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Author Topic: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.  (Read 6522 times)

187

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Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« on: November 27, 2011, 10:36:05 AM »
I am a first time RV buyer. I am looking for something to get my family started in camping. I have two small children that are chomping at the bit to go. We have camped with friends in pull behinds and motorhomes and I think a motorhome better fills our needs.

I have been looking for about 6 months. I have looked at class C's and A's and like both types for different reasons. Is one  type better than the other?

I am in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, so most of the options are 1995 to 1997 models. I am leaning towards two campers right now: a 1996 Dutchman Class C 29' with 33,000 miles (Ford 460) and a 1995 Four Winds Class A 30' with 60,000 miles (Ford 460). The Dutchman does not have hydraulic leveling  jacks, the Fourwinds does have them. Both RV's have similar features, i.e. generator, etc. They are about the same price. Everything works in both and there are no leaks, etc.

We are planning on short (weekend) trips less than 200 miles away for the most part.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Jeff Brown

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 10:52:48 AM »
Id say all things equal, drive them both and then decide.  We drove a class c then a class a and would never want to  e way down there in somethint so large.

Jeff
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Bear - strapped to his seat! (9 year old son)
Duncan and Bailey (the dogs) - constantly looking for a different window
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seilerbird

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 11:21:56 AM »
With four people in an RV you are better off with an A. Class As have much more storage room, sleeping spots and larger holding tanks. The price on used As and Cs in your price range are about equal, but you get more with an A. Neither a A nor a C is "better", they are different tools for different jobs. Class Cs are for two people who are casual campers. The more camping you are going to do and the more people you have tips the scales to a class A.

I lived in a 32 foot Class C for a year and I am currently in a 27 foot Class A. Even though the C is 5 feet longer than the A the A feels 5 feet longer than the C on the inside. This is due to the fact that the first 8 feet of a C is basically wasted space. That space is usable in a class A.

One thing you should consider is that no one gets their first RV purchase correct. You might want to consider starting with a $10k (like an early to mid 90s class A) and make sure the RV lifestyle is for you. And most don't get the floor plan right the first time. It takes using the RV for a year or so to really figure out what you want. RVs depreciate like a rock, so the cheaper your first one is the less of a depreciation hit you will take a year later when you sell it or trade it in.

Another thing to consider is renting an RV similar to what you are considering buying for a weekend or two and see how it goes.

jje1960

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  • Jim
Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 11:50:49 AM »
Wondering how you came to the decision to jump into a A or C for your 'toe in the water'....  What vehicle are you going to tow ?  or should you consider a TT or 5Ver for your initial plunge?
Jim
2011 Ford F350 DRW 6.7 Diesel
2011 Cougar SRX

KarenS144

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 12:20:03 PM »
As usual Seilerbird has good advice.  We started our RV experience in a used B+.  There were 2 adults and 2 boxers so to say things were a bit cramped is an understatement.  After that first year, we began to look for a 28-30' Class C and thought that's what we wanted until we toured a Class A.  The same length Class A is waay bigger than the same length Class C because of the usuable space up front.  It's also a lot easier to access the living area from the front seat and I imagine that with 2 kids, there will be a need for access.

Look at floor plans.  A lot of floor plans.  Does either of your choices have a slide?  It's amazing the amount of floor space one gives and with the kids, floor space would be a plus especially if it's raining and they aren't able to get outside as much. 

Have you considered a pop-up?  There are some VERY nice ones that are available now.  Of course, you'd have to have the proper tow vehicle but if you already have a truck.... ;).  You'd have a lot less invested in a pop-up than a motorhome and if camping isn't for you, it would probably be easier to sell.

Good luck!  Let us know what you decide.
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

187

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 01:35:41 PM »
Thanks for the tips.

I have tried camping with friends, in travel trailers and motorhomes. My uncle had a motorhome while I grew up. I simply like the idea of a motorhome better at this time. As far as pulling a vehicle if I need to, I have a Jeep Wrangler to pull if needed.

Neither of the RV's I am looking at have slides.

I'm leaning towards the class A at this time. The guy who is selling it is the second owner and he does have all the service records. Is 60,000 miles too many miles? It's a 1995 Ford 360. It starts and drives fine. Some people say that id way too many miles, others say no big deal. I'm not planning on any real long trips, mostly short weekenders.

KarenS144

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 02:26:02 PM »
I don't know about the mileage... no experience there but you might look into having whatever MH you get, inspected prior to purchasing it.  There are LOTS of things that can go wrong with them other than the motor.  At the very least, have the owner show you that everything works...not just tell you they do.  Look in cabinets & behind doors for water damage.  Has the roof been maintained? 

We tow a Jeep and I would imagine you'd want to tow yours.  All of the equipment necessary to tow one can be switched to another MH if needed.  Once you get camp set up, the last thing you want to do is have to break camp to go get a gallon of milk.  ;)

There might be topics in the "Library" on what to look for in a used MH (although I never have any luck searching!).  Maybe someone will jump in with a link.
Karen
"Traveling" with 1 DH and 2 boxers
2011 Georgetown 280DS

seilerbird

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 02:30:08 PM »
Any old RV you buy will have issues, most of them a lot of issues, albeit small ones usually. If you buy an RV with very low miles it will have one set of problems. If you buy one that is a high mileage unit then it will have a completely different set of problems. 6 of one and half a dozen of another.

I have read somewhere that the average RV is driven 6000 miles per year. So a 16 year old should have 96,000 miles on it so actually that one would be considered low mileage. The number of miles would not be a deciding factor for me. The condition it is in would be a lot more important. 60000 miles on the freeway being properly maintained is a lot different than 60000 miles off road with very little maintenance. 

jje1960

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  • Jim
Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 02:47:30 PM »
Considering this is your first.... Again, think you should sit down at the kitchen table and jot down the expenses and number of times you really believe your going to be out on the road in the coming years.  The maintenance of a C or A can be substantial, TT for the first few years will have minimal maintenance, enough to decide if you are using the unit enough to off-set the costs involved.  Couple times of year for a week or so may prove to be pretty pricey with a A or C.  Just something to think about.
Jim
2011 Ford F350 DRW 6.7 Diesel
2011 Cougar SRX

goldwingerx2

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 06:44:21 PM »
As our kids were growing we had fold-downs then TT and after they left home went to the MH.  One thing to consider with the smaller kids is wanting to see as you go down the road.  Much better view from a auto/suv/truck than a MH for all.  My most important thought would be floor plan sleeping arrangements.   For the money you are talking you can get a much newer TT and have (I would hope) less problems and more reliable appliances as things have improved over the years.  A Jeep is capable of pulling a lighter TT and there are a lot of them out there.  Good luck and if your kids are anything like ours they tell us they have many great memories from out camping/travel in the RV.  They are now into camping with their kids.
Dean & Mary
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 08:29:38 PM »
A Jeep has the capacity to pull 2,000 lb.; certainly not anything except a tent camper. On the other hand, its a great tow'd.
I'd recommend the class A if all else is equal. I don't see 60,000 miles as a non starter if its been well maintained.
One consideration with children is that a C with the overhead bed may be more convenient if both youngsters can use it; otherwise there is really no argument for an older C over the A; they cost the same and the A has more storage, room, and is easier to drive. Note that, unless you want the truck anyway, it increases the cost to where trailers and fivers are just as expensive as motor homes.
Either way, its a great life; enjoy it while you can!
JM2C,
Ernie

Ernie 'n Tara

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Willie1971

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 12:12:02 PM »
I just went through looking at the year models you are looking at.  Anything in the upper 1990's was in poor shape.  Lots of squeaks and rattles.  I ended up with a 2002 and I paid a bit more because all the maint records were there and I was able to get in touch with the original owner.   His name was on some maint bills.  I will say be very careful.  Thats not to say they are not out there but its harder to find.

My theory was I didn't mind paying a tad more for a well maintained unit because one large repair bill can be thousands. 


Good luck


ferfer

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 03:04:23 PM »
Couple things not mentioned is:

1.  check the weights and determine the cargo carrying capacity (CCC) and the tow capacity.  It is amazing how much stuff weights and you may want to tow that jeep.

2.  check how old the tires are.  You need to replace tires when about 7 years old. 

Jennifer
2004 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3500DS  aka QSHOUSE
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red36

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 04:43:05 PM »
Class As are better, but maybe not

You are looking at older MHs.  The engines and transmissions are not as reliable as todays MHs

I would prefer a low mileage class A or medium Mileage class C (less wear on class C due to lower loads).

You would likely be better off with a TT or fifth wheel and a GOOD tow vehicle IMO

But if yo want a MH get the engine and tranny inspected.

I love RVing so I say go for it, but I also would also re think your preferences

Good Luck

187

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2011, 06:02:45 PM »
I went and looked at the Four Winds 30ft Class A again today. I could not find anything that didn't work, i.e. Generator (5000W Onan), fridge, microwave, leveling jacks, etc. The outside has a few dings, etc but all minor (this is an 1995 model). The inside is immaculate. Very clean, no evidence of any leaks or damage (I looked everywhere, inside the cabinets, etc). I'm pretty picky and I was satisfied with the condition for the age (actually looks much newer than it is to me). The ride was fine also in regard to squeaks, rattles, etc. Tires are newer with no signs of cracking, etc.

The only thing that kept me from pulling the trigger is the mileage (62,000). I brought the money with me and yes it did burn a whole in my pocket :) I crawled underneath and could find no evidence of leaks, etc in the engine, transmission, and drivetrain. The frame is still black and does not show signes of rust. While under it, I discovered that it had new shocks. This was owned by an older couple who have upgraded to a newer model with slides.

I am dealing with the son in law on this, who stated that he and his wife have used it for the last couple of years since the parents have had the new one. He said they have not towed anything with it other than a motorcycle trailer.

I can probably get this for under $10,000. They are asking $10,500.

I am leaning towards a Class A.

Any other thoughts?

I appreciate the comments on the TT or a fifth wheel. I have thought about that and have stewed many hours on that over the past several months. We have several friends that camp in those and I have borrowed a couple to try them (I have a 2011 Toyota Tundra so pulling one is not an issue). I also have friends who have motorhomes, including my boss that recenetly purchased a brand new Georgie Boy 36' with multiple slides. (don't get me started!) I have tried both and like the MH route.

Thanks to all that have helped.

PS. This is a great site with a wealth of information!

Larry N.

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2011, 06:34:07 PM »
If that Southwind seems to suit you, and mileage is your main concern, go for it. 62K miles is pretty good -- I'd check that gas/brake pedal, driver's seat, etc. show light wear, consistent with the 62K, since it could have gone around once. But that's decent mileage (somewhat low, actually) for a 1995 model, under 4K per year.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Alfa38User

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2011, 11:31:22 AM »
Quote
Tires are newer with no signs of cracking, etc.


When talking tires, looks don't count!!! Every tire has a manufactured date moulded into the sidewall. Many here consider tires over 7 years old need to be replaced and, since RV tires are very expensive, this fact should be taken into consideration while negotiating a price.

Information on tire date codes can be found here:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?action=Glossary#Tire%20Manufacturing%20Date%20Codes
Stu
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"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

Jeff Brown

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2011, 12:19:08 PM »
We were able to negotiate a substantially lower than book value price on our Bounder because the tires were almost 10 years old.  I went in very low expecting a counter, and I held firm at my very low offer and in these desperate times the private party owner needed the amount he could get as fast as possible.  It is startling but even after financing in the tax and tags then paying cash for tires I believe we still owe less than the rig would get as a trade in, and we have only made about 6 payments on it.

Keeping all of that in mind we still don't think of it as a winning investment, the value will continue to drop especially as the economy continues to "improve" (anyone else been out of work for almost 6 months? *My hand goes up!*)  After searching for quite some time and shopping at every RV lot within almost 100 miles of my Southern California home (I'd guess around 50 RV lots in total.) We found that the lots just don't have the room to make a decent deal.  With the exception of a single Adventurer we looked at every single RV lot we drive by now still has the same rigs we looked at on their sales line.  This is over a year since we began looking.

Jeff
Jeff - Driver
Wife - In complete control!
Bear - strapped to his seat! (9 year old son)
Duncan and Bailey (the dogs) - constantly looking for a different window
2002 Bounder 36S "King Charles the Great Bounder" or "Big Chuck"

scottydl

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2011, 03:50:28 PM »
Another vote for checking the DOT code on the tires to determine age... the last 4 digits in the DOT code will tell you the week and year of manufacture.  Do not rely on appearance or the owner's recollection of their last replacement.

The only thing that kept me from pulling the trigger is the mileage (62,000).

What do you mean by this?  After learning what you've learned here, do you think that number is too high or too low.  Personally it sounds like a fine number to me, even higher could be okay too with the right maintenance.  We bought our '94 Class A in 2007 with 78k miles on it, although that did include a tranny rebuild that had recently been done and tires that were only a year old at the time.

Motorhomes aren't like cars, as far as low miles being desirable in an older unit.   For RV's it's often a sign of trouble because it means the rig has been sitting still unused for a good portion of its life.  That can lead to all kinds of problems.  Fluids and rubber parts need to be warmed and circulated regularly to keep them in good working condition.

It sounds like your inspection(s) have been quite detailed.  Make sure you test the roof A/C, furnace and other LP appliances, and hot water heater (if the plumbing system has water in it).  And reminder... get those DOT codes from each and every tire!  :)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2011, 08:14:47 PM »
Quote
It's a 1995 Ford 360. It starts and drives fine.

Are you sure it's a 360?  Most Class As use the 460 engine.  Just asking because if it is a 360 you won't be able to tow much of a second vehicle.

187

  • Posts: 4
Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2011, 06:32:47 AM »
Yes Ford 460. Typo :)

I will check the tires, thanks for that info.

In regard to miles, that makes sense. My initial feeling was that it was high because quite a few that I looked at had way lower mileage. I don't consider 60,000+ too high, it's just that I have seen others with a lot less. This by far was the cleanest MH I have seen in the year range I can afford, so I am pretty confident that the maintenance has been kept up with.

scottydl

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2011, 01:21:52 PM »
I don't consider 60,000+ too high, it's just that I have seen others with a lot less.

Those others (low mileage) are the ones to be careful of, for the reasons mentioned above.  Lots of time sitting.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Jeff Brown

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2011, 02:44:00 PM »
Our first rig a 93 pinnacle had very low milage and had mostly sat for years, I didn't know any better at the time and we go very lucky.  The generater blew a circuit board durring our initial testting and the water heater also burned a board, other than that and tires it was a serviceable and functional rig.  We put around 6500 miles on that ol gal in the 18 or so months we had her, I think we were very lucky with the tires but we honestly didn't know any better until we were shopping for her replacement.

Jeff
Jeff - Driver
Wife - In complete control!
Bear - strapped to his seat! (9 year old son)
Duncan and Bailey (the dogs) - constantly looking for a different window
2002 Bounder 36S "King Charles the Great Bounder" or "Big Chuck"

Mavarick

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2011, 05:55:17 PM »
Have you actually taken the MH out and driven it yet? If not, then it sounds like that is all that is left. Get it up to running temp and check the drivetrain out as you would a truck. Make sure it does not have heating problems, power, leaks, etc once you run it through it's paces.
Considering you feel confident about the maint records and the rig is obviously well maintained I agree with others here, get it while you can. That is a great price so you can afford to park it and use it when you have time. It will allow you to get acquainted with Rv'ing in general and see if it suits you & the family. I purch my 1st class A in my thirties and never looked back. Owned it a month and headed across country. Life is short, $10k won't even purchase a couple of Harley's.
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ArdraF

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Re: Wanting to purchase an RV. Having trouble deciding which one.
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2011, 06:19:16 PM »
I understand why the OP is looking at motorhomes more than trailers.  One advantage to a motorhome, especially with a family, is safety.  You don't have to take the kids and pets into a truck and then reverse the process when you get where you're going.  You can stop at rest stops, truck stops, etc. and not have to worry about anyone getting hurt in a parking lot because everyone stays in the motorhome for pit stops, lunch, whatever.  If one of the kids gets sick, they can rest on the sofa or wherever rather than being driving around all day and being miserable in a truck because there's no space to lie down.  When it's raining you don't have to take everyone in and out so there are fewer wet clothes to hang up and/or dry out.  Motorhomes are good for people who like to move often, perhaps staying one place only a couple of days to see the sites and then move to another place.  I call these people are "travelers."

An advantage to a trailer with a family is that you can take it to a campground and park it for a week while everyone plays.  You still have the truck to run around in.  Trailers are good for people who like to go to one place and stay awhile.  I call these people are "parkers."

Each person who's deciding on an RV to purchase has to look at their intended way of traveling and what is easiest for them.  We're among the travelers and have never looked seriously at trailers because they just don't fit our "style" of traveling.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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