Looking for first RV - can use advice

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Dave M

Sep 25, 2005
Hello everyone, and thanks in advance for helping us out.

My wife and I are looking for our first RV.  Here is some background and what we are thinking so far. 

Right now, it is just my wife and myslef.  We live in Kansas City.  I am an avid fisherman and so is my wife, but her interest fades much before mine.  So, we are looking for something that is a comfortable 'hang out' for her on the weekend at one of our local lakes.  Most of our use would probably be less than 50 miles from home.

However, we do want to make some longer trips.  We would like to travel to southern Misouri, Lake of the Ozarks region.  As with the above, we would be pulling a 16 foot boat.

Also, next summer we would like to travel from KC to Seattle.  In this case, we would likely pull some type of small vehicle.

We have been looking for some time, and have decided that we would like something in the 26 foot range.  This seems like it would be the right size for the two of us and possibly if we have a child in the next year or so.  Ideally, we would like to spend between $5,000 and no more than $10,000.

I don't mind something that needs a few tweaks here and there.  I am more concerned about mechanical soundness.  I would like to have something that I feel comfortable knowing we could drive across the mountains to Washington state.

So, I am not even sure what questions to ask about what attributes or elements I should be looking for.  When I look around online, it seems like there is such a great disparity in years and prices and I don't know why.  I will see things from the mid-80s that look comparable to cheaper models from the early 90s and don't know why.

I don't know if an older model (mid to late 80s) with low miles is better than a newer model (early 90s) with higher miles. 

Have there been design or engineering elements somewhere along the way that are going to be particularly important?  I am thinking about things like enhancements to transmissions or fule injection, so on.

Are the general rules of thumb or attributes that govern a price among similar RVs?

I don't know if my questions are too broad or not.  Obviously I am a novice and any advice to help me get going in the right direction is much appreciated. 

Thanks in advance.
Hi Dave and welcome. Hopefully, some of our folks will jump in with responses for you. Meanwhile, you may care to do some reading of articles in our library, in particular, we have one on a used purchase:

Click on the Library button above, select Checklists, then click Buying a used motorhome.

If you have some makes/models/years in mind, you might also check the NADA price guide at http://www.nadaguide.com
After about 10 years of age, condition is the only thing that matters in an RV.  Even at 10 years, book values are just a guide and condition will easily override them.  [See www.nadaguides.com for Recreational Vehicle values.]  The other major factor is marketability, but these days that pretty much comes down to the number of slide-outs and diesel vs gas power.  Neither of those are likely to apply in the price range you are looking at, but anything with a slide is worth more than non-slide and diesels will command more than gas.  Buyers like those atributes and sellers charge for them.

Personally I would favor lower mileage and signs of good maintenance (, service log, oil change receipts, etc.).  Engines and transmissions are subject to a lot of wear and tear in an RV and are very expensive to repair as well as ruining your vacation.  But be aware that tires die of old age even if they have plenty of tread and "look good".  Old tires blow out without warning and can really ruin your day.  See the RV Glossary and learn about Tire Date coding.  Plan on immediately replacing all tires which are over 6 years of age, regardless of condition. Just figure that expense into your purchase price.
Hi Dave,

Welcome to the RV Forum.  I'm sure the members here will be able to answer your questions so don't hesitate to ask.  I see Gary has already gave you some valuable tips.  Glad you found us.
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