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MWeiner

What's Your Yearly Budget For Maintenance Costs?

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On average, how much would you say your maintenance costs run on keeping your motorhome, aside from trips and related expenses?  This would include routine maintenance, insurance and license fees....

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Mark,

You might want to separate out insurance and licensing as that really varies by state and even location within a state.

Would also suggest stating age/miles on the rig, as maintenance costs on a 2 year old coach will be different than on a 12 year old coach.

Also, costs are very different for those who do their own work vs those who pay to have everything done.

Some set aside $XX per year toward tire replacement, some only count that in the year they re replaced.

Said another way, there are a LOT of variables.

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 doesn't Brett, OK... average is a relative term... depending on age.. 

Maybe people can give an estimate excluding license fees for years 2-5, 6-10, 11-16.

My car doesn't require a lot of expensive repairs every year, sometimes it's quite significant.. that's why you budget ... so, the "estimate" is a tool. 

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Mark.  Some folks have a budget, some don't.  Some are on fixed income, some are variable!  On this Forum we seem to have a mixed bag of working professionals and retired professionals!   I really would be surprised if you got a lot of honest answers to your question!

Why not start with yourself?

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rh.  Welcome to the Forum!

Mine is not close to that high, and it includes Diesel, etc!  On a 45 foot, Class A, American Coach.

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2 hours ago, MWeiner said:

On average, how much would you say your maintenance costs run on keeping your motorhome, aside from trips and related expenses?  This would include routine maintenance, insurance and license fees....

Mark,

Since my mini Class C  is defined as a Class B+ by some manufactures I'll answer this one:

Chassis Annual Maintenance:  $150.00  That is a oil change before going in to storage in the fall and another after coming out in the spring.  The services are performed at my local Ford dealer.  Ford maintenance prices are a much better than the OMG!  :blink: costs on the Sprinter based Class C we had...:)

Insurance: ~$540 annually for full coverage thru Allstate.  USAA still won't insure a motor home...and I will not ever use Progressive, their partner in crime.:rolleyes:

License Fees:  $1.00 a year for plate renewal.  We now get charged all the taxes up front in Georgia.  The Georgia Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) is 7% on a new vehicle.  At least there is no longer an annual birthday "present" from DMV.

Storage:  $1,800 annually for covered storage, with 15Amp AC power.   I could pay $1,200 annually for uncovered storage with no AC power but I like having a roof over my unit and being able to keep it plugged in whenever I want...  

That what you were looking for?

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3 hours ago, RedLdr1 said:

Mark,

Since my mini Class C  is defined as a Class B+ by some manufactures I'll answer this one:

Chassis Annual Maintenance:  $150.00  That is a oil change before going in to storage in the fall and another after coming out in the spring.  The services are performed at my local Ford dealer.  Ford maintenance prices are a much better than the OMG!  :blink: costs on the Sprinter based Class C we had...:)

Insurance: ~$540 annually for full coverage thru Allstate.  USAA still won't insure a motor home...and I will not ever use Progressive, their partner in crime.:rolleyes:

License Fees:  $1.00 a year for plate renewal.  We now get charged all the taxes up front in Georgia.  The Georgia Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) is 7% on a new vehicle.  At least there is no longer an annual birthday "present" from DMV.

Storage:  $1,800 annually for covered storage, with 15Amp AC power.   I could pay $1,200 annually for uncovered storage with no AC power but I like having a roof over my unit and being able to keep it plugged in whenever I want...  

That what you were looking for?

Thanks for the responses... I don't know what to make of various replies as compared to my Class B... 

Overall, to all of you... Do you do your own maintenance or take it to a professional??

In my first year.. I had extraordinary expenses, new tires, batteries, repairs, and vehicle maintenance..all in all about $7,500...  And, this was all professionally done... 

Do you do the work yourself or have it done?

I wouldn't expect that every year and  have no storage fees..  

Question, what's wrong with Progressive??

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You're asking questions that could not really be answered by comparison, especially between different brands/models/types of coaches.

Add on top of that the extra money spent getting the rig up to your standards, and I think that you're never going to get a solid answer.

Best advice I could give you is to track your expenses for a year or two while carefully separating maintenance expenses from capital and one-time expenses. Then sit with the service writer where you're having work done and go over the manufacturer's recommendations for the coming years and see what he/she predicts the costs will be. Routine costs for your chassis should not be difficult to predict and pretty much in line with other vehicles built on the same chassis. After the chassis costs are determined, you'll have to factor in the additional costs for batteries, tires, appliance maintenance, etc. for all the house systems. You won't replace them all every year, but they could easily be calculated based on expected life.

I could add my anticipated maintenance costs to the mix, but our coach is 44 years old and designed to be in commercial service. The assumption was that there was going to be a service team on hand at every major city to take care of maintenance on an ongoing basis. We are probably at the very opposite of the spectrum from where you should be, as we could spend a few thousand a year without trying just on routine maintenance to keep the chassis rolling down the road, and that's if nothing breaks or wears out.

Regarding insurance, we have Progressive and so far don't find them any different than any other insurance company that I've dealt with. We did have a major claim and it went about as well as could be. My thought on insurance is that the same company will be night and day different from one state to the next.

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Richard, 

Yes, some of the extra money I spent was to bring the coach up to my standards... I replace tires and batteries every six years... plus the on board propane sensor.. these were capital items and will not have to be revisited for a while..

Two oil changes and routine maintenance this year.. with the trip across the USA. Fortunately,  the emissions system, recently replaced under warranty were all covered by Mercedes Benz.   

I imagine that the repairs and maintenance for your 44 year old bus would be quite different... understood.

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I don't think there is a correct answer.  My maintenance varies but it is because I use the same facility and the same mechanic that I have been using for the past 10 years.  He has records and knows what has been done. He will not do something that is not needed, so vary my yearly between $750-$2500 for maintenance.  I don't include covered storage as a maintenance items. As stated, maintenance is gong to vary according to Mfg.  I expect my maintenance to be slightly higher now that we have an Aqua-hot system and 3 AC's instead of 2.

As for Progressive Insurance I find nothing wrong with them. A couple years ago we were in a hail storm and the hail was a large as golf balls, literally. (or bigger) and Progressive paid out $19,000 for a new roof. Last year the MH was totaled. They gave me back what I paid for it and that is according to the policy I have. They have always come through for us.

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Mark, took me a bit to locate the zip drive I had with Sprinter maintenance notes but I came up with a number. One thing to keep in mind routine maintenance is about the only thing you can preplan for. Mechanical breakdowns would be difficult to preplan, with that being said on light duty vehicles like your size at work we plan on .08 per mile for Diesel and .4 for Gas.

From my business I sold in 2015 my Sprinter menu summary would be budget $1400.00 per year (assuming you run 15-20k per year on mileage) this should have enough fluff to cover brakes and tires as they come along. From my notes Sprinter's in the commercial environment only go 20-25,000 miles on Brakes and rotors ($1000.00 brake job per axle). I experimented with aftermarket pads and rotors to save customer's a few $$ in a fleet application, that didn't go as well as I hoped it would. I do not recommend going that route as the aftermarket brakes were noisy when applied (slight grinding sound could be heard inside). Those rotor designs were more along the line of an American rotor (where it lasts a few over a few brake pad replacement intervals) not a German type where the rotor and pad wear down together. On a positive note you didn't need to replace the rotors at every brake job which drastically cut down on cost but the noise was present, and I didn't think they stopped as well. In an RV I would run the factory brake pads and rotors.

One thing I observed around 100,000 miles transmissions needed overhauled (fleet vehicles that were take homes with only ever having one driver). The Sprinter had some plastic thrush washers inside that would crack and fail, every one failed at the 80,000-100,000 mile interval. I actually had metal ones machined and overhauled a few for a customer, they worked well afterwards all the way up to the engine replacement at 200,000 miles, which again, in an RV its not likely you will have it that long. The owner of the business's sprinter made it to 250,000 miles, his was a 2013, which from all that I read back then he did well.

The modern Diesel woes, while we as society benefit from cleaner air we open our wallets to an exuberant amount of potential problems that happen all to often. Todays Diesel engine has SIX times the components of a Gas engine in the same year, that increases the potential for problems. I have a few big Mercedes Benz Diesels at work as an example that will average a breakdown with some sort of electrical/emissions component every 10,000 miles that cost the company on average $3500.00 plus a tow, some have exceeded $10,000. Specifically on these engines I can only seem to squeeze 500,000 miles out of one and WOW are they expensive to put back on the road.  

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58 minutes ago, jleamont said:

Mark, took me a bit to locate the zip drive I had with Sprinter maintenance notes but I came up with a number. One thing to keep in mind routine maintenance is about the only thing you can preplan for. Mechanical breakdowns would be difficult to preplan, with that being said on light duty vehicles like your size at work we plan on .08 per mile for Diesel and .4 for Gas.

From my business I sold in 2015 my Sprinter menu summary would be budget $1400.00 per year (assuming you run 15-20k per year on mileage) this should have enough fluff to cover brakes and tires as they come along. From my notes Sprinter's in the commercial environment only go 20-25,000 miles on Brakes and rotors ($1000.00 brake job per axle). I experimented with aftermarket pads and rotors to save customer's a few $$ in a fleet application, that didn't go as well as I hoped it would. I do not recommend going that route as the aftermarket brakes were noisy when applied (slight grinding sound could be heard inside). Those rotor designs were more along the line of an American rotor (where it lasts a few over a few brake pad replacement intervals) not a German type where the rotor and pad wear down together. On a positive note you didn't need to replace the rotors at every brake job which drastically cut down on cost but the noise was present, and I didn't think they stopped as well. In an RV I would run the factory brake pads and rotors.

One thing I observed around 100,000 miles transmissions needed overhauled (fleet vehicles that were take homes with only ever having one driver). The Sprinter had some plastic thrush washers inside that would crack and fail, every one failed at the 80,000-100,000 mile interval. I actually had metal ones machined and overhauled a few for a customer, they worked well afterwards all the way up to the engine replacement at 200,000 miles, which again, in an RV its not likely you will have it that long. The owner of the business's sprinter made it to 250,000 miles, his was a 2013, which from all that I read back then he did well.

The modern Diesel woes, while we as society benefit from cleaner air we open our wallets to an exuberant amount of potential problems that happen all to often. Todays Diesel engine has SIX times the components of a Gas engine in the same year, that increases the potential for problems. I have a few big Mercedes Benz Diesels at work as an example that will average a breakdown with some sort of electrical/emissions component every 10,000 miles that cost the company on average $3500.00 plus a tow, some have exceeded $10,000. Specifically on these engines I can only seem to squeeze 500,000 miles out of one and WOW are they expensive to put back on the road.  

Thank you very much for sharing this.... very appreciated.

Interesting that your predicted costs on the diesel is lower than the gas...

"with that being said on light duty vehicles like your size at work we plan on .08 per mile for Diesel and .4 for Gas"

Tell me, that's NOT a typo... .08 per mile for the diesel... correct? 

My Sprinter is a 2011 MB , 3 litre V6..it's still pretty new and less than 40,000 miles, even with my cross country trip.. biggest thing that happened was the entire emissions system, NOX sensor and catalytic converter all recently were replaced..it had blown a back pressure sensor on the turbo on the last leg of our trip...

My biggest frustration with this so far is the DEF system.. there's no dash board gauge for this, just some warning light that is supposed to tell you your low on DEF fluid...add some and it is supposed to reset... when the light went on, it put the thing into limited starts and I had to take it back to Mercedes... otherwise, I love it and the performance...

$1,500 per year in maintenance costs sounds great... I'm not planning on driving 15-20,000 miles per year every year...too much.. this first year is probably an annomoly for me... We'll see.. 

As for further down the road... I do get the transmission service regularly... And oil and filter changes..  100,000 miles or more is a ways away..

Don't know if I'll have the RV after five years.. again, depends on how much we use it. One thing is for sure, we would NEVER go full time in this rig...too small for that. 

Not sure about full time at all.... everyone's different, I understand. I'm not saying it's bad, just not what I want..., but, for traveling and sight seeing, this van is perfect for us.  Three months was a long time, but, we have another residence in Michigan and stayed there for a month during this past trip..and with friends and family the rest of the way to break up the time... SO, not three months total on the road in the vehicle.. 

Finally, one more thing...it's NOT easy at all on the road to get SERVICE for the Sprinters... when the check engine light came on the last time we were in the Mohave desert... just about 175 miles outside of Flagstaff headed back to LA...We had just left Flagstaff where they replaced the exhaust back pressure sensor.... something was apparently still wrong and they didn't see it ... there's no Mercedes Benz dealership close by..we called the agency and they said if it was driving OK, we would probably be able to make it home..and take it to our local dealership.   We were able to do that.. but, I still keep the AAA card handy and have the 200 mile tow feature.... you never know....

I'm VERY easy on my cars and vehicles... learned a long time ago that it REALLY makes a difference on how you drive and maintain them..it pays to be meticulous . Most of my cars have easily gone way past 125-150,000 miles.. with no major failures...I expect the van with the diesel engine to go to 200,000 easily...

 

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1 hour ago, MWeiner said:

08 per mile for the diesel... correct? 

Yes, this is correct, within that number is some money to help fund the next breakdown, believe me its not nearly enough, I have had a few bigger ones that were at .30 per mile :o. Gas engines are significantly cheaper to maintain, I had a fleet of them at one point with over 300,000 miles, most had only ever had basic tune-ups. The days of less to go wrong on a diesel and the diesel being more dependable started to decline around 1998 and completely went in the trash around 2007. I am not referring to internal engine stuff, that part is fairly robust, however in an effort to increase fuel economy and meet emissions requirements with all of the stuff hanging off an engine they cheapened some of the internals up to make them lighter, especially in the smaller engines. Said another way the base engine should last if the emissions system doesn't kill it along the way since a few internals are fragile. Those emissions components will not last 1 millions miles, several replacements along the way of some pretty expensive components and wiring harness failures along the way.

Gas engine technology hasn't really changed much in 20+ years, some minor additional improvement like variable cam timing but otherwise not much different, with that being said most manufactures have it mastered, on occasion some bean counter will seek out a component for less money, it will fail creating a bad feeling for the consumer, otherwise no real issues.

On the diesel side, nothing is mastered, as they meet Govt requirements they move on to meet the next mandate, all the while what they just produced is plagued with problems for the consumer to pay for, or you are at the dealers mercy to hope they will cover it under a warranty, but they too have to be careful how much warranty they send off to the manufacture as they have guidelines that jeopardize the franchise.

The DEF tank reading low or empty while full is a VERY common problem across the Daimler line, mostly caused by DEF crystalizing on the sensor and for whatever reason it cant handle its intended purpose. You are lucky you made it home, their big trucks...literally engine light comes on, engine derates, 10 minutes later engine shuts down and you coast off the road. They were nice enough to put a ECM fault bypass switch on the dash, you press it while restarting, if not deemed serious by the computer you can continue at a reduced Horsepower, if serious you might only be able to idle. 

Mercedes has proprietary software that most aftermarket scan tools will not read. For whatever reason they did this it limits where it can be repaired at, probably their intention, gas engines are different regulations, most any scan toll will read those. Big truck diesels the cost will often double per mile, especially where it operates, cold climates with road salt, the problems will never end.

In the RV side, most only run 10-20,000 miles per year, the cost will spread out for the consumer, depending on where its operating they might make a few years of trouble free driving. Richard, above with his Bus, he might have some basic stuff like a radiator or hose fail, mostly from age but I'd take that set up any day over new technology. That old saying "they don't build them like they use to" is so true in today's Diesel.

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So, eight cents per mile diesel... four cents per mile gasoline...the reason I asked you to clarify is that the way you originally wrote this it looked like the diesel was .08 per mile.... which is less than .4 per mile...( See decimal point)...

"with that being said on light duty vehicles like your size at work we plan on .08 per mile for Diesel and .4 for Gas"

OK, the whole reason I got the diesel engine was the performance and the anticipated longevity!  As you know, the torque and power of the diesel engine is much better for heavier vehicles.. with the dual wheels and weight of the RS Adventurous...it can handle weight up to 15,000 pounds fully loaded....

I'll probably never be at full capacity....and don't think it's necessary to tow an extra car... although it could....

As for long distances...I met someone in Michigan with a Sprinter van , not an RV, from Canada who actually had almost 500,000 miles on his vehicle...he said he did all the maintenance on schedule and no significant problems....

Falls under the category of "your mileage will vary" on road experiences...and repairs , I suppose.

 

 

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One more thing... someone told me that the coach appliances and other things would probably fail BEFORE the engine quits... Time will tell....

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Mark, that is totally unpredictable in my opinion.  Microwave, stove, refrigerator, hot water heater, etc., could fail at anytime just as the engine could.

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35 minutes ago, wayne77590 said:

Mark, that is totally unpredictable in my opinion.  Microwave, stove, refrigerator, hot water heater, etc., could fail at anytime just as the engine could.

I imagine anything is possible...we could die suddenly too..  I'm not going to worry about all this and just live my life..  can't control everything...   

I glad to be retired and enjoy the leisure time with my RV whenever I can.   The main reason I probably won't go full time is that it's a bad financial move, in my opinion. 

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Mark, our last coach had all the original appliances in it, they all worked flawlessly even at year 16 when we traded it.

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3 hours ago, jleamont said:

... Richard, above with his Bus, he might have some basic stuff like a radiator or hose fail, mostly from age but I'd take that set up any day over new technology. That old saying "they don't build them like they use to" is so true in today's Diesel....

Call me a Luddite if you want, but I agree wholeheartedly. I am often envious of all the new-fangled bells and whistles most of you have on your rigs, at least until I see a twenty-page thread trying to help someone track down some mysterious fault or error keeping the engine from starting. Nothing on ours requires an engineering degree and I like it that way. I do have things fail (struggling with a drip from my over-the-road heater booster pump right now) but overall the mechanical systems on our coach are pretty straightforward. That said, the number of mechanics trained to work on Detroit Diesel 2-stroke engines is getting fewer and fewer as days go on. Given the lack of good apprenticeship programs in most shops nowadays, the days are numbered for anyone driving an older coach like mine that can't do the work himself/herself.

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10 minutes ago, richard5933 said:

the days are numbered for anyone driving an older coach like mine that can't do the work himself/herself

HAHA, don't let that fool you, they cant fix the new ones either :ph34r:. A bad design cannot be repaired, just apply a band aid for a few months, do it over....:lol: If anything on yours it will be overthought and missed, the new stuff they are completely lost :wacko:.

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Hmm, don't build them like they used to?? 

Cars and trucks have greatly improved over the years...why?  Robots...

They're more precise and don't get hung over, take vacation days or get sick... although they do require maintenance and someone to operate them... usually highly skilled computer tech people...

Also, cars and trucks...all vehicles seem to last longer than past days and are SAFER...way safer....

SO, not sure I agree that we should go back to the "good old days"....

Of course I'm hopeful that the coach hardware and mechanical systems last for 15 years or more... they certainly could..... but, NOT 500,000 miles... 

I think old cars and RVs are nostalgic...but, I would not want to own anything older than 20 years old...parts, service and safety suffer....

I completely agree with what Richard said below....

the number of mechanics trained to work on Detroit Diesel 2-stroke engines is getting fewer and fewer as days go on. Given the lack of good apprenticeship programs in most shops nowadays, the days are numbered for anyone driving an older coach like mine. 

 

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Of course, coaches like the one we have were designed by the manufacturer to go 3 million miles. Not 500,000, but 3 million. They fully expected to go through a number of engine rebuilds during that time, as well as suspension and systems rebuilds, but the chassis and structure was fully expected to last a loooong time. In fact, the entire drive train (engine, transmission, radiator, exhaust, etc.) are designed to be removed by placing a forklift in place and then removing the four (very big) mounting bolts. Nearly everything on the older coaches was designed to be rebuilt, and believe it or not parts are generally still available. (I just got a rebuild kit in the mail for the heater booster pump, and I've got a NOS water valve on the way.)

On newer vehicles, even the high-end Class A models, things are much more modular and reliant on fairly finicky electronics. The plan now is to remove and replace, not repair/rebuild.

I wanted a vehicle that was designed to pound the pavement, and I was okay with giving up some of the creature comforts found on a more modern motor home to do this. I'll add some of these as time moves on, but for the most part we're okay with the way things are in ours.

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