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Class A vs Class C Motorhome
Old 08-30-2012, 10:09 AM   #1
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Class A vs Class C Motorhome

We have just retired and are looking at purchasing a used motor home. Advantages of Class A vs Class C ? Gas vs diesel ? Looking for something from 23 to 28 feet in length for traveling. Thanks
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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Hi wolson. Congratulations on your retirement. In addition to answers you get from ER members, here's a link to an RV forum iRV2 - RV Forum Community you might find helpful.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:42 AM   #3
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When DH & I were considering an RV we purchased a software program published by RV Consumer Group. That program helped us determine which coach manufacturers had a history of quality construction and what sizes were easier to drive. It offerers a search feature where you can enter the max you want to spend, the number of stars awarded (reliability, value, highway control) and provides a list for all classes of motor coaches. A smaller coach doesn't necessarily drive easier I learned. For us 30 ft was ideal. For less than $75T the 5-star manufacturers were used Lazy Daze and Born Free, 4.5-star added used Carri-Go and Bigfoot. The list of 4-star manufacturers is extensive and includes the popular Minnie line by Winnebago.

In the end we decided it was more money than we wanted to spend.

The RV Consumer Group software was well worth the cost.
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Old 08-30-2012, 11:46 AM   #4
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My advice - rent first.
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:20 PM   #5
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For the range between 23 and 28 ft, you will find very few class As. They are called "shorty" and somewhat rare. That's more in the realm of class Cs, which can give even more space compared to an A of the same length due to the overcab bed.

It all depends on what you want to do. I assume that you are not talking about full-timing. In our travel so far, with trips of 4000-5000 miles and durations up to 6 weeks, I am very happy with our 25-1/2 ft class C pulling a toad. We get gas mileage of 9.2 mpg, which does not seem to vary much with/without the toad, and that is over hilly roads and high winds through the western states. Have we ever wished for more space? Nope! I guess if we live full-time in it, we might change our mind. But as we are out exploring with the toad during the day and only come back to the motor home in the evening, we do not need that much space. I always bring along books and DVDs, and barely finish one book during a trip. Always too tired to watch DVD after dinner. Ours is an entry level, with no slides. Nothing fancy.

I will be heading out soon for a 4-week long trip. Life is great!
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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Thanks

Lots of good information, and things to think about
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Old 08-30-2012, 07:47 PM   #7
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You also asked about diesel vs. gas engines. I was only shopping for class Cs, but the following is also true with class As. Diesels cost quite a bit more than gas motor homes when new, and of course that price differential carries over to used vehicles, which were what I looked at.

There is only one diesel chassis available for class C motor home builders to use, and that is the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, also sold as the Dodge Sprinter. The MH's built on this chassis are narrower and smaller than the common class C. While the diesel class As are bigger than the gas class As, the reverse is true with the class C because the Sprinter chassis was the only frame available.

I was interested in the Sprinter because of the higher fuel mileage and the smaller size did not bother me. However, 3 years ago these were still relatively new in the used RV market, and commanded higher prices than what I wanted to pay.

Now, 3 years later, the price might have come down enough that I could buy one. Still, one can buy many thousand gallons of gas for the price differential. The diesel also costs more for maintenance. Diesel engines last longer, sure, but how many miles do people put on their RVs? And then, the house part of the RV will not last as long as the diesel engine anyway.

For a while, I regretted that I did not spring for a Sprinter-based class C, but not anymore. This common gas class C brings me a lot of travel pleasure for a lower cost that's hard to beat.
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Old 08-30-2012, 08:47 PM   #8
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We are Class B motorhome folks (Roadtrek) and also looked at the Sprinter. We were in the Roadtrek factory this week, and saw a their new models on the Mercedes Sprinter. The one thing the factory confirmed is that Mercedes has taken the Sprinter away from Dodge and now produces the model as their own again. I have seen several postings on other blogs of issues with getting parts from Mercedes on a timely basis. As travelers, the last thing I want is to spend a week waiting for a part from Germany to show up. Also since Mercedes took the model back you have to pay Mercedes markup for parts--let's just say it is a more than a "tad" higher than Dodge was.
We also thought we wanted a Sprinter when we bought our Chevy 3500 chasis Roadtrek. Really glad we got the Chevy. Not only are we getting 15+ mpg, we are usually paying 5-20 cents/gal LESS than diesel.
We are in the midst of a coast to coast roadtrip and find our Class B a good choice as travelers for the trip. Our experience says RVers fit roughly two categories--travelers and sitters. As travelers, we value the mileage and handling ease of the smaller unit (used to have a small Class A). We usually are in overnight campgrounds for 3 nights and then a Hampton for the fourth. Get our laundry done and some stretching space and are good for hitting the road for the next several days (typically 3-400 miles/day)
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Old 08-30-2012, 09:47 PM   #9
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As you noted, the right size of RV depends on the style of traveling. If you want to be more mobile, a smaller vehicle would make sense. I often think that I could go smaller than what I have now (a 25-ft class C towing a toad), but definitely not larger. So, a 23-ft Sprinter-based MH or a Roadtrek would work.

With what we have, I tend to travel no more than 300-400 miles/day, and perhaps do that at most 2-3 days in a row. I would then park at a campground for 2 or 3 nights to rest, hopefully near an interesting place to explore with a toad. With a smaller vehicle and without the toad, I would have to unhook the motor home for sightseeing, and may be reluctant to come back to the same spot. This may mean that I would tend to drive more with something like a Roadtrek, and that may not be what I want to do.

Still, when I get older, a Roadtrek might be something to get. My wife has not been at the wheel of our MH. She's afraid to drive it! I guess if I get sick, she can do it when she has to.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:40 PM   #10
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If you frequent any retirement community it is stunning the number of coaches for sale because DH can't drive it any more.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:39 AM   #11
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Welcome Wolson,

An RV purchase can take many directions with the options avail. You are looking at a 23-28' unit which is fine. Storage, driving,, parking on the road may drive that decision.
What is your intention of travel ? Trips to a campground/park, or travel across country. I like to dry camp, in the sense we travel across country staying in reststops, W/O hook up's to sewer, water, electric.
I love the Airstream Argosy 24 & 28' MH, however the fresh,grey, black tanks are limited, requiring frequent dumps. The Argosy's are 30+ years old, and maint could be an issue if not self preformed.
I opted for a bus conversion, which were designed to drive, not to park. The wheelbase, suspension, drive train, and large tanks were key to me. At 35', it is larger than your target. We can travel for 10 days without looking for a dumpsite.

I many times realize that we could use a much smaller MH, however my resale value would be small, so we continue and are quite happy.

Best of luck with your decision,
We doubted our purchase in the past, but love the utility when we have the opportunity for travel. I still work and certainly look to travel more in 2 -3 years !!

ALSO, the most sage advice provided by Travelover, was to rent first. We did not and are not unhappy, but we sat in many before purchase.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:23 AM   #12
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As others have said, the type and size of RV is a very individual choice depending on several factors. Unfortunately about the only way to really know what's right for you is to spend some time on the road with it. I second the recommendation to rent, but even that may not provide enough hands on experience to know if that particular type/model is "it".

If you are at all handy with doing your own maintenance and minor repairs, I strongly advise buying used. Paying someone to do routine 'stuff' can be very expensive and inconvenient.

One other consideration is where you will store it when not in use. If you can't park it at home that adds to the cost and inconvenience.
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:04 AM   #13
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If you wish to labor thru my first year of ownership, here is a short list of repairs...

Trans Neutral safety switch (failed in garage)
House - Coach battery solenoid switch
Alternator sheeve ruined shaft, replaced alternator. replace
Coolant leak in Wisc reststop, road repair/later replaced hose
Headlite
Radio antenna cable replace (not evident for a while)
Diesel GenSet fuel shutoff solenoid
Toilet flapper seal leaked DW not happy, Really it is clean water
Cracked steel wheel between all lug holes
Replaced tires ($2K event)
Rewire heater
New house batt's, due to heater high resistance ground
Backup camera display replaced
Instrument panel lamp replacements
Removed 1/2 trash can of obsolete wiring
Alternate sheeve loosened ruined shaft, replaced W/ truck alt, J180 (universal) mount
Replaced driver side windshield (stone)
Remove, rebuild, replace air wiper motors
Replace two 8D coach batteries (130 lb ea)

I am able to do the work so the cost is about 1/2 if not. I also over maintenance so I donot encounter problems on the road, or minimize.

Good Luck !!
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Old 08-31-2012, 12:37 PM   #14
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When I got my class C, it had 25,000 miles. No dent, no any exterior damage other than the usual fading due to the intense southwest sun. But here, the arid climate means no rust, no risk of damage due to rain leak and icing and snow.

Most of my work on it had to do with improvements rather than fixing. So, to talk about fixing, I am lucky that it had been minor, such as reinforcing the battery box mount under the entrance stairs as it showed signs of fracture. When I turned on the vent fans, the blades promptly disintegrated because the heat here had dried up the plastic. The previous owner did not do anything to the motor home, such as adding on a vent cover to allow the vent to stay open when parked unused. Hence he kept them closed all the time, and the heat inside must be severe. Yep, I immediately installed vent covers, and also the popular "Fan-Tastic" vent fans.

So generally, it was just minor fixes and maintenance. I have not had to do anything to the engine, but to change oil. Yes, I had to put in all new 6 tires, but that is to be expected. The genset ran rough at first, but a bit of carburetor cleaner fluid cleared that up.

I have installed several improvements like a beefier AC/DC charger/converter, a 2KW pure-sine-wave inverter, a solar panel/charger, LED lights, etc... These were fun projects for me. A guy needs to keep busy on something.

There are many used RVs with so little mileage on the market. I think most serious problems might be found with the "house" part rather than the engine. In regions where it rains and snows, there might be a lot of hidden water damage. If I were to buy another one, I would choose to buy in states with dry climate. I think I know more about what to look for. I was lucky with this first one I bought.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:06 PM   #15
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We started out in 1999 with a 25 ft class C gas RV (Coachmen). Over the years it developed a pretty good roof leak and we had some minor damage. I sold it dirt cheap to a friend with full disclosure of the leak. You've got to take care of the roofs on these beast. We went without an RV for a year and missed it so much that we bought a 2011 Winnebago Sightseer Class A 35 ft gas as we wanted a king size bed. This thing drives/rides like a dream compared to the smaller class C. The class A gas RVs are typically build on a Ford F53 chassis or similar that was somewhat designed for RVs. If I had the guts to spend the money, I would have upgraded to diesel for the added power. No regrets on either RV and love the lifestyle. When we have the toad connected (Honda CRV) we're a bit long, but the creature comforts more than make up for that hassle.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davismills View Post
We started out in 1999 with a 25 ft class C gas RV (Coachmen)... we bought a 2011 Winnebago Sightseer Class A 35 ft gas as we wanted a king size bed. This thing drives/rides like a dream compared to the smaller class C...
Your class C was about the same size as what I have now. And yes, the handling was terrible, particularly when I had the toad connected. It was only after replacing the shock absorbers, adding a rear anti-roll (sway) bar, and also a trackbar, that I was confident to tackle twisty roads like this section of Californian Coastal Hwy 1, that my wife snapped a photo of from the passenger seat.

I do not know how my class C's handling compares to an A, but I am happy with it now after the mods. I still shudder when I recall the first 10,000 miles I drove the beast over the Rocky Mountain states with just the stock suspension. That should not be legal for MH manufacturers to sell!

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Old 12-08-2012, 09:39 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davismills View Post
We started out in 1999 with a 25 ft class C gas RV (Coachmen). Over the years it developed a pretty good roof leak and we had some minor damage. I sold it dirt cheap to a friend with full disclosure of the leak...
I may have the exact same model. I have been wanting to try an RV for a few years and found one with <80k miles for less than $7k. (SO said she was too old to sleep on the ground so I had to by something with wheels if we were going to continue camping; and, I like to be in the woods on a creek/river bank, having SO along is definitely a bonus...most of the time.)

Handling is awful. And, I am not sure of the mileage yet; but, it is pretty bad although that doesn't matter much for me since I do not take it cross-country, only 200-300 mile round trips.

Lots of small C's cheap; and, I decided that buying was a better way to try the RV thing than renting since one of the main reasons I wanted one was for doing long weekends without the packing/unpacking routine.

I have to admit: What I really wanted was a big Class A diesel pusher. But, even used, the prices we much higher than I wanted to pay for my little experiment. I am happy with my decision so far: I have been able to use it for quick escapes on long weekends as planned; there have just been many fewer of those opportunities than I expected when I bought it; but, at that price, it does not pain me [too much] to see is sitting in my driveway not being utilized. (I quickly gave up on finding a small Class A for the reasons already cited in this thread.)

With something this small, I have not really had the need for a toad. In fact, I have actually been using his as a car occasionally for errands around town when it has been sitting immobile for a few weeks and SO is gone elsewhere with the good car.

The only thing I might have done differently in hindsight was to spend more time looking at Class B's: More money for the space you get; but, generally much better mileage (which might become more important if I ever start using it more) and better handling.

Good luck.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:29 AM   #18
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We have a large Class A . It is incredible once we have pulled into our space, leveled automatically, popped out the slides hooked up all in about 10 minutes. We pull a double cab GMC2500 diesel pickup behind it so it is a monster on the road. It's actually easier to drive than the fifth wheel we used to have but still just really big. It really restricts where you can "camp" with it but it is really great to stay for long periods as it gives you plenty of space. In terms of Class C vs Class A I think it really comes down to floor plan and what you are looking for. It seems many class A's are set up for 2 people where alot of Class C's sleep more. Other things to consider are: size of the tanks (fuel.. how far can you go before having to stop)(Black and Grey.. are you planning on staying at places with or without hookups)(fresh.. do you boondock?). How much storage do you need? Do you bring kayaks/bicycles/golf clubs, where will you put these? How important is the refrigerator do you want a residential one or are the smaller ones enough? Think about the floor plan, is it something you would feel comfortable in? There are some RV resorts/parks which allow class A only do you want to go to those parks? Our decision was based on floor plan and ease of driving we have had it for 3 years now and overall really like it. I sometimes hanker for a smaller rig for access to smaller spaces but all in all we like the comfort of the big rig. A few things I would not do again: Would not get in motion satelite, would not get dishwasher, .. these were a waste of money for us. Good Luck in your search.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:00 AM   #19
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The outlook for diesel coaches is changing with the emissions laws in recent years. Newer coaches now need exhaust after treatment systems which require a diesel particulate filter, exhaust gas recirculation, and possibly a selective catalytic reduction system using diesel exhaust fluid in addition to diesel fuel. The system must periodically go through a regen burn off which really gulps the fuel. All of this makes a gas engine more appealling for the smaller to medium sized coaches. Naturally the big coaches are still all diesel pushers.
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