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Old 07-13-2018, 03:42 PM   #1
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Learning curve pointers for Interstate shoppers

If you are shopping for a new or used Airstream Interstate, you might want to bookmark or at least glance over this developing thread as you do your homework.

We have had sooo many different individual questions from pending buyers on this forum over the past four years (which is the amount of time I've been involved with it), but I realized today that there's no one central "clearing house" thread of general facts that every newbie should equip themselves with.

Furthermore, social forums like this one are extremely difficult to search, even using Google's external engine. People can make good faith efforts to find answers to their questions and still come up empty-handed.

So, how about we long-timers turn this thread into a giant linkpost? Whenever there's key newbie information that is general in nature (not really specific such as "how do I customize my Interstate for my ferret"), please feel free to cross-post here.

Bonus points given for permalinks (by that I mean links to individual responses that are particularly concise) rather than to whole undifferentiated chatty threads.

I'm going to start off the thread with this YouTube by a lemon law attorney, because one of the points of reference which newbies desperately need is the worst case purchase scenario. That worst case probably will never happen to them, but they need to know about the facts that are discussed in this 17-minute video, just to have that as a reality check. Obviously if a large fraction of the buying public experienced what this guy reveals, there would be no RV market at all, because nobody in their right mind would bother with such a mess. But the flip side of that is that most of us have experienced some limited version of the events that he describes. The tales he tells reflect a number of extreme cases, but at the same time, I didn't detect a single outright falsehood in his entire narrative. Someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that. Thanks and good luck to you aspiring buyers.

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Old 07-13-2018, 06:15 PM   #2
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Stock AI is not a boondocker

Hereís what Iíd like all prospective buyers to know: I think the most common disappointment from new Airstream Interstate buyers is that the rig does not meet their expectations on camping off the grid. I donít know if dealers purposely misrepresent its capabilities or if they are simply ignorant because they have never actually camped in one (When we bought ours, it was obvious that I knew more about Interstates than the sales rep). As experienced owners know, with significant and costly upgrades to batteries, controls, and solar, the AI can become a capable boondocker. It also helps if you are technically inclined and love to tinker.
I donít think the other stock Class Bs are any better so this applies to them as well.
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Old 07-13-2018, 07:32 PM   #3
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I'm sure some of you have seen the opinion piece done a few years ago about problems in RV industry. It touches on many of the same points in the Lehto's Law video.

http://rvdr-cdn3.appxtreme.com/wp-co...ompilation.pdf

Anyone buying an RV needs to educate themselves and be prepared to deal with the issues. As Lehto points out buying an RV does not have same protections as buying a car.
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Old 07-14-2018, 04:41 AM   #4
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Many buyers come to the process needing to grasp the essential decision tree which flows from the most important question of all:

How do you plan to use your rig?

Countless times on threads, I've seen the opener question posed as, "Do I buy A, or do I buy B?"

Well, it very much depends on the intended use scenarios.

Many times, the answer comes back, "We intend to use it for a little of everything. We will start out camping with full hook-ups, but then we might want to try boondocking... I'm not sure, though. We'll take it one step at a time."

OK, at that point, prioritization must occur. Boondocking or campgrounds - pick one. In the words of the old Rush song, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

Any decision to include boondocking usually comes with a massive incremental price tag. That extra payment is not something that many people wish to default to unthinkingly. OK, I'll spend that extra $20K, and maybe I'll use it and maybe I won't. No, it doesn't typically work like that.

It would be good to develop a pictorial process flow for this, and a list of stimulus questions to accompany it.
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Old 07-14-2018, 04:54 AM   #5
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Great idea to have a thread like this!

Your assertion, however, that forums like this are "extremely difficult to search," might put up an unnecessary roadblock to a newcomer's quest for information here IMO.

The new Google-powered search function above in the blue box works very well, so hopefully everyone, new and old alike, will learn to use it to their benefit. Yes the old search function, in the blue menu bar above [just below the new search box], was ornery and of limited utility, but it is in the past, as long as we don't keep referencing its dysfunction as present reality IMO.

Just a minor course correction . . . good luck with this new thread.

Happy Trails!

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Old 07-14-2018, 05:27 AM   #6
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Having just purchased a 2013 IA(July 5,2018) I set aside $5000 upfront to handle “minor” surprises- I have already spent $700 of that(New AGM coach batteries). Manage your expectations when buying and you will not be taken by surprise. I used an extensive pre-purchase check list and it kept me on track. Murphy’s Law definitely applies.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
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Lehto's law

The Lehto's law video describes our experience in purchasing a 2016 AI perfectly. Multiple components failed on the first outing. Rig spent a couple of months in the shop. Multiple trips to the service department after that, frequently with 1-2 month delays getting in for service. Multiple trips to fix the same components. Service department severely understaffed. Even looked into the Lemon Laws in our state to see if we had any recourse. Excellent video that would have helped prior to purchase to know what to expect.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:53 PM   #8
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Guess I have been lucky

After 18 months with my used 2014.5 AI, my only trip to the dealer was for a leaking outside shower fitting that must have froze while on the dealer's lot. My visit to get it fixed took about 2 hours and cost me nothing since they knew that it must have occurred before I took possession of the coach.

My only real failure since was when I reset the Magnum while plugged in to outside power. That caused a lot of smoke and cost me a new Magnum. While installing the new Magnum, I took the opportunity to relocate the Magnum to get better air circulation and cleaner wiring.
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Old 07-14-2018, 02:55 PM   #9
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I watched that video before I purchased. But, many of us have dreamed of this lifestyle for years and what other option do you have but to take the risk, pray for the best, and live the dream with a few nightmares thrown in?
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Old 07-14-2018, 03:17 PM   #10
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Learning curve pointers for Interstate shoppers

Like owning a boat - it helps if you are handy and can do stuff yourself.

PS - the Google search option is much better at finding thing on this and any other forum.
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Old 07-14-2018, 03:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mansderm161 View Post
I watched that video before I purchased. But, many of us have dreamed of this lifestyle for years and what other option do you have but to take the risk, pray for the best, and live the dream with a few nightmares thrown in?
Yes - the problem is compounded by the fact that the manufacturers have us all by the short hairs. I'm not sure why this condition persists because market forces should be doing a better job than they are.

Lemon law coverage in all 50 states would be a start.

Perhaps better concentration of manufacturing in a Right To Work state?? A lot of stuff happens in Ohio which I understand is not RTW. Texas laborers are incredibly good. Many of them at one point or another cut their teeth working in facilities licensed to manufacture according to API standards, which are exacting. They know how to do precision work.

Shoppers might want to glance over the very recent Senior Management Failures at AS thread for more detail along those lines. I raised the issue of how house construction used to be sloppy and cheap like much RV construction currently is. But boy, did the housing industry whip itself into seriously good shape (at least in MY area). See this permalink here and especially see this other one here.
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Old 07-15-2018, 05:45 AM   #12
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Here's another good anecdotal reference for potential rig buyers. The average buyer is not going to experience the sheer number of problems that this particular Roadtrek owner has had (he's currently 2.5 years into ownership and still doesn't have a fully working van). But here's the thing: chances are excellent that any given buyer will have at least ONE of his issues. Therefore, it's potentially worth seeing how he has handled them, which he covers in detail in his blog. And because Roadtrek is using many of the same upfit components as Airstream, his reports are relevant to the Interstate brand as well.

http://classbwarned.com/

Edit: Here's his Class B comparison chart, which represents a boat-load of effort on his part. We need to see more of this kind of laid bare if we (the buying public) are to stimulate improvements in the manufacturers. Right now mostly what we have is a vacuous news media niche that publishes advertorials rather than true technical reviews of Class Bs, the kind of real information that people can use when evaluating potential purchases.

PDF link:
http://classbwarned.com/wp-content/u...ison-Chart.pdf
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Old 07-16-2018, 01:01 PM   #13
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Useful crosspost:

One of the mistakes we see newbies making is that they expect easy, instant answers to their predicaments. They will sometimes spawn multiple threads with the same question (it has happened here this week), or they will start mining different but related topical forums looking for a "quick fix" response. If they don't get instant gratification on one forum, they'll query the next, except many of the people on Forum B know that it's the same question as just appeared on Forum A, and they don't take kindly to what they perceive as an attempted information scrape from someone who is probably not willing to invest anything of themselves in return for the attention that they seek.

We understand that these rigs, these Airstream Interstates, can be highly frustrating, especially when things go wrong and warranty work seems hard to come by. But it takes careful participation to get to the answers. It requires patience and participation.

Aspiring information scrapers also tend to disproportionately attract bad advice, specifically because they are using a more superficial approach.

OP PJohnson indirectly addressed both of these issues on another thread when (s)he asked:

"This website, like many, use to be great place to get information based on facts. The problem now, is that almost everyone has access to the internet anyone can offer advice even if it has no basis in fact. ....how do we filter the experts from the pseudo experts?"

There's a lot of non-value-add chatter on the resulting thread, but FWIW, my response to that is located at this permalink here.
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Old 07-16-2018, 06:02 PM   #14
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I am not sure if this helps but I have to mention it...

People who do not like worrying about things breaking should not get a RV/boat.
People who cannot troubleshoot and fix things should not get a RV/boat.

I do not mean to be negative. I have a RV and a boat and I like them both...

A friend of mine asked me if he should get an Airstream trailer. He can afford it.
I asked him if he likes dealing with problems when vacationing.
He said, No.
I told him to forget the trailer and just go to hotels.
He understood.
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