Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Buying an RV: Old or New?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Buying an RV: Old or New?!

If you've been following our adventures, you already know that we have a 2006 Holiday Rambler Presidential.  As much (at the time) as we wanted to buy a newer rig, it had the right layout, options, and, most importantly, it was within our price range.  Though we didn't think there was much of a doubt that we would fall in love with full-timing (we have!), we didn't want to spend a boatload of money on a newer 5er.

In shopping for the RV, we knew that we planned on spending a season skiing which meant that we needed something well-insulated, which is one of the first places RV manufacturers cut corners to save money.  Since most RV users are of the "fair weather" variety meaning that they follow temperate climates rather than (yeah, we know we're a little cooky!) sticking to the warmer temps. Insulation, not just in the walls, but the floors, ceilings, slide-outs, and, very importantly, the water pipes - though we've never seen factory insulated water pipes. So, besides the obvious,  how then do you know what to look for?  Don't worry, if you're not sure, we had no idea either!

What it feels like when a pipe bursts!
We had a lengthy conversation with a gentleman at St. Louis RV Park on our travels west towards Whitefish, MT late 2015 about the construction quality of the newer rigs out there.  Previously, he had owned a 2005 DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel.  If you're familiar with the DRV name, you know that they are synonymous with luxury and quality.  Being from a background of quality control (worked for a gas company), he had the experience and know-how so that he knew how to inspect an
RV.  Unfortunately, he did not use his knowledge and experience in his purchase of the 2014 DRV Mobile Suites rig that he was residing.  Taking into consideration the great performance his 2005 DRV gave him, he assumed the build quality and attention to detail would be the same.  This couldn't be further from the truth!

Cheap wiring could lead to this!
In his 2005, in frequent sub zero temps, a 100lb propane tank would last him about a week to a week and a half depending on how low the temps dropped and how long they stayed low.  With his 2014, under similar conditions, he was getting 4 days maximum - that's 25lbs of propane PER DAY, which equates to about 5-7 gallons of actual liquid propane.  On top of that, he found that most of the wood used in the construction of the floors, walls, and ceilings were no longer the same high quality plywood used in his 2005, but now the lesser (cheaper) OSB board was used.  Staples instead of nails or screws were used to hold critical pieces together, lower grade pipe fittings (according to our friend, ones that were known to have high failure rates), higher gauge (thinner) wiring used throughout and a general feeling of "cheap" - a horrible feeling when you spend over $150k...

The second instance of "newer not always being better" came when we arrived in Whitefish, MT for our stay at Whitefish RV Park.  Our neighbor had a newer toy hauler and even had custom skirting for it.  We had already been in the park for a few days prior to his arrival and had our skirting up with zero freezing issues.  From the first day of his arrival, his underneath pipes were all frozen (despite having the "Arctic" insulation package" and he had no use of his kitchen or bathrooms.  In addition to this ongoing problem that he was having, he also told us a story about some warranty work that he had tried to get done (roof was leaking).  Unfortunately, our friend had the unfortunate luck that the RV dealer nearest him was booked weeks out.  Turns out that he literally "camped" in front of one of their service bays until they agreed to do the warranty work.
Sometimes it feels like they're this big!

Speaking of warranty work (and please let us know if we are incorrect on this), if you are full-timing (especially like we are with large dogs!) we don't know of any warranty out there that covers a hotel stay or a sticks 'n' bricks rental.  If there is a warranty out there like that, we'd sure like to know about it!  Yet another person we met had a roof issue with their travel trailer.  It took their dealer a full six months to get the parts and complete the work.  Imagine having to pay for six months worth of hotel stays!  Granted, the work on the rig was covered, but wow - what an expense!

Lastly, another couple we met at Elmore RV Park in Charlotte, NC  had a brand new Holiday Rambler Presidential - pretty much the same model we had, but practically straight from the factory.  They told us stories of the rig constantly in-and-out of the shop for warranty repairs.  It came to the point where they, too, had to start making demands for repairs as well as claims to the manufacturer.

Lastly, on the last leg of our trip, two months in Tiger Run RV Resort two groups of friends had newer RVs that had issues with freezing of their internal pipes  freezing, even with skirting.   Granted, we've since had some internal pipes freeze since removing our skirting, but before that, we never had any internal problems, assumingly attributed to good insulation.

We've been full-timing for less than a year at this point.  To hear this many stories about nightmarish scenarios with brand newish RVs, we feel fortunate to have chosen one that has, knock on (real) wood, been pretty good to us.  While we initially had our share of issues, fortunately, we had a warranty that took care of them.
Not much to inspect on this one!

We're for sure not saying that you shouldn't buy a new RV.  Nor are we saying that you shouldn't buy any of the brands mentioned above!  Every manufacturer has lemons.  Besides that, your experience could be completely different from the next person's, as we usually find.  The point is, if you can, do as much research as you can before buying a rig.  If necessary, take someone with you to inspect it - a family member, friend, etc, that may know something about construction or who may have owned several RVs in the past.  Any one of these types of people can be helpful in getting you a quality-built rig that will hopefully give you years of relatively reliable use - these are RVs after all.  Good luck in your shopping!

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!

1 comment:

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