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RVing message boards => Newcomers' Corner => Topic started by: ekimdoog on January 15, 2020, 06:18:19 PM

Title: 1st RV Advice
Post by: ekimdoog 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
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Back2PA on January 15, 2020, 07:09:45 PM
Welcome to the forum.

First, smart move buying used! Is this private party unit or dealership?
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Isaac-1 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 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.
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Domo 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.
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard 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.
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Isaac-1 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.

Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: ekimdoog on January 21, 2020, 12:58:31 PM
Thanks for all of the great advice and outstanding piece for me is that I don't see anywhere in any literature reference to leveling devices on the Winn Via's.
Does anyone know anything about that? I've been told that without leveling devices it can be frustrating.
Thanks in advance, Mike from Maine
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: scottydl on January 21, 2020, 01:11:14 PM
I bought my first RV at a distance, which was a risk... but I did loads of research on the year/make/model and sought a bunch of advice (most of it from RV veterans here on this forum) before ever considering. The key to ANY enjoyable RV purchase & ownership experience is to take your time and research as much as possible in advance to make sure you know what you want.

I echo all the sentiments about buying gently used, and shopping floorplan and condition over year/make/model. With the exception of high-end luxury models, most RV's (whether motorhome or trailer) are built using similar construction methods and materials. All of them depreciate like crazy and "shakedown" issues in the first year of operation are somewhat common... more reasons to wait it out and buy used once you find a rig (preferably close to where you live) that has been well-maintained and meets your wants & needs.

Visit a large dealership, NOT to buy but just to climb around inside a bunch of RV's and figure out what features and floorplans you like, dislike, want, need, etc. Imagine being "stuck" inside for hours or days if you are traveling and weather is bad, i.e. don't buy something too small. Make a pro's and cons list that you and the wife agree on. Pick an affordable budget and stick to it. Get your education and information from folks here, NOT from a salesperson at a dealership. Most of them are not RV owners and (of course) their objective is to make a sale.

The RV learning curve is somewhat high at first, but you'll catch on the longer you stick around. There are a lot of great folks here that are happy to help! ;D
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: muskoka guy on January 21, 2020, 05:42:15 PM
Ask very specific questions about the condition of the rv. I have been lied to many times, and wasted a lot of time going to look at rvs and equipment. People want to sell their machine, and are not above forgetting to mention something that is a fault. They have been known to purposely take pictures that omit a defect. I drove five hours one way to see a crunch in the front corner of the rv. The owner "forgot" he hit a tree. Of course, all the pictures didn't show it. I even asked specifically about any damage other than noted in the pictures. Buying one within driving distance is more practical, although if you are looking for something very specific, sometimes it cant be found locally. Don't forget to add in the cost of all the travelling when comparing a local one to one 1000 miles away. Its not cheap to fly there, then pay the fuel and time to drive it home. Also you are driving an unknown entity. If all goes well, you will get home without issues. If it has any, finding them on the side of the road in an unknown rv could be a nightmare. Good luck with your purchase.
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: jackiemac on January 22, 2020, 04:43:23 AM
Always check for soft spots which indicate a leak. You may want to hire an inspector to check it over. Be careful who you choose as some are affiliated with insurance companies and are really only trying to sell you something.
Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on January 22, 2020, 08:40:14 AM
one outstanding piece for me is that I don't see anywhere in any literature reference to leveling devices on the Winn Via's.
Does anyone know anything about that? I've been told that without leveling devices it can be frustrating.
Small motorhomes of this type do not typically come equipped with a leveling system.  There are aftermarket systems that can be added and the Bigfoot brand (Quadra Mfg) is one well-known and respected source.   It's an expensive upgrade, probably on the order of $3500-$4000 (which is largely why it's not standard equipment). (

As for frustrating, it depends mostly on your sensitivity to "level" and your attitude toward mechanical chores.   Many people just park and are unconcerned if the rig isn't perfectly level. Others are profoundly irritated if their senses advise the floor isn't quite level (my wife is one of those).  Leveling without jacks is a matter of carrying a few boards or plastic blocks and driving one or more wheels up onto them to get more level. For some that is a chore hardly worth mentioning, while others may have a difficult time judging where to put the leveling blocks and how much height to use.

I would suggest using the manual method for awhile and if it deters your enjoyment. You can always add levelers later.

Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: X-Roughneck on January 22, 2020, 08:18:01 PM
Tags, Title, Bill of Sale.

I have recent experience flying out of TX to Motor City, Detroit Michigan (1300 miles) back in August 2019. Fly / Buy / Drive

We Purchase a Winnebago Aspect 30J we had bought of RV Trader, Private sale.  2019 was last production year and that was my #1 choice to buy.

He had the Aspect on RV trader for awhile and was getting low balled.  His Photos did not represent the coach in a way that was appealing.  I think that worked against him. 

The seller represented the coach in as new condition.  It threw me off a bit looking at the pics because the guy was showing me a Michigan Title, with Pics of the Coach Florida Plated.   

His plates in the pics did not match the Title. Right off the bat I was intrigued but leary.

I sent numerous IMs out to numerous People here at RV Forum.  The same Group of Regulars that are here today.  It was explained that plates being any of SD, FL, TX it was common for people to do it saving considerably on Registration fees with their DMV because it was simple to establish residency in those states.

I actually called seller on the phone, I wanted to hear the quickness or lack thereof when I asked about the Plates and Title.  He answered without hesitation, and I was good.  I knew I had the original OG on the other side and I trusted the guy. I was pissed that the deal that revealed itself sooner that I wanted, the one I could not walk away happened in August not November like I wanted. 

Put that shoe on the other foot and you are rolling in with financing. There is a weird dynamic to a person to person sale in the year 2019-2020 so many scams. You don't want to fall victim too.
I was committed to RVing. I even poured concrete at the Launch Pad Prior to every owning one.  We were all chips to the center of the table. If this one fizzled out I had others I was eyeing as lot buys.

Sometimes the peace of mind may be worth paying the overhead and lot buy, all depends on the person.  How much risk are you willing to accept? 

Private sale is a hassle for sure, but it worked for us.  Combo of good luck mixed with research.  Talk to the seller and ask questions.... maint records, etc. 

Prior to Flying, I purchased Insurance thru USAA/PROG, with a date effective of our RV inspection, and hopeful signing of the Title and Bill of Sale. The Insurance tech told me no sale no worries no charge.
I had a cashier's check in hand.  After our Walk thru (Self) Inspection, Get Rich Quick Training, combo we drove to his bank.

His bank called USAA to make sure the check was good and it was done. Title and Bill of sale in hand.

We went out and had some Great Michigan Mexican Food and we were off by around 4 PM.

I was also prepared to UBer back to Airport and fly back to San Antonio.

I say have your plan "A" buy but maybe watch some similar rigs in case your prospect fizzles. I got myself a RV trader account, you need one so when you set all type of filters, Models, Price, Miles you get the email fro RV trader will email when your rig hits market.  Set you a search up on a Winnebago, one on Brand X, Brand Y and watch what is available.

I was comparing what was being sold used Max options it did not matter, I would compare that to NADA blue book with no options just to get a idea on real pricing.  Somebody somewhere said when pricing used RV. Look it up on blue book and select no options.  Put in all other info and they stated you want to be low side of middle Price shown.  I only used the middle number as I am not going to get totally scammed price. Pricing is not upfront for sure.   

We also did alot of you tubing.  Great Video Tours by MFG, Dealers, RV shows on You Tube.  Someone said earlier, If you can walk the RV lots and jump into the RV.  I told them straight up. I am not buying and we wondered the lot with no supervision.  Fun and we did it for months. Probably only a option if you are in a metro area. 

To me having a Warranty is really no peace of mind.  I thought I wanted to buy out of that big Place in Alvarado TX.  But if your warranty base repair station is 225 miles away what good is it really?  I am out here small town. Mercedes Sprinter, no thanks, who is going to work on it?  We went gas.

I am not a haggler.  I will do my research and I am willing to pay what is fair price to me.

Title: Re: 1st RV Advice
Post by: Isaac-1 on January 22, 2020, 08:32:41 PM
Just be aware if you limit yourself to shopping low NADA on older coaches, you are unlikely to find one with lots of upgrades and maintenance done.  In the case of my current coach the initial asking price was $25,000, average NADA was $15,000, and we settled on $20,500.  The seller had put over $10,000 parts not counting labor into it in the proceeding 2 years, including new tires, batteries, refrigerator, carpet captains chairs, sofa, 400 watts of solar panels, 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter, and $3,000 worth of suspension upgrades.