I researched RVs for almost a year before we settled on the RV we wanted. It took another 6 months to find the one we wanted. If I had the money to just purchase an RV we would have bought the wrong RV to begin with and traded it in a few times.
Actually we would not have traded it in. We probably would have just given up on the idea of living in an RV.
I find it interesting to read what people post up when it comes to RV shopping. This RV has good drawers! The fridge is so big! It’s a diesel!
Let me save you some time. All RVs have the same heart. They don’t die at 100,000 miles and a gas engine RV can go up and down a hill just fine.
I NEED you to understand the most basic truth about RVs. All RVs have the same heart.
RV manufactures don’t build the drivetrain on an RV. They buy “car” part of the RV from General Motors, Freightliner, Ford, Mercedes, etc.
Then the RV manufacture builds the house on top of the chassis.
When you see a $300,000 RV and a 15 year old RV you would be fascinated by the similarities. They have the same dump valves, the same plumbing, the same refrigerator, the same heaters, the same hot water heaters and the same air conditioners.
Often times you are just paying $1,000’s extra for cheap furniture being bolted to a floor. That dining table looks awesome! Too bad the benches are stapled together and covered in fabric! Compare an $80,000 class C to a $180,000 class A. Everything inside will be almost identical.
Compare your $140,000 Class A gasser to a $300,000 diesel pusher. You put a Junior high kid in, and the cupboard doors are going to break around the hinges all the same. Nice job on the fancy joints on the drawers! You still built all the inside walls out of the same crappy wood that is 75% paste.
Granted, you step up to $500,000 to $1million plus RVs and you start getting into bus conversions. They use real wood, marble, and ostrich skin furniture.
I didn’t even know I wanted to sit on ostrich skin!
Even in the Million dollar range they all still use the same plumbing and air conditioners. Granted, they have the space to put 5 air conditioners on the roof instead of 2 or 3.
Each chassis has advantages and disadvantages. Mercedes gives you a small footprint for a house, but gives you 20+ miles per gallon. Currently Ford is the only chassis maker for gas Class A’s but Workhorse is getting back in the picture.
I sort of feel that if you buy a new RV you probably won’t have to worry much. Everything should be covered by a warranty, but I would still greatly consider an extended warranty because you never know.
If you pick up an RV that is more then 5 years old, I think you are probably pretty safe. If it broke, its probably fixed already. If it is a known mechanical or house issue, it probably was already fixed.
If you purchase an RV more then 10 years old its time to be careful. At some point things inside the RV start breaking. Gas engines need filters and services, water heaters need replacing, and window seals start leaking. Just like a car.
Even with all these little problems, if you take your time, you can tackle them as they come up. Water heaters easily slide out, plumbing can be replumbed, and air conditioners can be replaced or fixed. Just understand a $100,000+ RV being sold for $20,000 will need a lot of little updates. If you don’t have to replace it all at once, it still will be cheaper then buying a new RV.
Be smart, buy used parts, do what you can, and when it breaks, just trick a normal handyman to come over and help out. A handyman will say he has no idea about RVs, but honestly, have you ever seen an RV service lot? I am pretty sure many of those workers have no idea what they are doing. They still manage to fix everything, so you can as well!
My point to this article is – be wise. A 1990’s gas engined Bounder has more in common with your brand new entry level diesel pusher then you would think.
I fail to see how emailing the president of Tiffen is so awesome! Yes – people say you should buy a Tiffen ’cause after the dealership screws you, the president of Tiffen will let you camp for free at their dealership while they fix the problems for you.
People like to crab about Thor. Yet the quality of the coaches is so standardized that the $70,000 ACE is sharing interior components with their $300,000 diesel pushers.
People crab about Fleetwood, but I see their 1990’s era gassers are still going strong, and the Wynns seem to doing great.
The fact is most all RV’s have the same chassis in their belly. Even when you see that some of the RVs have nicer drawers and cabinets, they usually are all sitting on a floor that is going to rot when the $3 drain hose out the back of the fridge dies because ALL the dealerships wanted to save a nickel.
RVs are gigantic puzzles. Your RV will not come with a manual. It will come with 40 manuals. I am not kidding. My RV has a small briefcase to hold the manuals. Do you know what happens with your RV needs an oil change? $150 for a gas engine oil change at the dealership or $30 at the Ford dealership.
Your microwave break? You go to Sears and search for a perfect fit for 3 weeks, or you pay $800 for a replacement at the dealership. Your Fridge breaks? $1800 at the dealership or find a used one for sub $400 online to buy.
Don’t get caught up in brand loyalty. It is all the same stuff. Really! If your RV had a retail price of less then $300,000 its all the same stuff. Yes, I love Allison Transmissions and the big old GM v8, but Fords new v10 seems to be going pretty great. Old Workhorse chassis brakes seem to have had issues for a few years, but that was so long ago, if they are not fixed yet, the RV will not run.
If you buy an older RV, you are probably buying a working RV that will need maintenance. If you are buying a new RV, you are buying a year getting things fixed at a shop, and then 10 years of traveling bliss.
Have you heard the saying “pick your floorplan first?” It’s the truth. Gas, diesel, class – none of it is as important as do you like hanging out in your new portable house. Yes, I know you have an exception to everything I have said here, but those are exceptions – and not the norm.
Your motor home is a compromise in every way. Unless you spend more then $500,000. Then it is a really nice compromise.