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Old 12-17-2014, 02:45 PM   #1
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Annual Costs to Own Older Diesel Pusher

I have read some threads on here about diesel vs. gas maintenance costs, and have seen lots of info about oil changes and filters. I have not been able to find out what the total ownership costs are for an older 80's to early 90's diesel pusher are.

As someone involved with a club of sailboats, I know the annual costs go far beyond fluid and filter changes that are often quoted. Also repair costs tend to go up as things get older. Has anyone been tracking their annual costs, including all repairs to drivetrain and coach, maintenance, fuel, license, insurance, and how many miles traveled?

Maybe this is something people would rather not think about. I can understand that. Just like owning a large boat, I don't want to get myself in over my head, though.

Big thanks!

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Old 12-17-2014, 05:09 PM   #2
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Your question is hard to answer with numbers but I can say that by getting in the age you are looking at that all of the depreciation is gone. If you were to say buy a 2005 you could easily loose $20000 per year for several years. For $20000 you could do a very good recondition on a 1990 diesel. Now remember by buying that old something is always needing fixed so unless you can live with that you might want to go newer. If you search around their are some really nice older coaches out their. Just take your time and enjoy the hunt. Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:50 PM   #3
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I would think it would depend on the maintenance of the previous owner. In our coach we typically spend around $2000/yr for Freightliner maintenace, but it's harder to quantify the house systems. Things like A/C, refrigerators, Inverters, TV, etc. Our coach isn't as old as what you are looking for but I would really look at maintenace records of any coach you are looking at. In addition to the Diesel engine there is usually an air system and brakes which don't appear in a marine application.

2001 Itasca Horizon
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:58 PM   #4
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I can't help you regarding yearly maintenance costs. I do all my own work. Every fall I do it all, every filter, every fluid. I don't keep track of those costs.

From personal experience, when using an older coach, you have to have a little spare reserve for those unexpected repair costs.

We have gone for several years with very few unexpected problems. Having said that, you can suddenly be faced up to some unexpected failures.

Like, the inverter that suddenly and unexpectedly decided to give up the ghost a week before our planned long trip. Nothing that $2500.00 or so didn't solve. Or the CAC that unexpectedly failed in the middle of our planned long trip. Nothing that another $2500.00 or so didn't solve. Or the furnace that suddenly quit working, and it was $500.00 to fix it, or $800.00 to buy a new one. Or the fridge, .... you get my drift.

My coach didn't cost $200,000.00 to $400,000.00 to purchase, there have been no monthly payments, and we own it debt free. When we're done with this coach, we might sell it for about what we paid for it.

So, the few unexpected repair costs don't concern us. We just make sure that we're financially prepared for when the unexpected happens.

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Old 12-18-2014, 11:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Michael2000 View Post

Also repair costs tend to go up as things get older. Has anyone been tracking their annual costs, including all repairs to drivetrain and coach, maintenance, fuel, license, insurance, and how many miles traveled?

Big thanks!

Our DP is a bit newer since it is only 20 years old. It has accumulated 96,000 miles on the Odometer.

Our travels have been about 6,000 miles per year on average.

Our budget for repairs, maintenance, license, and insurance is $3,500 per years and is based upon our past 12 years experience.

I seldom have a shop doing repairs, maintenance or modifications as I have the time, place and ability to learn to repair and service most routine needs.

Fuel, campsite rent, storage, upgrades etc are driven more by your personal desires and our decisions would not be useful to you.
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Old 12-18-2014, 09:00 PM   #6
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Some helpful information here.


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Old 12-18-2014, 09:05 PM   #7
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Also consider the trim level. The more deluxe units have more expensive bits to wear out.
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Old 12-18-2014, 09:11 PM   #8
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My WAG is just that, and it says having (or banking) $5000/year for your MH will allow you a normally crisis-free experience. This amount is in addition to normal expenses like tax/tag/insurance.

Sooner or later, a major glitch will come up. Have enough to cover that or your whole trip and life will become affected.
Rick and Sandy
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:35 AM   #9
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It depends on what MH you buy. If you buy a top of the line MH, and it's been taken care of, then scheduled maintenance should run $300-500. Most of the parts are in common availability, even for older MH's. Small parts, latches switches ~$100. Had a ride height bushing fail. ~$10. Aux air compressor for air leveling ~$100. Part time insurance ~$600, full-time ~$1200. Tires $400-800. Aqua-Hot service $50. Transmission filters $75 plus ~17qts of transynd @ $10/qt every three years. OAT coolant VS HD coolant plus filters.

I spend a bit more 'cause I keep spares and fix things with symptoms before they fail. (crosses fingers)

Labor varies greatly. At the truck service center ~$80/hr at the RV center ~$115.

Inside stuff wears like good quality S&B stuff, 10-15 years of every day use.

Also, just because it burns diesel doesn't make it better. Better is better, fuel choice is a different choice.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:43 AM   #10
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In addition to the regular scheduled service (oil change, lube, filters) in 177,000 miles I've had only 2 ($3,000 plus) repairs to my 02 Journey. Lift and injector pump replacement and head gasket replacement. Any work done on a diesel will cost more than a gas coach.
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:41 AM   #11
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I just happened to get off the phone with my Ford dealer to schedule the first servicing of my new to me 2005 Ford diesel. While it's not a direct comparison or response to your question, the prices I was quoted for oil and filter, two fuel filters, air filter and cooling system flush are about three times what I would expect for a gas motor. I wasn't surprised at all since I did a lot of research about diesel maintenance costs before I purchased one. From what I've gathered here on the forum, it's more important to find a diesel mechanic who's competent and trustworthy than selecting servicing based on cost.
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Old 12-19-2014, 09:58 AM   #12
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You just change oil and filters the same as a new coach. It would be impossible to tell what else needs fixing on a yearly basis.
Will more stuff break on a older coach? Most likely.
If we knew what was going to break we would fix it first.
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Old 12-24-2014, 11:21 AM   #13
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We spend around $2,000/year on fluid/filter changes. This includes brake and cooling system service. I get the service done at a CAT dealer only because my son works there. You want to avoid Camping World and similar type RV stores. I asked them to change the filter on the brake system receiver-drier and they didn't have any idea what I was talking about.

Agree with others, you have to be prepared for unexpected emergencies. Spent $600 to replace a tire along side I-40 in the middle of no where. Also spent $800+ for new alternator in Holbrook, AZ. These things happen.

My CAT service manager keeps service records on my engine and chassis and makes recommendations on any additional repairs. They work on big deisel engines every day and are used to spotting problems. They also love my old engine because it's so simple.

Now if only deisel would get cheaper than gasoline again, the world would be right side up again!!
Al & Sue w/T-Bone & Rosco
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Old 12-25-2014, 09:50 AM   #14
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In the last 18 months we have spent about 20K on MH engine repairs. Too many to list. Just had 26K additional cost to repair roof and body damage from last July hail damage in Denver. Ins covered most of it. 2002 Dutch Star w/89K mi. Hope is now last another 5 yrs with only regular maintenance (tires, etc), but the refrig and washer will probably need replaced.
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