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Old 03-27-2016, 08:45 PM   #1
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2016 26' Flying Cloud
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Is a used AS an orphan, or part of the family?

There is a response in another thread, fielding a question from a newbie about hitches, in which someone suggests buy new (rather than used) and stick with a dealer. I understand that sentiment and have several items large and small for which I follow it: boat, contractor, small-engine repair.
Now I’m looking to buy my first AS, probably in the 25 to 27 range. We are looking to see if we like this style of travel. We did the numbers and two years of depreciation on an AS looks better than that on lesser brands. The next question is new or used. It is a travel trailer and we are going to travel. Also we live 100 miles from the nearest dealer anyway. So, imagine I have an AS and I’m 500 miles from home, something is not working and I take it to an AS dealer for service. Does it matter, regarding the service I get or the price I pay for it, whether I bought the AS new or used, or if it is one, two or five years old?
I have to think that if service on a purchased-used AS totally sucked, that the value wouldn’t hold, but the dealers imply they take care of their own, better than those that aren’t “theirs”. So what is your experience, please?
A related question, if I might, my experience with boats and other RV’s is that the most frequent problems are with appliances: refrigerators, toilets, stoves. Do you take these problems to the AS dealer or find an appliance repair service? What are the sorts of issues that need to go to the AS-specific dealer?
I appreciate your help and look forward to saying thanks at a rally.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:16 PM   #2
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Hmm, well I can tell you that ANY dealer that does not support their dealer brand be old or new can get in big trouble on a product. I have also heard this "customers who don't buy from us have to wait," etc. I do not believe price would change but some others many chime in on that.

I purchased a used Airstream and am very happy. I had issues to deal with but I can also tell you after being on this forum for four years or so- people with new ones have issues.

You have to use your investigative abilities when shopping and also ask for help from others who are in the know if shopping used. I also bought a used Pro Pride hitch and it works great. Sean, the company owner sent me the correct weight bar that the original customer never got (two different ones) even though I was the second owner. The appliances are standard RV issue so RV places can help. When you have to watch is what is specific to Airstream.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:45 PM   #3
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I've owned (or presently own) six Airstream trailers, all used when I got them.
Someone has to take the depreciation hit on the new ones, but not me. In my younger days I bought what I could afford. Now that I could buy a new one if I wanted, I still prefer used.

I do maintenance and repairs on my trailers, because I enjoy doing it. I can say that my local dealer, Out of Doors Mart, has been extremely helpful those times when I need them to make a repair for me. They have also given me free advice when I buy parts from them. YMMV.
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Old 03-29-2016, 01:30 PM   #4
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Used Airstreams aren't orphans on this forum, but there is a wide variety of participants here. We all have different needs. My husband and I bought used from a private seller, but we weren't willing to purchase anything that didn't have the appropriate documentation. Our state requires a title as proof of ownership, and we made sure we got one.

We also went looking for a renovation to begin with, because we're hard-core project people. We knew what we were willing to fix, and what we weren't, when we went shopping. For once, luck blessed us, and we found a trailer whose previous owner was obsessed with keeping water out of it. A shell-off restoration didn't appeal to us, so it was a great find that suited our purposes.
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Old 03-29-2016, 01:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WherryWillie View Post
So, imagine I have an AS and I’m 500 miles from home, something is not working and I take it to an AS dealer for service.
Maybe.

I bought my trailer new six years ago. It was under warranty for two years. In the subsequent four years, I took it someplace for repair service exactly once, and I chose to use a local RV repair company that is not an Airstream dealer.

I perform some of my own repairs, but in reality, little has gone wrong.

Quote:
Does it matter, regarding the service I get or the price I pay for it, whether I bought the AS new or used, or if it is one, two or five years old?
I have to think that if service on a purchased-used AS totally sucked, that the value wouldn’t hold, but the dealers imply they take care of their own, better than those that aren’t “theirs”. So what is your experience, please?
I'll choose my words carefully.

My experience and that of others I have spoken with is that the quality of service is equal regardless of where and when the trailer was purchased.

Quote:
A related question, if I might, my experience with boats and other RV’s is that the most frequent problems are with appliances: refrigerators, toilets, stoves. Do you take these problems to the AS dealer or find an appliance repair service?
Whoever is easiest to work with under the circumstances. My repair was an air conditioner problem. I used an RV dealer that is local who only rarely works on Airstreams.

Quote:
What are the sorts of issues that need to go to the AS-specific dealer?
I appreciate your help and look forward to saying thanks at a rally.
Typically anything that involves the outer shell (aluminum skin, windows, door, skylights, baggage doors). Collision repairs, in particular, require expertise that most RV shops don't have. There are some independent service shops that are good with aluminum but they are the exception.

For most other repairs the expertise isn't brand specific, and service shops can order the odd Airstream-specific part from another dealer if necessary.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:34 AM   #6
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We, as well, purchased used from a private party we knew. The furthest thing from my mind was where the closest AS dealer was relative to them doing necessary work (2 hours away for us). They have been a source for parts orders, but required service / repairs have been handled by respected RV dealer "just up the road".
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:10 PM   #7
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I bought a '76 Caravanner about 5 years ago, with a few issues but basically campable. The closest AS dealer is 2 hours away, I have used a couple of local guys to replace AC, Heater, etc., and found a local guy that repaired the refrigerator. Even had a local "non-RV" shop replace the axles this year. If there were shell/ structural issues, I would consider a dealer, but most of the stuff inside is generic to repair or replace. Finding someone you can trust takes time and patience, but I have been satisfied with local help. I usually go visit and talk to shops before I commit, a couple of visits can reveal a lot. I also talk to the mechanic/shop folks, look at their tools, and get an idea of quality of work. I always "tip" the shop mechanic when they do a good job.
Will also find a hungry college student to buff it out before I head North this summer.
Small stuff - water pump, inverter/charger etc. I do myself, including most plumbing repairs and electrical.
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:13 PM   #8
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Thumbs up Love our used AS

We decided to get a 19' Bambi to try out the RV-ing experience and chose used rather than new.
1- we wanted to 'try it out'
2- the AS always holds its value.
We have found that the AS holds its value like no other trailer or RV available. And we love it. The only thing that has broken on our '04 was the toilet flusher and that in a camp ground in Morro Bay, CA. Our experience is that most well rated RV facilities have an on-site repair person that is available for a reasonable fee. Our toilet was fixed on the spot with no hassle. Before any long trip, we do drop it for a day of 'check-ups' at the dealership by us. But again, there's never been anything wrong with the trailer. You will find that people who have an AS, love their AS and take really good care of it. Again a plus in the resell department.
Good luck and have safe travels.
CrystalLady
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:36 PM   #9
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Buy (gently) used! My wife (who I didn't know was even considering a camper) told me to check out a used AS 450 miles away. Happy wife...happy life. Turns out the 20ft FC had been used just once, was 3 months old, and they were asking $36k. Bought it that day, tho it two more attempts through blizzards to get her home. The AC failed after 5 years, and the fridge is currently giving me trouble. Nothing else went wrong. I hope your experience will be similar, and safe travels. jon
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:04 PM   #10
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Smile Mre than one of the family

I have lots of experience in buying vehicles of many different descriptions which basically comes down to only buying 'used' of the highest quality available. That has included many Mercedes in the '80's time frame, currently owning an '87 300 SDL, probably the best Mercedes production model ever made. I can say the same for my former AS Excella '98/30 and current '97/30 which is better than the former '98. I also have an '87/32. And I have to sell one of them now to cover medical bills.
As for value the '97 has a value of $25k, a new one costs ab $130,000. Now what kind of sense does the extra $105,000 make?
Buying a used one which has been so obviously loved and babied is a really smart choice especially in that you have so 'little skin in the game,' as the saying goes, so you have lots of cushion for contingencies.
Buying from an owner, rather than a dealer, gives you an opportunity to tap into a wealth of information which can make your Airstream life greatly more fulfilling.
Welcome to the AS family!
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:22 PM   #11
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I'd rather have used any day. New RVs, even Airstreams, as with automobiles, depreciate as soon as you drive off the dealer's lot.
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:32 PM   #12
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your questions, all members here are the same. It doesn't matter whether you purchased your Airstream new, used, or rescued it along side the road when someone put it out for the trash.

We have had two new and one used Airstream. We have enjoyed them all immensely.

Most repairs can be accomplished by the owner. If it's something that you cannot handle, it can most often be accomplished by any competent RV shop. Only warranty work is best done by an Airstream Dealer.

You can get a lot of maintenance and repair help right here on AirForums. There are also many instructional YouTubes on RV issues.

There is a bit of a learning curve on the RV thing, but it's not launching rockets.

Brian
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:42 PM   #13
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We're full-timers and will one day (soon, I hope) be buying a used Airstream. Most likely we'll be buying from a private party, although we're not adverse to buying from a dealer. When work is needed we'll probably go to the nearest Airstream dealer IF it is for something Airstream-specific. Should the microwave go out I'll probably just get another one and take care of it myself.

Many people on this forum take their coaches back to the factory for major repairs and upgrades, or just to have the people who know the coach the best check it over once in a while for hidden problems. When we get our coach I'll probably try to get it up to JC fairly soon for a thorough inspection.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:25 PM   #14
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Fort Worth , Texas
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Some good advice on repair solutions. My preference for repair services is first: Airstream (A/S) Service at Jackson Center, OH. They are the best general A/S technicians available and all come from a background on the production line. Second, would be a former A/S dealer who now only does service, i.e., North Dallas RV, 2630 N I35, Carrolton, TX, 75007 972-242-0404. Third, a current full service A/S dealer who has sent his techs to Jackson Center for training numerous times. How do you find this out? Ask someone at factory A/S service and they will tell you if that dealer has sent anyone and how often. Otherwise, they will be no better than a non A/S dealer. Why not use them for appliance and running gear maintenance? They don't really have hands on experience as to how your A/S is put together or wired and plumbed. Third, there are a few exceptions, like "lewster", who are not only educated, have all the certifications, but plenty of A/S experience as well. Even the factory knows "lewster" and respects his knowledge. People like him are very thorough, may cost more, but like the factory service, they are cheaper in the long run, because they do not take short cuts or use cheap inferior parts. You don't want to pay an A/S dealer to OJT his techs, and they just are not as quick. Take my friend "Wick at RV Cool-Refrigerator Repair, 60 Hwy 287, Greenbriar, AR, 800- 515-6823. He rebuilt my leaky Dometic cooling unit and R&Red it for about $650. I asked him about his comeback history and he said in the 19 years he has been rebuilding these units with much improved tubing, he has never had a comeback. Pretty impressive. So there is good help out there just keep asking lots of questions.
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