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Old 07-07-2023, 12:32 AM   #1
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Model: 2020 Magnitude SV34
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Purchase Process Recommendations for First-Time RV Owners

Many RV newbies get bashed for buying a new RV and then come to this and other Forums to complain about the many problems they have encountered with their new rig, the dealer or even Thor.

Those newbies tend to get bashed by the “experts” on the Forum and will hear comments such as…

- You should have done a thorough PDI!

- Why would you drive it off the dealer lot with all of those problems?

- It’s your own fault for purchasing a low-end RV.!

- You should have known better for buying Manufacturer XYZ!

People don’t know what they don’t know….especially if they have no first-hand experience with something or have no family or close friends with experience they can consult with before their purchase.

Many people assume that if they spend a lot of money for an RV….. and a lot of money can be anything from $50,00 to $500,000…. there is an expectation that the rig will be of reasonable quality and work as designed.

We all know what can happen when we assume…. but in reality people purchase big-ticket items like houses and automobiles every day and most of the time those purchases aren't nightmares. That is not always the case in the RV industry.

In the world of RV’s you can’t assume that spending a lot of your hard earned money is going to get you a quality rig that works properly from the time you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately this is the ugly truth in the RV industry that RV dealers and manufacturers won't tell you!

I get very tired seeing the chastising of newbies so in the spirit of trying to be helpful vs critical, I wanted to start a thread to help RV newbies before they purchase their first RV.

Perhaps the Admins will see fit to make this a “sticky” and others will also add their advice and experience to it in order to help first-time RV owners. If not…. hey.... at least I tried to do something positive on this Forum to help prospective new RV owners.


1. First ask yourself how often you plan to use the RV. Will it be every weekend? Once a month? One or two trips per year? Will you travel for multiple weeks or months in a row? Will it be two of you or a family of four? Will it be a stepping stone to another RV down the road? Determining the answers to these questions first will help with the next items on the list.


2. Determine your budget for the purchase….. then add 5 - 10% on top of that number for accessories, repairs and eventual upgrades you will need to do at some point. Even when the rig is under “warranty” repairs and upgrades will end up costing some money. So if you want to purchase a $100,000 RV, plan to have an additional $5,000 - $10,000 of disposable income for potential repairs and upgrades.... and a few accessories.... but mostly repairs and upgrades. If you don't end up using it all, then you have more money for fuel and campgrounds!


3. RV quality and workmanship is nothing near what it is when purchasing an automobile or most other big-ticket items. Quality and workmanship is almost nonexistent for many RV manufacturers. There will be problems! You can count on it like death and taxes! Sometimes small problems…. sometimes large problems….. but be prepared that you will have issues after laying out a lot of money for a new RV. Knowing this and having some money put aside will help you from going off the deep end after your purchase.


4. Ask yourself if you have good mechanical skills. Are you mechanically inclined? Are you able to do many of the repairs in your home and on your car? Do you like doing your own repairs? Or do you hate having to do repairs and maintenance? Do you usually call someone to fix things at home or take the car to the dealer or a shop?

If you are good at fixing things and like it, you will have a better chance of being happy with your RV purchase. If you rely on other people to fix things for you, then be prepared to have your RV out of service for long periods of time…. weeks or months..... even for small issues. Also be prepared for having the same issue fixed multiple times.

There is nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on an RV and not being able to use it because it is sitting at the dealer for weeks. Being able to do your own repairs, upgrades and maintenance will keep you on the road and much happier in the long run.


5. Pick the floor plan that best meets your needs. Think about things like bed size…. being able to get into and out of the bed from either side….. shower size….. toilet position….. seating and how comfortable is needs to be….. kitchen layout and amenities….. amount of storage and what you plan to take on your trips.


6. Make a list of must-have features… nice-to-have features….. and can-live-without features to reference in your search for the "right" model.


7. Slides! Slides are great.... and not so great! They can add a lot more room to the RV, which can be important if your spend weeks or months every year using it. But slides can also be a tremendous source of pain. They can be very problematic. Having a slide stuck out at a campground can be a nerve-wracking experience!

Here is some advice about slides:

- Stay away from full-wall slides if at all possible. High-end RV’s will use hydraulic mechanisms, which are better for large and heavy slides but in general large and heavy slides tend to be problematic and expensive to repair and maintain.

- Stay away from slides that contain any plumbing and wiring. Many slides will have a kitchen on it and that means water lines and drains that have to deal with a moving slide. This can be a source of leaks and other issues right out of the gate or over time. If a model you like has a kitchen on a slide, be sure to do a very detailed inspection before taking ownership (see #14 below).

- Stay away from floor plans that require the slide to be opened in order to use the bed. If a slide fails during a trip, being able to use the bed can mean the difference between continuing the trip or not.

- Make sure you can access the bathroom and fridge when the slides are closed.

- Ultimately, the fewer and smaller the slides, the better.


8. Pick 3 or 4 different models across different manufacturers that you think will meet most of your previously identified needs.


9. Do your homework and research….. research….. and then research some more for each of the potential models you have identified. Read forums. Read reviews online. Watch reviews and walkthroughs on YouTube.

Talk to actual owners. If you join a couple RV Forums, many people will be happy to talk about the good, bad and ugly of their ownership experiences for the models you are interested in purchasing so you know what you may be getting into before you lay down that hard earned cash!


10. Identify a minimum of two different dealers for each model that you have identified as a possible fit for your RV lifestyle. Visit those dealers in person before you ever ask to see one of their RV's.

Tell the dealer you are in a market for an RV but you want to interview dealers first to see if they make the cut for a potential purchase from them. Ask to talk to the sales manager and ask them what makes them different and what you should buy from them. Ask to talk to the service manager and ask about their backlog for service and average turnaround times for repairs.

Ask to talk to a couple of the dealer's customers. While dealers will only provide the contacts of known friendly customers most people will be honest and provide both good and bad things about their dealer experience. You will be better off eliminating a bad dealer long before you start looking at an RV and getting pulled in by an aggressive... and empty.... sales pitch.


11. Go shopping! Go see the models in person. Lay on the bed….. step in the shower….. sit on the toilet (pants on please!)….. open the storage cabinets and bays. See if it meets your expectations and checks of your list of must-have features. Look at the overall quality and workmanship as you look at each part of the rig.


12. Test drive all candidates! Do not purchase any RV without driving it first (or towing it if it is a towable). The difference in ride and handling can be drastically different across makes and models. Drive the back roads as well as highways and interstates. Go up and down hills….. go around curves. Take your time and don’t let the sales guy rush your test drive. Remember you will need to drive an RV in a lot of tight places and in a lot of different conditions so make sure it is comfortable to drive and maneuver.


13. Once you have identified your RV….. negotiate! Before COVID you could easily negotiate with dealers and expect discounts of 25 - 35% or even more off MSRP. COVID and inflation changed a lot of that but things are swinging back in favor of the buyer once again. Having two identified dealers with the same model can give you more leverage in your negotiations.

Also, if you saw anything that needed to be fixed during your walkthrough or test drive, tell the dealer those items must be addressed before taking delivery and make sure they list it in the sales agreement.


14. Once you have an agreement to purchase, then it is time to prepare for your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection)!!! A PDI is very important to making sure you drive away with as few issues as possible so you can enjoy your new RV.

Contrary to what some people may tell you on this and other Forums it is difficult to identify every single problem or a potential problem that is lurking behind the scenes. But if you prepare in advance and do a thorough PDI before taking delivery, it can minimize issues now and down the road.

There are many PDI Check-Lists available online (I have included a few example as well for you). Download the PDI Check-Lists and print them out. Read each one thoroughly and then decide which line items on the PDI best match the RV you will be purchasing. I actually took several PDI’s and then copied and pasted line items to create a PDI that most closely matched the RV I was purchasing.

Also make a list of questions you have about the RV, including how specific systems work like the Inverter or Generator, if so equipped. Ask about how to empty your black and gray tanks. Ask how to use shore power vs battery power and which systems work on shore power and which systems only work on battery power. Ask how to use the furnace and air conditioner, etc.


15. Once you have the delivery date, tell the dealer you plan to spend up to 4 hours doing your Pre-Delivery Inspection! Don’t let them try to tell you that you won’t need that much time. You may not need it but then again you just may need to take that much time. Be prepared to walk from your deal if they will not allow you to take all the time you need to go through your PDI Check-List and to ask your questions about how everything operates on the RV.

Tip: Take another experienced RV owner with your for the PDI. Someone who has been down this road before can know what to look for or know what questions to ask. Plus another set of eyes and ears is always helpful!


16. During the PDI identify anything that is not working properly or needs to be fixed. Tell the dealer you will not complete the paperwork for the purchase until everything you have identified is addressed to your satisfaction. Don’t let a dealer tell you they will fix it later! Later can mean months later or the RV sitting on their lot for weeks or months waiting to be fixed….. while your main payments and the warranty clock is running! Be prepared to walk if the dealer cannot fix all items identified during the PDI before you sign the paperwork to take ownership.


17. Once you are satisfied that all items identified during the PDI have been properly addressed by the dealer and everything works as designed, sign the paperwork and take ownership and start enjoying your new RV! If you have to walk from the deal…. move onto the next dealer and start over. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, you will be better off starting over.


18. Begin keeping a log (Warranty Punch-List) of items you find aren’t working or break as you start using your new RV. As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to find every single problem or every potential problem lurking during the PDI. Use the RV as much as you can early on to flush out potential issues while there is still a lot of warranty time remaining.

If they are minor issues, strongly consider fixing them yourself if you have the skills to do so. I have been very lucky calling the Customer Warranty Support Line and having Thor send me parts under warranty so I could do my own repairs…. faster and better than any dealer could do those repairs.

Obviously if there is a major issue, it might need to go back to the dealer or the Factory Service Center (often a better option than the dealer for major problems). If you have to take it back to the dealer, make sure you provide them with the Warranty Punch-List you have been keeping as issues developed so they get fixed as well.


If you are new to RV's and are considering purchasing one for the first time, I hope this thread gives you some useful information and sets some expectations to avoid disappointment after your purchase!


One last tip......

Buying a used RV as your first RV is not a bad way to go. You may get more bang for your buck. But more importantly if you find the right owner, they may have repaired and upgraded many of the issues with the RV that they experienced when it was new. You can end up getting a very solid rig that is more reliable... and even more enjoyable than a new RV.


Good luck!!!!!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Pre-Delivery Check-List.pdf (575.1 KB, 254 views)
File Type: pdf Pre-Delivery Check-List_2.pdf (27.2 KB, 179 views)
File Type: pdf RV Inspection Checklist.pdf (296.8 KB, 107 views)

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Old 07-07-2023, 12:37 AM   #2
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Rvchecklist app.
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Pre delivery
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Old 07-07-2023, 01:17 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducksface View Post
….

Punchline;
If they didn't find the 1,000 youtube videos on
How to buy an RV
(And you know they didn't even look)
They're not going to find this sticky.
Very well said and straight to the point.
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Old 07-07-2023, 02:01 AM   #4
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This is what is needed, but the problem is how do you get new RV buyers to sit down and read? That is assuming they find. It is akin to me trying to get some of the people at the Club on a Saturday night to come to Church on Sunday morning, they won't listen; because they don't feel they need to. They will trust that Salesman more than any one of us, because the Salesman just cut them a deal (so they think).

But you raise two points that bring up flashbacks to when I found this site. I was getting serious about a ACE 29.3 and I knew I didn't know much about RVs so I came to the site looking for help; all the while learning.

But let me lay out the two things I see differently for a newbie when buying.

#1 I was floored with how many said to buy used versus new as newbie? I understand now the thinking, but I don't agree with it. On this very forum, some even went so far to tell me to buy a use one that costs almost $10k more than a brand new If you buy used you don't get to learn the context of all that was done and why. Typically it is as is so unless you buy an expensive maintenance contract you are on your own for everything. Buying new forced me to learn things to do for PDI that I am sure would have been passed over in a used sale. I am not saying that a newbie should NEVER buy a used RV, I am saying that if you can afford to buy what you want brand new, you will have the umbrella of a full year support. What some call the hassle of getting stuff fix, I see as an opportunity to learn more about your coach and how it works or don't work.

#2. I get some have had nightmares dealing with certain types of slides, but not all full wall slides have design issues or problems with operations. We have a Full wall slide. For 4 years; every time I press that button to extend or retract the slide; my heart stops for a moment to see if it is going work, for 4 years it has always worked. Now are coach model is fully functional with wall retracted and that has been a big help, high winds, rain, tight spaces, or simply where etiquette says to keel wall slide in. With that said if someone opts to buy RV with no slide, I ain't mad at them, but if you worry about one Full wall slide, how do you feel better about having 3or 4 smaller slides?
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Old 07-07-2023, 02:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judge View Post
If it helps one or two people, what’s the harm?
It would certainly help. This is why I said on the other thread that I wish there was a way to make all new RV owners verify their inspections with the actual RV Mfg, not the dealer. I am sure they will not do because it may costs some sales. I don't have the answer, but the simple message is to educate all that buying a new RV has the same risks as buying Used. The purchase should be made assuming the new RV is used, and used by an inexperienced RV owner.

Hopefully a newbie prospective RV owner will chime in.
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Old 07-07-2023, 02:13 AM   #6
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I commend you Judge for taking the time to do such a detailed pre-purchase "thesis". I call it valuable if it saves JUST ONE buyer from a misguided purchase... and the ensuing nightmare of dealing with the consequences. So true... they don't know what they don't know!!

I spent an ENTIRE YEAR researching - and eventually bought a new 2017 Grand Design trailer. We were such newbs! But we were among the lucky ones. Grand Design units were pretty decently built then.

My wife laughed the other day that we actually made it nearly across the country and back in it! But in the nearly
three seasons using it, we learned a LOT... mainly that I was tired of hitching and loading the truck.

We were ALL newbies once. We all have differing mechanical skills... and different tolerances. As time goes on, it's quite possible that "bad press" will force RV manufacturers to clean up their act, or get out of the business of building RVs. Anyone old enough will remember the early Hondas... they were poorly built rust buckets!! It took Honda over 20 years, but they started making impressive cars at reasonable prices.
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Old 07-07-2023, 03:30 AM   #7
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Great post and well thought out. But the 'experts', well...
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Old 07-07-2023, 12:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Judge View Post
Many RV newbies get bashed for buying a new RV and then come to this and other Forums to complain about the many problems they have encountered with their new rig, the dealer or even Thor.

Those newbies tend to get bashed by the “experts” on the Forum and will hear comments such as…

- You should have done a thorough PDI!

- Why would you drive it off the dealer lot with all of those problems?

- It’s your own fault for purchasing a low-end RV.!

- You should have known better for buying Manufacturer XYZ!

People don’t know what they don’t know….especially if they have no first-hand experience with something or have no family or close friends with experience they can consult with before their purchase.

Many people assume that if they spend a lot of money for an RV….. and a lot of money can be anything from $50,00 to $500,000…. there is an expectation that the rig will be of reasonable quality and work as designed.

We all know what can happen when we assume…. but in reality people purchase big-ticket items like houses and automobiles every day and most of the time those purchases aren't nightmares. That is not always the case in the RV industry.

In the world of RV’s you can’t assume that spending a lot of your hard earned money is going to get you a quality rig that works properly from the time you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately this is the ugly truth in the RV industry that RV dealers and manufacturers won't tell you!

I get very tired seeing the chastising of newbies so in the spirit of trying to be helpful vs critical, I wanted to start a thread to help RV newbies before they purchase their first RV.

Perhaps the Admins will see fit to make this a “sticky” and others will also add their advice and experience to it in order to help first-time RV owners. If not…. hey.... at least I tried to do something positive on this Forum to help prospective new RV owners.


1. First ask yourself how often you plan to use the RV. Will it be every weekend? Once a month? One or two trips per year? Will you travel for multiple weeks or months in a row? Will it be two of you or a family of four? Will it be a stepping stone to another RV down the road? Determining the answers to these questions first will help with the next items on the list.


2. Determine your budget for the purchase….. then add 5 - 10% on top of that number for accessories, repairs and eventual upgrades you will need to do at some point. Even when the rig is under “warranty” repairs and upgrades will end up costing some money. So if you want to purchase a $100,000 RV, plan to have an additional $5,000 - $10,000 of disposable income for potential repairs and upgrades.... and a few accessories.... but mostly repairs and upgrades. If you don't end up using it all, then you have more money for fuel and campgrounds!


3. RV quality and workmanship is nothing near what it is when purchasing an automobile or most other big-ticket items. Quality and workmanship is almost nonexistent for many RV manufacturers. There will be problems! You can count on it like death and taxes! Sometimes small problems…. sometimes large problems….. but be prepared that you will have issues after laying out a lot of money for a new RV. Knowing this and having some money put aside will help you from going off the deep end after your purchase.


4. Ask yourself if you have good mechanical skills. Are you mechanically inclined? Are you able to do many of the repairs in your home and on your car? Do you like doing your own repairs? Or do you hate having to do repairs and maintenance? Do you usually call someone to fix things at home or take the car to the dealer or a shop?

If you are good at fixing things and like it, you will have a better chance of being happy with your RV purchase. If you rely on other people to fix things for you, then be prepared to have your RV out of service for long periods of time…. weeks or months..... even for small issues. Also be prepared for having the same issue fixed multiple times.

There is nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on an RV and not being able to use it because it is sitting at the dealer for weeks. Being able to do your own repairs, upgrades and maintenance will keep you on the road and much happier in the long run.


5. Pick the floor plan that best meets your needs. Think about things like bed size…. being able to get into and out of the bed from either side….. shower size….. toilet position….. seating and how comfortable is needs to be….. kitchen layout and amenities….. amount of storage and what you plan to take on your trips.


6. Make a list of must-have features… nice-to-have features….. and can-live-without features to reference in your search for the "right" model.


7. Slides! Slides are great.... and not so great! They can add a lot more room to the RV, which can be important if your spend weeks or months every year using it. But slides can also be a tremendous source of pain. They can be very problematic. Having a slide stuck out at a campground can be a nerve-wracking experience!

Here is some advice about slides:

- Stay away from full-wall slides if at all possible. High-end RV’s will use hydraulic mechanisms, which are better for large and heavy slides but in general large and heavy slides tend to be problematic and expensive to repair and maintain.

- Stay away from slides that contain any plumbing and wiring. Many slides will have a kitchen on it and that means water lines and drains that have to deal with a moving slide. This can be a source of leaks and other issues right out of the gate or over time. If a model you like has a kitchen on a slide, be sure to do a very detailed inspection before taking ownership (see #14 below).

- Stay away from floor plans that require the slide to be opened in order to use the bed. If a slide fails during a trip, being able to use the bed can mean the difference between continuing the trip or not.

- Make sure you can access the bathroom and fridge when the slides are closed.

- Ultimately, the fewer and smaller the slides, the better.


8. Pick 3 or 4 different models across different manufacturers that you think will meet most of your previously identified needs.


9. Do your homework and research….. research….. and then research some more for each of the potential models you have identified. Read forums. Read reviews online. Watch reviews and walkthroughs on YouTube.

Talk to actual owners. If you join a couple RV Forums, many people will be happy to talk about the good, bad and ugly of their ownership experiences for the models you are interested in purchasing so you know what you may be getting into before you lay down that hard earned cash!


10. Identify a minimum of two different dealers for each model that you have identified as a possible fit for your RV lifestyle. Visit those dealers in person before you ever ask to see one of their RV's.

Tell the dealer you are in a market for an RV but you want to interview dealers first to see if they make the cut for a potential purchase from them. Ask to talk to the sales manager and ask them what makes them different and what you should buy from them. Ask to talk to the service manager and ask about their backlog for service and average turnaround times for repairs.

Ask to talk to a couple of the dealer's customers. While dealers will only provide the contacts of known friendly customers most people will be honest and provide both good and bad things about their dealer experience. You will be better off eliminating a bad dealer long before you start looking at an RV and getting pulled in by an aggressive... and empty.... sales pitch.


11. Go shopping! Go see the models in person. Lay on the bed….. step in the shower….. sit on the toilet (pants on please!)….. open the storage cabinets and bays. See if it meets your expectations and checks of your list of must-have features. Look at the overall quality and workmanship as you look at each part of the rig.


12. Test drive all candidates! Do not purchase any RV without driving it first (or towing it if it is a towable). The difference in ride and handling can be drastically different across makes and models. Drive the back roads as well as highways and interstates. Go up and down hills….. go around curves. Take your time and don’t let the sales guy rush your test drive. Remember you will need to drive an RV in a lot of tight places and in a lot of different conditions so make sure it is comfortable to drive and maneuver.


13. Once you have identified your RV….. negotiate! Before COVID you could easily negotiate with dealers and expect discounts of 25 - 35% or even more off MSRP. COVID and inflation changed a lot of that but things are swinging back in favor of the buyer once again. Having two identified dealers with the same model can give you more leverage in your negotiations.

Also, if you saw anything that needed to be fixed during your walkthrough or test drive, tell the dealer those items must be addressed before taking delivery and make sure they list it in the sales agreement.


14. Once you have an agreement to purchase, then it is time to prepare for your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection)!!! A PDI is very important to making sure you drive away with as few issues as possible so you can enjoy your new RV.

Contrary to what some people may tell you on this and other Forums it is difficult to identify every single problem or a potential problem that is lurking behind the scenes. But if you prepare in advance and do a thorough PDI before taking delivery, it can minimize issues now and down the road.

There are many PDI Check-Lists available online (I have included a few example as well for you). Download the PDI Check-Lists and print them out. Read each one thoroughly and then decide which line items on the PDI best match the RV you will be purchasing. I actually took several PDI’s and then copied and pasted line items to create a PDI that most closely matched the RV I was purchasing.

Also make a list of questions you have about the RV, including how specific systems work like the Inverter or Generator, if so equipped. Ask about how to empty your black and gray tanks. Ask how to use shore power vs battery power and which systems work on shore power and which systems only work on battery power. Ask how to use the furnace and air conditioner, etc.


15. Once you have the delivery date, tell the dealer you plan to spend up to 4 hours doing your Pre-Delivery Inspection! Don’t let them try to tell you that you won’t need that much time. You may not need it but then again you just may need to take that much time. Be prepared to walk from your deal if they will not allow you to take all the time you need to go through your PDI Check-List and to ask your questions about how everything operates on the RV.

Tip: Take another experienced RV owner with your for the PDI. Someone who has been down this road before can know what to look for or know what questions to ask. Plus another set of eyes and ears is always helpful!


16. During the PDI identify anything that is not working properly or needs to be fixed. Tell the dealer you will not complete the paperwork for the purchase until everything you have identified is addressed to your satisfaction. Don’t let a dealer tell you they will fix it later! Later can mean months later or the RV sitting on their lot for weeks or months waiting to be fixed….. while your main payments and the warranty clock is running! Be prepared to walk if the dealer cannot fix all items identified during the PDI before you sign the paperwork to take ownership.


17. Once you are satisfied that all items identified during the PDI have been properly addressed by the dealer and everything works as designed, sign the paperwork and take ownership and start enjoying your new RV! If you have to walk from the deal…. move onto the next dealer and start over. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, you will be better off starting over.


18. Begin keeping a log (Warranty Punch-List) of items you find aren’t working or break as you start using your new RV. As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to find every single problem or every potential problem lurking during the PDI. Use the RV as much as you can early on to flush out potential issues while there is still a lot of warranty time remaining.

If they are minor issues, strongly consider fixing them yourself if you have the skills to do so. I have been very lucky calling the Customer Warranty Support Line and having Thor send me parts under warranty so I could do my own repairs…. faster and better than any dealer could do those repairs.

Obviously if there is a major issue, it might need to go back to the dealer or the Factory Service Center (often a better option than the dealer for major problems). If you have to take it back to the dealer, make sure you provide them with the Warranty Punch-List you have been keeping as issues developed so they get fixed as well.


If you are new to RV's and are considering purchasing one for the first time, I hope this thread gives you some useful information and sets some expectations to avoid disappointment after your purchase!


One last tip......

Buying a used RV as your first RV is not a bad way to go. You may get more bang for your buck. But more importantly if you find the right owner, they may have repaired and upgraded many of the issues with the RV that they experienced when it was new. You can end up getting a very solid rig that is more reliable... and even more enjoyable than a new RV.


Good luck!!!!!
Well said Judge. I didn’t find this website until searching for others who had water intrusion issues. I’m selling mine when I get home from this trip. Whoever buys it used is getting one solid-ass motorhome.
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Old 07-07-2023, 01:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jimbo56 View Post
Well said Judge. I didn’t find this website until searching for others who had water intrusion issues. I’m selling mine when I get home from this trip. Whoever buys it used is getting one solid-ass motorhome.
Well whoever bought my former omni XG32 did not get a solid-ass motorhome, they got a sorry-ass POS. It was a well cared for during the unfortunate time I had it but just like you can't fix stupid, you can't make garbage into gold either. I subscribe to the belief that dumping junk is better than living with it and being miserable every trip wondering what else in deficient build was I going to find.

The omni had no defects. A defect is something that's not according to a build plan. It was deficient because it was built just like thor wanted it to be. Deficient!!

20 months ownership of the Renegade Valencia and 1 problem and that as a bath fan circuit board which Renegade sent me the board to install myself.
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Old 07-07-2023, 03:07 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by dkoldman View Post
This is what is needed, but the problem is how do you get new RV buyers to sit down and read? That is assuming they find. It is akin to me trying to get some of the people at the Club on a Saturday night to come to Church on Sunday morning, they won't listen; because they don't feel they need to. They will trust that Salesman more than any one of us, because the Salesman just cut them a deal (so they think).

But you raise two points that bring up flashbacks to when I found this site. I was getting serious about a ACE 29.3 and I knew I didn't know much about RVs so I came to the site looking for help; all the while learning.

But let me lay out the two things I see differently for a newbie when buying.

#1 I was floored with how many said to buy used versus new as newbie? I understand now the thinking, but I don't agree with it. On this very forum, some even went so far to tell me to buy a use one that costs almost $10k more than a brand new If you buy used you don't get to learn the context of all that was done and why. Typically it is as is so unless you buy an expensive maintenance contract you are on your own for everything. Buying new forced me to learn things to do for PDI that I am sure would have been passed over in a used sale. I am not saying that a newbie should NEVER buy a used RV, I am saying that if you can afford to buy what you want brand new, you will have the umbrella of a full year support. What some call the hassle of getting stuff fix, I see as an opportunity to learn more about your coach and how it works or don't work.

#2. I get some have had nightmares dealing with certain types of slides, but not all full wall slides have design issues or problems with operations. We have a Full wall slide. For 4 years; every time I press that button to extend or retract the slide; my heart stops for a moment to see if it is going work, for 4 years it has always worked. Now are coach model is fully functional with wall retracted and that has been a big help, high winds, rain, tight spaces, or simply where etiquette says to keel wall slide in. With that said if someone opts to buy RV with no slide, I ain't mad at them, but if you worry about one Full wall slide, how do you feel better about having 3or 4 smaller slides?

This exact process happened for Lora and I.
We were advised used and went to look.
Almost bought but noticed issues dealer tried to cover up.
Decided new and few from MT to TX to buy new.
1 year warranty helped.
As per Judge we DID NOT TEST DRIVE!
AFTER review we went straight to the 🛣 highway.
Best experience for us was driving the beast home with no experience because we learned how she worked.
Stayed at a truck stop over night because afraid to drive in the dark. Drove through Denver, traffic, hail, rain, massive wind.
Really helped.
Thanks Judge for starting this list.
I WAS AFRAID TO SEEK HELP EARLY ON.
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Old 07-07-2023, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by chunker21 View Post
Well whoever bought my former omni XG32 did not get a solid-ass motorhome, they got a sorry-ass POS. It was a well cared for during the unfortunate time I had it but just like you can't fix stupid, you can't make garbage into gold either. I subscribe to the belief that dumping junk is better than living with it and being miserable every trip wondering what else in deficient build was I going to find.

The omni had no defects. A defect is something that's not according to a build plan. It was deficient because it was built just like thor wanted it to be. Deficient!!

20 months ownership of the Renegade Valencia and 1 problem and that as a bath fan circuit board which Renegade sent me the board to install myself.
Nice sweet mh...Renegade Valencia
If I upgraded it is Newmar Baystar for us.
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Old 07-07-2023, 04:03 PM   #12
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This is a great post, thank you!
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Old 07-07-2023, 05:52 PM   #13
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Lora and I second this post.
Wish more people humans were more caring.
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Old 07-07-2023, 07:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Judge View Post
Many RV newbies get bashed for buying a new RV and then come to this and other Forums to complain about the many problems they have encountered with their new rig, the dealer or even Thor.

Those newbies tend to get bashed by the “experts” on the Forum and will hear comments such as…

- You should have done a thorough PDI!

- Why would you drive it off the dealer lot with all of those problems?

- It’s your own fault for purchasing a low-end RV.!

- You should have known better for buying Manufacturer XYZ!

People don’t know what they don’t know….especially if they have no first-hand experience with something or have no family or close friends with experience they can consult with before their purchase.

Many people assume that if they spend a lot of money for an RV….. and a lot of money can be anything from $50,00 to $500,000…. there is an expectation that the rig will be of reasonable quality and work as designed.

We all know what can happen when we assume…. but in reality people purchase big-ticket items like houses and automobiles every day and most of the time those purchases aren't nightmares. That is not always the case in the RV industry.

In the world of RV’s you can’t assume that spending a lot of your hard earned money is going to get you a quality rig that works properly from the time you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately this is the ugly truth in the RV industry that RV dealers and manufacturers won't tell you!

I get very tired seeing the chastising of newbies so in the spirit of trying to be helpful vs critical, I wanted to start a thread to help RV newbies before they purchase their first RV.

Perhaps the Admins will see fit to make this a “sticky” and others will also add their advice and experience to it in order to help first-time RV owners. If not…. hey.... at least I tried to do something positive on this Forum to help prospective new RV owners.


1. First ask yourself how often you plan to use the RV. Will it be every weekend? Once a month? One or two trips per year? Will you travel for multiple weeks or months in a row? Will it be two of you or a family of four? Will it be a stepping stone to another RV down the road? Determining the answers to these questions first will help with the next items on the list.


2. Determine your budget for the purchase….. then add 5 - 10% on top of that number for accessories, repairs and eventual upgrades you will need to do at some point. Even when the rig is under “warranty” repairs and upgrades will end up costing some money. So if you want to purchase a $100,000 RV, plan to have an additional $5,000 - $10,000 of disposable income for potential repairs and upgrades.... and a few accessories.... but mostly repairs and upgrades. If you don't end up using it all, then you have more money for fuel and campgrounds!


3. RV quality and workmanship is nothing near what it is when purchasing an automobile or most other big-ticket items. Quality and workmanship is almost nonexistent for many RV manufacturers. There will be problems! You can count on it like death and taxes! Sometimes small problems…. sometimes large problems….. but be prepared that you will have issues after laying out a lot of money for a new RV. Knowing this and having some money put aside will help you from going off the deep end after your purchase.


4. Ask yourself if you have good mechanical skills. Are you mechanically inclined? Are you able to do many of the repairs in your home and on your car? Do you like doing your own repairs? Or do you hate having to do repairs and maintenance? Do you usually call someone to fix things at home or take the car to the dealer or a shop?

If you are good at fixing things and like it, you will have a better chance of being happy with your RV purchase. If you rely on other people to fix things for you, then be prepared to have your RV out of service for long periods of time…. weeks or months..... even for small issues. Also be prepared for having the same issue fixed multiple times.

There is nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on an RV and not being able to use it because it is sitting at the dealer for weeks. Being able to do your own repairs, upgrades and maintenance will keep you on the road and much happier in the long run.


5. Pick the floor plan that best meets your needs. Think about things like bed size…. being able to get into and out of the bed from either side….. shower size….. toilet position….. seating and how comfortable is needs to be….. kitchen layout and amenities….. amount of storage and what you plan to take on your trips.


6. Make a list of must-have features… nice-to-have features….. and can-live-without features to reference in your search for the "right" model.


7. Slides! Slides are great.... and not so great! They can add a lot more room to the RV, which can be important if your spend weeks or months every year using it. But slides can also be a tremendous source of pain. They can be very problematic. Having a slide stuck out at a campground can be a nerve-wracking experience!

Here is some advice about slides:

- Stay away from full-wall slides if at all possible. High-end RV’s will use hydraulic mechanisms, which are better for large and heavy slides but in general large and heavy slides tend to be problematic and expensive to repair and maintain.

- Stay away from slides that contain any plumbing and wiring. Many slides will have a kitchen on it and that means water lines and drains that have to deal with a moving slide. This can be a source of leaks and other issues right out of the gate or over time. If a model you like has a kitchen on a slide, be sure to do a very detailed inspection before taking ownership (see #14 below).

- Stay away from floor plans that require the slide to be opened in order to use the bed. If a slide fails during a trip, being able to use the bed can mean the difference between continuing the trip or not.

- Make sure you can access the bathroom and fridge when the slides are closed.

- Ultimately, the fewer and smaller the slides, the better.


8. Pick 3 or 4 different models across different manufacturers that you think will meet most of your previously identified needs.


9. Do your homework and research….. research….. and then research some more for each of the potential models you have identified. Read forums. Read reviews online. Watch reviews and walkthroughs on YouTube.

Talk to actual owners. If you join a couple RV Forums, many people will be happy to talk about the good, bad and ugly of their ownership experiences for the models you are interested in purchasing so you know what you may be getting into before you lay down that hard earned cash!


10. Identify a minimum of two different dealers for each model that you have identified as a possible fit for your RV lifestyle. Visit those dealers in person before you ever ask to see one of their RV's.

Tell the dealer you are in a market for an RV but you want to interview dealers first to see if they make the cut for a potential purchase from them. Ask to talk to the sales manager and ask them what makes them different and what you should buy from them. Ask to talk to the service manager and ask about their backlog for service and average turnaround times for repairs.

Ask to talk to a couple of the dealer's customers. While dealers will only provide the contacts of known friendly customers most people will be honest and provide both good and bad things about their dealer experience. You will be better off eliminating a bad dealer long before you start looking at an RV and getting pulled in by an aggressive... and empty.... sales pitch.


11. Go shopping! Go see the models in person. Lay on the bed….. step in the shower….. sit on the toilet (pants on please!)….. open the storage cabinets and bays. See if it meets your expectations and checks of your list of must-have features. Look at the overall quality and workmanship as you look at each part of the rig.


12. Test drive all candidates! Do not purchase any RV without driving it first (or towing it if it is a towable). The difference in ride and handling can be drastically different across makes and models. Drive the back roads as well as highways and interstates. Go up and down hills….. go around curves. Take your time and don’t let the sales guy rush your test drive. Remember you will need to drive an RV in a lot of tight places and in a lot of different conditions so make sure it is comfortable to drive and maneuver.


13. Once you have identified your RV….. negotiate! Before COVID you could easily negotiate with dealers and expect discounts of 25 - 35% or even more off MSRP. COVID and inflation changed a lot of that but things are swinging back in favor of the buyer once again. Having two identified dealers with the same model can give you more leverage in your negotiations.

Also, if you saw anything that needed to be fixed during your walkthrough or test drive, tell the dealer those items must be addressed before taking delivery and make sure they list it in the sales agreement.


14. Once you have an agreement to purchase, then it is time to prepare for your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection)!!! A PDI is very important to making sure you drive away with as few issues as possible so you can enjoy your new RV.

Contrary to what some people may tell you on this and other Forums it is difficult to identify every single problem or a potential problem that is lurking behind the scenes. But if you prepare in advance and do a thorough PDI before taking delivery, it can minimize issues now and down the road.

There are many PDI Check-Lists available online (I have included a few example as well for you). Download the PDI Check-Lists and print them out. Read each one thoroughly and then decide which line items on the PDI best match the RV you will be purchasing. I actually took several PDI’s and then copied and pasted line items to create a PDI that most closely matched the RV I was purchasing.

Also make a list of questions you have about the RV, including how specific systems work like the Inverter or Generator, if so equipped. Ask about how to empty your black and gray tanks. Ask how to use shore power vs battery power and which systems work on shore power and which systems only work on battery power. Ask how to use the furnace and air conditioner, etc.


15. Once you have the delivery date, tell the dealer you plan to spend up to 4 hours doing your Pre-Delivery Inspection! Don’t let them try to tell you that you won’t need that much time. You may not need it but then again you just may need to take that much time. Be prepared to walk from your deal if they will not allow you to take all the time you need to go through your PDI Check-List and to ask your questions about how everything operates on the RV.

Tip: Take another experienced RV owner with your for the PDI. Someone who has been down this road before can know what to look for or know what questions to ask. Plus another set of eyes and ears is always helpful!


16. During the PDI identify anything that is not working properly or needs to be fixed. Tell the dealer you will not complete the paperwork for the purchase until everything you have identified is addressed to your satisfaction. Don’t let a dealer tell you they will fix it later! Later can mean months later or the RV sitting on their lot for weeks or months waiting to be fixed….. while your main payments and the warranty clock is running! Be prepared to walk if the dealer cannot fix all items identified during the PDI before you sign the paperwork to take ownership.


17. Once you are satisfied that all items identified during the PDI have been properly addressed by the dealer and everything works as designed, sign the paperwork and take ownership and start enjoying your new RV! If you have to walk from the deal…. move onto the next dealer and start over. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, you will be better off starting over.


18. Begin keeping a log (Warranty Punch-List) of items you find aren’t working or break as you start using your new RV. As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to find every single problem or every potential problem lurking during the PDI. Use the RV as much as you can early on to flush out potential issues while there is still a lot of warranty time remaining.

If they are minor issues, strongly consider fixing them yourself if you have the skills to do so. I have been very lucky calling the Customer Warranty Support Line and having Thor send me parts under warranty so I could do my own repairs…. faster and better than any dealer could do those repairs.

Obviously if there is a major issue, it might need to go back to the dealer or the Factory Service Center (often a better option than the dealer for major problems). If you have to take it back to the dealer, make sure you provide them with the Warranty Punch-List you have been keeping as issues developed so they get fixed as well.


If you are new to RV's and are considering purchasing one for the first time, I hope this thread gives you some useful information and sets some expectations to avoid disappointment after your purchase!


One last tip......

Buying a used RV as your first RV is not a bad way to go. You may get more bang for your buck. But more importantly if you find the right owner, they may have repaired and upgraded many of the issues with the RV that they experienced when it was new. You can end up getting a very solid rig that is more reliable... and even more enjoyable than a new RV.


Good luck!!!!!
Great overview Judge!
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Old 07-07-2023, 10:28 PM   #15
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Model: Sunstar 29VE Winnebago
State: Texas
Posts: 5,623
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scubawise View Post
This exact process happened for Lora and I.
We were advised used and went to look.
Almost bought but noticed issues dealer tried to cover up.
Decided new and few from MT to TX to buy new.
1 year warranty helped.
As per Judge we DID NOT TEST DRIVE!
AFTER review we went straight to the 🛣 highway.
Best experience for us was driving the beast home with no experience because we learned how she worked.
Stayed at a truck stop over night because afraid to drive in the dark. Drove through Denver, traffic, hail, rain, massive wind.
Really helped.
Thanks Judge for starting this list.
I WAS AFRAID TO SEEK HELP EARLY ON.
That was our experience when looking at used. There was always something they had modified or we did not like or want. Had the cost been 30% less than what I could have bought a brand new one for, I may have been willing to make concessions.

But new or used, what saved our arse, was this site and the thorough PDI. To be honest if you one can handle the truth; the way some belittle TMC and their quality, it may have the best thing for us that the 2 units we tried to buy brand new could not pass our PDI. I am sure if I showed that Duck Guy my 71 items on my PDI punch list he would take me to task on about 20 of them, but I wasn't take any chances, I reported every freaking thing I could with the mindset if you don't fix I ain't buying. The problem I had is the Sales Manager was smart enough to know that someone who had not done their homework would buy anyway. That is why their is a problem. Consumers don't force the checks 7 balances.


With all that said, and as anal as I was back then, imagine that I would talk to a TMC / WBGO Dealer in Florida and explain my history of walking on PDIs. They sent me pictures of everything on all my list to prove none of those things were issues on our Sunstar. The wife and I fly down. We did a 6 hour PDI, half of it was on our own, we drove it, fired up stove, ran all of the plumbing and every door 2 or 3 times. I even opened and closed windows. The only thing I didn't do was go up on the roof, I looked at the roof but I was not planning on dying falling off a RV roof in Florida

With the exception of some dust my wife saw on the roof, we found ZERO issues. They gave us come Citrix cleaner they used to get the dust off the roof. We bought the RV and had a very long shake down trip from Port St. Lucie to Dallas. We have never been back to that Dealer, but my sales agent calls every year to check on us. Warranty items that we did find, we had a local WBGO dealer fix.

From everything I have read on the site, I would be afraid to buy used and afraid to buy a TMC now. But had one TMC passed my PDI, I would have bought one. I can't think of any other type or mfg I would buy from now? Maybe years from now in the future when we look to retire, I may buy one of the all Electric WBGO
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Old 07-07-2023, 10:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chunker21 View Post
Well whoever bought my former omni XG32 did not get a solid-ass motorhome, they got a sorry-ass POS. It was a well cared for during the unfortunate time I had it but just like you can't fix stupid, you can't make garbage into gold either. I subscribe to the belief that dumping junk is better than living with it and being miserable every trip wondering what else in deficient build was I going to find.

The omni had no defects. A defect is something that's not according to a build plan. It was deficient because it was built just like thor wanted it to be. Deficient!!

20 months ownership of the Renegade Valencia and 1 problem and that as a bath fan circuit board which Renegade sent me the board to install myself.
I got 4 years now off a brand new Sunstar 29ve and my 1 problem was the Kwikee Steps. Dealer could not find the issue so it could not be a warranty Kwikie sent us Controller for free, but all my troubleshooting show the controller was just find. I found problem 4 months later with a loose pin in a 9 pin connector. I just recently added a new step motor using my Mobile Tech and I was out $200 including parts
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Old 07-12-2023, 06:32 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judge View Post
People don’t know what they don’t know….especially if they have no first-hand experience with something or have no family or close friends with experience they can consult with before their purchase.

Many people assume that if they spend a lot of money for an RV….. and a lot of money can be anything from $50,00 to $500,000…. there is an expectation that the rig will be of reasonable quality and work as designed.

We all know what can happen when we assume…. but in reality people purchase big-ticket items like houses and automobiles every day and most of the time those purchases aren't nightmares. That is not always the case in the RV industry.

In the world of RV’s you can’t assume that spending a lot of your hard earned money is going to get you a quality rig that works properly from the time you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately this is the ugly truth in the RV industry that RV dealers and manufacturers won't tell you!

I get very tired seeing the chastising of newbies so in the spirit of trying to be helpful vs critical, I wanted to start a thread to help RV newbies before they purchase their first RV.

Perhaps the Admins will see fit to make this a “sticky” and others will also add their advice and experience to it in order to help first-time RV owners. If not…. hey.... at least I tried to do something positive on this Forum to help prospective new RV owners.
"People don't know what they don't know." Boy, that just about says it all.

Thank you, Judge—obviously for the extensive and valuable guidance in your original post but especially for the above quoted words of understanding and encouragement. The saying, "There are no stupid questions...only stupid answers," comes to mind. I sincerely hope that the site admins choose to make your post sticky because it is the most sticky-worthy post I've read on this site in a very long time.
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Old 07-12-2023, 06:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by thisoldman View Post
"People don't know what they don't know." Boy, that just about says it all.

Thank you, Judge—obviously for the extensive and valuable guidance in your original post but especially for the above quoted words of understanding and encouragement. The saying, "There are no stupid questions...only stupid answers," comes to mind. I sincerely hope that the site admins choose to make your post sticky because it is the most sticky-worthy post I've read on this site in a very long time.
It was stickied almost a week ago...............
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Old 07-19-2023, 09:39 PM   #19
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Ditto, thisolman the ugly part of this forum is the cynical remarks that some just can’t resist. It is a useful valuable tool that helps so many. Thank Judge.
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Old 07-26-2023, 11:07 PM   #20
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We bought a used 2019 Windsport 29M about 2 months ago. We were clueless RV newbies who had streamed a lot of RV shows and intrigued to try it. First thought was to rent one, but couldn’t find a relatively compact RV (30 ish feet) with layout my wife liked (mainly a king sized bed). But looking at rentals one day, we did see a Windsport 29M which we felt had a great layout for 2 people (including king bed . But the rental was too far away from our travel plans, so we kept looking, Then one day wife saw a 2019 29M for sale by owner, less than 20 miles from where we lived. And he had just lowered price 25%, resulting in a below market price. And, the rest is history, as we bought it. We knew nothing of these great RV forum resources at the time. I’m a very handy guy, so figured I could fix any “house” issues and basic chassis ones. Thank goodness I like fixing all kinds of stuff - that has already proven invaluable…

In hindsight, we should have done a lot more research on RV brands, quality etc. But, we are now enjoying RV life, and got a well maintained used RV at a great price. We did opt for an RV inspection, which only encompassed house systems. Inspectors we researched do not go under the RV, so chassis problems will be missed. I just found a “drag link” steering component today that needs replacement - which probably explains my sense that the steering isn’t as tight as it should be. Luckily that’s a relatively inexpensive fix…
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