Wellington and Me

Wellington and Me
My rolling home!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Extended Warranty for your RV???

When I purchased my used 2003 Fleetwood Pace Arrow rv for my new rolling home, I knew from research that things can and will go wrong.  Just like any other home, there is the potential for systems to have problems. And an RV has LOTS of different systems:

The engine
Electrical system (for the vehicle portion)
Electrical system and batteries (for the house portion)
Heater/Furnace (propane)
Hot water heater
Air conditioning units (2 on most rv's my size)
Refrigerator (electric and propane functions)
Rear and side cameras, wired to the screen of the dash stereo
The roof and all its sealed edges
Seals around the slide outs
The slide out motors themselves
and on and on and on.

All these can potentially have problems.  Not every issue will be covered by an extended warranty, such as things considered regular maintenance or wear and tear, but most standard operations and functions will be.

My warranty was about $3200 for 3 years.  This can be extended further at any time if I wish.  I purchased it from the dealer and they were able to roll this into my financing so my monthly loan payment includes this amount.

Personal, I find great piece of mind in having this warranty on my coach... which is my HOME. Since buying the coach last may I've had recurring and ongoing issues with the brand new on-demand hot water unit I had the dealer install when I purchased it.  (Repairs so far have been under my warranty, but they are now trying to work with the manufacturer to replace the entire unit under it's own 2  year warranty.)  I've had 2 repairs to the heater/furnace unit.  I've had to replace the seal around the bedroom slide.  I've had the coach services for lube/oil/filter/coolant, etc.  Not all of these fell under the warranty I purchased, but lots of it did.  Even with a $200 per incident deductible, I'm very glad I've had it.  In less than a year I've probably already recoup'd 1/3 of the warranty cost.  I certainly wouldn't want something major happen that costs thousands of dollars and leave me without my home in a livable state.  So I certainly recommend going for the warranty, especially when buying a used coach.

Note that there are warranties available for purchase on your own. Just google search for them.  You can buy one at any time.

Also make sure you have adequate rv insurance as well in case of accident, etc.  Make sure it covers the cost of your personal possessions. Make sure it will pay out full reimbursement for the cost of your coach (this is often an extra you have to ask for!). Make sure it includes towing! Towing a big coach like mine costs ALOT.  You want that to be covered.  There's no spare tire you can put on yourself on a coach like this.  So towing coverage is a must!

Lastly, remember to BUDGET for maintenance and repairs.  If you are considering full time rv'ing there WILL be expenses every year to maintain your rv properly, and there WILL be repairs. Even with a warranty some of those expenses fall to you. Be prepared!

Happy trails!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Switched from Jeep Wrangler Unlimited to a Smart ForTwo

Being a full time RV'er in a class A motor home, I tow my car behind the RV when I travel.  I've seen some RV'ers who travel with multiple people actually opt to not tow and have one of the people drive the other vehicle, or iv they need more than one vehicle when they are parked in the RV. I however live alone, and even if I didn't it's far more enjoyable to share the road, conversation and even the driving if you are a couple on the road.

When I first sold my house and moved into my RV I had a beautiful "mango tango" colored 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that I'd recently purchased.  I read and heard that Jeeps are one of the easiest vehicles to rig and tow behind an RV so I figured I'd start out with that (I already had so many changes happening in my life, I didn't need that change right then as well).

So I had some friends help me mount a Blue Ox tow plate on the jeep. (Ugh, that was an all day install project, but saved alot of money doing it ourselves.) And I bought a Blue Ox tow bar to tow it behind my Pace Arrow.

I towed it behind the RV to the coast a few times, and all was fine. However I could definitely feel the difference having it behind my gas RV.  At about 4600 pounds, it was near the 5000 pound weight limit for towing behind my 2003 Pace Arrow, and I could feel the drag and could practically hear the gas being sucked out of my tank.

I was so thrilled by the savings I was getting off owning my former house and all the required (utilities, insurance, taxes, etc) and optional (seasonal decorations, knick knacks, etc) expenses that I started looking at other ways to save.  I couldn't ignore the car payment, insurance payment and gas required by the Jeep.  At average of about 16 mpg, the jeep wrangler is most definitely a gas hog by today's standards.  I started thinking about a smaller vehicle to tow behind my rv and that would save me on car payment, gas, and gas on the rv when towing.

I saw the Smart car when I was in Europe in 2005 and fell in love with them.  So cute, compact, easy to drive and park, I started investigating them.  I had seen them being towed and researched them to find that their unique automatic transmission that actually works somewhat like a manual shift allows this to be the case.

NOTE that not every car can be towed.  To tow 4 down (all wheels on the ground while towing) the transmission must be able to be fully disengaged.  Jeeps can do this via the 4wd shifter into neutral, but most of your average cars CANNOT be towed 4 down.  So if you're considering this you must find out of the specific car/year/model that you are considering can be towed.

I found a 2008 Smart ForTwo for sale from the original owner with only 30k miles on it.  He'd babied it, had died and his wife was selling it off. I really liked them and them me so it was a great match. I got it for a great price.  Oh and also, it's a cabriolet, so at the push of a button the top rolls back to open up the sky.  I LOVE it.  It's fun to drive, can park just about anywhere, and sips gas.  It's a fraction of the cost of the jeep so this greatly reduces my debt as well.

I knew already that Blue Ox had a tow plate for the Smart car, so I purchased one, had it installed along with the wiring harness so when RV brakes and turn signals are applied the lights on the car will appear as well.  I had it all set to tow!

So now to sell the Jeep.  I thought this would be relatively easy since Jeeps are so popular. The color of mine (beautiful burnt orange) was loved by everyone who saw it and not common on the road. Even maybe selling it to a fellow RV'er since it was already rigged for towing!   Unfortunately this wasn't the case.  I kept listing it on Craig's list, had signs on it and parked it at my local shopping area, etc.  Then I didn't notice while sitting in the rain that the "freedom" top (3 piece hard top with removable sections) had developed a leak so the interior got very wet, developed a bit of mold, and I had to dry it out, clean all the mold with lysol and get the top sealing again.  UGH.  Weeks later I got it all clean and dry and decided to take it to a consignment lot for them to sell it. They felt confident they could sell it at an amount that they could then give me what I needed to pay off the loan and still make a profit themselves.  Great!  No dice.  Months went by and no sale.  So I finally picked it up, took it back to the dealer where I'd bought it and they offered me an amount that gave me ALMOST enough to pay off the loan. I kicked in the remaining $560 to pay off the loan, and I'm free of it.

Nice thing... I am able to cash in the extended warranty I'd purchased on it which still had about 3/4 remaining on it.  So I should get about 1/2 or 2/3 of that purchase price back.  That will help.  Then I'll be saving about $250/mo in car payment, about $80/mo in car insurance, and I'll channel those amounts into a car maintenance budget line item to make sure I have enough stored away there for work or repairs that might be needed on the Smart, since I don't have an extended warranty on it.  

GOAL:  Saving money, reducing debt.  By downsizing my vehicle, and buying a bit older car, but in like-new condition, I was able to reduce my debt overall by about $15000.  I reduced my monthly expenses with car pmt, insurance and gas by about $400/month, plus the saved drag and fuel expense in towing it behind the RV.

LESSON LEARNED: Never assume a car will be easy to sell. Especially when it's on the newer side.

TIP: Make sure you OVER budget for car and RV repairs.  Keep socking away money into these budget lines because you never know what might come up, and vehicles always need to be maintained and will eventually require repairs.  Better to have the money waiting to be used, than have to put it on a credit card and service that debt after the fact.