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Life expectancy of an 5th'r when used full time?


Storx

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I was curious what the life expectancy is on 5th wheel RV's in regards to them staying sealed and things falling apart...

Today (well yesterday now) i drove out to see 2 larger RV dealers that had a lot of decent priced units on the internet near me.. i noticed that many of the 5+ year ones had mold in the corners of the walls when i was looking them over really well and looking in every cabinet and such.. Most of the visible surfaces were clean and didnt show signs of water leaks, but i had 3 different trailers under 5 years old have signs of mold, one was only 4 years old and when i stepped near the edge of the cabinets the floor was slightly squishy... or not as firm as the rest of the unit and they tried to tell me that is normal in a trailer ( i didnt say anything back, but i am not dumb and knew it wasnt....)

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I was curious what the life expectancy is on 5th wheel RV's in regards to them staying sealed and things falling apart...

 

 

That is a good question, and one that probably depends greatly on the quality of the unit when new and how well it is maintained. We owned a good quality fifth wheel for about 11 years. The first nine years we were still working, and the trailer got 6-8 weeks of use each year. The last couple of years we were full time and we noticed how much "faster" the unit aged during that period.

 

That being said, we're now in a NuWa Hitchhiker that is about to reach four years old, all full time, and we've not seen signs of anything getting soft or breaking down at all. We've got friend who full-timed in their Hitchhiker for ten years and then replaced it with another. They were starting to see some wear-and-tear issues after ten years but the trailer was fundamentally sound. We've got other friends that have been full-timing for about 18 months in a very popular mass-produced fifth wheel and have started noticing squeaking floors and other signs of movement.

 

So I'd imagine that long-term full-timing is the area where you really see the difference between the mass-produced trailers and the more heavily built "full-time" units.

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Two things effect life when used for full time use. One is maintenance and care. Keep up with the sealants and leaks. Mold is a sign of moisture intrusion generally.

 

Next is original built quality. The cheaper units are really weekend and vacation units. Furniture and carpet will not hold up well. Cabinets made from particle board and vinyl wood look covering that is stapled together will not hold up well.

 

For full time, look for real wood cabinets that area screwed and glued construction. Look for dual pane windows and better insulation

 

There are several manufacturers that build what they call a full time unit, but in reality, they use the same construction as the cheaper weekend units, just adding some glitz and bling to catch the buyers eye and charge a few more dollars.

 

If you are looking at used, there are several high end manufacturers that are now out of business that are good units. Look at RVs by Excel, Teton, Carriage (Cameo) and HitchHiker (NuWa). If you are looking for newer, look at Mobile Suites (DRV) and Lifestyle. If you really want to spend some money, look at Spacecraft and New Horizons.

 

Next is the issue of a truck. When you get into the true full time units, you are looking at a newer 1 ton dual rear wheel diesel as a minimum and often an F450/4500 or larger. Full time units are heavier than the same length weekend RV.

 

Have fun shopping .

 

Ken

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Real life you can never tell (how long will you live?). It will be dependent on your locations,how often you move the type of moves you do and a whole list of other things. The rig will last as long as you want to keep fixing it. If you go around before your move and after to check all the screws, connectors and everything in between you might find something early enough to tighten before it breaks. There are many things that have a much shorter life span than expected. Water is the most damaging and it can come from many different causes. Rain is probably the least worrisome. Humidity and condensation are the big problems because they get into everything and are often unnoticed. Insulation and air circulation are prime culprits. Too much of one and not enough of another cause most of the problems. Plan on it lasting much less than expected and then be happy and surprised when it lasts longer.

 

 

Rod

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Like others have said, it depends on how well it has been maintained and what kind of unit you have. I have not been very conscientious in maintaining my 2008 Hitchhiker during 8 years of full-time use and it could use a good paint job right now. Decals are starting to peel off. Estimates for this have ranged from $10,000 to $20,000. I know a Hitchhiker owner that takes his unit back to the factory (now, a repair facility) at regular intervals and has the caulking replaced among other things but he has more money than he knows what to do with. We recently spent $9,000 at RV Renovators in Mesa, AZ for work that could be classified as fixing issues attributed to wear and tear and upgrades. Surprisingly, all of the major appliances are still working although I have made some minor repairs over the years. Many makers of full-time units have gone out of business and a few others have popped up. Prices have skyrocketed. I paid $35,000 for a 2004 Cedar Creek. Now they want $80,000 for one. That's why I haven't bought another new RV. A 2016 DRV Elite Suites has an MSRP over $150,000. I guess I'll keep putting money into my current unit.

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I will share our experience with a 37' Toyhauler 5er.

 

For us the life was / turned out to be measured in miles. We replaced the Toyhauler at 110,000 miles. In 110,000 miles we had to rebuild / replace the suspension 3 times including spring mounts, hangers & bolts. We were told the normal life of the factory installed teflon bushings was 20,000 miles but we did upgrade after the factory setup to bronze bushings & grease-able bolts. This did extend the life. During this time we also had to rebuild two interior walls, replace the converter, two full brake rebuild/replacement, had 11 tire failures, one hub failure and finally gen problems with the new ethanol fuel. Some of the repairs were on the factory warranty as we purchased new. Afer 7 years we upgrade to a Diesel Pusher.

 

rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

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It is safe to assume that appliance items and water fixtures will not last as long as the box. If it's a motorhome the life of drive train items will be more dependent on miles and driving styles.

 

For me, the presence of a full aluminum or steel frame for the living quarters provides significant insurance against damage from water intrusion. It does not make it invincible but does insure that there can be very little structural damage.

 

Our 5th wheel is a 1999 King of the Road. The problems we have had have been directly due to water intrusion over long periods with no effective corrections. Once I fixed them, there has not been any more new occurrances.

 

The worst item is mold. It does not take a leak to become a problem. Just failure to manage the humidity very well will do it. Closets and cabinets on outside walls that don't vent very well are big problems. Even having no air gap between the mattress/pillows and the outside wall can cause a lot of it to accumulate. A dehumidifier is a partial solution but in spaces with no circulation, it does not help much. Keep your A/C filters clean as you can. They can become mold breeding grounds faster than anything else and can be a primary source of mold spores throughout the RV.

 

Mold won't physically damage much except the occupants of the RV but that should be caution enough. It will grow on glass on windows that are kept behind closed blinds or curtains, year around.

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One couple I know of have a 1998 Carriage that looks NEW. It has been repainted in the last 4-5 years, and they had the interior renewed.

How long an RV lasts is all about how much maintenance the owners do. We are in a 2009 Carrilite that has no issues, but I keep up with all the little issues that appear.

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We bought our Holiday Rambler 2000 Alumilite used in 2007. We did a few upgrades but strtucurally that puppy was sound. When we traded it for our motorhome in 2013 the dealer was very impressed with its overall condition. The decals were still sound, but as little faded. The big issue was that the painted aluminum skin had started to chalk and had a couple spits where the paint had worn off.

We only had one water intrusion early on (found the seal on the lower frame was not attached properly so water from the road goes up creating a wet floor). We fixed it and did need to put in as new piece when we swapped the carpet out for laminate.

Over all we felt it was better built than almost anything we saw at the time except Carriage and NuWa.

Truth be told when we bought pur MH we did search for a newer 5th wheel and other very high dollar, out of our budget we coylsdnt cdone fliase to that quality again

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I will share our experience with a 37' Toyhauler 5er.

 

For us the life was / turned out to be measured in miles. We replaced the Toyhauler at 110,000 miles. In 110,000 miles we had to rebuild / replace the suspension 3 times including spring mounts, hangers & bolts. We were told the normal life of the factory installed teflon bushings was 20,000 miles but we did upgrade after the factory setup to bronze bushings & grease-able bolts. This did extend the life. During this time we also had to rebuild two interior walls, replace the converter, two full brake rebuild/replacement, had 11 tire failures, one hub failure and finally gen problems with the new ethanol fuel. Some of the repairs were on the factory warranty as we purchased new. Afer 7 years we upgrade to a Diesel Pusher.

 

rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

 

X 10 at least.........

Right on regarding the lack of quality of design as well as way-too-cheap components that make up the vast majority of RV units.........

 

To be truthful most RV's are cobbled-together for "Very -Light-Duty-Cycle-Use"..........think maybe a two week vacation maybe ever couple of years..........

 

We have had several low end a couple of mid-range and a couple of custom "High-End" units and all REQUIRE a fair bit of upkeep as well as UPGRADES if you increase the "Duty-Cycle" to part-time use and full-timing can be a nice near-full-time job to keep in top condition......it's also handy to have a fairly well-funded checking account..............

 

RV,s typically designed and built as ..........toys......not homes........

 

Drive on............(Rv's .........great 2nd jobs......)

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Our experience is:

In 1996 we bought a brand new 1996 Carriage 38' triple axle, triple slide 5th wheel and a brand new 1996 Dodge Ram dually pickup to go fulltime RV'ing. We are still in our Carriage. We added something we wanted/needed every few years just to keep it fresh and safe. Dutch meticulously maintains the exterior and under carriage and I am diligent in maintaining the interior as it is our home.

We did have the exterior painted in 2010 {because we couldn't find anything new we liked better} & I freshened up the interior by replacing the carpet, had the couch and kitchen chairs reupholstered & added a new counter top just to bring the interior into the current color scheme. The the RV & truck are in almost constant use. Dutch's comment when we pulled out back then was "well, we're good to go for another 15 years!" Except for a rare occasion, we rarely stay anywhere more than a few weeks but are going to try a 3 months stay this year just to see if we like it. In January 2016 we start on our 20th year of fulltiming. We've had no mold or anything "falling apart" but we are the only owners and all was bought brand new.

We sadly traded in our truck with 347,720 miles on her for a new one. That was a mistake but it was taken care of by Dodge and they replaced the 2014 "lemon" with a wonderful 2015 Dodge Ram dually 3500. We hope we will get as many miles out of this one.

Appliance wise, we replaced our Air conditioner 2009, fridge in 2014, washing machine in early 2015 & just last week we realized our hot water tank had bit the dust-makes warm water but not hot so that will be replaced later this month. Thank goodness for our propane water heater.

To me, that is really good life span for things that are in use daily.

This is just what our experience has been. Hope it helps. Hugs, Di

 

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Our experience is:

In 1996 we bought a brand new 1996 Carriage 38' triple axle, triple slide 5th wheel and a brand new 1996 Dodge Ram dually pickup to go fulltime RV'ing. We are still in our Carriage. We added something we wanted/needed every few years just to keep it fresh and safe. Dutch meticulously maintains the exterior and under carriage and I am diligent in maintaining the interior as it is our home.

We did have the exterior painted in 2010 {because we couldn't find anything new we liked better} & I freshened up the interior by replacing the carpet, had the couch and kitchen chairs reupholstered & added a new counter top just to bring the interior into the current color scheme. The the RV & truck are in almost constant use. Dutch's comment when we pulled out back then was "well, we're good to go for another 15 years!" Except for a rare occasion, we rarely stay anywhere more than a few weeks but are going to try a 3 months stay this year just to see if we like it. In January 2016 we start on our 20th year of fulltiming. We've had no mold or anything "falling apart" but we are the only owners and all was bought brand new.

We sadly traded in our truck with 347,720 miles on her for a new one. That was a mistake but it was taken care of by Dodge and they replaced the 2014 "lemon" with a wonderful 2015 Dodge Ram dually 3500. We hope we will get as many miles out of this one.

Appliance wise, we replaced our Air conditioner 2009, fridge in 2014, washing machine in early 2015 & just last week we realized our hot water tank had bit the dust-makes warm water but not hot so that will be replaced later this month. Thank goodness for our propane water heater.

To me, that is really good life span for things that are in use daily.

This is just what our experience has been. Hope it helps. Hugs, Di

 

 

Di,

Would you please explain more about your trouble with the 2014 Dodge? I traded my older Dodge dually in on a new 2014 Dodge dually and for the past two years this truck has been a nightmare. It has left me stranded twice while pulling the RV, with a blown rear end. The rear end has been rebuilt twice and it now is starting to make noises again, so I assume it will go out again shortly. . . and the vehicle only has 20k on it as of today. I can't keep the front end aligned. I've had it realigned but it just chews up the tires on the front. Chrysler has refused to do any sort of buy back. After the second rear end rebuild I asked them to buy it back and was never even given the courtesy of a response.

 

I am curious what your problems were with yours?

 

Thanks

Jim

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I would guess that the RVs you looked at were entry level and used for weekends or one trip a year and then stored. This is how leaks can gain control - when it just sits and it's not monitored.

 

When a full-timer lives in it daily small issues are usually taken care of right away before they get to be big issues.

 

We lived and travel constantly for 8 years in a Travel Supreme 5th wheel and 8 years in a Newmar motorhome. Neither showed any disrepair when they were sold. These were also both quality RVs that were well-built. We kept them up perfectly inside and out.

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Di,

Would you please explain more about your trouble with the 2014 Dodge? I traded my older Dodge dually in on a new 2014 Dodge dually and for the past two years this truck has been a nightmare. It has left me stranded twice while pulling the RV, with a blown rear end. The rear end has been rebuilt twice and it now is starting to make noises again, so I assume it will go out again shortly. . . and the vehicle only has 20k on it as of today. I can't keep the front end aligned. I've had it realigned but it just chews up the tires on the front. Chrysler has refused to do any sort of buy back. After the second rear end rebuild I asked them to buy it back and was never even given the courtesy of a response.

 

I am curious what your problems were with yours?

 

Thanks

Jim

I am not trying to steer you away from your truck man, but the newer trucks are just garbage in my opinion unless you drive them as a passenger vehicle... they are just pushing the limits of the engine to the extreme edge under just normal driving... so when someone actually puts weight behind it a few times they fall apart....

I had an 1995 Dodge Ram Diesel pickup that i got from my grandfather with over 300k on it, i then converted it to SVO straight veggie oil out of just toying with it and got over 500k before trading it in after Dodge offering me 25k off a new Cummins powered pickup... The truck i got from the trade in was the biggest peace of garbage i ever owned.. spent more time at the dealership then on the road so i sold it after trying to get dodge to buy it back with no results...it wasnt just one thing that broke it was a new thing each time...

 

This was my 1995 Dodge Cummins pickup...

1juvpl.jpg

 

This is the package and letter i got from Dodge when they realized i had over 500k on it....

2a600gw.jpg

 

fc4gbb.jpg

 

1588n5v.jpg

 

Then i traded it in for this peace of junk.....

r2npr6.jpg

 

In the 2 years i owned the new one, the Front axle had to be rebuilt, the transmission was serviced 2 times, the turbo went out, then shortly after i had the 2nd turbo go out and they replaced the entire emission system on the exhaust, then right before i traded it in the power body module went out shorting out all 6 fuel injectors, which lead to 7k in fuel injectors replaced under warranty... Dont get me wrong the actual engine never gave me a single issue in itself, it was all of the garbage that dodge added to the truck around the engine that failed... the turbo failed twice due to DPF failures, the injectors shorted out because one of the wires in the body module melted through the plastic box and shorted itself against the body of the truck..

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Di,

Would you please explain more about your trouble with the 2014 Dodge? I traded my older Dodge dually in on a new 2014 Dodge dually and for the past two years this truck has been a nightmare. It has left me stranded twice while pulling the RV, with a blown rear end. The rear end has been rebuilt twice and it now is starting to make noises again, so I assume it will go out again shortly. . . and the vehicle only has 20k on it as of today. I can't keep the front end aligned. I've had it realigned but it just chews up the tires on the front. Chrysler has refused to do any sort of buy back. After the second rear end rebuild I asked them to buy it back and was never even given the courtesy of a response.

 

I am curious what your problems were with yours?

 

Thanks

Jim

Hi Jim

I'm sorry to hear how much trouble you have had with your 2014. Lets just say that our 2014 just caused us headaches from the time we picked it up from the dealer in October of 2013. It was one of the 1st batches of 2014's made. After 9 visits to various Dodge dealers in less than a year, I had had enough. I had started calling Dodge much earlier & continued each time we finished with a new dealer & still had problems. I went thru so many departments but I finally got to the right one and they eventually agreed to order a 2015 replacement for me. Only commitment on our end was figuring out what dealer to have it delivered to, go to a nearby park and wait for it. I did not want a buy back for several reasons. 1. We did want to stay with Dodge. 2. All of the aftermarket items, hitch, electric roll top cover, retracting side steps and AMP side & rear step we had the original dealer put on our 2014 {as part of our "deal} I made them agree to take off our 14 & put on our 2015 at no charge. I know there was a # 3 & I'll add it when I remember what it was. We finally picked it up in April of this year and what a difference. Fingers crossed but it runs and drives like a dream so I think it was right for me to give up so much of my time to be continually on the phone to get them to replace this truck. I kept very good records of every phone call, department & person I talked to & I committed to just not giving up. If they didn't call me back when they said they would, I called back again be it day, evening or weekend.

Each person has to do what they feel is best for them and I know how much Dutch wanted a new Dodge before someday getting off the road so I just kept at them. Di

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Hi Jim

I'm sorry to hear how much trouble you have had with your 2014. Lets just say that our 2014 just caused us headaches from the time we picked it up from the dealer in October of 2013. It was one of the 1st batches of 2014's made. After 9 visits to various Dodge dealers in less than a year, I had had enough. I had started calling Dodge much earlier & continued each time we finished with a new dealer & still had problems. I went thru so many departments but I finally got to the right one and they eventually agreed to order a 2015 replacement for me. Only commitment on our end was figuring out what dealer to have it delivered to, go to a nearby park and wait for it. I did not want a buy back for several reasons. 1. We did want to stay with Dodge. 2. All of the aftermarket items, hitch, electric roll top cover, retracting side steps and AMP side & rear step we had the original dealer put on our 2014 {as part of our "deal} I made them agree to take off our 14 & put on our 2015 at no charge. I know there was a # 3 & I'll add it when I remember what it was. We finally picked it up in April of this year and what a difference. Fingers crossed but it runs and drives like a dream so I think it was right for me to give up so much of my time to be continually on the phone to get them to replace this truck. I kept very good records of every phone call, department & person I talked to & I committed to just not giving up. If they didn't call me back when they said they would, I called back again be it day, evening or weekend.

Each person has to do what they feel is best for them and I know how much Dutch wanted a new Dodge before someday getting off the road so I just kept at them. Di

Wow, you are very lucky, i video taped most of my talks on speakerphone due to everyone saying they couldn't see notes of someone else i talked to about it or things they promised me one day, i would call back a few days later and noone knew what i was talking about, so i recorded it all on video for evidence and after the fuel injector issue, Dodge simply told me they couldn't do anything for me because none of it was repeated more than 3 times to qualify for buy back or replacement from their company.. so the best they would do was allow me to trade it in toward another vehicle on any dodge lot in the country and they would deliver that vehicle to me, thus how i moved on to a Used C6 Corvette... I actually got the corvette for a really good deal because it was a manager's special out of Miami, FL and they shipped it all the way to me in Denver, CO and gave me trade in value for my pickup as the same amount i bought it for 2 years prior, which in a way is them buying it back, but i couldnt get my money back, i had to buy another vehicle through them..

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Wow, you are very lucky, i video taped most of my talks on speakerphone due to everyone saying they couldn't see notes of someone else i talked to about it or things they promised me one day, i would call back a few days later and noone knew what i was talking about, so i recorded it all on video for evidence and after the fuel injector issue, Dodge simply told me they couldn't do anything for me because none of it was repeated more than 3 times to qualify for buy back or replacement from their company.. so the best they would do was allow me to trade it in toward another vehicle on any dodge lot in the country and they would deliver that vehicle to me, thus how i moved on to a Used C6 Corvette... I actually got the corvette for a really good deal because it was a manager's special out of Miami, FL and they shipped it all the way to me in Denver, CO and gave me trade in value for my pickup as the same amount i bought it for 2 years prior, which in a way is them buying it back, but i couldnt get my money back, i had to buy another vehicle through them..

I'm not sure it was luck as I refused to give up and kept asking for a supervisor, manager, a different department or a loyalty department because we had our other Dodge for 17 years. All I can say is this is what worked for me but keep in mind it was almost a year {time wise} of phone calls and frustration but it was important to me to keep at it & it did pay off in the end. Hugs, Di

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Wearing down granite takes time and persistence. Remember that the market for 1 ton pickups is farm and construction use, not RV towing. They are not designed to run long miles at high speeds with near max loads. They are expected to short haul loads and trailers and are probably overloaded. The expected abuse in this use is the excuse for not honoring warranty work or doing buy-backs.

 

We have a semi. it is designed for hauling long miles at highway speeds and used pretty much 24/7. Though taller than a pickup, it drives and rides better, has far less problems (initial warranty usually runs to 600k), has industry standard parts (mostly) and can be worked on by a lot more people with the tools and skills than one finds in a typical local dealership.

 

Just saying, how well the full-time RV holds up is largely about whether it was designed for that use or not. The same is true of the tow vehicles.

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Wearing down granite takes time and persistence. Remember that the market for 1 ton pickups is farm and construction use, not RV towing. They are not designed to run long miles at high speeds with near max loads. They are expected to short haul loads and trailers and are probably overloaded. The expected abuse in this use is the excuse for not honoring warranty work or doing buy-backs.

 

We have a semi. it is designed for hauling long miles at highway speeds and used pretty much 24/7. Though taller than a pickup, it drives and rides better, has far less problems (initial warranty usually runs to 600k), has industry standard parts (mostly) and can be worked on by a lot more people with the tools and skills than one finds in a typical local dealership.

 

Just saying, how well the full-time RV holds up is largely about whether it was designed for that use or not. The same is true of the tow vehicles.

My intent was not to hijack this thread so if the moderator feels the part about truck issues should be moved to another area, please do do.

Hi Budd,

I'm not sure where you got your information but I know that 5th wheels & travel trailers have been happily going down the road being pulled by pickups well since 5th wheels & TT's have been manufactured. I know that a Dodge pickup was pulling the Carriage in our color informational booklet. In our 19 years of fulltime RV'ing I have seen far more RV's being towed by pickups than semi's but people should buy what they feel works for them. Actually, their are many more pickups just being driven even if they don't RV. Pickups have been "in" for quite a long time now. The tow ratings are in every brochure and they are there for a reason.

We have pulled our same 1996 Carriage with 3 Dodges since 1996. The first one had no major problems for 347,721 miles but I will say that we are never in a hurry so 56 to 58 mph is pretty much standard for us. We have always maintained all of our vehicles meticulously and that has added to the original trucks longevity. It isn't known as the "million mile engine" for nothing. The tranny was the weak point in our Dodge so we made sure we had it inspected about every year to 2 years. Some days we have a very short fun and others we head out in the morning and don't stop until just at dark. We are certainly not lightweight and our 96 had no problem getting us to our destination. I Our 2014 Dodge replacement had nothing at all to do with abuse. We pamper our trucks and we just got a lemon. Our 2015 has over 10,000 miles on her since the end of May and we have had no problems at all and boy does she pull those hills so much easier than our 96. BUT as in life "younger {newer} can usually do more, more easily than older.

I have not been in your semi but the ones I have been in do not ride near as well as our Dodges but that's my opinion after riding in several at least 5. If we are caravaning with another couple, at some point Dutch gets in the "semi" and his wife gets in with me and we drive along for 2 hours then switch back when it is Dutch's turn to drive.

I would never imply that you are wrong but I feel pickups have some such a long, long way from farm and construction only use. Hugs, Di

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