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A Blog for the Newbie's Newbie!

Posted 03-12-2012 at 07:22 AM by kmesaaz

To begin, I am a TOTAL newbie to motorhomes. Never drove one, camped in one, or even sat in one prior to my decision to purchase one. I don't even know anyone who owns one!

It would be a gross understatement to say that I have A LOT to learn. Hopefully, readers who are newbies, rookies, or in the "new to us" categories will find something beneficial in my posts.

Once you have researched and identified the make, model, year, features, financing, price range, storage, and insurance plans that you are interested in, THEN visit your local rv lots. Because when you arrive at the first rv lot, you could immediately get caught up in the excitment of it all and possibly make a decision right then and there! And, if so, you want it to be an INFORMED decision.

Salesmen are salesmen--car salesmen, roofers, realtors, air conditioning salesmen, rv salesmen. They make their living by selling their product. Some are more knowledgeable, helpful, honest, patient, kind, and have better communication skills than others. May the salesman you find yourself dealing with have all of the above qualities!

As for YOU, you will need paper and pencil at the least. Write down your questions, his/her answers, and anything you hear that is of interest to you. I took a mini recorder and taped my conversations with the salesman. No way that I could remember or write down all that I heard, thought of, or needed to discuss.

I purchased my motorhome 2 weeks ago tomorrow. During these two weeks there have been a few questions and a few issues (some of which I should have caught/dealt with better during the PDI). I have called the salesman and the gentleman who handles the Good Sam Roadside Assistance membership at this dealership. Neither returned my call. Guess it's time for a visit!
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  1. Old Comment
    When you narrow your choices down to rvs that you are seriously thinking about, or if you find just the one that you want, rent for a few days, or at least test drive it as you would a car. Take it out in traffic, on the freeway, uphill, downhill, all around the town. Really. I found that having the saleman in the rv with you would be better than making that first drive as a new owner all by yourself.

    I didn't rent or test drive, because I mistakenly thought that driving my trucks and vans, and towing my popups, my Aliner, and my teardrop camper over the years gave me the insight and experience I needed. Nope. Not even close!

    And, BIG AND, if you have a dog that will travel with you, take the dog to a few lots, let her in the parked rv, and then take her on the test drive with you. My dog HATES, HATES, HATES, cars, trucks, and rvs. She is adjusting to the rv because she likes to go camping, but I had to get a baby gate to contain her as I drove. She wants to crawl up front and get under my feet. Not cool!

    There's a lot to be said about how people research, shop, and deal. At the very least, keep in mind that buying an rv is like when you bought your car or truck. Some people pay full sticker price, some work a deal.

    The deal, in this case, could be financial, or it could revolve around a roadside assistance plan thrown in, or maybe future oil changes, or gas money, or who knows what. I would suggest that when you, the buyer, start talking about the purchase price, that you are prepared to ask for/about a deal of some sorts.

    I thought that I was getting a deal when they "threw in" the Good Sam Roadside Assistance plan for a year. Well, I now think they may offer it to everyone, which isn't a bad thing. But in my case, the GSRA was offered in place of the spare tire which was missing. "You don't need a spare, you have GSRA." Well, what will it COST me when a tow truck operator has to bring the wheel and tire for my Winnebago?

    Obviously, I'm still learning!
    Posted 03-14-2012 at 03:01 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Finally, the Good Sam Roadside Assistance plan arrived in the mail. Only had to make one more call, didn't have to visit. Obtaining this was a matter of principle--the dealer did not replace the missing spare tire because he was going to "throw in" the GSRA plan. So, he needed to do so!

    When you find the rig you want, and probably before you truly commit to the purchase, look up your dealer on the Better Busines Bureau website. My dealer had a "D."

    To add a little perspective--my most recent vehicle was purchased from a dealer whose rating was an "F" but I did not know that until after the problems began--three days after I signed on the line. In reading over the reasons for the F, I absolutely understood and agreed with the rating.

    The D rating for the dealership from which I purchased the motorhome seemed (and still seems) deserved, but the issues were hugely different than the F rated dealership where I bought my Tundra. And, I thought (and still think, so far) that I could live with the issues.

    So, once again I have learned to do my homework and be prepared so that I can make informed decisions. Which, for me, has been A LOT of work, because I know nothing about motorhomes, roadside assistance plans, insurance, or storage. In Phoenix, storage, covered storage, requires checking out the storage lot at different times of the afternoon to find out where the worst of the sun's rays shine. Really! The sun and the heat are brutal!

    I've now had my motorhome out on two short little trips to a local county campground, and I'm happy to say, that all the research at various rv lots, at various rv websites, and on irv2 has really made a difference! Thanks to all who have posted on irv2 and shared ideas, experiences, and opinions!
    Posted 03-17-2012 at 06:02 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  3. Old Comment
    During my trip to the local county campground I finally had the time to look the mh over, read my notes taken during the PDI, and think things over. Hmmm, what is wrong with this sequence? I should have thought things over, really thought them over, FIRST!

    irv2 has an amazing amount of information, insight and experience posted for any who will take the time to read it. In all fairness, I must say that I did, DID, do quite a bit of reading, but reading it and understanding what you read are two different things. AND, when you are cautioned on certain subjects you really need to make the effort to understand just what they are talking about! For me, a stumbling block was the PDI.

    The whole PDI experience was a jumble. The salesman said one thing, the gentleman who conducted the PDI handled it differently than I expected, and the folks on this sight certainly shared their 2 cents worth of insight and experience. Not that the experience was necessarily a negative one, but had I been better prepared I would have handled it differently and would have felt more comfortable.

    In my case, the PDI was done by a gentleman who had never set foot in my mh before. Not what I expected. He did not know the ins and outs of this model. Not what I expected. The fact that the battery died as I attempted to start it and drive it home, and his response was something like, "They knew the battery was bad. I don't know why they just didn't switch it out beforehand," did not breed confidence.

    Because, you see, the salesman told me that the mh would be thoroughly checked out, and in working order, for the PDI. I was thus expecting everything to be fine, which was obviously not the case.

    I would caution anyone who is purchasing a mh to understand, really understand, what is being done by the dealer prior to the PDI, who is doing the PDI, and what is his/her responsibility. AND, if a problem arises during the PDI how will it be handled by the dealer??? You almost have to get that in writing!

    I am happy with my mh, despite the fact that the missing spare tire was not replaced, that there is not a ladder for the bunk over the cab, the fact that the bunk cushions are not a matching pair and have to be squished to fit, and that apparently somebody spilled a really big soda in the bunk and it was still wet up there! All of this should have been caught by me and addressed. But, in the excitement of it all, I ran out of functioning brain cells and simply let it slide.

    Go early for your PDI, be ready to ask questions, and be prepared to be there for a while. You are making a big decision which you want to be able to enjoy for a long time to come!
    Posted 03-20-2012 at 03:06 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Location-location-location....Of Your Checklists! Make them and keep them handy! Seriously. I have one on the driver's visor which I reference before I start the mh and when I stop the mh.

    irv2 has some great suggestions on what you should and shouldn't do and when, but, for me, my Checklist is PERSONALIZED for the *area where I live (keep extra water in the toilet to keep the seal from drying out), for the *quirks of the mh (secure and block the blind above the sink to prevent that ANNOYING rattle), for my *safety (get the baby gate in place to prevent the dog from climbing under my feet as I drive) and to *shore up a sagging memory (double check on locking all the outside compartments). I did see a hose still connected to the city water at a vacant campsite on my last trip. Maybe they should have listed it? Whatever the case, my list is long now, but will shorten as I fall into a routine. Or, it may keep getting longer as I realize what I don't even know that I don't know! lol

    But, it's all good and is coming along nicely. Heading north to a further (and cooler) campground this weekend. For sure I am not ready to use the mh propane (chicken!) But, when camping in my Aliner, I had a little propane heater (leave the windows open a bit) which will work for now. And, I do have those alarms in the rv which will alert me if there is a problem.
    Posted 03-24-2012 at 07:20 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  5. Old Comment
    How do all these companies offering all these plans find me? I'm a little hesitant to open my email, answer the phone, or go to the mailbox.

    But, if you take the time to read (wade) through the information, you WILL learn something. After finding something that intrigues me I have found that returning to irv2 and researching whatever I have just read about/learned is wise.I spend more time online than eating! I REALLY want to be up to speed when I take off on my maiden month long journey, alone.

    Remember, I am a newbie, but this is what I now understand better. The RV insurance I have through GEICO covers me for collision and liability claims, plus Rv medical, emergency expense, replacement cost personal effects, vacation liability coverage. At this point I am also a member of AAA and AARP but not as a mh owner. I should check into this. And I now have Good Sam Roadside Assistance which I think probably lends itself to some double coverage somewhere. Seems to be GS covers ALL you vehicles, and if so, I will drop either AAA or AARP.

    In today's mail came the GS Extended Service Plan offer, which is not my first choice. After all the research on this site I was/am leaning toward CSI Allegiance, but we have been playing telephone tag and I haven't heard from anyone in a while.

    What I noticed with GS right away is that it costs less and the plan is renewable up to the 16th model year. Not that I expect to have it that long, but CSI limited me to 3 years, IIRC.

    So, back to reading today's GS plan and double-checking on irv2. Gotta do my homework!
    Posted 03-27-2012 at 01:21 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  6. Old Comment
    OK, simplifying "insurance" "warranties" "service plans" "roadside assistance" is not so simple for a rookie. I confuse myself at times. But, I have learned, I think, that:

    #1--you need comp and collisionon your mh just like on your car or truck. As mentioned above, Geico offered other features. That is something to check out.
    #2--you need a roadside assistance plan--unless you want to change that tire yourself... If you have AAA you need to check to see if your mh is covered, especially if you have dual axles. I have read somewhere that AAA is not the best for mh roadside assistance, so you might want to call and ask them all of your tough questions.
    #3--irv2 has TONS of information on various roadside assistance plans, if you are interested.
    #4--irv2 has TONS of information on extended service plans, if you are interested. As a retiree, travelling alone, in a recently purchased, but used 2009 Winnebago Chalet 24vr, I am definitely going to purchase an extended service plan. PEACE OF MIND!
    #5--a service plan is not a warranty. A warranty is like what you get when you buy your car--6 years or 60,000 miles. Seems like double speak or a fine line, but when the warranty expires you definitely ought to consider a service plan.
    #6--Good Sam extended service plan offers coverage on appliances. Another company, Cornerstone???, does also. Seems like a second type of coverage on your mh, and it is. One covers the chassis and the other covers the appliances???

    OK, enough confusion. Back to my research and my reading. Hope I didn't misspeak or muddy the waters.
    Posted 03-28-2012 at 03:28 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  7. Old Comment
    The confusion continues. I know that I am going to purchase an extended service plan, and I am dealing with two wholesalers who are both offering the same plan. Just need to get a price I can live with, and the fact that one wholsesaler is local is a plus.(Also, in irv2 there was an EXCELLENT comparison done of the various plans, complete with a chart! And, of course this chart generated MANY comments--lots to read and ponder).

    But the appliance coverage continues to confuse me. And, complicating the timing, I have a split tendon and a torn tendon in my right foot which may require surgery. So, as long as the mh is sitting in storage it makes no sense to purchase the policy now.

    I did get the generator serviced, just to be on the safe side. Who knows when it was last serviced? There are no service records. Plus, when I attempted to remove the dipstick and check the oil I would have needed to be on steroids to do so. It wasn't budging!

    Well, the weather is warming in sunny Mesa, providing lots of opportunity to sit by the pool and read and read and read. (retired school teacher--we believe in those manuals!)
    Posted 04-01-2012 at 10:00 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Well, still reading the fine print on the extended service plan. One of the CSI Allegiance plans (through two different brokerages) sounds so much better than the other, but the contracts are IDENTICAL. The better-sounding-one just happens to have a well-written cover letter, where the other communication is business-as-usual. But, again, the contracts are identical, although the better-sounding-one is $800 more. Remember my earlier comments about salesmen and selling their product? I'm thinking that is what is happening here.

    The subject of extended service contracts is one many people feel strongly for or strongly against. For my piece of mind, I am going ahead and getting one.

    I would also add, that right now I am wishing I had purchased the pet health insurance when I adopted Happy Girl (my dog) from the pound 2 years ago. She has some as yet unknown ailment and tomorrow she goes in for an ultrasound. She has already had two xrays. You just never know when something is going to happen (to your mh or your dog) and having an insurance plan could sure make a difference.

    As I continue to prepare for my month long solo venture I have been reading through the owner's guides. Because I purchased my 2009 used and was given no service records or manuals, I found a section "Service Data Recording" very encouraging. Apparently, just like some newer cars, there is data collected and stored about your vehicle.When you take your vehicle in to the shop they can pull up its history. I LIKE THAT! Even though I did a CARFAX prior to purchase (a good idea) the records were incomplete. In fact, CARFAX noted that there were no records available beyond a certain date. So, today I'm going over to La Mesa RV in Mesa, Az and see what I can learn.

    As always, reading up on my "homework", but also picking up/ordering some cool extras to make the mh homey!
    Posted 04-05-2012 at 06:39 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  9. Old Comment
    trisha422t's Avatar
    ok so we just baught our first motor home! but I am a little more relaxed as my folks had one for years and cant wait to get on the road! but you did give me things to ponder but chill and enjoy you will have the time of your life! hope the doggie is ok
    Posted 04-12-2012 at 09:28 PM by trisha422t trisha422t is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Thanks for the good wishes! I did note that there are two of you in your photo, one of whom is male. Call me sexist, realist, or neurotic, but this retired single female travelling solo is working on crossing the t's and dotting the i's. Yet, when I tent camped or travelled in my Coleman's, the Aliner or the teardrop camper I was never this thorough or cautious. Go figure....

    What I learned at La Mesa RV in Mesa is that, unlike your Tundra for example, the Service Data Recording does not provide info on the service that's been done. So, I am taking it in for its 60,000 mile service and hope all is well.

    This week it's back up to the local county campground to try out the generator and the AC. It's been in the 90's lately. After the 60,000 service and this week's trip I just need to take care of the tires, one of which will become the spare...
    Posted 04-16-2012 at 02:59 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  11. Old Comment
    OK, don't know if it's the heat in AZ, the torn tendons in the foot, the complete lack of any mh experience, or the fact that maybe I'm not cut out to be the owner of an rv, but I'm not enjoying being an owner at all. Toooo many things to know, toooo many manuals to read (and this from a retired English teacher) and tooo much jargon that I just don't understnad.

    Everything is functioning (thankfully, I was able to ask all sorts of questions on this site BEFORE I did something wrong), but maybe I should just be a renter, not an owner. Too much responsibility and work to maintain the rv.
    Posted 04-28-2012 at 12:19 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Well, hmmmm. Giving thought to selling this mh. Hmmm.
    Posted 05-03-2012 at 06:57 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Leaving for Alaska this week, and will be gone for two weeks. Plenty of time to think about the mh, and worry about it sitting in the heat in storage (covered). Hmmmmm.
    Posted 05-05-2012 at 06:55 PM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  14. Old Comment
    Hayden's Avatar
    Enjoy your blog. We also are going to purcase our 1st mh soon(retiring). Find your input very hepful-good luck to you and your pup-Hayden
    Posted 05-06-2012 at 10:07 AM by Hayden Hayden is offline
  15. Old Comment
    Hi Hayden--thanks for the kind words. My dog seems to be over whatever the problem was. She's finally eating again. That's a relief.

    I'm glad that you are enjoying the blog. I hope that my experiences will be helpful to someone somewhere.

    Good luck buying the mh. irv2 is full of information and folks who will answer any questions you may have!

    One thing I haven't mentioned anywhere in ths blog is levelling the mh. My mh does not have levellers, so I must use blocks. At this point, because I camp in national parks, county parks, state parks etc. I have realized that these sites will likely not be level. So, my choices are to continue to level my mh with the blocks, or to camp in commercial campgrounds which probably will be level. From what I have seen, levelling is worse than emptying the black tank....
    Posted 05-07-2012 at 07:28 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  16. Old Comment
    Well, I have returned from Alaska, and two days prior to leaving for Alaska I sold the mh.

    For me, it all came down to getting it in and out of storage by myself, the fact that my poor dog looked like a whipped pup when she saw it parked out front, and the worry about maintaining it. I simply felt overwhelmed by all that I had to learn.

    I wouldn't discourage anyone from buying a mh. I would suggest renting one first and taking your dog along!

    Research where you will store your mh. My storage was close by and covered, but I could not back the mh out without help. Because I travel by myself that became a problem for me.

    And, because I am a retired, single, female with NO mh (or mechanical) experience who just didn't want the responsibility of maintaining the mh, owning a mh really wasn't going to work for me. The more I read the manuals, the more I realized that there was far more to the routine upkeep than I wanted to handle.

    Hopefully this blog has been and will continue to be helpful to those contemplating purchasing a mh. There are gazillions of happy mh owners out there. Do your research and find out what works for you. Good luck!
    Posted 05-26-2012 at 05:13 AM by kmesaaz kmesaaz is offline
  17. Old Comment
    Loren Rice's Avatar
    Originally Posted by kmesaaz View Comment
    Hi Hayden--thanks for the kind words. My dog seems to be over whatever the problem was. She's finally eating again. That's a relief.

    I'm glad that you are enjoying the blog. I hope that my experiences will be helpful to someone somewhere.

    Good luck buying the mh. irv2 is full of information and folks who will answer any questions you may have!

    One thing I haven't mentioned anywhere in ths blog is levelling the mh. My mh does not have levellers, so I must use blocks. At this point, because I camp in national parks, county parks, state parks etc. I have realized that these sites will likely not be level. So, my choices are to continue to level my mh with the blocks, or to camp in commercial campgrounds which probably will be level. From what I have seen, levelling is worse than emptying the black tank....

    It's much harder when you start motor homing with no prior experience. When changing from smaller rigs to larger, there is a great many new things to learn. I have enjoyed this and eventually you will start to level off in your learning experience. At least that is my experience. My wife on the other hand -- the learning experience would have been much longer cause she isn't mechanical. So as mentioned earlier, it could make sense to rent for some. But if you are gaining ground -- don't give up too soon , maybe the sun is about to shine? As you read you'll probably notice that many of us have had experiences that surprised us. So you are not alone. Keep doing what you are doing, that is keep your composure notice things and ask lots of questions!!

    Have fun!!!

    Posted 01-02-2013 at 12:55 PM by Loren Rice Loren Rice is offline
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