Buy New, or quality used and Refurb?

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SashaS

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Sep 19, 2018
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2
Hello all,

My husband and I have been going through the process to purchase an RV/Motorhome for about 1 year now.  We are very thoughtful about our approach to large purchases and do not want to have buyers remorse.  As we will NOT be full timers, and will only using the Motorhome about 3-6 weeks of the year we would like to keep the cost of purchase down to around $100K.  We have (2) Children (the reason for the purchase) who are 7 and 11 and we feel need to have their own space in side the RV (I.E. bunks, and/or Loft).  We really like the Forest River Floorplans, as well as the Thor Challenger too, but when we have seen them up close we find them to be lesser quality than some of the older Monaco, Tiffin and even Fleetwood's we have seen.  I have to admit though the higher quality coaches are older and Diesel Engines (2005-2009) which may be the key here (heavier coaches + higher end materials), but we would like to have the quality of the older (higher end) coaches without the maintenance of the Diesel that will inevitably sit a lot.  The other issue with older coaches is warranties that only extend as far back as 15 years, and with my husband not being the most handy - an extended warranty (the big stuff) is a must.  I would maybe consider buying an older (higher quality) coach (Gas, or Diesel?) and possibly refurbishing it with newly installed bunks and flooring to solve the problem, but my husband doesn't want the hassle.  Needless to say, we have come up with very little.  I have to confess many of the Class C's offer multiple sleeping arrangements however I have realized that my anxiety goes up each and every time I'm in one and fear that I have somehow developed a fear of closed in spaces, Class A's do not give me the same reaction. The Coachman Mirada 35BH (2016-2019) is really the best floor plan we have seen that fits our needs (fits our budget) but has received many sour faces from dealers who generally tend to Poo-Poo the Coachman Brand, as is the same feedback with the newer Thor Coaches as well (which are plentiful), so we are super confused and thinking of bagging the whole deal!  Any advice, or insight from some of you seasoned RV veterans on best course of action would be most helpful.  :)  Thank you so much. 
 

SeilerBird

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Feb 25, 2012
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16,707
Location
St Cloud Florida USA
I wouldn't worry too much about quality. Most newbys don't keep their first RV very long because they almost always buy the wrong one first and then trade it in after a year. You don't know what you want in an RV until you have used one for a while. Spending $100k on a first RV almost guarantees you will lose a lot of money when you trade it in. I would suggest starting with something like this:

https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/used-rvs-for-sale/class-a/2004-gulf-stream-ultra-supreme_rv-36180
 

cadee2c

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Aug 4, 2012
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Everywhere
Although some people have walked into a dealer and bought a new coach with no issues, alot of newer coaches have issues that need to be worked out. Though covered under the warranty, its still time spent in the shop when you could be in the woods.

Im a proponent of the buy older quality over newer not so quality. The quality lasts, and its something you will notice all the time. I live in a 20+ year old Holiday Rambler. It was well taken care of and I havent had too many things go wrong with it that wasnt a result of our goofs.

Id suggest going for something 2 or 3 years old. Its used enough to have alot of the bugs worked out, but new enough that an extended warranty would cover it.  Not all are diesels. Go to RV Trader https://www.rvtrader.com/ or PPL https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/ and look at whats available. That will give you more options that what may be closer to your home. For what its worth, we drove from Minnesota to Texas to buy our RV. :D
 

Pugapooh

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Aug 7, 2016
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832
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Montgomery Co,MD
You don't mention gender(s) but an 11 yo will want privacy soon.  Consider where they will change clothes.  If everyone has a spot to just feel somewhat alone when family togetherness wears thin,all the better.

It is very likely that the first RV will not be the "right" one for you,so better to move up in a year and not blow the budget yet.  As for warranties,save the money you would pay for it and keep it for repairs as needed.

Think carefully about what floor plan is most comfortable for all.

Welcome and feel free to ask any questions.
 

kdbgoat

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Apr 16, 2014
Posts
6,329
I would worry more about a gas engine sitting more than I would a diesel. Let your lawn mower sit for a month, then see how many issues you have getting it to start and run correctly. Farmers have equipment that sits for 6 months at a time, then go jump start it and run the guts out of it for three months and put it away until the next year. They do this year after year. Many have old trucks they use just to haul grain during harvest and they do the same with them.
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
Posts
5,864
Location
SW Louisiana
I tend to suggest buying an older quality unit, though for what you are wanting these tend to be diesel pushers.  As an alternative you might consider something like this https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/used-rvs-for-sale/class-a/2008-damon-daybreak_rv-39046

It seems to meet most of your check marks, and is priced cheap enough at $38,000 sure it is an entry level coach, but if you are considering buying a new entry level coach in the $100,000 range, and keep it for 3 or 4 years it will depreciate by almost as much as this coach costs now.  Also as a 2008 model it is still eligible for an extended warranty, and may even be new enough to be financed by major lending institutions (if not try your local credit unions, many will make loans on RV's up to 12-14 years old vs the typical 10 year cut off found with the big guys)
 

AnRVAndADog

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Sep 18, 2018
Posts
380
Location
Port Richey, FL
We had similar issues. The general comment on depreciation is about the ONLY non-opinion that I found helpful. Depreciation can easily be as high as 35%. That's why we looked for a preowned RV. We figured out quickly we preferred a Class A over anything else.

Regarding "quality." There's no such thing. It's NOT like buying a higher end car. A higher end Chevy or Ford will absolutely be better than a cheaper Chevy or Ford. RVs are NOT like that. I was brainwashed and assumed a Winnebago was a very high quality manufacturer. Now that I own one I can guarantee they really aren't all that.

If you dig deeper you'll find that the Class A manufacturer is really much less of a manufacturer and much more of an integrator and assembler. They don't make the water pump, they don't make the water heater, or the chassis or the engine, or the transmission, or the refrigerator, or the microwave, or almost ANYTHING. They put up some walls, install some windows, then install a truckload of stuff they bought at quantity discount.

So, since I bashed Winnebago, I have to say this: Winnebago is much better than most other brands.

I'm still a Rookie but my advice is this: Focus on the things you can't change and must live with. Floorplan. Gas or diesel? General look and feel (fabric, upholstery, interior storage, etc.). Front door next to co-pilot's chair or centered on the side of the rig? Washer/dryer? 30amp or 50amp electric? Generator size?

Lastly, if the previous owner tinkered with anything you should run away. Don't buy too old. You can find coaches out there a year or two old but they're rare. Five years old is more reasonable, and probably about as far back as you want to go. If you don't love it don't buy it.

Good luck!

 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
I take issue with some of what the previous poster says, as I feel quality does matter, and some coaches are built with better materials than others.  Cabinet work built from real wood and held together with screws tends to last longer than particle board held together with staples, fiberglass shower pans are less prone to cracking with age than plastic shower pans, full body paint outlasts vinyl graphics, ....

I also have a different opinion as to the optimal point on the bang for the buck on the depreciation curve, and feel that with some shopping one can find a bargain on a well maintained 10-15 year old coach, that in nearly every measurable was is as good as a 5 year old coach that is twice the price.
 

SashaS

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Sep 19, 2018
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Thanks to all for the very insightful advice.  I agree buying used is best $$ option so that we at least retain as much of that depreciation as possible.  My husband and I are going to look at 5 yr old and up to 10 year old Class A's and not worry too much about whether they are gas, or diesel - just on the condition and feel of the coach.  Our daughter is going to be 11 and son is 7 so private beds is #1 - we may not get the bunks hat we desire but will focus on them at least having their own beds.  So we have eliminated a lot from our must haves but definitely want full body paint and a king size bed as we have rented MH with the RV queens and did not sleep too well my husband is tall.  There are some great jack knife sofas out there that would work well with opposing slide Coaches, and possibly having a booth installed vs. the typical 2 seater table might just fit the bill.  Thanks again to all!
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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Jan 19, 2013
Posts
355
I would not buy any used RV without having a professional inspection done.

One way to find an inspector is to check around at any nearby campgrounds.  They might know a mobile RV tech that also does that.  There are also some websites offering such services:

https://lemonsquad.com/used-car-inspections/rv

https://nrvia.org/inspector-locator-step-one/

https://rvinspection.com/

Keep in mind that a guy competent to inspect the house portion of a motor home, may not be competent to inspect the engine and running gear, so you may also need to take it to a competent mechanic.

But this is going to be expensive, so you will want to do your own inspection first, and only call in a pro if it looks good to YOU.  You can find some good, educational videos on how to do this on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=buying+a+used+rv+what+to+look+for
 

Charlie 5320

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Aug 11, 2012
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2,257
Location
Central IL.
SashaS said:
Thanks to all for the very insightful advice.  I agree buying used is best $$ option so that we at least retain as much of that depreciation as possible.  My husband and I are going to look at 5 yr old and up to 10 year old Class A's and not worry too much about whether they are gas, or diesel - just on the condition and feel of the coach.  Our daughter is going to be 11 and son is 7 so private beds is #1 - we may not get the bunks hat we desire but will focus on them at least having their own beds.  So we have eliminated a lot from our must haves but definitely want full body paint and a king size bed as we have rented MH with the RV queens and did not sleep too well my husband is tall.  There are some great jack knife sofas out there that would work well with opposing slide Coaches, and possibly having a booth installed vs. the typical 2 seater table might just fit the bill.  Thanks again to all!

Not all class As have RV queens in them, some have full size queens. My Dolphin has a full size queen, with a very good mattress from the factory. There are many coachs 10, 12, 14 years old that are quality builds and still have very low miles. Shorter coach tend to have smaller dinettes and shorter sofas too. There is a huge different quality builds in any brands of coachs. Every manufacture has entry level built coachs, and higher end built coachs. Higher end built coachs will have better built furniture, better material on the furniture. and the seats ect. Cabinets, ball bearing drawer slides, thermopane  windows. If you buy a coach with thermopane windows make sure they are not fogged up as there are only a few places that will repair them, and it's not cheap. I found out the hard way. I thought my windows, driver and passenger side were just dirty from setting. When I got it home I realized they were fogged up. Cost to repair them was $580.00 plus the trip. Quality built coachs tend to rattle much less too.
 

AnRVAndADog

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Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Posts
380
Location
Port Richey, FL
Isaac-1 said:
I take issue with some of what the previous poster says, as I feel quality does matter, and some coaches are built with better materials than others.  Cabinet work built from real wood and held together with screws tends to last longer than particle board held together with staples, fiberglass shower pans are less prone to cracking with age than plastic shower pans, full body paint outlasts vinyl graphics, ....

I also have a different opinion as to the optimal point on the bang for the buck on the depreciation curve, and feel that with some shopping one can find a bargain on a well maintained 10-15 year old coach, that in nearly every measurable was is as good as a 5 year old coach that is twice the price.

The problem might be the word "quality."  What I mean is this: Of course real wood and screws is better than particle board and staples. But that's not quality, it's decision making. Winnebago decided to use real wood and screws (in most but not all places). (Great decision, I think.) So the only meaningful way to compare an RV with real finished wood cabinets and an RV with vinyl covered particle board cabinets is to compare corporate decision making. No company is perfect and Winnebago (I think?) makes many fewer bad decisions than some other RV manufacturers but they DO make some bad decisions.
 

AnRVAndADog

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Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Posts
380
Location
Port Richey, FL
Optimistic Paranoid said:
I would not buy any used RV without having a professional inspection done.

One way to find an inspector is to check around at any nearby campgrounds.  They might know a mobile RV tech that also does that.  There are also some websites offering such services:

https://lemonsquad.com/used-car-inspections/rv

I would suggest you avoid Lemon Squad. I used them and they were a horrible disappointment. They missed a bunch of things. Obvious things. Like the Control Panel showing Gray & Black Water Tanks FULL after they had been dumped and flushed.
 

thelazyl

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Nov 9, 2018
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583
Location
Molalla, Oregon
I'd be glad to share what we did.  We recently purchased our first RV.  Our original budget was close to yours.  We read a lot of information in forums like this.  For our first RV we wanted:
1.  Something very well maintained where everything worked as designed.
2.  Looked closely for signs of water damage.
3.  Looked for evidence of regular maintenance of engine and running gear
4.  A floor plan we liked
5.  Something 10 years or older because RV's depreciate rapidly in that time frame
6.  A diesel pusher that is more comfortable driving (better ride, less noise and vibration).
 
After window shopping for a time we came across a 2003 Fleetwood Diesel Pusher.  The price was well under our original budget.  We kept a lot of wiggle room to account for unexpected funds needed for maintenance. 

So far we are very pleased.  Good luck and I hope this helps.


 

timjet

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Aug 7, 2012
Posts
389
Location
Tampa Bay
SeilerBird said:
I wouldn't worry too much about quality. Most newbys don't keep their first RV very long because they almost always buy the wrong one first and then trade it in after a year. You don't know what you want in an RV until you have used one for a while. Spending $100k on a first RV almost guarantees you will lose a lot of money when you trade it in. I would suggest starting with something like this:

https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/used-rvs-for-sale/class-a/2004-gulf-stream-ultra-supreme_rv-36180

That does not apply to everyone. Buying and selling an expensive toy like an RV can get very expensive but doesn't have to happen. If you take some time doing the research and asking questions like you did on this and other forums you can avoid the money pit of buying and selling multi RV's to satisfy your desires.

The proper floor plan is always the most important consideration and here there is a wide variety of motorhomes that will fit your requirements. I choose a higher end older MH and feel I made the right decision. Our MH is the first and last MH we will buy.
 
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