Newbie. Is there a Magic Board that tells me which RV to buy?

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Suzn1253

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Hi!  I really am looking for a Magic Board.  It's not that it is difficult to find an RV it is just that there are so many styles, brands, manufacturers, etc and I'm unfamiliar with most of them.  At least when I buy a car I know the ropes.  An RV....it's pretty overwhelming.  I want to make sure I don't get stuff I don't need and I get everything I do need. 

Here's my story:
My husband and myself, recently retired, and our two Golden Retrievers live in Fl and spend summers in VT.  We had an SUV and decided, last year, that a pick up would give us more room for the trek.  We also thought about an RV in the future so when we did purchase the pick up we were told that the Chevy Silverado we looked at would tow anything.  Unfortunately we then did not know about tow ratings, axle ratios, and the like and ended up with a Chevy Sliverado that wouldn't tow only a very small RV. 

During that time, we looked at RVs, decided against an A, B, or C.  (We had rented a C in December and frankly the dogs didn't like the rough ride).  So since they like the back seat of the pickup we decided on a trailer and came down to a 5th wheel - because it looks so intimidating we decided we should challenge ourselves.  No the reality is it seems more stable and it also sees to have more room.  So we again, impulsively, traded our pick up for a Chevy Silverado 2500 HD with the Duramax 6.6L diesel and a much higher towing capacity. 

Now we are serious.  This is going to happen.  It has to.  We will try this, because if we don't we will never know.  We are intimidated but we're doing it.  Frankly we're obsessed.  We had put it on the back burner, we decided against it and then we just couldn't let it go.  The only question is which one?

So we've looked at Airstream, but without the slides it is narrow and the price point is way more than we want to spend on an experiment.  However, the least expensive 5th wheel RVs are not what I will live in for the experiment, so .....we looked at Keystone, Winnebago, and a few others I don't remember.  I really wanted to find a Jayco 5th wheel but cannot find a seller of them.  We then saw a Vanleigh Pinecrest that seems to have the amenities we are looking for and will hopefully meet our needs. 

I know that no one can make our decision for us, however is there a reason we should look at one brand over another or are there issues with any of the brands I mentioned that I may not be aware of and that you know or have experienced? 

I do know this will be a challenge but we are going to do this, so I'd like to make it as painless as possible.  Hopefully we will love it.  If not, hopefully we can sell it, but most hopefully we won't crash and burn in the process.

Thanks in advance for your advice. 
Sue :)   


 

Back2PA

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Basically you pretty much get what you pay for - higher priced RVs will generally have better worksmanship. Largely they all have the same appliances, windows, etc - parts the builders buy off the shelf.


Just start looking, and physically sit in lots of them. When I say lots, think 50. Spend some time, sit on the couch and see if the TV viewing position is comfortable. How's the space in the kitchen and bathroom? Do things make sense? Think of it the same way you'd buy a house. Fairly soon you'll know "the one" when you see it, and whether the price is good.


Speaking of price, I'd suggest buying used, a well cared for unit perhaps 3-4 years old. You'll save a bundle (probably 50% of new sticker) and hopefully the previous owner will have worked out the bugs.


Happy hunting!
 

SeilerBird

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I know that no one can make our decision for us, however is there a reason we should look at one brand over another or are there issues with any of the brands I mentioned that I may not be aware of and that you know or have experienced? 
IMHO when buying used the badge is meaningless. What is important is condition, price and floor plan. Don't worry about who makes it, that doesn't matter. An RV is a house bouncing down the road at 65 miles per hour. The amount of servicing and the care the RV received is much more important than who initially made the RV. It takes a lot of shopping to find just the right RV so don't rush, do a lot of reading and a lot of shopping.
 

Pugapooh

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Floor plan will probably matter to you more than brand name.  Your first RV may not meet all your needs-a gently used unit makes more sense.

As you all ready have the truck,you have a limit set for you.  Do NOT trust the salesman to be honest about this.  Or a private seller.

The RV shows on TV show couples raving about all the storage space.  You have to have room for certain supplies- sewer hose,water system, electric cord,etc.  what else?  Chairs,a grill?  Bikes,kayaks?. 

Does the kitchen work well for your style of cooking?  Do you have room for food?  Toaster?  Etc.

Hope that helps.

 

Lou Schneider

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If you need more input, take a look at the RV Consumer Group (https://rv.org/)

They give a good perspective based on the estimated safety/road handling and construction quality of the RVs they rate.
 

Utclmjmpr

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You also have to be able to look past the "glitz and glamor",,stuff that's included to sell the unit but does you very little good...
The length will be important in a 5th wheel, because you have to ADD the truck length to determine access to places you may travel,
so don't get overwhelmed by all the room,, after all its just the two of you (for now).>>>Dan
 
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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One of the visible differences between the low end and mid-high end is the quality of the cabinetry, upholstery, & flooring, plus the general fit and finish.  Real wood, no contact paper, firm cushions and mattress, smoothly operating drawers and doors, etc.    If you have an eye for that sort of thing, it goes a long way toward avoiding things you can't so easily see.

If you were buying a house or choosing an apartment, you would know what to do, right? In your minds eye imagine your utensils and such in the kitchen, making a meal, etc. In the bedroom, consider the closets and where the dirty laundry will go. Is the shower an OK size, the sink and commode usable, etc.  Can you see the tv without craning your neck? Are there comfortable chairs for you and hubby?  Since it is essentially all furnished, that should be easy to imagine.  Don't get cauht up in the Wow of how cute it or clever it is - think realistically about how you will live in it.
 

scottydl

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All the best points have been mentioned. Floorplan, floorplan, floorplan. You are going to be living in this thing at least part of the year, so make sure you are going to love it! And you'll only know that by seeing a LOT of floorplans and deciding which one you like the best. YES buy used. It give the most value overall of RV ownership... a lower purchase price, better resale value (by percentage of what you paid), and generally fewer "shakedown" issues if you buy one that's been cared for and maintained by its previous owner(s). Still, be ready to tinker... it's a requirement of RV ownership. These things are basically houses bouncing down the road, so stuff will break loose and need repairs here and there.

That's a nice truck you have, but it still may not tow EVERYTHING... so do your research. Some folks here will say no 5th wheels in anything under a 1-ton diesel pickup. It's not that simple and your truck may be okay, but in addition to towing capacity you have to also understand pin weight (the amount of downward pressure the 5er is putting on the hitch) as compared to your truck's available payload.

Keep reading and keep asking questions! ;D
 

jackiemac

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Scott has mentioned payload, you must ensure you have the cargo carrying capacity on the truck. There will be a door sticker that tells you this information.  If you are unsure what this means come back and ask. I'm not an expert but I know its important...

Good advice about the other stuff above. Just think about how you will live in it. What will go where etc.

Good luck.
 

msw3113

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Don't get caught up in the Wow of how cute it or clever it is

Exactly.  There's a somewhat high-end car commercial that touts 19 cupholders in a particular model.  That doesn't tell me whether it will safely carry my family and luggage in any degree of comfort, or what mileage to expect, or how long it will last; only that it carries 19 beverages. 
 

SarniaTricia

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I would suggest renting a couple of different floor plan RV trailers..... (if you are having a hard time deciding)

I personally had my "heart set" on a specific floor plan (based on the internet)... then when I was actually shopping and quickly revised my "heart set". Our RV is just what we need without a lot of extra space; while still being spacious enough for 2-3 people. (without slides- I'm personally not a fan of slides)

A. Find out what your truck can haul (VERY IMPORTANT ...... as the traveling part will be awful if you get too much trailer for your truck)
B. go "shopping" and look at a lot of floor plans
C. take pictures and notes and go home and talk about it.
D. make a list - Has to have, would like, and deal breaker
E. Consider How you use your RV... (My hubby & RV dealer talked me out of a bunkhouse.... I have yet to need extra beds... )
F. buy used so someone else can deal with any "new' issues
G. Take your time and don't settle for almost what you want

Good luck
 

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Suzn1253

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Hi Everyone, I cannot seem to see how to respond to each post separately so thank you everyone for your help and great advice!

I have looked into the weight to the best of my ability.  Overall Chevy indicates it can tow 15k.  The truck GVWR 10k, the GCWR 25k the curb weight about 7400lbs.  The trailer we are interested in has a GVWR of 12,200 and a hitch weight of 1795.  I think it's ok but I'd defer to anyone here to set me straight. 

So much good advice!!!  I can tell you we looked and looked.  We drove over two hours and stayed overnight to look at the centers on the West Coast of Florida.  We had already looked on the East Coast first and decided to go back there.  We looked at tons of floor plans.  My priority was large "free" space for the dogs.  My husbands priority was the nightstands.  He really did want an outdoor kitchen too, but that didn't happen. We've really been contemplating this for over a year.  We've looked, changed our minds, backed out, and still were obsessed.  Now we know that we have to make it happen, and hope we'll love it but we have to at least try.

At the end of the day we spent 5 hours yesterday looking at an RV we actually found on the West Coast.  We went to the sister dealership one hour from us.  We had already been there, and liked the salesguy.  Anyway we are close to buying a Vanleigh Pinecrest (although I would have liked the Beacon)  :)    It had the space, the island in the kitchen but small enough to have good space arond it, a nice fridge, space to prepare food which many didn't have, no extra beds like a bunkhouse which we don't need.  A place to watch TV that is not in the kitchen. 

We have light haired Golden Retrievers, I wanted light colored seats, so we have that.  I wanted a light floor, it has that.  The bathroom is good enough although in time, if we love RVing I will get the beacon with the double vanity in the bath.  For now it will work and it has a linen closet.  I would have liked the dresser in the bedroom but for the most part, the dresser in the bedroom meant there were no nightstands and I think they are almost more important. 

Anyway it had the most positives and the least negatives and for some reason, although there were many I liked, it was the one that both my husband and I loved.  Nothing else quite called out to us like that one.    That is actually how we bought our house and we still love it.  :) 

So that is where we are now.  We will probably finalize it this weekend.  If you have any ideas, send them my way.  I do appreciate all of the sage and sound advice that you all have taken the time to give.

Sue xoxo
 

Alfa38User

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Suzn1253 said:
Hi Everyone, I cannot seem to see how to respond to each post separately so thank you everyone for your help and great advice!

I have looked into the weight to the best of my ability.  Overall Chevy indicates it can tow 15k.  The truck GVWR 10k, the GCWR 25k the curb weight about 7400lbs.  The trailer we are interested in has a GVWR of 12,200 and a hitch weight of 1795.  I think it's ok but I'd defer to anyone here to set me straight. 

Snipped...
Sue xoxo

The hitch weight shown above is probably based on a empty trailer. With a trailer GVWR of 12200 lbs it would be safer to assume a hitch weight of 20-25% of that number or 2400- 3000 lbs. The figure to compare it with is the cargo or payload capacity of YOUR truck found usually on a drivers door area sticker on trucks made after 2009 or so. For a 2500 series truck, I suspect you may be quite a bit over that number with this trailer and truck combination. (The payload number includes everything in the truck including passengers, gear, trim level AND pin (hitch) weight (if hitched up for towing) of YOUR truck etc.). The fifth wheel hitch itself can weigh up to about 200 lbs!!
JMHO!!
 

scottydl

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It sounds like you are hooked on buying new, which I can understand with the list of specific features you want... but just be aware that after a few years, that trailer might be worth half of what you pay. No problem if you plan to keep it forever, and/or can afford to absorb the financial hit. But just something to acknowledge so you're not surprised later if you tried to sell it.

I agree with Stu on weights too... anything you see now (except GVWR) are "empty" weights which are almost meaningless. The tongue weight (for travel trailers) and/or pin weight (for fifth wheels) are often the most limiting factor for trucks. And also the most unknown/unrecognized factor by the average buyer. So just make sure your truck's cargo capacity will handle as much weight as your loaded trailer and loaded truck will be putting on it.
 

Suzn1253

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Hi Scotty,
Yes I am hooked on buying new.  I think it's a great idea to buy used.  I do understand the depreciation of the trailer.  We don't have unlimited funds, so it's not like that...but we wanted to buy new.  One of the reasons was the idea that a used trailer might have even more flaws than the new ones have.  And I guess sometimes for me, some used things are like buying used underwear.  It just won't work.  :)

I'm more concerned by all of the weights and balances and that seems to be the most daunting, and yet important configuration.  So...I will keep you posted on that.  I cannot imagine what type of truck would be needed for some of these trailers.  The one we like is relatively small.  It seems that a MAC truck is needed to tow them.

Thank you all again.  I think I have some calculating to do.

Sue  :-(

 

Suzn1253

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Oh and the dry weight of the trailer is 9995.  Isn't that where you'd take the 20-25% and apply it to the hitch?  Again, I'm just learning but may have failed the test.  :) 

Thank you,
Sue :) 
 

scottydl

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Suzn1253 said:
Oh and the dry weight of the trailer is 9995.  Isn't that where you'd take the 20-25% and apply it to the hitch?

Will you be towing the trailer dry, with nothing in it? ;) (Nope.) So dry/empty weight is fairly useless. That number may or may not include extra stuff installed or upgraded by the dealer after the trailer left the factory, further rendering that number unhelpful.

GVWR of the trailer is a more important number to work from... that's the MOST that the trailer is designed to weigh, fully loaded. You may or may not fully load yours, but that is somewhat unknown until the first time you pack up (with everything you'd take camping) and weigh the trailer on some commercial truck scales. You mentioned 12,200# GVWR earlier, so to be safe, THAT is the the best figure to use when estimating its pin weight. In this case, 20-25% range of that GVWR is 2440-3050#.

Realistically, your trailer's loaded weight will probably fall somewhere in between 9995# and 12,200#. Until you know for sure though, use the higher number.
 

Suzn1253

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Ha not empty...I have a lot of stuff.  :)  So if I've got this right, the loaded trailer tops at 12,200.  That's the top weight the trailer can sustain.  Without anything at about 10k, I don't think I have 2000 lbs of stuff.  However the pin weight of 2440 gives me a total of 14,640 lbs.  My truck tows a bit over 15000.  Is that right?  Is that too close to the top weight for the truck?  It sure is complicated. 

TY!!
 

Alfa38User

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The weight you can TOW (pull) may be good BUT the weight you can CARRY in the truck without overloading it is usually considerably less, hence the recommendation that you look at the sticker to be found on YOUR truck indicating the payload or cargo weight that your particular truck was designed to handle. With a 5th wheel trailer, the weight you will be CARRYING in the truck includes, the weight of the hitch itself, the passengers, the dogs, anything else you want to carry and the pin weight of the trailer (the weight the trailer actually places on the truck (the 20-25%)). This number can vary from truck to truck in that model range. Published numbers in brochures etc usually quote the big numbers to promote that model, but they are not reliable. The manufacturer probably has a truck that will handle the published weight but it is not necessarily YOUR truck. When you do not know what that weight limit will be , we always recommend you estimate it using the VGWR of the trailer at 20-25% to estimate it and be safe.
 
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