Select an RV

Recently my wife and I were talking about our upcoming long-term tour of the country. I will be 62 years old and we have both dreamed of traveling around the country and seeing everything we have always wanted to see. We own a 32 ft. travel trailer and a Dodge 3500 diesel doubly we’d tow it with. For some reason, I started to think that it would be nice to get a Class A. Apparently, she had been thinking the same thing. So we went to the dealers.

Having no idea what to look for, what kind of budget for the platform would be required, or even operating costs, we decided it would be a good idea to ask as many questions as possible. We are not new to the RV world, having lived full time in a fifth wheel for 10 years it has taught us a lot. We are familiar with the problems of freezing water lines, emptying tanks, installing and tearing down. How to save storage space and buy on a limited budget. So we knew what we wanted inside. But an A-Class is totally different from a fifth wheel on the outside.

We had to see things differently when we hit the road. Our current fifth wheel is 42 feet. long. It is a toy transporter or garage unit. The rear of 14 feet. It was used as an office instead of carrying toys (motorcycles, ATVs, etc.). The storage outside was simply the basement area. With a Class A you have much more storage space. But even that seemed to raise questions. Why do some models offer transfer and others don’t? Why do some models have a lot of storage space and others don’t? Also, almost all Class A RVs have a generator, why? What kind of maintenance do they need? How big would we need? How long will it last etc? It seemed that the more we started looking, the more questions we had. Then the big question, gasoline or diesel.

We really needed to narrow down the selection and get a feel for the costs of an A-Class. If you’ve looked at the A-Class, you know that diesel units cost more than gas units. Sometimes much more. But are they worth it? Our first problem was actually justifying a Class A on the platform we already have and pay for. My son answered that. His feelings were that a Class A offered more options. If you’re on the road and broke down, you had your TOAD (car that you towed behind the A-Class to get around town) that you could unhitch and drive to get help. The second was storage. Regardless of the Class A type (gasoline or diesel), you still have much more storage space than a travel trailer. The operating costs of an A-Class compared to truck and trailer are also better. My truck averages 8 MPG when towing the trailer. A Class A diesel is almost the same. But once camped out, my car (TOAD) gets 30 MPG and the truck gets 16 MPG. Gasoline is currently 30 cents a gallon cheaper than diesel. Our total travel cost would be cheaper.

Next was the size of the platform. We found that if you are going to keep your camping expenses low, the best thing to do is national and state parks along with dry camping. Many parks have a limit on the size of the platform they allow. The closer you get to 40 feet, the more parks you will limit yourself. 36 feet seems to be a sweet spot. Plenty of storage space and convenience and small enough to fit in as many places as possible. Funny how a little information can go a long way. Just knowing we wanted to stay around 36 feet. helped remove many of the platforms.

So now to tackle the big problem, gas or diesel. At first, this seemed like an easy problem. Gas is cheaper, RVs with a gas engine are cheaper. All Class A cars offer a comfortable ride. All Class A ones offer sufficient storage. Having worked on engines in my youth, I knew that a gasoline engine would not have the life of a diesel, but I also knew that they could be rebuilt or replaced quite cheaply when the time came. SO gas was … but why was there such a demand for diesel engines? That pissed me off, so I started asking questions. It seems diesels get better mileage, more lift and go on the mountain, have more towing capacity, have better basement (storage) areas, and generally last a lot longer. When I applied my math skills to the numbers, it turned out that diesel engines had a lower operating cost, better resale value, and lasted longer than gas-powered RVs. Now it was really wrecked, gasoline or diesel? Enter my son-in-law, a mechanic. I had a simple tip … get a diesel. They’re quieter (the engine is usually in the back), they come with a bigger generator (more electric to get things going), and they will last forever. Now we knew where to start narrowing our search. A diesel platform about 36 feet long.

Living space has always been a concern for me. Sometimes I feel a bit claustrophobic. Throw in a few people in a small space (think an elevator) and I’m close to losing it sometimes. So living in an 8 foot wide house on wheels could be a problem. The answer is sliding outputs. Diesel RVs can have many sliding exits. These widen the interior room quite a bit. But the more slides, the more expensive the drive and the more potential problems. After thinking about it, we decided that two slides would be sufficient and a large slide in the living room would be our minimum. After all, we only sleep in the bedroom. But we eat, we read, we entertain ourselves and we relax in the living room.

We no longer have children living with us, so the next thing we thought about was a single room. Then the mother-in-law said that she would love to travel around the country. My wife also brought up the fact that she would love for the grandkids to travel with us from time to time. I know that some of you also have children that you cannot leave at home (although sometimes you want to). We saw some Class A’s that have bunk rooms and they were actually very nice. That may be an option.

It was time to look at the budget. We had a basic idea of ​​what we wanted now in an RV. The question was how much we wanted to spend and whether we could afford to buy what we needed.

I’ve always had an expensive taste. Going to RV shows, I quickly learned that if the RV price was less than $ 300,000, I really didn’t seem to like it. I also knew that we couldn’t afford to pay $ 300,000 for a new motorhome. Sitting with the budget and financial information, we decided what we could afford. We have a situation that is slightly different than most of you and it is a pending settlement of an insurance claim for my wife. For us, the liquidation will be a determining factor on the amount of platform that we can buy. But, for now, we knew that a new platform was not in question, that it would be used would have to suffice.

New set of problems. Used means someone else’s problems. Now there are all kinds of things you can do to limit the problems you run into. Aftermarket insurance and warranties, good pre-sale inspections by a qualified mechanic, talking to the previous owner, buying as new as possible, reading forum reviews, asking questions of professionals and users. In short, do as much research as you can.

So how do you use it? By researching the web, you can find all kinds of used Class A rigs. Some with very little mileage. All different sizes and all different ages. Taking my list of requirements, I started looking at local dealerships, then eBay, and then web searches. I can tell you this; There is no shortage of Class A diesel recreational vehicles for us to look at. Good Sams will cover a platform of up to 14 years. But every year it gets more expensive. So that you can cover yourself for major problems.

There you have it, how to select an RV. With a lot of research and a little luck, you can find the perfect gear for your travels. Decide what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. Then look at local dealers so you can see what it says you should have versus what you want to have. Then, search the web for units in your price range.

There are a host of good quality checklists on the web that you can use to check out your dream motorhome once you’ve narrowed down a few. Use them too. Do you know a good mechanic? Take it with you; It never hurts to have an unbiased eye looking at an important purchase.

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