You are logged in as a guest. 
  Home Forums Home  Search our Forums Search our Forums    Log in to the Forums Log in to the Forums  register Register on the Forums  

 Forums ->  Motorhomes -> Hints and Tips
Jump to page : First 1 Last
Format:  Go
Newbies to motorhomes
Posted: 14 March 2016 9:50 AM
Subject: Newbies to motorhomes
Just joined

Posts: 3

Hi all - I hope i am posting in the right section - we are about to purchase our first motorhome after 2 years of looking - it's an Autotrail Savannah with a comformatic box - hubbie has arthritis in his shoulder and finds manuals very difficult - the van is 7.6 metres long and has a max permissable mass of 4250 - after we have spent a bit of time getting used the motorhome - we intend to travel around Europe - can any one advise what sort of problems we may find with a van this size - ie road tolls, Ferries and of course the roads -
Posted: 14 March 2016 10:04 AM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes

Location: Vanless in Evesham.

Hi Angie and welcome to the forum. I would probably have posted this in Motorhome Matters rather than hints but it matters not as most people will still see it here!

At 7.6 metres it is a big 'un and will present issues like access to and parking in busy supermarket and other car park bays, and on narrow roads should you wish to turn around or reverse, or even let someone pass could also pose something of a challenge.

That said many people drive large vans (and trucks) and with a bit of experience manage perfectly well.

Ferries and tolls will generally cost more but that is the price you pay for space and comfort.

I take it you are aware of the driving license limitations regarding over 3.5 tonnes and whether or how these might or might not affect you now or in the future?

Have you taken the beastie for a good long test drive to include narrow twisty roads including taking it home to see if it will be parkable on your drive - or wherever else you expect to keep it? They do look very big on a small drive!!
Posted: 14 March 2016 10:54 AM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes
Just joined

Posts: 3

thanks for your advice
we are worried about the length but unfortunately our choice of MH is very limited due to requiring an Automatic model and the all important budget - we want a farely new model as well as we will hopefully be keeping for some years
This is the first one that has met most of our requirements in the 2 years of searching - we feel that if we leave it much longer then we will not get the years of Motor Homeing joys due to age creeping up on us we both have class 1 on our driving licence so as far as i understand we are ok for driving this size van until hubby is 70
We are fortunate enough to have land at the side of our house which will accommodate the MH and let us drive on/off easily
We are due for the test drive this weekend so i'm trying to sort out the little niggles i have before making that final decision
i thought there would be additional changes for ferries etc but as you say this is the price will will have to put up with
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 14 March 2016 9:46 PM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes

Location: East Sussex. Motorhome: Knaus Boxstar 600 Street

angieb - 2016-03-14 9:50 AM...........................we intend to travel around Europe - can any one advise what sort of problems we may find with a van this size - ie road tolls, Ferries and of course the roads -

Well, Europe is quite big and, being made of 27 other countries, all with their own laws and customs, is far from a unified state. So, I'd say look at it country by country, and just check what will be needed before you set off. After all, you can't do the lot in one go.

If the van has two axles, and isn't taller than 3.0 metres, it will be charged as Class 2 in France. Over long distances this becomes quite expensive, so many of us just avoid the toll roads. If over 3.0 metres high it will go as Class 3, which is substantially more expensive. But, as a generalisation, France has the highest tolls in Europe. It also has an excellent network of non-toll roads and, if you avoid the trunk routes, and especially if you use the "D" roads, you will generally find relaxed driving with vastly less traffic that is common in UK.

Spain has an excellent road network, and many of their toll roads are duplicated by equally good non-toll dual carriageways. Secondary roads are a bit more mixed, but few have really bad surfaces. In the hillier parts of central Spain, where the ground is less stable, there are problems with parts of carriageways gently subsiding down hillsides, but this is easily seen, and equally easily negotiated.

Portugal, last time we were there, is more patchy, but although some of the more minor roads were a bit rough, the abiding impression I gained was of fairly wide roads interrupted by somewhat narrower drainage culverts, over which one is unlikely to be able to pass oncoming vehicles. Few, if any, of these had priority signs. So, first come, first served!

Italy has a generally good motorway network, generally tolled, and much cheaper than in France. In mountainous areas (which apart from the Po valley is quite a lot of Italy) the carriageways can be a bit tight, and overtaking trucks on some stretches is definitely for the brave! Into Tuscany, the non motorway roads give access to beautiful scenery, but you'll spend days getting anywhere because they ramble and twist and turn through the countryside. So, to get from A to B, the motorways and non-toll dual carriageways become more or less essential.

Benelux and the Netherlands are fairly unremarkable, have toll free motorways, and otherwise good roads. However, motorway routes that follow the French border get very busy with trucks, as the drivers avoid the expensive, tolled, French alternatives. So also do the east-west routes through the Netherlands.

Germany is still toll free on motorways, and the other roads are generally very good and well maintained. The German motorways carry very heavy truck traffic on the main east-west routes, almost resembling a conveyor belt in both directions, to the extent that on some trucks are banned from the overtaking lane during specified times of day. There are still extensive stretches if motorway with no speed limit, and German drivers tend to exploit this freedom to the maximum. Watch your mirrors intently before changing lane! There are miles of rural road through the Black Forest with 70kph speed limits, which can get a bit tedious. The biggest problem we encountered on German motorways were extensive hold-ups, and quite lengthy diversions, due to large scale rebuilding. So, route planning needs extra breathing space to avoid time related stress.

Re ferries, you'll probably have to pay extra for length, but different companies put the cut-off at different lengths. Oddly, I don't think the tunnel does charge extra for longer vans.

AT vans are generally a bit narrower than their continental built counterparts, and you will find this an advantage in towns/villages. Length, apart from being more awkward in tight turning places, is less of an encumbrance, IMO, than width.

Be aware that the Comfortmatic box does not drive in quite the same way as a full automatic, and can need a degree of manual prompting to change down on hills - though I get the impression the 3.0 litre overcomes this through the extra engine power available. It's fine, but it can take a bit of getting used to, depending on what expectations you have at the outset.
Posted: 15 March 2016 9:45 AM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes
Just joined

Posts: 3

Thanks Brian

Hopefully we will have many years motoring if the van drives well and the purchase goes ahead - can't wait to explore - your knowledge has been a great hep and i'm sure i will be back once we have a van for more advice
userDerek Uzzell
Posted: 16 March 2016 7:49 AM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes

Location: MODERATOR - 2015 Rapido 640F LHD 2.3ltr 150bhp

Brian Kirby - 2016-03-14 9:46 PM

...If the van has two axles, and isn't taller than 3.0 metres, it will be charged as Class 2 in France...

Strictly speaking that statement should read

"...If the van has two axles, and isn't taller than 3.0 metres, it will PROBABLY be charged as Class 2 in France...”

Autoroute Category 2 relates to 2-axle vehicles with an overall height from 2 to 3 metres and a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) not exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

If a 2-axle vehicle’s height exceeds 3 metres OR its GVW exceeds 3500kg (which would be the case for Angela’s proposed 4250kg motorhome) the vehicle should be charged the Category 3 toll-rate.

Having said that, it’s common knowledge among UK motorcaravanners that a 2-axle motorhome with a GVW over 3500kg will almost always be charged the Category 2 autoroute toll-rate (because - to the best of my knowledge - autoroute toll-booths do not have weight-measuring equipment). It’s also well-known that, even if a 2-axle motorhome exceeds the 3 metres height threshold (and thus should be in Category 3) it’s often possible to get the vehicle treated as Category 2 if one complains.

This website has a lot of useful information about French autoroutes

and this webpage shows the vehicle categories that relate to the tolls

(There seems to be a wide-spread belief within the UK motorcaravanning fraternity that ‘camping-cars’ are all classified in autoroute Category 2 irrespective of their height, weight or number of axles. It ain’t so...)
Posted: 25 March 2016 4:54 PM
Subject: RE: Newbies to motorhomes

Forum master

Posts: 3112
Location: Cleveland Autocruise Alto Peugeot 2013

Before you do purchase it I suggest your hubby has a test drive, I cant understand why people that have never had a MH before get such a big beast, a 6mtre one would be much easier to handle, one of the things we had problems with in our 6' Alto was getting in to some of the allocated sites abroad they can be very tight and the turning circle you need is in many places narrow. Also the roads unless you are using Motorways all the time can be difficult.

If you do decide to go ahead I would definitely get a Sat Nav with the option of putting in what you are driving so you dont go on any roads that you need to turn around on. Good luck.
Jump to page : First 1 Last
Printer friendly version
E-mail a link to this thread
Jump to forum :

(Delete all cookies set by this site)(Return to Homepage)

Any problems? Contact the administrator