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Author Topic: older class a's - why is price so low?????  (Read 488 times)

kstone1960

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older class a's - why is price so low?????
« on: September 14, 2020, 09:41:05 AM »
I have just started looking at used Class A's (can't afford a new one), and have come across some in the area that are pretty old, but seem to have very few miles on them and are relatively inexpensive (for example, a 1998-2001 motorhome with 40-60,000 miles asking $20k to $35k).  My first reaction is to be highly suspicious that there is something materially wrong with the unit, and I am buying someone else's problem.  But then I think maybe its priced so low because its so old, then I wonder if its worth taking a chance to get 2-4 years of use to see if we want to then upgrade.  I know the answer is probably "it depends", but any advice/thoughts would be appreciated.  This is all new to me.  Thank you.

Roy M

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2020, 10:18:54 AM »
Welcome! I think you answered your question, a unit that old is going to be a money pit unless meticulously maintained especially with your lack of experience. Wait until life gets back to normal and you have more saved.

NY_Dutch

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 10:23:06 AM »
Motorhomes depreciate pretty rapidly the first few years, losing as much as 25% as soon as they leave the lot when new. The older they get the slower the prices drop. Most motorhomes don't run up a lot of mileage in their lifetimes since they don't typically spend a lot of time on the road. 5-6,000 miles a year is fairly common. You can check the NADA RV price guide to get an idea of how the prices run on specific years and models.Keep in mind the location and time of year are always pricing actors, as well as condition of course.

https://www.nadaguides.com/
Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 10:30:47 AM »
A couple reasons, which together limit the market demand and therefore lower the price.

1. Some folks (like you, maybe) are simply suspicious/fearful of anything "old" and therefore won't buy or will pay only bargain prices.
2. Coaches of that era are mostly single or no-slide models and less spacious than newer multi-slide models. Larger rigs with more slides are more in demand.


MILEAGE:   Motorhomes are typically much lower mileage than cars of the same year. It's more "house" than vehicle and most don't see a lot of miles/year.
3. Cosmetic - the exterior is often faded, decals worn, and small dings have been accumulated over the years
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

free2bme801

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2020, 10:40:19 AM »
Your experience seems similar to mine. I began looking to buy,  in the April-May time-frame, not specifically looking for a class-A, but something that would fit our needs and be an entry-level unit. Anything we would purchase was going to get an interior remodel, so I found buying an older Class-A, with a chassis in good condition (tires, engine, transmission, etc) to be the sweet spot for availability and price, because many of the smaller Class-Cís often sold before I had a chance to research them and do a thorough inspection. I found lots of good buys, but knowing I was going to do a lot of repairs and upgrades cosmetically as well electrically and mechanically, drove my choice to spend less on the initial purchase, as I had plans to make it my own.
Bill
USAF (Ret)
Home base Omaha, NE
1998 Fleetwood Discovery 36T DP
2017 Honda Accord
1990 Mazda Miata

Isaac-1

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2020, 10:55:20 AM »
As an owner of a 2002 model motorhome, which I bought in 2016, I will say this, a lot of it comes down to condition, and how it has been maintained, though even a well maintained 20ish year old motorhome will likely require more ongoing maintenance than a newer model, as there are lots of parts that age out, that will slip though the cracks even on a well maintained coach.  It also helps if you buy a better built higher end coach, simply put full body paint outlasts vinyl decals, solid wood cabinet work outlasts particle board, and fiberglass or Aluminum roofs outlast EPDM / TPO rubber membrane roofs.

Even with buying a fairly well maintained and updated 2002 coach, I still find myself spending somewhere around $3,500 per year or so maintaining it on average, even this year with little or no travel several little issues have cropped up, including fixing a few things that broke on our last trip 10 months ago.  The list of things in the last year that have broken, been fixed, or are somewhere on the to be fixed list include:  replacing the dash air blower motor, repairing the wiring harness for the power seat, replacing the furnace safety switch, upgrading the older failing LED interior lights, replacing the rubber brake lines going to the ABS module (old ones were oozing), replacing the reservoir on the APB tank, replacing the dash air conditioner condenser, replacing the carburetor on the Onan generator, and probably a few other things.  Each year the list is similar, generator starter, alternator, fan clutch, ball joints, shock absorbers, batteries,sway bar bushings, propane regulator, ... Now it is time for new tires as they are aging out turning 7 years old next month, and I suspect it will be time for a new roof air conditioner soon,...
2002 Safari Trek 2830

SeilerBird

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2020, 11:34:55 AM »
You are correct. An RV will last as long as the owner takes care of it properly. The problem is that most RV buyers are old(retired) and eventually RV maintenance effectively stops. Then the motorhome sits, not being used. Non-use really damages an RV. All the rubber dries out. The tires need to be replaced, all the rubber seals become solid and leaky. The roof will desperately need resealing. And so it goes for the whole RV. The national average use of an RV is about 6000 miles a year. So a 20 year old RV with 60,000 miles on it has ten years of 6k per year and ten years of sitting.

The main reason they are priced so low is because it is usually cheaper to buy a new RV in much better shape that does not need a ton of work done. Old RVs are not cheap, they are basically used up. Generally speaking for any RV under $20k you can essentially double the price after all is said and done.

sadixon49

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2020, 11:46:13 AM »
Or as the old saying goes, " The only thing worse on an RV than using the RV, is not using the RV".
steve
2019 Jayco Redhawk 31Xl
E-450 Ford, 6.8 V-10
EEZRV TPMS

Isaac-1

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2020, 11:57:21 AM »
One other factor to consider, is that most lenders will not finance loans on RV's over about 12 years of age, which reduces the pool of potential buyers to those that can pay cash, or manage some form of alternative financing.  As to that under $20,000 price point I tend to agree, though feel it gets a lot worse under about the $15,000 price point, though there can always be bargains out there.  Note when I bought mine the asking price was $25,000, which I neggociated down to about $22,000 which I consider a good price as the previous owner had put over $10,000 worth of parts alone into it in the preceding 2 years before I bought it.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Mark_K5LXP

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2020, 12:51:40 PM »
Anything old enough to vote and certainly approaching quarter century mark it isn't a case of if, or even when, but how bad it's gone to hell.  Plastics are brittle and will crack.  When those plastics are engine and electrical parts, you can be chasing some rather elusive problems.  Same for rubber - every single hose, seal and bushing is getting stiffer by the day.  This goes no matter how "well maintained" the coach is overall.   Few owners disassemble the entire chassis are replace every single wear item.  Finding parts for an older chassis can be more of a challenge too.

The other side of it is you get what you get.  If the thing runs and it does what you need, then accept it for what it is.  You can go through it replacing "critical" items then either live with ongoing problems or address them as you go.  There's a bit of comfort level in having something that's depreciated about as much as it's going to get.  A lot of the "bad" stuff has already happened to it so you're not as worried about cosmetics or maintaining provenance of original equipment.  You're more free to try stuff with it, maybe tear out some cabinets, put in some different appliances or cut a hole for a new window.  It might not be the ideal candidate to throw the family in and take a two year tour of the country in but if that's what you're looking to do, you're not in the market for a 20+ year old RV anyway.

How much risk you take is going to depend a lot on how much repair and restoration work you're willing to do.  If the answer is "none" then you're definitely looking for something newer.  From there factor in what you're willing and able to do and decide if that's a fair trade for a low admission price.  Water damage is probably a deal killer no matter what, most anything else is addressed with as much time, money and work you care to invest.

Mark B,
Albuquerque, NM

Utclmjmpr

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2020, 01:22:46 PM »

 There is something to be said about some of the older "classics that have survived the test of time..  I just saw a older Foretravel back when they were called Unihomes,, this coach was in great condition, a 40 foot pusher with the timeless look that gets looks every where it goes..>>>Dan
Vary rare American Tradition 38TT/330 turbo Cummins
Last year Jeep liberty 4 down
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Cedar City, Utah
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You can't fix stupid,, but you can numb it with a 2X4

Isaac-1

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2020, 01:31:26 PM »
I think we are all saying about the same thing, the question is really how many frogs do you have to kiss before finding the right one, when shopping for any older coach.  As to the plastic aging, this is another reason to buy what was sold as a higher end coach, as they tend to have less plastic interior items, ie a fiberglass shower in an upper end coach be be showing a few stress cracks in 20 year old motorhome, but a plastic shower will be brittle and crumbling.  The same goes for kitchen and bathroom sinks, molded corian or stainless steel sinks may show some signs of age, but will likely be functional vs the low end plastic sinks which have yellowed and brittle.  Neither of which helps with the plastic and rubber parts that are mechanical, think steering and suspension bushings, generator fuel line, rubber sections of brake hoses, propane regulator diaphragm, then of course there are the RV appliances many of which seem to have about a 15 year service life (air conditioners, refrigerators, water heater, etc.).

When I started shopping for my current coach in 2016, I had decided I wanted a Safari Trek, production of Treks stopped in 2007, so I knew I would be buying used.  The first one I looked at showed up for sale just 3 miles from my house, a week or two after I started considering a Trek, it was a private seller, asking $9,0000 for a 1996 2830, it looks good in the online ad photos for the price, so I went and looked at it.  This was a real lesson in what selective photography and low resolution ad photos can hide.  While I would not say it needed to be towed to the junk yard, it was close, the seller was down to $4,900 or make offer when I walked way.  Just adding up the stuff that was broken came to well over $10,000 (generator, air conditioner, water heater, refrigerator, ...) not counting the water damage, and cosmetic stuff, or that the tires were ancient, perhaps original.  Eventually after much shopping, I bought my current coach from a private seller 1,100 miles away for a bit over $20,000, it was the same floor plan as the money pit one I had looked at close to home, but 6 years newer, and in MUCH, MUCH better shape.  This is not to say mine is perfect, there are some paint blisters I need to have fixed (local body shop has quoted about $2,000 to fix the worst of them), even though the previous owner had replaced the living room carpet, it is getting time to do it again, ...

p.s. regarding the last post, people that could afford a Unihome Foretravel when it was new, could also afford to keep it in a climate controlled garage.   It is simple economics, it makes far more sense to keep a million dollar coach in a $200,000 garage than it is does to keep a $100,000 coach in a $200,000 garage.  Of course a 20 year old Foretravel U320 in good condition is still going to sell for around $75,000 today.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 01:35:13 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

scottydl

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2020, 03:41:49 PM »
For the educational reasons Isaac mentioned, I think it IS worthwhile to look at older/cheaper coaches. It's a great learning tool for someone new to the RV world, and there's always a chance you might find a diamond in the rough... an older RV that was well cared for and regularly maintained, and is priced reasonably. I might classify both of the RVs I've bought as belonging in that category, so I know it's possible! But you do need to do lots of research and know (to the extent possible as a newcomer) what you're looking at as a buyer, or you'll end up buying way more problems than you may be equipped/willing to deal with. Look at a lot of rigs, as many in person as possible... which will make it much easier to spot a great unit/price/condition when you see it, as well as walk away from a neglected or worn out one.

RVs (motorhomes anyway) are kinda the opposite of cars, where you'd normally WANT really low miles. With an RV it is much better for a rig to have been driven and used (and thus maintained and repaired) regularly. A unit that sat mostly unused in a shed/yard/driveway for several years is going to have plastic and rubber parts that have dry rotted over time, engine fluids or fuel that has gone bad, or past/current rodent infestations that you might not see right away. UNLESS the owner has taken steps to avoid those things, exercise/drive the rig regularly, etc. And you won't know that until you go look and ask lots of questions. Check out our forum library link for some good reading, and especially the Newcomers articles and Checklists area that has Used RV Buyer Checklists and other helpful resources.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 03:44:57 PM by scottydl »
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
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TheBar

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2020, 07:16:35 PM »
You can find a diamond in the rough but it takes a lot of work and patience. I shopped all the online sites every day for 3 months. I was in the market for anything less $50k so I could pay cash. I did finally look at a 17 year old Class C for $8K. It was the diamond kept inside its whole life with 56,000 miles. Altogether it cost me another $2,000 on tires, belts,hoses, fluids, etc. (with me doing the work). Six years later no problems. If you buy something old maintenance will be cheaper on a Class C because all the running gear for a Chevy or Ford van can be found in any small town and parts are cheap.
Retired computer automation programmer
1997 30' Class C plus 2008 popup
DW loves camping more than I do!

Isaac-1

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2020, 08:16:05 PM »
Since you are talking about circa 20 year old class A motorhomes, let me offer one more word of warning, research any potential fantastic deals before you buy, as otherwise you may find yourself buying a truly orphaned coach with some unobtainable parts. 

Let me use the example of the Chevy / Workhorse P12 chassis, the P12 chassis was meant to be a beefed up P30 series chassis that could support larger gas class A motorhomes that were being designed in the late 1990's, In many ways the P12 was the predecessor to the W18/W20 chassis, though with no parts in common.   The P12 chassis shares some parts in common with the much more popular P30/P32 chassis family, though much of the front suspension was unique to the P12.  Unfortunately the P12-was only built for a couple of years, 1998-1999 I think, before it was replaced with the completely redesigned W series.  There were some nicer upper level gas coaches built by some well known brands on the P12 chassis, though now 21-22 years later the real kicker is that only a couple of hundred of these chassis were ever built and many of the front suspension components are unobtainable.

There are other examples of this involving component availability, etc.  Another one from Workhorse was the redesigned P32 rear suspension offered around 2005, which was introduced just in time for P32 production to stop in 2006.  Or the Torsional Elastic Suspension system from Safari coaches built with the optional Velvet Ride suspension package, though at least in this case there is a shop or two around that will convert them to air bag suspension, as the torsional elastic parts have been discontinued by Firestone(?).
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 08:18:09 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

free2bme801

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2020, 09:03:33 PM »
Your experience seems similar to mine. I began looking to buy,  in the April-May time-frame, not specifically looking for a class-A, but something that would fit our needs and be an entry-level unit. Anything we would purchase was going to get an interior remodel, so I found buying an older Class-A, with a chassis in good condition (tires, engine, transmission, etc) to be the sweet spot for availability and price, because many of the smaller Class-Cís often sold before I had a chance to research them and do a thorough inspection. I found lots of good buys, but knowing I was going to do a lot of upgrades inside and out, drove my choice to spend less on the initial purchase, as I had plans to make it my own.
Bill
USAF (Ret)
Home base Omaha, NE
1998 Fleetwood Discovery 36T DP
2017 Honda Accord
1990 Mazda Miata

kstone1960

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2020, 06:22:02 AM »
Thank you very much for all the input everyone.  Greatly appreciate your insights and experiences.

Ex-Calif

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  • Dan from Dayton...
Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2020, 08:02:14 AM »
There is probably an inverse relationship necessary between how much you can fix yourself vs. how old an RV you can handle.

There are a couple of ages that are financial. As mentioned there is a max age on which one could get financing and at least for my insurance company they won't provide comprehensive insurance on RVs older than 25 years.

The original quoted purchase prices of 25-35k are not insubstantial numbers and not a number I would "dive in and see how it goes" for my wallet.

In the age range we are talking about it is rarely about depreciation any longer. It is probably 90% condition. If you can't figure out the condition you are playing roulette.

Generally boats and I am finding RVs take about $300 a month in this age range to keep them serviceable. You take a $24,000 RV and do no maintenance for 5 years it probably needs $15k worth of work...
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
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Ex-liveaboard boater - Class A newbie in sponge mode

Isaac-1

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2020, 09:19:13 AM »
One other thing people often fail to consider when looking at older RV's is that value is not all about the relative age and condition, but also about advances in design, styling, etc.  There is a reason other than simple depreciation that a 15 year old coach may be more desirable than a 20 year old coach, and that a 20 year old coach may be more desirable than a 25 or 30 year old coach.  As the newer coach may have a better / more powerful engine, better transmission, etc. not to mention the issue of those awful 1990's purple and teal green on cream background color schemes.

When looking at gas powered coaches there are a few key dates to keep in mind, first off anything built before the early 1990's may likely have a carbureted engine and a 3 speed transmission which will struggle to do 55 mph.  So unless you can do all of your own engine work, and don't mind taking your time getting places these should be discounted out of hand, when was the last time you saw a carburetor shop?  Remember when every small city had one, now there are whole states that don't have one.

Now for the 1990's, and key dates, 2 of which I want to note as potentially important, 1995 when R134a refrigerant was mandated for dash air conditioners (sure you can retrofit the older ones, but they often leak if converted to R134a, which is now being phased out over the next few years).  The second and more important is 1996, the year the OBD-II diagnostic interface was mandated, it also is still with us today, though in a more evolved form.  It is hard to find a mechanic these days that has a clue of how to diagnose and engine issue if he can't plug his computer into the OBD-II port, so again unless you can do all your own work, buy something built after 1996 with an OBD-II port.

Other key dates, 1996 was also the introduction of the 290 HP 454 / 7.4L Vortec MFI engine on Chevy / Workhorse chassis coaches, it replaced the similar named 230 HP 454 / 7.4L TBI engine, and was a noticeable improvement in design.  On the Ford chassis coaches, 1999 saw the introduction of the 6.8L V10 which continued being produced though with some upgrades until just recently.  Then in 2001 we saw the introduction of the 340 HP 8.1L Vortec engine on Chevy / Workhorse side, this was a substantial design improvement over the 7.4L Vortec, with a 50% longer design service life, though the 8.1L does still have its weak points, and quirks one should be aware of.  On the Transmission side Workhorse first got a 5 speed transmission with the introduction of the W series chassis in about 2001, though P series continued with a 4 speed until they were discontinued in 2006, which I think is the same year that the W series were upgraded to a 6 speed transmission.  I am not sure about Ford's but think they did not get a 5 speed until 2006 (someone correct me if I am wrong), with the major redesign of the Ford F53 chassis, which has lasted until now.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Tom55555

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2020, 10:45:05 AM »
I've never purchased a Class A. I prefer a pick-up truck ride and Ford and Chevy make crash tested, reliable and cheap to keep chassis'. When you pull into an oil change or service shop in a standard Ford or Chevy chassis the answer is normally "sure, we can do that."

I'm more handy than good looking but I would pass on buying a 20 year old Class A and I sure wouldn't sell one to a friend. Most would be a money pit. Better off getting a good price on a newer unit and taking the depreciation in my opinion.

« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 10:47:30 AM by Tom55555 »
2015 Winnebago 22R

garyb1st

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Re: older class a's - why is price so low?????
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2020, 04:14:43 PM »
I have just started looking at used Class A's (can't afford a new one), and have come across some in the area that are pretty old, but seem to have very few miles on them and are relatively inexpensive (for example, a 1998-2001 motorhome with 40-60,000 miles asking $20k to $35k).

In 2014 we bought our first motorhome for $22,000.  It was a 15 year old 1999 32' no slide Rexhall Aerbus with 70,000 miles.  We drove it for 3 years and added 30,000 miles.  Other than for one minor $150.00 engine problem, it never missed a beet.  The only major expense was a leaking black tank.  That was pricey and beyond my DIY ability.  The tank itself was about $5-600. 

From the outside, it looked like it was well maintained.  That's key from my limited perspective.  A Carfax report indicated 3 prior owners and licensing location so we knew it was owned in areas where weather was not a huge problem.  It needed tires and batteries.  That's almost a given with an old coach that's priced on the low end.  At the end of the day, it turned out to be a great first motorhome. 

FWIW, the price included a 2006 Chevy HHR and since the sellers were older and no longer RVing maybe another $1,000 of RV stuff.  Bottom line for me, an older well maintained motorhome from a senior can be a great option. 
Gary B1st

2005 Pace Arrow 35G
2016 Jeep Wrangler


Poverty exists not because we cannot feed the poor, but because we cannot satisfy the rich.