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Old 05-19-2010, 12:48 PM   #1
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General Newbie Questions

Hell all,

The wife and I are starting to look at RV living for the winter months. I kind of like Airstreams for many various and probably obvious reasons.

I have some questions of the group.

1. Is there a place to find out "Book" value on used Airstream trailers?
2. Does "book value" accurately represent "actual street value"?
3. Airstreams seem to hold up much better than other travel trailers. How old can you buy and not have to completely refurbish the entire unit? (I know this is very subjective).
4. Are there certain Airstream years/models that should be avoided? If so, why?
5. Are there certain Airstream years/models that are more popular? If so, why?
6. I normally try to purchase from private sellers, but are there any good Airstream dealers in Ohio?
7. Is it common/prudent to replace tires and wheel bearings immediately after buying a used Airstream? If so, approximate cost?
8. What major "gotchas" should I look for in used Airstreams?

That's a start! Thanks in advance for any responses.

Dan
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:02 PM   #2
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What a great list of questions. I am sure you will receive equally impressive responses; not from me but from those who actually know these things. I look forward to the responses as well.
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:20 PM   #3
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book

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBiscuit View Post
Hell all,

The wife and I are starting to look at RV living for the winter months. I kind of like Airstreams for many various and probably obvious reasons.

I have some questions of the group.

1. Is there a place to find out "Book" value on used Airstream trailers?
2. Does "book value" accurately represent "actual street value"?
3. Airstreams seem to hold up much better than other travel trailers. How old can you buy and not have to completely refurbish the entire unit? (I know this is very subjective).
4. Are there certain Airstream years/models that should be avoided? If so, why?
5. Are there certain Airstream years/models that are more popular? If so, why?
6. I normally try to purchase from private sellers, but are there any good Airstream dealers in Ohio?
7. Is it common/prudent to replace tires and wheel bearings immediately after buying a used Airstream? If so, approximate cost?
8. What major "gotchas" should I look for in used Airstreams?

That's a start! Thanks in advance for any responses.

Dan
Dan

The book value will only be listed for units 10 years old. With 2/3 of all Airstreams ever made still road worthy you can pretty much see that it is just what one is willing to pay. The more work you have to do the less you will have to pay for the unit.
I do find that some people find a unit at a good price that has been sitting for a while, and then they go about repairing it they get some pretty BIG sticker shock. A good example would be a unit that did not get winterize and the repair bill for water leaks can get into the thousands of dollars
I have seen $3000.00, so it was not such a good deal.

If you find one that needs some work and youíre going to do the repairs yourself you can go to www.odmrv.com and see the parts on-line. That way you can get an idea of how much it is going to take. If youíre not sure about the amount of work it will take on a particular job, take pictures and post them back here with the question "has anyone worked this?".

Dan Brown
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Old 05-19-2010, 02:41 PM   #4
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If you google[ Airstream value],it will give to a pretty good idea,as to year and condition. Dave
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBiscuit View Post
Hell all,

The wife and I are starting to look at RV living for the winter months. I kind of like Airstreams for many various and probably obvious reasons.

I have some questions of the group.

1. Is there a place to find out "Book" value on used Airstream trailers?
The Kelly blue book for RVs is available from various sources for $40. NADA has a similar product.

Quote:
2. Does "book value" accurately represent "actual street value"?
Many dealers and individuals believe that these values are less representative of the market than is the case for blue book values for cars.

Quote:
3. Airstreams seem to hold up much better than other travel trailers. How old can you buy and not have to completely refurbish the entire unit? (I know this is very subjective).
It depends a good deal on the individual unit and how it was used, maintained, and stored. There are trailers from the 1970s that have been restored and others that are still original. In general most trailers from the 1960s are in need of restoration or have been restored already, and most trailers from the 1980s are usable as-is if they have not been mistreated.

Quote:
4. Are there certain Airstream years/models that should be avoided? If so, why?
Some years and models are prone to rear-end separation, and should be avoided unless they have already had frame repairs or such repairs are judged to be worthwhile given the asking price and condition.
Quote:
5. Are there certain Airstream years/models that are more popular? If so, why?
Trailers from before about 1970 are more highly prized because the materials and design for the interiors were more classic. The 1970s are widely considered to be a regrettable era in design unless you like avocado, harvest gold, gold speckles in the sink, and dark paneling.

Also, the smaller trailers are generally more sought after than the larger ones because they are thought to be more iconic.
Quote:
7. Is it common/prudent to replace tires and wheel bearings immediately after buying
a used Airstream? If so, approximate cost?
Yes, if they are more than 6-10 years old or so. You're looking at $300 an axle if you do the work yourself. You may also need brakes at around $200 an axle. Also, axles older than 20 years typically require replacement.
Quote:
8. What major "gotchas" should I look for in used Airstreams?
Soft floor, rear end separation, water damage, plumbing leaks, broken appliances or systems. Check campingworld.com or tweety's for appliance prices to give you some idea what's at stake.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBiscuit View Post
Hell all,

The wife and I are starting to look at RV living for the winter months. I kind of like Airstreams for many various and probably obvious reasons.

I have some questions of the group.

1. Is there a place to find out "Book" value on used Airstream trailers?
2. Does "book value" accurately represent "actual street value"?
3. Airstreams seem to hold up much better than other travel trailers. How old can you buy and not have to completely refurbish the entire unit? (I know this is very subjective).
4. Are there certain Airstream years/models that should be avoided? If so, why?
5. Are there certain Airstream years/models that are more popular? If so, why?
6. I normally try to purchase from private sellers, but are there any good Airstream dealers in Ohio?
7. Is it common/prudent to replace tires and wheel bearings immediately after buying a used Airstream? If so, approximate cost?
8. What major "gotchas" should I look for in used Airstreams?

That's a start! Thanks in advance for any responses.

Dan
Looking up the value of any Airstream, on line, or in a book, is worthless and a waste of time.

WHY??

Any Airstream, must be inspected by someone that is "VERY" familiar with them. Then, based on the expertise of that inspector, they can created a written value for the coach in question.

Why must it be done that way???

Many, many Airstream owners, rehab, modify, upgrade, improve, remanufacture as well as do a front to back overhaul, upgrade appliances, add awnings, etc..

That, then, completely changes the picture, as to the value of the coach.

This is especially true when dealing with an insurance company when there is a loss. Book values are worthless, period.

We just went through that with GMAC insurance. They wanted to total the motor home. After we told them how to PROPERLY establish a value, they backed off and paid the claim.

NO ONE, repeat, NO ONE can determine the true value of any Airstream product, without, one, having the knowledge of the product, and 2, be qualified to establish a "TRUE" market value. This is not something that many people can do, including some Airstream dealers.

Andy
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:24 PM   #7
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Welcome Dan from another Buckeye. Just for a comparison we bought a 1978 Ambassador, all original, in 2002 for $5000. I put another $5000 in it...tires, brakes, new frig, new water tank, etc. It has not nickel and dimed us at all. That being said I'll probably invest another $2000 for axles one of these days. No regrets...we'll keep this trailer for a looong time. For me, I wanted an older trailer (lower purchase price) that I didn't have to completely rebuild. I enjoy working on it but did not want a big project. I would be very wary of eBay and I don't think you will find any older ones on a dealers lot, if that is what you want. I bought ours from a neighbor.
Tom
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:36 PM   #8
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Let's look at this way. Most likely most of the Airstreams being sold today from a private standpoint are priced by their owners based on "what the market will bear", and from what you would call comparables (the selling price of similar trailers in the local area).

Finding folks who can determine the "true value" are few and far between. It's a matter of doing your research, looking at what others are asking and in some cases doing some inspections to look at the condition of the trailer vs. what the owner is asking. Also look at RV dealers and see what they are asking for used Airstreams (if they have any at all).

Value added by rehabbing or upgrades cannot always be translated into equivalent dollars. Trying to equate $$ and effort spent into the rehab process will not always be translated to equal dollars in determining a sale price. It's much like the guy on my street that added a $50,000 room addition to his house. He's been trying to sell the house for 8 months now attempting to get back the $$ he invested in the addition. Problem is the house is overpriced for the neighborhood.

My advice is to figure out what you can afford and find out what that will buy you. After looking around you will get a pretty good idea. Yes the quality will vary within that price range, but after you've done your homework you will get a decent idea of where you are going.

Each trailer year had issues so my advice is to find what you like, and drop a line back here. The folks on the forum can give you an idea of what the weak areas were for that vintage of trailer.

Also ask to see the appliances working. Those are big ticket items in some cases. Those trying to hide defects will probably not want to run appliances, fill fresh water tanks, run pumps, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners etc.

Look for floor rot, around doors, windows, toilets. All trailers eventually will develop leaks. It's a matter of whether the owners do the work to prevent leaks in advance, or whether they react after the leak occurs.

The forum also has folks who can look at trailers for you (if they are out of town). Just ask. Finally, don't buy without seeing it yourself. Pictures can hide lots of defects. I've seen lots of trailers that were sold as rehabbed, with glaring defects or shoddy workmanship. Yes you might spend a few hundred bucks on travel but you many end up saving thousands.

Good luck and let us know if you have other questions.

Jack
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:09 PM   #9
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The shockeroo for me was when I decided to finance the 1994 30' Excella. Bought the unit for $13K, which was a fair price for a very nicely preserved unit with many new items and overall very good shape. My bank (USAA--a conservative bunch) said the "loan value" was $6.5K.

Now, try and find a '94 30' for $6.5K and there will likely be some unfortunate tale going with it ("I just didn't see the tree when I backed up, but it doesn't leak"--they don't tell you that taking the crease out of the back is a $10K job). I ponied up the cash and am glad I did. Could sell it quickly a year later for what I paid for it a year ago. I agree with all that Andy says above. When we were ready to do this, we decided to do it right, and that means paying for an inspected and ready to go unit. $13K is a bargain for what we got.
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