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Old 07-10-2011, 02:08 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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My experience, RVing full & part time & weekends, w/costs & other problems

What I have noticed, since 2003, when I first began RVing full time, and then went to kind of like haft time (all summer in the RV in MI) and now just being the long weekender type of RVer in FL.

Is that to get an RV, large enough to live for long periods of time. You really need slides on both sides and at least 25 feet of length. This means
either a big travel trailer (TT), or a 5er (5th wheel) or an fairly expensive
motorhome (MH).

Some disadvantages of MHs are, only 2 gas chassis makers (GM and Ford), having to buy an expensive & complex piece of equipment from
a RV Dealer-Chiseler . We all know about Diesel Pushers. While
they are very nice, they are very expensive, to buy and repair, etc.

Deprecation, interest expense, insurance costs, on 2 motor vehicles, because most people really need a toad (a car for convenient transportation to grocery store & to see things, otherwise you have to
un-hook the MH, every couple of days...not fun), in order to RV full time, on a long term basis.

Repair and maintenance on MHs, is often very expensive, often much more than repairs on a regular car or light truck. Plus the initial cost of a toad, because most cars will not work as a toad (i.e. they don't have a drive-train, capable of being towed behind a MH).

The toad towing apparatus, is also an expensive and complex system, with another set of possible problems. You generally can't stay in the MH, when it is getting major service or repair. When this happens to a full time RVer, they have to stay in a hotel.

Also, right now, there is a very limited resale market, for used RVs in general and MHs in particular. There are a lot of used RVs for sale, in FL, which is always been the case. But they are just not moving, I drive by and there is nothing happening. Other than salespeople just looking at one another and/or gabbing and having a smoke. No customers coming in
or calling, just plain nothing happing.

I have also noticed, dealers in my area of FL, have few new RVs, on their lots and do little advertising, compared to the past, before high fuel prices and the economy headed south, back in 2007.

When they do advertise, the ads have used RVs in them, as opposed to in the past, when mosty new RVs, where in the ads. Once you buy a MH, you are stuck, if things don't workout as planned. In most cases, the
buyer will take a substantial loss, if they have to sell, anytime soon after the purchase.

Many folks can't afford the loss and the RV gets repossessed. That is one reason, it is still hard to get a real good deal, on a used RV in today's
arket. An owner owes more on it, than the RV is worth. So the owner can't sell it in the open market.

The RV is then repossessed and ends up on a dealers lot. I am surprised that dealers, have been able to maintain price levels, of the NADA Guide. Sense there is so little demand. I guess the reduction in RV models and
less total production, by RV makers has done the trick.

Some TTs and 5ers, with slides, give a decent amount of living space.
Getting around some of these problems, that HMs have. But most of them weigh so much, you need a specialized 3/4 or 1 ton TV (tow vehicle, a pick-up truck), to pull them. Here again, there are only 3 makers of 3/4 & 1 ton trucks, the Big 3 (GM, Ford & Dodge). Meaning less competition in price and a limited selection.

Most 3/4 & 1 ton pick-up also come w/4 wheel drive. This is a costly, complex, high maintenance and MPG reducing option. That has no real value to RVers, who generally do not go where it snows. Those trucks often come with other questionable options, more designed to make profit, than do anything for the buyer. The MPG of gas 3/4 & 1 ton pick-ups, is not good. Like 7-8 MPG hwy and 4-5 MPG city, when towing a TT. That is a lot of cost, in fuel to go places and see things. Which is why your out RVing in the first place.

These are some of the reasons, 3/4 & 1 ton trucks cost so much. A diesel truck used to be a great way to pull an RV. They had long life, got a little better MPG and had good resale. However, new emission requirements,
changed all that. Adding even more to the cost, and undoubtedly reduced reliability. I would not buy a new diesel pick-up, at this point.

It is really a shame what has happened to the RV Industry, RVers and the Auto Industry. I see RVing continuing to shrink, until fuel prices come back down, if that ever happens.

With many RV makers, have consolidated, or gone out of business. There will be a less competitive RV marketplace, preventing price and selection
competition from improving RVing for the consumer.

Just my expericence and thinking on all this. I really hope it does not go
this way. Besides lower fuel prices, I think more makers of gas RV chassis
and 3/4 & 1 ton TVs, would help, with price and selection. Maybe Toyota and Nissan get in to the market, l think that would improve things.

Doug FL
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:05 AM   #2
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You sound like you are really depressed about RVing and RVs in general. I tend to look at it the other way - having three large RV chassis builders is a plus, as is having a choice of three large tow vehicle manufacturers. There is a lot of similarity in their products becasue they are trying to address the same marketplace with the same cost and price constraints.

Yes, RVs and RVing is an expensive hobby. It's a complex product, subject to a lot of stresses on the highway, requires more than a little maintenance and not really very cost-effective for part time use. But you can still get a smaller, inexpensive trailer, tow it with an SUV or half ton pick-up and have a nice time.
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition and several other RVs
Home is West Palm Beach, FL
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:30 AM   #3
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Posts: 119
Originally Posted by DougCP View Post
I really hope it does not go
this way.
Doug FL
Wow! You must need a few days away camping or something to help change some of your perspectives. Nobody has ever said the RV lifestyle is cheap, they do not depreciate, and they are maintenance free. I have lost more value in my house in the last two and a half years than many diesel pushers cost new! So what are we really comparing RVing to? Everything is relative. So far my Dodge Cummins 4x4 has 86,000 miles on it and it has yet to have one unscheduled maintenace issue, gets 19-21 mpg empty and on the highway and 13-14 towing. Maybe the RV industry will gravitate toward what is done in Eurpoe where gas and diesel has always cost way more than here in America. Maybe we will all go to smaller units that are more fuel efficient like the Sprinter based diesels that get over 20 mph consistently.

I think we all need to realize the industry is changing, perhaps it grew faster than it normally would have in the last ten years or so prior to the recession, that there is an oversupply of some types of RV's on dealers lots, and that consolidation in many industries is normal during recessions. Is the change good or bad? Time will tell.

We only live one life and those that want to RV, their dream perhaps for several decades of working every day to make that living, will not die easily. Somehow and someway they will eventually live that dream. Maybe it won't be in a $100,000 Airsteam trailer or a $400K diesel pusher but they will find a way to accommodate their dream and they will live it. These folks don't look for what is wrong with the industry but how they can make what they want to do work in the industry even as it is changing. The glass is half full not half empty. Their future is bright!
2005 Dodge, Cummins 4x4 quad cab, auto, white, dually 3500. 2009 Pacific Coachworks Tango 299bhs.
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