Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Living in the Roadtrek - Parking

I have told you about all of the things to be aware of when driving a Roadtrek (or any Class B), now I will talk about parking the Roadtrek - or any Class B. A big feature of a Class B is that you can park it anywhere! That is mostly true. You can park it almost anywhere.

You cannot park a Class B, Roadtrek included, in an indoor parking garage with a height clearance less than 9 feet. I know that there are very few of those around the US but I have not yet seen one. Most indoor parking garages have clearance heights less than 7 feet. This makes taking the Roadtrek into cities where the majority - if not all of the parking garages are indoors. With the price of real estate in cities around the U.S. where there once were outdoor parking lots, these are quickly being replaced by indoor parking garages, either above or below ground level. Just like the caution about driving under low overpasses - you cannot go into a parking garage with the Roadtrek that has a height clearance less than nine feet (and that is cutting it close).

Parking the Roadtrek in a regular outdoor parking lot is not much of a problem at all depending on the length of the spaces and the width of the driving lanes. You have a 20 foot long vehicle. We have parked the Roadtrek in some parking lots where it fit perfectly in one space with nothing hanging out into the driving lane - and then we have been in some where the spaces are shorter and in one space the rear of the Roadtrek is too far out into the lane behind it. When this is encountered you need to park in two spaces front to back and unless the parking lot is very crowded you can usually find two spaces to park in. We have done it a number of times and no one has ever said anything about our taking up two spaces. I do park in the middle of both spaces so that no one gets the idea that they can squeeze their little car in behind us or in front of us - learned from experience - because it happened in the parking lot at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center - one little car just had to get into what I left in the space in front of us - and he was just to darn close to my bumper as a result. Now I make sure that cannot happen.

It is often easier to park the Roadtrek a corner of the parking lot that has few cars and while these are a bit of a walk to where you are going when you get out of the van, it is well worth the exercise to be out of the way of the traffic in the lot. Of course, security of the van may be a concern but we will talk about that in another article.

If you have a Roadtrek with bumper covers - many Roadtreks do (we ordered ours without them) - do not park in a head in parking space that is on a curb in front and try to pull up to the tires to get into the space further. The front bumper cover may hit the curb and be damaged. Always be aware of what is hanging down under your Roadtrek.

Diagonal parking spaces pose a problem when pulling a Class B out of the space. With the limited visibility as I spoke about in the article on driving that you have in looking behind you in the Roadtrek, you have just as much of a problem seeing what is coming down from the lane behind you off to the passenger side of the van. The angle that you are parked at makes it almost impossible given the sight restrictions in a Class B to see what is there. This is when your passenger needs to get as clear a look as possible - even if it means opening the window and leaning out to see what is coming down from the right side BEFORE you back out of the space. There was a long discussion about this on a Class B forum and it was generally agreed that what I have described here is true.

Newer Roadtreks come with a backup camera in the dash as part of the radio/GPS package. This camera does work. It is adjustable to get the view you want - but you set it and leave it. You cannot move the direction of the camera automatically. It cannot be adjusted from inside in any way. The picture is not very clear, is dependent on the weather, and at night is helpful but not as good as it can be during the day. It will help when backing out of a parking space but has a limited angle of view. It does a good job when just backing up - but there is no way to judge distance to what is behind you in the camera's picture. You will know not to run over someone and not to back into something large.

I have read in a forum that someone can parallel park his Roadtrek on the streets of New York City - between cars. I would never think of attempting this. I would not even want to take a chance to try it. My advice - take it or leave it - is forget about parallel parking your Roadtrek.

Parking the Roadtrek is no problem as long as you follow these suggestions and learn from my (and others) experiences about parking a Class B.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you! What a blessing to find your blog! You are answering all my questions. I am still in the planning stages and am thinking maybe pulling a small trailer (Casita) is not what I want after all - and stumbled across the Roadtreks. I'm thinking this is even MORE perfect for me. (I won't be fulltiming but almost). Thank you, thank you.
    --Jool

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    1. Jool - We stared with the idea of a small trailer, but I have difficulty backing up a utility trailer - and avoid that as much as possible - so the idea of a trailer quickly died. When we found the Roadtrek we also knew that it would be perfect.

      There will be lots more about our Roadtrek to come. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Very nice blog you have! Want to go full time in a Roadtrek myself someday. What is your opinion on the wear and tear of the mechanical part of the vehicle? Like tires, brakes, oil changes, etc. I would think with such weight the bushings would be screaming. Would you say a vehicle like this could handle long drives? Say, New York to Fort Lauderdale with some bathroom/stretch/food breaks.

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    1. We have not been driving the Roadtrek for a full year yet, but mechanical wear and tear should not be a problem. Oil changes are signaled by the Chevy's computer and with a little over 6000 miles so far are have used 70% of the oil's life = 30% more to go to the first oil change. The tires are sized for the load. The Chevy Express 3500 van is a heavy duty truck and with the large V8 option that we have, it has more than enough power to go anywhere and also tow if we wanted to tow a car or trailer behind us - many do. A trip from NY to Fort Lauderdale, Fl is not a ling drive for the Roadtrek - and many go cross country with no problems at all. There are Roadtreks still on the road from the late 80's. An early to mid-90's Roadtrek is common to find in full use. Every vehicle is going to require maintenance and the Roadtrek is no exception, but I would not say that because of the conversion the van will require more maintenance that ordinarily expected. As to full-timing - one person might be OK - two full-time in a Roadtrek is togetherness that requires a very STRONG relationship. :)

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  3. One other observation I will make about parking ... at least with the Winnebago ERA. Watch the height of the curbs on the streets. Mine has fixed running boards on the passenger side that stick out past the lower body and could easily scarp the curb if they are too high or you get too close when parking on the street.

    Again ... some great information.

    Karsty

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  4. Thanks for this very useful blog!! So both the 170 and the 190 fit in regular parking spaces? My boyfriend thought the 170 is standards size (not sure about the height though). If 190 fits in most regular parking spots, then hoorah! Thanks for your feedback!

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    1. The 170 is actually a little shorter than the 190. If you add the Continental Spare tire kit to the back of either one you increase the length by about 14". Parking in a regular parking space very much depends upon the size of the space and the size of the lane leading into the space. My 190 is a little longer than 20 feet long - I have fit in regular parking spaces but have to be aware if I am sticking out too far in the rear into the lane. If you can find a space that is on the edge of a parking lot or that overhangs grass or a curb in the front, you can move the Roadtrek so that the front tires are against the curb (taking care that it is not to tall a curb) and you gain about a a foot and a half to the length of the space and you will not hang over the end. In a parking lot I look for a space that has an open space in front of it. I pull in to the one space and get out and check - if I am overhanging into the lane behind me, I move the RT into the space in front about half way and take up two spaces, front to back.

      The height of the 170 and the 190 should be the same (8'9"). And they are too tall for ANY indoor parking garage. You must find outdoor parking lots. this is not easy in cities where all of the parking now is becoming indoor garages. In the suburbs and rural areas it is easy to find outdoor parking lots.

      They say a Roadtrek can go anywhere - they should say that a Roadtrek (or any Class B) can go anywhere taller than 9 or 10 feet.

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    2. p.s.: We like cleaning (spring time prep.) and doing some minor maintenance on the Eurovan inside the garage. Door is 8 feet, and the ceiling is 10 feet in the garage. The pop-top opens if we need to, in the garage. Just like Batman, ready to roll..... before the garage we had neighbors and door-to-door salesmen curiously watching and commenting on our efforts to prep the van. We can go away on a weekend on a moment's notice. Also, we don't want the dings of a storage unit which would be likely outside anyways. Believe me, we looked for around 17 years before settled on a Eurovan because of the short height. One of the other factors we have to contend with is insurance companies that will not cover the cost of a camperized van that has not come from a factory.

      We are glad to have the Eurovan.... and we are glad for those of you who have the ability to have a Roadtrek, with all the comforts. Happy Travels fellow RV owners :)

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  5. Hello author of the blog and readers:)

    We bought a Eurovan so we can park it in our 8 foot garage. We looked for years, and would love a short Roadtrek (N-6 does not offer what we need) but ....

    Thanks for the blog...we appreciate all the time you put into helping others with RV questions:)!

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  6. I have had my Roadtrek since 2002. A 190 P
    Diagonal parking: I have a cheap license plate backup camera that I try and see down the street, plus I put on my 4 way flashers. If I back put slow enough people usually stop. Some do so because they want the parking spot.
    Parallel parking: Do it quite often. Pick a big spot though. I use the camera and when I can see the vehicle emblem, I'm close enough. A tip: old fashon curb feelers. You can buy them on line and they tell me if Im too close to a curb, especially a high one.

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    1. The tip on the curb feelers is a good one. I got a little too close to a curb along a pull in parking spot last summer.

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  7. Hey Friends: I'm looking to upgrade the radio in 2006 Popular with a unit that combines radio + CD + GPS + backup screen. Any tips??

    Craig Jones
    Kingston ON

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    1. The radio in the Chevy is a standard Double DIN size radio. Any car radio or combination radio/CD/GPS/Back Up camera will fit that is Double DIN in size. Some have liked a Pioneer with all of those features. Since models on radios can change year to year, the current Pioneer line may be different. We have all of this in the Eclipse II combo radio that RT used starting in 2010. It is the worst dash radio ever made. It is not sold any longer so you have no chance of getting it - lucky! The GPS is the most important part of the radio if you want a built in GPS so make sure the GPS is decent - Garmin is best. None of the built in units use an RV specific GPS. If you are looking for that consider a stand alone RV specific GPS and not one built into the radio.

      There has been some comment in the past that the harness that Roadtrek uses in the Chevy for the radio is "special" in some way and you want to re-use that harness. You might contact the Roadtrek tech line to find out about the Chevy radio connection and anything special that is necessary.

      The radio can only be accessed by taking out the dashboard and the Chevy dash is rather fragile in what holds it in place. Be very careful taking out the dash to replace the radio. A radio pro installer should be familiar in taking down the Chevy Express Van dash - make sure before you let them do the job.

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