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Old 06-09-2015, 10:57 AM   #1
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Question Questions during research phase

Hello! We are hoping to purchase in the next few months. I have a TON of questions, but I'll start with a few that are related. Ready? Okay, hubs is leaning towards a motorhome. I was fine with that, until someone told me that as far as safety, they are not very safe in an accident. I have two kids, age 8 and 5, who are still in booster seats, so this is definitely a concern! Thoughts? Next up, Travel trailers....I'm okay with that too, but we'd have to get a vehicle to tow...we have minivans but we could purchase another vehicle just for towing. Problem is, my kids bicker and fight if they are sitting next to each other. So we'd need a vehicle with 3rd row seating (SUV) that can tow. Since we are minivan parents, not sure what makes or models would be best. We want a relatively peaceful drive! Even in the minivan, one kid is in the second row, one is in the back. They can still annoy each other, but cannot touch each other, at least, lol. Which SUVs should we consider for towing? Not up on latest models. Also, my understanding is that we would most likely want to tow a small vehicle behind the motorhome. Are the motorhomes really that unsafe in an accident (no matter the class?). Finally, any motorhomes or TT that really seem to do well mechanically....open to suggestions for brands. We have 2 or 3 dealers nearby, so I think we have most of the major brands....Forest River, Winnebago, etc. I realize someone could have a great experience with a brand and someone else a horrible experience with the same exact brand, but please let me know if a company has a reputation for inferior mechanics or poor customer service resolution. Thanks so much for any help or advice! I am looking forward to learning! I'll pop in later to read replies...oh, best time of year to buy an RV? Thinking fall? Does it matter? When do they get 2016 models in ? Because wouldn't they want to get rid of 2015 when they start coming in? Thanks again.

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Old 06-09-2015, 11:12 AM   #2
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MHs are the number one most expensive to buy and keep RV there is. They do have benefits that to many make the cost worth while.
As for a TT and towing? The Ford E250/350 vans have been popular with many. We towed a 30 foot Holiday Rambler with a E350 for several years. Besides the horrendous fuel economy with the 460 V8 it was a towing beast. With all the seats in place the kids will have their own area.
As for buying? Buy used no matter what you choose.
Lacking a toad a MH can be pretty limiting. At least with a tow behind you have a vehicle to move around in once camp is set up.

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Old 06-09-2015, 01:09 PM   #3
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:47 PM   #4
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:08 PM   #5
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You really have to do your own research and not depend so much as to what others think, as we will all have our opinions and they will be pretty much based on what we currently own. Owning a Class A MH is not dangerous nor is it way more expensive than owning a TT. With a TT you will need a vehicle to tow it with, if you don't buy the appropriate tow vehicle, that could be dangerous in it's own right. Add the Tow vehicle and the TT of similar size and equipment as a Class A and you are right up there in price. Insurance and taxes the same thing, now you have two vehicles to insure and license, add them up you are in the same ballpark.

We take our grandkids in our Class A MH all the time and the layout and amenities are perfect for our needs, as well as them being able to watch TV, or eat while traveling and still being in seat belts. Also the bathroom is right there should they need it, and you do not need to pull over to do so.

We took two years doing our research and ended up with a MH we love, and got it at a great price. Read up on all the manufacturer forums, see what people like/dislike, quality issues, dealer issues, how long they sit in the shop ect. And you will start to define what works best for you as far as quality, for some it's cost, floorplans, others peace of mind knowing it was built right. Then go out and look at everything and consider all the floor plans. Look at TT, Class A, and Class C Rv's, drive as many as you can to get a feel for it, and you will develop an even better sense of what is best for you, and the qualities that are important to you. It is not as easy as just asking others, but looking is half the fun and if you do your research right you will end up with an RV you love and keep for a long time, rather than buying "up" every few years, that is not the most economical way to do this. And remember you get what you pay for and sometimes spending a little more on the front end saves you money and hassle down the road. Good luck and have fun looking.
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:10 PM   #6
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Anyone know if there are safety records....as in like a crash test rating similar to what they do with automobiles, for motorhomes? We still have not decided which way we are going, and may not for another couple of months. Also, which is easier....towing a travel trailer or driving a motorhome towing a vehicle? Seems like both would be difficult, and both would use a decent amount of fuel......(is this a chicken and egg type question?)
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by WannabeRV View Post
Anyone know if there are safety records....as in like a crash test rating similar to what they do with automobiles, for motorhomes? We still have not decided which way we are going, and may not for another couple of months. Also, which is easier....towing a travel trailer or driving a motorhome towing a vehicle? Seems like both would be difficult, and both would use a decent amount of fuel......(is this a chicken and egg type question?)
My understandings of RV (Motorhome) ratings is that the results are "not good" when involved accidents with larger objects or immovable objects. Other than that, they are largely the bigger vehicle and fair pretty well (occupants) in minor accidents. We've always taken the stance that everyone gets bucked in while underway and a motorhome may or may not provide better spacing than a 3-row minivan. They do not do well in roll-over accidents and don't have modern things like side-impact airbags.

They all drive differently. Class-A and Class-C gas units drive like U-haul trucks. Diesel Pushers typically have a much nicer ride, but they also come with a much steeper price tag.

Trailers are a different ballgame. 1/2 ton (typical) trucks and SUVs can only carry so much weight, so you'd need to specify what you're looking at.

My advice: Go pay a premium and RENT for a weekend with a decent drive. It'll cost a bit, but you'll get the experience without making the wrong choice up front.
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Old 06-09-2015, 04:09 PM   #8
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Welcome, glad to meet you!
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Old 06-09-2015, 04:11 PM   #9
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Good luck with your choice.
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:08 PM   #10
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First of all we would have gotten to where we are without input from this most awesome forum .....
Our forum is made up of a very large group of folks with different objectives & opinions ... generally based on those objectives & goals .... for us ... we live in our Bus full time and travel on somewhat of a schedule to visit family with site seeing and adventures in between ........
IMO, what you're looking for in an RV is most important .... what are you going to do with it .../?? Spend lots of time in it, we're talking months, or just a weekend warrior type rig with a 2-3 week vacation every year or so /???
Next would be floor plan (again IMO) ... what does the lay out of the RV need to look like .... these types of questions would need to be answered in order to point you in the right direction. Additonally, go visit the dealers in your area and look at as many different RVs as possible .... (there are great deals "used" out there when you find what suits you.
Your question regarding safety of a MH, whether DP or gasser .... These things are built to travel on fine chassis (for the most part) but are generally intended for spending time with some degree of comfort. Safety is in the eye of the beholder. If taken care of and driven properly, they do a fine job and will get you almost anywhere you want to go (as a rule they are NOT campers) Pulling a vehicle for exploring is a piece of cake ... they are structured to do so (again for the most part ..Mfgr to be the difference .... you get what you pay for)
My family have both TTs and 5ers and they love em
... for what they do with them.
Cost, up keep and maintenance are comparative, when you include what your using to tow (if 5er or TT).
Again, we live in our Bus, so our example may not fit your requirements ..... but I have to tell you, having everything you need on board while traveling is a big plus ... and with kids, IMO that would be important ,,, but that depends on how much or how long you would be traveling during a given period.
After knowing more about what your plans include ... you will find a big bunch of input to your questions .... and I certainly hope we can all help in some small way to get you to the right place ...........
as a footnote .... for our full time living, we found the 5er to be out of the question due to the size of the vehicle necessary to tow it ... and still park in downtown San Francisco .......... #buthatsjustus
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:47 PM   #11
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Well, we are middle aged, but have school aged young kids (ages 8 and 5). I married late in life, mid thirties, and started my family later in life. Hubs is six years older than me, and is good with investments and financial planning (he is a small business owner). So initially, we would use it during the summer, and on fall and spring breaks for the kids, and long (holiday weekends). However, hubs is planning on retiring early, hopefully within the next two years. Of course the kids will still be school aged, but we will be able to go more often, especially in the summer, because he won't have to take time off. Now, hubs does not do well sitting around at home, and he's not into golf. So I expect he will do something, maybe dabble in real estate or something, but he does have plans to retire from his current business in a couple of years. We live in Nashville, TN, so weekend trips to Gatlinburg are very doable, and when we have longer stretches of time, we would be exploring all over, especially if he is retired. So, to answer your question about plans, initially, summer vacations and school breaks but in a couple of years, more often (around school schedules, but hopefully a great deal in the summer time). Does that help? And yes, I have pointed out the convenience of an accessible toilet at all times with the kids!
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:47 PM   #12
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Welcome to the world of RV's and MH's! Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions as this is a 'large' purchase. While I do not have the figures, I do not see MH's as being any worse then any other vehicles on the road. Most of the time, MH drivers tend to pay a little more attention to their surroundings, hence seem to be a little safer. While we have not owned MH's for as long as other here, started in 1987, we are on our fifth one. Take your time, rent some different types and sizes to see what might fit your lifestyle. I find MH's much more desirable the TT for lots of reasons. The DW can get up and move around when she wants and I do not have to stop. I also believe that I can carry a little more cargo (stuff) then some of the TT's. Another thing is that I can pull my 'play toys' with the MH where as with a TT you would need to take an extra vehicle. While they all tend to cost a fair amount up front, the DP's do cost a little ore to maintain, but for me the extra cost is worth it.
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Old 06-10-2015, 06:09 AM   #13
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with tow little ones i would think a class C would be perfect for you. It is a large truck with an RV body and overcab bunk beds which kids love. Also as they get older you will not hear "are we almost there mom?" I'. hungry, I have to go to the bathroom. It is all there for them.They are also Somewhat less expensive to maintain. The first one i had was a 27 ft C, which i rented, and traveling with the kids was great.

Also like anything else a brand new one takes a big hit on depreciation so if i was you i would look for a used one in great shape
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Old 06-10-2015, 06:47 AM   #14
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Welcome aboard! You certainly came to a good place to learn... just remember that you are getting advice from lots of different people, with different priorities, checkbook balances, and ideals. You'll have to weight that in as you read my response, and everyone else's too!

My wife and I have 2 girls, ages 11 & (almost) 15. We started RVing in December of 2013, when we picked up our new 35' Class A gas RV. That was a Coachmen Mirada Bunkhouse model. Note I said... "was." It still is, of course, but it is no longer ours. We traded in that RV 6 months later for our current 40' Diesel Pusher Class A. This one is also a bunkhouse model--made by Fleetwood. It is a Discovery 40G, and we love it.

We got into RVing initially thinking that it would be a "local weekend" sort of thing, plus our kids swim competitively so we go to lots of swim meets and thought that camping sounded better than hotels. We were right--it's awesome for that! So awesome, in fact, that we tried out a long 2-week trip in our first RV not knowing whether at the end of those 2 weeks we'd hate it or love it. Well... we loved that long trip so much that we wanted to upgrade our RV. The Gas Class A was a loud one (IMO, that Coachmen Mirda is an entry level, low price RV) and one of my issues was that I couldn't easily carry on conversations over the lound engine noise. It also rattled a lot down the road, and we experienced several issues that made me feel like if we were going to do "long trips" and "long miles," we would want higher quality. Thus our upgrade.

So my first advice is to think HARD about how you'll use your new RV, and try not to make the same mistake I did. No doubt, we needed to ease into this RV thing, and we simply would not have purchased the more expensive Diesel Pusher at step 1 without the knowledge that we quickly learned within the first few months of ownership. But maybe you are better equipped than we were at either (a) knowing that you'll want to do week-long + trips, or (b) having the $$ to take a bigger risk than we were willing to do. Many on this form say to "buy your last RV first," and by that they are suggesting that you try hard to think ahead so that you don't have to trade-up very often (and take the financial hit).

Second bit of advice--we travel with other families or meet them at campgrounds. Some of them have Class A RV's, others have 5th Wheels, others have smaller trailers. Let me tell you this... when the families in the smallest campers are sharing family time, cooking burgers, or sitting around the campfire, they are having every bit as much fun and love as the people doing the same thing in the fanciest RV at the park! That part is a given, so no matter what you buy, your "camping" experiences will be the same.

The difference is in the "how you get there" part. Last weekend, we met some families at a campground near one of the local swimming facilities for a swim meet. We all left on Friday and stayed through Sunday. While I was driving there, I had my generator started and AC running so the RV was cooled down during the drive, and obviously immediately upon arrival. I had a crock pot in my sink cooking dinner so that when I set up camp that night, dinner would be done. This time, my wife brought up the kids because of some competing things they were doing, but normally they'd have enjoyed the ride in their bunk beds watching TV. Now... my kids are a little older than yours, and maybe you have different priorities about seat belt use, etc. But for us, this is the way we like to travel--especially for LONG trips (This summer we will put in a few 10h drive days during our summer vacation.)

On Sunday, we all had to break down camp because check-out time was 11AM, but the swim meet wasn't over until early evening. Those of us in Class A RVs were able to just take our RV to the side parking lot of the natatorium (pool), and "boondock" with quiet generators running--keeping our AC's running, and again in my case, dinner was cooking in a crock pot again! The families in the 5th wheels booked Sunday night at the campground this weekend, so they too had a great time and an additional night of camping--just different than what we did.

So this is an example of how a Class A may offer different, not necessarily better, options than a 5th wheel or pull-behind trailer. It's how you get there, and also where you ride (never safe to ride in a trailer--also illegal).

It's also about the driver. I personally have driven lots of different cars, trucks, pulled trailers, boats, motorcycles... etc. The Class A RV is an absolute dream to drive for me (especially the Diesel, but the Gas was too except for the noise). They sit up high and have a huge window so it's a pleasant view. They usually have backup and turn-signal activated cameras that make seeing other cars when turning easy. It is super simple to tow along many cars "4-wheels-down" but your Minivans may not be towable this way (need to look into that).

I have never driven a 5th wheel, but I'm pretty sure they are a bit more difficult to back into places. Also--the ride comfort is, by definition, truck-like. Now some trucks are super fancy and comfortable, so that could be awesome? I personally didn't want my daily driver to be a large F350 or something like that, but a lot of guys love driving trucks so maybe you or your husband would be all over that ?

So these are things to think about. Budget kicks in too, but as you make comparisons, consider the total costs. Buying a large 5th wheel means, in your case with two minivans, buying a truck large enough to tow it comfortably. For this... do your research and don't necessarily trust what the RV sales guy says will be adequate. A proper tow vehicle will be pricey, narrowing the price gap somewhat between a nice Class A and a nice 5th wheel+tow vehicle. Likewise, if you lean towards a Class A, look into what it would take to tow one of your minivans behind it, versus maybe replacing one of those with a different car that is easily towable. With an active family, I can't imaging going to too many places without my Jeep for when we arrive.

Good luck! It's a lot to think about.

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