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Old 01-08-2013, 08:57 AM   #1
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diesel/gas maintenance budget

I am about a year away from retirement and my first motorhome purchase and am in the process of narrowing down my choices. This forum (and the people here) have been incredibly helpful in doing this. I still haven't made a final decision on diesel vs gas, but REST ASSURED I am NOT trying to start another DvG thread. I have read (I think) every post on every thread on the forum about that choice. This post is more about budget than anything else, as a monthly budget after retirement is a big part my choice of motorhome. One thing I haven't found in the threads here is a typical yearly regular maintenance budget for a DP vs a gasser. I am only talking about standard required maintenence, not repairs. What I am seeing in the threads is "Maintenance on a DP is 'more' than a gasser." What I would love is a yearly maintenance spreadsheet for each type, if that is out there anywhere, so I can get at least a ballpark estimate of how much "more." If anybody has a yearly maintenance budget for their motorhome (either type) or knows of a link to such information, I would greatly appreciate posting it here. THANKS!
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:06 AM   #2
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You are toooo detailed. When you retire you are supposed to relax. If the mainyenance expense is an issue you may not be happy as an RV owner.
GET the one that make you HAPPY and you can enjoy.
All the Best as you retire.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #3
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I'm kind of on the same page as slick60 in that maintenance is one of the smaller costs in owning any coach. However that being said, can you do it yourself?

Our last maintenance, for chassis, engine and generator was right at $200 for our ISC/QD-7.5 equipped coach. 7gal Rotella from Wal*Mart, fuel, oil and air filters bought at NAPA's annual 30-50% off sale a couple of tubes of grease and you're good to go.

Oil goes in cat sand bottles and goes to the local lube joint who happily takes it as they get paid for used oil.

Paying a shop puts the prices all over the map, out local shop is pretty reasonable and I think Speedco has good deals if you have one locally, we don't or I'd consider it from the prices I've heard.

Personally I haven't found anything cost wise in owning a diesel coach that even comes close to offsetting the benefits for us.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:19 AM   #4
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Lol - there are a few YouTube videos about the maintenence. You will get a few binders 3 or 4 inches thick with things to do. If you do everything that is recommended you will not feel retired. I settled on $1, 200 per year on a diesel and $400 a year for gas. I was looking at a 2008 DP so tires were an expense while I was looking at new gas MH's where tires were not an near immediate expense.

To me the chassis is 90% of the difference but I also added some for the added systems that may come on a diesel chassis. Usually more batteries, expense of a freightliner shop vs a ford shop...things like that.

So to me the additional $800 expense to keep a DP in the road per year is worth it.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:22 AM   #5
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If you do your own maintenance or have all done in a shop will make a big difference in cost.

I do all my own on my DP. I use a spreadsheet and for the 126 months I have owned mine. Chassis maintenance for fluids, filters, grease, and any cleaners has averaged $29.20 a month. Include engine, transmission, rear end, radiator, CAC, power steering front axle, generator etc.

Tires(8) $21.98 a month
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:53 AM   #6
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No spreadsheet available, just a pro-con list.


Gas. Pro 1/2 to 1/3 the cost. Con -Have it done 2 or three times a year.


Diesel. Pro only do it once a year. Con -it cost 2 to three times as much.



Does anyone see a correlation?
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:16 AM   #7
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We don't do our own maintenance because we are fulltimers and RV Parks aren't keen on the idea of someone changing 6+ gallons of oil, etc., at their site.

Figure $50-$75/month for maintenance should put you in a good area. Some years will be less, some more. This year we needed a new air filter ($175) on ours, last year didn't. Years you do transmission/differential will be more.

Also set aside money for tires - figure 7 years (maybe a little longer on the drive tires). We try to replace ours in Oregon to save on the sales tax, adds up with 6 big tires.

And then figure out a repair amount to set aside each month. Yes, these things will need repairs. The 'black box' for our smart wheel has been acting up for years - we finally got to the point that to many things weren't working. $400 for the "black box" plus a couple of hours of labor to get everything connected and working again.

Offsetting - the air ride and the exhaust brake when you are crossing the Rockies 2-3 times a year is priceless.

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Old 01-08-2013, 10:46 AM   #8
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I always compared my DP to my house. They both need maintenance. You never really know what it needs till it breaks. Mileage is the key to your expenses. I put on my DP about 15k per year. It cost more in maintenance and ware and tare then if you out on 5k. All I know the maintenance bill is less than my land taxes. The house will be gone soon. Enjoying traveling too much.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slick60 View Post
You are toooo detailed. When you retire you are supposed to relax. If the mainyenance expense is an issue you may not be happy as an RV owner.
GET the one that make you HAPPY and you can enjoy.
All the Best as you retire.
LOL slick60 you are so right! I will be fulltiming and I do want to just relax and enjoy life, wherever I go. But being short money every month will certainly keep me from relaxing so I am trying to do my worrying NOW so I don't have to when I retire.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triker56 View Post
If you do your own maintenance or have all done in a shop will make a big difference in cost.

I do all my own on my DP. I use a spreadsheet and for the 126 months I have owned mine. Chassis maintenance for fluids, filters, grease, and any cleaners has averaged $29.20 a month. Include engine, transmission, rear end, radiator, CAC, power steering front axle, generator etc.

Tires(8) $21.98 a month
Thanks, this is helpful. I can certainly change filters and oil myself. I do it on my vehicles now. I do plan on some boondocking in the desert so I guess I can do the maintenance there since you usually can't at campgrounds.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:33 PM   #11
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I'm not sure but I think the point of the question is kinda related to realistic budgeting of expenses. I know that as an aircraft owner there are things that are going to need to be budgeted as fixed costs such as hanger, annual inspection, insurance...

I, for one, understand that there are differences between gas and diesel chassis/engine maintenance. I know more about gas because I own one and have read as much as I can on DP because I am getting one.

I appreciate the information that some folks have provided from both angles of taking it to the shop versus self maintenance. It is helpful to some of us in making budget decisions. OTOH, I also appreciate the fact that there are non-financial reasons in choice of chassis/engine. Obviously DP owners have great pride in the intrinsic value of a DP and then there are the tag owners too.

Here are my guestimates on funds to set aside for chassis/engine on the DP we are picking up:

First, we are starting with $10,000 in an emergency fund. After that we are budgeting the following "escrow" accounts:

1. General maintenance (oil, grease, filters and service fees) - $100/mo.
2. Unplanned repairs, batteries, tire fund (starting with 8 new tires)... - $100/mo.
3. For 2013 we are also holding back $5000 for un-known issues that we could run into.

For the coach in 2013:
1. $5000 for coach upgrades and changes before we go FT in 2014. We are planning a stacked W/D, some A/V changes and a few other odds-n-ends.
2. For 2013 - $4000 for toad set up, tow bar...

For coach starting 2014
1. General maintenance (Generator, AC, storage tanks and other major system.) - $100/mo.
2. House keeping (odd-n-ends) - $50/mo.

Comparing that to my gasser that I owned for 9 month would be tough since in that time I had typical start up costs and all the normal service was done when I bought it. I did have similar numbers as I do for my DP plan but never had to challenge them much.

I think these are reasonably "safe" numbers and we hope we don't incur costs equaling our escrows. LOL

Of course we have other budgets for fuel, CG, and other travel/living expenses but those would be similar in a gas or DP (except maybe fuel prices) and outside of the OP's question.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:58 PM   #12
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Gas man here

I do my own maintenance for my gasser for several reasons.
1. Of course, it's just parts rather than paying for labor at $75-100/hour
2. It gives me something to do.
3. I know it gets done right.
4. I do it at home where I have ALL the tools, when I want & don't have to wait for someone else.
5. I can monitor possible problems before they become a big problem.
6. Maintenance is not that hard to do, RV parts are just bigger than cars.
7. Some things, like oil changes are easier to do, due to accessiblity.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:22 PM   #13
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On average for a big diesel the baseline for simple items such as oil changes and mechanical work is $400. Add to that tire replacement taken as an annual cost (price of a set of tires divided by 5 years gives you a per year cost), small repairs, etc. and you are between $1,000 and $2,000 per year.

Throw in some big things and you are over $2,500 averaged out to a per year cost. Yes, I do most of the work on the non mechanical side myself (you really can't work on these things without the big tools and a facility).
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:35 PM   #14
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I'll add one other comment - ignore remarks about not being able to afford it if you have to ask. Asking is smart. You drop a big Allison transmission or throw a part off a big diesel and you are looking at a bill that STARTS at $5,000. I have a C13 Cat in my coach and it is a $30,000 part. Used ones sell for $15,000. You can spend $1,000 on at least 100 small parts such as controllers and boards in these things, so a bad year can hit you up for $10,000.

Most of us don't have that experience, but there are many on this site that have seen pretty large repair costs.
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