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When Your RV Gets Stuck in a Sticky Situation 

January 3, 2023

Stuck in a rut? A relaxing vacation in an RV may be just what you need. There is nothing quite like hitting the open road with a home on wheels where you don’t need hotel reservations or constantly trying to find somewhere to eat. It’s all right there with you behind the wheel. But what happens when your RV also gets in a rut? Be it in the mud, in sand, or in icy snowy conditions – getting caught in a sticky situation can happen to any RV enthusiast.


However, with the right strategies, you can get unstuck quickly and be on your way. Here’s how.


Get a Lay of the Land

It’s true what they say – know before you go. In other words, do not drive your RV down an unfamiliar dirt or gravel road without first knowing what you’re in for. When out in remote areas with no GPS advantage, this may even mean having one passenger get out of the RV and walk ahead of the vehicle, because it will be tough to tell how good the road is from the comfort of the driver’s seat. If the ground is mushy or slippery underfoot, just imagine what it’s going to be like when a heavy RV rolls over it.


Also, it pays to ask around. Other RV campers may be able to provide intel about local routes that are suitable for RVs and which are not.


Rock ‘n Roll

If you find your RV in a slippery spot, the first solution should be to simply crawl ahead straight and steady – don’t goose the accelerator or hit the brakes. That may only serve to dig you in deeper. Maintaining momentum forward is the goal. If you do get stuck and can’t edge any further, try backing out the way you came with a very gradual foot on the accelerator in reverse.


If that doesn’t do the trick, try going back and forth between reverse and the lowest forward gear, using gentle pressure on the gas pedal. Wait for the wheels to stop moving before shifting the transmission. With four-wheel-drive RVs, try turning the wheels back and forth; this allows the sides of the front tires to gain a little traction in some cases.


Take Off the Pressure

Consider this scenario: You’ve parked your RV on the beach to watch that epic sunset. It is an amazing way to end the day, that is, unless you get stuck in the sand! If you ever experience this, one simple trick is to let some of the air out of your tires. This allows your RV to get a bit more traction; enough for you to get unstuck and out of the sand track you’ve found yourself in. Just be ready with a portable air compressor so that you can quickly refill those tires once you get back on solid ground.


Also, remember: don’t deflate the tire so much that you’re basically riding on the rims. This can greatly damage the wheels!


Gain Some Traction

Doing the above does NOT work in muddy or snowy conditions. You will still be spinning your tires in these elements, which will dig you even deeper into trouble. In this case, you’ll need the right tools to increase your traction. Tire chains or emergency traction mats tend to do well in snowy and/or muddy situations. These are relatively inexpensive and should be a mandatory part of your RV arsenal.


A shovel and/or axe can come in handy, as well. Use these under the leading edge of the tires, and make sure no one is standing close when you step on the gas to move forward. Alternatively, your RV’s jack can also be used to carefully lift the wheels enough to get more traction material underneath the tires. Alternatively, use a 2×6 plank under the wheel.


Have the Right Tools

If you need more power than your RV can provide, having other tools makes a difference. Using a winch may get you unstuck from mud, and recovery straps usually work wonders as long as you have a friendly motorist to help you out. Do your homework and make sure those tools have the correct load capacity to get the job done. This also means knowing the correct attachment points. Again, make sure everyone is well out of the way before using any of these tools, as cables or straps can snap or break under the pressure.


In short, no matter how prepared or self-reliant you are, there may be instances where you’ll need a professional to come out and help. This is where probably the most important tool comes into play: a fully-charged cell phone.


Best of luck out there!

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