a newbie to RV driving, I find these videos extremely well done and helpful. Thanks! Have you ever thought of doing a video on air brakes? I recently had an issue with an air leak and it was all Greek to me (spring brake?? :) )… did not know how to test the system, etc. Thanks again for being a great resource!

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      Hi Mark, and thanks so much for the nice note. It’s always great to hear we’ve been helpful, especially with our driving videos. Sorry we’ve never gotten around to an air brakes video (along with a lot of other driving topics we still have to find time for). We still can’t believe that it’s legal in most states to walk into an RV dealership with NO experience driving anything larger than a car, and drive out in a 45′ motorhome. Your experience is a perfect example of why at least some special licensing/training should be required.

  10. Peter and John,

    We have moved from CA to TX. In CA our normal car drivers license was good. In TX we need to a non-commerical class B. The written test study guide look good enough BUT the practical test includes a parallel parking test. I have over 60K miles driving the motor ( 40’) and have never needed to parallel park. Any hint on the procedure? Yep I’ll find a vacant parking lot to practice.

    Love your videos.

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      Hi Stephen! Thanks for the great question and nice comment. Having someone parallel park what is basically the equivalent of a bus seems a bit unusual, but if that’s what they require, so be it! LOL Yes indeed… vacant lot practice (with traffic cones) is your friend! ;-)

      Besides that, here are a few tips. When you drive forward along the empty parking space, the trick to proper positioning for backing in is stay straight, and then angle out to the left just before the right rear dual tires reach the front of the parking space. That way, when you stop (immediately prior to putting the rig into reverse), your right rear tires will be about even with the rear bumper of the front vehicle (the one in front of your parking space), with the right side of your rig about 2-3 feet away from the vehicle, and your RV angled out toward the street, maybe at about a 20-25 degree angle or so (i’ve never actually measured the angle before)!

      It’s never easy to know precisely where the rear duals are, so that does take some practice. It shouldn’t take many practice tries to figure our your rig’s length and wheelbase to get a feel for when to make that move from rolling straight along the parking space to cutting the wheel left just before stopping.

      Hopefully you have power mirrors, because as soon as you stop, you want to adjust your right side-view flat mirror straight down so you can see the spot where the rear tires met the ground, and back to the rear of the rig. The tire contact patch should be visible at the bottom of the mirror (you may need to angle it in slightly to see the tire where it meets the ground), and the top of the mirror will see back to the rear bumper, and probably a bit beyond. That mirror will allow you to see how close your rear tire is getting to the curb as you back in.

      STRAIGHTEN THE front wheels! DON’T back up with the wheel turned! Sawing back and forth with uncertainty about which direction to turn them is where everyone goes wrong! The trick is to get the ANGLE right, which takes some practice tries. The goal is to have the rear tires just about reach the curb (not right up against it though… not THAT close) at about the same time that the right front corner of your front bumper clears the “car” in front of you. If you hit the angle on the money out of the gate, you’ll back straight in, and you’ll then cut the wheel hard left all in one motion, and slot right into the space. Stop when your right front tire come along the curb, which you’ll know, because you’ll be able to see in the right mirror that the side of your RV is straight with the curb.

      As you back up, you may have to steer left or right a little to adjust the angle. If your front bumper is almost to the rear of the front car, but your rear tire is still a long way from the curb, the angle wasn’t enough. Steer a bit to the RIGHT to bring the rear wheel in sooner (of course the sooner you recognize that need for more angle, the more time you’ll have to correct before it’s too late). On the other hand, if your right rear tire is approaching the curb too soon, and the right front corner of the bumper is still a long way from the rear of the car in front, you’ll need to shallow out the angle by turning the steering wheel to the LEFT to decrease the angle. BE CAREFUL THOUGH!! Here’s where you could have an accident that I refer to using the rarely-used term “Reverse Off-Tracking” which happens when backing up with the wheel turned. You can picture this one… you’re backing up alongside something on your right, turn the wheel left, and hit that front car along your right side with your entrance door, or just behind it. That’s why you need 2-3 feet (or even a little more), between your RV and the front car. Without that, you can’t adjust to a shallower angle if you see that rear tire reaching the curb too soon. That makes it a safer bet to err on the side of too little angle rather than too much, since you can always swing yourself further out into the street to increase the angle, but you’re limited as to how far you can make the angle shallower. If you DO have to shallow the angle, be very careful and don’t get too close to the rear of the front car with your right side. Better to have to do a pull-up than to hit the car, for sure.

      In the real world… watch that rear overhang for signs, poles, etc on the sidewalk! And of course if there are cones along the right, don’t knock them down with your rear overhang either.

      Lastly… I assume you have a back-up camera. USE IT! Hitting the curb is one thing, but the last thing you’ll want to do it hit the “car” behind you. If only I’d had a back-up camera driving an MCI in NYC… and power mirrors… I’d have had the easiest job in the world! ;-)

      Sorry so long. Hope this helps a bit. Please let me know how you make out on the test!

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  11. I’m a bit late to this party but want to echo what other have said about your videos. They are a fantastic source of information for newbies and veterans!

    Quick question on the mirrors. For those of us that have the tri mirrors on our coach, would you share how to properly set the 3rd mirror? In my case I have the flat mirror on top, and then 2 convex mirrors below. The top and lower ones I have set as you state in the video. The middle one I have set to sort of overlap the other two.

    Look forward to you reply.



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      Thanks for your comment and question, Dave. I have seen several takes on the 2-convex set-up, and frankly never understood why they exist, other than to give the (generally false) impression of “seeing more.”

      The possible exception to my “false” impression could be the use of two convex mirrors of different curvature, with the more-curved one providing a wider view (at the expense of detail), and the less-curved one providing greater detail to a targeted area.

      However, most I’ve seen have two virtually identical convex mirrors, which only serves to add to the driver’s workload, with an unnecessary extra mirror to scan on each side that provides only redundant information.

      The way you adjust yours will depend on which you have. For example, if one is less curved, point it a little more “upward” to view the transition area near the rear bumper, since the lesser curve allows it to see further without objects becoming too small to see. Then adjust the more-curved of the two downward as shown in our video about mirror adjustment. The more curved the glass, the less distance ability the convex has (distant objects are too small to see), so therefore more useful for seeing objects closer to the mirror. Plus, the wider field of view provided by more-curved glass is preferred for covering as much area as possible down near the front wheels.

      If both convex mirrors are identical in curvature, consider aiming one up at the sky and never using it, unless you determine that it’s actually providing any useful information and not just adding an unnecessary extra item to scan.

      The best situation is to have one properly curved and sized convex on each side of the RV, since that provides the required information in one place.

      Hope this was clear. Sorry I’m not a fan of triple side-view mirrors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t provide the info you need. My favorite convex is actually a single large round version that I think is so good that I had them installed on as many buses possible when I ran the safety & training program at a large bus company. If our convex mirrors weren’t part of a single built-in head unit, I’d replace them with large round ones. But understanding and making due with what we have works too! ?

      1. Thank you for your reply. After I read it, I had to go to the coach and refresh my memory on how it’s set up. I had forgotten that the mirrors give me a pretty thorough view of my sides and rear.

        My coach has the Velvac 2030 model mirrors. It has a very large convex mirror on the top, the large flat mirror is in the middle and the smaller convex mirror is on the bottom. Here’s a link to the Velvac website showing the mirror: https://secure.velvac.com/checkout/front/photo/?action=Display&cat=30&page=1

        I have the top convex mirror set to see down the side of the coach in the blind spot area. The flat mirror is set to just see the side of the coach and set to have just a bit of the horizon in the upper edge. Both these mirrors are set like you recommend in your video.

        The bottom mirror I have pointed down as far as possible and aimed along the edge of the coach. This does 2 things for me. First, I can actually see the steer wheels. It helps when I come in our narrow drive so I don’t run over the grass… well, not too much, anyway… ! Second, it does give a better view of the nasty blind spot, especially on the passenger side. I’m always amazed at how many cars will pull up next to you and lurk in that danger zone. Guess they must be admiring the coach.

        With my mirrors set this way, I’ve been able to maneuver and feel very confident that I can see everything next to me.

        Again, thank you for the excellent videos you produce. I’ve been following you for a couple of years now and look forward to the updates. The advice is solid and spot on.

        Take care and safe travels!


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  13. Peter & John:
    I can’t thank you enough for your insights into driving an RV. I have never done it, but I plan to when I retire. I have learned so much from you. Your videos are top notch and this one is my favorite so far. And the view from above? Are you kidding me? Great job! I am impressed. I am curious and nervous about the level of complexity that is added when you have a tow vehicle as shown at the 0:30 point in this video. It appears to take a different path around the corner as well. Does the hitch cause it to pivot differently? It appears so, but I am confused about it. If you have time, can you explain the dynamics of how the tow vehicle is tracking when you make a turn? I’m convinced that I will be much happier with a tow vehicle so this is an important topic for me but I bet others would be interested too. Any additional insights would be appreciated. You guys ROCK! Keep up the good work.

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      Well you certainly made my night. :) Thank you so much for your kind comments. Really makes it all worthwhile.

      The great news about flat-towing a car behind a motorhome is that the car tracks almost identically to the RV. So if the RV clears the curb, so will the car (give or take a couple of inches.. but the tracking is so close as to be virtually identical).

      So if you’re wondering how that can be… how the rear wheels on the motorhome track so dramatically different than the front wheels, but the car doesn’t increase that even more… here’s the secret: It’s because of the rear overhang. Picture going around a right turn, with the off-tracking bringing the right rear tire much closer to the curb than the right front tire. But also remember that the rear overhang swings the opposite way, pulling the car AWAY from the curb. The result is that the car tracks almost exactly where the rear wheels did.

      I can’t say for sure that every motorhome is exactly like our two have been, because I’ve never tested various motorhomes to see how the length of the wheelbase and the length of the rear overhang affect the exact position of the car. But I will say this… our Bounder had a very long rear overhang and shorter wheelbase, and our Mountain Aire has a longer wheelbase and shorter rear overhang. Nonetheless, both vehicles exhibited the exact same behavior when towing: the car follows the track of the rear wheels almost exactly, every time, regardless of how sharp the turn is.

      The way to test this out with any given motorhome/car combination is to connect them together and head for a large empty parking lot. Now turn the wheel to the right as far as it will go and begin turning a circle. After you’ve gone part way around in a circle, and the towbar and car are at the tightest possible angle, stop and make a mark on the pavement (or place a traffic cone) right against the right rear tire of the motorhome. Now, keeping your steering wheel locked to the right, pull forward slowly until the right rear tire of the car reaches the mark on the pavement (or the cone) and stop again. A spotter may be handy to signal you when your car’s rear tire reaches the right spot.

      What you will see is that the car’s rear tire should be VERY close to the mark/cone, which means it’s following the same track as the rear tire of the motorhome. Again, the rule of thumb is that if the RV clears the turn, the car will clear, too. But it’s worth checking your specific rig to see for yourself. I happen to know that our car tracks about an inch or two tighter than the RV, because I once had to make a right turn so close to the curb, that the right rear RV tire cleared the curb by a whisker…. and then the right rear car tire just barely scraped the curb. Like I said, they are “virtually identical” but if you’re going to get THAT close to something, it’s a good idea to really know your vehicle’s parameters to the inch!

      One thing…. you cannot back up with the car connected, so if you get stuck in a turn, you’ll have to disconnect.

      Hope this all helps.

  14. Recently purchased a 37′ motorhome and have been taking short practice day trips to get comfortable with handling this beast. Turning is still a little nervous procedure but the visual of the video did help me understand the pivot point. Question: I notice you are pulling a CRV, which I will be doing also, but you did not show turning while towing. Is there anything I need to be aware of when turning while towing that is different from turning without towing?

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      Congratulations on your new RV, Anna! The CR-V should track almost precisely with your RV’s rear tires. So if your right rear tire clears the curb when turning right, so will the right tires on your toad. To see this in action (and to absolutely confirm this with your setup), try this…

      Hook up your Honda and drive to a large, open parking lot. Get behind the wheel of your RV and turn your wheels hard right and begin making the tightest possible circle. Stop and set your brakes. Hop out and make a chalk mark/line on the pavement right at the point where the right rear tire on the motorhome meets the pavement (or better yet, have a helper/spotter do it).

      Now slowly drive forward until the rear tire of the Honda reaches that chalk mark and stop again (again, a helper/spotter makes this easier, since they can call out when to stop). You should see your CR-V’s rear tire track virtually identically to the RV, meaning the car’s rear tire will be right at the line, or very close to it. If the tires of your car do not run over the chalk mark, this confirms the situation we’ve had on both of our motorhomes: If the RV clears the curb, the car clears the curb.

      Thanks for the great question. Hope this helps. Please let us know how you make out!

      1. Golly, you are good. Thank you for the expaination and the care you took giving it – especially since you are probably still down under. Looks like you’re having a great time – and I’m happy for you.

  15. Thank you. Just watched your first two videos on RV driving and they are very helpful. I appreciate the great efforts you made to demonstrate each point. I’m looking forward to seeing more vides on RV driving. Hopefully, some will address towing.

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  17. I’ve taxied airliners and the way we knew when to turn is when we saw the gate threw the side window. I always remembered that since. Came in handy when towing travel trailers or driving motor homes. Swing wide when making a turn.
    Funny how I have standby travel privileges, but we take a motor home. I always point to the dog and blame it for taking RV’s to have the dog on my wife’s lap.

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  19. As usual a great instructional video! We drive about 2-3 trips a year and any additional advice is welcomed. I believe the first thing I was taught was the difference in driving an RV vs. a car. With a car your turning tires are out in front of the driver whereas the RV turning tires are below the driver. This means that you have to go a bit further with an RV before starting your turn. Looking forward to future videos on driving safety and crash prevention.

  20. Amazing video! Thanks for sharing. I will be looking forward learning more and applying it to navigating in our 5th wheel.

    We are full-time on the road and I have not been able to get the confidence up to drive our 35′ fifth wheel. Can you suggest and driving schools in the southwest?

    Again thanks for all of your sharing!

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  21. I’m a new R. V. owner here, as of April 2015… with lots to learn. Luckily, I just found your site via a Google search. My rig is a 26.5′ L x 10.5′ H Itasca Cambria with 8.5′ to 9′ overhang. Although this video is great (informative, photography, etc.), it didn’t cover a big concern of mine; bottoming-out the overhang. I’ve bottomed-out on pavement once and on dirt twice. The skids attached to the rear frame left tell-tale signs. Figuring grade vs. overhang is the problem. Parking it at my home last week for the winter, involved driving off the street pavement and onto my side lawn. The bottom of the rear gel cap couldn’t have been any closer to the street pavement… without becoming damaged. I would so appreciate any advise or video help. Thanks guys!

    Rob Jason
    Provincetown, MA.

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      Hi Rob. Congratulations on your new RV. You’ve obviously already discovered that rear overhang can indeed have vertical issues, not just horizontal ones. This is a particularly tricky area as you can’t position yourself to overcome the low spot between the road and the driveway the same way you can position yourself to go around a corner. This takes time and experience to get a feel for how big a dip your rig can handle without hitting, and your first three experiences contacting the dirt and pavement have been a learning experience, as you now have begun to get an idea about what will cause a strike.

      If you are in a situation such as backing onto your property for the winter, you can put down some 2x4s at the lowest point, right where the street meets the driveway. This will keep the tires higher up and buy you a couple of extra inches. The other thing you can do is to avoid hitting the low point straight on. In other words, come at the curb from an angle… as much as 45 degrees if possible. This will prevent the tires from dropping into the lowest point at the same moment, thereby keeping the frame of the RV from getting so close to the ground.

      Hope this helps a bit. Sorry there’s no good way to measure the angle other than experience with your particular rig.

  22. Guys,
    You continue to impress me. You’re getting even better than your excellent video’s when you started. This isn’t the first video I’ve watched on off tracking and rear overhang, and in defense of the previous videos, they predated drone technology. But this is the best. It’s simple, consice, and the visuals really make the point. Plus, your being a professional driver of a tour bus gives it even more cred. I would love to have had these video’s when I was training drivers in the military. It was a happy day when the military went to automatic transmissions. :-) OK, now that I’ve massaged your egos to the point of your head exploding…

    Thanks to my time in the military, I’ve driven tractor trailers and longer straight trucks, so I’m accustomed to some pretty serious off tracking. Not so much with the rear overhang. Personally, I think rear overhang is harder to deal with than off tracking, and reading your comments about training fireman suggests that’s true for most folks. True confessions, I whacked a concrete block wall at my son’s place pulling out. Embarrasing, but fortunately I caught it quick, resulting in some scratches, but no major damage.

    I have a 30′ class A gas, and the reality is, that the wheelbase could easily be longer and eliminate overhang. I think RV manufacturers are more interested in making the intial test drive an easy one, and a shorter wheelbase does that. I’d rather have to jockey a couple times than wonder if the rear is going to hit ???.

    I’m curious if the commercial buses you drove had the same issue with rear overhang, an if it was less, the same, or more than your MH.

    Kelly’s comment demonstrates a need for a really good video about the proper use and adjustment of the mirrors, including the minimum requirements. I know what I like, but it’s always good to hear from a professional with a million plus miles.

    I’m looking forward to this series. Thanks.

    1. Post

      Thank you for your very kind comments, David. Egos duly stroked. ?

      The buses I drove most were 40′ tag axle MCIs with less rear overhang than our RV or many other RVs. They had a longer wheelbase as a percentage of their overall length, so while rear overhang was still an issue, it paled in comparison to off-tracking considerations.

      Our next video in the series will be all about mirror adjustment and use, along with tips about lane control, which tie in directly with the mirrors. Stay tuned!

  23. Thank you! Excellent. Superb.

    Nice overhead shots to show exactly what is going on. (From the drone?)

    We have watched and studied the off track and overhang video. It is great.

    In our first trip with our new motor home (back in 2008) we started a right turn as if we were in a small car, too close to the right curb and turned too sharply. We hit a campground sign, scratched the RV and learned a lot. We have now put 50K miles on the motor home without another ding. Wish we had seen your video before our first trip.


  24. Hi guys,
    I don’t need the extend-a-stay feature, but you mention that the “T” you have on the high pressure side of your regulator is where you connect your grill after a run over to the patio (curb) side of your rig. The 4304 we just bought has such a “T” and a long hose that the previous owner ran under the rig each time he used the grill; HOWEVER, we grill a LOT, and you indicated you have permanently affixed your hose from the “T” fitting to some sort of permanent fixture on the curb side (if I heard you correctly in this video). Can you share how you mounted the grill end of this hose on the curb side of your coach? Thanks much. And, BTW, your “how to drive an RV” (off tracking & side swing) was AWESOME – very well produced and so easy to understand, even for my DW! Gene

    1. Post

      We do have the hose permanently run through the basement to the curb side, but no permanent fitting built in. We just extend the hose when needed. We’ve been planning a video about it for ages and will try to get to it at some point.

  25. Great information. Knock on wood, I have not have a brush with signs, walls or other objects in the two years we have had our 40-foot Ventana. But I was operating more on instinct and experience with our 5th wheeler we towed for many years, not on specific learning. This video gives me a whole new insight into the why behind safe turns. Thanks RV Geeks.

  26. I wish I had seen your driver training video a month ago. It would have likely saved me a $1,354.00 rear cap repair when I swung out of a campground spot with a brick retainer wall on the side. The coach pivoted on the rear wheels just as you described in your video and I “kissed” that wall. Ouch! Keep up the good work guys.


    1. Post

      Oh, Ken. So sorry to hear. Rear overhang accidents are typically more difficult to see and avoid than off-tracking accidents, even if you know about the swing. That’s because you often can’t tell in the mirror exactly where the rear end is and if it’s going to clear or not. To this day, if it’s really close back there, I have John watch for me. We’ll see if we can get some more of these videos going soon and help prevent a few of these types of things.

  27. Great video guys! I have never heard or seen anything on off-tracking. Very informative! I got into a situation once with my old trailer going around a 90 degree turn. I had plenty of room to make the turn(pivot point was fine) but there was a depression in the street at the intersection. I just happened to glance up in the right mirror as I was looking down checking to make sure I was clearing the turn and saw the trailer leaning toward a telephone pole. The wheel was going down into the depression I hadn’t noticed. I jammed on the brakes with the awning just inches from the telephone pole. No one was behind me, so I was able to back up and take a wider cut at it, but the traffic on the street I was turning onto had to go through the red light to give me enough room. I don’t take that route anymore. Tip: Watch for overhead signs mounted near the pumps at gas stations. I cut the trailer too close one time trying to avoid a car pulling in at the pump across from me and not close enough to his pump. Apparently, the sign caught the edge of the rubber roof a third of the way down the side and continued almost to the back of the trailer. It made vertical tear marks of different sizes every couple of inches. I got the roof replaced under warranty because no one could determine if I had hit something or was a defect in the membrane. I didn’t know about the sign at that time. It wasn’t until a few months after we had the roof replaced that I was in the same gas station and at the same pump, that I noticed the overhead sign was too large and stuck out over the curb. It was at about 12 foot up the pole and bent in the direction of my travel. Hummm.

    1. Post
  28. This is so timely for us. We recently purchased 2011 Newmar Ventana 3434 and looking forward to learning from an expert. Neither of us has any significant experience driving anything of this size (well, we did put a few thousand miles (nautical) on our 48′ trawler yacht).

    Wayne and Carol

    1. Post
  29. I’m delighted with this, another wonderful video from you guys. The video addresses the most common questions I’m asked by pre-nubies. The aerial views were fantastic. Did you buy a drone?
    Thank you for continuing the beautiful videos!

    1. Post
      1. A drone? That is SO geeky, guys, and SO VERY COOL !!!! Gotta have one! I just wish I could justify the cost. Oh well. I’ll enjoy yours vicariously through your videos :-) Excellent use of it in your off tracking/overhang swing video. Neat illustration of off tracking by wetting down the tires and observing the tracks. Ingeniously simple for us simpletons.

  30. You guys are brilliant. The substance of your messaging and the quality of your production is what makes you both the best. I have been tooling around a while driving travel trailers of all shapes and sizes up to our motor-home we presently have. I drove ambulances in the military and have driven most everything with wheels and I have never had wheel base, off tracking and overhang explained so well. Part of me says “Duh” but most of me says “my gosh I didn’t know that or think about that.”

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  31. As with all you do, excellent video! Great job using the aerial shos, really brings it together nicely. Looking forward to more because expertise well shared is rare. Thanks again.

  32. Very good instructional video! I was a school bus and tour bus driver for over 5 years and I agree 100% with your video. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work.


  33. Great job – thanks so much for the video. Amazing footage. Really shows the concepts. I’ll probably watch this every time before I pullout. Again – thanks.

  34. Simply Stellar men!
    I am a retired fire chief that operated 60 foot plus long fire TRUCKs (do not confuse with Engine) carrying ladders that overhang both forward and aft.
    I did teach and test Fire Apparatus Operators (wannabe Engineers). I should have incorporated your real-life demonstration and might have has a higher success rate. Of course these ne operators were certain that they knew more than the instructors…(it is the fire service).
    Bottom line: Well conceived, good presentation, simple application, measurable and a measurable time lime to limit testing window.
    Outstanding: 1 – ID the need,
    2-ID variable components –
    3-ID performance standard
    4 ID performance time frame (must be accomplishable)
    5 ID operator expectations – i.e. no cones will be knocked over
    6 complete the course within 5 minutes with a score of so many points to stay-with-in the cones, subtracting accidents from the final score.

    Very well done!!!! so can I run through with no one present and score myself???
    Love Ya.

    1. Post

      Thanks Shawn! I have to tell you… I used to screen prospective drivers by the dozens, and by far, the finest prospects who were the easiest to teach to drive an MCI were firemen! I know you’re talking about a much larger vehicle than most of them probably drove, but the parameters of most firetrucks must be pretty close to a motorcoach. Because I never recall meeting a fireman who couldn’t learn to drive a bus twice as fast as anyone else.

      I’ll tell you what…. you bring enough cones, and we’ll set up a bus roadeo course and have a blast! lol

  35. I really enjoyed this video. A great introduction to those driving techniques that we all need when operating any RV. I am wondering if you have considered doing a similar video on driving with a tow behind and/or a 5th wheel camper? Basically you are dealing with the offset wheels of the tow vehicle as well as all of the factors related to the trailer as well. It kind of complicates the calculations if you know what I mean. It’s a bit more than operating an articulating vehicle in my opinion.

    Love your videos. Keep up the good work.

    1. Post

      Thanks Don! While we don’t generally have access to any other RV besides our own, we’re hoping that this eventually leads to connecting with other experienced drivers with 5th wheels, travel trailers, shorter motorhomes, etc for future videos. One thing about our experience with both of our motorhomes is that the tow car follows almost exactly the track of the RV tires. While I think all motorhomes probably do this, I’m not absolutely sure, so that’s something I want to learn about before presenting details that may or may not be applicable to all motorhomes. Stay tuned!

  36. Yea! yea! yea! I am so very excited to see you going for this series! You’re going to be every new RV’ers heroes. Thanks so much for putting this together as we know how much work goes into creating something this educational and well done. Plus, those drone shots are awesome!

    1. Post

      Thanks so much Nikki, but my real motivation for creating this video is to get you to collaborate with me on the next one. ;-) Hope to see you two soon. Happy Thanksgiving.

  37. I agree that I would be scared to death to drive in San Francisco with my RV, BUT to make it to that Thousand Trails on cliff of the bay that Nikki and Jason stayed at would be worth the white nuckle driving :)

    1. Post

      THAT is great to hear. We kept debating how to “unveil” the fact that there were actually aerials involved, and the thumbnail wasn’t just a tease. ;-) Thanks Mark!

  38. Great fantastic video. I just recently drove my 39′ Beaver and Toad through the streets of San Francisco to the Olympic Club. Needless to say it was tight and curvy. Did I mention scary too. Hit nothing though. Really do appreciate all your videos. Very well done and informative.

    1. Post

      Thanks Steve. Wow! I have to say that even though I’d have no qualms about driving a bus through San Fran, something about taking my home there has kept me from doing it all these years. Good for you taking that on successfully. You got any video? ;-)

  39. That was… fricken… AMAZING. Fantastic work guys, love all the angles and explanations.

    The only thing I disagree with.. is despite having driven cars for 25+ years, it still intimidates the heck out of me. ;) But maybe with a few more of these videos (and bribing Peter next time we meet), I might get a little more comfortable attempting to drive our RV.

    Seriously guys, this is packagable content. What you’re gifting to the world here is amazing, and will have lasting impacts (errr.. hopefully NON-impacts) for generations of RVers. Thank you thank you thank you!

    1. Post

      That means so much coming from someone we love and respect so much. Thanks so much sweetie. When we see you (which will be soon!), we’re gonna spend some intimate behind-the-wheel time. :)

  40. Well done! This professionally filmed segment graphically shows off-tracking and the effects of rear overhang from a variety of perspectives. I look forward to viewing your other Driving School videos. Thanks for all the other great tips and instruction. You’re my “go-to” site for DIY videos. Safe travels.

  41. Outstanding video, excellent photography, great topic. I recently got my first motorhome and went to driving school and I still learned more.

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  42. Thanks for the great video explanation. I look forward to more on this topic. I hope your defensive driving episode will contain advice on handling a tire blowout. There’s a youtube video from a truck’s dash cam showing a big class A with a dingy losing control, diving into the grass median and then flipping on it’s side after the left front tire blew. VERY SCARY STUFF!!
    By the way, it looks like you have a new toy…a drone camera! Fun!

    1. Post

      Thanks Peter. While I’ve been trained and know the technique for handling a front tire blowout, I’d only be able to teach it from the book, as I have to say that with something like a million-plus miles under my belt, mostly in MCIs, I have not only never had a front tire blow, but I do not recall having one occur in the two companies I worked for during more than a decade in the business. Maybe that’s due to good maintenance programs, but I hope it’s also due to the amazingly robust nature of modern tires. I saw the video you’re talking about. Scary as hell.

      By the way… that drone is no toy… that’s a serious piece of equipment! ;-)

  43. So glad to see the safe driving videos! Im currently training to become a motorcoach driver myself! Been an RVer quite some time now, with a class a gas, and just purchased a diesel pusher! I think so many people “think” they can drive them, but really don’t know what they are doing. I hope these videos help some people learn. Just because you don’t need a CDL to drive a motorhome, you need to know what your doing, for your safety and others! Keep up the good work RV geeks!

    1. Post

      Congratulations on your upcoming driving career, David. There is no job I ever had that was more rewarding than safely navigating the big city, with 49 sleeping heads bobbing in the rear view mirror, trusting their lives to me. I hope you love it as much as I did.

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