What to Do If Your RV Gets Stuck in the Mud
Free your RV from a mucky situation and get back your adventure with these simple tips and suggestions.
An RV does a lot of things and is a lot of things but one thing it isn’t—an off-road vehicle. You really shouldn’t take it on ATV or Jeep trails, or drive it out into the middle of an untouched field. It’s a giant, rolling, usually very heavy, house—and it will get stuck.
However, sometimes you’ll find yourself surrounded by mud anyway. Whether you’re boondocking or simply staying at a fairly primitive campground that doesn’t have paved roads, your rig is always at some risk of getting stuck. The tires aren’t made for most terrain that isn’t either packed down or paved. Unfortunately, that can make getting out a pain.
Even if you’ve never been stuck and have very little risk of it based on the places you camp, being a good RVer means being prepared with both knowledge and a particular set of tools to help you get out of just about any situation. Here’s a short guide that covers what to do if your RV gets stuck in the mud.
Things to Have on Hand if You’re Stuck in the Mud
Of course, this section won’t help you if you’re currently stuck in the mud. But if you’re actively preparing to camp somewhere during the rainy season, you’ll know just what to have on hand. None of these tools may be necessarily surefire, but they can make a very stressful situation a lot easier.
The entire reason your RV is stuck in the mud is that your tires aren’t getting traction—the mud slips out of the way and there’s nothing to create friction. Simple wood planks can help solve that problem. Work them under the front of the tires so they have something to roll up on. The downside to these is that they’re usually smooth and won’t always help.
People usually associate tire chains with snow and ice, but they work wonders in muddy terrain as well. They work by simply providing additional traction by digging farther into loose or slippery ground.
Also called traction tracks, these boards are textured which allows tires to grab onto something (more so than a plank of wood). They can also stand up to 10 tons of weight.
Winch and Chain
If you’re traveling with another vehicle—especially a heavy SUV—you can try to use a winch to pull it out. You can also try attaching a heavy-duty Come Along tool to something very sturdy, and use the chain to pull your rig out of the mud. It’s worth noting that this isn’t an ideal situation, because your rig is probably heavy. Finding something sturdy enough to stand up to the extra weight can be a challenge.
Your RV is Stuck in the Mud. Now What?
OK, so you’re stuck. Stop right here, and assess the situation. And, most importantly, stay calm. Consider some basic guidelines from this point, until your RV is free.
Don’t Rev Your Engine
When your tires are already spinning freely, revving your engine just creates deeper holes. If the mud was deep enough for you to get stuck, you’ll have to go down plenty far in order to get to a point where you could drive out. At that point, you might be up to your axles in mud.
Rock and Roll
When you can’t go forward, try going backward. Reversing out of a spot may allow you more traction and, at the very least, will let you move some. Once you’ve backed up some, you can drop the transmission into a low gear and try to plow forward again—or better yet, try a different way out.
Try for Traction
If the reverse method doesn’t work, try using planks or traction boards. If the ground is terribly soft, they may disappear under the mud, but may also give you enough momentum to get moving. Don’t stop until you’re on solid ground, and then you can retrieve your boards.
A Strong Tow
When all else fails, it’s time for a tow. Getting towed out of a muddy situation can be expensive. For situations like these—and frankly, a lot of other RV-related incidents—it’s a great idea to invest in some kind of roadside assistance.
Good Sam, for example, specializes in RV-related roadside assistance (among other things). If you’re on the road much at all, investing in membership can offer peace of mind for situations just like this one.