Hi I am new.... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-19-2015, 10:03 AM   #1
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Name: Mary
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Hi I am new....

I am having a very hard time making up my mind. Do I want a Class C and tow a small very fuel efficient car? Or do I want to pull a trailer with a not very fuel efficient tow vehicle? Right now I have a Kia Sportage. It is rated at 2000 pounds. I am not in love with this vehicle and will probably trade in the near future. So if I get a small fuel efficient car for every day run around I would be able to use it as a tow behind (I have been told the correct term for this is a toad!). But if I got a little beefier vehicle (thinking Highlander V6), I could tow a 3500 pound trailer and have elbow room and less fuel efficiency around town.

I am leaning towards the little fuel efficient car and the Class C.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:52 AM   #2
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I'd add a third choice- a hefty tow vehicle (truck or similar) and trailer and an around town small car. (That would be my ideal). I hate to see Toads- it is a real waste of gas imho- but if the toad is also your energy-efficient around town car and you spend a lot of time not towing, it might be a good choice. But the advantage of the truck/trailer combo is not only that you can unhitch at the campground, but you can easily replace the truck when it ages out and you don't have to replace the trailer (especially not a fiberglass trailer).

How much around town vs. how much towing do you plan to do? (How much RV'ing?)
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Old 08-19-2015, 11:05 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum. There are lot's of folks here to guide you as you consider your options.

Since you seem to be considering both a new vehicle and some sort of RV, you are in a good place. You can pick a balanced combination that meets your specific needs.

However, you have other things to consider prior to making the choice. The list below is not exhausive but these questions have to do with your expectations. That's where you need to start before you ask the questions about type of RV and/or TV.

How much camping experience do you have? Tent? RV?
Do you plan to do a lot of traveling; i.e. full time, half the year, vacation?
How many people will be camping with you?
Do you plan to dry camp, aka boondocking, or stay in campgrounds with full hookups.


I thinks it's important to note that in several recent posts members have commented that they went through several campers before finding the one that really suits them. Accurately defining your expectations and realistic consideration of your past camping experience and future plans will narrow your search.

Also, keep an eye out for rallies in your neck of the woods and take the opportunity of visit folks there and see what they are using. Most folks will gladly give you a tour of their pride and joy.

One thing to consider on a Class C beyond fuel mileage is the ongoing insurance cost when not in use.
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Old 08-19-2015, 12:24 PM   #4
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Welcome, Mary! Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Insurance is one factor (not too bad, based on experience owning a Toyota Class C a number of years ago). Bigger issues are maintenance of two drivetrains and depreciation of two vehicles. The Toyota Itasca motorhome I owned leaked badly around the cabover bed, required 6 tires ($$$), and had some issues with the engine I was deferring. Everyone I have personally known who owned a motorhome spent money on it almost continually. A friend is trying to sell his, and after 3 years of payments, he may still be underwater. With a molded fiberglass trailer, maintenance and depreciation on the RV are minimized more than enough to make up for the increased operating cost of the tow vehicle.

Another factor is safety. I like that I can upgrade the tow vehicle periodically (that's about every 10 years for us) to a reliable vehicle that meets current safety standards. Upgrading to a new motorhome is far more expensive. The Toyota motorhome didn't even have airbags, and no 3-point belts for the kids.

I think part of the decision may come down to how large an RV you decide you need to be comfortable. If you can be comfortable in a small-to-mid-sized molded fiberglass trailer under 3500 pounds loaded, you have quite a few choices in tow vehicles that are reasonably practical as daily drivers. Our Honda Pilot (similar to the Highlander you mentioned) gets 23-26 mpg in local driving (more rural than city, I admit). I can live with that, and it's a reliable and safe family vehicle. And there are even smaller vehicles with similar capabilities: Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, GMC Terrain, to name a few. Minivans also make great tow vehicles and can get excellent gas mileage.

Sure, I'd rather be driving a Honda Fit around town, but I will never own a motorhome again!
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Old 08-19-2015, 12:56 PM   #5
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Well, I think I have, with all of your input, come to the conclusion that a pull behind trailer is how I would like to proceed. I have tent camped and want to continue camping, but I am not going to sleep on the ground anymore! I think two drivetrain maintenances and two insured vehicles well out weighs a beefier vehicle.
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Old 08-19-2015, 01:21 PM   #6
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I'm going to suggest as a next step getting a look at some molded fiberglass trailers in person.

You can, of course, go to any RV dealer or show and see plenty of conventional framed trailers. But molded fiberglass has a huge advantage in terms of maintenance and depreciation (as my experience with seam leaks on the Toyota motorhome taught me). Unfortunately, all but one of the molded fiberglass manufacturers sell direct-from-factory, no dealers, and they don't typically attend the RV shows, either. The used market is pretty sparse as well, so the odds of finding one on your corner RV lot are very slim.

One of the best ways to get a first-hand look at a variety of fiberglass trailers is to visit a rally. Here's a link to the 2015 Rally Map. Looks like there are a couple in NC in October. You can contact event coordinators to inquire about a visit. Some have times set aside for open house tours, and even if not, the coordinators might recommend a good time to visit, and most owners are happy to show their trailers.

In the meantime you can start looking at classified ads here, on Molded Fiberglass Travel Trailers For Sale | Fiberglass RV's For Sale, and on local Craigslist listings. And if purchasing a new one might be in the cards, you can start contacting manufacturers. Many can set you up with a nearby owner willing to demo their trailer for a prospective buyer.
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Old 08-19-2015, 01:40 PM   #7
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The beauty of going to a rally is that you won't only see the trailers, but you will see the TVs as well and will be able to ask questions about the rig, trailer with TV.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:20 PM   #8
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Mary, as you research options, a very useful resource, at least for molded fiberglass trailers, is the thread Trailer Weights in the Real World. It contains a database of scaled weights of actual, loaded-for-camping fiberglass trailers of various makes and models. Post #297 has a handy downloadable and sortable Excel spreadsheet.

In combination with vehicle manufacturers' towing specifications it's a starting point for what works and what doesn't.

Have fun! This is the beginning of an adventure!
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:31 PM   #9
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We are towing with a highlander and use it some around town too. Today we went to a visitation about 120 miles round trip. We took the 4 cyl Accord at about 33 mpg. This seems to work for us. I had pickups most of the time for the past 50 years and miss not having one for "dirty" hauling but do have a nice utility trailer in addition to the Escape 19. Of course I can always haul some firewood or a dead deer in the Jon Boat, but that might lead people to suspect I'm a redneck.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryC View Post
I am having a very hard time making up my mind. Do I want a Class C and tow a small very fuel efficient car? Or do I want to pull a trailer with a not very fuel efficient tow vehicle? Right now I have a Kia Sportage. It is rated at 2000 pounds. I am not in love with this vehicle and will probably trade in the near future. So if I get a small fuel efficient car for every day run around I would be able to use it as a tow behind (I have been told the correct term for this is a toad!). But if I got a little beefier vehicle (thinking Highlander V6), I could tow a 3500 pound trailer and have elbow room and less fuel efficiency around town.

I am leaning towards the little fuel efficient car and the Class C.

Thoughts?
We had a vehicle we towed behind an RV and subsequently used as a tow vehicle. We just sold it with 250,000 miles and never an engine repair. We towed all over North America, yet had a comfortable fuel efficient 4 cylinder vehicle.

Many people tow Fiberglass trailers with 4 cylinder, comfortable fuel efficient vehicles on this forum. There are many choices.

As to comparing a Motorhome (even a class C) to a trailer, the trailer will last longer. A failure of a motorhome engine or transmission is usually very expensive while trailers have few significant failure points.

The motorhome will typically offer more space and more storage and generally less fuel economy. Usually the motorhome/ tow vehicle combination is more expensive, two engines to maintain, two vehicles to insure.

One other factor, unless you're a full timer, the motorhome will sit a high percentage of the time. In my experience long unused engines are unhappy engines.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
In my experience long unused engines are unhappy engines.

That's right Norm. The first rule of vehicle maintenance is to drive the darn thing.

If you don't drive it much, do the maintenance on the time schedule rather than the mileage schedule.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:49 PM   #12
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Best of both worlds

One of the most popular fuel efficient tow vehicles in these parts is the Jetta Diesel sedan. Traditionally they get over 40 MPG solo and 25 to 30 MPG towing a fiberglass trailer. Many have a proven track record towing trailers larger than a glass egg but would need to be a custom set up.

There are many other fuel efficient car options that will tow the trailer and sip gas.

Jetta....
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Old 08-19-2015, 09:12 PM   #13
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I am very pleased with my setup. 2011 Casita Freedom Deluxe and 2010 Nissan Frontier. I had the Frontier and loved it so much I did not want another tow vehicle. The Casita is a perfect match. I get 20-22 MPG not towing and on the list trip 15.5 towing through the Ozarks in North Arkansas and South Missouri. I hope you get a chance to go to a rally and look inside. You will be impressed. I was.
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:52 AM   #14
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Smile Trillium/Subaru

With our combination, we get 26.43mpg not towing and 23.03mpg towing.
With the Subaru we have the added advantage of AWD which is really helpful in the Pacific Northwest where we can get snows but the governments don't have the resources to maintain the roads ice free.


I also confirm other posters that an engine/drive train that sits without use can be a bigger expense than one that is driven. Driving a motorhome just to drive it could more than offset the savings of a fuel efficient tiny car.
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