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Old 11-20-2014, 07:09 PM   #15
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Whether they were good coaches when they were new are less of an issue than if they STILL ARE good coaches today. We have an '06 Journey and there have been a few issues in the 4 years we have owned it, but all have been ironed out. Do a through inspection beginning with the underside. Severe corrosion may be the precurser to future brake or suspension problems. Look at the underside of the engine and transmission for any seal leakage. Sludge buildup around the blow-by tube may indicate piston ring wear typically caused by lack of scheduled oil changes. Look at the date code on the tires. That information will be in the form of a 4 digit relief embossed sequence in the tire's sidewall to the right of the DOT information. The first two numbers are the week of manufacture and the last two are the year. RV tires have a typical life expectancy of 6-7 years before the sidewalls begin to crack from dry rot. New tires can easily exceed $3500 for a set of 6. Check the operation of all the onboard systems, ie: furnace, water heater (on gas, then electric), refrigerator, air conditioner, generator, cooktop/stove, all lighting, the leveler system and slide operation. The most important of all is to obtain the previous owner/owners maintenance records. Only if you have those records will you know if the engine and transmission (and the rest of the RV's mechanics for that matter) have been properly maintained throughout the coach's lifetime. If those records are not available or not obtainable, you are buying blind. Someone elses neglect could easily become your future headache. If you are buying from a dealer, consider negotiating a price for an extended warantee. Expensive yes, but well worth the peace of mind on a used purchase.

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Old 11-20-2014, 07:35 PM   #16
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If you feel like you are not experianced enough to evaluate the chassis and motor I'd first set up a call to Freightliner and ask them how much it would cost to have a full inspections including pressure tests of any engine and trasmission system.. I'd also have them do a full test on the engine and transmission at the least. ... even if it cost you a few hundred dollars it could save you thousands in the future... I"d then find a good 3rd party inspector for a complete Coach evaluation on the outside and inside of the unit. If you are tight at $50,000 or 60,000 imagine what a $12,000 bill would do for you if you have a major problem the first year..

I'm not trying to put more fear in your mind, but rather say get the experts opinion, not some salesperson trying to sell the coach..

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Old 11-20-2014, 07:58 PM   #17
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Where do you find a 3rd party inspector? Anyone know of one in the Knoxville, TN area?
Jerry & Susie, Alabaster, AL
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by KD4XR View Post
Where do you find a 3rd party inspector? Anyone know of one in the Knoxville, TN area?

You could try these folks:


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Old 11-20-2014, 08:25 PM   #19
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yes it is an Ultimate Freedom 40KD 2003 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom 40KD Class A Diesel Knoxville, TN Details | Kodak RV | Knoxville Dealership
Jerry & Susie, Alabaster, AL
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Old 11-20-2014, 09:55 PM   #20
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Winnebago Motorhomes - Brochure Archive

Check the Brochures for the two models.

The Journey DL is on a Freightliner chassis with I-beam front end, a 330 hp Cat with an exhaust brake. The Ultimate Freedom is on a Spartan chassis with IFS and has the Cummins ISL 8.9 400 hp with a Jake Brake. This is all around a much nicer coach than the Journey... much more substantial chassis, heavier, a much better ride, and a much more luxurious interior. You get what you pay for, and the prices for each are not out of line.

Both have a basement air/heat pump, 24k btu, common in Winnie coaches until I believe 2011 when they were discontinued. They function very well, although can be a little weak at cooling a 40' coach on hot days. Some people have resorted to adding a rooftop unit to supplement... I did this and it greatly added to our comfort. At this age, 12 years, the basement unit either has or will soon fail. Common failure points are the start capacitors, the squirrel cage blower, and the 2 compressors. It is actually composed of two separate units, a primary and a secondary, intertwined in one box. Definitely have these both tested thoroughly, as repairs can be very expensive as compared to rooftop units. I understand that complete replacement units are no longer made, so you must repair the existing unit. They can easily be repaired by a residential HVAC tech once you remove the unit from the coach, but it is difficult to find a tech willing to try.

Additionally, with any Winnie class A coach, the basement air is ducted, behind the rear cap, up to the ceiling vents. The ducting is plastic, not metal, and very commonly separates behind the rear cap along the edges of the duct, leaking cold air to the outside. The repair consists of re-taping the edges of the ductwork, easy to reach if in the lower two feet of duct. If the leaks are any higher, then the rear cap has to be removed... I've heard $2000 for that job! It would probably take all of 15 minutes to tape all the ductwork edges once the rear cap is removed.

There are plenty of threads on the forum regarding the a/c and the ductwork problems and repairs. Just do your inspections before you purchase. Buddy Gregg sells Winnies, and should be very familiar with the basement a/c units and their problems.

Also, crawl under each coach and verify the DOT dates on the tires. Any tires more than 5 years old I would replace... preferably as part of the deal.

Both can be very nice units, but they are at entirely different price points, almost like comparing apples and oranges. Happy hunting.
Kent & Sue & Pecos
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Old 11-21-2014, 01:28 AM   #21
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As others have said, both can be good coaches. It totally depends on condition.

But all RV's are complex, and there's an element of risk. Don't stretch yourself on any coach thinking "oh, it's so nice, nothing will go wrong." And that doesn't imply anything nefarious from a dealer -- sometimes things just fail. It's a house that gets driven on the road, for goodness sakes, and things get rattled around.

And don't be afraid to insist on a demonstration of everything before you sit down and do paperwork (why before? So it's easier to just say "sorry, I'm going to walk away"). The great news is that you've chosen to like some of the most popular coaches out there, so I promise that if these coaches don't work out, you'll find another one before springtime

Don't let them tell you "oh it's out of propane so the heater won't fire up" or "oh, the unit has been winterized and there's no water in the tank to run through all the faucets, the shower, toilet, etc"

Pull out every external window shade and awning, and make sure the slide toppers are nice and taut and not sagging. Spend 20 dollars on an IR thermometer (the ones that look like a little pistol and have a laser pointer, and tell you the temperature of where the pointer "dot" is. So make sure the air blowing from the a/c ducts is 35-40 degrees cooler than the intake air. When you get there, have them fire up the fridge, and after a bit, the fins should be cold (the rest of the fridge and freezer won't be yet, but the cooling fins will be cool)

And if they don't have a service history, assume you will need to do a radiator flush and new transmission and hydraulic fluid, which isn't cheap. And if they changed that but don't have a service history, hold that against them

oh, and make sure you get a complete set of keys that locks every single compartment. Preferably two sets.

The Green Machine -- 2000 Mountain High Coachworks Summit (Spartan chassis / Cummins ISC)
...and F-Troop: Fearghus, Fiona, and Frankie (Cairn Terriers)
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:02 AM   #22
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I"d call either Freight liner or Spartan (the chassis of your choice) and see if they will do a complete workup on the drive train and engine... ask them if they know of a reliable RV inspection person in your area... I'm sure Buddy Gregg is a great dealer but he has lots of MH's to sell you so keep that in mind. One thing you may do is call Buddy Gregg, ask for the service department and ask the service adviser of any inspection companies they may know of...

Do a search on "Basment AC" like others said there has been a guy in the last week that was saying that the systems are stil available and tells you the names and part numbers and he said his cost $2800 to replace and it was an exact fit! Sorry I don't have the thread saved...

I read that someone found RV inspection folks I thought they said Good Sam website..... It may even have been the FMCA website.... but you want one that works on high end coaches because I believe they pack those things with lots of electronics... There has been quite a few folks on here I have seen hire inspectors and it paid off big time for them. For me, if there is no service history I'd walk... it isn't worth the money to gamble... but that's just the way I work.

Good Luck and keep us posted
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:07 AM   #23
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I just looked at that RV inspection site.. that looks pretty good.. I'd go the highest the difference of the mid range to the top of only a few hundred would be well worth the expensive if I were spending $60 or 70,000 .... A friend of mine is a diesel mechanic on large trucks, they do fluid evaluations regularly ... looking for metal in the oil...that is a big problem on the diesel engines ...
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:14 AM   #24
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I would only add that you should only intend to look at the RV's this weekend. You have the upper hand until the saleman sees the "look" in your eyes. Don't let them know that you have to have one this weekend. They have to know that you'll walk. Just my opinion.
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:32 AM   #25
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You have been given good advice here. Just one final comment from one who owned a Journey DL from that era..... that Ultimate Freedom is no Journey. Based on the pics, that looks like a very nice coach. It has full body paint and the 03 Journey may not and that is another advantage in terms of keeping the coach looking good.

Just need to do your diligence in making sure the drive train and systems are in good shape.

Good luck and come back and let us know the outcome.
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:40 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Elf111 View Post
All things being the same I would go with the one that has the most complete service records or study the records for any hint of reoccurring issues. I still wouldn't be afraid of either coach. Put away a nest egg to help cover any breakdowns and enjoy your coach.
I agree with this, and also the comments about having someone who knows DPs look your preferred coach over. Be prepared to put some money into either to (1) equip it as you want (EMS, TMS, etc etc), and (2) repair issues that may surface within the first year.

If you are in doubt as to whether routine maintenance has been done, do it yourself or have it done - this way you will have a baseline.

Look out for dates on the CO2 and LP detectors, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, etc. If they are original, go ahead and replace. Easy to do and not terribly expensive.

Don't be put off by the age of the coach... if it's what you want, then go for it. There are endless examples of people who spend incredible amounts of money on shiny new coaches only to turn around and sell them within a year or two. Why? Turns out they do not like the coach or perhaps the lifestyle. They lose a LOT of money doing this. Makes no sense to me. I bought my Dolphin for $45K and spent another $4K equipping and tweaking so it is how I want it. I know this motor home pretty well and have only had it for 3 months. And because it is a motor home "with a past" (ie, a model that has been around for a while), there is tons of information available to help troubleshoot and repair issues. And it is paid for 100%.

Go for it and enjoy!
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:03 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by KD4XR View Post
This weekend we are planning to purchase a 2003 Winnebago Journey DL or a 2003 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom but we are getting cold feet. We've done our research and narrowed our search to Winnebago. Both rigs have the floor plan and options we want. Since we plan to live in it 3/4 time we are concerned with quality, durability, and comfort. So I'll just ask the burning question.

Are the 2003 Journey and Ultimate good coaches?

Jerry & Susie
Before buying any RV I highly recommend joining the RV Consumer Group. You can download unbiased ratings of MHs along with their road handling & safety ratings. That was one very significant input into our decision to buy a Tiffin Allegro. For $139 you get the ratings of hundreds of MHs (new & used) plus how to inspect & buy an RV. You can also get an idea of a used MH's value. This will be the best $139 you'll spend.

Most opinions are on forums are anecdotal & some are better than others. Before spending the $$$, you might want to look at what the experts have to say.

Here's their web site: RV Consumer Group - We Rate RVs

Happy camping
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:10 AM   #28
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The ultimate looks like a very nice MH, all the little upgrades makes big differences once you are in a MH for long period. I would not worry about 5 years old tires, just check this site, very good comments.

RVing Video: RV Tire Age, Care and Replacement |

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