Can You Park an RV on Gravel

An RV parked on concrete

RV travels include planning to detail, including finding a proper place to park. Have you ever wondered can you park an RV on gravel?

There is a lot of debate going on between the ‘experts’ and newbies when it comes to RV maintenance in so many ways. The discussions even include the type of surface you can park your RV on.

When comparing the types of surface, gravel can keep any water from being in direct contact with the tires or body of the RV. You can park your RV on gravel but depending on the type of gravel and what is underneath it, you may have to keep in mind the possibilities of corrosion in certain areas. 

It is important to keep in mind that not every type of RV will get damaged so easily. Modern cars are more resistant, so there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration before claiming what type of surface is the best choice for parking.

Why Is Parking RV on the Grass a Bad Idea?

For lucky RV owners of large land with healthy grass, it might seem like a great option to simply land the RV somewhere where it won’t be in the way. In springtime when the sun starts to shine, but it is still cold, the magnificent sparkling droplets of water paint a picture-perfect sight with your camper slightly on the side.

During the time when your escape pod is ‘sitting pretty’, parts of your motorhome might be rusting away into disaster.

Rust Forms on RVs Parked On the Grass

In every season (except for winter if you are lucky to have snow), the weather changes every day. Even if you have some clouds, a sunny day, and no rain, there is moisture in the air all the time.

The morning dew, for example, is a result of atmospheric condensation. It happens when the grass cools off to a lower temperature than the ground, which is why moisture droplets form on them.

By the simplest laws in nature, an RV parked above the grass is the obstacle on which the moisture will condense on every metal surface available. As a result, your RV frame, suspension, and drive system can become damp.

Depending on the amount of vapor in the air, moisture can even catch onto brake rotors and pads, even brake shoes and drums. At immediate contact, moisture starts the corrosion process. The rusty parts can become stiffer over time, and the RV suspension will become squeaky until it feels like you have a rock with no flexibility.

To have a  clear idea of what is happening, think of your RV as an old grandpa sitting in a nursing home (your grass-filled land). Over time, older people are prone to arthritis, similar to how your RV will start to stiffen from corrosion and moisture – if left untreated that is!

Does This Happen Overnight?

Of course not. The thing is that many RVs spend months without being moved or used.

Long-term storage sometimes does more damage than owners riding around in it, leaving it overnight in the snow. However, there is still time to cure it if the rust just started forming.

How to Remove RV Rust?

There are many ways to repair rusty surfaces on an RV, as well as stopper treatments available on the market. However, if you try your best and still have a solid rusty coat on parts of your RV call a professional. Be prepared to invest in repairment and get ready next time to secure the entire body properly to prevent the damage from happening again.

Here is a list of things to do when cleaning your RV from rust:

  • Inspect your RV and be thorough by checking everything to the littlest nick and cranny.
  • Prepare sandpaper, sander, masking tape, paper or plastic sheeting, quality metal primer, and paint
  • Remove all the rust
  • Use sandpaper to remove all the rust with the appropriate grit
  • Once the surface rust is removed, clean the area entirely and check if you missed anything.
  • Cover (mask) any area you don’t want to get covered with paint
  • Apply primers to prevent future rust from forming
  • After priming and drying, sand lightly
  • Apply two coats of paint to the same method you did the primer

Best Parking Pad Solutions for RV

There are different types of surfaces for parking, as we so obviously noted. There are many factors that impact how ‘safe’ your RV will be on a different surface. In today’s market, there are many alternatives that are more convenient from parking an RV on grass or bare land.

Plastic Tarp

The fastest and cheapest option you have at hand is to get a huge chunk of plastic and spread it over the parking spot you chose for your RV. Start by removing the sod from the parking space. After that, simply stake down a layer of heave (preferably black) plastic.

Keep in mind that your parking spot should be on a slope to allow water to quickly run off the plastic.

This type of material is great because it will keep weeds away from under your RV. Also, the dark color (if you get the black) of the plastic will absorb sunlight, drying much quicker than exposed dirt after rain or any other moisture.

A Washed Gravel Pad

When preparing a proper gravel pad you should start by marking down the place where your RV will be parked. Also, if you want to move it next season (or whenever), and the land you are parking it is soft and prone to becoming too soft and muddy, consider making a gravel pathway to the concrete road.

The parking spot should be prepared similarly to the previous one. Start by removing the sod. Again, place a layer of heavy black plastic on the ground. Keep in mind that the plastic should be slightly sloped to allow the water to just slide off.

After you finish with the positioning pour over the gravel. The amount and type of gravel, as well as the price, depends on your area and supplier. If you are capable of financing the entire project at once, get more gravel and you will be able to do the entire job in one working day.

A good runoff is key to keeping the gravel pad dry and weed-free.

Concrete Slab

When it comes to the king of parking spots, it is concrete.

Make a poured concrete slab the best. It should be located in a way that the water does not pool on top of it. This means that the runoff should be directed from the area. Keep in mind that depending on the type of concrete, starting your RV in heavy rainfall may cause the tires to slide if they are worn out.

Concrete pouring is something you either have a handyman that is experienced in helping you with, or you want to hire a professional to do the job right.

What Type of Terrain Are You Working On?

No matter what type of parking you decide to make, it is extremely important to know what the ground consists of. For example, if you know the pad will be built on clay soil, and you require a lot of support for a heavy RV there are a few things you could consider.

1. Excavate 6-8 inches for the length of the parking space and the driveway. Add some sand or small stones, then top it off with gravel. The layers of different materials are important to keep the larger gravel from simply sinking into the clay.

2. Instead of sand you can ‘pave’ the space with boards instead of doing the excavation and poring the gravel over it. This is beneficial for grass around the parking space, but it will require spraying it to eliminate weeds.

3. The most expensive option is pouring some concrete pads. This requires expert and further planning, probably even some construction permits.

So, Can You Park Your RV on Gravel?

Some claim that parking in grass or dirt will cause rust or corrosion on their recreational vehicles. High moisture levels impact the surface of the metal. Grass or bare land can cause corrosion, small pebbles can chip of paint and scratch the body around the wheels, etc. Some parking surfaces are better than others and it is hard to know which one is the best foundation for your RV.

Like with newer cars, RVs should have a three-coat layer on the body and all of the work (primer& two coats of paint) that prevents the rust from coming at the metal so vigorously. Also, if you have an ‘oldie but goldie’, consider investing in the full service of refurbishing the surfaces inside and out. This way your RV will be freshly painted and protected.

The gravel on its own will not cause any damage, but when you start up the vehicle, don’t drive fast on a gravel surface. Small chips can be catapulted to the edges of the body as the wheels turn and chip off paint and make small scratches. Not noticing this on time can be a perfect loophole for corrosion to leak in. Attention and responsibility are key to being able to use an RV, or any other vehicle for that matter, in the years to come.

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