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Old 12-31-2012, 01:04 AM   #1
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Winter Driving

Hi. Thank you for all the insight you all provide. So much help. And now I really need you!

I have purchased a new Solera from RV Direct and will be picking it up in Des Moines in the next couple of weeks. I will then be driving it back to Oregon, where I live. I have never owned a motorhome before, so this 1600 mile trip home IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER may well be a trial by fire.

Do any of you have any advice for a newbie in a Solera in winter? Any driving tips, route ideas, guiding principles I need to adopt? The coach will be winterized. Do I need chains? Is the coach fairly stable? I'm not even sure what to ask. Just feeling nervous and hoping you experienced souls will have some thoughts that will help with my jangly nerves.

Thanks for your thoughts.....
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:10 AM   #2
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I'd pick up chains if your headed back to Oregon.
Welcome to the forum!
Congrats on the new solera



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Old 12-31-2012, 09:13 AM   #3
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Are you planning on staying on the main roads? What is the weather forecast for your trip? Have you ever driven a "fully loaded pickup truck" before? I'm betting it'll be similar. Do you have a list of campgrounds picked out in advance and have called ahead to confirm their ability to accept your rig and their road conditions? All these questions and a lot more you should be asking yourself prior to getting on the highway. The coach itself should be stable and capable of winter travel. As the OP stated, get some tire chains. They can cost anywhere up to $150 or more for a GOOD set. You have a speed restriction when using them. Don't drive highway speeds else you'll fling them apart. Also, if the roads turn dry you MUST remove them as soon as you can else you'll detroy the chains real fast. They do wear out. Plan your trip carefully and take it slow. It'll be an adventure but with a lot of pre-planned thought, it'll be fun. Take it easy and enjoy the new coach.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:56 AM   #4
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Call RV direct and see if they can hold your unit until better weather arrives in your driving area. If it hasn't been built yet, even better. There is alot to know as a newbie and winter time is probably not a good time due to the elements. It surely will already be winterized, so if you do plan on camping and or boondocking it back to Oregon, you will have to have them purge the systems (I.e. fresh water) of anti-freeze ptior to departure, just easier that way. Or hotel it back! Good Luck.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:24 AM   #5
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I agree with the recommendation to wait until the roads are clear to pick it up. Driving a vehicle like that isn't bad once you get familiar with its handling characteristics. I have a lot of experience driving many different kinds of vehicles but the 150 mile trip home when we picked ours up (Albany to Burlington, VT) was quite a learning experience and I never would have considered it for a long trip with possible snowstorms.

If you can't work that out, I agree that having chains on board is a good idea - but put them on and take them off at least once before you leave. Putting chains on those big dual wheels isn't easy - especially in the cold and snow conditions you will be in when you decide you need them on the road.

Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 2012WhiteSolera View Post
Call RV direct and see if they can hold your unit until better weather arrives in your driving area. If it hasn't been built yet, even better. There is alot to know as a newbie and winter time is probably not a good time due to the elements. It surely will already be winterized, so if you do plan on camping and or boondocking it back to Oregon, you will have to have them purge the systems (I.e. fresh water) of anti-freeze ptior to departure, just easier that way. Or hotel it back! Good Luck.

I agree, wait til spring!! Driving in snow and ice is bad enough not to mention the salt, brine etc you will be going through which will cause corrosion on everything. RVs are not like cars and designed for use in winter with salt resistant materials. You will be dealing with corrosion of connections, metal trim, undercarriage etc for as long as you own it. I speak from experience as my first RV was shipped from the factory through a winter storm.
If you must do this, tape up everything you can like water heater, refrigerator, air conditioner, and furnace openings and vents to keep salt dust and spray out. If it has auto stabilizer jacks tape up the cover joints as they are not sealed. Aluminum trim should be taped or coated with oil or some protective covering as well.
Just my opinion and maybe a little overkill but I can't afford to replace my equipment every couple years and like to keep it looking like new.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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I'd pick up chains if your headed back to Oregon.
Welcome to the forum!
Congrats on the new solera
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You will definitely need chains and all season tires on most roads you will need to take to get home. Many roads are snow emergency routes and it is illegal to travel them without the above in wintertime.

Getting stuck is bad enough without a heavy fine to sweeten the deal.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:35 PM   #8
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The weather is a toss up this time of year you can't be sure of anything with it. Have you considered going out of the way alittle and taking a more southern route west then turn north to home? So far we've only had one measurable snow in Iowa about 8", last year we didn't even get that. good luck withyour Solera we love ours, got it last year from RVdirect also from Des Moines.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:41 AM   #9
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Thank you all so much! You have no idea how helpful all this is. Worrisome, for sure. So, I clearly need chains. I will probably hotel it back. I hadn't thought about the damage that could be done by the de-icing chemicals. Wondering now how to wash the undercarriage off once I'm home. Sounds very important.

I thought about going south, but it occurs to me that they get snow and ice, too, and are not as well-equipped to deal with it....not so many chemicals available! I don't have to be in a hurry, which helps. I've driven big UHaul trucks, and just go slow and easy. I worry a lot, tho, about sliding off a freeway into a ravine with a freezing stream below, and....well, a lot of imagination...or too many movies (and devastating news stories recently).

Can any of you tell me what kind of oem tires come on the coach? Hoping desperately for radials, at least.

Also, what to do to fully protect the undercarriage. The suggestions here are good to start.

It makes sense to wait to get it til spring, but as a lot of you know with RV Direct, you pay for it when it comes offline, then wait and wait til it's delivered to the dealer, and then don't really know what kind if shape it's in til you see it, and doing a lot of hoping that the Des Moines dealer has done a good check of all he systems. I know the PDI will not be exhaustive. So many worries. (That overactive imagination, and lots of FR Forum reading...)

So, thank you again for taking the time to share all of your thoughts. I needed some smart minds to step into my own limited and naive thinking.

I wonder, too, can I trust RVDirect? Will I find someone local to help with warranty work tho I bought elsewhere? Oh lord. OK. I'll stop. You're all great! Thanks!
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:09 AM   #10
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Hello Marionap,

I live in Quebec and we sure know a lot about ice and snow.
If FR still have the Khumo tires on the Solera, they are good in snow but DO NOT DRIVE on ice with those, it's like a non thread tires !

I'm so scare about damages due to salt and I hate so much winterizing my RV that I found the perfect solution: Every fall, I head down south and I leave Forest (That's its name) in a storage place, usually the last campground where I sleep. I then come back home by planes or with the toad.

Best advice I saw on this post: Wait till Spring to pick it up unless you plan to do winter camping .

Concerning the chains: If you need to put chains on a Solera, you should not be on that road !

Have fun with your new toy as we do !
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