Especially this time of year, I see lots of frantic posts on Facebook about people having issues with condensation in their RVs. They see water droplets on their windows, moisture under their mattress, in their closets and in cupboards and dripping from their hatches.

 

Condensation, a sign of high humidity is a very serious challenge for RVers and one that should not be ignored. The fact is that if you are seeing any of the above signs of high humidity, then chances are very good that there are all sorts of other places you have moisture that you are not seeing.

 

Condensation happens when warm air with a high moisture content meets a cold surface. When warmer, moist air meets a colder surface, the air looses its ability to hold moisture and this causes the water vapor to change from a vapor to liquid water. I could go more into detail but hopefully this answer will suffice for our discussion.

 

It is really important to remember that condensation is a symptom of high humidity. To rectify it, you must lower the humidity in the air.

 

Why is an RV more likely to have condensation issues than your house? There are two basic reasons:
1. RVs are not insulated like your “sticks and bricks” house. Insulation prevents walls from being cold and keeps the heat in and the cold out.

2. The area in an RV is much smaller in a home so the moist air produced by cooking, washing dishes, showering and other normal activities of daily living has much less of a chance to be dissipated and is therefore much more concentrated in an RV

 

High humidity is not just inconvenient. If left unchecked, it can lead to mold and mildew and real costly damage to your home on wheels.  High humidity can also damage wood and other materials your RV is constructed with.

 

Plan of Attack

After more than 18 years of living full time in RVs in all sorts of climates from South Florida to Arizona and Northern and Southern California, here is a plan of attack.

 

1. When purchasing a new or used RV

a. What is the level of insulation in the RV? take a look at this link to learn more about insulation. https://www.rvingplanet.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-rv-insulation/. Especially if you know you will be in high humidity climates like Florida, this should be a major consideration when purchasing.

b. Dual pane windows are a great option.  In this type of window, a space of air is place between two panes of glass and will keep the window warmer making the air less likely to condense.

 

2. Always monitor the humidity level in your RV. You can buy inexpensive humidity monitors like this

Buy a couple and place them in different rooms in you RV. You should always try to keep the humidity level in the low 30s.

 

3. Air flow is key. Warm air trapped in closed cabinets and closets and meeting a cold outer wall will cause condensation. It will help to always keep closets and cabinets open or partially open to allow for air flow in high moisture situations.

 

4. Always use your hatches and vent fans. The best procedure is to open a vent and turn on the fan to pull air out. Then open a window near the source of the humidity(cooking, showering, washing dishes etc.). This process will draw air from the outside, mix it with the high moisture air and pull it out of the RV through the vent.

 

5. You can add extra insulation to cabinets, under the bed etc. It is important to note, however, that this does not fix the problem. It only addresses a symptom. It does not reduce the moisture in the air.

 

6. Buy a dehumidifier.

A good humidifier that is the compressor type can truly be a game changer. It is incredible the amount of water that it can remove from the air. It does not mean that you do not need to take the preventative measures listed in #2 though #5 above but it can make a huge difference. As full timers, we struggled for years before taking this step.

a. We tried desiccants like “Damp Rid” which are bags that you hang in closets or little tubs that you place around. We found them to be next to useless as they remove only a small amount of water. They also can leak and spread chemical on clothes.

b. We have also tried small “mini dehumidifiers” that use the same principal as the bags above but have a fan and the absorbing material is reusable.

c. We also tried a “dryer” which is nothing more than a small heater.

d. In our opinion, the only meaningful dehumidifier solution is one with a heat pump. This solution costs a bit more, is somewhat larger and has a compressor as its main component. It also produces slightly warm air in its discharge of dry air. We found this solution truly amazing in the difference it made. We emptied gallons of water daily until we got the humidity level down. We placed our unit in the bathroom at the rear of our 40 foot motorhome and it reduced the humidity dramatically in the entire coach. We wished we had done this years ago!!! Below is the humidifier we purchased. It has been flawless. It is quiet, dependable, incredibly easy to clean and worth every penny.

 

Please don’t hesitate to write us with any quesitons or comments on this topic.  We are always here to help.

 

 


We are thinking about selling our home and going full time RV. What are the pros and cons? Any regrets after you did?

Ginger

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says

Hi Ginger,

There is so much to say in response to your question. I can start by stating that we have no regrets whatsoever after going full time. As I mention in the “About” section of rvlivingfulltime.com, I have been full timing in an RV for more than 18 years. Before that I lived on a boat for more than 15 years.

There have been dozens of articles written on the subject of making the move from a “sticks and bricks” home to a home on wheels. The “Pros and Cons” that i list below are from my personal perspective.

 

Selling Your Home and Moving to an RV Full Time

The Pros

1.Change of Scenery –

Probably one of the biggest “Pros” for me is the ability to change scenery whenever I want. You can move to a warmer place in the winter and a cooler place in the summer. Get tired of your neighbors, want a change in scenery, just turn the key. It’s a real sense of freedom that is hard to get anywhere else.

 

2.Travel –

The romance of the open road can’t be beat as far as I am concerned. The adventure of not knowing what you will find as you travel, what you will see, who you will meet is really wonderful. To me, this is the most exciting part of being able to take your house with you on your travels. I love looking at different places, stopping along the road to have lunch over looking a beautiful gorge or at the snow-capped mountains.

 

3.Meeting new people –

Most fellow travelers, RVers, that you meet along the road in RV parks, or just at a store or gas station are amazing. Most people traveling are so happy that it shows in their demeanor and interest in sharing sights that they have experienced along the way. It is a great way to make new friends that you can keep in touch with as you both part ways but maybe to meet again.

 

4.Romance and Coziness –

For me and many others, there is something incredibly romantic about having all the comforts of home in a compact “tiny house” in the middle of no where on in a new location of any kind. Sitting outside at night having a cocktail, watching the stars, keeping warm with a blanket wrapped around you, planning for the next day’s adventures is an experience unlike any other.

 

5.Your Own Bed and Food –

Especially in these times of Covid 19, the advantage of sleeping in your own bed and having your own food is enormous. But even in normal times, knowing i can have our two dogs with us and not worrying about a dog sitter is very freeing. Staying in hotels lost its glitter for me along time ago.

 

6.The Simpler life –

In many ways, even in a big luxurious motorhome, living in an RV means you have opted for a simpler life. By its very nature, living in an RV means that you cannot surround yourself with much of the “stuff” that you would have in a house. Nature becomes more important and appreciation of much of its beauty really becomes part of your life. Less “stuff” to me is a very freeing thing, less to worry about, less to maintain and less to keep track of. Living in an RV makes it easier tune out the hustle and hassles of the everyday world.

 

The Cons

 

1.You can pretty much take all the above Pro reasons and turn them around to Cons if you are of a mind to do so.

 

2. Stuff –

Many people are attached to their possessions and get a great deal of pleasure owning things, touching them, maintaining them and keeping them close. Living in an RV means paring down dramatically. You cannot simply have all the stuff that you had before. I have see people towing gigantic trailers full of stuff behind their motorhomes, truly trying to keep their “stuff”. We have a motto, “buy a new shirt, give away an old one.”

 

3. Not a financial Investment –

An RV, no matter what kind of “good deal” you got, is NOT a good financial investment, period. It will depreciate the minute you drive it off the lot and will continue to do so each year. Even if you buy an old one and fix it up, you will not get your money back. Most RVers feel that the emotional investment in the life style more than makes up for this.

 

4. Learning How to Live in an RV –

There is a learning curve in moving into an RV. It does require a certain amount of dedication to the idea and willingness to learn the “ropes” so to speak. Those that simply buy an RV and head out without understanding how their new home “works” and the essentials of RV living are most certainly going to have issues and some uncomfortable moments. But there are lots and lots of resources available out there. There are tons of Facebook pages dedicated to RVs and lots of blogs like ours.

 

4.Family and Friends –

It is considerably more challenging keeping in touch with family and close friends when you are traveling and living on the road in an RV. There is no question about this. But you can FaceTime, chat and use countless other technologies to communicate with the ones that matter on even a daily basis.

 

5. Expense –

Usually living in an RV is really not less expensive than living in a house. In some cases it can be less expensive. We lived in the San Fransisco Bay Area in the East Bay in a beautiful little mobile home park in our motorhome. Over all, it was much less expensive than if we rented an apartment or house. But our situation, i feel, was unusual. In fact if you are traveling a lot, it can actually cost more. That being said, if you really live spartan, buy a cheap little travel trailer, and stay in one place in an inexpensive RV park or stay off the grid, you can live very cheaply.

 

I hope that the above lists will help further you along in your thought process. Please let me know if you have any other questions or thoughts on the subject.

Lee

Best regards,
RVlivingfulltime.com

 


 

I wouldn’t pretend to offer myself up to you as an RV Driving Instructor and would not suggest that I could teach you how do drive an RV in this article. As always, however, I hope that you might profit from my experiences driving different large vehicles.

One of my semi retirement jobs a couple of years ago was driving a school bus. To qualify for this job driving a 40 ft, 10 year old vehicle, I spent 6 months studying for and obtaining my Commercial Driver’s license in California. I drove the bus for a year. Loved the kids, hated the schedule! (by the way a special license is not required to drive a motorhome in California unless the vehicle is over 40ft long)

Obtaining this license was one of the hardest things I have ever done at 73 years old! So much to remember! But I learned a lot from the experience and most of it helped me to be a better driver of our 40ft motorhome. A lot of the tips below I have learned from the school bus experience.

In case it might be of interest for some of you who really want to improve your skills, I have attached this link to the California 2019-2021 Commercial Driver’s License Handbook. There is a ton of great information in it and who knows, it might motivate you to want to get your CDL in your state.

 

Vehicle Inspection

1.You should always carefully inspect your vehicles at the beginning of your travel each day.

2.This inspection should include:

a. Tires; tread condition and pressure. I highly recommend a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Chances are that if you are towing a trailer, your tow vehicle has one but you should also have one for your trailer. Often times motorhomes do not have a TPMS system so you should purchase one for your motorhome and any vehicle you may tow behind it. This system will give you incredible peace of mind. Below is the system we have.  It is very dependable, accurate, and very easy to set up and use.

 

 

b. Lights on the tow and towed vehicle. Be extra careful to make sure your trailer lights are functioning properly.

c. All hitches and chains

d. Brakes on the tow and towed vehicles. If you have a motorhome with air brakes, you should do a full air brake test. Here is a link:  Testing the Air Brakes on a Motorhome

 

Maneuvering in Close Spaces (RV parks, Fuel Stations)

1.Scope out a place that might be questionable BEFORE you enter.

a. Especially if you are flat towing a car or towing one on a car dolly, generally you cannot back up without hitting the car or dolly with your motorhome. I say generally, as there have been times when I have successfully backed up a couple of feet and it was just enough to manage a tight turn. I always do this with a spotter.

b. If you are towing a trailer or fifth wheel, it is especially important that you get out of the vehicle and walk in any area that you are not sure of before driving in. You might end up having to back all the way out, which when towing a trailer of any kind is always a challenge.

c. In a fuel station give an especially wide berth to fuel pumps or other structures on the fuel island as you pull out.

d. If you are towing a bumper pull and especially if you are towing a Fifth Wheel, be very careful of how tight you turn when maneuvering in off road situations. I dented the roof of my new truck with the front of my fifth wheel once by turning too sharply. It did not damage the fifth wheel at all, but put a nice crease in the roof of the truck!

 

2. Have a spotter
I have been driving RVs for 18+ years. During that period I have driven trailers, fifth wheels, gas and diesel Motorhomes. I have driven or pulled RVs from 18 ft to 40 ft. I try to always use a spotter.

a. If you are traveling alone and can’t find anyone to help you, it is very advisable to periodically exit your vehicle and look all around to get a sense of perspective as where things are in relationship to your RV and/or the towed vehicle.

b. I have never had an accident on a roadway but have collided with two objects in RV parks.

c. In both those cases, I did not have a person outside guiding me.

d. Proceed very slowly. My spotter goes outside and walks me along almost as soon as we enter an RV park or certainly when we are even remotely close to objects.

e. Even if you are alone, it makes sense to ask someone nearby to help guide you in and out of your site and even in and out of the RV park if you can.

f. Make sure you can communicate with your spotter. We use our phones and have them on speaker.

g.Your spotter should be constantly moving around the RV as you are maneuvering. He or she should be looking above the RV for branches, over hangs etc, as well as the front, back and sides of the RV. Believe it or not, the front is very important especially in a motorhome when you cannot see your bumper.

 

3. Your mirrors are your best friends

a. Always make sure your mirrors on both sides are adjusted carefully. If your RV does not have a wide angle mirror, you should get one and attach it to your regular mirror on the bottom side away from the RV.

b. Maneuver slowly, always watching your mirrors on both sides. If you have back up cameras you should be glancing there also.

c. I will say this again. Even if you have a spotter and are watching the mirrors, there is no substitute for getting out periodically and getting a first hand perspective as to all the obstacles and their relationship to your vehicle(s).

 

4. Look above
RVs are generally considerably taller than cars and even pickup trucks. It is easy to forget this.

a. Make sure that your spotter knows that they need to be looking up for branches, over hangs etc.

b. Branches can easily remove an antenna and damage an AC unit if you fail to notice them.

c. On back roads that are untraveled and where branches and trees have not been trimmed, I have traveled slowly down the middle of the road to avoid damage to my roof. I can pull over and stop to let another car pass by.

d. Make sure you know the height of your RV including antennas and all protrusions from the roof. If you are in doubt about an over hanging obstacle such as a bridge, stop and line it up by climbing up your RV ladder and looking.

e.Most bridges are required to be labeled as to their height, so knowing your exact height is important. I would never go under a bridge that was closer than 6 inches to the height of my RV.

f. A good GPS, meant for RVs or trucks should warn you of issues with bridges. BUT NEVER TAKE THE WORD OF A GPS, NEVER, NEVER WITHOUT GETTING A SECOND OR EVEN THIRD OPINION. Meaning that you have looked it up on a map, or a second or third GPS is verifying that it is OK. Even then, if it looks close DON’T chance it.

 

5. Watch for dips

a. Especially coming into fuel stations, sometimes there is a considerable dip in the road. Taking such a dip, going from the roadway into the station can be disastrous going at any kind of speed.

b. If you notice a considerable dip going into the area, slow to a crawl. If the hitch on your truck, or the tongue on your trailer scrapes, then doing so very slowly, will likely cause no damage.

c. In towing a trailer, it is especially important that the support stand for the trailer tongue has been retracted fully. Even so, this could be damaged entering a severe dip in the road.

d. If flat towing a vehicle with your motorhome, the tow bar knuckle can scrape on a severe dip, so again going very slowly will minimize any damage.

 

Traveling on Main Roads

Traveling in an RV is basically why we buy them, taking to the road, the adventure of exploring, the romance of finding a new place for the night. Getting there can mean some long hours on the road driving, however, so here are a couple of thoughts on driving your RV or towing your RV on main roads.

 

1.Entering the highway
Motorhomes and vehicles pulling trailers have considerably less ability to get up to highway speeds than other vehicles. It is important to remember this when entering a roadway, and allow lots of room.

 

2.Passing
In most cases the overall length of your motorhome or your car or truck that is pulling your trailer can be twice even three times the length of a car itself.
This fact combined with the lack of acceleration mentioned in #1, makes passing another vehicle of any length particularly challenging and even dangerous.

a.Passing on a two-way, two-lane road would in almost every case be really fool hardy.

b.Passing on a two or more lane one way road can also be very risky especially when leaving the passing lane and returning to the right hand lane. Care must be taken to make sure that your extra long vehicle has cleared the passed vehicle.

 

3.Narrow roads

a. Narrow secondary roads require constant attention to make sure that your towed vehicle’s rear wheels do not occasionally leave the paved road and end up in the dirt shoulder.

b. The driver also needs to stay within his or her lane by checking side mirrors. Let’s face it, towing a trailer or driving a motorhome means you are wider than the average car and it is easy to forget that and wander out of your lane. This makes it dangerous for other drivers.

 

4. Large vehicles passing you
One of the scariest things, especially to new RVers is having a large semi truck pass you on the highway. You can feel the wind begin to pull your vehicle towards the left as the truck begins its passing.

a. The best thing that you can do in situations like this is to be steely eyed and determined to remain in your lane and not take your eyes off the road to look to the left at the passing truck.

b. Undoubtedly some correction to the right will be necessary to account for the pulling affect to the left. Staying somewhat close to the right line along the roadway is also good to allow even more room between you and the vehicle that is passing.

c.It doesn’t really matter the size of your motorhome or the length of your trailer the experience is always scary. The degree fades somewhat with experience but never totally goes away.

d. Passing trucks have occasionally broken off mirrors when they have come too close but this does not happen often. Most commercial truck drivers are responsible drivers and will keep far to the left when passing an RV.

 

5. Exiting the highway
There is no such thing as a safe “last minute” decision to leave the highway when you are driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer. It is very important that you plan ahead if you plan to visit the next rest stop.

a. Always signal your intention to leave the highway approximately 600 ft before your exit by using your turn signal and changing to the exit lane.

b. Slow down gradually

 

6. Following distance
I cannot say enough about keeping a respectful following distance.

a. Needless to say, a 40 ft motorhome requires a lot more space to stop than a car.

b. A vehicle pulling a trailer has the same challenges stopping. Driving in slippery weather requires even more space to stop.

c. I have seen people in large RVs or towing trailers tailgating others on the highway. They are an accident waiting to happen.

d. This link to the California CDL Handbook gives you information as to how many feet you should leave between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

e. I am not attempting to be a driver’s manual here in this article, but just giving you reminders and tips.

 

7. Going down steep hills
The best single piece of advice about traversing down hills that I can give you is to go slowly. The best rule is to go down a hill no faster than you were able to go up the hill. My feeling is that going down a steep hill towing a trailer or in a motorhome is the single biggest challenge to driving an RV.

 

a. One of the huge advantages that a diesel motorhome has or a diesel towing truck has are exhaust brakes. This is an incredible tool to help you slow down safely going down a hill. It combines rerouting of exhaust gases back through the engine with use of lower gears to slow you down dramatically with minimum use of brakes.

b. There are lots of articles and YouTube videos about the subject of going down a mountain in a motorhome or pulling a trailer and the bottom line in all of them is GO SLOW. If you do not have an exhaust brake, choose a lower gear that will keep your speed down before you start down the hill. If you find that gear is not enough, slow down more and use an even lower gear.

c. If your speed, even in the lower gear, starts to increase above the speed that you have chosen with or without the exhaust brake (the speed you went up the hill at), then use your brakes very sparingly. Apply brakes to lower your speed firmly then release and let the lower gear do its job. As it increases speed again, apply brakes firmly and then release. Repeat this process. If you are doing this too much, you will need to go slower and use a lower gear if you do not have an exhaust brake. (Just slowing down will cause the exhaust brake to use a lower gear.)

d. The key is to NOT RIDE your brakes down the hill. Using your brakes to reduce your speed down a large hill in a heavy vehicle is not sustainable. Your brakes will begin to smoke and burn and will gradually loose their effectiveness. I have learned this in two instances when I was new at RVing. It was very, very scary. I have learned my lesson! In our 40 ft diesel motorhome with an exhaust brake, I creep down a mountain. Let people cruise by, not a problem for me. I always want my vehicle under control and slow is always better. When I say slow I am talking 35 to 45 MPH. The steeper the hill, the slower I go. On a truly steep hill I have gone down at 15 to 20 mph. You never want to let the vehicle get away from you and going fast down a steep hill is the easiest way for that to happen.

e. If by some chance you begin to smell brakes you should immediately pull over at the next available area and allow your brakes to cool. I want to emphasize here that if your brakes are smoking, you are not using them correctly and are going too fast for proper control. You need to use a lower gear and go much slower.

f. As a final thought, I left the “Going Down Hills” section as the final section in this article. I hope that I haven’t scared you with all the warnings, but taking simple precautions and taking your time, not being in a hurry and not caring whether others are rushing by you (maybe even beeping horns at you) is absolutely essential for your safety and for a full enjoyment of your trip. Don’t be stressed about going up and down a hill. Just remember the few simple tips I have outlined above. TAKE YOUR TIME, GO SLOWLY, ENJOY, SEE THE SIGHTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lee,  
  Great article about buying an RV. Very informative.  The wife and I are starting research 5th wheels and plan to purchase probably a used one in a year or so.  You wrote that your two favorite picks were the Mobile Suites and the Van Leigh. 
  What are your thoughts and opinions on the Grand Design 5ers.  We really like their floor plans.    
Thank you,   Jeff

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says:

Morning Jeff,

I have been doing some research on Grand Design Products. A couple of things:

1. They have been around since 2012 and were independently owned until 2016

2. In 2016 they were bought by Winnebago

3. Winnebago does not have a great reputation for Quality, in my estimation. As an example, Newmar was recently acquired by Winnebago and a lot of motorhome RVers shuttered as they felt that the well established Newmar quality as a high end motorhome would suffer. I am not sure that has come to fruition as yet, but the acquisition was not looked upon favorably.

4. The roofs on Grand Design Fifth Wheels are TPO fabric material. In my experience this type of roof covering is very common in the RV industry but is not of the level of quality as a fiberglass roof.

5. They appear to have good insulation quality and the primary construction material in terms of beams and supports is aluminum. The roof trusses are wood.

6. This link is a couple years old but gives a lot of detail on the construction characteristics. https://familyrvingmag.com/2018/12/01/grand-design-solitude/
It is a pretty favorable review.

7. I don’t know, at this point, where you are planning to go in your fifth wheel and how extreme the climates are going to be. The answers to these questions are pretty important as they should dictate how important things like insulation R factors and dual pane windows are. In the “Choosing Your RV/trailers” section in the Blog, i have a link to an article on RV insulation. If you haven’t done so, i would read the entire section on trailer “Budget and Construction” then do some comparison to the Grand Design.

In conclusion:
1. After doing some research and general reading, I think that I would rate the Grand Design Fifth Wheel Product as “upper middle of the road”. It is not top quality, but neither is it near the bottom.

2. As with any RV a lot of the reviews mention issues with the dealership that sold them. I would suggest that you do some research on any dealership that you are contemplating using. As about their warranty service, time frames for repair, delivery process etc.

3. As with any RV, you are bound to find groups of owners who are thrilled with their purchase and those that are very disappointed. It is always a challenge to walk away from reading articles and reviews with your own meaningful opinion.

I hope that I have given you some things to think about as you contemplate your decision. As you have some time, I would look at alternatives and do a lot of comparisons. I give you some really specific pointers on what to look for and compare in the Blog articles on “Choosing an RV”

Best regards,

Lee
RV Living Full Time

 

 


How to get better air flow from bedroom roof a/c unit or any air flow?

John

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says:

Morning John,
Great question.  We have the same issue in our motorhome and there are two possible solutions and we are using both.
 
The idea of both of these possible solutions is to cut off the air flow, or reduce it to the areas of your RV that have ample air flow and force that air to the other areas of the RV that need more air flow.

 

1. You can buy new vents on line on Amazon that have louvers that you can close.They are kinda pricey.   This will force more air to other vents in the motorhome.  The vents are really easy to replace.  Most of ours just pull out and then you can push in the new ones.

 

2. A less expensive and equally effective solution is to  cut circular pieces of cardboard that will just fit the vent.  Then you take off the vent, and tape the piece of card board to the back of the vents thereby blocking the air from coming out.  We tape them to the vent as we didn’t want to risk that somehow the piece of cardboard could get blown off the vent and go into the duct work.

 

Let me know how these possible solutions work.

Thank you for being a follower of

RVlivingfulltme.com

 

 

Best regards,
Lee
RV Living Full Time

 


I want to start by giving you just a brief bit of background as to my RV buying experience.

First off, you should know that one of my semi retirement jobs was selling new and used cars for a Chevrolet Dealership for almost 2 years. I was a really good salesman and was given the GM Award of Excellence. In addition to this great experience, I have pretty much been a sales person most of my adult life, after my experiences in social work and teaching. The only reason I am telling you this, is to give you confidence that I understand the buying process from both sides.

I have also bought and sold many RVs over the years. In the “About Us” section, I detail the 8 different trailers and motorhomes that I have owned over the past 18+ years. I have only traded RVs once, the rest of the time I sold the old RVs myself, usually using Craig’s List.

The discussion below is going to sound a bit negative, I am afraid. But my goal here is to be very honest in my cautions to improve the chances that you will have few if any regrets, months after you make your purchase. You will have lots of time after you buy your new RV to enjoy the incredible, positive RV experience!

To make things much clearer, i am going to list the tips I want to give you. I am going to group them under buying a new RV and buying a used one:

 

Buying a New RV

1.Do your homework!

I can’t tell you how much of an advantage the sales person has over you if you arrive at a dealership with very little knowledge of the market place.

a. TYPE – Start with knowing the type of RV you want. bumper pull trailer, fifth wheel trailer or class A, B or C motorhome. Use the “Choosing Your RV” article in our BLOG to help you decide.

b. LAYOUT – Decide on a layout, if you can. Choosing a layout is critical in the beginning and there are lots of things to consider when choosing the best layout for your living situation. These are all detailed in the “Choosing Your RV” section. Layout is not something that you can change later so you need make sure that you understand what you need to live comfortably. In the process, also consider the length of the RV.

c. BRANDS – After you have decided on the type and layout of the RV you need to decide on a couple of brands that you want to consider. Obviously in considering these brands, you have determined that each offers the layout that you want. There are lots of brands of brands to consider and just as many opinion as to which is best. After doing lots of research, talking with people who have them, and drawing on my own experiences, the following are my recommendations:

Travel Trailers – The Best – Airstream, Casita and Oliver

Avoid – any Thor , Gultstream or Coachman products

Fifth Wheels – The Best – Mobile Suites and Van Leigh(Tiffin)

Avoid – any Thor, Gulfstream or Coachman products

Motorhomes – The Best – Prevost, Tiffin, Newell, and Newmar

Avoid – any Thor, Fleetwood, Gulfstream or Coachman Product

 

Obviously, i have left out a huge number of brands that are somewhere in the middle between the Best and the Worst. I would research those brands carefully and then decide.

 

2. Go to an RV Show

This is a great way to see a lot of options in one place and at one time. There will be lots of layouts and brands and it will give you an opportunity to further refine your search.

a. Decide before you go whether you are “researching” and NOT buying or “shopping”, meaning you have done your research and know what you want. This means that you understand the actual costs of the brands and layout you want and can actually buy with knowledge.

b. Sometimes you can find a some great deals both for the RV and in financing at RV shows.

c. If you have lots of time, visit the factory where your potential new home is built. Get an idea of how it is put together and the level of care that is taken in construction.

 

3. Go to a Dealership

Going to a dealership to buy an RV is not like buying a car. An RV is incredibly more complicated by its very nature and often times much more expensive. It some ways it is like buying a car and a house at the same time.

a. A sales person is there to make money, and the only way he or she can do so, is to sell you something.

b. The sales person is not your friend. It is great to establish a nice cordial relationship with a sales person, but just remember fostering a trusting relationship is their first objective and is part of the selling process.

c. Getting your trust is key for then in selling you an RV. This is the entire reason why you must go to a dealership prepared, knowledgeable and determined.

d. Ask lots of questions. You should be sure before you go that if you are purchasing a trailer or fifth wheel, that your vehicle is up to it. You should have researched the weight of the RVs you are looking at in your final list and be sure that your vehicle can tow them.

e. Find out in advance what the delivery process and follow up after the sale is like. You deserve a delivery process that leaves you feeling like you understand your new purchase and generally how to operate everything.

 

4. Negotiate

Knowing generally the cost of what your new RV is selling for in the market place is key here.

a. You should generally get between 25% and 30% off the MSRP (manufacture’s suggested retail price) of a new RV. Do not fall for phrases like “RVs like this are hard to find”, “this RV will not last” “the market place for RVs is particularly hot right now”.

b. If you find the sales person difficult to deal with, too pushy and unable to answer your questions knowledgeably, then leave. There are usually lots of dealerships available. You can also request another sales person.

 

5.Deposits/Test Drives/Inspections

Thoughts:

a. You should never have to put down a deposit to take a test drive in a motorhome. That is ridiculous. To me it is insulting and suggests that the dealership does not believe you are a serious buyer. My suggestion is to walk away.

b. Negotiating such things as trailer hitches, sway bars and fifth wheel hitches should be brought up when you are beginning to narrow you decision and before you make any deposit.

c. $500 to $1000 is more than adequate of a deposit to give a dealership to hold the RV until you get financing, if that is required. Because our last purchase of our Tiffin was 600 miles away, we gave the dealership $500 refundable deposit to hold it until we could get there to view it and take a test drive. We had secured the financing, insurance and everything else in advance of going to see it.

d. Inspect, inspect, inspect. Never assume even a new RV is in complete working order. Allow an entire day for the buying process, beginning early. Take a printed list with you of things to check, plumbing, electricity, heaters, AC etc. It is always a great idea to take an impartial friend with you that you can turn to for advice. This should be someone who will not get caught up in the emotions of the purchase experience.

e. Get it in writing – If anything is not working, make sure you get agreement that it will be made right, in writing with a specific time frame when it will be completed. I have heard many horror stories of issues with RVs, even new RVs that dealers refused to fix or that took months to resolve.

f. Get it in writing – If the issues are extensive, or major, do not accept the RV, do not sign, do not pay any money until the issues are solved. This is very hard to do sometimes when your new baby is sitting there, begging for you to take her home. Remember when the dealer has your money, and you have signed, the RV is yours. Your chance to get issues resolved at this point just rests on the good will of the dealership. Remember my comment earlier about the sales person not being your friend?

 

6. Extended Warranties

I know the arguments for and against buying and extended warranty and for a used RV, I am for it. We purchased one when we bought our 2005 Tiffin Phaeton motorhome 2 years ago. Like the purchase price of the motorhome, however, we negotiated even threatened to buy it else where. We financed it in. Some thoughts:

a. If you are a bit financially stretched buying your new home, like we were, you might not have the extra cash to pay for any issues that might come up. Trust me they will in even in a pristine used motorhome and a new one.

b. An extended warranty can give you enormous peace of mind. RVs can be very complex and remember they are rolling earthquakes, so things do break.

c. I would not buy one on a new RV that already has a warranty that comes with it. Wait until the new warranty is up then consider purchasing and extended one.

d. Warranties are a huge money maker for the dealership and sales person, so again, negotiate.

e. Read the fine print. Like anything else, there are good and bad warranties. All of them generally make you go through some hoops to collect. As an aside, I have heard nothing but horror stories about Good Sam warranties.

f. Putting the money you would pay for a warranty into a savings account for repairs is a pipe dream for most people, but if you can do it, more power to you.

g. Finally in my opinion you should NEVER buy separate warranties on the paint or inside fabrics. These are a total waste of money, and are simply gravy on top of the sale for the sales person and dealership. I speak from experience. Trust me they are worthless.

 

7. Delivery

RV Dealerships are notoriously bad at deliveries of used and new RVs. I have talked to many people who leave with their very expensive new home and haven’t a clue as to how to operate it.

a. Insist on a thorough delivery process wherein a knowledgeable person walks you though all the systems in the RV and explains how everything works. Thoroughly understanding the delivery process is something that is good to find out right up front, as soon as you arrive at the dealership.

b. Plan on a “shake down cruise” if you will, near by, preferably near the dealership. On this initial short trip, go to an RV park in the area and set up your new home and stay over at least one night. Make plans in advance that you will be calling the dealership for information as things come up in this initial trip. It is a good idea not to do this “shake down cruise” on the weekend so that dealership personnel will be available.

 

 

Buying a Used RV

All of the considerations and cautions given above in buying a new RV from a dealership apply equally to buying a used RV. There are some additional things to consider, however.

a. Before you purchase any used RV, you should have it inspected by an unbiased person incredibly experienced in RVs and that you are paying. If you are purchasing a motorhome, you should have the engine also inspect by a licensed mechanic.(a diesel mechanic if you are purchasing a diesel powered motorhome). A couple of tips:

b. Employing a professional, licensed NRVIA (National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association) person is an excellent idea.

c. Do not take the dealer up on the offer of providing you with an inspector. This is obviously a conflict of interest.

d. If a dealer refuses to allow an independent inspector on the premises, then offer to take the vehicle off the premises. If they still refuse to allow the vehicle to be inspected by your inspector, find another dealer.

e. Chances are almost 100% that your inspector will find that your used potential purchase is not perfect and that there are some issues. But the key is that you now know them before you have paid for the RV. Sometimes, if you still want the RV you can negotiate the price down, or the dealership will pay to fix them. Refer to the “get it in writing”section above. It is also very possible that the inspector will miss some things but a good inspector will not miss anything major.

f. Make sure you follow the inspector around the RV. Take the time to ask questions as you go. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how your new-to-you-RV works. A good inspector will make recommendations on how to repair issues, the cost of repairs and even recommendations of resources.

g. Buying a used RV from a private party is not a lot different from all of the above with a few additional cautions:

1. If you are buying a used RV from a private party long distance, never send money to hold the RV.

2. Request lots of pictures of the exterior and interior and inspect them carefully before you take the trip. Private sellers often over sell the condition of their RVs.

3. Hiring an inspector is even more important in buying an RV from a private party. With a dealership, if things go really wrong, you have a company that you could sue or fight with bad publicity. With a private party, you have no real recourse if you failed to see issues before the purchase.

4. Financing will be more challenging buying a used RV from a private party. Make sure you understand if there are loans on the RV that need to be paid off and how that will work.

 

 

 

 


If I feel a soft spot on the corner of the roof but the material is good still what should I do? water does puddle there,
thanks
Cliff

 

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says:

This is a difficult question. All RVs have spots on the roof where it is less firm than others. Usually this is because of the supportive structure underneath. For example you may feel a different firmest if you are standing on a spot where there is a beam directly underneath, as opposed to a place between beams. Here are a couple of things to consider when evaluating whether this is a soft spot to be worried about:

A. Is this soft spot near any intrusion into the roof? Meaning is it near a hatch or vent pipe or antenna?. This could mean that caulking around the intrusion has failed and water has leaked in causing damage.

B. Is there any indication inside below the soft spot that there is water damage? Press firmly against walls and corners inside to see if there is softness inside the RV right below the outside soft spot. If there is corresponding soft spots inside and/or discoloring of the walls or corner inside, this is a pretty conclusive indicator that there is water damage in this area.

I hope that this information is helpful. Thank you Cliff for being a subscriber to Rvlivingfulltime.com. Please don’t hesitate to write me back if you have further questions.

Best regards,

Lee
RV Living Full Time 

 

 

 


Hello, can you recommend where to get a 67 inch jack knit sofa to replace one in a 2015 forester 31 ft RV?

Cliff

 

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says:

There are several good RV furniture suppliers on line, but the one that I have had experience with is www.recpro.com . A year ago we bought a really nice lounge chair to replace the really gigantic one in our Tiffin Phaeton. The quality of the chair is excellent and we use it every day as a work chair. In the almost one year of use, we have noticed no indication of wear on either the fabric or the wooden frame. I would recommend this company. I checked their website and they definitely carry 67” jack knife sofas.

Best regards,

Lee

RVlivingfulltime.com

 


We have a 2019 Montana highcountry and every time the wind blows just a little the dirt and dust comes in in the window tracks , around the screws and about a inch on the glass. We are retired full timers and I would appreciate a fix of some sort.
Thank you

Carol

 

RVlivingfulltime.com says:

 

Morning Carol,

Thank you for your question.
 

There is of course, lots of material addressing the issue of windows in RVs leaking water but not so many for windows leaking air and dirt.   I am also not sure what type of windows you have,  but here are a couple of ideas:

1.  One of the simplest would be to turn on one of your ceiling vent fans with the air being sucked in from the outside.  Don’t open a window.  This will actually create a bit of a higher pressure in the RV than outside that could prevent air and dirt from coming in.

2. By the same token, make sure you do not have any ceiling vent fans on drawing the air out of the motorhome because,  that would suck air in through any cracks in the seals around the windows.

3. If your windows are not frameless and have “weep” holes, a simple thing you can do is to tape over these holes.  “Weep” holes are small slots along the frame of the window outside that allow the water collecting in the window frame to drain when it rains.  It is essential that you remove the tape before it rains, as if these holes are plugged,  you will get water inside.

4. Another possible solution is to get some window/door sealing foam strips.  Cut small length with a razor blade to fit the track in the window.  Take these pieces of foam insulation and wedge it in the open tracks inside and out.  It is important that you remove these strips, however, when it rains, as your windows might not drain properly.

5. A carefully placed coating of silicone over screw heads will stop dust from coming in there.

6. As a last resort, as your RV is new, you could contact the dealer and have him reseal the windows or install new ones if these are defective. This should be covered under warranty. It looks like your issue might mean that the type of window you have just doesn’t seal well when you close it. 

I hope this helps.  I will let you know if I come across with any additional ideas.

Best regards,

Lee
RVlivingfulltiime.com