towing tips advancedRecently I replaced my ’04 PT Cruiser Toad with a new Chevy Sonic and to put it mildly, I can’t believe all the technology changes that have taken place in the past ten years!

Before towing the first time I read the recommended procedures:

When you turn the key and put the ignition in the accessory position, it can drain the battery over time. Removing the DLIS fuse, when towing, removes the power to the BCM causing the ignition relay to open which stops the battery from going dead.

So, what is the DLIS fuse and what is the BCM? No one can tell me what DLIS stands for but it does the job of turning the power off to the BCM. The Body Control Module is a generic term for an electronic control unit, responsible for monitoring and controlling various electronic accessories in a vehicle’s body. Typically, in a car, the BCM controls the power windows, power mirrors, air conditioning, immobilizer system, central locking, etc. The BCM communicates with other on-board computers via the car’s vehicle bus, and its main application is controlling load drivers – actuating relays that in turn perform actions in the vehicle such as locking the doors or dimming the salon overhead lamp.

For other vehicles, the recommendation is to pull the ECM fuse. Again, this is to turn off the various sensors within the car that are sending signals when the car’s engine is running.

Now that we know the terms, what does all this mean? Well for me it meant, after pulling the fuse and trying to put it back in without dropping it at night in the dark, frustration! How do I make pulling the fuse an easy operation? The answer was provided by my favorite mechanic, Rod, who installed the Base Plate, wired the lights and wired in a simple ON-OFF switch, (shown in the center of the picture) to disable the DLIS. When preparing to tow, I open the fuse panel and turn the switch OFF. When towing is completed, I turn the switch ON, close the panel and everything is ready to go. Too simple (and thank you Rod)!

Now if the Sonic is as great a vehicle as the PT Cruiser was and can run over 428,000 miles on the original clutch and engine, I’ll be a happy man.

Hang-on, now this just in, an email from my Sonic letting me know that no oil change is due at this time, my remaining oil life is 98%, no issues have been found, no actions are required but my right front and left rear tires are both one pound low on air pressure. This is what I call Hi-Tech!

rvbasictraining tipnov2013 2

When you sign up for RV Boot Camp you will learn the four basic driving skills that every commercial driver in North America MUST be able to do in order to obtain their CDL, including Parallel Parking.  On more than one occasion I’ve been asked, “Why do I need to know how to parallel park?” Well, this is the reason, Rincon Parkway! 

Rincon Parkway is situated in Ventura County on the Pacific Ocean 9 miles north of Ventura.  If you’re like me and don’t need to be hooked-up all the time, this is the best RV spot in the whole world!

Your RV is facing south and on your passenger side is the wide-open Pacific Ocean in all its glory with only the cry of sea gulls and the fresh smell of the salt water, it's too awesome.

rvbasictraining tipnov2013 3Now why do you need to Parallel Park, well if you get there late in the afternoon, most of the 127 parking spaces could be taken and the only space available could be between two 40 + foot class A motor homes. If you can’t parallel park, you’re not going to be spending the night in paradise.

To learn about Parallel Parking, Dock-Side Backing and a whole lot more, give us a call at 866-976-7878 We’ll show you how to get you to your favorite RV spot and be comfortable behind the wheel.

1-check tire pressure

Before starting on any trip remember your ride is all about your tires so if for some reason they are not in good condition, you could be by the side of the road watching traffic go by. 

The three things you should be checking in your pre-trip tire inspection are I, C, D:

I – is for Inflation, does each tire have the correct pressure?

C – Condition of each tire, any cuts or abrasions, cracks in the sidewalls, is the tire wear even?

D – Depth of tread, at least 4/32 “on the front tires and you CANNOT have retreads on the front tires.
At least 2/32 “on the rear tires and while you can have recaps on the rear, there is NO WAY I would.  

Recently I have become aware of a number of tire failures caused by the D most people do not think about, Date of Manufacture.  If your tires are more than five years old, no matter how good they look, replace them.  The tire pictured above is a new tire that replaced a six year old tire that looked perfect but blew-out at 60 mph on the freeway.  As you can see, the blowout caused damage to the RV and could have been much worse had not the experienced driver had both hands on the steering wheel. 

It’s so much easier to be pro-active, rather than re-active.  Keep safe and enjoy your trip!

This past Friday I had a call and it went something like this...

“Hello Gary, I think we need your services!”  This always means only RVTC Inspectionone thing; someone has had an accident with their RV or Mobile Clinic.  (For those of you not familiar with Mobile Clinics, they’re just RV’s with medical exam rooms and dental chairs instead of bedrooms and kitchens)  In this particular situation it seems the driver drove off with the awning extended, which tore the awning totally off the unit!  So much for a Pre-Trip Inspection or Safety Check.

There is a safety protocol that all commercial drivers are taught to do in order to keep safe and that is the Pre-Trip Inspection.  A PTI is always done at the start of a drivers shift and at the end.  It begins with an ENGINE CHECK, checking the engines fluid levels, belts, hoses and making sure there are NO leaks.

Next is the LIGHT CHECK.  Starting at the front and top of the vehicle you check the clearance lights, five amber in the front, five red in the back.  Working your way down the front of the vehicle you check the left and right turn signals, 4-way flashers, high and low beams on your headlights and your horn, (you never know when you’re going to need it).  Going round the vehicle, in a counter-clockwise direction you then check the vehicles Marker lights, (amber on the side, red at the back).  At the back of the vehicle you check running lights and work your way down the vehicle to the left and right turn signals, 4-way flashers, brake lights and license plate light and license plate sticker.

Last but not least, do a SAFETY CHECK.  For an RV or Mobile Clinic start your SAFETY CHECK at your entrance door, closing the door to make sure the steps retract.  Moving in a counter-clockwise direction check the passenger (Curb Side) front tire for I, C, D. - Inflation, Condition, Depth of Tread.  Check to make sure all of the wheel nuts are tight and all there. Check to make sure the Oil Hub is NOT leaking.  Check your Curb Side mirror for adjustment and that it is tight.  At the front of the vehicle make sure the windshield is clean, the wiper arms are tight and the wiper blades are in good condition.  Going down the driver’s side of the vehicle (Road Side) check the Road Side mirror for adjustment and that it is tight.  Check the front tire for ICD, check that all compartments doors are securely latched and locked.  Check that the slides and awning covers are secure.  At the rear tires check both the outside and the inside rear tires for ICD.  Check that the power cord is fully retracted and the compartoor is locked.  At the rear of the vehicle, if it is a diesel pusher, make sure the
engine cover is securely latched.  On the Curb Side check the outside and inside rear tires for ICD, check that the compartment doors are latched and locked, check that all awning covers are tight and secure.

Now for the MOST IMPORTANT check of all, make sure the levelers are fully retracted, the awning is retracted and secured, the power cord is stowed, all antennas are down, all slides are fully retracted and the vehicle clear of any obstructions in your departure path.  If you do these simple checks every time you return to your vehicle, I guarantee it will save you BIG BUCKS.

Download your FREE Pre-Trip check list

RV Basic Driver Training Course Manual

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$39 USD

Trailer Towing Training Manual

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$39 USD