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Old 03-05-2017, 01:20 PM   #1
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Buying New vs Used???

Am considering first time AS purchase and have never owned RV or trailer. I have a hard time seeing why purchasing a new AS would make sense since they depreciate quite rapidly in the first few years of ownership. Would i not be better off buying a few year old trailer? Also, what are typical ownership costs during the first 5-7 years of ownership?

Thanks for any feedback and any advice
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Old 03-05-2017, 01:33 PM   #2
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Trent Woods , North Carolina
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Yep, used makes more sense; that is what we did and very happy about it. Cost of use depends on how much you use it. Some of the things you may encounter early are a new converter/charger, tires, brakes,better hitch, maybe some joint sealing. That is best case, could be a lot worse depending on age and neglect.
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Old 03-05-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
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Bois Blanc Island , Michigan
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One plus to buying "new" is that you have the warranty, and since you are the original owner, it's your new baby to take care of. Any and all maintenance is performed by you, so no surprises when you get it home.

There is nothing wrong with buying a used AS.

My wife and I were going to buy a new trailer, and had given the dealer a down payment, the price was very good. Unfortunately the deal fell through and we were lucky to find the used one we bought.

If you know what you want, just for grins, price out a new one. You might be surprised at the percent off that you can get from the sticker price. Doesn't hurt to eliminate buying a new one this way.

If you have never had any type of RV or trailer, is there some place nearby that you can rent from to make sure you really do want an RV?

If you decide to buy used, know what you want and are looking for, be ready to commit to a sale. The really good used Airstreams go fast!
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:01 PM   #4
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2008 22' Sport
Spicewood (W of Austin) , Texas
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You're not the only person to make that realization.

The problem with buying new is that you will be the person who suffers the drive-away depreciation...and the difficulties that may accompany ownership of a trailer that's not yet been "proofed" by use.
You will undoubtedly find things that don't work like they should or are not finished as you'd prefer...and then you'll frustrate over how to obtain warranty work.

The used trailers can be very worthwhile... or can be disasters. You have to know what to look-for. (Evidence of abuse and leaks such as oil-canned metal around wheel-wells suggesting overloading and driving too fast on rough roads... water leaks such as stained upholstery and squeaking floors below windows, doors and inside bathrooms... improper storage such as heavy dirt/dust inside AC covers and hail damage on rooftops... etc. etc.)

Used trailers can also be very much a savings and pleasure ... if you buy from someone who took care of it and simply want to move to a longer trailer because their family grew or other valid reason. Especially if the trailer you're interested in is only a few years old... say, less than ten.

Trailers over ten years old can be a real bargain but only if immaculately cared for ...or purchased below market and you're a handy guy who is familiar with travel trailer repair. DO NOT THINK that because you have experience fixing up things around the house that you're a good candidate for being a happy trailer-restorer. Read "Millertime" story and you'll get the idea.

My wife and I found a 8 year old 22' Sport that had overwhelmed it's second owner. He thought it'd be a great vacation idea.... his new wife hated anything to do with camping. She didn't want to cook in it...(to his our benefit) ... and they only took two trips in it and had nowhere to store it. (Fortunately the weather was kind to it while it sat in their yard for months.) The previous owner only used it for a construction-office and didn't even use the galley or bath. He used the dinette for a table with air conditioning and the construction site porta-potties, ate at restaurants and never slept in it. We found it in very clean condition and bought it at 2/3rds the price of a new one. A few "personalization" modifications ($3K) and we believe we've found our long-term retirement trailer.

The drawback you'll have in shopping used will also be lack of wide-choice and distance-to-inspect. I suggest you go shop at a new-dealer's showroom to decide what you want...and DO NOT FALL for salesmanship efforts...
THEN look for the model you've found attractive. Don't waste a lot of your money going long distances. If you're patient and use classifieds properly, you'll find what you want in your state or nearby. You can blow a lot of money travelling long distance to look at the "glowing sales ad" which results in the mill-dewed-wreck that was misrepresented. Save that purchase-money for purchase...not for travelling/inspecting.
But budget for inspecting. If you don't know what to look for.... find a buddy here in these forums who'll assist you or a friend who is already an experienced owner.
Have your money/financing ready. When you find the trailer of your dreams... you want to be able to inspect it and take it home quickly. The good ones do NOT remain on market for long. (After we'd made a letter-of-agreement and left earnest-money on our trailer... for ten days until our IRA was cashed and in our hands for the purchase... the seller had 3 cash offers. He called us each time to be assured we were going to complete our transaction, and we had to remind him of our letter-of-agreement being a contract we intended to honor.)

Good luck.

Costs of ownership:
Insurance, tires (PLAN on new tires!), wheel bearings/brakes inspection, minor repairs (10%), Don't forget sales-tax/registration which can all be a few thousand dollars.
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:06 PM   #5
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We decided to buy used for those same reasons. But because we were so new to RVing we decided to buy from a dealer instead. We felt more comfortable with the purchase. We're I to buy another one I could buy from a private third party, buy my dealer experience was so positive I'll probably buy from them again.
2014 Airstream Flying Cloud 30 Recliner - WBCCI #4850 - AIR #110821
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Old 03-05-2017, 06:06 PM   #6
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Hi Tim, welcome to the forum.

I had never towed anything as big as our 23'. We spent considerably more that I had planned on but I don't regret it. We bought used because we had read in several places that within a couple of years many people either sell them because they don't like the lifestyle or they sell them and buy a bigger one because they love the lifestyle.

Our 23' was a little cramped at first, never having been in any TT before. It took us a couple of months each year to get used to it, now we're very happy with the size. There's just 2 of us and we have adapted. The AS is easy to tow and no worries about putting it into a site or getting turned around.

There is a big depreciation the first couple of years. But if you are going to "buy and hold", then you're OK. After the first 2 years it flattens out. Many AS from the 50s and 60s are still on the road, they are as popular as ever.

The first year we had to have the floor repaired and the roof sealed. Then a year with nothing major. We made our winter trip to Florida and back on the tires but we'll replace those before another long trip.

Off hand, I'd say it's about like a car's expenses, just different things go wrong. I just spent $1250 to get my car's A/C repaired and it's only 5 years old. If you're handy with tools and can do your own maintenance it's not too bad.
Rich & Yvonne
2006 Safari SE -Dora-
2004 4Runner SE 4.7L V8
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Old 03-05-2017, 06:27 PM   #7
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Burlington , Ontario
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I bought used and still feel it was the way to go for us.We have had eight years use from it so far with no major issues.

You will have the odd problem to deal with, but save a huge amount of $$. As well, even buying new is now guarantee that you won't have problems. Sure, the fix will likely ne ftee but it can still be a huge inconvenience!

Also,you likely won't have to suffer the agonies of being the first person to get that minor scratch or dent in it! Might seem inconsequential, but to OCD people like me it halpsyu over that hurdle!
Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 03-05-2017, 06:31 PM   #8
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Kansas City , Missouri
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You have gotten a lot of good advice above.

I want to share some of our experiences in case you find them useful.

First of all, I think it is very important to see in person as many airstreams as you can before you purchase. There is a lot to figure out so that you can purchase the right airstream for you the first time. Without this, it is almost impossible to tell how the different models "feel" inside, how storage, bathrooms, sinks, window placement, cabinetry, and layouts are to be inside, with you and whoever else will be camping with you.

I find that as long as you are upfront that you are in the looking stages, and not ready to buy that you can call ahead and set up an appointment to look at various models when you are traveling. This lets the dealers spend some time to help you learn the product, without either party expecting a close, or you feeling like you are wasting the salesperson's time.

We looked at 4 different dealers over about 9 month's time before we bought. (No dealer in our town. When we went on a trip we worked in a dealer visit.) We learned a lot by getting different information and comparing features between visits as our research and questions changed over time. (there are a lot of great Youtube videos).

These visits also helped us evaluate the dealership as we would be traveling a bit of a distance if any service work would be needed.

We eventually figured out we wanted a 22 sport, but told the salesperson we anticipated buying the next season.

In the end, the sharp salesperson called us up a few months later, saying that a used one had just come in. It was vey convenient buying from a dealer, as we were able to arrange all the sales paperwork, and call them for any questions. We got the same detailed walkthrough as if we had bought a new unit.

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Old 03-05-2017, 07:03 PM   #9
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Depends on your skills and desires. If you buy new.. there is probably going to be 'warranty issues'... That requires scheduling with the dealer, leaving the AS with the dealer... missing time to camp... delays getting parts.. etc..

Used... pretty much the same except you are the 'warranty provider'... dealer, RV "tech".... Parts guy... etc...

Whether new or used, still going to have repairs... but... with the 'new', you won't 'learn' about the unique character of YOUR Airstream.

With help you find here, plus basic/strong mechanical, electrical, plumbing capabilities, a 'used' may be just the ticket.. (I doubt you will find the costs compare to doing your own 'repair' / maintain a well chosen Airstream).

Attached is a pic of our 1999 we purchased in 2013... yes, there are 3 axles! Yes, I put new axles under it... yes, I added an second AC... yes, we removed the old (original) carpeting and installed a floating floor.. repaired some plumbing.. repaired several busted rivets, installed cameras... etc, etc..

There are several folks here who can help you ... they are folks here who offer to be 'inspectors' of the trailer you think is your match...

Good luck deciding...
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:37 AM   #10
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2000 30' Excella
Sarasota , Florida
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Just about everyone of my camping unit (129) , 45+ members purchased used Airstreams. Several new members have purchased new trailers (they haven't attended our rallies yet). We have all performed upgrades to our trailers i.e. solar, axles, flooring, interior modifications, tires, stripping and polishing, etc. The new ones have gone back to Jackson Center for warranty repairs. They older ones were purchased for pricing concerns vs new $$$$! I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a used one again, have owned a 95 & 98. Everything houses, cars, campers, bodies require maintenance.
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:11 PM   #11
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2020 27' Flying Cloud
Allen , Texas
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We bought used because we saw so many trailers in fine shape available. We ended up with a 2014 28FC that had been cared for. Another local AS guy went and looked it over before I drove 1000 miles to pick it up.
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:16 PM   #12
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If you're NEW to camping/RVing, do yourselves a HUGE favor. Find and attend an RV Boot Camp. Mistakes made with RVs are often expensive and, sometimes dangerous. RVBC graduates are smarter RV buyers and safer, more knowledgeable RVers in general. Escapees RV Club run an excellent RVBC, often over a weekend. Other groups offer RVBCs too (some as long as eight days). At any RVBC, you'll get to see LOTS of different RVs and, talk to their owners. GREAT source of information. It will be a GOOD investment in your new lifestyle!

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Old 03-06-2017, 12:33 PM   #13
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Euless , Texas
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Another thought concerning new vs used is insurance. If your new Airstream is damaged or totaled (wreck, tree falling, natural disaster) you will have less hastle with the insurance company over the "value" of your trailer. Bluebook values for used Airstreams are too low.
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:40 PM   #14
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2016 27' Flying Cloud
Olympia , Washington
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My sweetie and I spent considerable time in shopping for our 1st RV even though separately each of us had owned at least one RV before, in her case several. One of the "gems" we heard from plenty of RV salespersons was how frequently 1st RV owners came back after a year or two and traded in their 1st RV for one that, with their experience of their 1st RV, would work better for them.

And what do you know, we made the same "mistake," by buying a 32 ft 5th wheel, double slide-out with all the bells & whistles, which we drove all of one day, from Seattle to the WA/ID border, when we looked at each other and pretty much simultaneously said, "This doesn't work for us." Fortunately, we had bought it in the depths of the winter and paid only $32K on a $50K MSRP trailer, so we didn't take a huge hit in trading it in on an AS with a very generous dealer.

So all I can say is "Be prepared for a learning curve" with whatever you obtain as your first trailer, which might be one reason to buy it used or to buy one without throwing a lot of $$$ into its purchase. If you're like us & many others, after a year or two, unless you're remarkably farsighted, wise, and knowing, chances are you may find that something else would work better for you, and just like boatowners, you'll then be looking for a better, longer, faster, spiffier, etc. boat, trailer, whatever. I think it would be interesting to find out how many long-time trailer owners still have and remain happy with their 1st trailer. Not that there aren't some; only that I bet they remain in a substantial minority.

Welcome to RVing (it really is worth it), good luck & my best to you in whatever you decide.
Alta & Richard, Olympia, WA --- WBCCI 8873
"Aurum": 2018 Ram/Cummins 3500
"Argentum": 2016 AS FC 27 FB
"BigDog": M Harlequin Great Dane, 150 lb
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:40 PM   #15
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I've always bought 'New', because then I know the history of the 'animal', and any warranty work can be carried out by the dealer.
With now four RVs under my belt, I 've been pretty lucky with warranty work.,
First Camkins then CanAm have been right on top of any issues.
The Hi-Lo dealer went out of business, shortly after my purchase; but I had no issues that I couldn't fix myself.
It was a good trailer; too bad that 'they' shut down the manufacturing in Ohio.
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:50 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by MelGoddard View Post
I've always bought 'New', because then I know the history of the 'animal', and any warranty work can be carried out by the dealer....The Hi-Lo dealer went out of business, shortly after my purchase; but I had no issues that I couldn't fix myself.
It was a good trailer; too bad that 'they' shut down the manufacturing in Ohio.
So, (without trying to be too critical)... in actual fact buying "new" didn't work at all because the dealer and mfr'r went out of business and you had to do your own warranty-work...?

Buying an Airstream is not likely to end up that way...despite those who complain about minor details. IMO.
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Old 03-06-2017, 01:07 PM   #17
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What nobody is saying clearly here is that there are numerous posts on this forum from new owners about inferior Airstream quality. Certainly there are plenty of owners who are not on this forum or do not post. It is true that Airstream has significantly increased production in a relatively short period of time and it has been speculated that QC has not kept up. Bottom line: chances are that a new trailer will have some issues that will need to be corrected under warranty. That may not bother you or you may not want the hassle.
A relatively new, lightly used trailer has a good chance of being trouble free because the owner may have addressed and repaired any problems. Not a certainty and a used trailer can have its own set of problems.
Our trailer was originally delivered by Colonial and they do an excellent PDI so it was in great shape.
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:22 PM   #18
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I bought my 16 new. The late model used ones at the dealer were too close in price for me to justify used. Chasing down used items wether cars or trailers have a time expense to account for.
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:41 PM   #19
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We just attended the RV shows, in Chicago and then our local show here in Milwaukee. I was not impressed with the new Airstreams. Granted I was only comparing fit and finish but for $100,000 I expect the bottoms of the cabinet doors to be finished smooth. The sink should be flush and please don't give me that flimsy plastic sliding door. In fact I believe the Airstream had the most plastic of all the trailers we saw. We have always had older Airstreams and I love the solid oak cabinets, the drawers that still operate perfectly even after 25 years of use, and finished interior walls. No, I am not a fan of the aluminum interior walls, it looks cold and unfinished. Airstrteam has the mystique but I did not see the quality that the older trailer have.
Chaplain Kent
Forest River Forester 2501TS
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Old 03-06-2017, 03:20 PM   #20
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Bandera , Texas
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We purchased our '08 Bambi in 2012, paid about 50% of new price. Did the same with a 2012 23D two months ago, maybe 60% the price of new. Both were one-owner units, excellent shape, and you have to be ready to purchase, as what you want is hard to find, and they sell fast. Bought both of ours from the original owner. New is just too expensive, same for the tow vehicle... buy pre-owned IMO.
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