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Open Roads Forum  >  Class C Motorhomes  >  Class C

 > Reliability of older Class C’s?

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Mike Leslie

Michigan

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Posted: 11/14/20 06:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In the last four years, we have taken our 2003 Winnebago Class C Minnie across country once, and halfway across three times. While driving, the house keeps a reasonable temperature except in extreme temps. In that case, the generator could be run.
We are told by our mechanic that the Ford F-450, as long as maintained, is a very good, reliable engine.

You could just drive the Class C across country, then make a vehicle purchase when you get there. At least, you'll have something to drive (and/or stay in) when you are getting settled. And you'll have your Class C for future travels.

You do not have to get out of the Class C in case of rain or whatever. It would be convenient to sleep in a rest stop or in a store parking lot. (with permission secured by phoning). We often rest at small county/city parks(not campgrounds) during our travels for a mid-day nap, snack and/or walk.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
Mike Leslie
2003 Winnebago Minnie

Bordercollie

Garden Grove, CA, USA

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Posted: 11/14/20 06:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our experience with our 2004 Class C was that the roof AC unit, fridge, converter/charger, and fresh water pump and awning fabric all needed replacement around the 10 year old point. Tires older than 5 years old should be replaced for safety. House batteries usually need replacement every 5 years. The RV generator needs to be run frequently or it may need expensive service. RV brakes need periodic servicing for safety. The Ford engine and transmission are generally trouble free for many, many miles with periodic maintenance.

Most RV's only are driven some 5000 miles per year, some even less. Taking the above possibilities into account, you might come out ahead renting a motorhome if you don't foresee continuing the "hobby".

Otherwise, buying a newer used motorhome. around 3-4 years old, might be a better option. In any case, ask questions and get a prospective "buy" inspected by a pro truck mechanic and a trustworthy RV service shop and get an itemized list of repairs/upgrades needed with parts and labor estimates. Make sure that everything works properly. Sign up for emergency road service.

Chum lee

Albuquerque, NM

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Posted: 11/14/20 07:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tortiemctortiepants wrote:



I am considering a Class C for a cross country trip from VA to WA, but most that I am finding in my price range are older (1980s/90s/early 2000s)... Given low miles and no major current issues upon inspection, are these generally reliable enough to be trusted for a cross country trip? I am feeling the need to be extra careful as I will be traveling as a lone woman (not including the several pets along for the ride).

Are there any makes/models that have a particularly good reputation for longevity? Or conversely any that I should avoid?

Would it be better to absolutely find a newer model? And if so, from what year on would be best?

Thank you so much!! I welcome any and all advice!!


You don't state how much you want to spend or the length of the vehicle you are considering. '80's, '90's, '20's is a pretty wide range of years where the price can/will vary substantially. Condition is everything. Generally, the newer it is, the more reliable the vehicle will be, but that doesn't preclude buying an older vehicle if the price is right and it was well cared for and repaired in a timely/competent manner. If you lack the experience to determine that, hire someone who does before you buy. Be prepared to "walk away" from any deal that doesn't feel right. Take your time. The buyer is always in control. (until you give it up) RV's are complex vehicles. Expect things to break. They always do, so, be prepared.

That said, (flame suit on) IMO, an older popular Ford V-10 (E350, E450 chassis) isn't an issue (spark plugs) as long as they have been previously properly repaired. IMO, don't buy a longer (more than 24' in length) Class C on an E350 chassis, get one on the E450 chassis. Over time, . . . you'll be glad you did. If you need an RV longer than 28', consider a Class A. Much cheaper.

Chum lee

bobndot

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Posted: 11/15/20 07:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

I will be traveling as a lone woman (not including the several pets along for the ride).


Lets not forget this part .
Her chances of a break down with an older rv that she has not owned since new and has no idea about its history is IMO, not a good idea. I think people will try to use her situation against her, being a lone female at the mercy of some unknown garage in an unfamiliar town. Its not the same as a male with mechanical knowledge operating an older rv that HE has OWNED since new.

Hank85713

Tucson, Az

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Posted: 11/15/20 09:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

older rv's can be good and bad. I would recommend nothing older than late 90's, but even that is just a guess. Out here in Az there are many older units found on craigslist, saw an 84 chebby think for around $6K (ouch), many are less.

If you have time see if there is a basic auto maintenance class available in your area so that you would have some idea of what to look at and what you are being told. There is a group of ladies around (do an internet search) and they would be the best source of information for your situation. Also it depends on the size of the animals you plan to haul around as to length, but again I would recommend nothing over 28ft and would be leary of those that are shorter since they really do not offer much room even for a single.

Something else is what do you have plan for for emergencies? breakdowns (good sam has age limit on the units) personal protection?

Another thing I was told was to avoid units from where there is salt in the air, (seasides, flooding etc). So the advice of getting it inspected by someone knowledgeable is the best you would be able to do. New tires (6-7 will run over $1000, basic service will vary but expect another $1000 for belts, brakes shocks alignment etc) I was quoted $700 just to replace brake pads and install shocks this past summer! 4 new tire in the rear cost me around $800 with in being under warranty at time so less to pay. A tread separation on my pickup cost around $4K to repair so you can imagine what tire damage could do to an RV particularly an older one where there are not any readily available replacement parts. Also you should consider a towed vehicle as a breakdown can leave you out of everything phone range. tow range etc. Yes you can rent but how do you get there to do so?

Newer vehicles also have issues, ours is 2012 we had a mechanical breakdown that took almost a week to fix. Shop let us stay in the rv on the lot but that is generally the exception not the rule. My out of pocket was around $400, GS covered the rest, to include towing.

So really there are a lot of variables to answer your question and it will really come down to what makes you comfortable and fits your budget. I am including a mix of A's and C's for you to look at. I am not associated with any of these so dont really have any knowledge on them but you did not indicate a price range I only looked for the lower cost older for the samples.

Tortiemctortiepants

VA

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Posted: 11/15/20 07:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you so much for all of your replies! You are an extremely helpful bunch!!

It seems that I will really need to have it inspected prior to purchasing... I don’t know enough to even really know what to look for exactly, especially the less obvious things, like secret water damage! are there typically mechanics who offer an inspection service who will travel to the unit, or do I ask to take it somewhere? Is that pretty usual or will people be weirded out by the request?

I’m hoping to stay in the under $15k range (the lower the better), and I would like something on the smaller side... I think somewhere in the 24-28ft range would be good. I’m not worried about cosmetics as long as everything is functional and it’s not so ugly that I’d get kicked out of anywhere!

I will need to find out age limits on roadside service providers since I will definitely need to be able to have that! I was considering Good Sam as that seems to be a pretty popular one.

I like the idea of an auto maintenance class... I never even thought of that. Someone else had mentioned an rv driving class she had taken, so I wonder if there’s a general rv driving and maintenance class somewhere too.

BFL13

Victoria, BC

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Posted: 11/15/20 08:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Something else is what do you have plan for for emergencies? breakdowns (good sam has age limit on the units) personal protection?"

I have Good Sam Platinum (Platinum required for MH coverage) for the 1991 Class C. Used GS recently. No problem. Where is the age limit mentioned? Thanks.

On balance, it seems the OP would be better off with a good tow vehicle and a lower cost bumper-pull trailer.

Need some kind of wheels now and after, so why not a good tow vehicle for that, which you can learn to trust before the trip? If your vehicle now can't do that, then part of the budget would be its trade-in value towards the tow vehicle.

The trailer will get there as long as the "wheels don't fall off" so an older unit would be fine for that. Might even have some money left over!


1. 1991 Oakland 28DB Class C
on Ford E350-460-7.5 Gas EFI
Photo in Profile
2. 1991 Bighorn 9.5ft Truck Camper on 2003 Chev 2500HD 6.0 Gas
See Profile for Electronic set-ups for 1. and 2.

Bordercollie

Garden Grove, CA, USA

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Posted: 11/17/20 07:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I wonder why a woman, with no previous RV owner/operator/maintainer experience, would want to buy an older used RV to take a trip (alone) from VA to WA. It seems to me that driving a car and staying in motels would be safer, easier, and much less expensive taking all actual and potential costs into account. You could take a tent, an air mattress, propane stove and ice chest for occasional camping, where it is safe to tent-camp, in attractive patrolled camp settings if desired.

rjstractor

Maple Valley, WA

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Posted: 11/17/20 07:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bordercollie wrote:

I wonder why a woman, with no previous RV owner/operator/maintainer experience, would want to buy an older used RV to take a trip (alone) from VA to WA. It seems to me that driving a car and staying in motels would be safer, easier, and much less expensive taking all actual and potential costs into account. You could take a tent, an air mattress, propane stove and ice chest for occasional camping, where it is safe to tent-camp, in attractive patrolled camp settings if desired.


I don't know, maybe she thinks it will be a fun, exciting adventure that will test her skills and abilities, give her a sense of accomplishment and provide priceless memories? Like maybe the same reason most of us get into RVing??[emoticon]

Tortiemctortiepants

VA

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Posted: 11/17/20 07:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bordercollie wrote:

I wonder why a woman, with no previous RV owner/operator/maintainer experience, would want to buy an older used RV to take a trip (alone) from VA to WA. It seems to me that driving a car and staying in motels would be safer, easier, and much less expensive taking all actual and potential costs into account. You could take a tent, an air mattress, propane stove and ice chest for occasional camping, where it is safe to tent-camp, in attractive patrolled camp settings if desired.


Well, there’s lots of reasons, but this idea originated from my desire to relocate back to WA and thinking about how to get there with all of my pets. I think that having all of my pets in an rv would be less stressful for everybody than sneaking them into motels every night, and it would be more enjoyable to stay at campgrounds than motels. Once the idea took hold, I started to get excited about it and thought, I’m not tied down at the moment and will have all summer to explore, so why not turn it into an adventure? Plus I’ll have an rv for future trips, which would be handy since I have family and friends spread out all over the place.

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