Looking at travel trailers

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.
Status
Not open for further replies.

StormRv

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Posts
16
I'm new here and starting to look for a travel trailer for me, the wife and our 5 yr old. We're thinking 18-25 ft range and used to get a better price. Being new to this, what are the "main" things I need to look out for buying used?

Sorry for the vague question.

Thanks in advance for any help/info!!!!!
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Look outs in priority order.

1.  Can your truck pull the trailer in terms of weight?   Use the trailer's gross vehicle weight from the DOT plate on the trailer -- usually driver's side front.   The trucks tow ratings can be found in the Trailer Life tables by clicking HERE.  Provide a safety factor by discounting the ratings 10%, 20% if you plan on towing in the mountain or Pacific west.

2.   Deformation of frame and delaminations of siding.  Look signs of leakage or water damage in the interior including soft spots in the floor.

3.  Age of tires -- trailer tires last 5 years.  By 7 years they are dangerous.   Tread wear is irrelevant.  One can almost assume that you will replace tires on a 5 year old trailer.

4.  Operation of appliances.   If a private sale have the seller hook the unit to 120VAC and cool down the fridge.  Check temps.  Try the microwave, boil a cup of water.   Run all the plumbing including the water pump, flush the john.   Check the convenience outlets with a 3-light circuit tester.   Light the stove, the water heater, and turn on the furnace.    Raise and lower awnings if any.   Run the A/C.   If buying from a dealer, get a written guarantee for all these items.

5.  If the tanks are empty try the knife valves on the gray and black water tank.  Knife valves always work hard but they should work.  If the tanks are not empty, one should wonder why they are not.

6.  Batteries last 5 years.   Propane tanks last 12 years based on the DOT cert date stamped on the tank.

Assumptions:

1.  Items number 1 and 2 above are deal breakers.  Do not buy an overweight or structurally unsound trailer.   An inoperative fridge is close to one, those rascals are expensive!

2.  You will need a class IV or V receiver on your tow vehicle and a weight distributing hitch system with anti-sway control.   If anyone says you do not, that is the first sign that they are a liar.

3.   You will replace the tires and batteries soon, unless you are buying a unit 3 years old or less.

4.  In spite of all of the above, you will spend about $1000 fixing and tarting up any used unit.


AND FINALLY, never trust anything an RV salesman tells you.  All assurances should be in writing and on corporate letterhead or form.   


 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,608
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
New or used, your first atention must be to weight versus the vehicle you plan to tow with.  If you already have the tow vehicle, you are constrained by its safe towing capability. If you plan to purchase a vehicle for towing, you need to consider the budget for the vehicle and how much capacity you can buy witin that budget.  Do not trust the salesman when he assures you your vehicle will tow the traler OK - they always say that and almost never actually check the specs for your vehicle.

The other obvious factor is floor plan - the trailer has to be one you can like and will be sufficient for your needs.  That's a hard question for your first RV, since you don't really know what your needs will be, but try to imaine it.  Do you need a roomy bathroom or will a cubby hole do?  Is a long, hot shower a neccessity of life?  Will you be cooking outside on a grill or mostly in the galley?  Where will your dishes and pot & pans go?  How many cabinets and drawers will eachof you need for clothing, shoes, and such.  What about recreational gear, e.g. lawn chairs, bikes, golf clubs, fishing tackle or whatever?

OK, now inspect the RV itself. First looks for any signs of water leaks, inside and out. Check the loose or rippled wallpaper or paneling, especially below windows and near the floor (water runs down inside the walls) and for stains on the ceiling. Make sure the fridge gets cold on both gas and electric modes of operation.  Same for air conditioner(s).  Do not accept the seller's assurance that everything works - check it yourself before signing any papers.

Check the tires. Condition means almost nothing, so learn to read the DOT tire date codes (see the RV Forum.Net Glossary under tires) to see how old they are. A tire over 6 years old is nearing the end of its useful life, even if never driven a single mile.  You need to replace the tires by early in their th year of life, so figure that into our purchase costs if the trailer is more than a few years old.

There are lots of excellent used trailers availale, so don't get stampeded on the first one that looks good to you but maybe isn't quite perfect or quite the price you can afford. Salesman are good at convincing you "this one won't stay on the lot long", so resist the pressure and shop around.
 

StormRv

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Posts
16
By the chart, it looks like this: F-150 SuperCab 5.4L V-8 9,500/9,300 15,300, so 8550 unless we do mountains then it'd drop to 7600? If so, I think we'll be safe as most the ones we've looked at so far haven't been over 5000.

As for a floor plan, I think we've decided on a bedroom with a queen bed in the front and at least 1 bunk in the rear for our son.

Thanks for the tips. I'm going to print them off and talk it over with my wife. Our big obstacle now is deciding if we want to spend the money on a new one or go used.We have to decide if 18' is big enough or if we really "need" something bigger.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Weights sound good. 

You have plenty of headroom here you may want to consider a bit more trailer.  Take a look at some light weight 24 footers but remember to keep the trailers GVWR to 7,600 lbs.  That should not be difficult tho with 24s.
 

StormRv

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Posts
16
I assume the "magic" 7600 lbs is so I should be safe to pull it anywhere I want to?
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
StormRv said:
I assume the "magic" 7600 lbs is so I should be safe to pull it anywhere I want to?

Dunno how magic it is since my calculator says 7440 is 80% of 9300.? ?But with that caveat, sure, you are within our recommendations for a GVWR when towing in the West.?

Anywhere?? Come on!? Anywhere covers a lot of really bad roads. ;D
 

StormRv

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Posts
16
StormRv said:
By the chart, it looks like this: F-150 SuperCab 5.4L V-8 9,500/9,300 15,300, so 8550 unless we do mountains then it'd drop to 7600? If so, I think we'll be safe as most the ones we've looked at so far haven't been over 5000.

As for a floor plan, I think we've decided on a bedroom with a queen bed in the front and at least 1 bunk in the rear for our son.

Thanks for the tips. I'm going to print them off and talk it over with my wife. Our big obstacle now is deciding if we want to spend the money on a new one or go used.We have to decide if 18' is big enough or if we really "need" something bigger.

I was using the 9500 number for my calculations
 

StormRv

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Posts
16
Ah, I didn't relize the difference.....nope, I have 4wd so your numbers would be correct. Thanks for setting me straight
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,608
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Ah, I didn't relize the difference.....

The mechanicals of the 4WD system weigh a couple hundred lbs more than 2WD, so the trailer towing capacity and the truck payload capacity go down by that same amount. There is no free lunch - everything that goes into or onto the truck has to be paid for out of the same max weight figures, i.e. the GVWR for carried weight and the GCWR for combined carried/pulled weight.
 

otrider

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 9, 2006
Posts
69
Location
Home is Ohio but here for now (Denver)
Curious here,  using your 20% calculation what should the max be on a TT or 5er with a vehicle rated at 12,500#...
One more what are your favorite Light Weight TT's and any specific Light 5ers that are consisered good?
Thanks
Pam
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
otrider said:
Curious here, using your 20% calculation what should the max be on a TT or 5er with a vehicle rated at 12,500#...
One more what are your favorite Light Weight TT's and any specific Light 5ers that are considered good?
Thanks
Pam

Easy.  80% of that 12,500 lb rating or 10,000 lbs.

By light weights I assume you mean a TT with a GVWR of 5500 lbs or less.  Something that an F-150 or a 1500 or a SUV can pull.  Look at my rig in the signature block.  I tend to buy a unit that I like and then run it forever.  My Prowler is a 96.  Bought it new and still see no reason to sell it.    Note that I use it as a vacation trailer, with the longest living period being a 5-week trip around the west. 

Look all lightweights get to be lightweight by using light materials and less of them.  They are all intended for limited living on sporadic occasions.  Furthermore, it is no secret around here that the quality control of RV manufacturers utterly sucks.  Fortunately most of the stuff that goes wrong in trailers is simple because there is no drive train or really much of a suspension.  The appliances all come from the same bunch of vendors and are covered only with their own warranties.  With trailers, in short, what you see is what you get.
 

otrider

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 9, 2006
Posts
69
Location
Home is Ohio but here for now (Denver)
Thanks for the insight.
      I really hadn't heard that the light weights were more for occasional use. I will be FT but stationary for about 13 weeks at a time. Each location will be about 1500 miles apart. 
      I was considering a light weight trailer or fifth wheel  (would really  rather have a 5th wheel)  cause I will be going it alone and want to make it as easy as possible to manage.  I've gotten a lot of conflicting info on the two re:  ease of towing.  I'm 90% sure I want a 5th and now am more convinced than ever that I want a regular not a light weight.  I noticed that quality control issue when I was looking at the light weight trailers recently. 
Do you think I can find a 5th wheel in the neighborhood of 27' and still stay in the 10,000# category?
 

hankpac

Active member
Joined
Oct 27, 2006
Posts
42
You haven't mentioned how you are going to use the rig. If you are weekending it, and taking short trips, an 18 footer may be just fine. the kid is still small. When another comes along you can either expand or tough it out for a while. If you are full timing it, don't skimp on room or quality. BTW, I try to keep the kids at the same end of the rig as the adults for emergency evacuation reasons.
the guys above gave you some great tips, and I wish I had had that kind of advice when I first bought our little 18 foot rig 30 years ago.
Finally get to know your maintainance and minror repair lists, and keep up on it.
 

Lowell

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Posts
2,221
Location
Tempe, AZ
I would just add that a slide out is really appreciated, especially on those rainy days when you stay mostly inside.
 

Rickster

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Posts
16
I bought my TT from one of the most reputable RV dealers in the southwest. Now I can say I didn't get hosed, because I was not born yesterday. However, I know I will never buy fron that dealer again. This was my first tt purchase, and I bought used. It has cost me closer to 2 THOUSAND dollars to repair and fix up my rig. And mine was a 2006!

And for heavens sake never take for granted what a dealer says your truck or TV can tow. Had I done that, I would be up a creek without a paddle! And that was advise from three dealers!
 

buckle823

Well-known member
Joined
May 16, 2006
Posts
183
Location
Michigan
We tow a 5,600 lb loaded weight TT with the same F-150, and I'm always wishing I would have gotten the diesel F-250. The F-150 is really better suited for towing a 3,500 lb pop-up.
 

edjunior

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
2,603
Location
Roman Forest, TX.
Wow, boy did this thread ever take a wrong turn somewhere!  The OP got completely lost somewhere (hijacked by at least two others also looking for something new).  And how in the world it got off to the good dealer/bad dealer thing, I'm not really sure.  Sorry, just thought I'd kinda get back on track here.  So, for the OP (Storm), Carl and Gary have really summed it up quite nicely.  Only a couple of things I would add.  First, consider very heavily a slideout.  Even a small one (mine is only the sofa), makes a HUGE difference in the amount (or percieved amount) of space you have inside the trailer.  Second, consider heavily as lightweight a trailer as you can find.  You can get some fairly big (up to 28') trailers and still stay below 7000lbs GVWR.  But the lighter the better.  I have a 5.4L in my F-250 and it pulls my trailer pretty nicely (I have a 26', about 5500lbs loaded with what we "normally" take).  However, it will dog a bit on hills and I certainly wish I had more "beef" to pull my trailer.  The weight is not necessarily the biggest factor here, but rather the large wall of wind resistance the trailer creates.  Good luck, and keep us posted.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom