How to Master RV Height; The Pitfalls to Clearance Heaven

5:00:00 PM La Mesa RV 0 Comments


RV tall enough to clear yet?

As you travel down the highways, have you ever come across a bridge or overpass that looked lower than the height posted? Or have you come across an overpass that does not have a height limit posted at all? Because of this problem, an important question to ask is:
What is the height of my RV?
It's important you know how tall your RV is so you can clear obstacles without guessing. RVs have two types of height clearances, soft and hard. An example of a soft clearance would be the radio antenna. An example of a hard clearance would be the roof air conditioner. If the radio antenna hits an overhead obstruction there would be little or no damage to the RV, but if  the roof air conditioner hits an obstacle there will be lots of damage.

Nothing would ruin your day faster than the instant you realized that your RV was too tall to fit below the bridge you just attempted to go under.
Every state is different as to whether they mark the height of bridges or not. Here's a list of State Road Laws from RV Trip Wizard:
This list of state laws should be helpful to RV owners. Note that information in red deals with specific restrictions on certain roads and information about propane
While every attempt has been made to check this information, RV Trip Wizard Inc. cannot guarantee its accuracy, and assumes no responsibility for errors and omissions.
You also want to know the weight restrictions of older bridges



Some states plainly label their bridges and low overpasses well in advance, so you have the opportunity to take an alternate route around. However, not all states are this thoughtful; some give no indication at all that the bridge you're approaching is 6 inches too low to clear your RV's rooftop.

It's not only best to know your vehicle's height in feet and inches, but also you should know it in meters and centimeters. This practice will be extremely convenient when traveling in Canada.

The Rand McNally Motor Carriers' Atlas book is still one of the best tools to have onboard your motorhome. It lists every low clearance bridge in the country. Most truck stops still sell the book for about $20.
When it comes to interstate bridges, they are designed to clear semi trucks which are limited in height to be under 13'- 6". But here again, each state may be different.
  • Most states don't require Oversize Load permits for vehicles and loads that are under 13'- 6".
  • However, interstate bridges in some states are higher at 14'.
  • And a few states allow loads up to 15' to run their highways.

RV Tip:

The best all-in-one solution

Rand McNally RV GPS appThe best app out is the Rand McNally RV GPS app. Check out this list of features:
  • Safe and easy routing for 11 types of RV, customized for the specific vehicle
  • Routing based on legal and physical restrictions, such as low bridges, weight limits, and propane restrictions, and favoring right or left-hand turns depending on RV size and class
  • Warnings for speed limit changes, sharp curves, dirt roads, and other potential hazards
  • RV checklists–Prepare for trip departure, campsite setup, and more. Or create your own lists
Bridge Heights
There is one common element in all states. You, the driver, are responsible for making sure you will fit under the bridge.
The low clearance height that is posted on the sign is not written in stone.  Many times, the road has been repaved, lowering the clearance by 2 inches or more!  And if you hit the bridge, it's still your fault, even if the sign is inaccurate. 
Once you get off the interstate system, all rules go away. 
When it comes to most gas station canopies, they "usually" have at least 14' of height to their canopies.  However, banks, fast food restaurants, and many other businesses usually don't always provide enough clearance for large RVs.
Who's At Fault?
The main thing to keep in mind is:
It doesn't matter that you hit something you were going under with your RV, it is automatically your fault.
You will be responsible for the damage you create, as well as the harm to your RV. 
What's Your RV's Clearance Level?
Here's a good way to help you  be sure to watch for low clearance areas:
1. Get on top of your RV and measure from the highest rooftop item to the ground.
2. Record this measurement on a blank label.
3. Stick the label in the inside top left corner of your windshield.
This way, you won't have to count on your memory when you notice an unusually low bridge ahead of you, because your RV's height is right there in front of you.

Keep in mind, if later on you add a self-searching satellite dish to your RV's rooftop, it may very well become the new highest item on the roof.  In any case, be sure you always take new measurements periodically!

A Word Of Advice…
Measure then verify the heights that are listed in your RV's user manual or on RV manufacturers' websites.

The only true measurement is the one you take yourself.

 Tip: It's best to know your RV's height in both feet and inches as well as meters and centimeters

When you're driving a car or truck, it's rare to be worried about low clearances. Now that you have upgraded to a motorhome or 5th wheel, one of the many new things to be aware of are the low clearances everywhere. Writing down and learning the height of your RV is a great idea. Putting it on a label and attaching it to the windshield or dash may come in handy whenever you see a sign for low clearance.

Some GPS units can warn you of low overpasses. While pricey, these are updated frequently with new locations. Plus, it's cheaper than the repair on your motorhome roof and a bridge. Also, when you are pulling into a gas station that has an old appearance, be mindful that they may have repaved the parking lot and the new elevation may just make you a few inches taller.

Low-hanging vegetation, especially on back roads, can not only scratch your paint finish, but can cause major damage. Trees don't normally have clearance signs, so use your best judgment. If you try to drive in the interior lane, you can avoid these low-hanging obstacles.

When you are backing your newly purchased LaMesa RV into the driveway at your house, be careful that you are aware of just how far the eaves of the rooftop stick out as you park your motorhome for the first time.


For more helpful advice from our service experts, visit out LaMesa RV locations or log online to learn more: http://lamesarv.com/

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