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Old 09-23-2014, 12:35 PM   #1
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Question One decision made; two more questions:

Hey everyone. We're new to the site and to RV'ing in general, but the wife and I are getting really serious about pulling the trigger this fall / winter - mostly because we don't want to wait for the next off-sales season

In my introduction I mentioned that we had pretty much decided on a new 2014 Thor Palazzo 36.1, Well, that's out. Don't get me wrong - it's a lovely machine - but we've decided that the philosophy of buying more bang for your buck in a high-quality used rig works better for us, emotionally and financially.

We've also settled on a Newmar Dutch Star, anywhere from 2004 through 2010 up to 40'. They have all the features and amenities we enjoy, plus they have that fabulous reputation of quality and the personnel to back it up. Yes, I know - there are hundreds of rigs to choose from. But if I don't narrow it down to something we'll never end up buying anything. And I think most would agree that buying a Newmar is a pretty smart place to start for our first rig.

So, two questions: warranty and maintenance records.
  1. I'll definitely want an extended warranty, but there are so many to choose from that I got blurry-eyed just trying to figure out which one covered what. I'm looking for something comprehensive but without any of the bells and whistles I don't need. I'm pretty handy, I can handle most basic tasks, so what I want is a warranty that reliably covers the big stuff I can't handle. You folks know what I mean, so can any of you point me in the right direction? Or, at least weed out the field of thousands to choose from a little?
  2. I can read maintenance records as well as the next guy, I suppose, but what I can't read is what's not there. What I mean is, what's the best way to research the history of a particular make or model to find out what should have been done to it - like recalls - so I can determine if they've been done?

Thanks, everyone. Can't wait to see you out there!
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Old 09-23-2014, 02:02 PM   #2
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I pondered the extended warranty thing several times. I've purchased 4 used coaches(2 were repos) in the past eight years, never bought a warranty and never had an occasion where I wished I had purchased one. I just recognized the possibility of someday needing an extensive repair, self-insured and squirreled away the $$ I would have spent on extended warranties. Someday I'll need some expensive repairs, but meanwhile I'm $15-20k ahead by NOT purchasing extended warranties.

Tires and batteries are the big ticket items needing replaced. Tires over 6 years I would definitely replace, as I would with batteries over 3 years. Figure $4-5k for new tires, $1k for new batteries. Replacing non-HD TVs and other audio/video upgrades can also run into big $$, much less if you d-i-y. You can read endlessly about problems with Norcold(non-residential) refrigerators, and their high replacement costs. I would have a $10k budget for initial repairs/maintenance/upgrades when purchasing a used coach. Any $$ you don't spend will still be in your pocket!!

Most coaches for sale by dealer or FSBO will NOT have maintenance records, or certainly not complete records. If no records, you have to assume the worst and start over replacing all new fluids and filters. In order to know what's NOT there in the service records, you have to know specifically WHAT service and maintenance IS required and WHEN. These are specific chassis and engine maintenance issues, not typically specific to a particular brand of motorhome. Read and study, there's a wealth of information in this and other forums detailing service and maintenance schedules, as well as specific problems to be aware of on a particular chassis or engine. Also research websites of the chassis and engine builders for their maintenance recommendations.

You're pretty handy, so I would plan on doing many/most repairs on the motorhome myself. Dive in and scrape up your knuckles! The frustrations and costs associated with dealer service seem endless if you read the forums. At $100-120/hr for dealer service, and weeks of waiting for same, I have learned to repair just about everything on my coach, and learned which few repairs I will leave for the dealer.

Recalls usually pertain to the chassis/engine, and can be learned about from their websites. Not really a consideration when purchasing.

The better educated you are about motorhomes, the more enjoyable your RV experience will be. Happy hunting. Just my 2
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:16 PM   #3
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We purchased out 2004 Newmar Dutchstar in 2007 after two years of searching & asking those same questions. Best decision we ever made, this is our third Motor Home.
As a retired financial officer of a large North American company I will never purchased an extended warranty. In 7 years I have replaced 6 tires, six batteries & one water pump. Only the water pump may have been included in a warranty plan.
I have all the maintenance records of the previous owner & this has not given me any benefit. The coach is in better shape now than when I first got it. I do almost all my own minor repairs & have it serviced at a local truck dealership once a year. Just make sure you get all of the service manuals.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:30 PM   #4
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I am not a fan of extended warranties, rather better to be self insured. I do think that a one year extended warranty with a high deductible can have value as mitigation for large unknown latent issues with engine/driveline of a used coach. After a year of experience and confidence attained, decide if warranted to continue the warranty.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:31 PM   #5
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Fully agree that buying used higher end is better way to go.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wryly Blithe View Post
Hey everyone. We're new to the site and to RV'ing in general, but the wife and I are getting really serious about pulling the trigger this fall / winter - mostly because we don't want to wait for the next off-sales season

In my introduction I mentioned that we had pretty much decided on a new 2014 Thor Palazzo 36.1, Well, that's out. Don't get me wrong - it's a lovely machine - but we've decided that the philosophy of buying more bang for your buck in a high-quality used rig works better for us, emotionally and financially.

We've also settled on a Newmar Dutch Star, anywhere from 2004 through 2010 up to 40'. They have all the features and amenities we enjoy, plus they have that fabulous reputation of quality and the personnel to back it up. Yes, I know - there are hundreds of rigs to choose from. But if I don't narrow it down to something we'll never end up buying anything. And I think most would agree that buying a Newmar is a pretty smart place to start for our first rig.

So, two questions: warranty and maintenance records.
  1. I'll definitely want an extended warranty, but there are so many to choose from that I got blurry-eyed just trying to figure out which one covered what. I'm looking for something comprehensive but without any of the bells and whistles I don't need. I'm pretty handy, I can handle most basic tasks, so what I want is a warranty that reliably covers the big stuff I can't handle. You folks know what I mean, so can any of you point me in the right direction? Or, at least weed out the field of thousands to choose from a little?
  2. I can read maintenance records as well as the next guy, I suppose, but what I can't read is what's not there. What I mean is, what's the best way to research the history of a particular make or model to find out what should have been done to it - like recalls - so I can determine if they've been done?

Thanks, everyone. Can't wait to see you out there!
Question #1. Since you are handy at repairs, select a plan with a high deductible; it's lower cost too.
Question #2. There are free websites where you can look-up factory recalls and technical bulletins for a specific Motorhome by make, model, and VIN.
Use the search feature to locate previous discussions about extended service contracts. Two I know of have good reputations; Good Sam and Wholesalewarrantees.com.
Keep in mind almost all are brokers, very few are the actual contract guarantor. Ask before signing with anyone.

My personal experience is with Good Sam's extended service contract. We purchased it when purchasing our MH from Camping World. $4,800 for 3 years ($50 deductible), including seals and gaskets rider(good ideal for older MH). To date the contract guarantor has paid-out a tad under $4,000 with 19 months remaining on contract. None of that was for chassis issues, all was for coach issues. So, it I'm out-of-pocket $800 over 3 years, I consider it good insurance-which it actually is.
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:12 PM   #7
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We do not get extended warranties. Father in law was an actuary for an insurance company. Said most people were over insured. He called it "Insurance Poor".
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Old 09-24-2014, 12:52 AM   #8
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Eye opener...

THANK YOU TurtleKent, bmerpaw, vsheetz, Ray,IN, and Gordon Dewald - this is the kind of excellent information I was hoping for.

I don't know why, I just assumed maintenance records would be more common and reliable in this industry than with cars, for example. I have to admit to being a little disappointed that they're not, but I'll learn to live with it

After reading thread after thread in these forums, I was also under the impression that extended warranties were more common than your replies would suggest. To be honest, I'm not typically an extended warranty kind of buyer, and I'm actually looking forward to getting my hands dirty, fixing this and upgrading that. It's part of the appeal for me, and a big part of why I decided to buy higher-end-used than new.

Just for budgeting purposes, I add $10,000 to the price of every vehicle I look at because I expect to have to replace batteries, tires, service the rig and/or generator, etc (as TurtleKent suggested). If the tires turn out to be only 3 years old and I don't have to replace them right away, so much the better. But it sounds like I've inadvertently stumbled on 'self insuring' the maintenance costs already - which many of you recommended. I'd much rather do that than shell out $5k on a warranty I might not use all of - although I do like vsheetz's idea of a high-deductible one-year warranty for the really big things... just to get me started off right.

I can't thank you all enough for your help. I've come to rely heavily on members as helpful as you all for your guidance, and your responses prove how invaluable a resource this site is.

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Old 09-24-2014, 09:36 AM   #9
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Well not to throw a monkey wrench in your plans but have you looked at useda Country Coach or Foretravel? You should at least look at these coaches to see what good really looks like. Also you may want to go to rv.org and buy their product and read all the way through it. It will be the best money you spend on your coach.
Happy hunting and good luck
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:27 AM   #10
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I really appreciate your input, pumper, thank you. And, yes.. I've looked. But I have to be honest - over the last few months I've sifted through hundreds of "best rv manufacturer" lists across dozens of sites, and I can't recall anyone ever putting either Country Coach or Foretravel at or near the tops of their lists. That doesn't mean they don't belong there, or maybe they're a solid 4th or 5th place, but for my first time out I gotta stick with a top contender for the vast majority.

They are pretty, though!


Thanks!
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:34 AM   #11
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A common procedure in the marine industry is to have the oil in the engines tested by a lab. Idealy the oil would not be freshly changed and you would have an idea of how many miles on the oil.
This will give you a good idea of the condition of the bearings and internal wear.
Price for this is quite low comparedto a warrenty and would tell you if you are looking at a major expense in the near future.
Google oil sampling companies. They are all over the country.
I have personally used the service provided by CAT for my diesel boat.
You will need to buy the sampling kit but it is under $100.
Then you can decide to purchase a warrenty if the test is not perfect.
They can test transmissions, generators and engine oils.
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:49 PM   #12
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Any insurance is a form of risk sharing by multiple users. Some will win, some will lose but the insurance company takes a hefty brokerage fee to facilitate the risk sharing.

Worst part - if the insurance company is able to deny your coverage or short you they make a bigger fee. Shareholders want insurance companies to make big profits so insurance managers are not your friends - no matter what their slogans say.
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:28 AM   #13
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Rvbuzz ... that's a great idea. I don't expect any rig, new or used, to be perfect, but I really like the idea of at least knowing where I stand from the get go.

Gordon, twice in my life I've had to fight against the very companies I was paying to protect me. I won - eventually - but even then I didn't get everything I'd been paying for all those years. Believe me, I absolutely understand and agree.
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Old 09-25-2014, 10:44 AM   #14
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My wife and I did the used higher-end thing a couple years ago.......'06 Travel Supreme tag loaded up - it was an original-owner coach that had all the documentation and records. I chose not to purchase warranties after much research on the issue, the Cummins ISL was outside the serial #s that were recalled etc etc etc.........it's been a great coach. Now that we are selling it I've come to realize that the initial depreciation by the original buyer was a hit that I didn't have to take. Whoever buys my coach is going to get a great unit that has all the bugs worked out at a fraction of the original MSRP. These are the points that have to be considered in a coach purchase IMO. Best of luck on your purchase........... JB
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