RV Height Clearance: Some Things to Think About 451

One thing that every RVer needs to be conscious of is the height of their rig. Not every RV will fit under every bridge or overpass. If you ignore the height of your RV, you can experience disastrous results for your RV’s roof. This is true of all types of RVs from travel trailers and fifth-wheels to small Class B motorhomes all the way to monster Class A motorhomes.

Here are some tips you need to know and information to think about concerning your RV’s height. If you take some time to focus on it before you set out, you can save yourself many headaches.

Figure Out and Know the True Height of Your RV

A man is lifting a metal box on the roof of a camper van surrounded by nature

The owners manual for your RV will list the dimensions of your RV and this includes the height. However, that height listed in the owners manual may not include appliances and additions to your RV. If you have a roof rack, roof-mounted AC unit, or an antenna of some kind, then there’s a good chance the height listed in your manual will be inaccurate.

Instead of going with the number listed, or estimating how much your roof rack or roof-mounted AC unit adds to that number, get your tape measure out. Measure to the top of the roof from the ground when the RV is sitting on a level surface. From there, get on top of the RV and measure any items or appliances that are attached to the roof. This will give you the true height of your RV.

From there, you need to make sure anyone who drives or tows your RV knows the true height of the vehicle. I like to write it down on a sticky note and put that sticky note right up in the cabin with me. You could also write it on a slip and tape that slip to the windshield in the corner. That way it’s always right there for easy reference no matter who’s driving.

Ways to Avoid Damage

Motor home ready to hit the open road

The best way to avoid damage is to know the height of your RV and make sure never to drive under anything that would hit your RV. However, there are other steps you can take to ensure you don’t have any accidents. Here are a few:

1. Drive Slowly Under Bridges

Even if you know your RV will fit, drive slowly. This is especially important if the clearance is going to be tight. When you slow down, it will keep the RV from bouncing over bumps or otherwise moving up and down on its suspension. This can help ensure there are no issues.

2. Choose the Right Route

Don’t drive a route where you know you could experience issues. Try to stick to roads that are bound to have tall bridges and overpasses. This will help ensure you and your RV stay safe. Interstates aren’t always the prettiest roads, but they’re usually the most efficient and offer plenty of space for bigger rigs.

3. Be Cautious

Take it slow and err on the side of caution. Some bridges curve and the height measurement for clearance might be for the tallest part of the bridge. Others might be mislabeled entirely. Try to avoid anything that’s within a foot or less of your RV’s true height. This may seem excessive, but it will ensure you have no issues. If you must proceed under a bridge that’s close to your RV’s true height, then do so with caution.

4. Enlist Help

Gas stations and rest stops all have different heights. Most of the time, you’ll be fine, but don’t take anything for granted. Have a passenger in your RV get out to ensure you’ll make it under the overhang of buildings and rest areas. If you’re by yourself ask a passerby. Most people will be happy to give you the thumbs up or thumbs down, which is really all you need.

Use an RV GPS

RV GPS

I mentioned choosing the right route before. This is made a lot easier by using an RV-specific GPS system. The routes programmed into these systems are designed for RVers. This means they’ll be routes with plenty of room for your rig. However, don’t trust them implicitly. Keep an eye on your true height and the height of the bridges, overpasses, and any other height obstacles while you travel.

If you don’t want to buy an RV GPS, then at least think about using an app. There are several RV route apps out there that can help. Smart RV Route is just one of these apps. They will do essentially the same thing as a RV GPS system.


Do you have any tips or advice not mentioned here? What about questions or concerns? Leave a comment below!

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