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Old 06-25-2009, 10:35 AM   #1
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york , Pennsylvania
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Are Airstreams 'High Maintenance'

I joined this forum awhile back in contemplation of purchasing a new 19-22' A/S. I have always been attracted to them and finally have the resources to purchase a new one. I have owned other trailers and presently own a 2009
T@da which I plan on trading in. I always felt that Airstreams were the Harley Davidson or the Mercedes of the trailer industry, something to strive for and when owning one you feel you have finally arrived.
Having said that, I'm surprised at all the issues A/S seem to have, particularly maintenance. It seems that one should wax their A/S at least once a year and inspect their roofs yearly for leaks and constantly be looking for leaks around rivets? I have only ever washed my trailer but never contemplated waxing it. I have never worried about leaks because the roofs were either rubber or EDPM with 20 year lives and my current roof is one solid piece of alum/fibreglass. I don't think I have ever been on any of my trailer roofs except to install a vent cover. I thought by buying new I should not have any problems for 10-20 years? I realize there is some routine maintenance but A/S seem to have a lot.

Am I going the wrong direction here by upgrading to an A/S and am I going to be a slave to more than average maintenance from the first day of ownership? Thanks

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Old 06-25-2009, 10:59 AM   #2
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2008 28' Safari SE
winter garden , Florida
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its hard to say, i think its a personal decision much like owning a harley or mercedes, both require maint. I have only owned my 28' safari se for about a month but before i bought it I looked at just about every trailer out there and my wife and i decided that it was either going to be an airstream or nothing. Yes it is cramped compared to some, yes it does need to be washed and waxed and yes it does have issues but it is worth it. as far as not having any problems for 10 to 20 years, you find that camper and buy it! Only you can decide if you want an airstream or one of the ocean of fiberglass campers. I bought our airstream for the same reason I bought my harley and audi, its different. I think when you read the posts on this site you may not realize that alot are from owners with 1960 thru 1970 airstreams and are still in use today, find a 40 year old white box trailer and i assure you it is parked in a field being used as a storage shed. As far as washing and waxing it I enjoy it.

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Old 06-25-2009, 11:13 AM   #3
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All RVs have issues as you know.
For me the choice was construction materials and longevity.
I have had the "ordinary" trailers (and campers) and the maintenance on them was as much or more than on the Airstream.
Three things really tipped me toward A/S:
1. Shape - ease of towing

2. When my old square trailer no longer had enough good wood to re attach the skin to, I wanted the aluminum framing in an Airstream.

3. I looked at the longevity of Airstream in general. I have read that the percentage of all airstreams EVER BUILT that are still in use is very high. Someone can help me with that figure, it's over 60% IIRC.

I don't plan on ever going back.
AIR #15800

"Wimpy" 1/2 ton 2002 GMC Sierra 4X4 Z-71 Gasser
2000 Safari SS 25'
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:09 PM   #4
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Bakersfield , California
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Originally Posted by cpaharley View Post
I'm surprised at all the issues A/S seem to have
Now that I've owned a 2007 CCD for a few months, I realize I could have paid half as much and got a trailer that doesn't leak, doesn't have virtually every piece of trim falling off, and is not so fragile that I could put a bike rack on the back to carry two bicycles.

When we bought it, it had 3 months of warranty left. It spent every day of that except the 3 weekends we camped in it, in the shop. We literally picked it up from the dealership, went camping, and returned it to the dealership for repairs on the way home.

It needed to be resealed from bow to stern to stop leaks, replace hinges, glue trim back on, and unstick/replace tank values. Other than checking for leaks, I inspected every inch of this trailer before signing. It was just never used by the original owner (a friend of the dealership's owner). It all surfaced while gently using it those 3 weekends.

Between the dealer's shop, ASWifey and I, we have it all fixed up and we do love the Airstream. I chose to pay more, buy something nearly new and not have to work on it. Wrong. The parts are just easier to get for the newer ones.

When I pick it up from the shop, I leave behind 2 twelve packs of beer with the service writer and shop guys. I'm taking the opposite approach than the guys that go nuts and make themselves enemies of the dealership. Next time my trailer is in for work and sitting next to the ***hole's trailer, I bet the shop guys want to work on mine and have me out camping in it more than him. Small investment really to leave a tip when you leave the shop.

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Old 06-25-2009, 12:28 PM   #5
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buy a newer used one (big discount) and store it indoors... it will last forever
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:12 PM   #6
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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Yes, all RVs have issues, however unless you buy the real expensive ones (6 figures) Airstreams cost 3x what other similarly sized brands cost. Is there a price you can place on it for the *cool* factor? Maybe not as it is unparalleled in the *cool* factor, but other than that, even with means, Airstreams have a substantial cost to them and many owners spend the first season fixing a lot of things that frankly should not be needed to be done.

I would not buy a new one give their cost and the many issues, however I would consider a gently used one if I had it to do over again. Read these threads before you go out and plunk down a fair amount of change on a new one:

The first link has links going back all the way to 2004 model year quality.
Computers manufactured by companies such as IBM, Compaq and millions of others are by far the most popular with about 70 million machines in use worldwide. Macintosh fans note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form. -NY Times 11/91
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:48 PM   #7
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We have owned several boats and travel trailers, and they all seem to spend the time you aren't actually using them, trying to rot into the ground. If you love the outdoors, it's well-worth the maintenance and cost; and while our Airstream seems to need little things fixed about every time we go out, it is much more reliable than any other recreational vehicle we have owned.

Gotta love 'em...
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:14 PM   #8
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Grand Junction , Colorado
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I agree with Silvertwinkie.

RV quality standards are somewhat lower than those of cars and trucks. Even the worst motor vehicles, Land Rovers and Minis, are better than Airstream in QC. If you look at a RV ratings site (RV Rating - Customer Survey of RV Makes and Models), Airstreams are only average for what is supposed to be a premium brand. In the 1 1/2 years we have owned ours we have had a few score warranty claims. I feel the company has taken advantage of us and is not living up to the reputation Airstream had for generations. Also a problem is a weak dealer network, though you are fairly close to one in Jersey that is apparently better than average.

When you buy an Airstream you are buying an American style icon and a basic structure that will last for decades longer than a square white box. I don't know if I could be seen with one of the ugly boxes that prevail in RVland and I wouldn't want to be driving along with a bag over my head. So the cool factor means a lot to us. Because of the shape, they are supposed to be easier to tow and lead to better gas mileage—not having towed a square box, I can't say from personal experience, but it seems logical.

Like Silvertwinkie wrote, look for a newer gently used one and save on the depreciation. Maybe the execs will notice and do something to improve QC.

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Old 06-25-2009, 02:20 PM   #9
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2011 23' FB International
2007 20' Safari
Irvine , California
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Proud owner of A/S

I owned my A/S 2007 Safari for a short time, compare to lots of vaterans. I took mine to Camping world for wheel bearing repack last weekend and the mechanic noticed couple items: the wheel hub/brakes size is larger than most of the trailers of that size 12" vs 10" and the quality of parts used were one of the best in the bussiness. Now I admit my knowledge in mechanical area is very limited but it was reassuring to know that A/S use high quality parts even when they are burried behind in the wheel well.
Not to mention people head turns when they see an Airstream. I am happy with my A/S and would reccommend it to others
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:40 PM   #10
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We paid close to 15.000.00 for our 70' model...but this one was and had been taken care of down the line...I knew when we saw it - that it was going to be a long time before we find another standing right beside us with a for sale sign in it. You figure its going on forty years old round about, and we have had only minor fixes that ended in being educational and the fix would last afterwards and its a great feeling to walk away from the house and turn and look back at it, and say to yourself 'man, I sure am glad I bought that!
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:11 PM   #11
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2009 30' Classic
Salem , Alabama
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Hey guys/girls: Mercedes has a higher complain factor than other high end vehicles.However.
The X factor is involved; because we expect more when we purchase the AS, same as with a Benz. I have had issues with my o9 30 C L. But when sitting in a campground next those other units. I keep thinking of a high performance sport car compared to a bunch of boxy sedans. I have owned other RVs; but I have never had the ( Sir may I look inside) request as I do now. woppa4
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:11 PM   #12
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2006 16' International CCD
Las Cruces , New Mexico
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We have a 06 Bambi CCD "Quick Silver" with over 20,000 miles and 5 to 6 months of nights in it. I elected to upgrade the axles and wheels after a blowout, howeve; total repairs so far have been two interior rivets, water pump, leak by the awning post and converter (while in the Jackson Center parking area - for axle replacement). This may seem like alot, but compared to friends with SOBs it pales to their problems. The selling point for my wife was the lack of heavy formaldahide smell in the AS compared to SOBs. However, as stated above the quality
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:13 PM   #13
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2006 16' International CCD
Las Cruces , New Mexico
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Woops. To finish the last sentence - control in the RV industry does not compare to that found in my Harley or Lincoln pickup.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:26 PM   #14
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1976 31' Sovereign
San Antonio , Texas
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Smile 10+ on the cool factor!

We only recently bought our AS (a few months ago), but we purposefully bought an old one ('76). It was easy on the budget, and we have the shared family experience of fixing it all up together. Now we can design it and use the interior materials that we want and still have the cool AS look. We've decided to retrofit, rather than restore the inside.

Most corporations you'll ever research are in it for the money in one way or another. They find their niche, what they're passionate about; they do that part with the quality that got them their reputation, but they usually look to save themselves money in one way or another.

Then, you also have to factor in the specific workers' quality of workmanship for each trailer. Some take pride in their work; others don't.

As far as Airstreams in general, they rate #1 on the coolness factor of all the trailers I've ever seen when it comes to exterior and aerodynamics. Personally, I find every other rv exterior I've ever seen ugly, even the high-end ones.

When it comes to interior, AS has had its good moments and bad right along with American history. That's what is so great about refurbishing your own. Check out some of the cool jobs they've done on-line, and you'll be hooked.

One thing to keep in mind is that AS has to keep things light, so they use a lot of engineered woods, laminates, veneers, and interior materials that may not hold up well. Once you get hooked on your AS, though, you can go back and make personal improvements just like you would on your house. Andy the Inland RV guy says, "We don't make the product; we make the product better."

I wonder if anyone has come up with titanium furnishings and framework yet?

Terry & Natasha Turner
'76, 31' Sovereign International Land Yacht
Remodel Madness

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