Somewhere in northeastern Romania. Photo taken November 30, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Not sure. We're staying in Chisinau for a week or so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What does it cost to buy an older RV?

Ruth was having a discussion on a facebook forum the other day, and someone was arguing with her about what it costs to buy and maintain an older RV. This guy pretty much called Ruth a liar when she told him that we've never had anything major go wrong with Sherman in the nearly ten years that we've owned him.

He also said that in those ten years we probably could have bought a new motorhome with the amount we've spent on repairs and maintenance. Which obviously is ridiculous.

But I've kept track of how much we've spent, ever since day one. And, it's a kind of an interesting exercise going over those figures. (Note that the following figures are all in $CAD, and of course the exchange rate has varied a lot over the past ten years. For $USD equivalent, you could probably subtract about 15% on average).

Back in 2007, here's what we spent to purchase Sherman in the U.S., officially import him in to Canada, and do the maintenance to get him ready for our first big trip...
  • Purchase: 13,083.51
  • GST:     781.49
  • PST:           1,041.98
  • A/C tax:              100.00
  • VIN Check:       33.00
  • GM recall search:       26.00
  • E-test:     106.00
  • RIV:              206.70
  • Running Lights:     200.00
  • Service and safety:     876.10
Total $ 16,454.78

Sherman was ten years old when we bought him, and he had 25,000 miles (40,000 kms) on the odometer. Now, he has 91,000 miles (145,000 kms).

Over the years, the most money has been spent on tires, and front end work. The 80's and 90's Chevrolet P30 chassis is notorious for front suspension problems. And we've probably made it worse by taking him on some of the roads that we have! We've had a lot of ball joints changed and a few wheel alignments as well. Of course those things can be expected over the course of nine years and 66,000 miles.

The very first day we met Sherman, in August of 2007.

In total for repairs and maintenance over the years, we have spent $8,800. Just under $1,000 per year on average. That includes everything but solar and batteries. Tires, brakes, suspension, oil changes, fridge parts, furnace parts, engine tune up parts...everything.

Now admittedly, it has saved us some money that I have done a lot of the repairs myself. Owning an RV, it is a huge benefit to be mechanically inclined! The only thing that stops me from doing any repair is the lack of the proper tools and equipment to do the job. It's hard to be accurate, but I would guess we've saved about $5,000 in labor costs over the years because I've been able to repair or replace something myself rather than paying someone to do it.

So, in total we have spent $25,254 to own and operate this motorhome. Certainly far less than the cost of a new one. And even if we had bought a new one, over the course of ten years the new one would have also required it's fair share of repair and maintenance on top of the original cost.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I always thought that having a metal detector would be a great hobby for an RV'er. Of course a good quality machine can cost upwards of $500, but you don't need to spend that much money to get started and find out if it's something you would like to do. In fact, you can buy a starter unit for pretty cheap money!

Winbest Pro Edition Metal Detector by BARSKA

And in Canada...

Barska BE11638 Winbest Pro Edition Metal Detector



38 comments:

  1. We love hearing about your adventures & helpful hints of RV ownership.
    We only Use our RV part time. Although we did stay in it for about 6 months while waiting for our home to be built. This is RV # 5 for us. We began with a pop up camper, then a 1979 23' class C, # 3 was a 1999 29' Class C, #4, a 32' Bounder Class A, finally #5 a 2007 Deisel. We have traveled every state except Alaska & Hawaii. It has been a fun adventure from the late 70's to present!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you have been enjoying the RV life even if it is only part time. Glad you have been getting out there and having fun!

      Delete
  2. I used to love shutting down anyone who had issues with RV mileage with, "Well, it does get good mileage for a house." and that was that.
    There's always the possibility of getting an out and out lemon when buying any vehicle, but proper preventative maintenance can go a long way in keeping an older vehicle on the road, without breaking the bank. Keep on truckin'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your response to the gas mileage!

      Yes, anyone can get a lemon, old or new. For people who aren't handy with mechanical stuff, then they are probably better off getting something new or almost new that still has the warranty on it. Unless they don't mind paying someone to do the work and that could still work out cheaper in the long run than buying new.

      Have to totally agree with you on the preventative maintenance work, it definitely pays to keep ahead of it rather than waiting for it to break and being stuck at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

      Delete
  3. Interesting yes, agree with you 100 percent.
    We have spent a total of about $27,850.00 (Canadian funds)In repairs and maintenance over 10 years that includes labor on our 1999 Hoilday Rambler. That we bought in 2006 for $55,000.00 with 35,000 miles on it, now has 125,000 (201,000 KMS) miles on it. (it was listed at over $150,000.00 new.) We have replaced our fridge, tires twice (12 altogether) complete brake job, exhaust manifold studs, generator repairs, oil changes, grease jobs, in tank fuel pump, slide out motor, electric step repair, levelling jack repair, batteries, converter, automatic transfer switch and a few more minor repairs. It is our fulltime house 12 months of the year, so really we are like you way ahead of the game, considering a lot of those repairs would need to be done on a 17 year old coach even if you bought it new, And has served us wonderfully, with many more miles left in. So compared to buying it new we are still ahead , Saved over 95 k on the purchase price and either coach would be worth about the same right now, if looked after properly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds about right, and we agree that much of the maintenance has to be done an all vehicles, new and used! Definitely still ahead of the game and you keep your motorhome shiny as can be, no one would realize that it is as old as it is.

      Delete
  4. For those of us that live in our "RV homes" I would love to compare our maintenance and repair costs with any of the those who have "sticks and bricks homes", I know for a fact we spend waaaay less per year in our RV! Oh yeah, and our real estate taxes are waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy better!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, that would be another good comparison post to do but now that it has been 9 years since owning a house we would have no idea what the yearly upkeep on a house would be anymore. Definitely for the majority of full timers, it would be way cheaper and you get to have a new view out your window as often as you choose to move. :-)

      Delete
  5. Those telling Ruth that are just trying to justify their own purchase of a new rig... Sherman looks amazing in your various pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, you are probably right! I actually had two guys arguing the fact that we couldn't possibly have had nothing major go on our motorhome having traveled that many miles and it being "older" then one guy proceeded to tell me about his friend who bought a new motorhome and the problems he has had, I basically said "then, I rest my case!" because the new motorhome has had way more problems than our old one. :-)

      Sherman is amazing no matter where he is!

      Delete
  6. That's the issue with forums, someone always likes to cause trouble. Even if you had to pay for the work you have done on it you definitely got a bargain. Same as everything else, just because something is new doesn't mean it will last a long time. If something is well taken care of and maintained it will definitely cost you less in the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You totally right Cheapchick! We think that a lot of these new RVs are made much more cheaply than our older model one because they are always trying to find ways of cutting their costs on the production of RV's. Kevin describes some of the newer trailers and 5th wheels as nothing more than cardboard boxes on wheels. That's not saying that they are all made like that though, some brands are certainly more solid and well made.

      Delete
  7. You've done very well at keeping your costs down and you have it in black and white to prove it. The person on the forum probably drives with the pedal to the metal no mater what the road conditions are causing his own problems. Then again there are those Know-It-All types that know everything better than yourself even if it was your trade and they have never done it in their lives. You never make them happy so don't try.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin works hard at keeping our costs down, not only by doing as much of the work himself but also with trying to find the best possible price he can for the parts he needs and for the tools that he may have to buy in order to do the repair/maintenance.

      I think what bothered me more than anything was the fact that this guy and another one on the same forum didn't believe me when I said that we hadn't had a major problem with our motorhome even though it is now 20 years old and has 91,000 miles on it. I don't care if I can't make them happy, that's their problem, not mine! :-)

      Delete
  8. I'm glad most don't see it my way. If they did the places I go would be to crowded and full of people like me. Brrrrrrrrrr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry Debra, we don't quite understand your comment, perhaps you posted it on the wrong blog post.

      Delete
  9. Everyone has different spending habits. My habits are buying an asset that depreciates so quickly. I'm always looking through RvTrader and notice the number of ten year old diesel pushers. Started out new at 300K and 10 years later can be had for 65K.

    Also, a motorhome like Sherman is a good buy. It has an engine that is easy to repair and no major bells and whistles. Some of the 40 foot buses must have wiring harnesses similar to an aircraft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly Chris. I wanted an RV that was easy (and therefore inexpensive) to repair. Parts are usually easy to come by, and there are no slideouts or automatic levelling jacks...the two most common things to break on a motorhome!

      Delete
  10. Hope we have equal luck with Serenity. Starting her off at 39600 kms .. I will report back in 10 years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We hope you do as well, Barry! Just be sure to do all the regular maintenance to it when it needs it and try to stay ahead of things. Learn how things work and do your research on the internet as much as possible because many times you can fix the problem yourself without having to take it to a repair place. Look forward to your reports down the road.

      Delete
  11. Sort of off topic :), but I was wondering if you use any particular site when you are searching for the best deals on airplane tickets. You always seem to find great deals. Thanks for any help!
    Thanks for the heads up on the metal detector, too! We were just discussing this week that we wanted to get one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is a post we did a couple of years ago that may be able to help www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2014/05/how-to-get-best-airfare-deals.html.

      Kevin has talked about wanting to get a metal detector too, he thinks it would be sorta neat to have. I think he hopes that he will be the one that will find that very rare coin! ;-)

      Delete
  12. Woke up at 4am.... now I gonna have to go down and added up our repairs to see too. I don't think I will ads the improvement things like solar and catalytic heater etc. Just the repair and maintenance stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay. I had to add ours up. We bought it in 2006, it was 10 years old too, and had 22,000 miles

      I totaled up and we spent $10,193 over the last ten years, including tires, batteries, repairs, oil & tranny fluid changes, brakes, engine sensors and all odds n ends. I didn't include upgrades like solar or heater or furniture.

      Our purchase price was higher because it was a diesel pusher, but it has dropped drastically since in value We paid $75,000 and its only worth about $30,000 now.

      Next week we are paying $500 towards deductible for two new windshields, when and if they find the right sizes LOL

      $10,000 over ten years for about 60,000 miles of fun, adventure, vacations and enjoyment---- PRICELESS!!!!

      Delete
    2. We didn't really add any of the upgrades to our expenses either, although Kevin did add in the airbags which was technically an upgrade because we never had them to begin with. Just goes to show ya, that you can buy used and have a great vehicle for a whole lot less than a new one. You and Steve have both done lots to your motorhome to make it perfect for you both and again, you are lucky that you are both so handy. I do have to say that, that makes a huge difference in buying something used. Many happy miles ahead for you both. :-)

      Delete
  13. I am not so lucky. 2005 I bought my motorhome Fleetwood Flair 23' with 25.000 miles and paid US-$ 15.600. Since 2009 I am mostly on the road. Now I have 77.500 miles on my odometer. I can't repair ANYTHING by myself. I had to change tires twice, got 2 solar panels installed and had many other repairs. Alone since May 15 of this year I have already paid $ 2300. Just yesterday the alternator got bad ($385). Tomorrow I have an appointment for a check of my ONAN generator. The output is 134 volt and increasing which is too high (may be the voltage regulator bad or ??). For 8 years and 50.000 miles my repairs are $19.533. That means app. $ 2500 per year. My travels are quite often interrupted by repairs but anyhow I love to be on the road!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering that you have to pay someone to do the work, we think that you have still been better off with your used vehicle than if you had bought something new. Keep in mind that some of the work that you have had done would have to be done on a new vehicle as well, such as the tires and tires on the new RV's are WAY more expensive than the tires you have to buy for your motorhome which is something else to keep in mind. So even at $2300 a year, we would say you are still better off with your motorhome than if you bought new. Even new ones have to spend time in shops for regular maintenance and possible repairs.

      Delete
  14. A lot of RVers only buy new, misbelieving that all used vehicles are problematic in some way, and will cost a fortune to repair and maintain. They think a new warranty will insulate them from big expenses, when the reality is, RV warranties are notoriously short, exclude uses like "fulltiming" and even "dirt roads", and often require exorbitant "scheduled maintenance" by so-called "professionals"---just to maintain the warranty!

    If you are the least bit handy, you can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the vehicle by buying a good used rig and doing all the necessary maintenance and minor repairs yourself. I realize not everyone has the desire, wherewithal and confidence to do this, but it's remarkably easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an excellent way to look at buying new and I bet many people don't even think of that!

      And for some people they would just rather buy new no matter what. I saw one response to the question on facebook and the lady said new because she didn't want someone else's germs, dirt and hair and nobody has slept in the bed. You can can get the place fumigated, steam cleaned and buy a new bed for a lot less than the cost of new but to each his own.

      Delete
    2. Makes me wonder what kind of house/environment some folks was born and raised in. Seems like that the ones that want all the best of everything grew up with nothing but want to buy the best for a little to no money. Watch HGTV's House Hunters and you'll see Princess wants her own walk-in closet, granite countertops/stainless steel appliances but HE is the one that does the cooking and has to use the closet in another room for his clothes. And, her budget is $125k. No upgrades, ah, well, she demands that it be gutted before she can live there. I have to say, if I was the husband, I'd have to take a walk. I'm a 70 year old woman.

      Delete
  15. One other good thing about buying used is you can afford to change things to make it your own. When my DH and I were looking for a travel trailer he told me that if I could find a "GOOD" used one then I could do everything I wanted to decorate it. Well I did find a great used one and ended up just spending $5000.00 US for it! Yea, I had a blast fixing it up along with DH's help for some things.
    We can't go out at all now, DH is very ill and we've sold most of the toys but I refuse to sell the TT, some day I may get to go camping/RVing again.
    KLO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown - KLO - Please Don't give up~ - some way, somehow, some day - I hope you and DH are able to travel again. God Bless! Enjoy life, while we are able!

      Delete
    2. You are totally right, with the money that you save you can sure can do a lot to an RV, depending on the reason for buying used. For some people they have to buy used because they don't have the money to buy new and they may not have the money to do lots of upgrades/changes to it either but at least they can still afford to buy something and hopefully not have to borrow to do it.

      I hope things improve for your husband, please don't loss hope. And thank you Pat, for those kind words to KLO.

      Delete
  16. Buy used and save the difference. Not sure whatever happened to being frugal, but it seems to be a lost art anymore or at least for many. We have been laughed at by our families for scaling "down".....my husband grew up in a logging shack without a bathroom and I grew up sharing a bedroom with my sister and 1 bathroom for 5 of us. Today it seems like everyone in the family is supposed to have their own 1000 sq ft of living space, private bathroom, etc. I don't know if people just have too much money to spend or what it is. I enjoy the simplicity and peace of LESS! And if you can find something used for half the price that is in good condition it's a no brainer as to which is the better buy. We are not out to impress the neighbors or the other people driving down the road, so newness doesn't matter to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure that there are too many "frugal" people out there anymore. I have seen where people have used the word inexpensive and put a price and we look at each other and shake our heads because we don't find that price as inexpensive. I guess everyone has different standards for being frugal. I like your statement of "enjoy the simplicity for less"! Maybe people do have too much money or lots of debt but like you we will always try to buy for less providing it is a good product and a good deal.

      Delete
  17. "Lucy"..My 28yr old Winnie Superchief has 115,000 miles..55K by us in 10 years.
    Changed fluids and went with synthetics..No major problems whatsoever!!
    P-30..454...Still has 50# oil pressure..Runs sweet..Trans serviced 2 yrs ago.Fluids looked swell..
    They heck with a new one..Happy-happy here..
    Upriverdavid

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like your old motorhome is treating you well too! These older models we think are just better made and if you treat them right and do regular maintenance on them before you have a problem then we think that they can just keep on running. We would NEVER buy a new one!

      Delete

We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...