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Old 02-19-2012, 02:32 PM   #1
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Opinions on a 2003 Winnebago Chieftain for First Class A

Hello Everyone. I am a newbie to the sight and love all the great info exchanged. My wife and I are looking to buy our first Class A and have been looking at a 2003 Winnebago Chieftain. IT is loaded and in great condition with 25,500 miles. We previously owned a 26 ft travel trailer and a Class C Winnebago. We haven't finalized the deal on the Chieftain because we are still caught up in the gas vs. diesel debate. Still asking ourselves if we should keep looking until we find a diesel that meets our needs. Would appreciate everyone's opinions on the Winnebago Chieftain. Would we be better holding off and getting a diesel or is this a good entry level unit?

Bill
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:47 PM   #2
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Engine performance is a preferance. I think the V-10 does the job quit well for us and the extra cost for Diesel will be off set with the slight drop in fuel mileage on the V-10. I am also new at this but really like the V-10. I got 7 miles to the gallon on our first trip and maintained a speed of 60 MPH. Probably would get a little better if I ran at 55 but refuse to worry about the cost of fuel, it is what it is so we just have to suck it up and enjoy life. My coach is a 2003 Winnebago Sightseer, 30 ft. Perfect for any park including all the National parks. I lucked out and really didn't know this prior to purchase....Good luck in future purchase no matter what it is.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
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There has been much discussion here about Gas vs Diesel. Just search through the previous posts and you will find everyones input on that subject.

Gas or Diesel make sure you have some $$ put aside to catch up on some on the maintenance items and make sure to check the condition and age of the tires.

Best of luck with your decision.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Gene,

Thanks for the reply. I spent many summers in Washington NJ when I was a kid and loved it there.

Two of our concerns were overall handling of the motorhome and cockpit noise. Are those real items we should be concerned about? As a Winnebago owner what are your thoughts?

Bill
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:45 PM   #5
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I'm sure a diesel pusher is quieter with the engine being in the rear and handles better with the air ride suspension.

With that said...
Personally I did not look into the diesel route since I knew we would only be traveling around 5,000 miles a year, using it for a couple of week long trips and weekends. We are in our early 40's so retirement is still far away.

Is your plan on using it for months out of the year?
Traveling out west?

I think of you describe what you would like to do with it you might get some better suited responses.

So tell us about yourselves. Looks like you know about camping !!
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:54 PM   #6
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We are about 2 years from retirement. Initially, we will be similar to you doing a lot of weekend trips and a couple of week long trips each year. Eventually we would like to travel around the country and spend time in California and the Pacific NW.
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:00 PM   #7
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Sounds like you will be doing a good amount of living in this motorhome so diesel pusher might be the way to go.

Most of the time here is more basement storage room then is a gas motorhome along with a ore residential feel.

I'm sure you will get more responses here shortly.

Have you drove a gas and diesel?
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:24 PM   #8
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I have to agree with Bug512. If you intend to pile on the miles and don't mind the smell and cost of diesel it's probably the way to go. In general a diesel pusher is quieter, gets a little better fuel mileage, and has a better ride. I say generally because there are some lower end models that don't have air suspension and use smaller less powerful engines.

The downside of a diesel is cost of operation and maintenance. As you are aware diesel fuel has cost more than gasoline for several years. Most diesel engines use between 17 and 30 quarts of oil. In addition the fuel, oil, and air filters are considerably more expensive than those used in gas engines. The mileage intervals for a diesel engine maintenance are longer than gas engines (usually 10,000 to 15,000 miles as opposed to 3,000 to 5,000 on gas). However all manufacturers recommend maintenance be performed at specified mileage intervals or annually, whichever comes first

The higher maintenance and fuel costs could be a wash depending on how many miles a year you drive it.

A gas chassis on the other hand is more economical in the maintenance department but is generally a bit noisier to drive, has a harsher ride and is less powerful. If you have a smaller budget and don't pile on the miles it's a great way to get around the country.
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:42 PM   #9
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2003 would be a more modern gasser. My 2005 doesnt make enough noise that you cant have a normal conversation while driving.

Your only options are Ford or Chevy (or Workhorse). The chevy has the better allison trans. Also the chevys have the 22.5 which dramatically improves ride quality over previous (pre 2000) generations.

Both gas chassis have their flaws. The diesels have quite the variation of platforms. Also diesels have auxillary systems that can seem daunting to understand.

Since youre not under a deadline... id suggest shopping and test driving as many units as possible. Plus there are some things you wont realize you'll want or possibly need till after the purchase fact!
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:56 PM   #10
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Here's another angle for you regarding your first Class A purchase (you stated you owned a Class C prior) and the gas-vs-diesel debate.

I advise people to purchase a less expensive motorhome for their first Class A purchase, as I'm sure it won't be your last Class A. It will save you lots of $$'s to purchase a less expensive coach right now, as you haven't owned a Class A before, and I bet you will after a year or so say 'I wish it only had...... (you will fill in here what features or layout you might want to change)'.

Plan on owning this coach for 2-3 years, and then trade up for the floor plan, features, and yes, the gas-vs-diesel engine debate. Considering it will take you a minimum of 2 coaches to get where you inevitably will be a few years down the road (I re-read your posts about being about 2 years from retirement), you will be further ahead learning on a lower cost Class A and trading up to what you learn you might like later.

Go for it!

P.S. Diesel's are in my opinion are where you want to end up, but this gasser may be the less expensive entry ticket, knowing you're gonna trade up in a couple years. After 12 years of motorhoming, I love my current diesel.
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:08 PM   #11
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I think it would make a fine entry level MH. The V-10 works well and is a lot cheaper to maintain, about $50 for an oil change compared to $250.
Like others have said, it all depends on what you are planning on doing with it and how long you think you'll keep it.
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:27 PM   #12
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We bought our gasser because we didn't want to spend the $$$ on a new DP. (We were shopping for a new moho, so to stay in budget, a gasser was our best option.) This is our first RV or any kind, and we have not regretted the purchase at all. As far as engine noise, the V-10 is a high-revver on hills but other than that I never notice it. Good luck with your choice.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:54 PM   #13
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Visit the Winnebago website and download the 2003 Chieftain sales brochure for information. It indicates you are looking at the Workhorse chassis with the GM 8.1 Vortec. Neither the Ford V-10 nor a diesel were available in 2003. That said, the Vortec is probably the better of the gas engines. The Workhorse chassis has had issues, search the forums and brush up on those chassis issues, esp. the brakes. If all looks good, go for it. I owned two Adventurers, a 2000 and a 2002, which is the model just below the Chieftain. Great models, and I am glad I 'cut my teeth' on gassers before moving up to my current DP... I would start again with a gasser before buying a diesel, there's just too much to learn for a first timer. Good luck.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:45 PM   #14
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As far as ride quality and cockpit noise there is simply no comparing a gasser and a dp
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