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Old 05-25-2010, 05:37 AM   #1
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Diesel Pusher Maintenance

Hi y'all,
I'm a real newbie. My wife and I are retiring in a few months and we're going to be buying a Used Class A. I've been searching all over the Internet for a long time, and have pretty well decided on finding a 38' to 40' Alfa Seeya, Monaco Diplomat or a Newmar Dutch Star. I see a lot of them under 50,000 miles or just a little over. What would be typical maintenance issues, especially with Freightliner chassis ? Also, what can I expect to pay for a brake job ? I'm not sure what kind of brakes these big rigs have. (told ya I was a newbie)
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:38 AM   #2
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You should avoid an Alfa See Ya because they have fiberglass problems. You can Google and find the years affected. Brake service on diesel pushers is such a rare event that it is not an issue. Brake pads and shoes last 100,000 miles or more. There are two very different prices for diesel maintenance, DIY or shops. If you can change the oil, transmission fluid, and lube the chassis you will have a low cost. If you take it to a shop for everything it will get expensive.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:55 AM   #3
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Monaco went belly-up... Of the units listed, Newmar Dutch Star would be the one to get. Mileage on a Motorhome is the same as double for a car. Tiffin is geting good reviews along with Fleetwood and Winnie... Country Coach was a nice MH, but they too went belly-up. Monaco Beaver was just about as good as it gets. Too bad they are no longer made. Be careful with the big ticket items with the worst most damaging and most expensive can be Delamination.
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:00 AM   #4
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There is nothing really wrong with any of the 3 you listed. The Alpha would be the most suspect quality of build wise. The new Monaco is offering tech support on all Monaco coaches so their bankruptcy has no effect on a used coach purchase.

You might consider that it is a little early to have your "short list" so short. There are a lot of quality used coaches available and now is the time to be doing as much research as time will allow. Do you have any thoughts of full timing or snowbirding? Do you see yourself doing mostly a few weeks at a time or is it more like 3-6 months at a time. If weeks and week ends your needs will be different than if extended living.

When you retire, I suggest a trip to Lazydays in Florida. Folks love them or hate them, but there is no better place to see a lot of both new and used coaches at your own pace. As you look, you need to start test driving some chassis to get an idea about what your driving preferences are. The 3 coaches you talk about are built on Freightliner (Alpha, Newmar) and Roadmaster (Monaco) chassis. Spartan is another chassis builder you will run across. Build your short list after you do more homework. Price point is only one of many variables you need to consider.

Good luck & let us know how you are doing.

Steve O
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:50 PM   #5
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A diesel pusher with 50k miles on it has no maintenance issues due to normal wear & tear. It might have maintenance needs due to neglect, though. If the rig looks well cared for, chances are the routine maintenance was done on schedule and the chassis is just nicely broken in at 50k miles.

A coach with 50k miles may well be several years old, though, and that makes the tires suspect. After about 7 years the risk of tire failure goes up astronomically, so most owners opt to replace tires at about 7 years. Some as little as 5 years if they are very risk-adverse. Don't trust the apparent condition - check the DOT date code on the sidewall.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:45 PM   #6
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There is a lot of maintenance on a DP!

I bought a 2002 Tiffin Zephyr last summer. It had ~30,000 miles on it. It hadn't been driven for the prior 3 years because of the original owner's health problems. Let me say that I was unprepared for the complexity of a nice DP MH. I've spent a lot of the last 9 months just coming up to speed. I've spent over $10K on maintenance and repairs--and this coach is in great shape. $6K was for the catastrophic failure of my cooling system. The remaining list of repairs is long. Tires was an early big one. An oil seal. Radiator hose. Lights. Mirrors. Air cleaner. Air dryer. Belts. Refrigerator recall. City water valve. House batteries. Furnace. Oil changes. Antifreeze (much more complicated than an automobile).
My point is this: There is a lot of work involved in properly maintaining a used DP. If money's not an object, then find a food MH shop and tell them to have at it. If money is an object but you don't mind doing the work yourself, have at it. I'm guessing that a DP requires a budget of $750-$1,000/ year just for parts and replacement fluids, etc. (About half of that is for tires.)
I didn't appreciate that when I got involved. Not that I would have changed my mind but it would have made the first year of ownership less stressful.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:39 AM   #7
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Many newer Dutchstars are built on Spartan Chassis. Check out the Newmar Forum and post a thread stating your years preference and ask for input.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:33 PM   #8
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You may want to look at the kind of places you want to travel, I have a 36 dp and am starting to find a lot of the places I like to stay don't want anything bigger than 34 or smaller. so look at your lifestyle. MY wife and I love NP and National forests state parks that kind of thing as we love nature and hikeing.

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Old 05-27-2010, 04:58 AM   #9
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Thanks to all of you for your input. Every one of you addressed issues that have concerned me. Our plans include a first trip to the West Coast via Denver to Albuquerque thru Arizona to Huntington Beach, Ca and up the coast to Seattle spending time w/ relatives in each of those spots and sightseeing and touristing along the way. Then up to Jasper, Alberta and down to Yellowstone then home to Michigan. Winters in warmer climes and seeing the rest of the country on shorter trips are also in the agenda. I'd have a tough time selling my wife on anything smaller than a 36'.
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