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Old 06-23-2022, 06:19 AM   #1
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Calculating RV Values Over Time

Having joined the RV community recently, I'm looking to 'give something back' as it were.

My wife and I (me mostly) had spent a tremendous amount of time researching brands to find the ones which would provide us with the greatest RV experience with the least amount of RV anxiety.

Aside from a very few blog posts, determining RV quality differences is a difficult task. I'm not sure if that's by design or just no one has done the work to date (I do know that there is an RV rating system done by RV consumer group) but assessing expected longevity should provide consumers with a powerful tool to use when they decide to put their money down on either a new or used model.

https://www.godownsize.com/rvs-durability/

One of the websites I ran across was this one, and the methodology this person used seems like a great place to start compiling data on used models, and by extension, new models from the same manufacturer. I also would be very interested if anyone knows of state websites that keeps track of RV registrations, similar to auto registrations, as that would provide even better data as to which models are out there being used.

The very first thing that becomes obvious is that if you want long term value, you should be buying an Airstream (I have one, so let's get that out of the way up front). What's less obvious so far is what mfg comes in second place, but I'm hoping to tease out that data over time.

Hopefully, RV trader has exportable data tables I can access to put into Excel to look at snapshots over time. If anyone has an in there, please let me know.

Ah, and I should add, I grew up (as did many of you) when domestic auto manufacturers pushed any kind of crappy builds out into the public. The competition that foreign car makers brought to the industry has made automobiles both safer, more reliable and much better ergonomically. With that in mind, rewarding 'good' RV companies and punishing 'bad' RV companies through sales or lack thereof should improve the overall quality and safety of the product they produce. At least that's the idea.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:05 PM   #2
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All I can say is, "Lot's of luck!". Data is hard to come by, even the number of RVs on the road and average miles traveled is only a rough estimate. Reports on things like early life failures, frequency of repair, average cost to repair are non-existent. Rather than Instead of disclosing that sort of data, most RV and RV component manufacturers treat it as trade secrets. A prime example is RV fridge fires - we've been coping with the fallout of those for a decade now and there are two major NHTSA recalls on the subject, but we still cannot learn how many fridge fires have occurred, how many resulted in total loss or human injury,or even whether the frequency is declining as a result of the design changes made since the recalls.


Maybe you could organize a public data collection activity and entice owners to voluntarily contribute some basic info, e.g. year/make/model of their RV, trips/season, miles traveled per season, repair events and whether they were shop fixes or DIY, approximate repair costs, etc.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
All I can say is, "Lot's of luck!". Data is hard to come by, even the number of RVs on the road and average miles traveled is only a rough estimate. Reports on things like early life failures, frequency of repair, average cost to repair are non-existent. Rather than Instead of disclosing that sort of data, most RV and RV component manufacturers treat it as trade secrets. A prime example is RV fridge fires - we've been coping with the fallout of those for a decade now and there are two major NHTSA recalls on the subject, but we still cannot learn how many fridge fires have occurred, how many resulted in total loss or human injury,or even whether the frequency is declining as a result of the design changes made since the recalls

Maybe you could organize a public data collection activity and entice owners to voluntarily contribute some basic info, e.g. year/make/model of their RV, trips/season, miles traveled per season, repair events and whether they were shop fixes or DIY, approximate repair costs, etc.
It may be possible to spam enough RV specific forums/sites in order to generate a reasonable sample size to fill in this kind of data set. One has to be careful to capture the folks who are satisfied with their rigs and don't have issues, as they are the least likely to be looking on the internet for information about same and will be the hardest to reach via social media or forums.

Starting small, it shouldn't be hard to determine the life expectancy of rigs made by each manufacturer based on the used rigs available over time. That will provide a limited but useful look at build quality, which might be able to be leveraged into the granular type of data you're describing. I might have to actually host a web page in hopes of attracting owners to provide the type of information you're talking about, because it would be great information to have available to us consumers.

Welp, I was looking for a hobby when I retired.....
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:57 PM   #4
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All you can do is to read the owner's forums of specific manufactures and see what kind of problems they're having. You didn't state what kind of RV you're looking to buy. Trailer, 5th Wheel, Motorhome, Class C, Class B, etc. Every one will have some problems but not all will be serious. Also, some problems have nothing to do with the manufacturer. It's do to the individual components made by someone else.

I will say we full-timed 8 yr. in a Travel Supreme 5th wheel and 8 yr. in a Newmar Dutch Star motorhome. Both were considered quality manufacturers and honestly, we didn't have any issue with either and we traveled constantly. That may equal to 16-20 yr for a weekender's use. We covered many miles including to Alaska. We boondocked the majority of time so we traveled bumpy, gravel roads. Newmar survived the last recession. Travel Supreme was a tiny company and didn't survive. Employees went across town to work at Newmar.

I will also say that nowadays RVs include tons of electronics which aren't as reliable as the basics we had. Again, the electronic problems aren't the fault of the RV manufacturers.
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Old 06-23-2022, 01:20 PM   #5
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Value for an RV has nothing to do with price. We've had inexpensive units and more expensive units, middle of the road, and outright junk. Each of them had way more value to us that what they sold for. Some of our fondest family memories have been in rigs we wouldn't give a second look to today. Or if we did, it would only be to say, can you believe that thing is on the road??? We loved them and miss them all.


The unit for us that held its value the best, better than both of the Airstreams we owned, was a Coachmen. Go figure. I would bet that it's price point and appeal had a lot to do with it. More people can afford a Coachmen than an Airstream and it's layout was very family friendly. Would never win the quality race, but I don't think that mattered for that particular coach. Just sat at the right crossroads of usability and value.
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Old 06-23-2022, 01:34 PM   #6
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In order to have any meaningful results, everyone reporting would have to have the same definition of quality. Most RV purchases are based on emotion rather than scientific data. That's not going to change, because every buyer will have differing ideas of what's important to them. An RV is not a necessity, hence, the buying decision is based on "Want" and not "Need". For many, Price is the number 1 criteria followed by "I like this one". Quality may or may not be part of the buying decision.
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Old 06-23-2022, 01:39 PM   #7
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Trying to calculate RV values of the next year will be like catching a falling knife
I think average drop will be about 20-30% for late model 2019-2022, just this year.
It might be more.
Diesels higher end - bigger drop
Trailers, less so.
Class B values will get creamed. Who wants a cramped van for $200,000? No one I know who has been RVing.
I remember a good Class B with a Mercedes Chassis we’re selling for$130,-140,000 new
On the Ram Chassis a good one was $80-90,000 new.
So used, good luck.
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Old 06-23-2022, 01:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
All you can do is to read the owner's forums of specific manufactures and see what kind of problems they're having. You didn't state what kind of RV you're looking to buy. Trailer, 5th Wheel, Motorhome, Class C, Class B, etc. Every one will have some problems but not all will be serious. Also, some problems have nothing to do with the manufacturer. It's do to the individual components made by someone else.

I will say we full-timed 8 yr. in a Travel Supreme 5th wheel and 8 yr. in a Newmar Dutch Star motorhome. Both were considered quality manufacturers and honestly, we didn't have any issue with either and we traveled constantly. That may equal to 16-20 yr for a weekender's use. We covered many miles including to Alaska. We boondocked the majority of time so we traveled bumpy, gravel roads. Newmar survived the last recession. Travel Supreme was a tiny company and didn't survive. Employees went across town to work at Newmar.

I will also say that nowadays RVs include tons of electronics which aren't as reliable as the basics we had. Again, the electronic problems aren't the fault of the RV manufacturers.
From what I've seen so far, the owners forums are like car forums, most folks posting either REALLY love the brand or have problems. And by love, I mean love to tinker. So the majority of owners aren't represented.
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Old 06-23-2022, 02:00 PM   #9
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Value for an RV has nothing to do with price Snip
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crasher View Post
In order to have any meaningful results, everyone reporting would have to have the same definition of quality snip
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2cyber71 View Post
Trying to calculate RV values of the next year will be like catching a falling knife snip
Value may have been a loaded word. In the context I'm using it, value represents longevity and the expectation that a reasonably well maintained rig in used condition won't be ready to fall apart if someone buys it. I realize that all rigs that don't get regular maintenance will be prone to catastrophic failure, and I don't really know at the moment how to filter for that ( do Airstream owners pay more attention to normal maintenance than Jaygo owners because of the price paid?) however like I said at the bare minimum the longevity of the manufactured products can be identified through an examination of the used market, and that will provide a starting point to tease out more data.
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Old 06-23-2022, 02:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Crasher View Post
In order to have any meaningful results, everyone reporting would have to have the same definition of quality. Most RV purchases are based on emotion rather than scientific data. That's not going to change, because every buyer will have differing ideas of what's important to them. An RV is not a necessity, hence, the buying decision is based on "Want" and not "Need". For many, Price is the number 1 criteria followed by "I like this one". Quality may or may not be part of the buying decision.
Ding Ding Ding this ^
An example of how varying definitions and often emotions affect things is the large swing in some campground reviews. With those I throw out the highs and lows and go from there. Might work with what the OP is trying to determine.
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Old 06-23-2022, 05:45 PM   #11
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I don't see how you can get meaningful results as expectations vary so much, things that might be seen as faults in a $500,000 diesel pusher like stripped cabinet screws, or loose trim panels, might be completely ignored in a more budget minded RV, then comes the relative cost of repairs, replacing a 7.5KW diesel generator is going to be a LOT more than replacing a 4KW gas generator..
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Old 06-24-2022, 04:24 AM   #12
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Ding Ding Ding this ^
An example of how varying definitions and often emotions affect things is the large swing in some campground reviews. With those I throw out the highs and lows and go from there. Might work with what the OP is trying to determine.
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Old 06-24-2022, 04:27 AM   #13
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I don't see how you can get meaningful results as expectations vary so much, things that might be seen as faults in a $500,000 diesel pusher like stripped cabinet screws, or loose trim panels, might be completely ignored in a more budget minded RV, then comes the relative cost of repairs, replacing a 7.5KW diesel generator is going to be a LOT more than replacing a 4KW gas generator..
Well, again, the baseline case is which manufacturers rigs are still being used against how many were built? That establishes a rough idea of longevity which could relate (one hopes) to build quality.

What you're talking about is less macro data and more granular data, and I agree 100% that that information will be both harder to get and more difficult to interpret with any degree of accuracy.

However, I'm relatively young so hopefully in a few years I'll be able to figure it out.
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Old 06-24-2022, 08:21 AM   #14
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All conditions being equal, I would agree with you, however it is my casual observation that in general only the more expensive RV's get stored indoors, on the most expensive get stored indoors in climate controlled storage.
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