Buying a new car or truck has become much like buying a commodity, you purchase it at the lowest price possible (regardless of where the dealer is located) and expect the manufacturer Ford, Chevrolet, etc to stand behind their product via their nationwide networks of dealers when it needs warranty work wherever that may be, and they do.
This process works for several reasons. The manufacturer is just that—a manufacturer; they manufacture the vehicle, control production for the majority of the components the vehicle, train technicians how to diagnosis and repair the vehicle along with knowing how long it should take to diagnosis and repair each item in their vehicle, allow that amount of time for their dealers to repair it and pay their dealerships retail labor rate to make the repair. The reality is the service department of most car dealerships is more profitable than the sales department in today’s economy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way in the RV industry for several reasons.
RV manufacturers aren’t really manufacturers, just assemblers, taking somebody else’s product (door, furnace, sink, rubber roofing, axle, etc) and putting them together to make an RV, much like building a house. Most of the component items carry their own warranty of which the RV manufacturer has no control over.
Since RV manufacturers don’t manufacture their own components, it is difficult for a manufacturer to train service technicians on how to properly diagnosis and repair items.
And since they can’t control the overall quality of their units, it is hard to calculate what they should hold in reserve to cover the warranty costs per unit manufactured, so they try to control warranty costs by shorting the dealer in the time they allot for repairs, paying less than the dealer’s retail rate or making the dealer contact the manufacturer of the component for reimbursement. Needless to say, warranty work is not profitable for the average RV dealer.
To further aggravate the problem, the recent surge in RV sales has left RV dealers scrambling for RV technicians to keep up with the demand for service. While the RV industry has recognized the shortage of technicians and is spending millions hiring teachers, writing curriculum and launching a national training center that will be known as the RV Technical Institute, it will be some time before the shortage of trained and certified technicians fill the void.
Bottom line: Most RV dealers service departments are currently straining to keep up with the demand for service, with a limited number of trained personnel, while still trying to make a profit, so when the choice comes down to performing warranty work for the customer who bought somewhere else (out of town dealer or online and had it delivered) OR servicing somebody that purchased through their dealership, who do you think receives priority?
Being the guy that finds out he can’t get warranty work done by his local dealer is one adventure in RVing I don’t recommend!
Are you considering buying an RV? Maybe you’re new to RV travel, or maybe the vehicle you had before just didn’t work for your lifestyle. Either way, learning more about the different types of RVs that are on the market can give a sense of which one is right for you.
Motorhomes are some of the most popular RVs out there. They come in three different body styles and offer an array of comfortable camping opportunities.
Class A motorhome:
As the largest and most luxurious type of RV, Class A motorhomes range anywhere from 35 to 45 feet in length. Benefits include a spacious interior and full utilities. There is plenty of storage and room for extra appliances. Both diesel-powered and gasoline-powered motorhomes are available.
On the other hand, the size of a large motorhome can be intimidating. Class As are difficult to maneuver, hazardous to drive, and expensive to operate. Based on the difficulty of running errands, many RVers choose to tow a separate vehicle behind their motorhome.
You should consider buying a Class A motorhome if:
Also known as camper vans, Class B motorhomes are easy to drive and to park. They can be powered by either diesel or gas and are cheaper to operate than most RVs. Class B’s are also easy to store. They require minimal campsite setup and are convenient for day trips and errands.
However, this convenience does require you to sacrifice some storage and comfort. There is limited space inside since Class B motorhomes are built like vans with raised roofs. Expect to spend a good amount of time outside during the day.
You should consider buying a Class B motorhome if:
You don’t feel comfortable driving larger vehicles
Class C motorhome:
Class C motorhomes fall somewhere between a Class A and a Class B. They reach lengths of 20-30 feet, making them slightly easier to park than Class As. Basic facilities are included in the vehicle, and sleeping quarters are more spacious than in a Class B.
Some Class Cs offer pop-outs on the sides or convertible furniture. However, the challenge of driving a Class C motorhome makes it difficult to leave the campsite for a quick trip.
You should consider buying a Class B motorhome if:
You are looking for more luxuries than a camper van
You travel often or full-time
You can’t afford a Class A motorhome
You desire space and comfort while camping
Trailers and other detachable units are a popular choice among full-timers and part-time campers alike. Their flexibility and versatile designs make them the perfect solution for some RVers.
Travel trailers vary in length and connect to several types of tow vehicles with a standard ball hitch. Travel trailers are often fairly roomy and come equipped with facilities, heat, and air conditioning. They also make it possible to detach your tow vehicle and run errands, leaving your trailer at the campsite.
On the other hand, travel trailers can be difficult to level properly and maneuver. Issues like weight and tail sway may come into play, and it is almost impossible to reverse when towing a travel trailer.
You should consider buying a travel trailer if:
You own a large vehicle, like an SUV, that can handle the trailer’s weight capacity
You often leave your campsite to run errands
You want spacious and comfortable living quarters
You want complete protection from the elements
Like travel trailers, fifth wheels connect to a tow vehicle and include plenty of storage. The main difference is that 5th wheels have a gooseneck connection instead of a standard ball hitch. This connection is safer, more reliable, and makes the trailer easier to maneuver.
The overhang also provides extra space in the trailer’s interior. However, a gooseneck connection also limits the type of vehicle that can tow your trailer—a 5th wheel can only be towed by an open-backed pickup truck. This can make traveling with a large family difficult since truck cabs are often very small.
You should consider buying a 5th wheel if:
You own an open-backed pickup truck
You want a trailer with enhanced stability and maneuverability
You are looking for extra storage and a roomy interior
You plan on traveling with several people, but no more than can fit in your truck
With their small, lightweight frames and reasonable costs, tent trailers are a popular choice for part-time campers. They are easy to store when not in use, and give campers a more comfortable alternative to a tent. However, they offer limited storage once collapsed and on the road. Tent trailers provide less protection from the elements and require more time to set up at the campsite.
You should consider buying a tent trailer if:
You are looking for a more convenient alternative to tent camping
You plan to travel only occasionally
You don’t plan to store much in your trailer
You have limited space to store a trailer
Sport utility trailers, or toy haulers, are designed to transport sports vehicles and recreational equipment, but most also feature small living quarters. The size of your toy hauler determines how much space you will have.
These types of trailers can be outfitted with appliances, and their dual functions make them ideal for recreational events or excursions. However, some RVers may feel nervous about camping in close proximity to fuel, oil, and other substances that may exude toxic fumes. Storage of equipment takes first priority in this type of vehicle, so living quarters tend to be cramped.
You should consider buying a toy hauler if:
You need transportation for your ATVs, bikes, or kayaks
You are looking for a trailer with facilities and storage
You participate in outdoor sporting events
You prioritize storage of gear and sport vehicles over personal comfort
Truck campers are designed to incorporate the benefits of both trailers and motorhomes. Consisting of a single detachable unit that is transported in the back of a pickup truck, truck campers are easy to store and to detach from your truck at the campsite. They function like small trailers but are easier to transport. Some truck campers have pop-out sides, and many include basic necessities. However, space in a truck camper is minimal compared to many trailers.
You should consider buying a truck camper if:
You don’t require much space or storage
You often go on spontaneous, short-term trips
You want the convenience of a trailer without having to tow one
You have limited space to store an RV
Teardrop trailers are a specific style of travel trailer that is smaller and lighter than most. It fits in any campsite and offers protection from the elements. Some teardrop trailers include kitchen facilities that open to the outside.
Most include air conditioning and room for a two-person bed. However, space is very limited in teardrop trailers, and there is usually not enough room to stand. Be prepared for tiny but cozy sleeping quarters with 1-2 windows.
You should consider buying a teardrop trailer if:
You plan to travel solo or with one companion
You need extra storage on the road, but not at the campsite
You are looking for a simple yet effective way to camp
You camp in many small campsites
A hybrid trailer is very similar to a travel trailer, but it also encompasses certain elements of a tent trailer. It can be partially collapsed during storage and transport, but its pop-out tent sections provide more interior space than most trailers its size.
Hybrid trailers often include full facilities and can entirely disconnect from their tow vehicles. However, they also take more time to set up and can be more difficult to store than an ordinary tent trailer.
You should consider buying a hybrid trailer if:
You enjoy the experiences of both tent camping and trailer camping
You want interior space without having to tow a huge trailer
You feel confident about setting up your campsite
You camp occasionally but are not a full-timer
Though a brand, Airstream creates iconic trailers that belong in a category by themselves. Because of their aerodynamic body shape, Airstreams receive better gas mileage. They have unique durability, causing them to last for up to 40 years.
The low center of gravity found in Airstream trailers makes them more stable and safer to tow. On the other hand, the interior of the trailer is narrower than most, making it hard to move around inside. Airstreams also lack in insulation, making them slightly uncomfortable to live in during extreme weather.
You should consider buying an Airstream trailer if:
You plan to travel often and invest in it long-term
You camp in areas with mild weather
You have a limited budget for gas
You want added security when towing a trailer
Some RVs serve specific purposes. While less versatile than common trailers or motorhomes, they are a good choice for RVers who choose to pursue a specific habit or hobby.
Equestrian motorhomes or horse trailers are essential for those who wish to bring their horses camping. The size of the RVs and their living quarters varies, but they usually house 2-4 horses and up to 3 people.
The horse compartment of an equestrian RV features lightweight stalls to keep your horses safe on the road. The living quarters sometimes come equipped with facilities. However, equestrian RVs can be very difficult to store or to maneuver. They are also fairly expensive.
You should consider buying an equestrian RV if:
You plan to bring your horses with you
You don’t want to tow a separate horse trailer behind a regular motorhome
You can afford a horse trailer or equestrian motorhome
You aren’t traveling with a large family
Ice fishing trailer:
Ice fishing trailers are one of the most obscure types of RVs. Lightweight and often custom-built from salvaged travel trailers, they are designed to be towed onto solid ice.
With complete facilities, luxuries, and protection from the elements, these unique trailers are some of the best RVs for cold places. Campers can uncover an opening in the floor of each trailer to access holes in the ice. However, ice fishing trailers are rare. They are built specifically for ice fishing and won’t be as durable on other trips.
You should consider buying an ice fishing trailer if:
You own a vehicle that is safe to drive in icy areas
Park models are an option for those who stay in one place for long periods of time. They include home-like floor plans and luxurious comfort, sometimes connecting to regular city facilities.
Space and storage are plentiful. However, they are very expensive, and not the most mobile form of RV. Boondocking is definitely not an option.
You should consider buying a park model if:
You are a full-time RVer
You plan to move to a new location only once or twice a year
You want the experience of living in a small house, but with some mobility
You want full facilities and lots of storage
Disability access RV:
Many manufacturers will make RVs with certain specifications on demand. They can modify motorhomes, trailers, and other types of vehicles to meet the client’s needs. Features may include roll-in showers, ramps, and lifts, low kitchen cabinets, or wide doors. These types of modifications allow RVers with disabilities to travel in the comfort of a familiar environment.
You should consider buying a disability access RV if:
You are confined to a wheelchair or have some other physical disability
You find that hotels have a difficult time meeting your needs
You are prevented from using a regular RV
You require specific features in a living space
By paying attention to your lifestyle and the features of an RV that would suit you best, you can invest in a vehicle that will meet your individual needs and make trips a real breeze.