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Old 06-08-2014, 06:34 PM   #1
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Repair or Replace Motor Home?

We have an older Itasca Sunflyer which needs very little work, but are considering replacing it with a new/newer Mercedies Diesel Sprinter. Savings on cost of fuel and maintenance is one of the reasons. But the cost of a much newer MH means a loan and ours is paid for. My question is: How long should we hold onto the Sunflyer? At what cost level of maintenance should we consider?
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:11 PM   #2
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Only you can decide that. Back in the day when I used to do that 4 letter word (work) any time I heard someone say they were going to trade in their car for a new one because of gas mileage I would just shake my head. It never makes financial sense based on that reason only.

A older Itasca Sunflyer in good condition and needs very little work verses a new/newer Mercedies Diesel Sprinter where you need to take out a loan? To me its a no brainier. Unless you just want a new unit. Then it makes all the sense in the world.
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:19 PM   #3
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Only you can decide that. Back in the day when I used to do that 4 letter word (work) any time I heard someone say they were going to trade in their car for a new one because of gas mileage I would just shake my head. It never makes financial sense based on that reason only.

A older Itasca Sunflyer in good condition and needs very little work verses a new/newer Mercedies Diesel Sprinter where you need to take out a loan? To me its a no brainier. Unless you just want a new unit. Then it makes all the sense in the world.
Great message. Only you know what the situation should be.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:40 AM   #4
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Kind of off the main topic here, but I've noticed several folks mentioning looking into an RV built on a Sprinter chassis/body.

Before I retired a few years ago I was doing corporate chauffeur work. I would occasionally drive our "luxury" Merc Sprinter minibus. Very nicely set up inside, but lemme tell ya-- that thing drove like a truck, sounded like a truck, handled like a truck, and rode like a truck. It would take a lot to get me to buy an RV based on a Sprinter.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:57 AM   #5
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We have an older Itasca Sunflyer which needs very little work, but are considering replacing it with a new/newer Mercedies Diesel Sprinter. Savings on cost of fuel and maintenance is one of the reasons. But the cost of a much newer MH means a loan and ours is paid for. My question is: How long should we hold onto the Sunflyer? At what cost level of maintenance should we consider?

Savings on maintenance I can go along with, but fuel savings is a false economy.

It's simple math, at $3.75 / gal. and 15 mpg it would cost ~$0.17 / mile to drive the Sprinter. At the same $3.75 / gal. and 9 mpg it would cost ~$0.42 / mile to drive, or $0.25 / mile more.

If the upgrade to a diesel cost you only $10k more than a comparable gas rig, and ignoring the interest if you borrow money to buy it, it would take a minimum of 40,000 miles before you got back to equal, never mind being ahead any.

In the real world, factoring financing costs and such, it's nearing 100,000 miles to break even.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:44 AM   #6
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Out of Dept Vs. In-Dept.

Dept Free is the only way to go.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:49 AM   #7
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Out of Dept Vs. In-Dept.

Dept Free is the only way to go.

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Old 06-09-2014, 07:53 AM   #8
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Out of Dept Vs. In-Dept.

Dept Free is the only way to go.
Dept? did you mean Debt?
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:00 AM   #9
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That's the way I work. Never be in a Dept. Always Dept. free and be your own boss!

If you can wait a bit, there are other choices coming than a Sprinter based RV (and it's high price tag). Ford Transit and RAM Promaster based RV's are on the way - some are here already.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:19 AM   #10
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In the real world, factoring financing costs and such, it's nearing 100,000 miles to break even.
That sounds pretty absurd top me. And you are ignoring the fact that much of the cost of the diesel option comes back at resale as a diesel drivetrain is generally considered much more desirable, especially on used vehicles. It's not hard to make the payback 20k miles instead of 100k by plugging in the right numbers and taking a different point of view (although where the number really is depends on each individual use case.) Bottom line, all of the (many) 'gas/diesel' calculations I've seen usually prove nothing but that sufficient bias can prove anything.

That said, when looking in terms of pure dollars it's rare that buying a new vehicle is ever better than simply repairing the old (unless the old is in truly terrible shape)... but there is almost always more to the decision than cost alone or the question wouldn't even be asked.

And there is a reason why you just about can't count the number of Sprinter-based RVs that have been sold, and that is that they are fun to drive, incredibly maneuverable (I no longer fear a u-turn... anywhere), go anywhere, and get 16+ mpg so you can actually afford to take them anywhere. Another advantage of their popularity is that due to the number of units sold over the many years they have been available there is usually a good selection on the used market and a savvy purchase gets you a very good bargain, with the fact that they are diesel-powered almost thrown in for free. People can say all they want (for some reason Sprinters are the vehicle that non-owners love to hate) but among those who do own them it's pretty rare to find anyone who isn't very happy with their choice.

Regarding reliability, Sprinters have their quirks as does every other vehicle. But again, due to the large number of units on the road and the length of time they've been in service all of the good and bad is well known and out there, and in most cases easily addressable. What are the quirks of the Transit and Promaster platforms? No one knows yet other than the certainty that there will be some -- pay your money and take your chance. Also if you choose a Transit or Promaster that means brand new and almost double the cost of a clean, low-miles diesel Sprinter. At this stage of the game it just doesn't add up.

Anyway, just another point of view from a different bias...
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:39 AM   #11
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It's cheaper to repair than replace. However, it's nice to have something new.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:44 AM   #12
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I am facing the same dilemma as the OP. Upgrade or stay put, we bought used 2 years ago to try RV'ing on for size. We have made some upgrades, and learned a lot in 2 years. We would like to have newer, fancier, but basically for the time used per year (6 to 8 weeks) it just seems like a waste of money. Our unit was an expensive gasser in it's day and for a total outlay of about $16K it's hard to make a jump.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:15 PM   #13
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If it were me and the current unit is in good condition, just looking a bit dated... For a fraction of the cost of a new one, you could do quite a few updates. Giving you a unit that is good, one that you know inside and out, but with the looks and touches of a newer one.


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Old 06-09-2014, 12:47 PM   #14
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Repair or replace Motor Home?

What would worry me is the big discussion I've been reading about bio-diesel blends, and how the Mercedes engine is only warranted if using B5 or less ( meaning 5 % biodiesel mixed with 95% regular Ultra low sulfur diesel)

What I'm hearing is that most places now have blends ranging from B5 to B30 and in some cases it's mandated by law? From what I've been reading, biodiesel is very volatile, meaning it degrades quickly (3 months) and can cause plugged fuel filters and other more serious problems - hence why it's voids the warranty on these Sprinter engines to use it.

Here is one of the links I've been reading.
B20 Bio Diesel

But just thought anyone contemplating this change should be aware of the potential for fuel issues with these engines.
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