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Old 10-23-2014, 03:42 PM   #1
New Member
Tucker , Georgia
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 2
Overwhelmed by Choices

This is my first post here after stumbling on posts in these forums many times while researching Airstreams. I'm really impressed by the community here- seems friendly and helpful. I'm hoping some of you might be able to offer some advice as I plan for a couple of years full-timing.

I am currently getting financially situated to purchase my first Airstream. I recently traded in my expensive SUV for a much less expensive pickup that has more than enough towing capacity and am putting away the dough for the trailer. Picking one has proven to be much more overwhelming than I expected.

I researched many different manufacturers and brands of travel trailers, but frankly, I just can't imagine living in anything but an Airstream. I just don't like the aesthetics of anything else. I don't need anything all that big- I plan on hitting a lot of different destinations and would like something that's not too difficult to maneuver. My budget is 30 - 40k. My initial plan was to purchase something a couple of years old, but a bunch of trailers are catching my eye in that price range that are 10 - 15 years old, making my list of possibilities much longer.

My main concern is reliability, since this will be my home. I have read some horror stories about rotted floorboards, leaks, etc. along with various time frames that those problems seem to be related to, that have shaken me a bit, and I really want to do my best to avoid some kind of catastrophic maintenance issue. Are there any year models over the last 10 to 15 years that I should avoid? On the other side, are there any year models in that time frame that are known for being particularly reliable? I'm having trouble finding data on this that I can trust, since everything I've found seems to come from people who have had the problem themselves and are guessing at the root cause. In other words, I can't tell if there is some common knowledge here, or if it is just a very loud minority spitting out year models to avoid.

Can anyone offer some advice or point me in the direction of some unbiased data? Would it make sense to purchase a warranty on a used AS?

Thanks in advance,


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Old 10-23-2014, 04:27 PM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
There is no definitive answer to your question of "which is best, which to avoid". All Airstreams are similar in construction and at least in my opinion, build quality. Some of the 70's long ones, 27-31' had issues with frame separation and are best avoided or be sure they are repaired right. There are no gray water holding tanks on those built prior to '73. Floor issues are not uncommon, on all years, depends on how well they have been maintained. In the 80's Airstream used some flake board flooring rather than plywood. Dry it is fine, but it does not hold up well when wet. Probably check the floor carefully if looking in that era.

There are some wall/ceiling covering materials which were used and delaminate from the base materials, and are very difficult and costly to repair. So, tufted ceilings and mouse fuzz carpeting on ceilings and walls are best to avoid.

Otherwise, refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, battery systems, tongue jacks, axles, and soft goods such like curtains and cushion covers all wear out and need to be updated and replaced. The older the unit, the more it could need work or replacements. But the point is that all of these parts are standard to not only Airstreams but other brands. They all wear out, they all will eventually need replacements. One year is not better than another from that standpoint. But if looking at older used units, the more things that have already been replaced the fewer you will need to do soon after your purchase.

Read a lot here for a while to begin to spot areas which should be checked prior to purchase. Don't feel you have to buy the first one you see and like, others will become available. In your price range you should be able to get a pretty nice rig if you look carefully, maybe even one which was purchased and seldom used, and stored under cover. They can be sweet deals vs. ones used hard and put away hot.

Read, visit ones for sale, don't buy until you understand what you are getting into. And welcome to the community.

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Old 10-23-2014, 04:47 PM   #3
Rivet Master
terryV's Avatar
2002 31' Classic
Currently Looking...
Monroe , Iowa
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 649
I think there are a lot of good, slightly used Airstream trailers out there. I also found some that were really well used (make that abused).

You have to go look at them, and make up your mind. Be prepared to walk away if it looks a little scary. Also, when you find one that looks really good, be prepared to put some money down to hold it for a few days, and contact local WBCCI members for help.

If you are not a Wally Byam Club member, become one. They have folks all over the country that will help you with trailer inspection, advice, and even help.

This is a great bunch of people. (They even tolerate me.)
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:07 PM   #4
Rivet Master
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1999 34' Excella
Currently Looking...
Hillsboro , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 6,091
Images: 2
For 'long term'... settle on the one that 'fits' you and your style. That way there will be less 'retrofit' to be done. Next, find one that is in your affordability to purchase.. then realize there are yearly costs to maintain and more to operate any RV...

The advice above is solid... just adding some more thoughts..

Definitely, have any trailer 'inspected'...prior to making any 'bid'..
Peace and Blessings..
WBCCI# 30676
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