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Author Topic: 1st RV Advice  (Read 250 times)


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1st RV Advice
« on: January 15, 2020, 06:18:19 PM »
we are nearing retirement and are ready to feel our way into Rv'ing. looking at purchasing a 2018 Winn VIA with 8k miles and very good condition. but far from home. 1,100 miles away

-recommendations on buying this far away for first drive
- this model a decent first rv?
- general advice?

thanks, Mike


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Re: 1st RV Advice
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2020, 07:09:45 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

First, smart move buying used! Is this private party unit or dealership?
2014 Montana High Country 343RL (37')
2011 SD F-250 Crewcab LB 4x4, 6.2 Gas, 10K gross
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Re: 1st RV Advice
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 09:23:52 PM »
The Winnebago VIA is a bit of an unusual motorhome, which I think was discontinued after 2018, being a Sprinter Chassis, but with a class A style body so no cab side doors.  Another similar concept is the Thor Axis/Vegas model, which does much of the same thing, but on a Ford E series van chassis.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the concept, just that most people in the market for a smaller class B / B+ (C without overhead bunk), seem to prefer the models with cab entry doors.  What in effect you end up with is a tiny class A which is 6-10 inches narrower than a modern small class A.

Like all sprinter chassis motorhomes the VIA suffers from limited OCCC (cargo carrying capacity), which seems to average around 1,350 pounds for the VIA models, which is actually much higher than some other Sprinter chassis motorhomes, some Sprinter chassis coaches have less than half this capacity, which I consider nearly unusable without being over weight.  For comparison the slightly larger true class A Winnebago Vista 27N typically has an OCCC of 2,900 pounds. 

If this is an issue for you, or not depends on how light you travel, weight adds up quick in a small motorhome, total up the weight of your passengers, as well as all the stuff you want to carry (including water, food, clothes, BBQ grill, bicycles, tools, camp chairs, pots, pans, dishes, fire pit,  bedding, ....) and if it is over 1,350 pounds the VIA is not right for you.  (note water weighs about 8.34 pounds per gallon and the VIA has a 28 or 29 gallon fresh water tank depending on floor plan (240 pound for a full fresh water tank).

On a personal note, my 28 ft class A has an OCCC of about 3,000 pounds, and when we are loaded for travel , we are within about 500 pounds of capacity.  If I really had to, I could probably shave off 500 pounds of stuff we rarely if ever have used and not really effect us on a typical trip (spare tire, jack stands, big cast iron skillet, various tools, and lots of smaller items, bullet blender, excess camp chairs, outdoor rug, door mat, ...)

Once you get past OCCC limitations, the question is then, does the layout work for you, can you imagine being stuck inside such a small coach for 2-3 days during bad weather?  Which floor plan are you looking at the corner bed, or the rear twin bed layout, do you have good enough mobility to handle either one, as both layouts can be challenging, particularly changing the sheets on a corner bed.

If you get past all this and decide the VIA is right for you, when it comes to buying at a distance, particularly as a first time buyer, I would strongly suggest you hire a professional RV inspector (NRVIA level 2 inspector), you can use the inspector locator tool at NRVIA.org to locate one.  Also if it passes inspection, when you go see the unit to buy it, don't be afraid to walk away if it is not up to your expectations, this can be very hard to do once you have invested your time and money into going to look at it.  Also check the sales tax laws of your home state and selling state, most states will credit you for sales tax paid to other states, or have a reciprocal sales tax agreement, however there are some exception combinations where you may find yourself paying sales / use tax twice.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 09:27:06 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830


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Re: 1st RV Advice
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2020, 08:35:56 AM »
#1 Get the floorplan you want.
#2 Spending $1000 on round trip airfare to go and look at a remote RV is minor in the long run -
#3 There is no perfect RV, no matter the age.
#4 used means the manufacturer installed "bugs" have probably been cured and the original owner has suffered the 30% "out the door" depreciation.
#5 Procrastination means you're not on the road enjoying life and your new community.
Light travels faster than sound.

That's why people appear so bright, until they open their mouths.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: 1st RV Advice
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 09:14:41 AM »
Good analysis by Isaac-1.  As a newbie, you don't know what you don't know, and things like personal space needs, storage for clothing & kitchen equipment, outdoor amenities, etc. are difficult to assess until you actually try living in an RV for a week or two. In fact, you probably won't truly know  YOUR wants & needs for a year or more.

As for buying 1100 miles away, you are setting yourself up for a baptism by fire. Hopefully a 2018 motorhome won't have any serious mechanical or house equipment problems, but the learning experience will often be painful.  I'd plan on camping local to where you buy it for a week or two to get a bit of indoctrination.  If buying form a dealer, plan on spending the first couple days in his parking lot or as close as possible, with a pre-purchase commitment that you get priority on service for any defects found within that time.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL


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Re: 1st RV Advice
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 11:26:11 AM »
Just to add a little more here about buying at a distance, and my own experience, I bought my current coach from a private seller in Florida, nearly 1,100 miles away from where I live in Louisiana (ok, really only 1,042 miles using the route I took to get home, of 938 miles if I were to have taken the most direct route mostly on I-95 and I-10.

In my case the first challenge was simply getting there, the seller was only willing to hold it for 7 days (really wanted to only hold it for 4-5 days, and I had to really push to get them to agree to 7 days), for me to get there to buy it.  There was a lot I had to do in those 7 days, get financing through my local bank (it made more sense than to take a tax hit from liquidating stocks), get an insurance rider for the drive home, get a plane ticket, and of course pack for the trip.  The financing stuff took 2 days of back and forth communications with the seller, getting the VIN, and other pertenant details for the bank such as the sellers address and photo of their drivers license.  Getting the plane ticket on short notice was a challenge in itself, as I live in a fairly remote area, the nearest airport with passenger service is 65 miles away.  The absolute earliest flight I could get without driving to Houston (150+ miles away to the west) would have required multiple connections and arrived at 11 pm on day 6 costing $1,750 one way.  The next best I could do was a flight departing at 4 am locally and arriving at 1 pm on day 7 for $800, which is what I ended up taking.  As you might imagine I was a bit tired after a long day when I arrived at the seller house at 3 pm.

As a result of a long travel day and the nature of the psychology of sunk cost in getting there, I was perhaps a bit more prone to accept shortcomings in the coach than I otherwise might have been.  I was less willing to walk away from the deal, etc.  In my case this was not so bad, the coach had a few more minor dings than I was expecting based on the seller's description and photos, but overall it was fundamentally as described, and I think the seller was overall honest to the best of their knowledge in their description.

This brings me to the logistics challenges of getting home, it is 4 PM on a Wednesday, I am sitting in a Wal-Mart Parking lot a couple of miles from the seller's house, and I have a motorhome, it is mostly bare, as the seller had transferred most of their personal items into their new to them vacation cabin.  I had the basics, water and sewer hose, a couple of power cord adapters, and a few odds and ends in the cabinets, plastic cutlery, a couple of hot pads, but that is about it.  So with the sun going down in about 2 hours (this was in November), I went on a frantic $500 shopping spree in Wal-Mart, buying necessities (pillows, sheets, towels, food, a flashlight, a small tool kit, a set of 3 pots, etc) for the trip home I was on my way with an hour or daylight left and 50 miles to go to the nearest available campground.

This was perhaps the most stressful 50 miles of driving in my life, as I hop on I-95 at rush hour, in what turned out to be a construction zone in my new to me motorhome.  This stress level only went up when off the interstate 8 miles away from the campground destination I realized I had no high-beam headlights, an issue I dealt with the entire drive home.  The seller never drove at night so probably was not aware of this issue with the dimmer switch, but needless to say it did not help with my stress level driving home on those relatively short November days, trying to race the sunset each day to find a place to spend the night.

If I could do all this over again, I would really want to build in a night of rest before going to see the motorhome, instead of going straight there from the airport after having left home 13 hours earlier.

2002 Safari Trek 2830