When we were looking to buy our first camper, we wanted to make sure we were getting the best deal possible as well as a camper that best met our needs. We looked at everything from hybrid travel trailers through to traditional travel trailers. A hybrid travel trailer wasn’t at the top of our priority list at the […]
The post Hybrid Travel Trailers: 14 Things to Know Before Buying One appeared first on Crow Survival.
When you’re spending, days, weeks, months or even years in a space that’s smaller than many compact apartments, making sure the air you’re breathing is fresh and clean is a top priority. This is when you need an RV odor eliminator. Hanging an air freshener from the rearview mirror might temporarily mask the unpleasant odors, […]
The post RV Odor Eliminator: Dealing with Smells in your RV appeared first on Crow Survival.
Keeping your RV in tiptop shape is just as important as buying the right RV for you. One of the things that an RV owner should maintain is its roofing. As such, rubber roofs are often preferred over those made in aluminum and fiberglass because they are lightweight and cheap. Whatever you decide, you’ll want […]
Safety is paramount when you are on the road, especially when you are driving a larger vehicle than you may be used to. Being aware of your surroundings and taking classes on how to drive RVs and other large vehicles can help, but can only take you so far. RVs, in particular, are known for […]
When it’s time to start looking for a new roof for your RV, you’ll quickly realize that there are more than a few options available to you. Most of the options available for RV roofs are safe choices, but it’s still advisable to understand what you’re getting and whether or not a particular option is […]
The best RV composting toilet can turn human waste & toilet paper into compost. Such toilets do not require water. They may be powered by electricity for the process of composting. There are nonelectric variants as well that rely on the natural process of evaporation and decomposition. Most toilets produce waste comprising of as much […]
Class B RVs are suitable for full-time living, provided you choose the right models. Motorhomes or campervans are perfect for temporary living. They can get a little limiting in due course of time. This is primarily why you should be meticulous with your assessment. There are many manufacturers of Class B RVs but the specifications […]
Traveling across the country in your RV is one of the most exciting things you could get yourself into. But what if your RV converter starts to act strangely in the middle of the journey? You wouldn’t be able to enjoy all the convenient devices that require 12V DC current to operate. Cameras, smartphones, laptops […]
The decision to buy a travel trailer, or any other RV, should not be made on the spur of the moment. Purchasing a travel trailer is going to dig a fairly deep hole in your pocket, and, as with most large purchases, you should do your homework rather than making a snap decision.
Preparation Before Parting With Your Savings
Before you begin the serious process of opening the newspaper to peruse the adverts or putting fingers to keyboard to search out travel trailers or wandering into a local dealership, there are a few things that we strongly advise you consider.
Step into many dealerships to window shop. Look around at all the options that are on the market. Wander through as many dealerships as you can and assess the various models that are on show. Do you want a travel trailer, a 5th wheel, or a fully motorized RV? Look well before you are tempted to buy.
Doing some detailed window shopping will help you to control your emotions when it comes time to buy. You may fall in love with a particular model, and a savvy salesperson would likely pick that up and use it to convince you before you are really ready. By window shopping in advance, you get over that first flush of excitement and can view your prospective purchase more rationally, putting the negotiating power back in your hands instead of in the salesperson’s hands.
As we have already said, a little financial planning before you start will not be a bad idea.
Do you know the maximum monthly payment you can afford? Make sure you check the interest rates at both your bank and the dealership. Often bank loans come with better interest rates than the financial houses with which the dealerships work.
Do you have enough in your savings to put down a good deposit, so the monthly repayments are not going to put you into difficulty if your financial situation changes a little? Remember to factor in insurance and storage costs, if you cannot store the vehicle at home.
Do you plan to use the trailer during winter? If so heating is an important factor.
Now that you understand the GVM of your tow car or pick-up, you must also check the maximum weight that your car can tow. Though the terminology will vary from country to country, each travel trailer should list its tare or unladen weight and its GVM or laden weight. The number you are interested in at this time is the GVM, as this is the total weight that you will be towing if you purchase this particular travel trailer. The GVM of the trailer must fall within the towing capability of your tow car, and for safety, it should not scrape in right at the top.
All of these things will have an impact on the vehicle you eventually purchase, so think carefully about what you are looking for before you are persuaded to buy something that does not fit by a glib-tongued salesperson!
When you face the salesperson. try not to become excited about the beautiful trailer next to which you are standing. That price written on the sticker is bound to be inflated, sometimes up to as much as 40%, so be prepared to do some hard negotiating.
Once again, education is your key. You should know what the value is of the trailer you intend to buy and once again where to find this information varies from country to country. In the USA these values can be found in the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Recreational Vehicle Price Guide, and elsewhere there are plenty of online resources that can be used to find the estimated value of the trailer. Most of these estimates are dealer’s guides and it is possible that they are inflated by anything up to 40%. Take the value you are given and reduce it by 40%, which will give you a place to start negotiating. The dealer will want to make his profit so be prepared to go up from your starting point to give both yourself and the dealer a fair deal.
Knowing When to Buy
Now that you are ready to buy, when should you go out to do so? When the first hint of spring peeks through winter’s gloom, most of us think of heading outdoors after being confined for so many months, and our instinctive reaction is to visit the nearest dealership. Bear in mind that hundreds of other people are thinking the same thoughts, so your chances of getting a good deal are slim to non-existent! However, with some forward planning, you can find good bargains.
Buy at Mid-Winter
Walking into any dealership in the middle of winter will almost certainly guarantee you red carpet treatment. Sales of this type of vehicle are very slow, and the sales representatives need sales, so your opportunity to negotiate a massive discount is excellent. Warm weather will transform your ghost-town of a dealership into a veritable hive of activity, so going into this same dealership in spring will result in a half hour wait just to talk to a salesperson. Plus, you will find that discounts have melted with the winter snow.
Once the weather warms up and sales pick up, things will change dramatically. You cannot blame the dealerships, they now have the upper hand, and for the halcyon days of summer, they will make hay while the sun shines. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure they visit that same dealership when they have the upper hand and the dealer is desperate for sales.
When Gas Prices Rise
No-one can contest that towing a travel trailer can have a disastrous effect on your fuel consumption. Tacking a few hundred pounds of weight onto the tail of your tow car will make the engine work that much harder and push up your fuel consumption. This can have a knock-out effect for many people who, when the price of gas goes up, start to believe that they can no longer afford to tow a trailer. This is the time to watch the press for adverts of people wanting to sell. This knee-jerk reaction brings many very well looked after caravans onto the market, and, if you are wise, you will snap up one of these before their owners sit down and do the math. There is no way that staying in hotels, motels, or B&Bs is going to be cheaper than paying a little extra for gas.
When a New Model is Released
These bargains can usually be found at the very end of winter. Many manufacturers release their latest models in spring, so do your research and visit the dealerships that will be looking to clear out all their old inventory to make way for new models.
When the Weather Warms Up
If you are seriously considering a second-hand trailer, then the onset of spring is the time to start looking around. Often, families are looking to offload their existing trailers in favor of buying new, so if you are looking into buying pre-owned, then this is the time to sharpen up those negotiation skills. Many trailers do not have a high resale value, so purchasing a late model, a pre-owned trailer that has been well cared for will save you thousands of dollars.
Buying a trailer without a warranty from a private buyer can be a risky business, but it can save you a considerable amount. Before paying the money, speak to your local dealership and ask them to give the trailer you are looking at, a once-over. This will cost you, but at the end of the day, you will have the surety that the vehicle you are buying is in excellent condition, or you can negotiate down the price knowing that some repairs will have to be done.
Another place to consider looking is around storage facilities. Toward the end of winter many people get tired of paying to store a vehicle they rarely use, and on top of the additional winter expenses, many people look to offload trailers that are simply standing and costing storage fees.
Look for Dealerships in the Southern States
This may sound odd but look for dealerships in predominantly warm areas, like the southern states of the USA. Here, dealers can sell all year round, and they tend to mark up less than those that have a restricted selling period due to inclement weather for half the year.
Additionally, try for dealers that are close to where the trailers are manufactured. Again, transportation costs to these dealers are negligible so their markup may be a great deal more flexible.
During an RV Show
RV shows are an excellent place to negotiate a good deal on new trailers. The sales people that man the stands are very hungry for sales and are willing to negotiate significant discounts. Most dealerships are looking to arrange transport back to their showrooms for as few units as possible, so they will negotiate major discounts to ensure the vehicles are sold and do not need to be transported back. Again, do not be tempted to buy based on the bright “Show Sale” stickers that you see. Rather go home, check the internet and see if that “special” price is as special as the dealer makes it out to be!
These shows are also wonderful places to get to talk to many aftermarket vendors that are often sources of information on the care and maintenance of your trailer. Spend time talking to them as they are mines of information on the quirks of various models and can often give you the inside scoop on models that routinely have trouble or where there are poor design features that may give you trouble.
Well Before Your First Trip
Do not be tempted to rush out and buy a trailer immediately before your first long trip. Buy well in advance, and give yourself time to become accustomed to how the various amenities work. After all, you do not want to be embarrassed trying to empty tanks for the first time in front of an entire campground full of people. Take the time to test everything and make sure it all works as it should.
In conclusion, our advice is, do not follow the herd. Following in everyone else’s footsteps will not bring you any financial rewards. An educated, patient buyer will get an excellent deal as they know what they want, how much they can spend, and they know when to go out and start negotiating. When you know new models are being shipped to dealers, and you know when sales are most likely to be at their lowest ebb, you can work out when it is time to take advantage.
Be educated, be patient, and save a considerable amount that you can spend on traveling instead of lining a salesperson’s pocket.
More and more people are turning to recreational vehicles to meet their travel needs, and the choice of vehicles is quite extensive.
Apart from a conventional RV, there are other choices, such as a travel trailer or a 5th wheel trailer. Which camper you choose depends on your personal needs, but, in this article, we are going to look at two of the most popular recreational vehicles; the travel trailer and the 5th wheel.
We will examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of both types of vehicle and give some advice, especially to the beginner, on ways to decide which may suit your needs better.
Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of vehicle, let’s define what constitutes a Travel Trailer and a Fifth Wheel
5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer
Both of the vehicles discussed in this article are trailers. Both are designed to have living space inside, and their purpose is simple. You stock the inside with food, clothing, and other personal needs, hitch them to a tow vehicle and set off to explore the world around you. Owning and using one of these vehicles allows you to enjoy a nomadic lifestyle as you carry your home along with you, and all your personal needs are there when you want them.
These trailers are a good, and cheaper, alternative to the drivable RV, but they do not necessarily mean you have to give up your luxuries.
Here are some aspects of these two vehicles to consider when deciding which to purchase.
The significant difference between the two types of camper is that the 5th wheel trailer looks as though a big slice has been chopped out of the front. This is because the trailer is designed to fit snugly over the back of a pick-up truck, so the front is stepped to allow for this connection.
Travel trailers come in many different sizes, but they all look similar. The front and rear of the trailer look-alike with the only difference being a little streamlining that is often found on the front of travel trailers.
Coupling the trailer to the tow vehicle
This feature is the main difference between the two types of vehicle. Both trailers use a very different type of mechanism to couple to the tow vehicle. This choice of coupling makes a vast difference to nearly all aspects of the trailer including size, stability, and on-road performance.
The travel trailer uses a conventional, horizontal ball and socket hitch that can be found on many luggage and boat trailers. The hitch is attached to the tow vehicle at the rear but NOT to the bumper. The hitch must be safely attached to the frame of the vehicle. This means that the hitch can be attached to almost any type of vehicle including sedans, SUVs, and pick-ups.
The 5th wheel coupling mechanism is attached to the bed of a pick-up truck and works in a vertical plane. The 5th wheel hitch is a large, usually trapezoidal mechanism that is fixed to the bed of the pickup truck. It consists of several pieces that include the mounting device and the hitch itself that lies above a set of supporting arms. The most frequently fitted type of hitch is a metal jaw, the “female” portion of the hitch, that is mounted to the bed of the pickup and closes securely around the “male” part of the hitch that is affixed to the underside of the trailer overhang. This is the safest and most secure type of hitch.
Installing the 5th wheel hitch to the pickup takes some serious work. The hitch mounting rails need to be securely fastened to the bed of the truck by drilling holes into the bed and securing strong steel components under the bed. The actual hitch then needs to be assembled and installed on the bed. These hitches can easily weigh in the region of 100 pounds, so some form of mechanical lifting assistance may be required.
After the hitch has been installed, you will find the hitching of the trailer in a 5th wheel configuration much easier than a travel trailer. The reason for this is that you can see the 5th wheel hitch in your rear-view mirror so reversing under the overhang and lining up the hitch is relatively simple. The ball hitch on a travel trailer is hidden behind the car, so you need to estimate where it is or have someone direct you (which can be risky!). The 5th wheel can always be hitched by yourself, but the ball type of hitch requires some fancy footwork, either by fitting a flag that you can line up on or having a spotter to help.
Another consideration is that the 5th wheel hitch remains on the bed of your pickup and that severely impacts your ability to carry a load in that space or use the bed as a working surface. While it is not difficult to remove, consideration must be given to the weight of the hitch when removing and installing it, and you must bear in mind the holes that exist in the bed of your truck. These holes must be treated with an anti-rust treatment, so your truck’s bed does not start rusting where the holes have been drilled.
The ball hitch used by the travel trailer is much simpler to install and weighs a few pounds at most. Most modern vehicles come with all the fittings in place for a tow hitch, so installing the actual ball and electrical components will be relatively simple. If you intend to travel with a trailer, you can make inquiries at the time of purchasing the vehicle, as the tow hitch is often offered as an optional extra. These balls can be fitted to any car, sedan, SUV, mini-van or pickup as long as it has the towing capacity for the weight of the trailer.
In this aspect, the travel trailer allows for a far more versatile choice of vehicle. They are compatible with an extensive range of cars as the hitch is attached at the rear of the vehicle. The only consideration, as mentioned above, is the match of the vehicle to the size and weight of the travel trailer. If a pick-up truck is used to tow the travel trailer, the entire bed is available to carry additional camping gear such as tables and chairs.
The fifth wheel trailer is at a severe disadvantage in this aspect as it can only be towed by a truck of some nature. This is due to the receiver of the coupling that must be fitted to the bed of a truck and not to the rear of the vehicle. Additionally, as the front of the trailer sits snugly over the bed of the truck, it cannot be used to carry additional equipment.
As a travel trailer can be towed with almost any reasonably sized car or SUV, you can carry several passengers as well as haul the travel trailer behind. This is not the case with the 5th wheel trailer as you must use a pickup truck, limiting the number of people that you can carry, unless you have a double-cab pickup. A double-cab will allow you to take additional passengers but will add considerably to the length of the combination.
Size of the trailer
In most cases, travel trailers tend to be smaller in size than 5th wheel trailers, which are sometimes used for full time living. Also, they are lighter in weight and tend to have lower roof lines. These attributes help regarding fuel efficiency since the tow vehicle can be smaller as well. Having a lower roofline is also a benefit when it comes to height clearances, and this type of trailer will fit under most road bridges. The major drawback is the length of the vehicle as the trailer is hitched to the rear of the tow car.
As a 5th wheel trailer must be hitched to the bed of a pickup truck, these trailers tend to be larger and heavier, with higher roof lines. This can present problems with clearance, especially on old bridges. The overall length of the vehicle is, speaking in general terms, shorter than with travel trailers as a part of the trailer lies over the bed of the pickup.
The 5th wheel trailer is significantly more stable on the road than a travel trailer. Travel trailers are inherently unstable and prone to sway due to the hitching mechanism. This sway can be exacerbated by poor packing in the trailer, especially if more weight is placed in the rear than the front. The sway can make driving in heavy winds dangerous, and in wet, snowy, or slippery conditions great care must be taken not to allow the trailer to start swaying. There are some devices, such as the PullRite and the Hensley Hitch, that will partly mitigate this tendency to sway, but it cannot be entirely eliminated.
Another concern with travel trailers is that the trailer and tow vehicle can jackknife on the road. This situation arises when the travel trailer swings around and collides with the side of the tow car. Jackknife situations often occur in wet or slippery conditions when the trailer starts to sway, and the driver cannot bring it back under control, causing the trailer to swing around completely.
The mechanism used to hitch the 5th wheel trailer to the pickup is inherently more stable due to the secure mechanism attached to the load bed of the truck. This means there is less possibility of the trailer starting to sway and ending up in a jackknife situation.
5th wheel trailers are more maneuverable than ball hitched trailers. This is partly due to their design and partly due to their shorter length. With a travel trailer, hitched via a ball, the tow car can turn only a relatively short distance before the front corner of the trailer makes contact with the rear of the towing vehicle. This can also happen to a 5th wheel trailer when hitched with certain types of hitch, but generally speaking, the tow car can turn 90 degrees before you run the risk of a collision between car and trailer.
As 5th wheel trailers tend to be larger than their counterparts, these trailers will provide more living and packing space. Often 5th wheel trailers allow for more than one level to accommodate separate rooms for indoor living. Most 5th wheel manufacturers allow for many choices of floor plan, solid lumber cabinets, modern sound and entertainment systems, USB charging points, high-powered microwave ovens, full-size fridges, ovens, ducted furnaces, and many more features to make your 5th wheel as comfortable as your home.
Travel trailers are smaller and tend to have only one large room that contains beds, sometimes a bathroom and a small cooking area along with storage lockers. The floor plan in a travel trailer may have a fixed bed, but many rely on the seating areas to be converted to beds when required. Small microwave ovens are fitted in many travel trailers, but there is no space for large fridges, ovens and other luxuries such as washers or dryers.
Packing space in travel trailers is largely limited to the cupboards and lockers inside and the space in the nose cone. On the other hand, 5th wheel trailers have a surfeit of packing space inside and often there are large storage lockers underneath. This means that bicycles, jet skis, and other luxury toys can be transported at the same time.
The multi-level arrangement of a 5th wheel may pose difficulties for people with reduced mobility. The flatter floor space of a travel trailer may make it easier for people with difficulty moving around.
Another consideration, especially with guests or a family, is that 5th wheel trailers often carry larger water and waste tanks. This can be a boon when stopping overnight outside of a campsite and trying to provide toilet and shower facilities for several people.
Generally, travel trailers will have a much easier time fitting into campsites. They will be able to park in the majority of sites, due to their smaller size and height. 5th wheel trailers require a great deal more room, and many campsites are unable to accommodate them comfortably.
One thing that many drivers find difficult is reversing with a trailer, as the towed vehicle behaves quite differently to the towing vehicle. Neither of these trailers is very easy to reverse, but the 5th wheel can be easier as it does not react quite as quickly as the hitched trailer. Parking and reversing either of these vehicles will require practice, and once you have mastered one, it does not mean that you have mastered both. They have their own quirks, and you will need practice with both should you swap from one to the other.
Once at the campground and parked, the setting up of the trailers is no different. Both will have to be hooked up to electricity and water, and the stabilization of the trailers is similar. Both will have to have their stabilizing legs lowered so that the trailer stands as close to level as possible.