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How Wide Are RVs and What’s the Legal Limit?

How Wide Are RVs and What’s the Legal Limit?

Getting an RV is exciting! You can’t wait to make memories with your friends and family as you travel to local campgrounds on the weekends. Usually, new owners have considered the weight and length of the RV. However, sometimes RVers forget to measure the width of their new rig. How wide is your RV? If you don’t know, it’s quite important to find out.

Let’s walk through why it’s important, how you can find out your width, and where you can legally travel.

What Is the Average Width of an RV?

Most RV’s are between 96″ and 102″ wide. This doesn’t include mirrors or other safety equipment. Some states have a limit of 8.5’ while others have a limit of 9’. But the vast majority of states maintain the 102” width maximum. So it’s certainly important to know the width of your particular RV while also knowing the regulations of roads you’re traveling on.

RV width
Not all RV’s are the same width

What’s the Maximum Width of an RV?

The maximum width of an RV is 9 feet with mirrors. When you consider that the average car width is a narrow 6’6”, you can see how it can be more difficult driving a 9’ wide RV down a road designed for car travel. Highway roads are about 12’ wide, which doesn’t give a lot of room on either side of a 9’ wide RV. But city streets can be much more narrow. Sometimes inner-city lanes can be as small as 10’ wide. When you add side mirrors into the equation, that doesn’t leave much room for a wide RV.

Do RV Widths Change With RV Type?

The smallest motorhome, the Class B, is around 7’ wide, which means you can travel most places easily. The largest motorhome, the Class A, can be about 9’ wide including the mirrors, which causes some problems on some narrow roads. Class C motorhomes are in the middle with a width of 8”. Towable RVs also vary in width. Both travel trailers and fifth wheels range from 96″ wide to 102″ wide but usually average around 8’6”.

Keep in Mind: Size isn’t the only thing that matters! So does weight. Learn more about The Most Important Question New RVers Don’t Ask: RV Weight.

Weighing the RV the easy way with the Weigh my Truck App | How and why to weigh your RV or Motorhome

As already mentioned, most states have an 8’6” width maximum because it’s the average. But there are some states with a smaller 8’ maximum and one state with a larger 9’ max. Most of these regulations reflect narrow roads. Extra-wide RVs may require a special permit.

States With an 8’ Maximum

Although the District of Columbia isn’t a state, it does have an 8’ maximum regulation due to its narrow streets. Can you imagine driving a Class A motorhome through traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue to see the National Mall? Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and West Virginia are also states with 8’ maximum widths. Delaware has an 8’ maximum for motorhomes and an 8’6” maximum for trailers.

Truck towing RV on highway
Know before you go! Make sure to measure your RV before you hit the road.

But this 8’ maximum only pertains to smaller roads, except in the District of Columbia, where it remains set at 8’ no matter what road you’re traveling on. According to the RVIA (RV Industry Association), all RVs are allowed to travel on “designated roads” in any state as long as they don’t exceed the 8’6” maximum. These roads include highways, roads built with federal funds, and roads with lanes at least 12’ wide. The 8’ maximum comes into play when traveling off of the interstate. So if you’re just passing through Tennessee from North Carolina to Arkansas on Interstate 40, your 8’6” fifth wheel is fine.

States With a 9’ Maximum

The only state with a 9’ maximum width regulation is Hawaii. Massachusetts does have a 9′ maximum width for motorhomes but maintains the standard 8’6” width for trailers. However, most RVers won’t be taking their RVs across the Pacific Ocean. Usually, trips to Hawaii include stays at hotels or Airbnbs. If you want to RV through Hawaii, it will probably be cheaper to rent an RV once there rather than trying to get your vehicle on a ship.

We have rented an RV in Hawaii and can say that a narrower RV would be the best choice on some of their tight roads. Were not sure why the limit is 9 feet other than they are more lenient with road restrictions in general.

RV parked in the desert.
Keep in mind when measuring that each state has different size requirements.

How Do You Measure Your RV?

When you measure the width, choose the widest point of your RV like the ladder or any other protrusion. Measure with and without the mirrors if it’s a motorhome so you know both measurements. The owner’s manual may or may not be accurate, so it’s best to measure for yourself. These manuals are sometimes more general and not specific to your exact unit. Instead, they print the same manual for thousands of the same RV. 

Take just a few minutes to measure not just the width but also the length and height of your particular RV. Don’t include mirrors, awnings, or slide-outs when measuring the width. But when measuring the length and height, you want to include everything (air conditioning units, bumpers, etc.) because these measurements are essential for clearance and campsites.

How Wide Is an RV With Its Slides-Out?

Slide-outs vary in size. Even in the same RV, if there are multiple slide-outs, they won’t all be the same size. Generally, a slide-out will create an extra one to three feet of space. If you have opposing slide-outs, then that space doubles. So if your living area has two opposing slides that both extend three feet, you have an extra six feet of living space to watch TV, play games, work, etc. Add this six feet to the average 8’6” width of most RVs, and your width is now around 14’6”.

Obviously, slide-outs don’t affect the drive down the road. When the extra width matters is when you’re set up in a spot for the night. Campsites can be cramped, so you might not be able to push out all of your slides if you get a small space. If you make an overnight stop at a Cracker Barrell, your slides will extend over the parking space. So just be considerate of others when stopping in those kinds of locations for the night.

Pro Tip: Want to know more about slide-outs? We uncovered what you need to know about RV Slide-Outs: Get Enormous Space, But At What Cost?

RV parked along water
Don’t get stuck squeezing into tight spaces! Know the width of your RV.

What Is the Width of an RV Parking Spot?

A normal parking spot is 9′ wide by 18′ long. A Class B motorhome and some Class C motorhomes will fit in those spots. However, towable RVs and motorhomes won’t fit in a regular parking spot. According to the ABA standards, an RV parking spot must be a minimum of 20′ or 16′ wide in the case of a second adjoining space. These standards apply to federally funded locations, including camping and picnic areas. Non-federally funded locations can use this guideline for reference when creating separate RV parking spaces.

Truck towing RV on highway
RVs on average have a width of 8’6″.

How Wide Should an RV Garage Be?

If you’re simply storing your RV and not planning on opening up the slides or having access to the inside, then an RV garage should be no less than 10′ wide. You won’t have room to walk around the vehicle if you don’t have that added foot or so on either side. However, if you want to be able to get inside your RV or push out the slides, you’ll certainly need more than 10′ of space. Again, if you have opposing slides, consider the additional space on both sides of the RV. You may need an RV garage as wide as 16′ or 20′.

RVs Are Wider Than Other Vehicles

So how wide is an RV? Generally, RVs average 8’6”, which is the maximum width allowed on roads in most states. Special permits are issued for loads wider than 102” or in states where the limit is only 8′. These special permits are for heavy loads and oversized vehicles, and usually, you don’t need one of these permits. Don’t forget to know the length and weight requirements as well.

Have you measured your RV? Do you know how wide you are going down the road? Drop a comment below!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sam P

Monday 17th of January 2022

I remember taking out the passenger mirror going though a N.Y. State towel both. Good thing they are taking them down. That was costly. Ouch !!

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 20th of January 2022

Yikes, that must have been terrifying!

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