Test Drive – 2018 Ford F350 Lariat

As luck would have it, a friend (Jeff) bought a 2018 Ford F350 Lariat diesel dually a few months ago.   Jeff had been wanting to drop it off at our house for the weekend to give me a chance to play with it – what a nice guy!  The only thing better than owning a truck like this is having one you can borrow.  So today I drove over to Jeff’s home as his wife Ester had a few questions about Microsoft Windows 10. After a couple hours of computer training I asked for the keys to his truck and off I went.

Santa Fe Trail Map
Bonus that Jeff lives next to Fort Osage (Lewis and Clark thing) down scenic roads that were once part of the Santa Fe Trail just 35 miles from our home. Nice place to test drive his truck I’d have to say.

I have owned two F150 4×4 trucks with the 5.7 gas engine and drove an older F250 diesel all of about three miles in the past.  That’s the extent of my pickup truck experience. I had been worried this monster F350 long bed truck would be intimidating. Well, in about five minutes I discovered it drives just about like every other truck I’ve driven.  It was not overwhelming at all.  I had been worried the power of the truck would cause it to lurch from a stop as I pressed on the accelerator pedal which was not the case. Yes, the back of the truck was distant. The monitor for the backup camera was large and crisp to view. I felt 100% comfortable backing the monster truck.

The seats were more comfortable than I had remembered sitting in at the auto show. They would not be a problem for long drives.  The steering wheel, seats and pedals were highly adjustable leading me to believe Karen would have no problem driving this truck as well. I really don’t want to sentence myself to driving her around everywhere for years on end, so adjustability of the driver’s position is important.

Like so many others, I watch all the YouTube video I can find to include test drives. I’ve never counted on the audio portion of the videos to reflect what the actual sound levels are in the truck. I can tell you this Ford truck was quiet as a passenger car inside.  The diesel engine outside was remarkably quiet to me as well. Really was impressed with that.

Yup, the ride was bumpier than our luxury car, my work SUV and such. But, it was not unbearable nor constant. What I did notice was this Ford’s turn radius – sucked.  Turning the wheel to enter his driveway at a 90-degree angle was not as bad as the old days with no power steering. But as I turned I felt the need to crank the wheel hard during the turn, thinking for a moment I was glad to have turned wide to avoid a light pole at the corner of the drive. Jeff said the Ram truck he drove has a tighter turn radius and his 2016 F250 turns on a dime. He came by my office a week ago. A road crew was working on a corner, thereby temporarily narrowing the lane for vehicles to pass. He told me he went around the block rather than trying to make a tight turn into a narrow space. I’d not eliminate the Ford just because of this. I had  never driven an F350/3500 class truck so don’t place much weight on my opinion regarding truck turning abilities.

A few people have posted in various truck forums one reason they eliminated this all new in 2017 Ford truck from their list is all the plastic in the interior. Well – I say BS.  Yes, it has a few hard surfaces, but the rest is soft in all the right places.  I must disagree with their opinion. At least in the Lariat trim package which, judging by the number of Ford trucks for sale online, is the most popular of all trims.

Jeff’s truck has all the electronic options he could get to include a way fancy trailer towing camera setup.  I did not have much of a chance to play with most of it. I did notice when the backup camera came on, a small truck picture showed up in the frame as if I could see if I was going to hit anything at any corner. I was most wanting to see the blind spot warning system.  Way cool. The sensors are on the outside of the rear tail lights. This is one feature I understand the 2020 Ram 3500 may add. The blind spot warning includes sensing other vehicle next to you – 35’ down the side of a trailer. I told Jeff a reader commented his blind spot sensor did not work with his trailer. Jeff tows a wide body toy hauler trailer and said the blind spot warning works perfect with his trailer. This must be an advantage when one is entering the highway on a ramp or needed to switch lanes quickly. As I began to back out of his driveway a vehicle passed behind the truck. Well in advance of the other car passing, the system set off a warning. I could see that being nice when backing out of a parking spot at the grocery store.

I forgot to ask Jeff what gear ratio he got with the truck. No need anyway. Unlike the Ram and Chevy trucks The Ford F350 dually has less of a chance of someone selecting the wrong transmission and gear ratio for a heavier fifth wheel. This turbo diesel has one automatic transmission to select from and conventional fifth wheel tow capacity is 27,500 pounds with a 4.10 gear and 27,300 with a 3.55 gear.

I have to say, I like the idea this is the second year for the all new Ford. Better chance of finding a used one in the next generation configuration. By the way, in my opinion Chevy’s television commercials where they throw a tool box in the back of Ford’s aluminum bed is BS.  Look closely; the metal tool box they are throwing is an antique. I’m sure they had to buy a heavy metal tool box at a garage sale. And anyone that does that to their truck deserves a hole in their truck bed. I’ll bet the factory bed liner helps a bit as well – and excluded from the Chevy commercials. And if you are worried the engine will outlast the body, I’d have to think aluminum will hold up better in the long-term because it does not rust. I’ve wrote it before that if any one manufacturer thinks they are the best then why are the warranties the same for important features like the engine and transmission?

I played with the fully electric tow mirrors on the truck. Ford is said to have the best mirrors. Jeff says the Ram truck mirrors reach out further. I sure like the idea of hitting a button inside the Ford to extend or fold the mirrors in. The view down the side of the truck was exceptional.

Sitting on the floor of his garage was a B&W Companion fifth wheel hitch. What a monster piece of engineering. The thing looked tuff with its huge jaws. Jeff says you can hitch up and unhitch easily even when the trailer is not level in a spot as if the fifth wheel pin was binding up at the hitch. Not a problem with B&W. He also looked at the Curt for all of 10 seconds. He said it just did not seem to be as well built as the B&W. Then again these hitches are rated for certain weights and I’m sure both hitches would be fine, as would many others for the weights we are looking at.  Jeff offered me a chance to lift the two hitch parts, those being the head and base. The head of the hitch has handles and was easy to lift. The base was heavier. I could lift it myself, but two persons would be better. Jeff said no worries moving the hitch from the truck with the F350 because it has old man stairs mounted inside the truck tailgate. Those stairs are another exceptional feature exclusive to the Fords.

These are the features I was most interested in testing out. Online videos do a better job of describing the finer details. I came away with feeling if anyone has driven a pickup truck for any length of time, the F350 diesel dually will not be intimidating to operate. I could not find any single reason not to buy this truck. Lee over on the Campers Chronicles blog may have the best approach for evaluating the details. I recall him writing once that it’s easier to look for the suckier parts.  For me, maybe feeling like the truck would not make real sharp turns or the brakes did not feel as responsive as a passenger car could be called the suckier parts in my humble and somewhat inexperienced opinion.

Here in a few weeks I’m going to call a buddy with a Ram dually. Better than test driving one at a dealership and being pestered to buy it. Oh, forgot to add I hit it lucky. Jeff’s son tows a fifth wheel trailer for a job.  Can’t believe I might be getting some towing lessons from someone I’ve known since he was four feet tall!

Here are a few internet links of interest:

Super Ike Gautlent by Fast Lane Truck for 2018.  Ram barely won over the Ford. They wanted to get as close to maxed out tow ratings as possible. The Chevy cannot pull these weights, so they were left out of the test.

Roads Less Traveled blog is the best for the Ram and general discussion of selecting a truck.

B&W Hitch has a neat page on their website to figure out what the tow ratings are for individual trucks. Of course, you can also surf the web to find the manufacturers charts. Or go to RV Tow Check if you really want to play with the numbers.

All this is most important to me because we are buying the truck before the trailer and I’d hate to make any mistakes. And that includes getting the right options such as fifth wheel prep on the truck which includes the puck systems that are pre-installed for hitches. These systems are a series of holes in the truck bed in which the hitch is mounted, making it easier to remove the hitch when you need to haul stuff flat in the truck bed. I’d be scared to buy the truck before the trailer other than we already know the top five trailers we are selecting from and their weights. Also, a one-ton dually diesel will pull anything in our top 16 trailer choices with plenty of room for moving to a heavier trailer later if configured appropriately. And has the cargo capacity for the pin weights were are considering. One best be nervous if you are looking at buying a single rear wheel truck before the trailer decision because of pin weight.

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Ford F350 Truck Options

We all know (and sometimes dread) those emails or blog posts that are laced with questions, some of which warrant a reply or comment. The hard part is reading the entire post while remembering what you might want to write as a reply without taking notes. Well, this is one of those posts.  I’ll apologize up front.  If you’re inclined to comment, feel free to just go after anything that’s way out of line or invokes a strong opinion. I should also add I’ll not be commenting about the F450 truck.

I can’t recall it ever being such a challenge to buy the right vehicle. Perhaps knowing the truck purchase would be a “final” decision in terms of what we live with long-term, caused the decision to take on a new meaning. And of course, adding on the need to tow a huge fifth wheel safely, eventually over thousands of miles in all kinds of weather has a little bit to do with overthinking the purchase. After years of owning two vehicles, we are moving to just one to share as a tow vehicle and daily driver.

I had planned a couple times to post in detail about selecting a gear ratio but decided not to bore you with it. I parked those notes over on this truck page and included a few brief comments below. If you know what a “gear ratio” is then some of what follows in this post might be elementary. For me, it’s been a learning curve for sure.

I’ve had quit the dialog via email with several readers that have been very helpful. Thank you!

As you may recall, I’ve already decided to look at 2017/2018 Ford F350 and Ram 3500 trucks. If I had an unlimited budget, selecting options would be easier. For this post I’ll cover the Ford truck options I’m considering. Should we decide on the Ford, I’ll let our budget dictate if we buy the very popular Lariat model or less popular XLT. If we can’t find a truck equipped with most of what we want, we may have to order it new. With the options I’d want, there is about a $6,000 difference between the XLT (cloth seats) and Lariat (leather seats) trim packages.

2017 Ford Trucks

Before getting into the list of options to consider, here are a few Ford questions for the benefit of us soon to be new – first time diesel truck owners.

  1. Heavy Service Front Suspension Package? Yes or no when pulling trailers under 19,000 pounds? I understand the option is for heavy-service front springs that will degrade ride quality. I’ve read a few forum posts but still don’t understand when one might want this option. Seems like this option is geared towards snow plows and truck campers or when you expect to tow a trailer that is near the capacity the truck is rated to pull.
  2. Individual Trailer TPMS/Trailer Camera Prep Kit? At $750/$1375 this option adds tire pressure monitoring for your trailer tires. This option forces you to also add a high mounted camera option (if not already equipped) that has a view of the truck bed that could be handy for hitching up the fifth wheel. It also upgrades the screen display size on the center of the dash to Sync 3 (if not already equipped). I’m thinking it might be nice to limit the number of gadgets one has attached to the truck dashboard or wherever. This includes a standalone system for monitoring trailer tire pressure which is 100% something one needs to monitor. But, some of the aftermarket devises also monitor tire temperature so you know a problem is coming as the tires heat up. I jumped on Amazon to price out a system for the 10 tires a dually truck and double axle fifth wheel would need and generally found they start at $405 with temperature monitoring. Another confusing option. Just a quick reminder. Get metal valve stems that are more durable!
  3. Skid plates for fuel tank and transfer case protection? It’s only $100 but do you really need it if you are not figuring on any heavy off-road travel?
  4. Engine ideal shut down? Okay, what the heck is this all about. The option comes in three values ranging from five to 20 minutes. Is it okay to idle diesel engines for long periods? Does this option just turn the truck off in case you forget? And if so, when would you want it shut down in 5 minutes, 10, 15 or 20 minutes?
  5. Operator command regeneration? I added this question because it’s yet another diesel engine thingy for those of us who never owned a diesel can find confusing. I understand regeneration burns off soot in the particulate filter. I read this is button you can push if a warning light comes on. It also has a feature to prevent regeneration if you’re sitting on grass and you don’t want to burn your truck. The Ford website says contact the dealership for details. Okay.. I’ve read it’s a bad thing to allow the soot to build up. The filters are expensive and the truck limps along if there is a problem. Thank goodness for owner’s manuals, I for one am going to need to read it!

 

warning sign     (Warning opinions ahead)

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2018 Auto Show

I made it to the local car show. Karen decided to stay home with the dogs. Our son-in law gifted us some tickets in advance (thank you John). I found a couple walking towards the door of the show and handed them Karen’s ticket. The only goal I had in mind was to play with the trucks and see what I could learn.  If you are a Chevy/GMC fan, I’ll say sorry in advance because there will not be anything in this post about them. To date, I’ve decided to concentrate my search for a truck within the Ford and Ram models. All three big truck manufacturers can handle the trailers we are looking at. Chevy/GMC cargo capacity is the lightest of the three but still not a reason to consider them if your interested. After studying all three brands, the Ford and Ram were what I am most attracted to.

The show turned out to be smaller than expected. I found no factory representatives or engineers to answer technical questions. And sales people were hard to find. The one I did find was a Kia car salesmen who said most people go to the show and buy a car later. I also found with few exceptions, there were no brochures offered. For sure that might be because many do their research online. I personally like to have a book to study and mark up. Fortunately, months ago I went to individual dealerships and picked up 2016/2017 brochures just to learn all the truck options.

The show proved to be just a good way to sit in most of the models and trim packages I was interested in. The vehicle batteries must have been disconnected (for good reasons) so I was not able to test features.  I’ll catch that when I finally test drive something. A friend just bought a 2018 Ford Lariat dually so I’m betting I’ll knock out a test drive of his in the near future. He says the ride is awesome and the cab is very quiet. He ended up paying 13% less than MSRP for a fully loaded truck. I’m not sure what factory incentives the 13% discount included and were combined with the dealer’s discount. He knew what he wanted to spend, the dealership got close to the price so he bought it the same day. He had nothing to trade-in and paid cash. Otherwise he suggested traveling from here to the Don Vance  dealership in Missouri. I think it would have been worth his time to contact the internet sales department of at least a couple dealerships before heading out to buy a truck. 

I found a side by side comparison of the all new 2019 Ram 1500 parked next to a 2018 version. If you are looking to buy a Ram it may or may not be important to note in 2020 the Ram 3500 will also be redesigned.  From what I can find, Ram had the older body style since 2009. And Fords 2017 update truly changed some series features not offered during the many years the previous version was on the market. 

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2019 on the left and 2018 on the right. The white truck is a Bighorn. The 2018 Laramie trim headlights would be slightly different.

Regarding Fords: I like their tow mirrors compared to both the Ram and Chevy for that matter. Ford does not offer factory air bags, in fact only Ram does that. But I’m thinking it might be better to wait to see if you even need it such as if the trailer does not ride level because the truck is squatting under the load. Figure I’ll just wait and see on that one. The Ford electronics are clearly a step ahead of the rest. I could see using their blind spot warning system. Karen has the feature on her car and it’s beneficial. The system brings up a light on your outside mirrors when someone is alongside your vehicle.  And there is no need to fret over which transmission to get, because the Ford F350 diesel has no options. They designed and build their own transmission to their standards. The 2018 Fords will be the second year for their new designed truck. Some feel it’s important not to buy the first-year version of any new body style because the bugs need to be worked out. A couple other points that might influence the decision is the Ford diesel long-bed comes equipped with a 48-gallon fuel tank. Yup, read that twice, that’s a big feature. And the cargo capacity is considerably higher than the other brands. That’s important for trailer pin weight and all the other stuff we might want to haul at the same time. But maybe not as important for fifth wheels in the 16,000 pound range.

Regarding the Rams: They offer three gear ratios which are the 3.55, 3.73 and 4.10. I’ll have more on gear ratios in a future blog post. I’m sure it will be good reading material to help you fall asleep. We are looking to pull a trailer between 16,000 to 17,500 pounds. I’m leaning towards the Aisin transmission option because Ram offers two version of their Cummins diesel. The high output model only comes with the Aisin transmission. Towing capacity with a safety margin is greatly improved. Complicates the decision for sure. Personally, I thought the Ram interior was more comfortable and usable than the Ford. That view might change after a test drive. I’ll have to remember to get adjustable foot pedals for my shorter wife. They are still using steal for the body while Ford went to high strength aluminum beds. Bet that will cut down on corrosion which was an issue in one of my prior Fords. The Ford’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles. Rams corrosion warranty includes repairs to sheet metal panels that have rust through due to manufacturer defect or workmanship. Try proving that one if you have a warranty issue! All panels are covered for 3 years regardless of mileage, but outer panels are covered for 5 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Confusing stuff.

I’ll add one last point regarding what I learned at the show and as part of my general experience. The cloth seats are nothing like what we had years ago. They seem to be stronger and more durable. My assigned work vehicle (a Ford) has cloth interior as does all the other vehicles in our departments fleet. The cloth is holding up very well. I’ve had several personal vehicles with leather interior. I have always babied them along, making sure to treat and clean the leather often. You can tell when someone gets in and out of a leather interior with great frequency as the corners of the seats will be crushed down or cracked. Really like the air-conditioned seating in my personal vehicle even when its garaged and does not sit out in the heat of an RV park. A feature only available with leather interior. We also use our heated seats in the winter, but only for a few minutes. That feature is available in the cloth interior as well. Although we don’t plan to spend much time in cold climates.

I spent about two hours at the show. It was Sunday and all the car dealerships were closed. Great time to narrow down the list of color options to a few choices! So I stopped along the way home. Later Karen took a drive with me and picked a couple colors she liked as well. Good to see we were in agreement on our selections. Like most of you I’m sure, we have owned one of about everything. The lighter colors tend to show less dirt. But I sure like the metallic shinny red trucks and one of the dark grayish versions.  They all heat up when left out in the sun for a while. The new tan and brown interiors are attractive to me compared to just the standard black leather or grey cloth. Nice to see the lighter interior options are available with both cloth and leather. Being flexible with any of several options for exterior and interior colors, transmissions, electronics and gear ratios will hopefully improve the chances of finding one on a dealership lot, especially should we go with a slightly used model.

I took photos of the window stickers so I could remember the color names later.  I’ve also started to look at the same truck colors as I see them on the road. I’m not particularly concerned about matching the fifth wheel with the truck. Ford and Ram have versions of the same colors.

 

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Ruby Red Metallic

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Ingot Silver

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Stone Grey – Karen and I like this one

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White Gold

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Standard white on the left, white platinum (I prefer) on the right which is a light cream color

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An all new 2019 Ram 1500 interior – thought I’d throw this one in for the wow factor. Good luck Ford, you might loose that battle to the Ram.

And finally, the tan/brown leather interior. I had it on a Ford with leather once. It was not hard to keep clean. My work vehicle has the standard grey cloth interior and it has not been hard to keep clean either. Wish I had taken a photo of the Ram version as it was remarkable. I clipped a couple photos off the internet.

 

Truck Shopping

Just started truck shopping….  I dread shopping for automobiles in general because of the dealership process. From walking on the lot to telling the finance guy you’re not interested in what he/she has to offer. The best part of the process is getting home and finding something to take off the dealership stickers that trash the new ride.

Truck shopping for something to pull up to a 18,000-pound trailer is a new experience all together. I’ve done most of the homework and posted about that some time ago. We are looking for a one-ton dually diesel pickup truck and are targeting Fords and Rams.  What I’ve been finding is the Ram seem to be more “affordable” or dare I say, might be a better value for the dollar. I’ll get this out of the way and say all three manufacturers will get the job done so I’m not downing the Chevy/GMC. As part of the research, just like with RVs, I’ve read the truck forums, watched the videos and bugged a lot of new RV friends for ideas.  Today, I received an email alert to a new YouTube video from a site I follow.  The guy that puts on the videos is a Ford guy, even if he does not admit it. I enjoyed this video where he talks about the value of a Ram truck.

We are looking to buy a truck by next August. Yes, before the RV which may come as late as November of 2018. I know the top six trailers we are looking at and am confident we will buy the right truck with the capacity to haul any one of the six. We have a need for a truck to haul stuff off from the house, haul stuff in to fix up the house and it might be the right timing to go to one family car (truck) in the process.

I’ll let you readers in on another observation I’m hoping not many people are figuring out. One way we might buy our trailer is as last year’s model. From my research, the 2019s will be announced around March of 2018. Then the 2019s will arrive at our local RV dealerships around June/July of 2018. Then we should see the prices on the 2018s coming down around that time and surely by September of 2018. Last year the prior year’s model were relatively plentiful in September. But this year, they were almost non-existent by November.  So, the secret I wish others would not find out about is everyone else is looking for the same last year’s models. Guess it’s not a secret after all. Just be aware of it. That’s another reason we are looking for a truck by August and as soon as possible thereafter looking for the trailer. I’m figuring if we find a trailer we best be able to drive right there and get it – before they start to disappear in September. Or we might have to order the trailer or settle on a used one.

Having spent more time looking at specific trucks has brought up a few more considerations. Mostly, the difference in gear ratios such as the Ram 3.73 vs 4.10 or the Ford 3.55 vs the 4.10. I’d written up a blog post discussing the subject in more detail but decided to skip posting it. I’ve got charts showing the towing capacity of each truck and every combination of these gears works for the weights we are looking at.  In the truck forums most people ask about fuel mileage nearly as often as they ask about towing capacity. The best advise I’ve had is select the truck for towing and forget about the narrow fuel mileage differences. We can discuss this more in the comments section if you want. The second best advise I received, for our truck situation, is to not buy one with the 3.55 gears and most say just get the 4.10 gears. Here is the best blog post I’ve ever read about truck shopping. If you don’t have much time or desire to research your purchase, just read that post and go buy a truck.

The second observation I’ve had is it’s hard to find a truck equipped exactly like I want without ordering one new from the factory. This is even more apparent when only searching within 100 miles of our home. And especially if we want to trade in one car when we do it and therefore don’t want to drive a long way to only find out the deal is no good. I’m looking at trucks with less than 20,000 miles on them and don’t intend to order a new one. This plays a role in that I’ll have to make compromises to find a decent used truck which might include going with a different gear ratio, color or whatever.  I like the burgundy two tone trucks by the way. However, our current silver cars sure don’t show the dirt as much nor did the white ones. If that’s important.

I’ll keep you posted on the search….  And I’m still pecking away at our first-year budget for fulltime RV travel and will pass that along later as well.

 

Mark

RV Depreciation

As usual, this blog post turns out to be a long one. If you’re just interested in quick RV depreciation opinions then scroll down to the text in red.

Karen and I decided to make a run to Grain Valley Missouri which for us is only a 45-minute drive. The town is home to three RV dealerships.  It was also the first time in a week Karen could get out of the house for an extended time. She had cataract surgery and received a new lens. She has had very bad eyesight her entire life. Those days are over. It was wonderful watching her excitement as we drove through the rolling hills which are in full bloom with green trees she can see at a distance.  Karen took a book to read for the drive as she normally does. She never opened it. The best part of the trip for me, now that I think about it, was watching Karen’s excitement. She gets the next eye fixed in a week.  Glad we have the time and money before taking off in 2019 to see the rest of the country together. Money well spent!

Speaking of money well spent what about depreciation on an RV purchase? I recall a conversation I had with a person when I was 18 years old regarding the need to purchasing a new television. Back then the selection of televisions was not as complicated compared to today’s models in varying sizes, resolutions and technical capabilities. Although I still don’t know what they mean by a “smart TV” because the darn things still require someone smarter than me to figure out how to set them up and use them. When I was 18 I hated spending money on something that might have to be replaced and still do. Because spending it reduces your net worth, a concept I had way back then. Perhaps the attitude came from learning the value of a dollar as a child, especially when you don’t have a lot of those dollars. The value of a dollar was further ingrained in my personality perhaps because I was a business major in college.  I spent some time in the corporate world, earning an income above our monthly needs. I kept the attitude to live below my means. I moved into public service as a law enforcement officer and the hourly pay became once again barely enough to save for a future. So, I found myself once again comparing expenditures as reducing my net worth, like I was 18 again. I compare the costs of large purchases against the hard-earned hourly rate for my time at work.

I’m sure these attitudes about the costs of things are shared with each one of you, regardless of income or life experiences. There is much evidence of this. The cost of living full time in an RV is front and center in much of what I read in your blogs, forums and articles.  It’s evident the ability to finance a retirement through savings and pensions may well be among reasons most of us do not retire a lot earlier. Especially for those of us who are in a hurry to move on to retirement, having already lived two thirds of our life expectancy.

I’ve not found the depreciation costs of an RV listed in other’s posted budgets.  It’s not in my estimated monthly budget either and will never be. It is however listed in my long-term financial plan. I know what our budget is for the RV and the truck purchases. I know my net worth and what it should look like if we stay on the road for six years beginning in October of 2019. I have an educated guess at what the value of the RV and truck might be worth when and if we sell it and move back to a stick built home. All the planning might not work out but I do have a couple plan Bs to cover possible changes. Although I can’t control most of what would affect Karen and me in the event of a financial catastrophe. Short of staying on the job until I’m much older, retiring and dying in what could be a short time later. I’m not willing to do that. Neither is Karen.

As part of long-term planning I researched what others had already figured out for RV depreciation schedules. I hope you would agree the variables for what might affect depreciation are considerable. What someone paid for the RV to start with and what the economy might be at the time of sale are a couple big variables. Especially if they overpaid for the RV or sell it when the rest of the baby-boomers finally sell theirs, saturating the market.

Speaking of the baby-boomer generation who will eventually sell their RV’s, assuming they don’t kept them until they have zero value. It’s a little off topic but should be a concern for anyone who might want to buy a used RV or attempt to sell one in the future. I did a study back in the mid 1990’s as part of preparing for a presentation. I was assigned to work in the crime prevention unit at the time. I have a passion for protecting the elderly which developed after a terrible event involving an elderly person. I wrote a research paper trying to win a federal grant to fund a crime prevention program. Working with a local Rockhurst University professor, part of the grant had to do with estimating the average age of persons in my jurisdiction in various future years. What I discovered was that here in Missouri, the percentage of persons turning 60 years of age, as a percentage of the population, would change significantly in 2010 and peek in 2020.  This was based on census data. If I recall the figures correctly, our state would be moving from an annual rate of .7 percent of our population turning 60 years of age to 1.7% beginning in 2010.  It was a significant shift in our demographics. Birth rates might have changed some of those figures, regardless you can see the point.  It’s effecting RV purchases now with record sales of new RVs and may cause a future record for used units on the market. Hmm, this might even present an opportunity for those that have the time to find the right used unit.

You know I can’t stop from writing a desertion about anything RV related. I started just wanting to write out what I’ve researched regarding a simple RV depreciation schedule. Sorry, can’t do that. I write like I think and to this point I believe the above information must be considered when estimating what our rigs will be worth in the future. And more importantly how do any of us justify spending hard earned money on any large purchase that does nothing but depreciate? You already know the answer to that question but I’ll still give you my opinion in a few moments.

If you scrolled down for quick information on RV depreciation then start reading here.

In my own financial planning, I’m figuring a new  high-profile luxury fifth wheel RV will depreciate 54% in 6 years.  I’m using 50% for the depreciation on a new one-ton diesel truck over a six-year period. Right now, my total budget is $84,655 for the trailer and $66,700 for the truck to include taxes and some of the items needed to equip the RV and truck. Although I suspect we will purchase some of the RV/camping equipment with current income rather than out of savings as we plan to purchase our rig up to a year before retirement. I’ve got just over eight weeks of vacation to use in 2019!  I have already decided it is most likely we will buy a one year old truck with well under 20,000 miles on it and save an estimated 22.24% compared to a new truck.

I found an interesting article written at Camper Reports.com. The writer’s conclusion is on average a new RV loses 21% of its value when it leaves the lot. The best value is found in buying a used five-year-old RV based on his depreciation schedule research. He believes there is “no significant difference from year one since model years are announced a year in advance–helping resale of a two-year-old trailer which seems to be only one year old to a potential buyer.” You can check the trailer label for the date of manufacture. The author’s research goes on to estimate depression off the purchased price on fifth wheels at 25% by year three, 29% by year four, 37% by year five and 38% by year six. Depreciation begins to level off at year five. So, if I’m reading his article correctly, total depreciation by year six off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is 59%. That assumes you lose 21% when you drive it off the lot and another 38% by year six.

I can’t find the link but have it in my notes the writer at RV Research.com estimated the depreciated in general for RV’s at 50% by year five. This guy at Axleaddict.com has done a lot of research on motorhome depreciation where he compared two specific units. His research estimates total average depreciation at 58.9% through year five.

It’s okay to stop reading if you were just after a few opinions on depreciation schedules.

There may be other cost considerations as part of this. Such as inflation rates and what one loses in interest by not keeping the money in the stock market (or whatever) rather than spending it.  The “old me” might have considered that! I’m planning not to think so much about the money details someday which will be the “new me”.

For my planning, the estimated depreciation only tells me what I might be able to sell everything for and then use the money to buy a home or whatever should we ever come off the road. OR elect to buy another RV and continue on.  The old me sees the depreciation in our budget as something costing on average around $7,618 a year or $634 a month. Add the truck and the monthly expense becomes $1,097 given our budgeted purchase prices over a six-year period. I know some of you are going to figure it up on your own – it comes out to $78,984 for six years.  At 7% earnings that money would generate $33,178 if invested rather than spent. Sorry – the old me chimed in at the last moment.

So how does one justify the expense of it all. The old me says; the hotel rooms for a year could cost over $27,000 or maybe $162,000 in six years, the food would be expensive if not cooked at home and you have to own a car anyway.  The new me says; what price does one place on looking out over a view that photos can’t capture, what price do you place on spending time with family and friends, what have you been saving for, is it really that important to work until death and I hope we can do this before the North Koreans figure out how to launch a long-range missile. If you want more opinions on if the depreciation is worth it, go to this 22 page forum thread.

Karen, with her new eyes, and I are going on an adventure. I’m not giving a second look at depreciation because it does not matter short of how much will we have left for our next adventure.

Updated Summary of Trailer and Truck Purchase Decisions.

Karen and I started touring RVs in January 2015 with a visit to the local RV show. In time, I came up with an outline of seven steps we might consider leading to the eventual purchase. As usual my personality provokes me into over-thinking every aspect of the decision. It has been a fun process as I enjoy research and meeting others who have gone through the process of selecting their rig. Karen and I agree with the concept of buying your third trailer first. In other words, whatever we get we are planning to keep for a long time and avoid taking a hit on depreciation should we trade out the trailer within a couple of years. I have read several times where others estimate trailers depreciate quickly in the first five years.

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Final Truck Research

Five weeks ago, I posted an article regarding my initial truck research. Because of the trailer weights we are considering, our truck will be a one ton dually. A second article was posted a couple weeks later.  Readers passed along the pin weights of their fifth wheel trailers were running between 19 and 21% of their total trailer weight. That’s also consistent with what others are reporting in forums. The pin is the front of the trailer that rides on the truck’s rear tires and is a reason we are going with a one ton dually.

I found all three manufacturers can handle the weights we are interested in. I researched the 2016 and 2017 truck models. Base prices on their least expensive trucks were within $720 of each other. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for 18 new truck builds, with the options I was initially interested in, varied as much as $18,435. And of those new trucks, 12 were over our budget.  In a roundabout way, it helped to further narrow the list with our decision that we wanting leather interior. None of the new truck models were within our budget with leather interior. The decision then became what used trucks we could afford that had the options we were interested in.  There were huge changes from 2016 to 2017 in Ford heavy duty trucks. The Ram was unchanged between those years and there were a few changes in the Chevy/GMC. It took some time but I was able to locate used trucks with most of the options we are interested in.

Research showed an average discount of 22.24% off the new MSRP for trucks if bought one year old. And those are compared with ones located on dealers’ lots at their asking prices. Many had mileage of less than 10,000. Several were even at local dealerships.

2017 Used Truck Prices_LI

All things considered and for what are my preferences, the Ford F350 Lariat and Ram Laramie 3500 were the two trucks I am most interested in. As a side note, I was surprised to find the Ram is the only one of the four brands that’s available in 2017 with factory air suspension.

Another point I want to make is about brand loyalty. I get it. The last three trucks I’ve purchased were Fords. On several occasions folks have suggested they wished they could buy one companies engine paired with another’s transmission. ALL four manufactures have the same powertrain warranty. So, if they think their truck has a better setup then why not show it in the warranty? Personally, I’m hoping that having a couple trucks in mind to purchase will at least double the chances of finding a fair deal.

2017 Truck Warranty

We should purchase our truck next year and will most likely trade-in one family car at the time. Most likely we will keep Karen’s car to be sold sometime before we leave in 2019 on our future in an RV. We are discussing selling it earlier if she is comfortable driving the larger truck. I posted about going to one family car.

Because I’ll have at least three specific trailers selected and know their critical weights, I have no problem buying the truck first.

I put together a spreadsheet on the topic.  Sorry, I only knew how to post the spreadsheet link as a PDF. If you have trouble loading the spreadsheet and want a copy send me an email at mseneker@hotmail.com. I’m happy to send it.

Truck Comparisons PDF  (click here to see the spreadsheet). The nuts and bolts of the research is outlined in the spreadsheet which was easier than repeating it all within this blog post.

Here are a few internet links of more interest than others:

  • From the Big Truck Big RV YouTube site: 2017 truck of the year opinion. He owns a 2016 Ford and selected the 2017 Ram. Here is the link. He adds all three manufacturers can handle a 20,000 pound fifth wheel and believed no engine/transmission is better than another.
  • Roads Less Traveled blog has several postings regarding their 2016 truck upgrade. They test drove all of them!
  • Side by Side Video: 2017 one tons by MrTruckTV and another guy I’ve seen in a lot of videos. Towing around 22,000 pounds. Pin weight in this test is at 19% or over 4,180 pounds. Max tow for the Chevy is 23,000 pounds so they had to limit in order to compare. Chevy won the race with Ram coming in second place.

If you find any details in this post to be incorrect, please let me know. I’m no expert and don’t want to put out any bad information.

After writing this blog post I’ve kept looking at truck adds each day. I’m finding some wonderful trucks around the 20,000 mile mark. Found a 2015 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Limited Edition for an asking price of $51,700 at a local dealership. And a loaded 2016 Ford F350 Lariat with less than 10,000 miles at another local dealership listed at $55,000. There are newer dually Ram Tradesmen Editions out there in the mid 40’s in great condition.