One of the most important questions to answer when buying a motorhome is whether you are buying a gas motorhome or a diesel motorhome. As far as the interior and overall performance, there are few differences. But, the major differences between gas motorhomes and diesel motorhomes are the price and the gas mileage.
Diesel Motorhomes Are More Expensive
Because diesel motors are more expensive to purchase upfront, diesel motorhomes can cost significantly more than gas-powered motorhomes. However, while the maintenance can be more expensive when it has to be done, overall, diesel motors are known to last longer than gas-powered motors. The major advantage to diesel motor homes is that they have a higher fuel-to-power ratio, meaning you get more horsepower and torque while consuming less fuel. The other upside is that diesel motorhomes depreciate less quickly.
Gas Motorhomes Are More Affordable
Today, there are many large gas-powered motor homes, especially from Ford and General Motors, that offer excellent performance and are comparable in horsepower and torque to diesel-powered models. Of course, while the gas-powered motor homes are more affordable, you do pay a cost in more frequent maintenance and higher fuel costs. Gas-powered motorhomes also tend to depreciate more quickly, especially when it comes to mileage.
Diesel Motorhomes Have More Durable Engines, Transmissions, and Pac Brakes
Because the larger diesel motorhomes are built more like tractor trailer trucks, they tend to have much more powerful transmissions and have more powerful brakes than gas-powered motor homes of comparable size.
However, there are also diesel-powered motor homes that are much smaller using the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis. They get the fuel efficiency of a diesel-powered van with all of the same conveniences as a smaller gas-powered motorhome. However, these also have more powerful transmissions than many of their gas-powered counterparts.
In either case, if you plan to drive a lot in the mountains, diesel motorhomes are going to handle the wear and tear much more effectively. Mountain driving is extremely hard on ordinary transmissions found in gas-powered motor homes. So, because diesel motors naturally have higher power-to-fuel ratios than gas, the more powerful transmission is necessary. The power that drives tractor trailer trucks is what gives diesel motorhomes an advantage in that way. Overall, diesel motorhomes tend to be more durable when it comes to the motor and transmissions.
Gas-Powered Motor Homes Offer Value for the Price
If you aren’t planning on a lot of mountain driving with your RV and don’t plan on making consistent cross-country trips, gas powered motor homes can be a good option. While gas-powered engines tend to require more frequent maintenance than diesel motors, tune-ups, oil changes, and other maintenance tend to be less expensive than on the more specialized diesel motors.
The auto parts are also less expensive for gas-powered vehicles, and if you spend a bit extra on higher-quality and high-performance parts, you can get a lot of value for your money. However, if you tend to go on frequent cross-country trips and use your motor home as your primary vehicle, the wear and tear from constant driving will take their toll on a gas-powered motor and transmission. While newer gas-powered models have more efficient motors that offer higher torque than their predecessors, gasoline will never offer the same power-to-fuel ratio as diesel fuel. So, the engine has to work harder and therefore, will not last as long.
It is possible that when your gas powered motor home surprasses 100,000 miles, your engine may need a major overhaul or transmission work may be needed. This is something important to keep in mind. If you have an aftermarket transmission or other non-stock components installed into your motor home, however, you can increase the life of your motorhome’s engine significantly.
Diesel Motorhomes Have Engines That Last Forever
The major reason that people are willing to shell out the big bucks for the bigger diesel-powered motor homes like those from Fleetwood, Monaco, Newmar, and Holiday Rambler, is simply that their motors tend to last forever. Even though the maintenance and oil changes can be significantly more expensive, the motor and transmission are so durable that they may outlive the motor home chassis itself!
The other major advantage of the larger diesel motor homes is that they typically run quieter, due to the engine compartment being in the back, like in buses. Even the smaller diesel-powered motor homes that have the engine in the front use six-cylinder or eight-cylinder turbo diesel motors than run much quieter than the comparable V8 or V10 gas-powered motors.
Also, diesel motorhomes can carry more cargo and have heavier internal amenities than on gas-powered motor homes. That’s because they have higher towing capacity, as those motors are designed for hauling lots of weight. You can have heavy materials like china toilets and Corian countertops in your diesel motor home without thinking much about how it will affect your vehicle’s gross weight.
So is Gas-Powered or Diesel-Powered Better for a Motorhome?
The good news is that with the continuous advances in engine technology, gas-powered motor homes are becoming more efficient and powerful every year. Of course, diesel technology is also improving all of the time, with some of the more modest-sized diesel motorhomes getting similar gas mileage to a full-size pickup or SUV!
However, there are advantages to both. It all depends on how you plan to use your motorhome. If you have a secondary vehicle in which you will do most of your around town driving and really only drive your motorhome from destination to destination, gas powered motor homes should serve you well. But if you basically live on the road, there are major long-term advantages to owning a diesel motor home, especially in terms of motor and transmission durability and gas mileage.
As long as you are aware of the various costs involved with maintaining gas and diesel powered motor homes, you can do well with either a gas-powered or diesel-powered motorhome. As with anything, it all comes down to personal preference and what vehicle you feel fits your needs best. The largest motorhomes are going to be diesel-powered and mid-size motorhomes are fine when gas-powered. It all comes down to which motor home that you feel most at home in.
Whether you decide on a gasoline or diesel motor to power your motor home, just do your research and find the best value for the price. Motorhomes give you so much flexibility when it comes to your holiday adventures and either type of motor can make full-time RV living possible. Both offer relatively the same interior comforts. So, if you want to save some money upfront, a gas motorhome is a great choice. If you’re looking to own your motor home for the rest of your life, a diesel motorhome could be the right choice
Which will you choose for your motorhome: gas-powered or diesel-powered?
Looking to buy a used pop up camper? You definitely want to be prepared before you go to buy pop up campers. Do your research on what you’ll be towing your pop-up camper with, what campers will fit into your budget, and what layout you’re looking for that will best suit your needs. In addition to these, here are some buying tips for pop up campers.
What Tow Vehicle Will You Be Using for Your Pop-Up Camper?
The most important thing about buying any towable camper is knowing what your tow vehicle can safely tow. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s towing recommendations. At times, this information isn’t clear, so you may have to visit the manufacturer website or even call one of your auto maker’s dealers.
RV dealers are usually a good resource to learn this from, too, as they deal with these questions on a daily basis. Many people will exceed their vehicle’s tow capacity, as many vehicles can technically tow more than the recommendations, but you’re putting safety at risk. A good RV dealer will let you know what a safe towing weight is for your specific vehicle. Safety first!
Set Aside Some of Your Camper Buying Budget for Potential Repairs or Improvements
Just like with buying a home, you want to set aside at least ten to twenty percent of your budget to make minor repairs or improvements to your used camper. While used campers sold at a dealer typically are free of major damage, there may be minor wear and tear that you want to deal with before setting out on the road. You may also want to redecorate and add your own finishing touches to the camper to make it your own. It’s also just a good idea in case you run into necessary repairs down the line.
Know What Pop Up Camper Floor Plan Works for You
When shopping for pop up campers, you’ll want to research the various floor plans available from different makes and models. While pop up campers tend to be small, they can fit a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping areas quite well into a small space. You want to get the most practical space for the money. While some pop up campers are really fancy, they may not be practical for your purposes.
The best way to get a feel for a floor plan is to visit an RV dealer or RV show and actually visit different pop up camper models in person. When buying used, though, you may have to compromise when it comes to trying to get your dream floor plan. Still, knowing what models will serve your needs greatly narrows down your choices of a camper that you’ll be happy with.
Check the Condition of the Camper Before Buying
The number one issue with used pop up campers is potential moisture and water damage, Because so much of the camper’s structure is made from canvas, it doesn’t take much damage for water to intrude. Left unrepaired and untreated, these little holes can lead to moisture or water severely damaging the camper structure.
Examine any used pop up camper you’re considering to buy very carefully. Closely check the screens and canvas for any holes or rips, no matter how small. Also, watch for any mold. If you see any signs that water has intruded previously, be very cautious, as this type of damage is extremely costly and difficult to repair. Unless you have absolute proof that the water intrusion problem was properly fixed, It may be in your best interests to pass on that particular camper.
Make Sure the Pop Up Camper Mechanical Systems Function Properly
After ensuring that your pop-up camper won’t let any water inside, ask to see the lift system working in action. This is extremely important as it’s the entire reason you want a pop-up camper in the first place. Then, if the lift functions properly, see the heating & cooling, water, and electrical systems in action.
Once these things are in order, watch how well the pop-up camper closes. Make sure that the roof seals tightly once it’s fully lowered. If it doesn’t, that means water could get in and accumulate. Even if the water doesn’t get inside the camper itself, excess water could damage the mechanical systems, and your pop up camper could become a pop less camper.
The canvas and mechanical systems are next on the list. Check that the lift system works properly and that the roof seals tightly when lowered. Run all the systems in the pop up, such as heating, cooling, water and electrical. On the outside check that the lights function properly and that the tires are in good condition.
When Buying Used Pop Up Campers, Buyer Beware!
Of course, if you discover any major problems with a used pop-up camper, you likely want to walk away. The potential repairs now or down the road may not be worth the investment over simply buying a brand new or better condition used camper.
Then again, if you encounter only minor issues but really like the camper overall, you may be able to bargain a better offer in light of the inspection. If you’re willing to take the risk and can get a very good deal, you may consider still buying the pop up camper anyway at a discounted price. That’s, of course, if your budget allows you to make necessary repairs.
When buying a used camper, if you make a fair offer and the seller won’t budge on price, you may want to walk away. Know what your budget allows and don’t get talked into making a deal if it’s not worth the risk of future expenses for you. Whatever you do, as when you buy anything, get a good deal and stay within your budget.
Pop-up campers are a great way to enjoy camping and are easily towable by a wide range of vehicles. But when buying them used, just know the risks and potential hazards in buying a previously used pop-up, since so many things can go wrong with just one tiny hole or rip in the canvas.
Make well-informed decisions, be safe, and have fun in your hunt for your perfect used pop up camper!
Unlike a traditional travel trailer, fifth wheel trailers are a class of RV towed by a pickup truck using a special hitch installed in the truck bed. Like any towable RV, fifth wheels provide all the comforts of home, with areas for sleeping, dining, and bathing.
Standard fifth wheel trailers are practical investments for those who like to take weekend getaways and long vacations. There are also luxury models that are quite spacious and can actually serve as the perfect choice for full time RV living.
How Much Does a Fifth Wheel Trailer Cost?
Fifth wheel prices are actually quite wide-ranged. There are fairly affordable models starting at just $10,000 for a brand new trailer. These aren’t going to be luxurious, but certainly be adequate for occasional family vacations. Many luxury fifth wheel models can cost upwards of $100,000 or more. Most RV buyers tend to purchase fifth wheel trailers somewhere in the middle between these price points.
The luxury models do have their perks, however. The premium fifth wheel models include high-end kitchens and living areas, plasma televisions, and even separate bedroom areas, including a master suite that sits over the truck bed. Keep in mind that you’ll need a pretty big and high-powered truck, perhaps even a dually, in order to tow these luxury models properly, which is even a bigger investment.
Most casual RV travelers can get away with the lower-end models. These fifth wheel trailers are far more modest, but can be towed by most ordinary pickup trucks once the special hitch is installed. But if you’re looking to travel cross-country on a regular basis, you’ll definitely want to consider at least a mid-range fifth wheel trailer, even if you have to buy one used.
Pros of Fifth Wheels VS Travel Trailers
It’s true that fifth wheel trailers are more expensive than traditional tow-behind travel trailers. But, many campers and full time RVers prefer fifth wheels because they are far easier to tow. Being hitched in the bed of your truck, they are much more stable than on a traditional tow hitch.
One of the major cons of towing a travel trailer is how difficult they are to tow, especially in windy conditions. Because they tend to sway, they can make your tow vehicle work a lot harder, which stresses the tow hitch and decreases your gas mileage - not to mention wear and tear on both vehicles. Meanwhile, fifth wheel trailers almost never sway.
Which Fifth Wheel Trailer is Right for Me?
When setting out to choose a fifth wheel, list your minimum needs and see what models fit with your budget. You may also choose to purchase a used fifth wheel, which are actually fairly easy to find.
Also, consider the vehicle you’re using to tow the fifth wheel. If you’re using your personal truck, know what your truck can tow safely and easily. Since you’re not using your truck’s actual tow package, you want to be sure about the rating of your in-bed hitch and what your truck is rated to tow overall, not just what your regular tow package will allow. Knowing the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) that your truck can handle will narrow down your choices.
Just like buying any vehicle, buying a fifth wheel is an investment. So, shop around and see models inside and outside in person to get a feel for each one. Be sure to have a complete list of the features and equipment included.
Remember that showroom models may not necessarily have everything you see come standard. Although some dealers do say that what you see is what you get, that’s not always the case. Also, understand the warranty that the trailer comes with, and purchase an extended warranty if you feel that one is necessary.
Also, like cars, fifth wheel trailers (and any RV for that matter) depreciate quickly. So, buying a used fifth wheel may be your best bet, if you don’t mind some wear and tear. Whether you buy new or used, be sure to get consumer reports online for makes and models for the years you’re considering. That way you can see which models tend to hold up the longest, which also typically have the best resale value. Be sure to get the most features for the best price.
But, I Really Want to Buy a New Fifth Wheel!
While many used newer models have been well cared for, you may decide that you absolutely want a brand new RV. If you do insist on buying a brand new fifth wheel, try to shop around for deals,. Look for dealers that offer deep discounts off of MSRP for brand new fifth wheels, which are often the previous year’s model. They don’t want to keep them sitting on the lot, after all. Besides price, the big advantage to shopping for new examples of previous year models is that there’s more reviews available. So, you can be better informed about your purchase.
Another great way to purchase a new fifth wheel is to visit RV shows on the last day. That’s because RVs are very expensive to have to transport back to wherever they came from. So, many salespeople are happy to cut some deals in order to not have to take their unsold models back home.
Whatever fifth wheel you decide to buy, you can know that you’ll get a very reliable RV that will serve you well on your getaways. If you do plan to plunge into the adventure of full time RV living, a fifth wheel is an awesome choice for your home on wheels.
In the United States, lemon laws protect consumers from purchasing defective new vehicles from auto dealers. These statutes are in place so that consumers can take recourse against the manufacturer if the vehicle proves to be unreliable. However, when someone buys an RV, consumers may not realize that RV lemon laws vary from state to state.
When you’re buying an RV, your state’s lemon laws vary when it comes to fixing defective recreational vehicles. In fact, in the United States, most states’ lemon laws don’t protect you against problems with your RV if they are over a certain weight or don’t have to do with the vehicle’s drive train. Learn about how your state’s lemon laws cover your RV.
Why are RV Lemon Laws Different From Those for Other Autos?
RV lemon laws tend to be different because of how RVs are constructed. Unlike many cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, which are mass-produced, RVs are often assembled by hand. Also, the parts are typically made by several different companies whereas most other vehicles have the majority of their parts coming from a single manufacturer.
So, this means that the chassis can be made by an auto maker, while the body and living area are made by one or more other companies. This means that there isn’t a single manufacturer that can be held responsible for vehicle defects. In the past, this meant state lemon laws didn’t want to deal with figuring out who to hold responsible and they simply didn’t cover RVs.
Every US State Lemon Laws Now Covers RVs... To a Point
In the past, only a handful of US states had lemon laws that covered RV’s. But with the growing popularity of RVs, states now have been expanding what their RV lemon laws actually cover. This is no longer the case. In every US state, any and all defects in an RV must be repaired within a “reasonable” number of chances in a “reasonable” amount of time. This is good news.
However, know your state’s lemon laws well. You can do this by just doing a search for “(Your State) RV Lemon Laws” in your favorite search engine and it should come up. Some state RV lemon laws have restriction. In some states, only the living areas are covered and in other states, only the chassis (drivetrain) is covered. Also, some states limit coverage by your RV’s weight. So, you’ll have to read the entire state’s lemon law to find out what exactly is covered.
What US States Offer the Best and Worst Lemon Laws?
The good thing for consumers is that there is an online resource that lists all 50 US states and what each state’s RV lemon laws cover. This list from Lemonlaw.com is current as of 2018 and lists a summary for the RV lemon laws in each US state. Some states are very limited on what they will consider under a lemon law. For example, Arizona only covers RVs under 10,000 lbs! Of course, you still want to read your individual state’s lemon laws in their entirety.
How Can I Minimize the Risks of Buying a Lemon RV?
Besides knowing what your state covers when it comes to buying RVs and buying accordingly, there are other ways to protect yourself in the case that you do end up buying a lemon RV.
First of all, examine the warranties that are offered with RVs you’re considering purchasing very carefully. If you feel that the warranty isn’t good enough, and your state’s lemon laws won’t cover certain things, you may want to consider purchasing an extended warranty for your RV.
Next, make sure you do some research on the past reliability of the class and manufacturer of each RV you may want to purchase. Some classes of RVs experience certain kinds of problems more than others, and certain manufacturers are known to have difficulty with certain parts failing than others. If you find that a manufacturer or type of vehicle has problems that won’t be covered under lemon laws or that vehicle’s warranty, you may want to consider purchasing a different RV.
Another precaution you can take is to ensure that the vehicle carries a RVIA seal. This seal from the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association means that the RV manufacturer belongs to an RV industry group which requires its members to meet a set of safety standards. Those standards include a list of five hundred items. This gives you peace of mind that the quality control of the RV you are buying is very good.
So, when buying a new RV take all of these precautions in mind. Do your research on your state lemon laws and what RVs could potentially be lemons more than others. You’re buying your RV to enjoy weekend getaways, long vacations, and potentially even full time RV living.
The last thing you want is to be spending your vacation at home - or worse at a motel - while your RV is in the repair shop. Be sure that you know what protection there is for you if you do buy a lemon RV. Get the best RV for you and go and have fun!
If you’re considering buying an RV, whether it's a motor home, travel trailer, or other type of RV, you actually consider many of the same things that you would if you were buying a car or truck. Don’t let dealers take advantage of you. Be well-educated about the types of RVs available and what a fair price to pay for each should be. Keep in mind that if you’re buying from a dealer, many dealers add a fifteen to thirty-five percent markup on the MSRP prices, due to incentives from the RV manufacturers.
Definitely visit two or three RV dealerships before making a final decision on purchasing an RV. Also, see what sorts of warranties and service the dealer you’re buying from offers. Most dealers are happy to be your best friend while you’re deciding on the motor home you buy. But after buying, a lot don’t want to be bothered unless you’re coming back to buy a new RV. So, definitely find RV dealers that are happy to work with you for the life of your recreational vehicle.
Of course, you can also buy RV’s from used auto dealers and third-party sellers. Auto dealers that don’t specialize in RV’s tend to offer lower prices, although their service probably won’t be as good in the long term. So, keep that in mind. Also, with third-party sellers, you’re completely on your own once the title and keys are in your hand. But, you can also potentially get the best deals, even if some serious maintenance of the vehicle is in your near future.
Whatever you do, as with buying anything, be sure to do your due diligence. A motor home is a great vehicle to have. Just know the market, especially when buying used, and know the potential risks involved with maintaining old, larger vehicles. Then, find the motor home that’s your soul mate, and enjoy your RV adventures!
What RV do you want to buy?
We are a homeschooling family, sometimes roadschooling in an RV. We enjoy spreading the word about how to #RV successfully! We've traveled across the country in a '77 Minnie Winnie decorated Denver Broncos style and dubbed the BroncoBago. We've also had other rigs as well. Follow along as Lyn Lomasi and family share adventures, tips, how-to guides on the RV Life in a #Winnebago, and more! If it's about RVs, homeschooling, roadschooling, camping, and the like, you can bet we'll cover it. Hop in and enjoy the ride!
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