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Old 03-26-2012, 09:14 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
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Hi,
I am seriously considering buying a used Class C RV.
It will be a home of sorts for me and for my dog.
I'm a woman and i know very little about cars and know even less about rv's and i'm concerned about making a foolish purchase.
I travel between California and Idaho a few times a year and for some reason i'm thinking that i can find a better deal in Idaho (either Twin Falls or the Boise area) than i can in California. That may be totally wrong however.
Anyway, i think that i want to spend around 10K although i'd go a bit higher if necessary.
I know so little that i don't even know what intelligent questions to ask.
I was looking on a web-site in the Boise area and saw a '75 Winnebago Minnie for $9,858 and it has 52,000 miles on it.
The mileage is relatively low but i certainly didn't think that i had to buy a vehicle that old to be in my price range.
That seems really expensive for a 37 year old vehicle.
Can anyone give me some clues about Class C rv's and about buying a used one? Then maybe i can at least begin to ask some relevant / intelligent questions?
Thank you.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Full time RV"er
2,403 posts, read 5,618,432 times
Reputation: 1459
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaijai View Post
Hi,
I am seriously considering buying a used Class C RV.
It will be a home of sorts for me and for my dog.
I'm a woman and i know very little about cars and know even less about rv's and i'm concerned about making a foolish purchase.
I travel between California and Idaho a few times a year and for some reason i'm thinking that i can find a better deal in Idaho (either Twin Falls or the Boise area) than i can in California. That may be totally wrong however.
Anyway, i think that i want to spend around 10K although i'd go a bit higher if necessary.
I know so little that i don't even know what intelligent questions to ask.
I was looking on a web-site in the Boise area and saw a '75 Winnebago Minnie for $9,858 and it has 52,000 miles on it.
The mileage is relatively low but i certainly didn't think that i had to buy a vehicle that old to be in my price range.
That seems really expensive for a 37 year old vehicle.
Can anyone give me some clues about Class C rv's and about buying a used one? Then maybe i can at least begin to ask some relevant / intelligent questions?
Thank you.
The first thing you have to consider is the climate in California ( lots of sunshine) and that in Idaho ( Snow and rain). 2nd is, more choices of RV's in California then Idaho = lower prices. $9,858.00 does seem like a lot. Just my thought, in 2007 I bought a 40 ft 5 wheel Big Sky Montana for $26,000. The same yr RV for sale out side of CA were $38,000 to $40,000 and not in as good condition.
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:27 AM
 
1,477 posts, read 4,736,564 times
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Heck no, you should be able to find class C units somewhere between 1990-2000 (maybe newer) in that 10-12K range all day long, they might not be in Idaho or California but there are a ton of them out there...Just start checking some of the RV for sale web pages and hundreds of units for sale will pop up......Used class C RV's are hard to sale (just not a large market for them) so you will have your choice of units to choose from......Just dont over pay!!!!!....Dont pay more than a few percent over wholesale value at most..

Since you know very little about RV's you should visit a few RV shows or at least visit a few RV dealers and look at new class C units so you know what is out there....many RV dealers offer free classes which teach you the in's and out's of RV'ing...take a few of those free classes so you know how everything operates on an RV so you have an idea what to look for when looking at used RV's....then once you start your search and you find a few you like hire an RV inspector to go with you to look at them so he/she can find out what is wrong with that unit and what it will take to fix any problems....its well worth the few hundred bucks you will have to pay.....as that person may save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Last edited by rtandc; 03-27-2012 at 07:54 AM..
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
Reputation: 2035
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fighter 1 View Post
The first thing you have to consider is the climate in California ( lots of sunshine) and that in Idaho ( Snow and rain). 2nd is, more choices of RV's in California then Idaho = lower prices. $9,858.00 does seem like a lot. Just my thought, in 2007 I bought a 40 ft 5 wheel Big Sky Montana for $26,000. The same yr RV for sale out side of CA were $38,000 to $40,000 and not in as good condition.
That makes sense.
I don't know why i figured they'd be less pricey in Idaho.
I had a plan to drive up with a friend, buy an rv in Idaho, do some camping up there and then have my friend drive the rv back to California but it seems like it may make sense to shop in California instead.
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
Reputation: 2035
Quote:
Originally Posted by rtandc View Post
Heck no, you should be able to find class C units somewhere between 1990-2000 (maybe newer) in that 10-12K range all day long, they might not be in Idaho or California but there are a ton of them out there...Just start checking some of the RV for sale web pages and hundreds of units for sale will pop up......Used class C RV's are hard to sale (just not a large market for them) so you will have your choice of units to choose from......Just dont over pay!!!!!....Dont pay more than a few percent over wholesale value at most..

Since you know very little about RV's you should visit a few RV shows or at least visit a few RV dealers and look at new class C units so you know what is out there....many RV dealers offer free classes which teach you the in's and out's of RV'ing...take a few of those free classes so you know how everything operates on an RV so you have an idea what to look for when looking at used RV's....then once you start your search and you find a few you like hire an RV inspector to go with you to look at them so he/she can find out what is wrong with that unit and what it will take to fix any problems....its well worth the few hundred bucks you will have to pay.....as that person may save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
That's what i had in my mind ... a late 90's / 2000+ class C for around 10 - 12K.
That you say they are hard to sell is discouraging because one of the things that was helping me to justify this purchase was the notion that i could easily sell it when i wanted to.
I do plan to go visit some RV dealers and look at the Class C's.
That's cool that there are classes available.
Do RV inspectors also inspect the mechanical aspects of the vehicle (like the engine, axle's, tires, etc.) or do they only inspect the unit (if you know what i mean)?
I'd gladly spend a little extra money to know that i was getting a good product.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:03 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,773 posts, read 37,441,293 times
Reputation: 20763
The 70's versions are $3000 or less. (And will require significant updates / repair... brittle plastic components, leaky / loose structure), but... many will be a good deal.

I would try to find something that is well built (panels of fiberglass rather than metal, and aluminum structure rather than wood).

I think you will find better stuff in CA, AZ, NV than ID (freezing temps and HAIL damage).

MANY folks are unloading them as fuel prices climb.

I would REALLY consider your needs, as Class B is a whole lot easier to travel / fuel / park / sell. AND having a trailer at your destination is another choice, and fly back and forth (Or drive an econo-car).

My mom just loved her Roadtrek (B) even tho she had 5th wheel and several NICE class A's

I have a very nice rig (small C) that I call the Ultimate Woman's Motorhome. 18-20 mpg, parks in std stall, and is fully self contained (Tho I REALLY like my outdoor shower & modular sewing center). Rialta Heaven - Welcome - Rialta Eurovan Camper, VW Rialta Camper, Used Camper Van
(there are some quirks, but good users groups, and with an added $100 transmission cooler you should be good for a few hundred thousand miles).

I have sold a few for elderly friends, and the older ones (pre 1998 with 5 cyl) are quite cheap.<$10k. You can get a really nice newer one for $25k, and with high fuel prices they hold their value quite well. (they quit making them in 2005 IIRC)

They are NO GOOD off road or in Snow (frt wheel drive). They will fit into a shipping container. One friend shipped his to Denmark few yrs ago, and flys back and forth to use it.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:06 PM
 
10,868 posts, read 41,128,193 times
Reputation: 14009
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaijai View Post
That's what i had in my mind ... a late 90's / 2000+ class C for around 10 - 12K.
That you say they are hard to sell is discouraging because one of the things that was helping me to justify this purchase was the notion that i could easily sell it when i wanted to.
I do plan to go visit some RV dealers and look at the Class C's.
That's cool that there are classes available.
Do RV inspectors also inspect the mechanical aspects of the vehicle (like the engine, axle's, tires, etc.) or do they only inspect the unit (if you know what i mean)?
I'd gladly spend a little extra money to know that i was getting a good product.
Your "best" markets for a used Class C will be in those areas where there are a lot of them used by folk for retirement travels. Look into snowbird areas where folk set up seasonal cities of use ... throughout the SW USA or SE.
SoCal, Arizona, and New Mexico are typical areas where these opportunities abound compared to the much more limited markets in places like Idaho. Of course, you must figure the cost and time of bringing the RV from where you may be buying it to where you need to base it as part of your acquisition.

In my experience, the folk who service/work on RV's specialize in the RV components and systems on the vehicles and not the vehicle running gear, chassis, engines, etc. A thorough inspection will require that you have the vehicle mechanically checked out by an automotive shop that works on RV's and then the RV systems by an RV shop.

There's many checks that you can perform yourself as part of a "pre-buy" inspection. Use every system in the RV, open/close all windows, drawers, cabinets, use the stove, bathroom, kitchen appliances, etc. Look for obvious damage to the components, look inside for apparent water damage from leaking exterior body, check all the lights, etc. Do this type of inspection on several RV's and then it will start to be a routine inspection of common sense.

After having narrowed down your purchase choices to a number of suitable/affordable RV's, pick the one that you think you like the best and have it checked out by the pro's. Compare what you found on your inspection with theirs, and now you have a baseline in what to be looking for next time. If the first vehicle meets your requirements, then so be it. If not, keep looking.

There is a baseline value for classes of RV's; ie, Minnie Winnie's (as an example) of certain years all are worth about the same amount of money, adjusted for miles, options, condition, cosmetic appearance, etc. If you find one asked at a lot lower price than what you see as an average, you need to uncover the reason(s). Does the vehicle have defects that need repair to make it sericeable for your needs? Is it just a distress situation where the seller is willing to get rid of it for a low price? Or maybe you'll find one that is higher priced but in immaculate ... if not almost unused ... condition. Is the prospect of a better remaining service life worth the cost to you?

I did a lot of searching last year for my RV and the market wasn't especially active, but the lower end price points seemed rather stable. Folk weren't going to give away their RV's even if they weren't using them very much or couldn't afford to use them. At that, the "distress deals" that I found were still $10-20,000 (and more) over my price range which was similar to yours.

I think you do need to do your research into what your expectations are for the RV. A Class C RV can be a lot of space for a single person, and you pay for having that luxury of space, storage, facilities every mile you drive it down the road, even in the smaller Class C's. Various floor plans may appeal to you more than others, but for the most part, you'll find that if the equipment/interior is all there, you can be comfortable and accomodated in almost all of the models.

You may want to look at a Class B RV, which can be as fully equipped but with less interior space/volume. That's what I settled on because I use mine for business travels & calling on clients; it allows me to park easily in regular parking lots and stealth camp when needed while still allowing me to camp in state and fed parks overnight. I get an average between 15.5 mpg to 18 mpg, depending upon the winds in the area and how much in town driving I do compared to over the road. It was the same price to get an early 1990's Class B as a Class C, but it costs me a lot less to insure, operate, and maintain. Plus it costs a lot less to heat it in the winter months.

I'd also mention that if you are planning on summer travels in your RV, that the overhead bunk arrangements in the front of many Class C's can be uncomfortably hot. Unless you can park it in shade, these aren't a lot of fun for an extended vacation trip ... even with shore power or a generator running an A/C unit. The concept of using the space for that function to keep the rest of the RV on an open floor plan is attractive, but if you can't put it to use, then it's no advantage. For my purposes, driving around in a windy area of the USA, the added windage profile of such a unit is a hazard, too.

PS: Stealth, you beat me to it ... Class B's have a lot of utility. As well, the idea of having a trailer in Idaho available at an RV camp and commuting from CA to ID makes a lot of sense rather than driving a Class C at sub 12 mpg fuel mileage just to make the trip. I'm not fond of Rialta's ... but then my RV use involves travel throughout CO/WY/SD/NE through the winter months and I can say that my Roadtrek 19' Dodge 350 performed yeoman service this last winter in some serious Wyoming storms and up through Rapid City. I had one trip back from Cody on iced up roads all the way south through Glendo and had decent control at 45 mph in the nasty stretches; was very happy to find just wet or snowpacked areas where it did well at 50-55 mph. All that weight in back seemed to give it decent traction, although on some portions of the road I was passed by semi's and AWD cars. However, that's the speeds at which I felt comfortable with the rig and I didn't need to press on harder than that.

Last edited by sunsprit; 03-27-2012 at 02:25 PM..
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:13 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,773 posts, read 37,441,293 times
Reputation: 20763
This info may be of value in your search (RV buying Checklist resource)
Need An RV Checklist?... Here Are All The Best Checklists For RVers - The Fun Times Guide to RVing
Daunting, I will say (all that can go wrong with an RV,,,)

Buy Quality, as you probably need to eventually sell it. Class C's are a dime a dozen, so you want to stand out when you go to sell.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
Reputation: 2035
I'm going to read these last few posts carefully (no time at the moment) and then i'll have even more questions! The more i know the more questions i'll have i imagine.
Thank you so much for the responses thus far .... soooooooo very helpful!.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
Reputation: 2035
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
The 70's versions are $3000 or less. (And will require significant updates / repair... brittle plastic components, leaky / loose structure), but... many will be a good deal.

I would try to find something that is well built (panels of fiberglass rather than metal, and aluminum structure rather than wood).

I think you will find better stuff in CA, AZ, NV than ID (freezing temps and HAIL damage).

MANY folks are unloading them as fuel prices climb.

I would REALLY consider your needs, as Class B is a whole lot easier to travel / fuel / park / sell. AND having a trailer at your destination is another choice, and fly back and forth (Or drive an econo-car).

My mom just loved her Roadtrek (B) even tho she had 5th wheel and several NICE class A's

I have a very nice rig (small C) that I call the Ultimate Woman's Motorhome. 18-20 mpg, parks in std stall, and is fully self contained (Tho I REALLY like my outdoor shower & modular sewing center). Rialta Heaven - Welcome - Rialta Eurovan Camper, VW Rialta Camper, Used Camper Van
(there are some quirks, but good users groups, and with an added $100 transmission cooler you should be good for a few hundred thousand miles).

I have sold a few for elderly friends, and the older ones (pre 1998 with 5 cyl) are quite cheap.<$10k. You can get a really nice newer one for $25k, and with high fuel prices they hold their value quite well. They quit making them in 2005 IIRC)

They are NO GOOD off road or in Snow (frt wheel drive). They will fit into a shipping container. One friend shipped his to Denmark few yrs ago, and flys back and forth to use it.
I have no interest in the RV that i was referring to ('75 for $9,858) but here's the link just so you can see.
Used 1975 Winnebago Minnie DODGE Class C For Sale - Bodily RV

I thought that the Rialta and campers like it were Class B.
If i'm understanding you, your Rialta is a Class C?
Why is that?
Anyway, i've seen those class B's around and i think that they'd be perfect but i'm not sure if they're big enough to accommodate both me and my dog?
Like i said, i'm going to be living in this for awhile (not just traveling and camping but it's going to be in lieu of a home ) so i need a space that is large enough to give us some breathing room.
Those definitely look appealing though and the mileage is almost as good as my old Subaru's.
What is your outdoor shower btw?
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