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kb0zke 10-24-2018 01:14 PM

Maintenance budget
How much do you budget for maintenance/repairs/upgrades each month?

For context, we're full-timers looking at an early 2000's 30-34' Airstream with no slides. Yes, I know that the cost of a set of tires will be 50% more for a 34' than any of the others.

I asked this question on the Full-timers section and got no answers, so I'm putting it out in a larger section.

Bill M. 10-24-2018 01:53 PM

Not sure I can do it that way. I do not really work off a monthly budget. Except for repairs the main things are tires every 4 years, batteries every 2, wheel bearings and check brakes every year, sewer hoses. Wash it a couple times a year. So far I do the brakes and bearings myself. I do not really know any other maintenance items to do.

There are always unexpected failures in the appliances, leaks, etc. Leaks in the trailer skin, broken water lines, dump valves, water heater, multiple water pumps, patch in floor, AC, faucets, power converter, awning roller, dents, LP hose, toilets, power cord and sometimes an adaptor fries itself. Of course our two trailers are pretty old.

kb0zke 10-24-2018 04:08 PM

Thanks, Bill. From what you say, budgeting $100/month would cover it nicely.

AlinCal 10-24-2018 04:31 PM

Unless the refer and the AC unit fail in the first year.

If your trailer is still original equipment who knows what might be around the corner.
I spent a year and over $10K in parts/appliances/etc. renovating our 91 trailer and the one appliance(furnace) I did not replace is now squeeling at start up and likely needs to be replaced at approx $700 for the unit uninstalled.

uncle_bob 10-24-2018 04:42 PM


A lot of this depends on just what full time means. How many miles will you be driving a week? What sort of sites will you be at each week? What sort of roads will you be driving over? I'm assuming that you will be moving around a lot and actually putting a good number of miles on the rig.

Six tires every six years works out to a tire a year on average. That may be fine if they die of old age. If you drive 1,000 miles a week, you will need a set once a year. Indeed, some weeks on the road, I drive well over 1,000 miles. Do you go for the good Michelin LT truck tires that last 50,000 miles or for the no-name Chinese tires that *might* make it 10,000 miles? One costs a lot more than the other.

Brakes are probably good for 30,000 miles. (more miles on the flat than if you are in the mountains all the time). You have six sets of pads to replace and six drums to do. Will this be done DIY or by a shop ( = do you have a lathe to turn the drums if needed). Is 30,000 miles once a year or ..... I'm going to assume it's done in a shop.

Depending on where you are, the roof and rest of the trailer will need to be stripped and redone with sealant. Again, is this DIY or for a few thousand dollars at a dealer? I'm guessing a dealer, but that may be wrong. Normal timing is 2 to 3 years if the trailer is out in the elements all the time.

Batteries should make it through 500 to 1,000 full charge cycles. They also can die of old age. If you boondock all the time you may replace them every two years. Do you go with cheap on sale flooded batteries or do you go for AGM's .... cost is a bit different depending on how you go.

Water filters, and a bunch of little nonsense (lube, leveling blocks, water hoses, sewer hoses ....) gets replaced on a "how much use" and "what do you do with it" basis. Each item isn't much, but they all add up. Are they maintenance or in some other category?

Past this stuff (all of which is inevitable) there is the real world of "stuff happens". Nuke that step into the trailer and it's $800. Stone hits a curved window the wrong way ....ouch. Power jack goes out, stabilizers get bent, .... yet more varieties of ouch. Fridges, AC's and other big ticket items do fail at some point. With heavy use ( = full time on the road) I doubt you can stay under $1,200 a year just on the un-expected stuff.

Probably the best approach - make sure there's about $5,000 someplace safe. Add $200 to $300 a month to it and after 6 months, a year, and 5 years see how you are doing. If you are falling behind, up the monthly "contribution". There are so many big lumps far out that it *will* take time to see where you are ....


Overstreet 10-24-2018 04:45 PM

How much do you drive? How many of what kind of miles will the TV and trailer drive?

My last two truck tire sets were $2500 each of two different trucks. (tires, shocks, some brake work, alignments) both were around the 100k mile mark. My diesel truck uses 10 qts of oil and has bigger tires. Oil changes can be pricy especially if there is a fuel filter change included.

The ST tires I had on my SOB were about $80 each and lasted about 1.5 years at my rate of travel.

MontyV 10-24-2018 05:28 PM

i went through our TT when we inspected it, made a list of items to address. Hit the important ones first. we really haven't needed ongoing maintenance that is significant.

kb0zke 10-24-2018 07:44 PM

Thanks, everyone. As I said, we're full-timers. We've been at it for five years now, and average 5-6000 miles per yer. We often stay in one place for a month or two at a time, which isn't good for large diesel engines. That's part of the reason for thinking about making a change.

Tires for the MH run about $4-600 each, and there are six. Oil changes are an annual expense of about $600. Add oil changes on the generator, transmission and radiator service and the annual service bill averages about $1000.

What I'm trying to figure out is how much less the Airstream will cost compared to our Foretravel as far as annual maintenance expenses. Major items, like a refrigerator or air conditioner are expensive when they need replacing, but they don't need replacement very often.

I had guessed that the roof was an annual project. Thanks for improving the picture, Bob.

I know that we'll have to adjust the car (truck) budget, too, but that is easier to do. We had to trade our towed earlier this year with little warning, but the car we bought is worth almost as much as we paid for it as a trade-in, so trading it for a truck shouldn't be too costly. In fact, I'm thinking that maybe I should offer the coach and car as a package deal. That will take some head-scratching, though, and isn't really part of this discussion.

Short answer, it looks like the RV maintenance budget will be about half of what it currently is. The car/truck budget will probably eat that up, both in increased maintenance costs and increased fuel costs.

uncle_bob 10-25-2018 09:29 AM


Having run into the maintenance budget on an aging MH, indeed, the trailer is much less expensive. Is it half or is it 1/3? That depends a lot on mileage. We travel *much* further per year as half timers than you do full time.

On the roof thing, with indoor storage, the next door neighbor is at about 6 years with no re-do on the roof. It's *highly* dependent on conditions. I'm headed into year 3 on our roof and just "passed" an inspection at JC. Most of that time, our trailer has been outdoors. The claim is made that if you use the "good stuff" you can go >5 years on a roof. Why the "good stuff" does not get used up front .... who knows ....


blkmagikca 10-27-2018 09:14 AM

Yours is a loaded question!

While I'm not a fulltimer, I live about 6 months of the year in my AS, and I travel from Ontario Canada to Arizona each winter. Normally I stop at JC spring and fall for maintenance and to have my running gear checked, However, the gremlins can really up the cost of maintenance.

Last winter I had to replace the range (the Magic Chef glass oven door shattered), the Atwood water heater (sprung a leak), the furnace (30+ years old and repairs were not worth doing to it). Added to that, I had to replace the AS tires as the Michelin M+S2's failed (yes, the insurance agreed that the tires were defective, but I've been waiting for almost 1 year for the subrogated claim to reimburse me).

The one thing I can say from experience is that the cost of maintenance of an AS TT is far less than what I paid for maintenance of a 1994 AS LY moho - that averaged $5,000 to $8,000 each year.

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