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Open Roads Forum  >  Class A Motorhomes

 > MH vs FW long term costs

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dashdriver

Colorado

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Posted: 04/09/12 07:55am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wanderer69 wrote:

Diesel pusher is what I was looking at.

I have been doing a lot of reading of these forums and others. A LOT of information to absorb.

My big concern with the MH is the cost of repairs.

My big concern with FW, the ones I have looked at will require a 1 ton dually. "Never" in my life did I even once have a desire to own a dually! That said it does have a 5 yr 100k power train warranty.


What size/weight FW are you looking at? I owned a FW for a couple of years before I bought my MH. Wasn't happy with the way my pickup performed towing the fifth wheel. I felt like it was on the borderline of safety even though I was within all the weight ratings etc. If I were to go back to a FW I would be looking at MDT/HDT trucks.

The annual maintenance on my rig runs around $700 a year. Most of that expense is the fact that the quantities of fluids are much greater with the large diesel & transmission. For me the added safety of big air brakes, an engine brake, and the down-the-road comfort of the MH are more than worth it for the slightly increased cost of it compared to pickup/FW combo.


1999 HR Navigator 42DSS
2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4Dr)


Mody n Domy

Michigan

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Posted: 04/09/12 09:24am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The other thing to consider is a gas MH initial cost is lower and maintenance cost is less. If you plan on doing a lot of moving from place to place and traveling a lot of miles the diesel would be a better choice. As far as a FW you have to take into account that when you are going sightseeing you will be driving your tow vehicle that gets 15 mpg. You will also be putting extra miles on it and need to replace your $40,000 truck much quicker than if you have use a toad. If you are making payments on the MH or FW you can wright off interest on your taxes. You can't wright off your truck which will be around 50% of your total cost.


2008 Damon Challenger 378 on Workhorse chassis, 2008 HHR panel toad.

dan1000

Honolulu, HI

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Posted: 04/09/12 12:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In terms of costs, it may be useful to think about it like this:

Costs that are the same: Anything to do with the "house" portion, such as heating/cooling, plumbing, cabinetry, carpet, windows (not windshield), and so on.

Costs that are different: Anything to do with the chassis, suspension, running gear, is more expensive in a MH than a 5er. This is because the MH has huge wheels/brakes/axles versus medium size wheels on the 5er, there are more of them, and they are more complex (tag axle lifts, steering, and so on).

And what about the tow vehicle: The pickup will cost more to maintain (probably) than the car being towed behind the MH, but probably not by much. There's a similar amount of wear and tear on everything except the drivetrain. The MH has two drivetrains to maintain rather than one, so two oil changes, coolant changes, and so on.

While there are a lot of imponderables between MH and 5ers, one thing that has bothered me for a while is that 5ers tend to have deeper slide outs than MH's. I'm not sure why this is. For example, in the living room, my Teton 5er has two slide outs of about 14 feet each in length. One is 36" deep, the other is about 24" deep, increasing the interior width of my unit from 8' to 13'. My old 2007 Mountain Aire had slides that were at least a foot less (in aggregate), so I "only" got 12' in width. What's an extra foot worth, in terms of comfort? It's a very personal question. There's no question that MH's are easier to set up and tear down, especially in the rain. But with auto-leveling jacks on the 5er, and with retrofitting some of the comforts that seem standard on higher end MH's but missing on 5ers (endless hot water, power cord retraction, etc.), the setup/teardown can at least come "close" to that of a MH (but never really quite as good).

Bottom line: 5ers and trucks cost less to buy, less to run, less to maintain. Because the whole package costs less, it depreciates less. 5ers offer more space inside than an equivalent length MH, due to deeper slides. MH's are easier to setup. The down-the-road ride of an MH/toad is better than a truck/5er, but you can back-up a truck/5er while you can't back-up a MH/toad unless the toad is on a full trailer.

Mileage: Maybe a little different between the two, but likely not enough to matter.

Quality: There are a lot more crappy 5ers than crappy MH's. Whichever way you go, buy the best quality you can, regardless of age.

Dan


------------------------------
2005 Volvo VNL-780 towing 2002 Teton Laramie Experience 36'

Lobstah

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Posted: 04/09/12 01:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I understand the question, but not sure why you are comparing a used MH with a new FW and truck, vis a vis the depreciation. I won't buy anything new, period. The first 3yrs are brutal in terms of depreciation in either case.

After that, as has been mentioned, if there's a lot of moving, a lot of setup/teardown, I in the MH camp. If I'm going to haul it down to Florida for the season and sit in one spot, I'd probably lean more towards FW.
For us, we just love the flexibility of the MH.

Jim


2005 Pace Arrow 36D
Very Understanding Wife
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RVGRINGO

Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

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Posted: 04/09/12 11:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We've done it all. Go for a good quality DP motor home. You will be amazed at the quality units available at all ages and at good prices.
Any trailer type was a GD nuisance; especially parking, unhooking and setting up in rain, cold or snow! In the motor home, you just pull in and remain self-contained until the weather clears, or you've had a nap.
There is no comparison in comfort or safety. Buy a quality used unit and the 'bugs' will be long gone and your maintenance costs will be stable. Buying new would be foolish; as would be a financed rig. Buy what you can afford and enjoy it.
All of the other considerations have been listed above, by others with experience.

wa_desert_rat

Central Washington State

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Posted: 04/09/12 10:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This question sure comes up a lot.

We have owned tents, a van conversion, a pickup/camper, a 29' 5th wheel, a 21-foot Streamline TT, and now a 36' DP.

The DP is by far the most comfortable to drive. Visibility is great, the seats (Flexsteel) are comfy leather, mirrors are designed for the rig (not clamp-on), cruise control actually works, it's so quiet that we can talk in normal voices at 60mph and the ride with 22.5 tires is excellent.

There are the other features. I can take a snooze on the sofa while the DW drives yet be right there if she has a question or problem. Snacks and cold sodas are convenient. Potty breaks are just a stroll aft in stocking feet.

Our coach has the same engine as our Dodge diesel pickup so I know it well. It gets about 10.5mpg towing a toad on a dolly.

The convenience of the dolly is matched by the ability of a DP owner to select what he/she tows. If we want to go fishing we can tow a boat and trailer (or jet skis for the grandkids). I like to play in a Jeep on desert trails. If we're off shopping we just drive her daily driver onto the dolly and leave. We aren't tied down to one vehicle for everything.

I love being up high and actually looking down into the cockpits of the newer 18-wheelers. I can see traffic ahead and can be much more proactive when it comes to knowing what is going on. The view of the scenery is much better, too. The DW confesses to a certain nervous feeling when going across a bridge or on a mountain road; it looks like we're much closer to the edge than we really are. I don't notice that when I'm in the co-pilot seat... I just notice the great view.

The cost of the MH engine maintenance is the same as my pickup truck. This is logical because it's the same engine. The transmission on the MH is an Allison and requires more maintenance than my 4-speed manual on the pickup. But the relative complexity of the motor home compared to our old FW means that there are more things to do wrong. Automatic cut-overs for power between the generator and shore power, for one. These are relays and can quite working; older MHs have older ones and parts are hard to get so repairs may not be possible.

The running gear is more expensive. The wheels themselves have fluid, the differential has fluid, the air brakes usually don't but sometimes they are air/hydraulic so will have fluid. The tires are lots more expensive but there are fewer of them (8 on the 5er and pickup, six on the MH). My tires run about $600 apiece mounted but they can last a long time.

Insurance is about the same for us. Although we still own the pickup so the MH was $200 more per year in overall insurance costs.

All in all, I would say that at about $600 a year in maintenance (if you have someone do it) versus maybe $300 for the pickup would be right.

Craig

(Edited to make it appear like I actually did read the topic correctly after all.)

* This post was edited 04/09/12 02:14pm by wa_desert_rat *

cwdavis

Chapel Hill, NC

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Posted: 04/09/12 07:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Depreciation will affect a FW no less than a MH. In our case, we came down to the question of what it was we wanted to tow, the house or the vehicle we'd drive the most. For us, it made more sense to buy a well used DP and pull a car.


Bill & Ann Davis
1995 36' CC Intrigue
WHTAL!FE

tahiti16

Camarillo, CA

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Posted: 04/09/12 07:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One that I would look at seriously is you stated what you have looked at and been interested in for FW would require a 1 ton dually to pull and you have never had an interest in owning one before!

One thing that help us with the motorhome decision is we didn't own anything to pull a FW so the total purchase would be about the same. Friends with FW stated their mileage only went up a couple of mpg when not towing. On the other hand I tow a little BMW 323i behind my mh that gets 21 city and up to 32 highway.

Another one for us is my wife has Lupus and with the motorhome she has full access to the house while we are traveling.

As another stated also it depends a lot on how you will use the unit. My best friends parents bought a nice FW and pickup when preparing for retirement and gave us a bad time about mh instead. Stating how much more room they had when parked and how much better it would be when they were parked for a month or more at a time. Well they retired and traveled for a year and half about and traded it all for a mh. Found out they were traveling more than parking and the setup breakdown time was a pain. The view from a class A is hard to beat, a giant moving picture in front of you. You are up high and have a great view of the road and surrounding area.

This really a bigger difference than the gas diesel discussions and both have their strong points. One that weighs heavy for many is if you need a heavy duty pickup no matter than FW is the only "added" expense, with no need for a pickup you have to compare the complete FW truck with the mh for expense and usability.

Good luck with the decision and have fun looking and discovering, don't let anyone rush nor any of us determine what works for YOU. After all what works for you and your wife is all that matters for you.


Ray, Cheryl & of course Miss Molly the four-legged child

2006 Dolphin 36' F53 V10 5 speed auto 2 slides 7.5 KW genset


wanderer69

Ft Worth, TX

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Posted: 04/09/12 06:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lobstah wrote:

I understand the question, but not sure why you are comparing a used MH with a new FW and truck, vis a vis the depreciation. I won't buy anything new, period. The first 3yrs are brutal in terms of depreciation in either case.

After that, as has been mentioned, if there's a lot of moving, a lot of setup/teardown, I in the MH camp. If I'm going to haul it down to Florida for the season and sit in one spot, I'd probably lean more towards FW.
For us, we just love the flexibility of the MH.

Jim



I was referring to the depreciation on a new MH. That was why I was considering used MH.

I plan on moving around often so the points about the MH are well taken.

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