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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Class A Motor Home

Updated on March 25, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who has traveled, lived, workcamped and volunteered nationwide for more than 50 years and am still going strong!

Class A Motor Homes have become extremely popular with people who want to travel in heavier, more secure vehicles that have certain amenities and comforts absent in other types of RVs.

Nonetheless, these types of vehicles may not be the best choice for some folks because they have the potential of causing financial and safety issues that make people wish they had purchased something different.

Class A Motor Homes can be wonderful to own, but they also have many problems.
Class A Motor Homes can be wonderful to own, but they also have many problems. | Source

Benefits

Class A Motor Homes have many benefits. They

  • are totally self contained,
  • are constructed of heavy and durable materials,
  • have safety features such as engine brakes,
  • provide a better view of scenery as well as the ability to monitor traffic patterns more easily,
  • have large holding tanks, which gives travelers the option to dry camp for longer periods of time,
  • allow travelers the option of eating without having to stop,
  • provide the option of using the commode while on the move,
  • have been decorated by professionals and give the appearance of being small homes or apartments and
  • properly outfitted, eliminate many of the normal road noises you have in other types of travel units.

Furthermore, most have generators, and this gives owners the freedom of being able to park wherever they like and still have electricity.

Traveling in a motor home is like traveling in a small apartment.
Traveling in a motor home is like traveling in a small apartment. | Source

The Negatives

While all of this sounds good, it is important to understand that, owning and traveling in a Class A has its share of problems. Here is a brief summary:

Cost Vs. Quality

People who buy such units assume that because they are paying so much, they will get a quality coach, but these days, a few hundred thousand dollars only buys one that is mediocre in terms of construction and design.

It may look great, have some nice amenities and seem to run well initially, but before long an owner learns that any joy he thought he would have from owning one turns into frustration, anger and a great deal of grief.

The long term financial consequences can be significant and sometimes even ruinous.

Safety Issues

Having the Best RV Wheel Base Ratios Can Save Your Life and What You Need to Know About RV Slide Room are two articles that detail two of the most common safety issues, but listed here are important, also:

  • cabins that weigh too much for the chassis upon which they are built,
  • underrated chassis that do not have the ability to stop a coach under normal road conditions,
  • the lack of a steel bar in many models that can act as a bumper to protect the coach and its occupants in low speed collisions and
  • units that leave the factory weighted almost to capacity and thus lead to poor road stability.

These safety issues should all be reason enough for people to take the time to investigate units so that they know what they are (or can) be dealing with when it comes to Class A Motor Homes.

The truth is that Class A Motor Homes have more structural problems than any other type of RV. At least half of them are unsound to the point that even a 20 mile per hour accident could destroy one and cause serious damage or even death to its driver and passengers!

2010 Highway Safety Commercial Bus Crash Test

2010 Highway Safety Commercial Bus Crash Test

Mileage

The average gasoline motor home will get between 6 to 10 miles per gallon, and those that run on diesel fuel generally get about two miles more per gallon.

The biggest and heaviest diesel units get half the mileage of the average diesel unit.

At $2.00 per gallon the cost of fuel for one of these big boys for a 1000 mile trip would be about $333! If you took a 6,000 mile trip, you'd be paying around $2000 just for fuel.

When prices rise, costs get even worse.

Driving and Parking Stress

The longer a unit is, the more difficult it is to maneuver, especially when pulling into gas stations or trying to back into camping spots.

Slide rooms can cause rollovers, especially if roads are slick because slides are heavy and can easily unbalance a vehicle. (Check out the attached video to see what I'm talking about.)

Few people who buy Class A Vehicles take RV driver training classes or have the skill and experience they need to handle them safely.

As a result, driving and parking them can become extremely stressful and make vacations more of a problem than a pleasure.

Campsite Size Restrictions

Most State and National Parks, as well as many standard campgrounds, impose size limits on recreational vehicles.

As a result, owners find that they are unable to go to many places they would like to visit and often are forced to stay in expensive resorts.

Those who wish to give it a try would be wise to buy a guide like the one shown here so that they will be able to do a better job of trip planning and also avoid travel disappointments.

My husband and I keep a copy on board at all times when we travel so that we can know ahead of time whether staying in a particular State Park Campground will work out given the size of our motor home.

RV Camping in State Parks
RV Camping in State Parks

This book will help motor home travelers know whether the size of their coach will prohibit them from staying in State Parks nationwide. Wonderful for trip planning and avoiding disappointments when on the road.

 

Higher Service, Storage, Parts and Repair Costs

Folks who buy high end coaches must have them washed, waxed and cleaned regularly to keep up appearances.

Since people who do this type of work charge by the foot, the bigger the coach, the higher the price. For example, a person with 45 foot long coach would pay a minimum of $450 for a total detail.

Storage costs more, too. People with Class A Motor Homes often pay upwards of $200 per month for a covered site.

Dealerships charge big rig owners more for everything. For example, labor can cost as much as $60 more per hour beyond what someone with a smaller coach pays.

Thievery

If you were a thief and had the choice of stealing a small, older motor home or a bigger, newer one, which one would you choose to rob?

Although it is uncommon for someone to steal an entire unit, it is well known that thieves like to get their hands on those fancy amenities that all big rigs house.

It’s another problem for owners to worry about!

Are Class A Motor Homes Worth Owning?

I cannot tell you how many people I have seen vacationing whose trips have been ruined because

  • their Class A was substandard,
  • they did not know how to drive it or
  • they could not really afford to be on the road.

If you ask me whether owning a Class A Motor Home is the right choice for you, my answer is always going to be "yes", but only if you understand its limitations, costs and dangers.

The bottom line is that you can have just as much fun in a small pull trailer as you can in a big coach. You might have fewer amenities and comforts, but you will have piece of mind.

Remember, too, that Class A Motor Homes can be wonderful given the right circumstances, but they can also kill you.

Do you still think you'd like to travel in a motor home after reading this article?

See results

© 2012 TIMETRAVELER2

Comments

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

    sgbrown: Thanks for the supportive comments. I've written a lot of RV articles but thought this one should be included for the very reasons you stated. I think a lot of people buy them and really don't know what they're getting into. Maybe some of them will read this and think twice before they buy! Nice to see you again!

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    This is an excellent, very informative hub! We have had 3 motorhomes over the last 26 years. We started with an old green church bus that we converted. We called it the "Pickle Bus". We graduallly moved up to the big motorhome, which I will NOT even try to drive myself. There is a lot of maintenance and it can be costly, even if you can do some of it yourself. There are some camping areas that you can't even fit into. I love my motorhome, but people do need to realize what they are getting into before they buy one. Voted up and useful!

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