5 Things RV Veterans Wish They Knew Before RVing


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According to Jerry and Cynthia, of the many things that RVing enlightened them with, there are certain revelations, which are inevitable to any amateur RVer.

Here’s our top five things RV Vetarans wish they before buying their own RV.

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  1. Driving an RV is not like driving a Car: Whatever the GPS guarantees you, RVing is a slow drive. When you are on a slow lane, try not to hurry and enjoy the scenery.
  2. ‘Stuff’ that you don’t need:- A common mistake of most RV Veterans, the first RV Packing is  filled half with waste. According to Jerry, having 8 pairs of clothes so that laundry can be done once a week, might seem like a brilliant idea now, but it is the most popular mistake of all RV Veterans too!
  3. However messy you are, you will soon be uber clean: An RVer cannot afford to be messy. Even a little speck of food left unclean can bring an wild mice infestation! 
  4. Repairing will be an everyday Routine whatever super-RV you have:  When you are in a decade old rig, every day there will be a bulb to change, a water leak to fix or an ant hill to burn! Moreover, this is how an RVer becomes a Do It Yourself-er too!
  5. Working on the road is not Flexible as much your imagination says: People think that once on the road, it’s a long stretch of leisure. However, RVing is perpetually, expecting the unexpected, and hence is not even close to a ‘flexible’ schedule!

Check out a video by RVer Chris on things he wish he’d known before RVing. 

Tell us the top five things that you wish you knew before plunging into RVing!

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Comments 39

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  1. I’m within months from pulling the trigger and purchasing a MH to full time in. Your comments gave me something more to think about. What I want to know is, do you find it better to be in a home on the road then to live in an apartment? Even with all the issues that come up!

    1. We lived in our MH for 3 years. Loved it! The best part of rv-travel is not having to pack and unpack, having your own stuff with you, being able to have your pets, not having to stop for little ones who might need a bathroom break or food. And no hassle with the level of cleanliness of hotels and being able to pick up and go whenever you want.

  2. I love living half time in my MH. It’s a compact lifestyle. I pay for an extended warranty every year. It’s not cheap but helps me control my annual costs. The warranty covers all of the expensive stuff that can break like the fridge or the transmission.

  3. Steve: I currently own a 26 ft, 2003 Fleetwood Tioga class C that I purchased in late 2011. We have traveled several times since then, but are now going to be “full-timing” in it. We were thinking of getting a newer Class C….do you have any recommendations as to manufacturer? I am the driver and I’m 67 yrs old & only 5 ft. tall; so I don’t want a big “bus”!! Thank you for your help.

  4. I agree with all of your comments and can relate to most. We had a MH and decided to trade it off as it was starting to need a lot of work. We got so taken in by the salesman and of course it was a limited time frame for the offer on our trade so we took it. We bought brand new thinking of warranty and less issues to deal with. Not. We had every issue possible from levelling jacks to awnings to mud flaps getting into the tires to major leaks and unlimited frustrations. It spent 3 months at the dealership for repairs and every time we went to pick it up something else didn’t work. We bought the extended warranty but it doesn’t cover everything as you soon find out. The workmanship was poor and we paid top dollar. Seems like no pride and we thought Thor was a good brand. We just keep thinking what’s next? And some things, like the monitor panel, we can’t fix. One of our issues is the screws that were used to connect the body to the cab were broken and so with going down the road the seams widened and leaked. Makes you wonder how salesmen sleep at night. And manufacturers. Thanks for listening.

    1. we bought a THOR Palazzo. Leaks from the porch light, leaks in the bedroom. Mushrooms growing on the floor. Dealer not fixing stuff yet said it did. Finally when I was going to take it to arbitration….the builder took over and had a driver pick it up, taking it back north. They found stuff needing to be fixed that I had not noticed yet. A lot of it was too short of nails, etc. When doors fall off, something isn’t right. We had slides that were off kilter, had to replace the motor in one of the slides. Also the big slide had something fixed on it so it sounds much quieter. So go to THOR customer service. Request repairs be done at factory. Do not listen to promises that it will be fixed at a dealer. Those dealers lie! Get a towing /roadside insurance. We had our rig not run due to overheating. The engine stops to limit damage I guess. We were towed 30 miles. more than paid for itself. We had a slide also that would not go in. The guy sent out was not qualified. he caused a lot of damage and an injury to my husband. This year we had the inverter not working right. Called the inverter maker and drove to the repair center. The guy fixed it right away. It was a computer wire/ribbon looking device that had burned out. (items kept shutting off and restarting). Freigtliner fixed the motor issue….something to do with cooling. No charge though it took 10 days. So if you can get your fixing done at truck repair places, trailer repair places and the like, you will do better. But try to get
      THOR to do it, or ask for arbitration. Keep good records , you will need it.

    2. We purchased brand new Jayco Eagle with ridiculous problems and it spent more time in service than on the road. Check your states lemon law and don’t be afraid to use it!

    3. I would never buy new. Check out the used higher level models, so many are traded in or for sale because one or the other can’t travel anymore and are perfect condition. Ours is 14 years old , we bought it 6 years ago and love it. We’ve made several personalization and renovations. I wish I could bend some of those designers ears, they must not use what they design…

    4. Thor sucks. Bargain basement material, but like you we were sucked in by the sales pitch and the idea ofor new. We should have known when a salesman told us to turn up the radio to block out the air noise from the windshield and windows. Thankfully, we were able to get out from under ours.

  5. We purchased a 21-foot Flagstaff Micro Lite in January and have since been across the country, coast to coast and have had zero problems. Everything works well, the company gave us caulking with instructions to check for potential cracking and leaking due to extensive heat and sun. We know it’s our responsibility to check things: They told us what needs to be continually checked before each trip, such as wheel lug nuts tightened, etc. We have extended warranties and roadside assistance, if needed. My husband planned the trip well so that we only had to drive 5-6 hrs. per day, knowing that towing an RV would make travel slower than GPS and Mapquest claim. We got into each stop each afternoon with plenty of time to set up and relax. It was the best trip of my life. We’re looking forward to our next two month stay in Florida. It’s all about the planning and expecting to go with the flow if there are any setbacks. I’d live in it!

    1. I am looking at a Microlight, this helped.. Fl is awesome! I’m from there, just got back. Several awesome camping spots… Ichetchnee Springs, Anestasia State Park, Disneys Campground….etc… Enjoy

  6. Most of our friends and Family know how much we love to travel. I am writing this small article because I have been asked what it it is like so many times.
    A lot of Retirees make big plans on RV Traveling and they buy a big RV and hit the road for the first time. The problems start when they fine that everything is not as easy as they thought. They have to fine a campground, They have to park it,(This can be quite a challenge where it is a Travel Trailer, Fifth Wheeler or a Motorhome backing either one of these can be challenging with a little training and practice it can be made painless.) Level it, Hook all the utilities up. All this can be made easy with experience. I have meet several people who are first timers and are ready to give it up. No one should just retire and jump into RVing. You should make several trips preferable with a RVER to see what it is like. It is a great life style. Traveling by car and staying in Motels and eating out all the time can be very expensive. Not so with an RV.One last thing when picking out the RV make a list of the things you and your spouse whant in the RV. If this RV is going to be your home on the road for years to come make few if any compromises on your wants. It is a great life we love it.
    Gerald and Paula Bru

  7. 1. Never take the dealers (salesman) word for anything. They may say they have “gone through it” but that’s quite vague really. If you’re in a state that requires inspection, the dealer is always going to put an inspection sticker on it. Mine did, and after taking a 2000 mile trip I thought something wasn’t quite right the way it handled. The wheel bearing had so much play I’m fortunate something really bad didn’t happen. Wheel bearings usually wear out progressively, so I’m sure it was not safe when the dealer inspected it. I am talking about a 20 year old rig here, so I didn’t expect perfection, but safety I did expect. So if something doesn’t seem or feel right, take them to task and make them show you or go somewhere else. I wish I had made them jack up the front but I had too much trust. (and I was giddy to get the rig and GO)
    2. I wish I had known how much more spacious a slide or two (or 4) makes the rig feel. Mine is an old Holiday Rambler Endeavor that I got for a real cheap price and it has no slides. I figured it’d be a great rig get into RV-ing with, and is in fact a great experience.
    3. Power! think about what your going to do, as in towing a vehicle, and all the weight you will have in the RV. We have all seen the rigs barreling up a hill towing a full sized pickup or huge trailer easily passing us as we stand on the throttle to just get up that hill with no tow car. Yeah, the high torque diesel pushers! That will be my next MH for sure. Although part of me wishes I had just gone for that to begin with, the funds just weren’t available and I’m actually happy I started with the old rig I have. Cheaper learning experience and once I do spend the money on the diesel, I will have learned a lot and anything stupid I have done that caused damage will (hopefully) have been done on the old rig!
    4. Read, read, read! Also find friends and relatives who have a rig in the similar category you are looking. Ask them questions about what they like and what they would do differently. For me it has always come back to wanting a little more room (back to the slide part again!), and more power! Some folks I have talked to (as well as salesman) hate diesels, say they are higher maintenance, don’t get any better mileage etc… blah blah blah… All personal opinions for the most part. I myself have a diesel pickup (duramax) and I absolutely love that engine and truck. So much so that I sunk 8 grand into the engine last year, so yes I do know that things can be expensive on them. But, they are made to last, well built, and all the big class A’s are built on real “truck” chassis so for me, it will be my future. I love the idea of a 400hp cummins with over 1000 lb/ft of torque knowing I can tow about any vehicle behind me that I choose and get up any mountain easily! Personal preference once again. So read a lot and talk to friends. You may only need a 30′ class C for what you want to do, or maybe a 40 foot diesel pusher, consider everything.
    4. narrow it down to the brands that have a good reputation and maybe a dealer in your area that you have heard great things about. Back to the reading part again here perhaps. What brand do you see more of? Seems Winnebago, Newmar, Holiday Rambler (Monaco), and Tiffin are popular. I know from talking to many RV’ers I have met they all say my old Holiday Rambler is probably better built than a few brands of new units. I didn’t know when I bought it that was considered a pretty damn good coach. I should have, had I done that research, so do the research on the brand reputation!
    5.Anticipate! Be ready to become addicted to the RV life! At 1st it seems all cool and you’re probably thinking of that 1st trip and are all excited about it. Once you get into it you will probably be consumed by all that is the RV life! I know I can’t go a day without thinking of what I can make better in mine, what I can upgrade, I look at ads for newer “pushers” constantly. I have been introduced to the idea of “full timing” and “Workamping” and I must say I can see that future! I have even started the process of selling off everything that I can’t take with me just to get to that point! So none of this I knew about when deciding to buy the old rig, it’s all stuff that has progressed in the short couple months I have been doing it. Be prepared for an addiction and quite possibly a whole life changing metamorphosis to happen!
    Happy RV-ing Folks, see you on the road!

  8. I can add to the Thor problems. The trim that hides the screws on the door goes to flapping as we drive. Using electrical tape to secure. Also the motor in the awning is not working. It started banging on the side of the rig, the awning. It hung down for 6 inches or so. Secured it with plastic loop ties. I see that there are motor issues on a recall. Of course got to find the serial number for that. So when you buy something brand new, you expect it to not fall apart right away. I am having problems with the foot board trim on the slide in the bedroom. Also that board as it works loose every trip, has sharp tiny nails poking thru that scratch up the wood base of the bed.

    1. Recall on the motor? What year and model do you have? We have a 2016 Thor Ace that just had a shower curtain recalled but I’m not aware of any motor recall. Thanks!

  9. We have a class C 22 foot Regal by Triple E and we absolutely love it! My husband had a good quality solar panel installed on the roof and he attached a converter on the RV battery so we can plug in a few little things, hair blow brush, coffee grinder etc. even when we are not plugged in. We previously owned a 28 foot Le Chateau and it was too big and the space was not utilized as well as our 22 foot. We recommend a shorter one 22-24 feet. It is all you need and so much easier to drive and park. We use ours all year through.

  10. As with any new unit regardless of make or price, there will be issues. Camping world seems to have alot of issues with service incompetent employees, but I’m sure it is not limited to just that company. As with any new to you unit take it out for a few nights and try EVERYTHING. Make a list, and demand that the issues be taken care of asap. Get vocal if need be.most of all, learn how things are supposed to work, it makes explaining to a service writer that much easier.

  11. CRITICAL: Make sure to know the weight carrying capacities of the RV. Pay attention to the Occupant Cargo Carrying Capacity (OCCC) and the total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Especially on Class B and Cs but Class A’s can have issued too.

    Example: My Class C exceeds the max allowed front axle weight (GAWR) if I fill the fresh water tank, and that is before the driver and passenger even get onboard! And it is considered one of the better quality RVs.

    You may find OCCC as low as 700 lbs which includes the people, fresh water and all your stuff! Water is 8.3 lbs a gallon. A 30 gallon tank full weighs around 250 lbs.

    Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
    Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (OCCC)
    Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
    Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)

    Google them and educate yourself. This is something manufacturers don’t talk about.
    Ask questions of the dealer. “How much can I carry?”

    There have been lawsuits because an RV was over the GVWR before they were driven off the lot empty. Too much weight and it becomes unsafe at any speed. Tires blow and breaking distances increase. Another thing to be aware of, tire inflation is directly affected by weight. More weight means higher PSI may be required.

    Learn as much as you can. It’s not just your life on the line, it may be mine too.

  12. Hi, Chris!
    I wish we had your information before we bought a ‘show model’ at the annual RV show. Since it had all the bells and whistles, the dealership was in learning mode about several things. After 2 years of occasional use, the house on wheels has spent more time in the shop than we’ve had on the road. We went to a new shop to have it winterized and learned to our dismay that we have a blocked black tank because we didn’t know to not automatically open the valve upon hookup. Now the levelers are jammed in the up position. We now have a to-do list for Spring.

  13. He should do a little more research. Class A motor homes and class C motors are on entirely different chassis. Although they can both have the same v-10 motor they are not the same(2 vs 3 valve). Diff torque and horse power. Not all motor homes are created equal you almost always get what you pay for.

  14. We have traveled 3000 miles this last summer. The only issue was a blow out, and yes. Damage from the blowout. Our Forrest River is serving us well. Question: for long tern RVing, travel trainer or actual Class A/C? Which is more conducive for National Park summer tour?

  15. Sorry wrong email address. Your comment is awaiting moderation
    If jacks don’t keep rv’s up then read owners manual. It tells you to extend jacks all the way and bleed out any possible air that got into the system. Worked for me. Our motor burnt out another time. Good luck

  16. We bought 2002 Monaco knight in June. 36 foot diesel pusher. Cummins engine and Allison transmission. We love it . Has 2 slides. Bedroom slide needs seal replaced. The owner told me when I bought it. I have a good rv repairman that comes to my house when I need. We are having trouble finding the seal.. I had it winterize last week and put a full cover over it! Made me sad to put it to sleep for the winter but that’s part of it unless you can snowbird. I have had a few minor problems with it but it is our first diesel and we love it. We have been married 34 years and had several rvs over the years. This is the best one!

  17. Know your rights (especially about the warranty and extended warranty), because the dealerships WILL try to scam you. Our first year with our trailer we noticed that the kitchen faucet didn’t have much pressure, so at the end of the season we took it in to be looked at. A month later (!) dealership came back saying the faucet had to be replaced and wanted to charge $400. My husband looked over our warranty, discovered that it did indeed covered all the plumbing etc, went in and when he started asking questions they got really snarky…so he called the warranty office right then and there…dealership got quite antsy. Then the warranty office asked to speak with the rep and took a strip off him. Needless to say, the work was done without cost to us…my husband told them he wanted to keep the old faucet as well and when they asked why, he blatantly told them that he expected that they would try and reuse it on some other unsuspecting RV owner and then charge them full price for it.
    The bigger the unit, the less places you can stay (and the more difficult to get in place, especially tight spots, like small roundabouts).
    Always have a drill/tool kit easily accessible (our slides stopped working…thankfully we were still at home and could explore and figure it out in relative comfort…but even then, if it happens on the road, it’s easy to manually get them open or closed if you have the tools and know how).
    Keep all manuals and anything related to your RV in a zippered binder with pen and paper. This becomes the bible. And read those manuals/ put notes in the margins until you understand them!

  18. Buy used top brand like Newmar or Tiffan. They can’t be beat. We have a 2007 Newmar 5th wheel and it’s never leaked, never have problems with the slides. We’ve only have to replace front jacks on it. Gourgeous high quality. I’ve heard amazing things about Tiffan and would defiantly consider them if buying a Class A.

  19. Lets talk about Tiffin. Most Tiffin dealers are knowledgeable but all service depts have the same problem…..finding qualified techs. When a salesman says something that doesn’t seem right, call him out. And don’t be afraid to walk. Service at Tiffin, in Red Bay and on the phone, is second to none. Name another brand that you can talk to the owner/president personally. Parts and service advice, whether you are there or on the road is first class. I can’t imagine doing without this kind of response. If you’ve ever been to a factory of any RV, you’ll know why some problems are inevitable due to the complexity of the systems. It’s how they are handled that counts. #Tiffinisbest

  20. I have a 2016 Monaco diploma. I have owned it 1 year and it’s been in the shop 11 months. It has roof leaks and growing mold in ceiling and walls. Factory tried to fix it twice and then a place in Florida tried to fix. Still poor water in. Factory wants to repair patches of ceiling. I might add that this is just 1 of 187 things which is on my repair list. I also might add this is my 2 2016 because the first one caught fire on my first trip out with it. I love raving but once arbitration is over and I’m out of this piece of junk I am through with raving. It’s a shame that manufacturers are not held to any standard. What’s even more sad is how Rv owners excuse it and so it’s just part of owning an rv. What every profession was held to that standard. Something needs to be done.

  21. Try Tiffin Motor Coach. We are on our 3rd one. We keep upgrading. Any problems call Customer Service and they listen and ship the parts out the next day. My husband can fix most problems. We have a 40 foot Phaeton now and love it. Switched from a bath and a half to one large bathroom. My only complaint it the toilet is right over the waste tank and upon flushing you get a quick smell . Does not last but a few seconds but it is annoying to me.

  22. Lots of great information above in the other comments. The best advice I can give is research, research, research! The time you put in before will be the time AND money you save in the end. There are great resources out there now. Facebook has several groups, join them and read. BEFORE you buy, rent a few to: 1.) see if you can stomach the black tank 2.) see if it is what you thought it would be 3.) probably most important, every different one that you LIVE IN for a week will tell you if you like the layout, storage, features etc.

    If you are going to use it then it makes sense to buy it. We were very close to pulling the trigger once, then stepped back and thought we would only use it three times a year. That’s a lot of money just sitting there for that. So we rented for the once / twice a year trips. We got quite an education in doing that. By learning as much as you can you have less buyer’s remorse after the sale.

  23. I have had nothing but good information and super assistance from Tiffin service in Alabama as I’ve called many times with simple questions. I even called to ask about buying aftermarket cushions for the dinette due to wear. They asked for pictures and drop shipped a new dinette within the week. We’ve had the normal little issues but nothing serious. Extended warranty has taken care of the bills. I am thoroughly happy with our Allegro 31SA. We had a Thor Class C prior to this that I couldn’t wait to unload….serious lack of quality.

  24. Just purchased a forest river 5th wheel from Camping World Statesville, NC 3 moths ago. This is a brand new middle bunk unit. Has been at camping World for the entire 3 months minus 1 week. Camping World has the worst service department I have ever seen. And the most inexperienced ones at that. DO NOT DO NOT buy from CAMPING WORLD! They give you nothing but lies and excuses. You cannot get anyone from corporate on the phone. They stand behind nothing they sell. We had three pages of defects. Things from leak in sky light, air conditioner stopped working after 30 minutes of use, torn seal on slide out, bubble paint on front cab, closet door falling off and the list goes on. RUN DO NOT WALK! RUN FROM CAMPING WORLD!!!!

  25. I’ve RVed 40 plus years. Only age took me off the road. My recommendation is to join and attend a RV club. One thing it makes you do is get your rig on the road every month or two, minimum. Plus the friendships made are lasting. I had 6 units with very few problems with any of them.

  26. Before you buy, rent an RV, take a trip and see what you think! You may not like it. But you might just love it! We never did go full time, but for a few years our card said “half-timers.” We were blessed to travel to all but two of the continental US states: North Dakota and Minnesota!
    Regarding buying an RV, try to get an experienced RVer to give you advise. Ask about everything!! Make a written list of items, stove, refrigerator, heat pumps and/or furnace, fantastic fans, methods of cleaning and size of black water and gray water, size of engine, of mh, tires (age of tires,) This is only a small list of things. There are hundreds of things to find out. It’s a lot of work, but very exciting! Be careful and have fun!
    ,

  27. Ive been full time for 9 years,,, 1/2 to 3/4 full time for 30 plus years. I have owned over a dozen types of RV, Class A,class C, B/P and 5th. I still have my 85 5th wheel and its built like a tank. The newest rig I have owned and SOLD quickly was a 2102 50 ft custom 6 slide 5th wheel. $100,000.00 plus, and was so cheaply built, trim would fall off,, eat up wheel bearings, Under rated axles, leaking water heater, noisy furnace, vibrating a/c units (3) of them. Clearance lights and tail light lenses would fall off, Slides that was operated by a key fob, and would get all cally wompus and bind,, shutting the whole works down,,, couldnt just operate one slide at a time,, they all had to work in series, 1 then the other, then the other and so on,, same way in reverse., Heartlands customer service was non existent. Dealer would keep it for weeks at a time and say that the parts I need cant be found, but for said amount of dollars they can *fix it another way… I bet they could. I had a buyer walk up, make a nice offer and I handed him the title, cash in hand and said good luck. I have found the OLDER rigs are built better and regular maintenance is the key to keep them up,, Its like a house,, if ya let the roof leak, you have more problems,, and like a car,, if you drive it on a flat tire for a long distance, you get more damage,,, 90% is common sense. Lastly,, If your just going to jump in it and drive or pull it till the wheels fall off and then complain that its junk when you dont take care of it,, You DONT NEED THE RV LIFE.

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