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Old 01-12-2013, 10:53 AM   #1
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Question Tourists in the USA

Hi Everyone !
We are a tourist family of 6 (2 adults and 4 young kids (~ages 2-10)) arriving soon (=in 2 months) to San Francisco, where we are planning on purchasing a used travel trailer and a used towing car to use for touring the US and Canada in the six months to follow.
Could you please give us an insight on the registration procedures and requirements in California (As one might conclude from our tourists status, we have no SSN, nor a US driver's license).
Also, are there any places, where one can take the trailer and car to, for a pre-sale check?
Thanks for your help and have a great weekend
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:00 AM   #2
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That's a tough one. A well versed dealer I am sure will walk you through the procedures. Good luck!

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Old 01-12-2013, 01:08 PM   #3
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Hi and

Hopefully someone can help you figure out how to register somewhere other than CA. CA will be expensive for registration.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:18 PM   #4
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Humm,, Maybe you could try to find a official government web site for California and see if there is some link there that can help you.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:42 PM   #5
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This link should answer most of your questions:

http://www.rvforum.net/joomla/index....cle&id=184:usa

The first thing you need is a US address. You can use your international drivers license, but you must have a US address for insurance and registration purposes. I would highly recommend doing all your buying and registration *outside* of CA. California has high sales tax and registration fees (some of the highest). Texas would be a much better choice. You can get a TX address via Escapees.com and buy locally.

Do check your visa. Typically foreign visas will only last 3 months, but you might be able to apply for a longer entry (depending on where you are from).

Hope that helps!
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:45 PM   #6
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Welcome - Good luck and agree - come to Texas - we'll show u around
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayandvered View Post
Hi Everyone !
We are a tourist family of 6 (2 adults and 4 young kids (~ages 2-10)) arriving soon (=in 2 months) to San Francisco, where we are planning on purchasing a used travel trailer and a used towing car to use for touring the US and Canada in the six months to follow.
There are no automobiles (cars) suitable for towing a travel trailer. As a minimum you need what we call a sports utility vehicle (SUV), but preferably a pickup truck.

Hitch weight is the problem. Very few cars are designed to handle the hitch weight of more than a tiny trailer. SUVs come in various sizes but only a "full size" SUV will have enough payload capacity to handle the hitch weight of more than a very small travel trailer (TT). Plus even a full-size SUV such as a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition can either tow a nice-size TT or haul a load of people and gear, but not both at the same time without being overloaded. They simply don't have enough payload capacity to do both at the same time without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle. So for your use I'd plan on buying a 4-door CrewCab pickup with a "bench" front seat so all 6 of you can travel comfortably.

One exception: Chevrolet/GMC sells the Suburban/Yukon XL 2500 that can probably handle your crew plus an 8,000-pound travel trailer if you travel light. Put all your luggage and other stuff in the trailer instead of inside the SUV. But the 2500 is not the normal Suburban. They are few and far between, so hard to find for sale as a used SUV.

CrewCab pickups come is several sizes:

Compact, such as a Toyota Tacoma. Suitable only for very light travel trailers, such as a fold-down tent trailer.

So-called "Half-ton", such as a Ford F-150, Chevrolet or GMC 1500, Dodge 1500 or Toyota Tundra. Most can handle a travel trailer that weighs up to around 5,000 pounds. A few can handle up to around 8,000 pounds, but those are few and far between because they must have special towing and weight hauling options from the factory. If you are looking for a used pickup, don't count on finding one with the heavy duty towing package or heavy duty suspension that can handle the hitch weight of more than about a 5,000 pound trailer.

I love my 2012 F-150 CrewCab with the EcoBoost engine, but my travel trailer that grosses less than 5,000 pounds when wet and loaded for the road overloads that pickup.

So-called "Three-quarter ton", such as Ford F-250, Chevrolet or GMC 2500, Dodge 2500. (Toyota doesn't sell one in the USA). Most can handle a travel trailer that weighs less than around 10,000 pounds. That should be adequate for a nice-size travel trailer that will be comfortable for your large family.

So-called "one ton", such as Ford F-350, Chevy/GM 3500, Dodge 3500. These come with either single rear wheels (SRW) or dual rear wheel (DRW). The SRW models are glorified three-quarter ton pickups and aren't consider a real "one ton" pickup, such as a "one ton dually". But the F-350 SRW does have more payload capacity than an F-250, but not as much as an F-350 DRW.

For the last few years, the American pickups also come in a one-ton dually on steroids. Ford F-450 and the others 4500. They have more pulling power (but not more payload capacity) than the one-ton dually, and are used by folks with RVs that are around 20,000 pounds gross weight. It doesn't sound like you'll need one of those.

Yankee slang: The phrase "half-ton", "three-quarter ton" and "one ton" are all ancient descriptions of the net payload of the Ford Model T pickups of 90 years ago. The actual payload of modern pickups is a lot more than the name would suggest.

4x2 or 4x4? Don allow anyone to convince you that you need a 4x4. I've had vehicles for over 50 years and never had a 4x4. But in some areas a used 4x4 is easier to find than a used 4x2. You pay more for the 4x4 up front, but like a diesel you'll probably get most of that difference back when you sell it.

Quote:
Could you please give us an insight on the registration procedures and requirements in California (As one might conclude from our tourists status, we have no SSN, nor a US driver's license).
The USA has 50 states, and the registration procedures (and cost) are different in each state. Think of our states as separate European counties. California is as different from Texas as Germany is from Spain. California is one of the highest-cost states, so in your shoes I'd probably go somewhere else to buy your rig. Look for a state that has no sales tax, such as Oregon. It will cost a lot less for TT&L (taxes, title, and license plates) in Oregon than in California. You'd probably save a lot more than the airplane fair from San Francisco to Portland, for example. Texas is a wonderful place to live and do business, but we do have a sales tax that you'd have to pay. On vehicles and RVs, that tax is around 6.5%, so on a $30,000 rig, the sales tax alone would be almost $2,000.

Regardless of where you buy the rig, you'll need a physical address in that state to register it. A post office box won't do. The state will mail you the license plates, title (certificate of ownership), and registration. Maybe ask the dealer where you buy your rig how to get a local physical address.

After you decide on which state to buy (and register) your rig, then do research on the internet to determine the procedures and costs in that state. In most states, you'd begin your research with the Department of Transportation (DOT). In Texas, it's "TxDOT".
www.txdot.gov
- Also, ask on this website for answers from folks that have experience with registering a used vehicle in your selected state.

Quote:
Also, are there any places, where one can take the trailer and car to, for a pre-sale check?
Sure, but again that's local. Every city has different dealers that can and will do that for you, but some are good and reasonable, while others just want your money. You must first decide which city, then ask folks that live there for their recommendation.

One chain that's reliable in most of their locations is Camping World. They sell and service new and used motorhomes and RV trailers, so they know both engines and RVs.
RV Supplies, RV Accessories & RV Parts for Motorhomes, Travel Trailers - Camping World

In fact, Camping World might be a good place to buy your used rig.

As to exactly which RV trailer, that will depend on what you find available. You probably want a "bunkhouse" model about 28 feet inside length.

Those will usually include both 28 and BH in the model number. For example, here is the new Keystone Springdale model 282BHSSR:
Springdale

The specs on that one say 32'1" long, but that includes the hitch and rear bumper. so it's about 28' long inside. It has a shipping weight of 7,000 pounds and a cargo capacity of 2,250, so GVWR of about 9,250. That requires a three-quarter ton pickup to pull it without being overloaded. So an F-250, gas or diesel, should do nicely.

Gas or diesel? In a late-model F-250 or comparable pickup, diesel will cost you about $7,000 to $10,000 more up front than gas. But you'll probably get back that difference when you sell it 6 months later. In the meantime, expect around 9 or 10 miles per gallon (MPG) towing with the gas engine, or around 11 or 12 MPG with the diesel. Diesel fuel costs a lot more than gas, so most of that MPG difference would be made up by the cost of the fuel. But you'll love towing with a diesel, whereas the gas engine might struggle with a 9,000-pound trailer.

Do you really need a travel trailer? Probably not. I camped for over 20 years with my family in a fold-down tent trailer. The advantage of a fold-down trailer is it is much lighter than a travel trailer, so you can tow most of them with the normal half-ton pickup without being overloaded. There are 10-times as many used half-ton pickups available as three-quarter ton pickups, so it's much easier to find a suitable tow vehicle for sale. Here's a link to a nice fold-down RV trailer that I'd consider:

Rockwood Tent Pop Up Camper by Forest River

Note the dinette converts to a bed, so all 6 of you could have plenty of room to sleep.

Also consider "hybred" travel trailers. Those are lighter because the beds fold out from the sides or ends, similar to a tent camper. Here's one with a wet and loaded weight of a little over 6,000 pounds that might work on some of the heavy duty half-ton pickups (But it would overload my 2012 F-150 Crewcab that is not a "heavy duty" model):
Roo Hybrid Travel Trailer by Forest River
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:43 AM   #8
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Welcome to the forum and the USA...
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:48 AM   #9
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Welcome Aboard. Don't register in CA Registr in Texas. Cheaper. Tryo contacting the Escapees RV club they may be able to help.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:21 AM   #10
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First of all, Welcome to the Forum. You are going to get a lot of different opinions and information from a lot of people, and it will probably conflict with each other. Take it all in and make an educated decision.

Wow, where does one start. We need a bit more information than you provided in your first post. But it looks like you are going to be visiting our country for 6 months, and you want to see it through the world of camping and RVing.

I am assuming you are from Europe, since you mentioned "towing car". One thing that will amaze you is the affects that the Atlantic Ocean has on Tow Ratings of anything that isn't a large SUV or Pickup. Click on the link for a few examples. Biggest thing, is a vehicle that can handle 2 adults and 4 kids (2 of them, I assume still need at least a booster seat) and have at least a 5000 lb tow rating. There, I can't really help you. I can think of one or two off the top of my head, but they are big vehicles.

You didn't provide what kind of a camper you wish to purchase, either. If indeed you are from Europe, you are probably looking to purchase something smaller and easier to tow with a smaller vehicle, but can still sleep 6. I think a 21 foot to 24 foot hybrid would work for you with 2 to 3 tent ends.

Big thing, what is your budget. This sounds like a very fun but very expensive experience.

Just another thought. Are your starting and ending your vacation in the same place? Have you thought about renting? I rented one before purchasing to see if my Girlfriend and her daughter would like it (Of course they did ). Renting may be the way to go.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:28 AM   #11
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Just to give you a little more idea of how different fees are in the different states. We have a class A which is a big motorhome. Our yearly registration fees in California were close to $3,000. When we managed to move out of CA and into South Dakota our fees dropped to $350. On our small car our fees were $450 in CA. They dropped to $40 in SD.

So I agree with the other posters that you should choose your state wisely. It will save you more than the cost of a plane ticket.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:59 PM   #12
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Hi (again) Everyone!

I will begin with a "thank you" for the warm welcome and all the good advice you have been giving us. I wanted to post earlier, but due to some family health issues, I was unable to do so.

Anyway, after reading all the info and answers in this thread, we decided it would probably be best to change our original plans and fly to Portland, OR to complete the purchase of the SUV and trailer.
Is anyone familiar with the registration procedures in Oregon? We can get a local address from a mail forward service company.

I guess it is a language issue...As a non native speaker, I was unaware to the difference between a "car" and a "vehicle". We were not planning on buying a regular car (We did some towing of a 15' TT for few months in New Zealand years ago and had the worst experience ever with a regular, small engined car, until we replaced it with a Nissan Terrano).

We have done some research on our own and I am glad to have my conclusions backed up with the experience shared with us here. We are looking for a Suburban/Yukon 2500. As it was mentioned here, these are less common and more difficult to find (especially for us, since we ae on a low budget). We found some older ones - 2000-2001 models.
Are there any risks we should be aware of with buying older models?

As for the travel trailer, We rather not get a pop up tent trailer. We are looking for something up to 29' (preferably smaller), with the largest slide possible, since we are traveling with young kids and we will be camping in colder and rainier areas, where they would not always be able to play outside and we want them to have enough room inside at these times.

Again, We are on a low budget (10K at most for the TT). We liked the configuration of the 25FT KZ frontier, that also has bunks for the kids (here is a link to one we found on SF craigslist - 25FT KZ Frontier w/Bunks & Slideout).
We also like the large slide of the 2006 prowler 270 fqs (like this one - 2006 Prowler 270fqs Trailer w/slide), but it has no bunks.
This one looks good - 2005 Travel trailer 29 foot BY FOREST RIVER. it has both - but we are not sure how much more difficult it is to tow a 29' TT compared to the 15' we used to tow.
We wish we could find something smaller that will have both the large slide and the bunks. Any insights?

We are really grateful for your kind replies. They have been great and very helpful so far and any further suggestions will be much appreciated.

.

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:57 PM   #13
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One point that I don't see addressed: Do you intend to sell the 2 units after your 6 monts here?
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by shayandvered View Post
We are looking for a Suburban/Yukon 2500. As it was mentioned here, these are less common and more difficult to find (especially for us, since we ae on a low budget). We found some older ones - 2000-2001 models.
Are there any risks we should be aware of with buying older models?
Any 13-year old truck is suspect. It depends on how well it was maintained and cared for, how many miles are on it, and how hard were those miles. (Towing at the limit is considered to be very hard miles.) For sure, you want to pay a good mechanic that knows all about old Suburbans to do a thorough inspection before you pay any money for one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by E-How.com
All trim levels of the 2000 Suburban 2500 were powered by a 6-liter V-8 engine with 300 HP at 4,800 rpm and 355 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. The rear-wheel-drive versions had a maximum payload of 3,153 lb. and a maximum towing capacity of 10,500 lb. The four-wheel-drive versions had a maximum payload of 2,839 lb. and a maximum towing capacity of 10,100 lb.
Those maximum numbers can be attained only when absolutely nothing is in the SUV but a skinny driver. With your crew and stuff, probably a maximum trailer weight of 8,000 pounds is the most you can hope for without overloading the SUV.

There are some ultra-light TTs that meet your needs without grossing more than 8,000 pounds when wet and loaded for the road. One is the Sunline Nomad Joey Model 285. It's a bunkhouse model that sleeps up to 9.
60x74 bed (an "RV queen size", not a regular queen size of 60x80)
48x74 bunk
28x76 bunk
78x79 dinette
44x74 sofa bed

That should be plenty of beds for your 4 kids, without converting the dinette to a bed or folding down the couch into a bed. One kid could "sleep on the couch" without converting it into a bed.

GVWR is 7750. Max hitch weight shouldn't be more than 1,150 pounds. Assuming your Suburban 2500 will have a max payload of 2,800 pounds, subtract 1,150 pounds hitch weight and that leaves 1700 pounds for family and stuff.

The following floorplan is for a current model, but Skyline has been selling that model for several years, so you may find a used one that meets your price goal. The Model 285 is about 28' inside length, or 32' tip to tail. That's about the longest TT I'd want to tow with a Suburban.



I have a 2012 Skyline Nomad Joey Model 196. We towed it about 5,000 miles around the USA last year with a Ford F-150 SuperCrew, with no problems. There's only two of us, along with two puppydogs, so we didn't need a bigger RV such as a bunkhouse.

If you make it to west Texas during your visit, give us a shout. We're just off I-20 about mid-way between Fort Worth and El Paso. We'll treat you to a steak dinner. Even if you don't stop by here, be sure to spend at least one a full day to visit Carlsbad Caverns in southeast New Mexico. That's a memorabile experience.
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