Shopper

Should Class A Motorhomes be Avoided?

78 posts in this topic

My parents are in the process of buying their first (and probably last) motorhome to make a tour of the United States and have asked me for input. The salespeople I've talked with are totally focused on all the bells and whistles the different units have. But what I'm really interested in is reliability, and limiting the possibility that my parent's tour is from one repair facility to the next.

The size they feel comfortable with is 32 to 34 feet, which we've found in Class As, Class Cs and Class C pluses. One RVer I talked with said if we eliminated the A class from consideration, we would virtually eliminate the possibility of a ending up with a total lemon -- that we could expect minor difficulties with the C classes, but not the catastrophic failures associated with the A's.

Any thoughts on this RVer's advice?

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Quality can be an issue on any RV. We should know your parents driving capabilities. Class A's allow more visibility because you sit higher. Class C's are more like a pick-up and easier to get in and out of. It really comes down to what they are most comfortable driving.

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I love my class A with that being said do not make the first trip a long tour. Take a few short local trips to work out the kinks whatever class of RV they get. That way they can take it back to the dealer they brought it from to have repairs made. Then the long tour will go much better.

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I think the person giving this advice is either jealous of class A owners or simply a bit nuts! There is no reason to believe that an RV built in a Class A or Class C format would have any more or less issues. Often they are both built on very similar chassis and engine combinations so the basic premise makes no sense.

There are large differences between a trailer or 5th wheel and a self-powered unit but if you are doing a heads up comparison between self-powered units you just want to ensure you buy as much quality as you can afford. They all have problems (welcome to RVing!), some have more problems than others, but it's not a "Class" issue.

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I agree that the maintenance issue is not a Class A versus any other type. ALL RV's will have a maintenance issue from time to time. They are "condos" on wheels. There will be some issues, the vast majority of which will be minor and easily corrected. Think squeeky door, rattling window shades, stubborn door latch, etc. In our experience most of the issues on a new RV will appear in the first year and once taken care of probably will not keep appearing. The advice to keep the trips short and easy at first is well founded so that the "kinks" can be ironed out while near a good RV tech or a handyman.

Some up-front insurance is to be sure you buy a reputable brand with EXCELLENT customer service. This is essential when a problem does crop up and you are on the road and need advice. We have used the Newmar customer service line several times, even after warranty expired, and the service and advice was accurate, prompt, and there were even unexpected follow-up phone calls to be sure we were OK. If we paid a few more dollars for Newmar quality, so be it. A few other brands have a similar reputation. I am only familiar with our brand since this is the only motorhome we have owned.

Good luck in your search and don't worry about your parents. They will be fine and they will have the time of their lives.

Don

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I totally agree with Bill Adam's comments.

I might suggest your parents/you look at 1-2 year old motorhomes as they will have most/more of the bugs worked out.

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I had a Class C purchased new, I hated it. Nothing but problems from leaks to mechanical. It was a 31 ft. I now have a 37ft class A and love it. I would like to put in a BIG caution-- request a long test drive and ON interstate to see how it handles and if they are comfortable with it. An around the block drive which most dealers give is a lot different than highway with trucks passing and higher speeds. My A had tail wag which I solved with a homemade track bar and stiffer sway bar. The C didn't have that. I do find my A is easier for DIY repairs than the C. Good Luck

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Your parents need to spend time in an RV and think about their personal comfort. IMHO, the class C's living area is smaller because you lose the front area for use when parked. In a class A, you can turn the front seats around so they can be part of the living area. I've never seen a Class C that did that. Also the front window of a Class A gives you more light; the class C tends to block your visual view to the outside with the cab over the driver's area being low.

Another thing is to consider the turning radius of a Class A and Class C, the same length. When we were shopping for our first MH, we were told there is a big difference in the turning radius. You might want to verify this.

Are they going to tow a vehicle? That also will have to factor in with what RV to buy and it's capabilities.

Taking your time to look and test drive different ones will certainly help make your decision.

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Wow, I am grateful for all the thoughtful responses.

We spent the day visiting a few more dealers and have probably ruled out the Class Cs because the chassis seems a bit petite if the manufacturer makers it into a 33' so we have probably narrowed it to the A Class and Super C Class. A salesman at a dealership that sells the Super Cs built on the Chevrolet 6500 chassis made an interesting offer--He will buy steak dinner for 4 if we can find any motorhome other than a Class A that a manufacturer has had to buy back because of lemon laws--He claims that the Chevrolet portion of the motorhome he's selling is identical to millions of other medium duty Chevrolet trucks in use and that a breakdown is extremely rare, and a breakdown that the Chevrolet mechanics can't repair is unheard of.

If anyone can refute his claims the steak dinners are all yours.

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I steer clear of salesman's that makes empty offers and false claims. All motor homes has problems that is why you get a warranty. Get an extended warranty also but not from the dealer. Ask us here we know good extended warranty companies that sell policy for less. BTW a Chevrolet 6500 rides like a truck and a class A with air ride rides like a coach.

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Amen Huffy!!! I have rode in both, and driven both, the ride especially with air ride is far superior in an A versus any C that I have ever been in.

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The biggest thing to take into accounts is the design capacity has to be more than it is expected to carry

When the running gear is maxed out it will not live

I run with a super C with a 49,000 lb gvw and only load to 37,000 now with 210,000 miles on it

Bruce

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As i see it, Shopper, you have two choices-listen to and believe the information that past and present owners of motorhomes on various RV forums are giving you or listen to and believe a salesman that most likely has never driven a motorhome more than a few miles on test drives.

I recently looked at a Jayco Seneca. I wanted to know how much the salesman knew about his product so I asked things like "whats that extra tank for?", his response- "generator fuel", it was the DEF tank. "Does it have air brakes?". Now remember, I'm sitting in the drivers seat with my hand on the yellow knob that controls the brakes and his response was "no, power brakes". He did know it had three TV's and the dining table could make a bed of sorts.

Do you have a friend, neighbor or relative that owns a RV? You need someone with experience with you and your parents to recognize fact from bull corn. I assure you, they want to talk about the bells and whistles because thats all they know.

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When a salesman starts offering free steak dinners it's time to run out of the dealership before you get food poisoning!

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Wow, I am grateful for all the thoughtful responses.

We spent the day visiting a few more dealers and have probably ruled out the Class Cs because the chassis seems a bit petite if the manufacturer makers it into a 33' so we have probably narrowed it to the A Class and Super C Class. A salesman at a dealership that sells the Super Cs built on the Chevrolet 6500 chassis made an interesting offer--He will buy steak dinner for 4 if we can find any motorhome other than a Class A that a manufacturer has had to buy back because of lemon laws--He claims that the Chevrolet portion of the motorhome he's selling is identical to millions of other medium duty Chevrolet trucks in use and that a breakdown is extremely rare, and a breakdown that the Chevrolet mechanics can't repair is unheard of.

If anyone can refute his claims the steak dinners are all yours.

I assume that this was a used vehicle or a leftover. Chevrolet (General Motors) abandoned the medium truck market in 2009, a casualty of their bankruptcy. Super C's are now being built on Freightliner chassis', I believe. Any one on a GM chassis would probably qualify as an "Orphan".

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Again, I'm grateful for all the thoughtful input. I hadn't considered the ride, but it makes sense that the medium duty truck would ride just like the medium duty trucks that I drove working on a farm one summer and it probably makes sense that they would enjoy similar reliability,

I share the concerns about relying too much on what a salesman says, but it seems his steak dinner offer was well founded--I've found several lists of RVs that manufacturers have been forced to repurchase and they were all the A class configuration.

Maybe this is boiling to to a choice between a smooth ride and a reputation for reliability?

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I think reliability of a RV is more related to install appliances and accessories that is in any RV not necessarily just class A. I had a 93 class A diesel pusher and the problems with it was cargo lights some don't work from wiring, refrigerator has to be kicked started, hot water heater may or may not fire up the alarm system, sometimes the backup camera wouldn't turn on in reverse, the a/c compressor on engine seized the inside step light shorted, most the cargo doors latches with locks needed replacing. All of these problems were with the same appliances or accessories installed in most RVs. To say class A is unreliable is a lie as none of these problems were class A issues as the chassis was no problem even at 20 years when I traded it in. You will never get a buy back on a class C or super C because it's a modified chassis with two manufactures involved, one for chassis and one for the RV. High end Class A build their chassis from the ground up for their intended purpose.

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All you need to do to make this choice is use your eyes--look at the units stranded on the side of the road or hooked to a tow truck and you'll see 99% of these are the big boxes with the cushy ride. You can also look on this forum in the class A section and read the horror stories of trying to get one of these beauties fixed--one recent post had the familiar complaint that the unit had been in the shop more than at the campground,

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Small correction to Ray's post -- today most Class A's, either gasoline or diesel, are built on chassis NOT made by coach builder.

For gas, Ford (since Workhorse left the business).

For diesel, most are Freightliner or Spartan, though there ARE a very few coach makers who do build their own chassis as well. Monaco used to make quite a few of their own chassis, but no longer -- they are now on Freightliner chassis.

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Huffypuff, I appreciate your reply but do not understand this portion of it.

You will never get a buy back on a class C or super C because it's a modified chassis with two manufactures involved, one for chassis and one for the RV. High end Class A build their chassis from the ground up for their intended purpose.

It seems the C classes have two manufacturers, and also that the As do also according to Wolfe10's last post, but regardless of how many manufacturers are involved my understanding of the lemon laws is that if the manufacturer(s) cant get it fixed in a reasonable # of attempts they have to buy the unit back. I do not see how the manufacturers of the C classes would fare any differently under this law.

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Shopper, it seems the salesman is only talking about the Chevy engine not the other components that make the unit a recreational vehicle. I wonder how many Cummins engines (which many Class A MH's have) have been faulty - I doubt less that a fraction of a percent. Many of the issues with any RV are the moving parts (i.e, slides), appliances, etc. No matter what class, they are a home on wheels that take a lot of abuse on our rough roads. There will always be issues with a moving home on wheels but for most of us we enjoy our travels and comfort of our own home on the road and take the lumps that comes with it.

You also might want to ask for some recommendations of good RV dealers that provide honest and reliable sales and service. There are a few out there that are worth traveling to.

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Chassis manufacture not going to buy back modified chassis as they are only responsible for the chassis and will refer you back to the RV builders. The RV builder isn't responsible for the chassis so they so they would refer you to the chassis builder. So who is going to buy back that lemon, you better get it in writing. I hope that clears things up shopper so the few buy back you see is possible a RV manufacture that build their own chassis.

There was class A manufacture that had bad trailing arms on the rear of their coach of their smaller class A. Goodyear sold tires for coach knowing that it wasn't designed for long haul, that's not a class A fault. The bottom line is the more bells and whistles it has the more problems you can have with it.

That's why I say get an extended warranty and not from the dealer. I got a nice warranty on a 2006 and used it twice and saved on repairs. One person said he seen cushy ride class A broken down on the road but I see different. Mostly fifth wheel pick up break down and old class c and a.

My cushy ride class A may pull to the side of the road because my old kidneys can't hold it any longer. :lol:

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All you need to do to make this choice is use your eyes--look at the units stranded on the side of the road or hooked to a tow truck and you'll see 99% of these are the big boxes with the cushy ride. You can also look on this forum in the class A section and read the horror stories of trying to get one of these beauties fixed--one recent post had the familiar complaint that the unit had been in the shop more than at the campground,

I do not know where you are looking! I actually see more of the lower cost Class C's broken down along the highway, and not too many of those. If I stop along a highway, it's to stretch my back or releave myself, or both. When I rode in a Class C, I had to stop more often because the ride was terrible compared to my Class A. When you look at the numbers of RV's on the road, the numbers of those that break down along the road is pretty low. But that's why we get roadside assistance insurance.

You cannot base your purchase on what you see along a highway. That would not be the best way to make this important decision IMO. Most of the waranty issues ALL new RV's have are not with the basic drive train, ability to move systems, but with the other systems added to that chassis.

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