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Author Topic: RV Maintenance and Repair - Expected Tasks and Costs over 10 to 15 years  (Read 22400 times)

Mr_Toad

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Hi, RV Forum Folks!

LIKELY HOUSE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR COSTS:   Now that I’ve owned my first house for six years, I’ve learned that "brick and mortar" homeownership carries a series of ongoing maintenance costs and out-of-pocket repair expenses, that a homeowner should expect to pay.   And that a homeowner should be prepared to pay these costs at some time in a ten-year period of owning a home.   Specifically, for a 2000 square foot brick home (purchased in 2005, built 1997), some typical house repair costs that I have paid include:  (a) new appliances, $2000; (b) cedar fence repair, $1000; (c) shingle roof repair, $6000; (d) air conditioning repair, $6000; (e) hot water heater replacement, $1000; (f) miscellaneous plumbing repairs, $1000; (g) lawn and shrub maintenance, $50/ month; (h) tools, supplies, minor household repairs and expenses $2000; and (i) preparing house for sale in 2012, $10,000 (expected value).       :P

QUESTION – LIKELY RV MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR COSTS:   Can some of you describe the ongoing maintenance and major repairs, and dollar costs, that a full-time RV’er can expect to encounter over a ten to fifteen year period?   

CAVEAT:    I am sure this is an “it depends” question.   However, homeownership has taught me the “probable repair costs” that I listed above.  So, it seems logical that RV ownership carries its own list of “probable repair costs”, over a ten to fifteen year period.

RV PURCHASE PLAN (TENTATIVE):  My current plan is to sell my house and purchase a new Thor Redwood 36FB fifth wheel…to live in for 15 years, getting me to the age of 70 (…though I am probably deluding myself.)

Thank you in advance for any advice or horror stories you may provide!

Robt.

Note:  I've been reading the excellent thread:  "Cost of full timing compared to living at home..", but that thread seems to favor costs of campgrounds, fuel, and lifestyle differences between a home and RV.   ..whereas, I'm asking about the big ticket repair bills!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 01:54:26 PM by Mr_Toad »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Few of us ever keep the same RV for 15 years, so data may be hard to come by.  And the answers may differ widely based on the RV you start with - some are more robust than others. Interior furnishings in particular can vary a lot in quality between the low end and high. And how many miles traveled in that time - chassis parts are more dependent on miles/hours of use than years.

Here are a few things I can think of:

1) In 15 years, you will replace the tires twice
2) i would expect to replace at least one a/c and maybe all of them.
3) Probably a new fridge
4) A roof re-coat or major repair by the end of that time.
5) If in excess of 100k miles, I would anticipate things like alternator and fuel pumps to begin failing.
6) Lots and lots of routine maintenance over that time period.
7) Probably an inverter or converter charger to replace

That's what comes immediately to mind, but I'm sure I'm forgetting a dozen things. Anybody else?
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Jim Godward

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A few things that have come up for us in the last 11 years and in 15 years, I would expect the following that Gary did not mention:
1 New flooring, replace carpet, wood or ?? etc.
2 replace the water heater at least once and possibly 2X
3 replace any skylights due to becoming brittle or fading, allowing more sun in to the RV
4 replace TV, GPS and other electronics due to technology changes
5 IF you drive in areas that salt the roads in the winter during the winter or in the rain in other seasons, expect to replace the radiator once.
6 maintenance on the tow truck and possible replacement
Jim
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Wendy

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We had a Class C for 14 years, put 100,000 miles on it. Things we did included replacing the circuit board on the refrigerator and replacing a circuit board on the furnace. If we had kept it we probably would have done some upholstery replacement and perhaps new flooring. Basic maintenance on the engine. Tires twice. The decals went to caca but we never bothered replacing them.
 
HTH
Wendy
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tonyandkaren

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 We had our last class C for about 13 years ,fulltiming. I'm just going to list the house parts since you're getting a 5th wheel. Our experience has been very similar to Gary ,Jim and Wendy's. Generally the furnishings and flooring will wear the same as they do in a stick house. It depends on the quality and how hard you are on them.
 
 We had to replace
 
 Refrigerator once
 Hot water heater twice
 Toilet once
 Water pump twice
 Bumper once - rusted from sewer hose storage
 House batteries - dry camping so new ones every 4-5 years
 Bathroom sink twice -cheap plastic cracked
 Roof vents once

 Original furnace - tear down and lube several times
 Original stove
 Original inverter/convertor
 Original roof

 Lots of continuous maintenance. The most important thing is to check the caulking and fix any spots where it's loose or missing. It also important to put a good coat of wax or other sealant on the fiberglass at least once a year ,maybe more depending on the climate. This will keep the fiberglass from drying out and chalking.

 
 
 

taoshum

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Over the next 15 years, RV maintenance costs could be a small part of the economic turmoil that's predicted as inflation surges in delayed response to the Fed printing presses, congressional debt levels go berserk, SS/medicare spending exceeds projections, climate change accelerates and energy costs are way higher.  Just sayin' the uncertainty of  the economy is likely to have a much larger impact on RV life than anything else.  Go now and adapt later...?
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Taos, NM.

tonyandkaren

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 One more rather minor thing but since it's specific to RVs and can be expensive -

 Day/night shades require restringing occasionally. They're hard to clean and the day part may get limp after awhile. We replaced ours once. Many people don't like them and replace them with mini blinds ,curtains or other types of window coverings.

 

Mr_Toad

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Thanks everyone for your feedback!       I do want to make an informed decision on all this.

Over the next 15 years, RV maintenance costs could be a small part of the economic turmoil that's predicted...

Hi, Mr. Taoshum...indeed, part of my thinking on the whole RV thing, is to provide myself at least SOMEPLACE to live, should I lose my job for a year (again).   

Thanks!

Robt.

Jammer

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Robt.,

In my experience you will spend more on maintenance on the tow vehicle during that 15 year period and may end up replacing it outright at least once.

Over 15 years if you are full-timing (even if that only ends up meaning 6-8 months on the road each year) there will be a good deal of wear and tear.  Moreso if you are moving around and doing some boondocking, maybe less if you end up parking seasonally and taking just the occasional trip.

With constant use over that period of time you would end up replacing all the upholstery and floor coverings at least once.  You will have to do things like replace mattresses, and maybe replace frames on chairs or sofas.  You will end up replacing any awnings you have at least once.  It is likely that you will replace some shades and most of the appliances.

It is possible that you will have to replace the roof.  It is likely that you will have to replace or at least reseal most of the plastic roof penetrations, plumbing vents, skylights, and so on.

With 15 years of daily use the cabinetry will probably be fairly deteriorated.  Whether to do anything about this is a matter of taste vs available time and money.

On the mechanical side it is likely that the slide motors and seals will be a source of trouble at some point.  You will probably have to replace the electrical connector to the truck at least once.  Tires probably twice.  Shocks.  There will be some electrical and plumbing failures to fix.

If you use the batteries and the water pump, they will both require replacement every few years.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

Mr_Toad

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Thanks, Everybody!

I am very grateful to all of you for providing these insights. 

It sounds like some of these are expenses that I can resolve myself, since I'm not bad with tools and do-it-yourself projects (e.g., repairing cabinet hinges, basic re-staining, caulking, replacing faucets and commodes, buying a replacement sofa/ chair/ table/ mattress, etc.). 

My thoughts on this whole endeavor are that, compared with two-bedroom apartment rent of $1500 a month (i.e., $18,000 a year), even if a reasonable quality fifth wheel were to have absolutely no resale value, I will realize a payback in five to seven years (depending on variable costs and maintenance). 

Plus, as I grow older, I expect that my income will begin to decline.  So, after selling my house and making an up-front RV purchase, from then on my monthly income requirements will be significantly decreased, relative to other rental or purchase options.

Robt.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 09:29:48 PM by Mr_Toad »

rvpuller

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If you think that you will have your rig that long be sure to purchase the highest quality rig you can afford. Many of the lower end rigs will not hold up to extended time or fulltime use, it also depends on just how much traveling and where you plan on going. Remember unlike your house your rig goes through a small earth quake every time it goes down the road and some are a lot worse than others. 

Denny   
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Jammer

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It sounds like some of these are expenses that I can resolve myself, since I'm not bad with tools and do-it-yourself projects (e.g., repairing cabinet hinges, basic re-staining, caulking, replacing faucets and commodes, buying a replacement sofa/ chair/ table/ mattress, etc.). 

In general, the main difficulties are the strength required to handle bulky and heavy components, being comfortable on a ladder or roof, and the practical problems posed by working on a rig you're trying to live in.  For example all but the largest 5ers will only have one bathroom, and it gets crowded if you have to take everything out of a row of cabinets to work on the mechanical components behind them.  Another thing to watch is that most campgrounds officially disallow repairs.

Quote
My thoughts on this whole endeavor are that, compared with two-bedroom apartment rent of $1500 a month (i.e., $18,000 a year), even if a reasonable quality fifth wheel were to have absolutely no resale value, I will realize a payback in five to seven years (depending on variable costs and maintenance).

Be sure you're considering tow vehicle costs, campsite fees, and fuel.

Quote
Plus, as I grow older, I expect that my income will begin to decline.  So, after selling my house and making an up-front RV purchase, from then on my monthly income requirements will be significantly decreased, relative to other rental or purchase options.

A fact to consider is that some people do encounter health problems at some point that make it impossible to drive safely, which can make an RVing lifestyle problematic.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

jdavis3152003

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Just jumping in here...in the end none of these things add up (5th wheel) to the cost of owning a home do they?  I work at home depot and replacing your floor in a home can cost thousands but in an RV maybe $100 -$200.  Your maintaining a much smaller space rather than a whole house.  Now I could see where a MH would cost more because of the mechanics.  Am I wrong?

Gary RV_Wizard

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I think it is obvious that at least some of the maintenance is less because an RV is 400 sq ft (or less) while even a small house is typically 1000-1200 sg ft and most are larger. But Rvs are more complex, with multiple sources of power, both propane and electric sources for some appliances, while at the same time being less well constructed due to the weight and space limitations of a mobile unit.
Gary
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cdat

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Just jumping in here...in the end none of these things add up (5th wheel) to the cost of owning a home do they?  I work at home depot and replacing your floor in a home can cost thousands but in an RV maybe $100 -$200.  Your maintaining a much smaller space rather than a whole house.  Now I could see where a MH would cost more because of the mechanics.  Am I wrong?
Yes and no, a 5th wheel has the same appliances that M/Hs do, but no there is no drive train to maintain, however you do need to factor in the maintenance of the tow vehicle, I would assume the maintenance costs are fairly similar between a 5er and a M/H, however we all know what happens when you "assume". 
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Gary RV_Wizard

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It is very difficult to compare costs between RV types because there are so many variables besides the fundamental type differences. For example, motorhomes tend to get repaired at specialty shops that do motorhomes rather than the general repair places available to SUV and pick-up owners, so they tend to pay more for similar services. And large diesel motorhomes typically have more sophisticated systems, e.g. air suspensions & brakes, hydraulic systems, etc. that often have extra maintenance costs. Size and amenities has an effect too.

I would say that overall a trailer is less expensive to maintain, even factoring in a major tow vehicle. Then comes a gas chassis motorhome and last, a diesel motorhome is most expensive.

As for RV vs a home, we would first have to establish what sort of home, what age, size, etc. And over how long a time period too. For example, a new roof is needed on a house every 15-30 years, depending on type of roof, region and quality. An RV may need a new roof in 10-20 years, but can often be repaired (re-coated) a couple times for a modest expense rather than full replacement.  Just an awful lot  of variables.

I suspect that a good sized motorhome is not a lot cheaper to maintain and operate than a typical fixed house when all things are considered, but don't have good data to support that.  If you had a 400-600 sq ft house somewhere and were willing to live with appliances and systems similar to what an RV offers, then the house is probably pretty inexpensive too.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

dave61

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Re: RV Maintenance and Repair - Expected Tasks and Costs over 10 to 15 years
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2012, 05:36:41 PM »
With house prices down so much in the last  few years a lot of people are not as excited about owning them as they once were. They require a lot of maintaince and their value as an investment is subject to factors which we cannot always control. From your list of expenses you have tackled the biggies and should be good to go for a while aside from the routine items. Your house value is probably as low as it will go and could be in a recovery mode if the economy picks up.

The rv is always in need of maintaince as well. As for value, it is guaranteed to go down substantially, there is no opportunity for gain over a 15 year period.

The old saying is "buy low sell high," often easier said than done. Your scenario would be buy high and selling low, after replacing some major items.

Would you make the same decision if you knew your home value would rise substantially over the next 15 years? Just tossing out ideas, there really is no way to know what will happen.
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