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Buying a Motorhome


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Hi All,

My husband and I have recently sold our home and want to buy a Motor-home and travel full-time.

We are not new to camping. We used to have a 5th wheel Toy Hauler and used it quite a bit. Last year we took it on a month long trip and based on that experience, determined we would like to get a Motor-home instead.

We have done a lot of research on what we want in a motor-home as far as the layout, which is important when considering this as your full-time residence and buying new versus used. There are several questions we have however, and hope you all can provide lessons learned and opinions on what we should/should not consider.

  1. New versus Used
    • We are thinking of purchasing a used motor-home based on our budget and hopefully all the kinks will be resolved versus a new one
  2. Gas versus Diesel
    • Gas motor-homes tend to be cheaper to buy than a diesel, however it appears they may not be built as well. Are the significant differences that would help to determine which to buy other than cost?
  3. Private Party versus Dealer
    • A person can save money via a private party - no dealership fees, but you have no recourse as well. If you buy through a private party, what are some things you can do to protect yourself?
    • If you buy through a dealer, you can always try to go back to them if problems, but again, with a used motor-home, not sure there is any recourse there either, if things are not what you thought.
  4. COVID19
    • Is this a good time to think about traveling? We have no home, and traveling is what we want to do, but has anyone experienced a problem with finding RV campsites closed due to the virus?
    • We want to stay here in AZ from Sept - Dec to celebrate the important holidays with our grandkids, but in checking a couple of CAL AM RV parks, they mentioned they don't know for sure if they will be open to new reservations this fall. It all depends. So, is this a good time to be thinking of buying an RV and traveling or should we wait?

 

Thank-you all in advance for your feedback.

 

Emily

 

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Your questions beg more questions........

The biggest being, are you willing to do your own maintenance and light repairs?  Are you the type person to buy extended warranty? Is outright mileage as/more important than overall cost of ownership?

Personally, I buy used.  I try to buy higher quality, and by buying used, I can get more for less $$.  We have reached an age where we aren't willing to finance things, so this philosophy fits us.  I'm willing to risk having to fix what may go wrong.  Having said all that, I don't worry much about warranties either.  Out rig is old and well used, and we sometimes have to dig deep and pay for repairs.  But it's not depreciating much, and interest is zip.

As to the diesel/gas question...... none of the high end motorhomes offer gas engines.  If you're going full time, consider a bigger diesel pusher with some miles under it's belt. 

Take your time and look around.  Deals are out there.  My brother just bought a 2004 36' Winnebago Brave with less than 60,000 miles on it for under $10k.  5500 watt Onan genny included. Tires are less than 1 year old too.

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Regarding Covid. There are plenty of lists of Covid closed campgrounds. I am not sure how they all get their information from. I know one company that checks weekly with all the campgrounds that they have on their database. If you are full time, there is no rush and you are self-contained so you can always boon dock.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! 

New versus Used  There is no question that you can save some money by choosing a used RV, if you buy one that is in good condition. On the other hand, a new one will come with a warranty where used ones rarely have any warranty at all so condition becomes of vital importance. You can mitigate the risk with a used RV if you buy an "extended warrant" which is basically a health insurance policy for the RV. If you choose to do that, shop very carefully to make sure that you get a good one. 

Gas versus Diesel  You will find that many here will tell you not to even consider a gas powered coach, but there are many who do choose gas and use them quite successfully. We lived fulltime in a gasoline powered coach for 12 years and the people who bought it from us spent several more years on the road with it. Diesel coaches do have some clear advantages, but for the price difference they clearly should. If buying used, the condition becomes even more critical if you buy diesel as repair costs for diesels are far higher than gasoline. To me, the biggest single advantage to the diesels is the air ride with is by far the best ride in a motorhome. In some cases the diesels also have a higher cargo capacity, but not all of them do so be careful. In addition, diesels usually have more and better pass-through storage. If budget is not too limiting, then choose a diesel but if you need to save funds then a high quality gas coach will serve well. 

Private Party versus Dealer  There can be advantages to either choice, but if you buy from a dealer you could have some recourse while a private sale is over as soon as title transfers. In addition, if you are financing that is much less difficult if buying from a dealer. As you are shopping, don't forget to check out the consignment dealers as well. If you buy from a private party it is very important to have the coach professionally inspected before you pay for it to make sure that you are getting a good RV. Even buying from a dealer that is a good thing to do when buying used.

COVID19   At this time travel is rather limited and finding a place to stay can be a problem, but it look like thing are starting to improve. As we listen to the various reports, there is a good possibility that things could get more difficult this winter if we get a new outbreak as some scientists expect. It is difficult to tell you what to expect in the immediate future, but I think that if I were in your position I would move very slowly in making the change now. It is really a matter of assessing the risk and choosing what level of risk is acceptable to you. If you do this, have some sort of plan for what you will do if you should contract covid19. 

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Used versus new. Used!  Several reasons: all known problems and safety recalls are usually apparent and fixed within the first couple of years,  manufacturers (before the China virus) were delivering RV ,'s to the dealers with 'you fix whatever is not correct under the warranty'.  As a side note I know of two fairly expensive, above $350K,  which had more time at the dealer's lot  than available for travel, due to manufacturer's failure to exercise quality control,  over a two year period.

Extended warranty?  Be careful on the fine print. Research, research and the do some more before paying the money.

Have money available for the unexpected repairs. 

Yes to an inspection of candidate unit. Demand the inspector's  bonafides.  What training?  Certification by what organization?  I knew of three inspector's. All very good at surveying an RV and noting all the problem areas and all the areas or systems which were satisfactory.  Oil samples were analyzed for engine, transmission and differential.  A good inspector will be about four hours on the RV and provide a written report with pictures.  Cost $300 - 500.

Private versus dealer: usually a private sale is less expensive than the dealer.  However,  inspection required.  

Gas versus diesel:  We had three gas front engine gas motorhomes.  Then we converted an over the road bus. Air ride, diesel engine in the rear, huge cargo bays.  Went that route because the function of a bus is to carry passengers in comfort for long distances.  So my vote is diesel . Verify GVW and as presented weight. During your test drive run it through a scale.  Moving companies, trash dumps, truck stops, and scrap yards.  This confirms your carry capacity with real numbers.

Good luck in your purchase.

Bill

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I can't comment on the motor home because I've never had one.   We have a fiver.

Regarding the pandemic, we had plans to travel this year.  Those are on hold.  We found a park that will take us on an annual basis and we are staying put in Florida.  When we came into this park we were required to self-isolate for 14 days.  Most of the park facilities are closed although the pool is open.  It is an outdoor pool in direct sun, and pool furniture is spread out.

The biggest problem I see is the lack of knowledge and the lack of a crystal ball.  There are many conflicting scenarios regarding the effects of reopening the economy.  At this point there is no way of knowing what your destinations will be facing in the months to come.  If you need a place to stay you might try contacting parks that have an annual or seasonal rental agreement.  Tell them you are willing to self isolate on your site for two weeks.  They may let you move in.

One concern I have is what to do if a hurricane decides to move through.  We are trying to find alternate sites to move to, depending on the storm path.

 

Good luck.

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13 hours ago, Jinx & Wayne said:

One concern I have is what to do if a hurricane decides to move through.  We are trying to find alternate sites to move to, depending on the storm path.

 

That is a valid concern.  We are FL residents and live here mid-October to mid-May.  We head back to Wisconsin mid-May to mid-October.  We love both places during the times of the year we are there for many reasons.  Avoiding hurricane season in FL is one of those reasons. 

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Welcome, Emily. Lots of opinions on everything, and as always, the correct answer is, "It depends on you." A diesel pusher will cost you more to buy and maybe to own, but gives you lots of advantages, as mentioned above. Gas is cheaper to buy and maybe to own, as mentioned above. Your choice. Remember that everyone drives a used vehicle. All recreational vehicles depreciate, so you can buy a nicer MH for the same amount of money if you are willing to go a bit older. The one we're in was $350,000 new in 1993. I've got it for sale for 10% of that now.

Hurricanes: A visitor to Florida asked an old timer where he should go if a hurricane was coming. The old timer answered, "Michigan." An RV has wheels so it can go elsewhere when that seems like a good idea. Just don't be the last one our of Florida.

Covid: There are some great deals to be had now. We're getting to the main travel season, and things are starting to open up. Be careful, but be ready to buy when the right coach comes along.

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On 5/15/2020 at 7:39 AM, Ray,IN said:

There are High-end gas powered motorhomes. Tiffin is just one, rear liquid springs are offered as optional, and air bags may be installed in F53 front coil springs to improve ride quality.

 

I thought Ford uses leaf springs on the F53 chassis?  Chevy had the airbag assist coil springs up front.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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1 hour ago, Lou Schneider said:

I thought Ford uses leaf springs on the F53 chassis?

That was true of the Ford chassis that we had but I've not checked them out recently. After a few years I added air bags due to some settling of the springs and I wished after that I had done so sooner. I just looked at the F53 specs online for 2020 and it seems that is still the case.

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19 hours ago, Lou Schneider said:

I thought Ford uses leaf springs on the F53 chassis?  Chevy had the airbag assist coil springs up front.

Good catch! I was focused on the difference between air springs and air bags and forgot Ford still uses a solid axle and leaf springs. Firestone makes air bags for that arrangement too: https://www.sdtrucksprings.com/suspension-air-bags/firestone-air-bag-kits/ford/motorhome-class-a

Edited by Ray,IN
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On 5/15/2020 at 10:39 AM, Ray,IN said:

There are High-end gas powered motorhomes. Tiffin is just one, rear liquid springs are offered as optional, and air bags may be installed in F53 front coil springs to improve ride quality.

 

True.  I guess I should had suggested that as you climb the quality ladder, it becomes harder to find gas engines.  Tiffin makes nice stuff, but their bigger models come with diesels.

One thing we don't know, is a "comfort range" of what the OP want to spend. That might be a consideration......

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all, Some interesting reading as a real out of towner....South African.

Where does one start looking for a reasonable used RV online? In one of the first responses Rickeieio mentioned an amazing price.

 

my idea has sprung from the corona virus and working form home for 6 weeks without a single face to face with a client. Heck lets do that from an RV touring a country.

So I'm looking for a decent used RV but online searches have only lead me to some beautiful used items in dealerships with decent price tags.

Not afraid of running repairs as have toured southern African countries and done my fair share of roadside repairs - even half way up mountain tracks.

Travel safely all

G

 

 

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PPL Motorhomes is a large consignment dealer in Texas and is a good starting point.  I've bought RVs using Craigslist in the past but you have to be aware of possible scams.  Same for Facebook Marketplace.

Copart is a nationwide vehicle auction company and they often have RVs with varying levels of damage in their local wholesale auctions.  But you'll have to register in advance and may need a vehicle dealer's license in some states.

RVTrader.com and RVT.com  probably have the largest number of used RVs for sale throughout the country, both from dealers and private parties.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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18 hours ago, Graeme said:

Hi all, Some interesting reading as a real out of towner....South African.

Are you thinking of coming here to use the RV, or did you want to use it at home? We used to have some friends who owned an RV kept in Dallas when not in use that came from South Africa. They were members of Escapees and spent about half time here with the RV, but they sold it several years ago to buy a boat in New Zealand. I've not seen them since that. 

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Wow. That's part of the dream Kirk.

The idea/dream is to look for a relatively cheap and old RV to tour the States in when over and store when not there. Hitch up a trailer for the motorcycles and have pure freedom.

Not looking to try import back to South Africa - no left hand drives allowed to be imported unless a classic/collectable.

At the moment just looking at what they go for and doing the horrific currency conversion to see if buying and storing is better than renting per trip.

g

 

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You may find it helpful to read this article from my website that was written by an Australian friend who had 2 different motorhomes  kept in the US over a period of about 15 years, kept in 2 different states. Bruce has now sold his US RV due to some health issues but is stall an active RV owner down-under and in fact just left for a trip there. 

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