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Old 03-27-2010, 12:50 PM   #1
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Budgeting for Airstream Repairs and Maintenance

Hello, We just picked up our 07 Airstream today from the dealer. Replaced the AC, had a few leaks resealed and some misc items done. Cost 1500$.

I know camping isnt really cheap, I've accepted the cost of truck and trailer. We knew we needed the AC since last fall, so we had the winter to plan for that expense.

We would like to keep this trailer ideally for about 10 years. We plan to do local camping and one big trip a year for about the next 6 years then when DH retires from the military we want to do some serious miles and travel alot using the same truck and trailer.

We maintain our vehicles pretty well, do scheduled maintenance and if something is wrong, we get it fixed. But we have only owned our AS about 18 months. The AC is our first big repair.

What is a reasonable amount of money we should plan to spend yearly on our trailer? How many miles should tires last, 30k? Will we need new axles within 10 years, about how much do they cost?

Any info is appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 03-28-2010, 12:40 AM   #2
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Hi, too many variables in these questions, but I will try to answer some. In over five years I have spent about $500.00 on repairs or maintainence. I paid for wheel bearing service, bought two new tires, and two batteries. In most cases, you will never wear out your tires; I had two that developed small bubbles, so I replaced them. Some people have had flats or tread separations. If you do wear them out, you might have an alignment concern or maybe you have left them on the trailer for too many years; seven years is going to be my limit. [because the only place I have seen this in print is in my wife's BMW owner's manual. "Replace tires between five and seven years reguardless of tread condition"] The reasonable amount of money you should spend on your trailer depends on what it needs and what you can afford. [or get rid of it] Like a car, is it worth spending more money on it or time for another one?
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:50 AM   #3
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only replaced my trailer water pump in four years of ownership.i think it cracked from winter freeze.i dont see a whole lot of maintenance that needs to be done other than cleaning before and after each trip.my diesel truck requires about $700 annually for maintenance.both together seems fairly inexpensive,since the truck is also my daily driver.tow about 4000 miles a year,due to time constraints.ill check with my dealer before this season to see when the batteries need to be replaced.tires are holding up well running 65psi and i check the lug torgue before each tow.my hensley requires torqueing and greasing after about 500 miles.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:59 AM   #4
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I think the key here is to keep your Airstream clean - thus you can see any problem areas as they occur (a least it will be easier to see the problem areas) and treat any issues while in their infancy.

A little problem now with a fairly easy\inexpensive fix can quickly develop into some "mucho buckos" latter on....
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:03 PM   #5
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

We have a 2005 Safari 25FB, named Lucy, that we bought new in 2006. Over the past 3 1/2 years, we have spent almost 600 nights in Lucy and have towed her over 50,000 miles.

Lucy is on her third set of tires. The OEM Marathons only lasted 12,000 miles before three catastrophic failures on the road. We replaced them with a set of four Maxxis E's. They lasted 28,000 miles before we experienced tread separations. We replaced them with another set of Maxxis E's. Each time this cost us about $650.

We have Lucy's bearings serviced four times at about $200 each time.

Lucy's drum brakes wore out in northern California. We continued to Eugene, Oregon, and had the Airstream dealer do a complete brake job, including all new components, Even the back plates. We also had all new wheel bearing installed at this time. The cost for all of this was $1,150.

We have had all of the appliances inspected and serviced once at a cost of $200.

That is pretty much all of Lucy's maintenance in almost four years of fairly heavy use. We average about 150 nights a year out in Lucy.

Brian
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:37 PM   #6
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After 15,000 miles the electric tongue jack motor failed. Cost about $350. Other than that, no repair costs. We did replace the fresh water drain valve, located between the tires, since I got real tired of trying to force the plastic one to open or close. Cost was about $20. We do have our local shop do a complete inspection every Spring. Cost about $120.

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Old 04-02-2010, 01:57 PM   #7
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Hello and welcome to the forum, smhx4.

I think that most here would agree that having to replace an AC unit on a three-year-old trailer is most unusual.

Of course, it's almost impossible to forecast what annual repair bills will be for you, since a good deal of it depends on luck. You could drive over a large piece of metal and have to replace all tires. Could you have planned that? Of course not.

Also, if you are able and willing to do repair work yourselves, you will greatly reduce costs, since labour is often the most expensive component of any repair.

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that if all your main systems stay together (water heater, fresh water and waste tanks, refrigerator, furnace) it shouldn't be more than a few hundred a year to keep a 2007 on the road.

This of course is only conjecture on my part. Things wear out, such as the batteries and tires. But I can tell you that my trailer has only now required heavy investment, in terms of new water heater, refer (MIA when I bought it) and furnace, and it is 36 years old this year. The old AC unit still works fine, though!

I would agree that keeping it clean and especially keeping after any leaks that happen are two things that can keep costs in line, and that you can do yourselves.

Keep reading here, it isn't rocket surgery to keep them on the road!
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Old 04-02-2010, 03:49 PM   #8
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I think the repair costs are quite variable, somewhat due to luck.

But mine has been in line with the other posts here. I think you're overestimating the life of the tires, I replaced mine with less than 10,000 miles due to age and incessant reports of premature failures. OTOH I think you're AC replacement is highly unusual.

I have yet to replace any major appliances, furnace, AC etc. I suspect I average about $500, per year or less on my '05 all told.

Nearly all of it is "sweat equity" not much in cost but minor repairs which take a little time. Stuff like caulking, gluing, fastening, painting, or replacement of relatively cheap items such as skylight covers, vent covers, etc. I have performed these tasks myself.

Just the other day I noticed the "Ventline" range exterior vent has begun to flake off paint. This type of repair is typical (either sand it and repaint it in place, or repalce the plastic vent) Both options are cheap in cost but will take a little time. Also the Dometic Penguin AC cover is starting to crack. The new cover is a little less than $100. This is my experience of typical maintenance.

Certainly as the age goes up I can see more repairs/replacement such as the refrigerator, axles, furnace, etc.
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:56 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies, this is exactly what I was looking for.

We do think the A/C loss was due to low voltage, we need to get a surge protector. The compressor was frozen so we just replaced the whole unit, was told it would be more cost effective and we would get a full 2 year warranty. My DH and son are currently camping and I went out to visit them last night. Not too happy with the new unit so far, it feels cheap. I like the look of the unit and the vent in the middle gives that burst of air when needed, but so far like the old one better.

The new on also has a temp control and shuts off when the right temp is reached. I like the way the old unit stayed on, I'm sure we'll get used to it. Also the heat function did not seem to work, we had it set for about 10 minutes and it still felt cold. The dealer kept the manual and is currently looking for it, so maybe we were doing something wrong.

It is due for a good exterior cleaning and I know of a few areas I will be caulking soon. We will keep our eyes open when we clean it and make a list of what needs to be done.
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smhx4 View Post
Thanks for the replies, this is exactly what I was looking for.

We do think the A/C loss was due to low voltage, we need to get a surge protector. The compressor was frozen so we just replaced the whole unit, was told it would be more cost effective and we would get a full 2 year warranty. My DH and son are currently camping and I went out to visit them last night. Not too happy with the new unit so far, it feels cheap. I like the look of the unit and the vent in the middle gives that burst of air when needed, but so far like the old one better.

The new on also has a temp control and shuts off when the right temp is reached. I like the way the old unit stayed on, I'm sure we'll get used to it. Also the heat function did not seem to work, we had it set for about 10 minutes and it still felt cold. The dealer kept the manual and is currently looking for it, so maybe we were doing something wrong.

It is due for a good exterior cleaning and I know of a few areas I will be caulking soon. We will keep our eyes open when we clean it and make a list of what needs to be done.
Did the dealer leak test your trailer before sealing up the leak points? i know you were asking me about that a month or two ago.

Steve
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:48 PM   #11
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Hello Steve, no they do not have one of those machines like you do. We told them where it was coming in at and they went from there. We did camp last weekend and had some heavy rain and no leaks.
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:32 PM   #12
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The air replacement so soon was unusual. Need to always have a voltage meter and see what voltage you are getting at some of these RV Parks. Low voltage and/or surges can hurt the air.
Remember that you can go to Dometic online since you have replaced the air and purchase another 3 year extended warranty----if I recall was not real expensive----like $150 or so----that would give you 5 year warranty on the air.
Overall 30-35K miles is pretty good on the tires that or 5 yrs.
I would plan on $500 per year----some years you will not need it all---other years you may need more.
Good luck.
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