New and looking for an RV in the KC area

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New member
May 9, 2024
Shawnee KS
I have a family of 5 - wife, twin 8 year olds and a 2 year old. I've wanted an RV for as long as I can remember.

Safety has always been my wife's top concern and her major sticking point with the entire idea of RVing in general. Somehow, I finally talked her into a trip this summer from Kansas City (home) to Colorado and then up to Yellowstone. I hoped to spend two weeks doing this in total. Our plan is to rent an RV to see if we like it and then maybe move forward with buying one this summer - the cheapest rental I found was around $7,000 for this time period... Not exactly cheap.

This got my wife looking at RVs. She keeps sending me links for different RVs... So we are now shopping for an RV. I think the thought process is that even if we lose $7k on a purchase, we'd break even compared to renting.

A few years ago, I took a trip with a few friends to the Canadian border to buy a moldy, leaky, loud and incredibly unreliable '74 GMC Motorhome and drive it back to Kanas City. It took us nearly 48 hours in total (MANY roadside repairs and questioning our life choices) to get it back... That said, it was one of the best trips of our lives. I wouldn't ever want that trip with my family, but it was great with friends that have good attitudes and like to turn wrenches and/or pray and take on a challenge. I do all my own home and vehicle repairs. I'm a firefighter, so I have stretches of multiple days off in a row that I think would make owning and working on an RV doable. I have a class A license and I'm comfortable driving just about anything.

The problem is that I don't know much of anything about RVs. I don't know how to find the value of them (especially the older ones I've been looking at) and I've never worked on a diesel... So maybe I'm nuts for even considering this? I'd like something that could tow my wife's 2015 Toyota Highlander (4,400#) but I don't even know if that's realistic.

MAIN QUESTION: Is there a place in the KC area that would run through an RV and tell me if it has any sort of glaring issue?

For instance, my wife wants to go look at this RV but I don't have a clue what its worth, what problems it might have, what it needs, etc.
When did seatbelts become standard for occupants? Any help or feedback would be appreciated.

Professional inspection is something that can be contracted for any RV purchase. They're available here so in the KC area I would imagine finding that resource would be a matter of basic research. I paid for one and in hindsight I don't think I got my money's worth (didn't find some pretty obvious problems) but being "new" you don't know what you don't know, and having an experienced set of eyes can have value before you go all-in. And, if it does reveal a show stopper it will be worth the trouble for sure.

I am also 100% self maintained and find that in the context of RV's is almost a prerequisite. Maybe around KC the option of chassis and house repair is better than here but it's a class of vehicle that no one seems to want to work on no matter who made it or how new/old it is. So even if you come to the table with a big box of money, getting things fixed will not be timely or convenient. In the context of house repairs, competency of repairs and service are more problematic than immediacy. RV forums are full of stories of woe by owners taking their RV's in for service, waiting months, then reporting improper service or even damage when it was done. Being self maintained I don't have to wonder if or how things are done. For the most part service and repairs are not terribly difficult. Maybe time consuming and sometimes expensive, but within the capacity of an able bodied person with sufficient motivation and willingness to buy tools. Forums like this one are game changers when encountering a situation you're not sure about. Takes a lot of the guesswork out of whatever it is you need to do.

Seatbelts - can't answer that. I recall something about trucks over a certain size do not require them at every seating position. I can understand the desire to want to strap in kids and even as old as my RV is there are passenger locations with seatbelts, so for the most part you can probably check that box. In terms of "crash test/safety" I'm not aware there are any standards or testing for this. Generally being a cutaway or manufactured truck body you can assume little to no crash integrity. But the other side of that is you're many times heavier and a few times taller and longer than most things you'd come into contact with, so much integrity is somewhat moot - odds are you'll win. In a class A or C you're not going to be driving at speeds or under conditions where wrecks often happen, so overall I don't consider "safety" as having undue compromise.

5Klbs towing is a fairly common limit for class A's, maybe some class C's and certainly super C's.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
So maybe I'm nuts for even considering this? I'd like something that could tow my wife's 2015 Toyota Highlander (4,400#) but I don't even know if that's realistic.
Your first problem is that a Highlander is NOT flat-towable. Would need to use a tow dolly (front wheels off the ground - 2WD only) or a trailer.
When did seatbelts become standard for occupants?
For front seat passengers, at least since the 1980's. Other seats have varied depending on the seat position and the rated vehicle "people capacity". Most 80's & 90's motorhomes had belts at the dinette and other seats, but in later years it was determined those were probably just as dangerous as no belt at all and manufacturers and the RVIA began eliminating them. Belts for more than two adults and a place where a legal infant car seat could be mounted is going to be a challenge and probably a custom install.

The belt problem is not just anchoring belts to the floor. Some seats are oriented sideways rather than facing forward or back and it's pretty much impossible to avoid body injury in a front crash. And seating at a table or near a cabinet risks slamming the head into a hard objects (and no way to install a shoulder belt). The good news is that a large heavy bus-type vehicle doesn't throw people around or crumple up like a passenger car. Have you thought about the fact that school buses and touring buses aren't required to belt in every passenger? It's not insanity - it's actually quite safe inside a BIG HEAVY VEHICLE (unless maybe you hit something equally big).
Here are a few thoughts beyond what Mark and Gary have said:

1, B&B RV in Denver appears to have 14 day rentals with 100 mile of use per day included in mid July for a 24 ft Class C for about $5,200, still a lot, but not $7,000. (I have no affiliation with them, though have seen a few in camp grounds and talked to renters, overall they seem nicer and newer than most Cruise America RVs)

2, Cruise America offers a rent to buy plan, where you can apply your rental up to $3,000 towards buying one of their used / refurbished ex-rental RV's if you make a purchase within 6 months. We have some members here with ex-cruise america Class C RV's, by all reports most are happy with them, they tend to get sold after 4-5 years of use, at at around 130,000 miles, prices for a 28 ft class C were around $32,000 last time I checked, they often run discounts. Note Cruise America Class C's are very bare bones basic, no mechanical entry steps, no TV, no awning, etc. less stuff for renters to break.

3, before buying strongly consider getting an NRVIA level 2 certified inspector, you can use the inspector locator tool at to find one, for a motorhome depending on size, location, etc. expect an inspection to cost $700 - 1,100 and take about 5 man hours to complete, RV inspections usually don;t cover chassis / drivetrain beyond a basic visual check.

4, Figure out your cost of ownership, renting may be cheaper even at circa $2,600 per week, consider insurance, maintenance, storage cost, etc. I have a 2002 Class A gas coach,my annual cost of ownership runs around $3,000 and I have use of an enclosed storage shed at no cost, in some parts of the US people pay $300 per month or more for outdoor storage, with about $2,000 per year going to maintenance, repairs, upgrades, etc. (a set of 6 tires for my coach runs about $2,000 or did 2 years ago, RV tires age out after 7-8 years, a RV absorption refrigerator or roof top air conditioner cost about $1,150 - $1,700, not including installation)

5, KC has some cheap underground / constant climate temperature RV storage options much cheaper than most of the US.

6, Before jumping in and even considering buying an RV, spend some time defining how you plan to travel, how much you plan to travel, etc. List your requirements for an RV, then look at a bunch of them, go to some RV dealers and see what is out there. If you do this you can determine what type of RV fits your lifestyle the best. Many people get this step backwards, they decide they either want a small Class C or large Class A diesel pusher, when the other might fit their lifestyle better.

7, remember kids grow, and grow faster than you think
Do your homework. Recognize what your DIY abilities are. We purchased a brand new RV in 2023 and have had nothing but problems. Find an inspector to look it over! That said, we’ve fixed our issues and are having a great time traveling. You’ve come to a great group of people who will help when they can! What a wonderful thing to do for you and your family!
Sometimes the best way to know if the price is fair, look at some big selling sites, such as RV Trader, and see what others similar are listing for. Personally, the unit you see on Facebook looks pretty nice, I also would have it professionally inspected as mentioned above. First thing that caught my eye, listed in MO, the owner with little posts says he lives in Chicago. Be careful, facebook is plagued with schemes.
Have any friends who own RV’s? If so, bring them with. But have an inspector ready to bring him an RV to inspect. Stay away from camping world. Buy pre covid (2017) or older. Make sure they have the maintenance records. Preferably a one owner if buying private party. Since you’re new at this, highly suggest renting one to make sure you want to get into this. That way you will know what your looking for when your ready to buy. Good luck.
The rig on Facebook looks very nice, and well-maintained, with upgrades such as the flooring and the fuel filtering system. For an RV of that age, I am surprised at how good the upholstery looks in the pictures showing no cracking or peeling which is the operative word in newer and cheaper when new class A's.

Buying from a private owner will allow you to sit and shoot "RV bull" with the owner which should give you some great insight into how the rig was used and cared for, storage, and little gremlins within, and the big one, maintenance records. I bought my first used class A without knowing a darn thing about them, but when I got home my wife asked me what I thought about the RV my response was "If we do buy a used motorhome, Craig is the guy I would buy it from", meaning I came away so impressed with the guy's truthfulness and sincerity.

I don't know about you, but spending $1000 on an inspection that doesn't cover the chassis, engine, or drive train which are the major dollar repair expenses, seems pointless to me. As you mentioned in your post you are mechanically inclined to do most of your repairs, the coach part of the rig should be in your wheelhouse, minus perhaps a roof replacement.

Go look at the rig, and bring your checkbook. Look at the age of the tires, not the tread as shown in the pictures. I just put six new tires on my class A last year, $3000. Go up on the roof and inspect the seams around AC units, skylights, fans, front and rear caps, and side edges. Is the caulking dried and cracked? Are there excessive "gobs" of caulk where it looks like an attempt to seal a leak? Make sure the awning is in good condition and extends and retracts as it should. Check all appliances and AC units to work as well. Run the faucets, shower, and flush the toilet. Very closely inspect the ceiling, especially around those skylights, fans, and AC units for signs of water leakage/damage. Also, look closely at the front and rear inside corners of the rig for water staining. Go outside and look closely at the sidewalls checking for any bulges or bubbling which will indicate wall intrusion.

Finally, a test drive. With your CDL license, you'll know if the rig drives as it should and my guess is you have air braking experience. Combined with your mechanical knowledge, you can assess if the $25K asking price, don't forget to negotiate, will make that rig worth it for you and your wife. Oh yeah, let your wife peruse the interior at her leisure. Women have an uncanny ability to pick out things men don't even see. She'll be able to determine if there is ample food storage space, cooking counter space, a big enough shower, and things like that.

Good luck, let us know how you make out.

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