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Open Roads Forum  >  Fifth-Wheels

 > Fifth-Wheel Longevity?

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ComanDanteRV

Atlanta

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Posted: 08/01/19 10:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am in the early stages of research for going full-time. Exciting!

My wife and I are early 40s and if all goes well we might be living this lifestyle for a few decades. So my question is on the longevity of fifth-wheels. I realize there are probably many variables in this equation. My goal is simply to have a very rough idea on how often we might be expected to need a total replacement. Are most people getting 5 years, 10 years, more our of their fifth-wheels when full-time?

Anyone out there with real world example of decade plus full-time?

Thanks in advance!

rdhetrick

Texas

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Posted: 08/01/19 11:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tough question to answer, it really depends on how you live. Just like with cars, you can see people out there with 40 year old trailers that do a lot of maintenance, and there are others that trade for a new one every 5 years.

There's not much in them that isn't repairable as long as you're willing to make them.

Only you can decide when it's time to stop putting money into it.

Edited to add:

I've been in my current coach fulltime for about 3 years, not a long time by some standards, but I can easily foresee it lasting another 5 with proper maintenance. In all likelihood, I'll probably ending up trading it for something larger or smaller before it is worn out. Before that, I was in a 5th wheel fulltime for 5 years. It wasn't worn out, but I wanted a class A rather than pulling a trailer.


Rob
2005/06 Mandalay 40E Full Time
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2oldman

Ca

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Posted: 08/01/19 12:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

17 years. Almost full time.

Devocamper

West Haven CT

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Posted: 08/01/19 12:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have kept our last two trailers 10 and 11 years and a few of our first ones were a couple of years each. That said we have changed each time because of the way we camp or travel has changed not because any of the units we had fell apart or became unusable. As an example our last change was from a 36 foot 4 slide fifth wheel to a large Truck camper with three slides. The reason for the change was we are now both retired and wanted something easier and smaller to travel and see the country. The fifth wheel was great for traveling to a destination and staying for two or three weeks it was like your own little condo but we found traveling , setup each day and getting back on the road in the morning was getting to be a chore with a fairly large heavy fifth wheel . I am not saying you can’t travel or camp in any size or style RV we just wanted to downsize after having the Hitchhiker for 11 years which was built for and had a warranty for full time use however we were out most years 6-7 months.
You will probably find that your needs change after you have been at for a few years . Good luck with your adventures !


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DutchmenSport

Indiana

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Posted: 08/01/19 01:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We purchased 3 travel trailers over the years and all 3 of them were great. Very few problems, and almost everything I could handle myself. Fast forward to last September when we purchased our first 5er at 41 feet long. Ever since, it seems it's been a constant fix-er-up-er project. Nothing extremely major, but one small thing after another has needed repair, and thank goodness I have been able to handle almost all of it myself.

We are soon coming up on 1 year of ownership, and I can't imagine anything else falling apart. What was rebuilt or repaired is now rock-solid and will last forever, as I did the work myself.

But, the closer I examined the failures in this camper, the more I realize how the manufacturer cut corners, where just a 1/4 inch of something longer would have made all the difference in the world.

So, hopefully, I am now past flushing out the little fixes and unexpected things and have a solid camper finally. No granted, some things happened at my own fault, like clipping the back end of the camper when making a turn somewhere and it got too close and clipped the trim loose. Fortunate, it was easy to fix, but does have a small dent now. The learning curve for this 5er has been slow and anguishing, but I'm finally getting there.

Why am I telling you all this? For this reason. We purchased this 5er will full intent of going full time 2 years after we purchased it. So far, it's taken a year of week-end camping, sleeping in it every night since we bought it, and lots of week long trips all over the place East of the Mississippi. And I am still learning and flushing out fixes and changes.

In other words, you REALLY need to own the camper a good year before hitting the road permanently for all these reasons. That year will flush out defect issues. It will give you a year to really know your rig, it's limitations, it's strengths and weaknesses. By aggressively traveling over that year and having a home to come back to, will provide a place to do those fixes and changes to make your rig more comfortable and road-worthy for longevity.

Over that first year, you'll learn a lot, especially if you camp as much as you can and make an effort to "experiment" with all kinds of camping styles: State, Federal, National Parks, Private campgrounds, boondock, WalMart overnighting style, full hook-up sites, and minimum hook-up sites.

If you plan on getting solar on your camper, you'll want to thoroughly test it out before having to depend upon it and find out it's got shortcomings (not as much power generated as you'd expected, or need to add more batteries, or more solar panels.) The year gives you an opportunity to flush all this out.

I'm expecting our current 5er to last at least 15-20 years. And this is the last camper I'm purchasing.

You have much to think about, but with good planning and preparation, you'll do just fine.

larry barnhart

wenatchee. wa usa

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Posted: 08/01/19 01:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have used ouur 2001 35 ft alpenlite for 6 months each winter with a few long trips before arriving and again this october. Maintenance is the key for us and having a quality rv with good care is how we feel about ours.

chevman


chevman
2001 35 ft avalon alpenlite RK
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reluyog

Colorado

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Posted: 08/01/19 01:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Although we're not full time, we do take extended trips for up to 3 months at a time. Trailer is 23 years old ('95), a Carriage 3 axle. It's water tight and mouse proof. We pull it with a 36 year old Kenworth road tractor ('83). We are in our trailer for 3/4's of the year. Mostly set up for boondocking. Shop around carefully and make sure as possible you're getting what you want.


Damian
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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 08/01/19 01:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As long as you keep fixing and maintain the trailer it should last 20+ years.
If you let a water leak fester it could be done in 5.

If you are not sure.... consider a used trailer. Inspect closely to find evidence of water intrusion or leak issues.


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the bear II

Torrance CA.

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Posted: 08/01/19 02:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our 38ft 5th wheel was purchased new in 1994. It was primarily used for long weekend trips (3 to 4 days) once per month with a 2 to 3 week stay during the summer each year. This was for the first 15 years. For the past 10 years the summer stay has increased to 3 months with the occasional long weekend trip.

When not in use, the trailer is stored outdoors uncovered in Southern California about 6 miles from the ocean.

The edpm roof needs to be replaced and over the years I have replaced typical wear and tear items (batteries, tires, brakes and the awning fabric) we did have to replace the refrigerator coil at 10 years.

Three years ago one of the springs broke and I replaced all 4 springs and equalizers.

I do preventative maintenance which I believe has contributed to the long life. The trailer is solid and still looks new when it's washed and waxed. The interior is near showroom condition.


With proper care the RVs last. Our previous TT was 16 years old when we sold it to buy the 5th wheel.

Cummins12V98

on the road

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Posted: 08/01/19 03:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

larry barnhart wrote:

We have used ouur 2001 35 ft alpenlite for 6 months each winter with a few long trips before arriving and again this october. Maintenance is the key for us and having a quality rv with good care is how we feel about ours.

chevman


It’s a beauty! Literally looks brand new. Please post a pic.


2015 RAM LongHorn 3500 Dually CrewCab 4X4 CUMMINS/AISIN RearAir 385HP/865TQ 4:10's
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