Yesterday we went to the 2014 Florida RV Supershow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. We always enjoy RV shows as they give you a chance to look at hundreds of different RV models in a low sales pressure environment.
In a sense it’s like home shopping, except the homes are lined up next to each other which makes it easy to compare them. I also love that you can go back and forth between models, as your impression will change over the course of the day. An RV that looked pretty impressive at the start of the show may not look that great after you’ve walked though a hundred other models.
RVs at the show ranged from very modest T@B Teardrop Trailers (less than $10,000) up to Marathon Prevost Bus Conversions. The Liberty Conversion Prevost I walked through was listed for $2.4 Million!!!
While we had a great time at the show (read my tips for getting the most out of an RV show), there were two things that caught my attention:
#1 – Every RV at the show is for sale. As one salesman said to me, “The dealers DO NOT want to drive these RVs back to the sales lot.” Consequently, Every RV at the show has a large sign or sticker advertising Show Special Pricing.
#2 – Show Special Pricing in many cases is still thousands – and sometimes tens of thousands – more than you should pay for an RV.
How Much Should You Pay For an RV?
First of all, how do I know that show special pricing is inflated? Simple, I found a new Winnebago Aspect that had the same MSRP as our Aspect ($116K). The Show Pricing was listed at $99K – a modest 15% discount. We bought our Aspect directly from a dealer in California and paid many thousands less than the $99K Show Pricing we saw advertised.
An even better example was the pricing on a model we really liked – the Tuscany XTE 40GQ. The retail price of that model is $294K and the show pricing was $235K (picture at the top of this article). That may seem like a solid discount at $20% off. That would be wrong!
I checked online at RVTrader.com. I found a listing for the same RV – a 2014 Tuscany XTE 40GQ – from the same Florida RV dealer that had the RV Show Pricing of $235K. What was their RV Trader Price? Try only $220K – an additional savings of $15,000, or a 25% discount off MSRP. (I suspect that there’s another $5K – $10K discount in there too as large RVs typically have a large markup from invoice.)
Note the difference between a markup and a discount. If the dealer buys an RV at invoice for $100,000 and the retail markup is 40% that equals $140K. A 30% discount from retail equals $98,000 ($140K x 70% = $98K) – or less than invoice. In this case a 25% discount is more reasonable as that still gives the dealer some profit and gives you a fair price.
Clearly RV dealers want to give themselves additional room to negotiate at the show. I completely understand that, however I suspect that many of the people at the show aren’t aware that the show special price is a starting point that’s many thousands of dollars higher than what they should pay.
I’m also not trying to single out any RV Dealer which is why I photoshopped out the dealer information. In my experience every RV Dealer uses this tactic, both at RV Shows as well as on the dealer lot. I’m also not suggesting the Dealers are trying to rip you off. They have a right to make a living just like anyone else, and if the consumer doesn’t do their homework and is willing to pay more, well that’s capitalism for you.
What I am suggesting is that if you are planning to purchase a new RV, make sure you’re as informed about the specific model you’d like to purchase as possible, and find out how much you should be paying before you step on a dealer lot. Fortune favors the prepared.
How to Get The Best Possible Deal on an RV
I learned this method from buying cars, but it works just as well when buying RVs.
First, it’s only fair that you’re 100% sure that the model you’re negotiating on is the model you plan to purchase. Don’t go through the effort of getting the best price only to change your mind at the last moment. You’ll weaken your ability to negotiate the next RV – at least with the RV Dealers you worked with the first time around, and it’s a complete waste of your time to boot.
Once you know the model, then you need to find several dealers that carry that brand and model. The best way to do this is to go to RVTrader.com and enter the year, make, and model you’d like to purchase. While it’s helpful to target dealers that are close to you, it’s not necessary for the first step. You can also find dealers by simply searching for the make/year/model using Google or Bing or both – the more the merrier.
Next, contact the dealers through either their website or their RV Trader listing so that you’re in touch with the Internet Manager. Most dealers have a specific person that deals with all the internet traffic, as internet buyers tend to be more savvy and almost always start negotiating at a lower price point because the dealer assumes (correctly) that they’ve already compared prices online.
Now the fun part begins. Ask all of the dealers individually what the best price is they can give you on the model you’re planning to buy. Some of them will tell you that the RV Trader or Internet price is their rock bottom price, and others will knock off a few thousand dollars or more. You might be surprised by how much some of them are willing to drop their price just from asking.
Next take the lowest price you receive and contact each of the other dealers and ask them if they will beat that price. If you have an emailed quote then you can forward that email to other dealers for verification, but usually a call or email referencing the lower priced dealer is just fine as well. [box_right]Note that some RVs will have options that raise or lower the price by anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, so make sure you take that into account.[/box_right]
If one of the dealers is willing to beat the price you then go back to the first dealer and ask them if they’ll beat THAT price, and you can rinse and repeat as long as dealers keep dropping their price.
This method is what I’d consider ‘grinding’ dealers. Don’t feel bad about it! Note that the dealers don’t have to give you anything they don’t want to, and that on the flip side they’re more than happy to charge people far more than they need to pay. Don’t feel bad for trying to get the best possible price – and yes, some dealers will try to guilt you or cry poor. This is just a sales tactic, so ignore it and move on. Once you take possession of the RV the only thing that will matter is that you saved the most money possible.
Alternatively, if you find an incredible price on RV Trader from a dealer, and the dealer is either too far away or already sold the RV you can ask a closer dealer if they’ll match the price on that model. Some will and some won’t, and that’s fine. Sometimes the crazy low prices are only on a demo RV (used at a show or for demo drives). If that’s the case you can’t expect a dealer to match that price on a brand new rig (but it doesn’t hurt to ask).
Long story short, do as much negotiation BEFORE you step on a dealer lot as possible for the best results and the lowest purchase price.
It usually makes the most sense to buy the RV from a local dealer. If you can save $1000 but will need to fly to your destination and drive the RV home, that will cost you more than what you’re saving (obviously).
We found our Aspect 30C listed for less at Lichtsinn Motors – the Winnebago dealer that’s located in Forest City Iowa, only one mile from the Winnebago plant. By purchasing through Lichtsinn we would have saved a couple thousand dollars. I figure because they’re in Forest City and one of the largest Winnebago dealers they get the best pricing from the factory and have relatively low overhead compared to the California dealer we purchased from.
The problem is it costs as much as $300 for a one-way flight, and then it’s about a 2,000 mile drive to the west coast. That’s another $1000 for fuel, not to mention a 3 or 4 day drive, plus the cost of campgrounds, etc… We opted to buy from a local dealer that offered us a solid price instead.
If you have the time, energy, and inclination you may want to travel to get your RV and have it’s maiden voyage be the long drive home. Honestly I would have preferred to do it that way as I would have liked to put the first miles on our rig, but we simply didn’t have the time or flexibility back then. Of course now thing are different. 🙂
Good Preparation Will Save You Money
To be fully prepared when you negotiate the price on your next RV, I recommend you get a copy of the RV Buyer’s Survival Guide.
Author Bob Randall is a 25-year industry veteran, and he worked at both an RV manufacturer and RV dealer. Bob clearly explains how industry markups and discounts work. He covers all RV types, including pop-up trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, Class B/C, and Class A. This is important as each type of RV is marked-up and discounted differently.
Bob even shares how to get the best deal when you trade in your RV. This type of financial information is invaluable when sitting at the dealer’s office – it can literally save you thousands.
If you haven’t yet decided to purchase an RV, the author also discusses other topics that will help you while you’re starting your research. These subjects include: how to determine your ‘real’ RV needs, a glossary of terms (which can get confusing), the pros and cons for each class of RV, and even the best time to buy.
This book is easy to read at just under 100 pages long and we think it’s an essential resource for any and all future RV buyers.
View the RV Buyer’s Survival Guide On Amazon.com →
I really enjoy visiting RV Shows. Not only are they a great place to get ideas for your own RV, but there are also thousands of RV accessories for sale, campground membership information from dozens of different campground networks, and you can even tour super high-end RVs like the Prevost I walked through.
It helps to plan ahead by targeting specific models that you think you’ll be interested in. That said, stay flexible. As great as an RV may look in the brochure, it’s a whole different animal when you’re actually walking through it. Pay attention to things like fit and finish – especially the way drawers, shelves, and cupboards open, close and line up with each other as well as what parts are built using real wood, tile, or granite/Corian, vs. what’s laminate, linoleum, and formica. Some manufacturers cut corners in obvious and unacceptable ways, so pay attention to the differences from make to make and model to model.
If you haven’t been yet, we hope you have the opportunity to visit an RV show soon. They really are fun, and they’re educational too (RV classes!). It’s also interesting to walk through dozens – or hundreds of RVs. There are so many unique models and options that there really is something for everyone.
Our best advice is do your homework before you go to the RV show and (of course) don’t get pressured into buying anything you don’t really want. RVs are expensive and they lose value quickly, so if you buy the wrong RV you may get stuck with it for a while. Take your time and know what you’re getting into ahead of time, and you’ll be much more likely to have a good experience – and to get the RV you and your family really want. Good luck!
Great article. I would like to offer my 2 cents. I purchase smaller TT’s in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. The difference in pricing from one dealer to the other is only about $1500. I’m self employed in a service business. Back and fourth negotiation takes lots of time. If it takes me days of going back and fourth with different dealers that is time I’m taking away from my business. Even if it is only 3 to 4 calls a day for several days or a week that is time I dedicate to this purchase. If I get a decent deal and pay $1,000 more locally but can seal the deal in 2 to 3 calls in one day that is more time I can spend on my business. I will make more money in 1 or 2 days at work than the $1,000 more it cost me for the RV. The old saying in the case “Time Is Money” can’t be more relevant. I guess it all depends on how much you can save. If you are buying an RV worth over say $100,000 than time spent to save $5,000 might be worth time away from work or business. If buying an inexpensive TT for $15,000 time away from work to save $500 to $1,000 may not be worth it. If you’re retired and full Tim, GRIND AWAY! It can be fun and rewarding. Happy camping everyone!
I completely agree with you Lenny – you make a great point. I’d definitely want to get the best price on an expensive Class A where the difference could be $10K or more – but I wouldn’t invest significant time to save $500. It’s still worth a call around to see what kind of deal you can get though. Also – if you’re planning to use your RV dealer for service then it may be worth it to pay a little more to buy from a dealership with a good service record.
Rich, you live full time in your RV, correct? We are in a slightly different boat. Well… RV. We want to buy a class C to travel around Florida. We’ve researched pretty intensively. We’ve found a specific model we want. Two problems- the big name manufacturer doesn’t have a service center in our large city. Second, we’ve, of course, been able to find it much cheaper at a distance. 150 miles away. While I want to support a local dealer, we are close to $5,000 cheaper at a distance. The local dealer won’t budge on price. What is your thought on warranty repair and buying father away?
Hi Jim – That’s a really interesting dilemma. In our case, the dealer we purchased it from went out of business shortly thereafter, so we never worked with a dealer long-term. I did give the RV a thorough once-over before I drove it off the lot and gave then a list of things to fix. They fixed everything, and either dealer should do that (definitely do this including loose screws, cabinets, etc.. check EVERYTHING).
How often does the RV you’re purchasing need warranty work? I’ve heard of Thor owners that had their RV at the dealer more than in their possession, whereas our Winnebago didn’t have anything break for 5 years (leveling jacks control module) so warranty repair never came into play for us.
If it were me, I’d save the $5,000 and buy from the dealer that’s 150 miles away. $5,000 buys a lot of gas – even in an RV. Good luck!
Hi Rich ,
we are Newbies and looking into testing the Rv waters ( Dont Judge ) we had set a budget of less than 100K for a good used Diesel pusher , from all the reseach i have done , i think i wore out the internet …
My wife feels that 50-60 should be our budget , Just in case we dont like it or need to update anything ..
we are east coasters and enjoy the Shore communities , Cape Hatterous , and Fla trips , But never have been Rving , the Tow vehicle scares her the most , i have pointed out sevral as we drive around locally easing her mind .. but would welcome some much needed advise , we are in our 50s now and would look to start working retirement options , Using our vacation time to extend long weekends and possible using the RV to scratch that itch ..
looking forward to your feedback ..
also best used diesel pusher recommendations
Hi John – sorry for the long delay in my reply. Before we began RVing, the Tow vehicle scared me too. After 5 years I barely even think about it. You definitely have to pay attention at small Gas Stations and on city streets, but with a Diesel Pusher you’re rarely going to encounter either. On the highways towing a car is a breeze. You won’t even feel it back there – but you can keep an eye on it with your rear-view camera.
As far as good used Diesel Pushers – I’d look for used Winnebago’s or Fleetwood’s. You should be able to find a solid used RV in your budget from those makers – and I recommend them because those are the older RVs you see in parks the most, so I figure they last. Good luck!
Discount off of MSRP is very relative depending on the model. A $245K motorhome does not have the same mark up as a $30K travel trailer. The quest for a 40% discount due to markup is misleading.
As far as what the person “should pay”. That is what fair market value is all about. Determining what something is worth can only be done by the person who buys it. If the price tag on the camper is worth it to you then buy it, if not find one that is or try to negotiate down. I’ve overwhelmingly found most dealerships/sales lots and it doesn’t make a difference if its a boat, rv, car, or motorcycle are not out to gouge their customers, they need to make money to be able to keep the place open and service the product prior to the sale as well as after. There are plenty of employees working at the dealership that are not working on commission from the sale.
So if the price is worth it to you buy it, if not look for another camper that is worth it to you. You can’t always say I want this camper at 40% off MSRP. In many cases that 40% is below cost for the dealership. If you go in knowing your budget then ask to be shown only campers within that budget you set yourself up for greater success.
Hi Steve – a 40% discount is pretty unlikely regardless of make, model, or markup. I agree that most dealerships are trying to do right by their customers. That said we live in a world where the price of expensive things is negotiable and it makes sense to get the best price possible on something as expensive as an RV. Last – I’d hope that in this day and age people research RVs online ahead of time. Going to a dealer lot without researching ahead of time and asking to be shown ‘only campers within your budget’ is exactly how you get ripped off.
We are considering buying a 2017 Newmar Ventana, LE, 3412. They are a bit pricey but they seem to be built well and have nice amenities. Should we make an offer of 25% less than MSRP to start? We bought our Winnebago View from this dealer and we do really like them but do not want to over pay. Thanks for any input.
Hi Jo – Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – we were on vacation. In general I prefer to have the dealer give me their ‘best price’ first, and then negotiate it down from there. If you offer 25% below MSRP, they’ll negotiate you up and you may end up paying 20% off MSRP when a 25% – 30% discount is possible. That’s why I recommend checking prices – or asking for prices on RVTrader.com and other online sources first. Those will give you a good, realistic starting point that you can negotiate from. Good luck!
1- Buy a one year old leftover unit.
2-But on the last day of the month
If I have not saved up my money for a RV then I will not buy it. I have done the same for over 40 years. Paid my first home on a 30 year VA mortgage with paying it off in 15. After that everything has been Pass Cash.
Hi Fred – I’d even suggest a 3 year old unit as the sweet spot from a value equation standpoint. Usually you’ll get an RV that was minimally used but one that has also taken a sizable price drop. It’s especially good if you can find one that was minimally used and stored inside or under cover.
Hello we are looking to go full time in a few months. We have our eye on a 2011 four winds 36F ft windsport do you know anything about them? Also looking at a 2017 coachman 31mb class c. Also we have tried to get them to let us do test drives and they won’t let us do it until we buy it or are at least pretty sure about it. We want to see which one we like better class a or c thank you so much for your articles
Hi Deb – I’ve heard of dealers being resistant to do a test drive on really expensive rigs, but that’s very unusual for the RVs you’re looking at. Is there another dealer in your area you can go to instead? Test drives are part of selling an RV in my opinion. I wouldn’t work with or buy from a dealer who didn’t let me test drive the rig first.
As far as the RVs you mentioned – I’m not very familiar with the specific RVs, however Four Winds is a Thor product vs. Coachman which is owned by Forest River. I usually caution people to avoid Thor as their products have more reported issues than most RV manufacturers. In that sense it’s good that you’re looking at used, as most of the issues I’ve seen are missing screws/fasteners and some cheap materials. I’d figure on a 6-year old rig those issues would be fixed – or any material quality issues would be very obvious. Forest River and Coachment tend to use nicer fixtures and materials at a good price point, so I’d lean that way – but that’s without walking through both rigs. so sight unseen. Good luck!
Like most big purchasing decisions, gathering good information and research is beneficial. Vehicles are purchased every day, and for a multitude of reasons. They depreciate, yet I know that I must have one to get to work, church, the grocery store, my kids events and other places too. I’m an RV owner as well. I do not run a business out of it. I use it for pleasure, weekends and vacation time with my family. I know it’s depreciated a great deal. It is a luxury item. I knew that going in, and I think this makes it easier for me to accept. Thanks for your good information. Life is short. If people are fortunate enough to spend money on these recreational items, they should do so and worry less about depreciation, and more about the joys of RVing with their loved ones. Have a great day.
I am looking at trading my 2015 Southwind 34A for a diesel approximately the same length. The Southwind simply does not have the pulling power that I need for my Toad. What do you know about the Nexus 34b Class A coach. They advertise “factory direct” pricing and seem to be priced right. Any thoughts or recommendations?
Hi Tom – unfortunately I don’t have much experience with Nexus RVs in person. I agree they seem to be priced right, and I like that they give you lots of add-on and modular options – such as a free-standing table and chairs vs. dinette booth and bunkbeds vs. a wardrobe and so on. Many RVs only come one way, and it’s usually a lot more expensive to make changes like that after the fact than it is to do it at the time, which saves even more money.
If you do purchase a Nexus, I’d love to hear your feedback on it!
It is not really ethical from my professional buying days, to shop the exact low ball pricing of a dealer. You should get the best pricing and give the other dealers a range that they need to meet. Also here in the DFW area, one dealer handles Winnebago. There is not a lot of leverage you can use with these guys. And this is unlike buying a car: the RV industry will prioritize their repair department to just the RVs bought from their dealership. Other buys from other dealerships will take second and third priorities leaving you with a 2 to 3 month wait sometimes. A very strange industry.
Hi Jay – I don’t think there’s anything unethical about getting the best price you can on an RV, especially when you consider how expensive they are, and how marked up they are. The dealer can always say ‘no’.
As far as service, as long as you buy a reputable brand, they’ll give you service at any dealer that carries that brand without issue. As a full-timer, there’s no point in finding the ‘right’ dealer as we’re all over the country and could have issues thousands of miles from where we purchased, so we rely on the overall support of the brand to their dealers – which is why we bought a Winnebago.
This is true even if you’re not a full timer, as the point of RVs is to go on trips/vacation. Chances are if you have issues you’ll be far away from home and will need to rely on the service network of the manufacturer.
Ready to buy a 2016 keystone bullet..the dealer states MSRP is 35,000 n will sell for 24,500. How do I know the MS is legit. I look online and see it 35 28 32 thousand for MSRP.
Hi Anthony – The Travel Trailer should have a manufacturers sticker on it, much like when you buy a car. That should show the Base MSRP of the trailer, plus the cost for options. Of course anything the dealer added after deliver may be marked up a lot, so keep an eye out for those. If there is no manufacturers sticker, then shop them online for comparison. You should be able to get the actual MSRP from another dealer to compare.
I own a 22 ft bullet, a total piece of junk.
This is a GREAT article and pretty much spells out how I’ve purchased my last couple RVs. The MSRP with RVs is just such a joke. A salesmen who was being somewhat honest with me said they really do it because so many folks overpay for RVs and then want to come trade-in after a couple years. The MSRP gives them some number to charge to make the upside-down trade-in work out.
Time of year also works…. I picked up my most recent 5th wheel with an MSRP of 48K for 31K in the middle of winter from a hungry dealer. Do your research folks!!
We are first time RV buyers. Looking at used 2014-2016 with little miles and notice most are
Thor RV’s. Do they hold up well, we are looking at Class A with at least 27′. If you can think of something else in the range of 60k +/- price range that would be great. We just went to the Tampa RV show (summer) and are so confused, they all knock each other and the prices were all over the place.
Hi Toni – I’ve never owned a Thor RV, so I don’t have a lot of personal experience with Thor products. Of course we talk to other people in RV parks, and the general consensus is that Thor products have more issues than most RVs. A lot of this is fit and finish issues – cabinets flying open while driving, doors that don’t line up, screws or fasteners that are missing, etc.. We’ve known Thor owners who couldn’t wait to sell and buy something else – but we’ve heard horror stories about most RV manufacturers.
I know Winnebago makes a Vista Class-A in that range used. I ran a nationwide search on RVTrader.com, and found quite a few around 30′ long at close to $60K. If you go back to 2012 it opens you up to a lot more. We’ve had very few issues with our Winnebago in almost 5 years – and (knock on wood) it’s never even been to ‘the shop’ overnight. Just regular maintenance – that’s it.
Well to say it’s been a challenge to find a used RV is an understatement, we’ve been online and to shows and showrooms for many months and still no sure answer. Other then the Winnebago and Itasca’s is there another solid RV you can recommend? Partner likes the Thor models but they seem kinda light in weight and there are a lot of them for sale, that makes me a little uneasy. Thank you for your help.
Hi Toni – Thor does a nice job with interior design, but from what I’ve heard and seen, they scrimp in other areas and their fit and finish is lacking. Check out Fleetwood. I don’t love Fleetwood interior design, but they do build good coaches. Older Fleetwood Bounders are one of the most common RVs we see, and we see lots of older & taken care of Fleetwood Class Cs on the road and in campgrounds – just like we see lots of older Winnebagos still on the road. I don’t have much experience with Fleetwood products beyond walking through them (the new Pace Arrow is nice), but Fleetwood definitely has a better reputation around the RV park than Thor.
Hi Rich! Great article. We bought a 2012 Winnebago View in November 2011 with MSRP of $121,000. Got it for $85,000. So true to be informed on such an expensive and quickly depreciating vehicle!
FYI the $2,4m Prevost you picture (inside & outside shots) is a Liberty conversion, not Marathon.
Good catch on the Prevost, HH – and great price on the View!
What do you think of the Trek Class A Motorhomes? The price seems very reasonable…but I know nothing about them.
Hi Bob – I think they’re a really unique design, that packs a lot of good features in a small space. If length is important, they seem like a good way to go. On the other hand, I don’t love the idea of having to move my bed up/down every day.
WOW…..WHAT A READ! First timmer here, getting away from the boat:). Looking at the Aspect 30C and 31J, and the Cambria 30c and J, they are different right?.Will be staring with 6 months and then perhaps full time. What do you thing about these models?
I thought I would also ask about whther you guys have solar power for the house batteries, what do you do for the internet and finally how is rving in Mexico ?
Hi Daniel – We love our Aspect 30C. I know the 30J has more storage, and that’s nice – but I like the way the bed is situated in the bedroom better in the C. It gives you a little bit of privacy vs. the bed facing out to the rest of the RV.
We don’t have solar now, but I’m looking into adding it this year. I think 200W – 300W of solar will work well for us. We get internet via Verizon 4G and our phones/mobile hotspots. We got half price on a 40G data plan once upon a time. We do use a WeBoost phone booster and antenna so we can get 4G just about anywhere.
We haven’t actually RVed in Mexico – we rented a place while we were there, but flew in and out. I don’t think I’d want to drive an RV through the border towns, but that’s just me..
Thanks for your article and advice. Great intel. We are looking into fulltime RVing since I’ve retired from the military. I like the ease of having a motorcoach but the military side of me likes the security of a trailer. Motorcoach breaks down….screwed and hotel rooms till its fixed. With a trailer if your prime mover breaks you can have the trailer towed to local camp or rv park. I can drive anything. Hell I’ve driven semi trucks down mountains and through tiny cobblestone streets in Europe for six years. Motorcoach seems so much easier. Plus, I’m a Harley owner and would have to get a toy hauler if going with a trailer. TH’s cost more than equivalent sized trailers. With a motorcoach I can pull a small trailer behind. Any advice or things to think about?
Hi Early – we went through a similar process. A few things to keep in mind: In general, motorcoaches (Class A, Class C RVs) are significantly better constructed than travel trailers. Winnebago (for example) lifts their RVs and drops them on the roof to show that they won’t collapse as they have a metal structure throughout. Of course you travel in an RV – and shouldn’t travel in a travel trailer, so that’s partly why RVs are built to a higher standard. They have to keep you safe.
A huge factor we’ve noticed is that depending on the RV park, travel trailers can take forever to get in a site, get level and setup. This is partly because of how long a truck/trailer combo is. Fifth Wheels are much easier to get situated as they mount in the truck bed – instead of off the hitch. That gives you a better turning radius. Also, our Class C has hydraulic leveling jacks. We pull into a site, press a button and we’re level. We’ve watched people with Travel Trailers spend an hour+ just getting level in their spot, and when they finally think they have it they get the drill and start extending their jacks one by one. In other words, if you move frequently and stay in parks that are more in nature (like we do), an RV will save a lot of time and frustration every time you setup and break down. That’s a big reason why you don’t see many full-timers in Travel Trailers.
Regarding the ‘if I have engine problems I’ll be out of a home’ issue – this is a non issue. Our Class C has a 6.8L Ford V10 which is tried and true in RV applications. It’s pretty bombproof, easy to work on if it ever has problems, and parts are readily available. Even if we had to bring it into a shop (we never have), most of the time they’ll let you stay in the RV overnight if necessary. Maybe not ideal to stay on a service lot, but they understand and they’re used to it.
Also keep in mind that Travel Trailers need service and repair too (sometimes plenty as some aren’t put together very well) – Leaks, slide motors, wiring and electronics, water pumps, water heater etc… are more common issues in all RVs than engine/chassis/suspension issues. I hope that’s helpful – good luck!
We are upgrading to a class a. Have heard good and bad things on every coach we have looked at
From your experience….if you had to pick between thor miramar, jayco precept, or fleetwood bounder…which would you pick and why? Also looking at Newmar Baystar
Hi Josh – I’d go with the Fleetwood Bounder. Simple reason: We see lots of older Bounders at every RV park we stay at. That means they’re built to last and likely retain their value better than similar models – and more importantly means it will still be on the road in 10 – 20 years. You can’t go wrong with the Newmar either. Good luck!
Recently looked at a 2016 Cross Country 404rb. Love the “salon bunk” for extra sleeping space.
What are your thoughts on the fit and finish of this coach? Is the 340HP ISB Cummins engine enough power for this coach-even when flat towing a 4800 vehicle?
Would love to hear your opinion on anything else you have to say about this coach!!
Hi Debra – the salon bunk is an interesting feature. Do you think you’d use it much? As it’s over other pull-out beds, it seems like getting up in the middle of the night to go pee might result in stepping on other people. In general, if you’re not going to use it most of the time, I’d skip it. More moving parts = more things that can break, and Coachmen tends to cut corners to begin with. Of course if you regularly camp with lots of family or friends, then its a nice feature.
Regarding the engine: in my opinion – and this is just my opinion – the 6.7L ISB is too small for a 42′ 30,000lb RV – especially if you’re going to tow 4,800 more pounds. With RVs it’s the torque that matters (not HP) – and the ISB is usually 660-lbft of torque in this configuration. The larger Cummins ISL has up to 1250-lbft of torque for comparison, which is why most RV manufacturers use the larger ISL in 40′ and bigger RVs.
30,000lbs is light for a 42′ RV. This is partly because Coachmen used the smaller engine and transmission, but also because of the lighter chassis that I’m sure they used. I’d guess they also cut weight and content in other places you can’t see – and probably some that you can – to keep the weight down. I’d take a good look at everything inside and out and make sure you’re happy with the quality. Open every cupboard and every door. Inspect how body panels line up. Check and see what’s wood and what’s laminate. Look at how everything is installed – inside and out.
Also make sure you take the RV out on a real road test. Insist on driving it on a highway and get it up to at least 60mph. Climb a good-sized hill at speed if possible too. As diesel engines make max torque at very low RPM, they tend to feel peppy at slow speeds. It’s important that you get it up to highway speeds and see how it feels to you. Adding 4800 pounds of vehicle behind it is obviously going to make the RV that much slower and more sluggish, but I doubt they’ll let you hook up a car or trailer for testing purposes, so just keep this in mind. I hope this is helpful – good luck, Debra!
Hi Rich. Thanks for all the info. We’re from Maryland and we’ve been owners of a pop-up for a few years and we’re looking at upgrading to a class c soon. We’ve been looking around for some time and we really like the bunkhouse models, a Coachmen Freelander 32BH is one of our favorites (I know it’s one of the lesser manufacturers). We went to a show yesterday and the “show price” of a new one was around $65K. Budget-wise, I think we’d be more comfortable around $50. After several searches craigslist and RV trader most 3-4 year old campers are only about 10% less than that. We are not sure if the small disparity in price is worth going used? Do you really think there is still some wiggle room with their show price numbers?
Hi West – What was the sticker price on the new Coachmen? If it’s $80K with a show price of $65K that’s a 19% discount. I’m sure you can do better. Regarding the used campers – keep in mind that everyone lists on RV Trader knowing they’ll have to discount whatever price they use. That 4 year old coach listed at $50K can be bought for $45K or even less depending on how old the listing is. A dealer would pay them far less for it. The same is generally true with dealer listed prices – and I saw several listed at $65K on RV Trader. They know they need to leave room to negotiate. Good luck!
Hey Rich. The list price was actually about $95K if I remember correctly. I’ve found new ones on RV Trader for $58K. I recently found a used one, 2010, same model with only 13000 miles. It’s listed at $49K which I thought was high for a camper almost 6 years old. Long story short I got them to come down to $44K, only problem is it’s over 800 miles away. I like $44K better than $65K for sure but I just have a hard time believing that it’s worth the drive when payments will probably be about the same for the new or used camper. Am I looking for something that rarely comes around or am I being reasonable?
Hi West – that makes a lot more sense. $65K from $95K = 31.5% discount, which is about as good as you’ll do on an RV. The thing about the used market is that the sellers pricing often has more to do with how much they still owe than with how much the RV is worth. I agree, after 6 years you should be able to do better than $44K – and I’d be willing to bet one will pop up sometime soon. Fall is a good time to get a deal on an RV as the RVing season is winding down. Good luck!