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Major repair costs for a Class C?

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I live in Florida and I would like to travel and see North America while I still can, but on a stipend of 2,000 USD per month. I can get a used Class C motorhome for around 5,000 - one short enough to be allowed in the national parks. I would not have a tow vehicle, just the motorhome so I can drive to the grocery store or emergency vet or doctor visit if necessary. I think my biggest concern is the repairs of a used motorhome. I should be able to do full time RV'ing for about $1,500 per month and put $500 per month in savings.


1 - Are there any brands or years I should stay away from? (I know I can do a search for a mechanic that can help with checking out the RV before I purchase.)


2 - Worst case scenario the engine goes - cost for repair/replacement - $3,000 or $5,000? Perhaps someone can tell me the most common major problems (suspension, leaks, engine, etc.) and what it cost them to fix.


3 - I can get Good Sam roadside assistance and RV insurance. The extended service plan I cannot get because the RV would be too old (>15 years).


4 - Also, how do you get groceries when you stay at a national park or RV park for over a month? (ex: stock up for a month, go every week, etc.? I am sure some national parks are far away from a grocery store.)


I am just trying to plan ahead and get an overview of what to expect so that I am not left stranded in a national park because I did not have the foresight of the $$$ of a major RV occurrence. This is my only concern that holds me back from making this dream happen. I know there are people here that have full timed for many years and I would be extremely grateful for any insight.

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First let me welcome you to the Escapee forums. We are happy that you have chosen to join us and we will do all that we are able to help & support you.


1) Brands? When you look to RVs of more than 10 years age, most of them are going to be of fairly good quality & maintenance history or they won't still be in service. Unless you are an RV expert or very experienced RV owner you should be sure to have any potential RV checked over by a mechanic and an RV tech who you trust and have faith in. That is critical to make sure that you have a suitable RV no matter the make. It is true that we all have favorite brands an some of those with the best reputations are those from companies like Newmar, Tiffin, Winnebago, Itasca, and perhaps a few others.


2) Much of the cost to get an engine or transmission replaced will probably be at least that much, unless you are mechanically inclined and able to do the work yourself. In addition, it can be a problem to locate a place to do the work yourself. In addition, you may have a problem of where to live while the engine or transmission is being replaced as that usually requires lifting the RV up well off of the shop floor.


3) Emergency road service does not pay for any repairs, it only does things like fuel delivery if out, jump start if needed, open doors if locked out, or towing to a repair shop if that is required. There are several good road service companies but the one that is endorsed by Escapees & which gives our members a discount is Coach Net.


4) National parks, other federal agencies with parks, and pretty much all state parks have a limit of length of stay which is usually 14 days. In fact county and nearly all public parks have such a rule although some do make exceptions in slow use periods, but to my knowledge no national park does this. That is important to keep in mind as you plan. If you don't have any vehicle other than the RV to drive then the only way that I know of to get groceries and other needed supplies is to drive the RV to them. It may be a long distance, but I know of no other choice unless you rent a car or something of that nature.

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About maintenance costs, wood rot from leaks can be a major expense. I think one of the potential problem areas is in the cab over area. Make very sure there is no old leaks or wood rot. Repairs can run higher than a rebuilt transmission. The bad part about the wood rot is, it remains hidden until something starts coming apart.


As Kirk said, if you don't have a toad(towing a second vehicle) you drive your RV to go for groceries.


If you are not going to tow a vehicle, and assuming your are single, I would suggest a Class C in the 24' range. The 24' is easy to maneuver in parking lots and will be very easy to park in National Forests, National Parks and other public camping areas.


If you don't want the expense and maintenance of a car, consider a scooter and put it on, or in, a small utility trailer you tow. The scooter will get you to the grocery store, and other places.


Traveling on $24,000 a year will be difficult. Work camping or volunteer work that provides free parking & utilities will make your limited income go a lot farther.

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National, state, and county owned parks rarely have full hookup spots so we bought our groceries and did our laundry when we had to move to dump our tanks anyway. Satellite view on Google Maps is a great help in finding places you can park an RV while doing laundry. Be aware that public laundries are NOT cheap so you might want to start out with as many hand washables as you can.


Linda Sand

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Having had a 25 ft class C without a tow vehiclefor the last 5 years, I can tell you that it is an enjoyable way to go.

We only go to town every 10 to 15 days. When we move, we stop at a grocery store before we go to the next CG.

One can always buy a lot of canned or boxed food if one isn't particular especially about salt.

The frig in a small unit is kind of limiting, but with a good usage of space and plastic containers, you can get a lot of fresh and frozen foods in one.

I know that when we stock up, getting things from the frig means moving 3 or 4 things out of the way.

Another solution is one our friends use. They buy a lot of meat on sale, and then cook it up immediately and store it. We never do this, but hey.

Lastly, you can always make friends in the CG and offer to pay for gas or take them to lunch and go with them when they go shopping. A great way to meet new people and form friendships.

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I would like to recommend two additional sources for research and information:


RV Sue She posts some of her budgets and while not a class c for a rig does have a similar profile of limited budget and how to stretch it.


Cheap RV Living Again, not a class c but he has pointers and reference materials on how to get the most bang for a buck.


When we had a class c our biggest expense was an awning failure - $1200 to replace and repair the damage when it went. Kick myself in the butt for not shelling out the little $140 for a gazebo folding tent thing instead of replacing the whole awning (especially since we upgraded a few months after).


Since you are buying used, become really anal when it comes to regular maintenance and budget for an increased or more frequent cycle. What little more you spend on the front end will be paid for in the long run by lack of problems.

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@Kirk (moderator) Thanks for the welcome - and the long informative response!



This is quite a pleasant surprise to get so much information from all of you in such a short amount of time. I will continue to monitor and save these pages for my reference - each post has helped tremendously in its own way. Thank you once again to each of you (and for the future posters) for taking time out of your day to respond!


p.s. - My Plan B would be to get a used 3/4 ton pickup truck and a Shasta vintage trailer that is still in good condition.

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p.s. - My Plan B would be to get a used 3/4 ton pickup truck and a Shasta vintage trailer that is still in good condition.

I'm not so sure but what this might be a better choice than a motorized one over the course of things. There are a lot of travel trailers around that are still in pretty good condition for a very reasonable price. If your budget of $5000 is absolute for both the truck and the RV or the class C as you eventually choose, it may be difficult to find one in reasonably good condition. Plan to spend a lot of time looking and you probably won't find many candidates on dealer lots. Places like Craig's List will be much more likely.

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