Fifth-Wheel Toy Hauler Buying Tips
A future RVer ask....
(Some Things to Look for When Buying a 5-er)
We've decided to buy a 5th wheel trailer, a toy hauler, for our first RV. We're soooo excited about getting a 5-er! Would you please give us some tips on what to look for when we go shopping for our new home?
Bob, the RVing editor's husband replies:
If I were going to buy a fifth wheel toy hauler, these are some of the things I would look for:
Adequate carrying capacity. I can put an awfully lot of weight in an 8x10 empty space. Figure how much all the toys and equipment will weigh, add a whole bunch more for good measure, then figure some more in case of an upgrade to heavier toys in the future. Don't forget to add for pots, pans, kitchen stuff, TV and electronics, clothes, food, books, tools, water in the tank, and everything else. I'd get a rig that will handle more than the weight I expect to put in it.
I believe the single biggest reason for poor handling of RV's is over loading and weight distribution.
Another thing would be good tie downs, and lots of them. I would make sure they are bolted to a frame member or something solid. Tie downs screwed to a plywood floor rip out under the extra stress of bumps and corners. I don't want a full dress Harley falling over into the one next to it.
I would look for a simple, well-built rig. The fancier they make them, the more things to go wrong. Even with the best warranty in the industry, if it needs to be fixed, you'll probably have to schedule an appointment, and take it in, wait, and then pick it up. If you waste a day taking the rig in for repairs, even if the repair is "free," it will cost your time and frustration.
Slide outs can sometimes be troublesome, especially when towed over rough roads and set up on less than level spots out in the wilds.
Check the tires. Are they a respectable brand? Are they heavy enough? Do they have a recent manufacture date? A year after I buy, I don't want to spend $1000, $1200, or more for a set of four decent tires. I've personally had good luck with Cooper tires on my trailers. Like all manufacturers, Cooper makes some lighter tires, also; get the good, heavy ones.
There are some bargains on new trailers, one, two, and even three model years old. Check the Blue Book value on it, as if it were used. As soon as you buy, it will be used, and that's what it will be worth. It may not look like as good a deal in that light.
This is not an all-inclusive list. These are a few things I deem important to me, and things i would want to look for when buying a fifth-wheel toy hauler. Different people will want different things in a trailer.
One thing I advise, is do not let a salesman sell you something you're not sure you like or want. I hope you enjoy your search, and good luck.
Coleen, the RVing editor replies:
What can you afford to spend? Look at RVs in your price range. One thing I've learned about RVs over the years is that high price does not mean high quality.
I'd look at used RVs. New ones depreciate (lose value) very quickly -- that's due to the "vehicle" part of :recreational vehicle."
Keep in mind that the RV you buy today shouldn't be one you have to live with forever. If you pay for it up front, rather than financing it, you won't have to worry about finding yourself in an upside down loan. I can't imagine that it would be fun to owe more on a toy hauler than what it is worth. If it's paid for, you can sell it or trade it when you decide you want a different RV.
In his answer, Bob focused on the safety and usability aspects. I agree with him.
As for what I'd look for in the interior of a fifth-wheel toy hauler, I'd look for damage and potential. Yes, even on new units. When we look at a new RV, we are remodeling it in our head and conversation before we ever buy it.
Go to some RV shows. Visit some RV dealers. That will give you a better idea of what is out there and how they are priced. Have fun shopping!