If you own an RV, or if you’re planning on buying one, it is important to know the wheelbase of the RV. Having an unsafe wheelbase ratio will make your vehicle tougher to handle and can cause accidents.
So, exactly how do you measure the wheelbase of your RV?
The wheelbase measurement is the distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel on your vehicle. To measure this yourself, you’ll need a flat parking surface, tape measure, chalk and a carpenter’s square.
Incorrect wheelbase ratios can leave the driver feeling exhausted and the vehicle will not handle as well on the road. A longer wheelbase is generally considered to be safer. Unbalanced loads within your RV can aggravate this problem. Expensive RVs generally have longer wheelbases, but not always.
This is an important issue and knowing about it could be lifesaving for you. Keep reading to find out more about wheelbases and everything you should know about them!
Importance of Correct Wheelbase Ratios
When it comes to RV accidents, natural causes are usually blamed. RV experts suggest that an incorrect wheelbase is more often the problem than anything else. If you’re driving around in a vehicle with an incorrect ratio, you may be risking your life every time you drive.
If driving your vehicle leaves you prone to exhaustion even though you didn’t drive for that long, maybe it’s time to measure the wheelbase.
The Safe Range For Your Wheelbase
A longer wheelbase is generally considered to be the more ideal one. A longer wheelbase makes the vehicle easier to drive in terms of handling and also places less stress on the driver.
The safe range will also help the vehicle to maintain stability when making turns and when being passed by other vehicles.
A longer wheelbase will also help to maintain stability overall, even if you have an asymmetrical weight distribution within your RV. Some RVs have single-side rooms to make more space for sitting.
The Formula To Calculate Wheelbase Ratio
This formula will generally work on any RV. It yields great benefits because it helps provide an extra layer of safety. The first thing you need to do is get a very long measuring tape. Try to get one that you think is going to be able to measure the entire length of the RV in one go. This is important for getting accurate readings.
You will also need someone to hold the measuring tape on the other end. Make sure that the tape does not slack as that could also result in an inaccurate reading. The cost of measuring tapes is nothing compared to your safety.
Once you have these things and someone to measure with, follow these steps:
- Measure the entire length of the RV, including the front and rear bumpers.
- Measure the distance between the front and rear axles, and the center point of the wheels.
- Divide the length of the axle distance by the length of the RV
- Multiply the figure you get by 100
As an example, if your coach is 40 feet long and the distance between the axles is 20 feet, you should:
- Divide 20 by 40 and you should get 0.50
- Multiply 0.50 by 100 to get 50.0
Make sure that your measurements are accurate. Any number above 50 is considered appropriate, but know that the higher the wheelbase ratio, the better. The general consensus among the community is that 60 should be desired, to maximize the safety of the RV and those within it.
Wheelbase Ratios for Different Models of RV
In many cases, the manual or dealership may try to convince you that the wheelbase is within an appropriate range. However, it is always better to get your measuring tape along with your friend, so you can go through this process of measurement not only for your safety but also for peace of mind.
Each coach, even from the same brand, can be expected to have slight variations depending on a variety of factors. As you have already seen from the calculation, even the slightest variation can create consequences. It is best to avoid them. In simple words, your safety should be the first priority.
What Sort Of RV Has The Best Wheelbase Ratio?
As a general rule of thumb, it is observed that the more expensive RVs have better wheelbase ratios. This is not universal, as certain low-price models can also have acceptable ratios. So, do not feel discouraged if you don’t have the budget to go for the more expensive ones. You can always use the method mentioned above to decide whether the ones within your budget are worth it.
You should know that you need to take this task onto yourself as the salesmen may not always be honest with you. It’s safe to say that even they might not know much about it or the correct methods of measuring it. Still, they won’t care about it as much as you should since you’re the one going on vacation. It is up to you to safeguard yourself and your dear ones.
Ensure Accuracy when Measuring RV Wheelbase
If you already have an RV, use this formula and measure the required distances. And try to be as accurate as you can. Make multiple measurements of the same distance and then use the averages to get an even more precise reading. Be sure to do it properly before you decide to go on a trip. That way, you’ll have time to come up with solutions if they are needed.
If you haven’t bought an RV but are planning to, then you’re in luck. You can use this method and make decisions based on the answer you get. Of course, you will have to make other considerations but this has to count for something.
You have been equipped with the formula for measuring your RV’s wheelbase ratio and you have been educated about the signs of a shorter wheelbase. Keep an eye out for them and reach out to others in your community to read up on them in case they’re planning on going for a vacation.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.