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When Is an RV Too Old To Drive Anymore?

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Published : March 29, 2023
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Your beloved home on wheels can feel like a part of the family. You stand it through the years, and you’ve shared many adventures. The bond between an RV and its family is much stronger than one you can have with any other type of vehicle. But, unfortunately, as the years go by, even the most loved and maintained RV can begin to fall apart. Repairs become more frequent, and the risk of breaking down in a remote or deserted area becomes more of a possibility. So you start wondering: how many miles is too many for a used RV? When is an old RV too old to drive anymore? Older used motorhomes and RVs can reach a point of being more of a pain than a pleasure. So when do you know it’s time to get rid of your old travel trailer? Read this guide to learn more!

How Old Is Old Too Old for a Used RV?

Hardcore RVers on a budget or those who’ve grown attached to their rolling home all question how old is too old for a camper, motorhome, or travel trailer. And once determined, the next question is what to do when it’s reached the end of its usefulness. Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a one size fits all answer. You’ll need to ask further questions about your RV to get an accurate answer. Several factors can suggest when too old is too old. How long a trailer lasts can be a difficult equation, but you have some means to determine if it’s time to get rid of your old motorhome or trailer. Generally speaking, a used RV is too old to drive when it reaches its 10-years-old threshold, when it reaches 200,000 miles, or both. You need to question the age and usage of your travel trailer, if not for safety reasons, at least for practical ones:
    • RVs older than ten years might not be allowed in some RV parks and campgrounds;
    • Moreover, high-mileage RVs tend to show signs of severe fatigue, breaking down and pushing you to pay for repairs that are not worth doing.
Nevertheless, if your rig still runs decently and looks old but dignified, here are the other elements you need to consider in your evaluation. So what makes an old RV trailer old enough to retire it?

Maintenance Factors in Your RV’s Utility and Safety

Maintenance and overall TLC are major in the “how old is too old for a motorhome” question. Did you perform all the suggested and required maintenance of the vehicle? Routine oil changes, keeping all fluids topped off, and not ignoring little problems can all help to keep your RV rolling. A well-maintained older RV or motorhome can be in much better shape than a newer one that gets ignored. If you haven’t been diligent with the basic upkeep of your RV, then you can’t expect it to last as long as it possibly could. Sometimes age is just a number, but that number can be reduced by taking care of the RVs engine, keeping the trailer’s exterior clean, and ensuring that everything that must be repaired.

Storage Plays a Crucial Part in Your RV’s Long-Term Functioning

Is the RV your primary residence, or do you only use it for the occasional adventure or getaway? If it’s getting driven daily, those miles will add wear and tear to the vehicle. And if it’s exposed to the elements without proper care, rain, wind, salt, sand, or snow will slowly eat away at its exterior. Damage to its exterior will quickly cause more damage to its interior. Don’t even get us started on RV flooding, leaving your RV outside during a storm or a blizzard, keeping it without protection under the sun, etc. An RV or motorhome that remains idle most of the time still needs to be cared for. If left exposed, the sun can damage and crack the paint, which could lead to further damage. In addition, tires that sit idle and are exposed to the elements can become brittle or dry rot. In states like Texas, Nevada, California, or Arizona, taking good care of your travel trailer and storing it properly safe from extreme weather means prolonging its life. Otherwise, you’ll only have junk on your hands, an old travel trailer you need to get rid of quickly.

Traffic Accidents Shorten Your Old RV’s Life

If you got into a traffic accident with your RV, it needed some repairs. But, even if the fixes were minor and performed by a professional, they still took a toll on your trailer’s utility and functionality. A damaged RV or one with a rebuilt title after an accident can easily enter the category of “too used or too old to drive anymore,” even if it is less than a decade old and you’re still far from the 200,000 miles mark. Just like with cars, worn and torn RVs surviving collisions and crashes are on the fast track to retirement, even if their time has not come yet.

How Many Miles Are Too Many for an Old RV?

There’s much debate on how many miles are too many for an old RV. What’s more important is the upkeep and maintenance that occurred while the odometer was spinning. However, anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 miles is generally considered the lifespan of an RV. So once your old RVs odometer hits six digits, it’s probably close to the time you should consider getting rid of it. Take your RV or motorhome to the shop providing you with routine maintenance and repairs and ask them for their opinion. If you feel you could get a couple more years of use out of it, it’s best to get an educated opinion. A professional RV mechanic can fully inspect it, paying careful attention to the big-ticket repairs common to older RVs and motorhomes.

What Are the Common Problems of Older RVs?

Older vehicles of all types will eventually have problems. Older RVs, motorhomes, and campers are no different. They do, though, have other problems that conventional vehicles don’t. These issues are more common with your house than your family car. That happens when your vehicle is also a place you live in, either part-time or always. Here are some of the most shared problems you can expect to experience if you have an old RV, trailer, or motorhome. Many of these all-too-common old RV issues can be quite costly and, unfortunately, expected. The older yours is, the higher the frequency of repairs will be.

RV Water Damage

Old used travel trailers, RVs, and motorhomes share the common water intrusion problem. The usual culprits for water leaks are cracks in the roof or around the windows. These can be caused by the constant sun beating down on your RVs roof and from the culmination of hundreds of miles on less-than-gentle roads. To keep RVs as light as possible, their roofs are nowhere near as sturdy as your home without wheels.

Broken Motorhome Appliances

Your mini home on wheels probably has some of the same appliances as a traditional home, just a little smaller size. Although RV appliances are usually firmly secured, they are still subject to the bouncing and jarring of paved and unpaved roads. It’s common for these appliances to experience problems; if one or more of them need repairs or replacing, it could be quite costly.

Worn-Out RV Tires

Older used motorhomes typically have lots of miles on them. With each mile driven, your RVs tires lose a little more tread. As a result, tire wear and tear increases when driving on dirt roads, gravel, and other types of off-road travel. Replacing your used RV tires can be costly, but if neglected, you risk your safety. In addition, due to the weight of an RV or motorhome coupled with driving on uneven surfaces, worn-out tires can cause an unexpected tire blowout.

Travel Trailer Window and Door Issues

The miles of driving through bumpy campgrounds on gravel roads with their divots and occasional debris can wreak havoc on RV and motorhome doors and windows. It’s not uncommon for camper doors to become uneven or unhinged. The same goes for windows, which can develop gaps between window frames. Issues with windows and doors can allow unwanted rainwater to enter, leading to water damage, mold, etc.

RV Plumbing Problems

Old RVs with sinks, toilets, and showers can experience their fair share of plumbing issues. The bumping, bouncing, and sometimes jarring rides can take their toll on your RVs plumbing. Porcelain sinks can crack, and the plumbing system can leak, which will cause even more damage. Toilets can be especially troublesome on older RVs and motorhomes. In addition, toilet bowl values and rubber gaskets can wear out, and although these issues seem minor, putting them off can lead to other costly repairs.

RV Slide-Outs

If your older RV is equipped with slide-outs, this component can hit you in the wallet hard if there’s an issue with them. They’re great for adding extra space, but not so great when they need repairs or replacing. With constant use, slide-outs can sometimes get stuck in place. Repairs can be costly. If this happens while in the wilderness and you need a professional to get it unstuck, you’ll pay dearly for a technician to come to you.

Problematic RV Air Conditioning

A common older RV problem is an inefficient or failing air conditioning unit. For those who spend most of their RV or motorhome time in warm or hot climates, you very well know that an air conditioner can make or break the day. Unfortunately, the heat from the hot summer sun can make the interior almost unbearable, making a working and functional air conditioner a must. Replacing them, unfortunately, can be a costly endeavor.

RV Rust

Old RVs constantly exposed to the elements can develop rust, sometimes a lot of it. Their thin roofs, over time, can develop rust spots, which, if not repaired immediately, will lead to water intrusion. An often underlooked rust spot haven for older RVs and motorhomes is the vehicle’s undercarriage. Depending on the severity, rust damage repair can run from affordable to costing the actual value of the RV.

RV Electrical Issues

An RV or motorhome can have an extensive electrical system for driving and use while camping or living in your vehicle. However, troubleshooting electrical problems can be costly. In addition, power inverters are known to fail in older RVs and are necessary to convert and transfer 12-volt DC power to 120-volt AC power for your appliances.

RV Engine and Transmission Problems

Most older RVs have lots of mileage, which is normal if you make good use of yours. However, all of those miles, some of which are most likely on unkind roads, will eventually lead to mechanical breakdowns. Hauling heavy weight will put stress on engines and transmissions. If you have major issues with one or the other, the cost of repairs can easily be more than the vehicle’s worth. In addition, any problems that lead you to be stranded in the great outdoors will be even more costly, with the need to be towed to the closest garage.

What Do You Do With an Older RV That Still Runs?

This question has many different answers, depending on how you intend to use your old RV or motorhome. One of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is if you have the money and the means to perform the repairs that are sure to happen. Older RVs can experience all types of breakdowns; the older it is, the more likely you’ll experience issues. If your older RV or motorhome has over 100,000 miles but still runs and you want to keep it, you should be aware of something referred to in the camping world as the 10-year rule. This rule can be enforced for those who want to use theirs for camping at RV parks. Many RV parks and campgrounds around the country strictly enforce the ten-year rule. It states that any RV or motorhome older than ten years is prohibited from entering. So even if yours is pristine, many campgrounds won’t allow you access to the property if you’re driving an old RV.

Is Your RV Too Old to Drive?

If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is probably yes. Your used RV, especially those over ten years old, can quickly become a money pit. Older RVs and motorhomes can require many repairs, most of which can easily outweigh the vehicle’s value. Although not all campgrounds and RV parks will exclude yours due to the 10-year rule, owning one that’s hit double digits in years will lessen the parks you can visit. If you must sell your used travel trailer, your best solution is to sell your old RV to a specialized dealer who purchases used RVs, motorhomes, and campers. Most are easy to work with and provide cash after signing basic paperwork. Contact a specialized dealer who purchases old RVs, motorhomes, and campers to sell yours easily. Finding a private buyer for an old, used RV can be an exercise in frustration, so why not go directly to a business that will happily buy yours?

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