New here but experienced RV'r looking at Class A motorhomes

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NOMADAK

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Hello all,

My name is Mike. I am looking at purchasing a used Class A motorhome for my family to use supporting ourselves at about 20 off-road motorcycle racing events throughout the year and the occasional family excursion to a vacation destination. We have previous experience with Weekend Warrior toy hauler trailers, winter RV camping in Alaska, towing racing trailers from Alaska to Florida and back. I have currently been using a 26 foot bumper pull enclosed trailer, that we have set up with bunk beds, microwave and refrigerator. Trailer is insulated and air conditioned plus we have a plug in heater if the temps drop. We live in Florida, so it rarely gets cold. I pull the trailer with a 2007 Toyota Tundra with the 5.7 liter, it has a trailer towing package, I use a load leveling hitch and have the truck outfitted with airbags. I have 12 ply tires on the trailer. We have two small Honda EU 2000 inverter generators that we connect that allow us to run our devices. This unit serves our purposes for a night or two of camping but we are looking to have a shower, toilet and more luxurious accommodations during our lengthening weekend stays.

I am interested in picking the minds of active RV folks who know the brands to lean toward, and those to avoid at all costs, and  a little bit of everything in between. Some of the areas we travel to are quite rugged to get into and out of. The pros and cons of diesel pusher RV's vs. Gas , etc. I appreciate all responses and look forward to sifting through sound advice. We would likely sell our enclosed trailer and get a shorter motorcycle trailer to pull behind our new Class A.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The really are no answers to your questions, just vague generalities. 

Cheaper coaches are, well, built cheaply. They cut corners in various places, usually hidden, in ways that effect future maintenance, the cost of repairs, ride and handling, etc. MSRP pricing is the way to get a handle on that - RV pricing is highly compettive so the MSRP price is a solid indication of the money spent to build it better. Not perfect, but better.

However, in an RV, condition is everything. A well-kept cheaper model is always a better deal than an abused high end model. Toward the middle of the scale, though, where less than great condition is mainly wear & tear or cosmetic, the better built RV is still a good choice.

If you want to pull a trailer, get a diesel usher. Nearly all of those will be able to tow 10,000 lbs or more, whereas gas-chassis coaches are typically 5000 lbs or less.
 

NOMADAK

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Thank you for the reply sir. Much appreciated.

I was told to steer away from manufacturers that have a lot of older used products out there that have since went bankrupt and are no longer in business. I was also told to look at products by people like Newmar, that they are still manufacturing, have a stable employee base, have been building for years and have high customer satisfaction.

I know I have been a bit vague with my requests. I will try to narrow down some more specifics with subsequent posts.

Out of the diesels, are the caterpillar better? Or Detroit diesels? or the cummins ? Many of the models I am looking at are 2005-2007 and didn't have many of the emission requirements of today's diesel's.
 

docj

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NOMADAK said:
I was told to steer away from manufacturers that have a lot of older used products out there that have since went bankrupt and are no longer in business. I was also told to look at products by people like Newmar, that they are still manufacturing, have a stable employee base, have been building for years and have high customer satisfaction.

Motorhomes, especially the diesel pushers (DPs) are mostly "heavy trucks" and are mostly built using standard truck parts.  Some people treat them as cars and only take them back to the dealer or the manufacturer for service.  But if you're on the road and need service you're likely not to be near either of those and you're going to discover that places that service heavy trucks can usually take care of your needs. Those of us with coaches built by now bankrupt manufacturers have been doing this for years without difficulty.  If your MH is built on a Freightliner or Spartan chassis there are plenty of places that will service them.  Even if you have a customer chassis, as we do, service is available if you look for it.

Sure, it's nice if the manufacturer is still in business, particularly if you want a replacement for an interior trim item, but IMO the fun of owning a MH is customizing it to reflect your tastes.  Inside our MH there's little that remains that resembles how it looked when it was new.  We've replaced the furniture, redone the window treatments, etc.  Having the manufacturer around wouldn't benefit us much at this point for those sorts of things.

You should do what you are comfortable with doing.  If you want to know that you can get manufacturer's support, then, by all means, you should go that route.  All I'm saying is that there are many fine, well-cared-for MH's out there that were built by now-defunct companies that will be running for many more years.

Joel (AKA docj)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I was told to steer away from manufacturers that have a lot of older used products out there that have since went bankrupt and are no longer in business.
I can't think of any good reason to do that, and doing so eliminates a major percentage of the used market. See docj's reply. I'd agree that a manufacturer who is still in business is a small advantage, at least for Rvs under about 5 years old, but I would not give it priority in my choice of a used RV.

I was also told to look at products by people like Newmar, that they are still manufacturing, have a stable employee base, have been building for years and have high customer satisfaction.
Yes, those parameters have Some value, and Newmar, Winnebago and Tiffin fall into that category.  And also the ultra high end brands (Newell, Foretravel, Marathon, etc).

Out of the diesels, are the caterpillar better? Or Detroit diesels? or the cummins ?
No.  Cat & Cummins are more or less equal in capability and reliability.  Detroit is not much of a factor in the used motorhome market. Freightliner is offering Detroit engines in the last few years, but there simply aren't many Detroit-powered motorhomes prior to around 2014.


Many of the models I am looking at are 2005-2007 and didn't have many of the emission requirements of today's diesel's.
Fuel economy took a hit when the EPA 2007 regs went into effect, but the 2010 EPA regs bought some of it back, but at the cost of some added complexity (DEF systems).  Note that the EPA regs apply to the actual engine build date rather than the coach model year, so, it's quite possible to get a 2007 motorhome with a 2006 engine, or a 2010 motorhome with a 2009 engine.
 

jymbee

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NOMADAK said:
Hello all,

My name is Mike. I am looking at purchasing a used Class A motorhome...

The only thing I might add is to hire a professional inspector to go over your final selection(s) before handing over the $$$. We did that and given we had to travel over a thousand miles to pick up our A it went a long way to providing peace of mind. The inspector spent about four hours going over virtually every system and in the process was able to point a few things that needed attention as well as make us feel comfortable that most systems were in good working order. We had zero experience with RVs to that point and although we felt good about the seller's honesty, one never know what they might find.
 

NOMADAK

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Excellent advice from  all of the above posters. I sincerely appreciate the feedback. I will take each and every piece of advice into consideration. Curious where one would  look to find a professional RV inspector?
 

jymbee

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NOMADAK said:
Excellent advice from  all of the above posters. I sincerely appreciate the feedback. I will take each and every piece of advice into consideration. Curious where one would  look to find a professional RV inspector?

We used https://nrvia.org/
 

NOMADAK

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Thank you again for the resource. I have several used units I am lining up to look at. Glad to know older units built well are still a value and maintenance obstacles can be overcome. In this economy and today's times, you never know when the next manufacturer is going to go belly up or move out of country. Things are rather volatile in such industries.
 

NOMADAK

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Been doing a lot of early morning research on different brands and models. Came across a JRCONSUMER.COM website and review. Of course, they are trying to sell something, an $80 book with ratings of RV's . Just wondered if anyone here had any experience with this recently and if it helped with your purchases? I would imagine it has very useful information but I am not sure how up to date it would be year after year. Any insight from the collective here in the forum?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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JR is selling his opinion on safety and quality RV construction.  His ideas are OK and somewhat common sense, but there is no testing or engineering that backs up  his design criteria or substantiates his ratings. His RV Consumer Group doesn't actually test RVs - mostly they just cull specs from brochures and websites.  That can save you some time and effort, but whether it is worth $80 is up to you.
 

NOMADAK

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Thank you for that Gary. I'll keep my cash, thank you very much.

I came across the Sportcoach legend line today. One of my wife's dental practice customers is selling theirs due to non-use. Willing to cut a deal on what appears to be a very nice rig. DOIng my due dilligence now but wondered if any one here has information or experience with the brand. 
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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A Sportscoach would be well down on my list of most desirable rigs. Coachmen is known more for bargain prices than top design or build quality.  If this is the first coach you have looked at seriously, I'd suggest looking at and comparing several others before leaping into this deal.

That said, a clean and well-maintained coach is always worth looking at. Especially if the price is right. 


Disclosure: I'm probably a bit of a snob when it comes to motorhomes - I give a lot of Pluses for the better grades of cabinet work, upholstery, flooring, etc., and also for good workmanship on wiring, plumbing, etc.
 

docj

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NOMADAK said:
One of my wife's dental practice customers is selling theirs due to non-use.

Irrespective of the brand of MH, I'm always a little leery of older RVers who say "I didn't use it so I'm selling it" unless I could see maintenance records showing that it was receiving the recommended maintenance even though it wasn't being driven.  Lots of RVs tend to overlook the fact that most maintenance items have both mileage and time recommendations.  For example, even though most diesels have a ~15,000 mile oil change interval, it is also recommended that the oil be changed yearly independent of mileage.  Sure, some of these recommendations can be lengthened somewhat, but they shouldn't be ignored totally.
 

NOMADAK

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Some interesting points to consider Gary and Docj, Some I hadn't thought of honestly. I appreciate the responses very much.

I go to look at the unit this evening after work. The photos of the vehicle are impressive. This is a 2007 Legend model with a 400 HP diesel engine. 42000 miles, the couple put all but 7,000 of these miles on it. They are the 2nd owners. Tires have already been replaced once. Interior appears spotless and barely used. I am going to put eyes on the specs and service records. I am armed with a checklist and many questions. Local taxes are 6%...so that is another big consideration on final OTD pricing.

After looking on craigslist and RVtrader sites for months, it has sure been a journey to get to this point. I appreciate the help here thus far.

It is a very daunting task, to get over the sticker shock of new units, then to see them heavily discounted a year or so later, the continued depreciation hits year after year. I see many similar year units of different manufacturers selling for 25 to 40K. I suppose the true price is only what the market will bear. After talking with a close friend who recently sold his large RV, the memories he made while owning it were priceless but He also acknowledges it was a poor financial decision after it was all said and done. I guess I am going to have to get over that aspect of it.


 

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Looks and sounds nice, so maybe a "keeper".

When were those tires replaced?  The current set could well be nearing end of life as well.  Many owners consider 7 years to be the point at which the risk of a blowout exceeds the value of trying to get another year or two from the tires. 10 years is about the max usable age, regardless of tread or apparent condition.
 

docj

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NOMADAK said:
After talking with a close friend who recently sold his large RV, the memories he made while owning it were priceless but He also acknowledges it was a poor financial decision after it was all said and done. I guess I am going to have to get over that aspect of it.

Regardless of whether you buy a new or a used MH, it's difficult to "justify" the purchase on an economic basis.  In either case you're buying a depreciating asset which will cost money to maintain and which may have rather limited value when you eventually dispose of it.  My wife and I have lived in ours full-time for >8 years and have traveled >65k miles around North America. The experiences we've had and the lasting friendships we've made have provided a richness to our retirement that we wouldn't trade for anything.

FWIW the the economic "soundness" of buying a MH is somewhat better if you live it in full-time rather than just use it for vacations.  We purchased ours for cash 8 years ago and could probably get ~50-60% of that back today.  Yes, we've had to pay monthly fees for our site throughout the period, but the cost of that is significantly less than the cost of buying or renting most homes.  We've spent money decorating, repairing and maintaining it, but even including those costs, the total for the 8 year period isn't all that different from what we would have spent on a more traditional "home". 

Joel (AKA docj)
 

NOMADAK

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I met the seller and we went over the unit thoroughly yesterday afternoon. I was able to inspect each and every nook & cranny of the motorhome. He even took it out on a 4 lane state road to demonstrate it's handling and performance. It is a freight-liner sport chassis. Overall, it was an impressive display. The vehicle has a 400 hp cummins diesel motor. At 33600 lbs, I was surprised at how well the unit accelerated and stopped with the other 4 wheel traffic. it had many high end features including a washer and dryer, a king sized bed, cedar lined closet and built in safe. They have added a in motion satellite acquisition device.

The couple selling the unit are in transition. They have traveled the country with their son, who is about to become a pro level motocrosser. They have a sprinter van that they attend races with now. They have owned the unit for 4 years, it has 42000 miles now, they put all but the first 16000 on it ( I had the earlier figure wrong). Extensive service records performed over the last several years at a local Camping world were included. The unit has had significant work both warranty and otherwise. Some of these include a new refrigerator, new power awnings with wind sensing equipment, motor and generator services, etc. I was comfortable with what I saw listed there that they have taken great care of their investment. The tires on the unit were not a name brand i recognize, and yes, they are in decent shape now but would need to be replaced within a year or two at considerable cost.

While showing me the rig, the owner disclosed that he keeps the 8000 watt onan diesel generator running constantly when on the road to run the two AC units and the refrigerator. Even when he parks the unit at his home, he has it running to keep the unit cooled by thermostat to keep the interior from getting brittle or too humid in the Florida weather. I was both surprised and impressed by this. While it obviously puts a lot of hours on a generator and increases the monthly operating costs, I can see the benefits of doing this.

One of the things that stuck in the back of my mind was the earlier comment by Gary, that the Sportscoach brand would be well down the list of quality units he would consider. As impressive, well cared for and clean a unit as this one obviously was,  I could see several areas this unit was lacking in quality compared to many other Class A brands I have been exposed to (Winnebago & Fleetwood). At this point, for what they are asking...approx. 90K (it NADA and bluebooks out for over 115k), we will likely pass. Our plans are to go this weekend and explore several area RV lots looking at multiple examples of different brands to try to get a better sense of what each offers in terms of quality. Everything he showed me on the unit worked, the minor issues were quite minor (small stain on the otherwise spotless carpet, passenger seat electric operation was dodgy)...the real wood trim was actually quite nice and well fitted, etc.

Last year, we were traveling 25 weekends of the year with our own race season. The records I kept show us spending thousands in hotel rooms and of course on meals while traveling. WE have our youngest at least 3 more years at home before he is ready to leave the nest. I want to provide more lasting memories for us enjoying an activity that the entire family all cherish. We have made fantastic friends over the last several years in our organization, watched our children mature together and become excellent young people in this process. TO find a more comfortable mechanism for us all to continue pursuing this endeavor is my summer goal. Our race season ended two weeks ago and won't start up again until early September. WE have time but plan to make good use of it and find a quality unit that will serve us well.

I have a buyer for my custom 26 foot enclosed car trailer already. We will make the sale final of it at the end of May. The buyer is a car dealer who is stacking cash to make the purchase. We have already unloaded and cleaned our own trailer and have the exchange set up. I own that unit outright and will use the considerable proceeds as a portion of a large down on the next purchase. I have a near 800 level credit score and a long relationship of early payoffs on loans with my bank. We currently rent our home, have very little monthly overhead and make good low 6 figure salaries. Our other 3 vehicles are all owned outright. WE are positioned well to be mobile. I am going to enjoy this process and learning as I go. WE are located in North Central Florida.

I appreciate the advice, insight and you taking the journey with me.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Just remember that condition trumps brand name most of the time.  And $90k is a fair price for a nicely kept, 4-slide, 40 ft DP.


Where in north central Florida are you?  We live east of Ocala, out in the National Forest just of SR 40.
 

NOMADAK

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I live in Gilchrist county just outside of tiny Bell in a rural area. I work in Gainesville. I am very familiar with Ocala. The RV I looked at was located in Ocala. Our plans for the weekend are to return there and look at the many lots in the area.
 
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