How old when considering a Class A Motorhome?

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paid4c4

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I am looking and thinking about a Class A RV, 30-36 ft, gas or diesel.  I realize that how a used RV has been maintained will greatly determine condition and value.  Generally speaking how old an RV should I consider for a dependable and enjoyable RV?  I do that is a lot to ask, I'm just looking for suggestions and opinions.  Speaking of which your opinion and thoughts are welcome.
Thank You;
Bill
 

Larry N.

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I'm not sure there's really a reasonable limit, but keep in mind that after 10-15 years most rubber parts have deteriorated such that some parts may need replacement. And that's not just belts and hoses, but suspension bumpers and various other items. However they're replaceable, but failure may catch you unprepared some time. Fabric items (awnings, etc.) and general weathering may also be a problem.

Otherwise, features and condition, including chassis type and construction, overall condition (including maintenance of various things), and general care of the unit are things to note. Higher end coaches probably last longer, at least to a degree, due to better materials and, perhaps, better design, but it's basically a case-by-case basis.

All that being said, a floor plan you will enjoy (not just something to "live with") and your budget (not just purchase budget, but for maintenance too) will be major factors. Still, all else being equal (a rare case indeed), a newer unit will probably be more reliable than many older units.
 

Isaac-1

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I agree with what Larry said, once you cross the 10-12 year age point there are lots of rubber components that will need attention, most people think about radiator hoses, fan belts, and tires, though that leave a lot of parts that people don't think about, suspension and steering bushings, fuel lines, bump stops, even rubber brake lines.  Along the same train of thought are those seldom changed fluids, like power steering and differential fluids.  This is not to say that you should not buy an older coach, if it is otherwise in good shape, just make sure to check to see if this maintenance has been performed, and if not plan on doing it right away.  The important part here is to not miss those obscure rubber bits, like perhaps the rubber crossover brake hose that goes over the drive shaft, or the transmission / oil cooler hoses that may result in a catastrophic engine failure if the blow.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I can't argue with the rubber deterioration notion, but still would not be too concerned up to 15 years. Even then, it the rig is well-cared for, my concern would be more along the lines of an allowance for expected repairs than outright fear of ownership.

RV appliances and systems generally have long useful lives, but north of 10-12 years I would anticipate having to replace a/c units and a fridge if the not-distant future.

If you can DIY a lot of stuff, rigs over age 10 are not terribly worrisome (if the purchase price is right), but if you will be taking every little thing to a dealer shop, I might draw the line there. Or even lower.
 

Bill N

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My first consideration was price.  I had a small inheritance and had a lot of experience previously with travel trailers and truck campers and even one 1973 Winnebago motorhome (new from the factory).  What I got was a very well maintained 12 year old Winnebago Adventurer 35 ft that had a floor plan we really like.  It was reasonable mileage (48K miles) and the original owner had it since new and used it only in the winter to go to Texas and stay for 3 months.  He started in Washington State but moved to Missouri.  It was always kept in covered storage.  Still in the 5 years I have had it I have had to put a remanufactured tranny in it, replace the chassis AC compressor, put on a set of new tires when the 2nd set was 7 years old, replaced the awning fabric and then repair the awning control box.  Finally I currently have a smashed windshield awaiting parts but that is not really related to age.

So I guess what I am saying is to try to find as reliable a unit as you can afford.  If you have to make payments and the unit is several years old, plan on additional expenses for breakdowns of coach equipment.  Hope you find a coach you like and can afford.


Bill
 

Isaac-1

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To add to what Bill said, wear and tear happens to all coaches, some stuff you can plan on, some stuff you can't.  Mine has unexpectedly been to the shop twice so far this year, the first time with a pin hole in the hard line for the hydraulic automatic parking brake, thankfully I was 3 or 4 miles from home.  My guess is this was a mix of a manufacturing defect, time, vibration, etc. as it blew the pin hole on the outside radius of a bend and the line looked good otherwise.  It is in the shop for the second time right now, should be ready tomorrow morning getting new ball joints which started going thunk when making low speed corners on a trip last month.  My coach was built in Nov 2001, and has right at 85,000 on it.
 

paid4c4

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I really appreciate all the informative responses.  Some forums aren't as friendly when it comes to helping those less informed.  I looked at a 2001 Monico with 22,000 miles, V10 which is a two owner unit is very clean and looks great with an asking price of 19K obo, private owner.  There is also an Allegro 2000 with 28K which is also very good condition also 19K private owner.  I'm in no hurry an just wondering if winter might not be a better time.  I bought my new Harley Road Glide on January 7th the past year and was an excellent day to buy. 
Hope I get more responses.
Thank You;
Bill
 

WILDEBILL308

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One thing when buying more than 10 years old it is harder to get financing. something else is the older you go the less modern features you have. No fuel injection, no locking torque converter, no overdrive, No slides, no modern electronics. 
Less storage, to name just a few problems.
Bill
 

Isaac-1

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To a degree what WildeBill308 says is true, though you will need to go back farther than 2001 for many of those feature issues to be true.  Slides started becoming more popular in the late 90's though many of the chassis of that era were overloaded if slides were built in.  Also lots of technology can be retrofitted, TPMS, backup cameras, GPS, bluetooth enable stereos, ...  Though depending on the gas chassis, you would probably be looking at a 4 speed transmission before about 2002, also 01 was a transition year on the Workhorse chassis, the W series Had 8.1L Vortec engines with 5 speed Alison transmissions the, the P series had the 7.1L vortec with 4 speed 4L80e transmissions, up to mid 01 when they switched to the 8.1L Vortec still mated to the 4L80E though.

p.s. note Tiffin has moved considerably up market over the last 20 years.
 

56safari

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I'm sure this will jinx me, but we purchased a '99 Rexhall Aerbus in July 2013.  It's 32 ft with a single slide.  Had under 30,000 miles and was in good condition. In the 5 years we've owned it, we have not had a major failure.  We replaced the mattress at purchase and tires were new. The only emergency replacement was a black tank valve that began to seep when closed.  That is not to say we haven't done more maintenance than on a newer coach.  Things like coolant flush, transmission filter and fluid change, replacement of original headlights, moving to LED lights,replacing serpentine belt along with idler pulleys and tensioner and both chassis and coach batteries.  Those are in addition to oil and filter changes.  Tires will come up in 2 years along with shocks.  I'm sure we'll replace an AC unit (only one is original) and will probably face a frig somewhere down the road.  We bought older to see how we liked traveling in an RV and didn't want to spend a lot should it not work out.  We like the RV so well, we've done  quite a bit of upgrading and plan to keep it rather than move to a newer unit.  I've been into old cars since high school so the mechanical work is actually fun and the investment low enough that if the RV gave up the ghost tomorrow I wouldn't lose any sleep.  If your mechanically inclined, patient in your search and willing to assume some risk (like used car risk) an older RV really lowers the investment.  Did I also mention I'm cheap by nature? 
 

PancakeBill

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I am selling a 1997 Fleetwood Southwind, I have maintained it and it runs beautifully, and just bought a 2000 Winnebago.  Both coached well maintained.  Over the years I have had to handle some items, the biggest was having leaf springs retempered, but what a different in the ride, it is like new again.  The tradeoff with buying new in usually payments vs repairs, and the knowledge that new rigs have issues as well.  I just know that each year will have a certain amount of repairs/maintenance costs.  To date and having owned the coach for 11 years, the total in repair/mainteance  has not exceeded $12k. 

I am confidant that whoever buys my SW will have a number of great years of travel, with an occasional repair. 

The bane of rubber parts is long term storage though. 
 

camperAL

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Hi  paid4c4,

My personal feeling at this time after buying a nearly 10 year old Class A RV is that I would focus on a 6 to 8 year old RV if I bought again. Reason is that I have put a little money into my rig as things have stop working due to age. So far I haven't went over budget yet. As was said, as things age then you have the expense, trouble, time of replacing things. At 6 years or a bit older you might be able to give things care so they last longer. Just using items may keep them going longer but in the RV world you never really know. Our goal is to keep our rig for 10 years or a bit longer. No doubt I will be replacing some items.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I'm in no hurry an just wondering if winter might not be a better time.
Probably not for coaches like those - the prices are already pretty much at rock bottom.  After 12-15 years, the price bottoms out as far as depreciation and condition is the only factor. The exception, of course, is a desperate seller, but desperation can occur in any season.  Also, "winter" may be a slow RV season in the North, but its the premier RV selling season across much of the South.

If I found a clean older rig that suited my wants & needs well and was priced fairly, I would grab it regardless of season.
 

Kevin Means

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When we bought our current coach in 2013, we traded in a 1999 32 foot Tiffin Allegro that we had owned for nearly 13 years. The only problems we ever had with the Allegro were some broken strings on some double-strung blinds, and a leaky heater core. It was always maintained properly, but that RV was one of the most trouble free vehicles I've ever owned. Take care of them and they'll likely go for many years.

Kev
 

Isaac-1

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On the topic of season to buy, this partly depends on where you live, there is a big push to sell before winter in the great frozen north, but as mentioned below, the cooler months are prime RV market time in the south.  For those up north I suspect it is because they will see few shoppers during the months with snow and ice on the roads.  Also they want to avoid the cost of winter storage, which can amount to hundreds of dollar per month in some places
 

Mile High

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It may not mean much to anyone, and it probably doesn't mean that much to me because I haven't been asked the question forever, but there is that nagging 10 year old limit some campgrounds have.

Beyond that - it seems age can lead to older technology and decor, but some of the higher end coaches were ahead of the times so it didn't really matter.  I tend to like to stay reasonably new, or would love to jump in to a classic no-slide Blue Bird!
 

BigNormitasca

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I would stick to late 90s model at the very oldest.  If youve got lots of free time and enjoy trips to autozone and the junkyard and doing mechanical repairs almost daily then buying an old RV is the thing for you.

Late 90s will have fuel injection and obd2 ecm's.  Will make your life much easier.
 

scottydl

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Your own preferences (and desired budget) will decide a lot of what you consider "too old" or "outdated" also, in terms of style and features. Are you paying cash or borrowing? Do you care about the latest interior design? Do you want a slide or slides? Do you have the ability/desire to work on it yourself (basic maintenance) to save time/money? All of those things will be big factors in your purchase decisions. I wholeheartedly agree with others that budget/floorplan/condition are way more important than year/make/model when it comes to buying a used RV.

Most DP (diesel pusher) motorhomes are in a completely different class than a lot of gas motorhomes you'll run across... not that there aren't high-end gas units, because they are out there. But not as common as the beginner/mid level gas models that most of us end up owning. Our first RV was a 35' Thor Residency Class A motorhome, 1994 model purchased in 2007... so 13 years old at the time. It was a little worn on the inside from two prior full-timer owners, but had been taken care of mechanically (new tires, rebuilt transmission, Banks exhaust upgrade) and worked great for our family for the 5-6 years we owned it. We were (and are) weekend/vacationers, so I didn't need something THAT new or with the latest modern features for our limited use throughout the year. I could afford to pay cash when buying, and didn't lose much (relatively speaking) when I sold it.
 

mnppartain

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My 2 cents. As has been said, you will have to find a balance between your budget and your desires to find the right coach for you. Also, the previous owner's maintenance as well as the way the unit was stored will matter a lot more than you realize. I have seen several quality class A coaches that weren't more than 3 years old with only a few thousand miles look worse than a 30 year old hunting land special. Likewise, I have also seen a 20 year old rig that looks as if it came of the line yesterday. A casual look around (and under) a unit will usually tell you all you need to know.
 

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