It’s a broad, difficult to answer question fielded by many used car and RV salespeople. An RV can provide fun family vacations and pleasure travel for decades under the right conditions. Another part of this question can be, how often do you plan to use your RV?
RVs are mechanical objects that do have a limited lifespan. Mileage can also vary. We offer some tips below on how to make an RV last longer as well as what to look for.
Most RV motors can last around 200,000 miles before they start to experience major problems. The answer does depend on how well you take care of it and how often you drive. Maintenance is a larger factor than mileage with most engines and vehicles.
Why 200,000 miles for an RV?
200,000 mile is actually pretty good for most engines, even with proper maintenance. One very significant thing to keep in mind about RVs is that they usually are not the primary vehicle. Most people have an additional vehicle to drive around due in part to gas mileage and comfort.
That said, people tend to travel significantly less per year with their RVs as compared to their regular passenger vehicles. Most RV drivers actually get to a spot they want, and sit still for a bit. The average number of miles per year for an RV are actually between 5,000 and 9,000.
So 200,000 should actually get you more than a few good years out of your travels. You might also notice that most used RVs on the market are actually from the late 90s and early 2000s. This also indicates that drivers tend to not put too many miles on the engine too quickly.
Is there a difference in RV class for miles?
The answer is generally no. There isn’t a big difference in engines when it comes to RVs. A larger Class A RV shouldn’t last longer than a smaller Class C RV. If a salesperson is using class differences to sell you an RV with more high mileage potential, you shouldn’t believe them.
There can be a quality difference in engines when it comes to RVs but that is mostly subjective.
What makes a difference for RV miles?
The easy answer is maintenance. Both the engine and other parts of the RV from electrical and plumbing need to be maintained regularly.
- Oil changes are the most important maintenance for any engine. Your vehicle needs fresh oil to keep running smoothly. No oil or dirtly oil can cause severe damage to an engine.
- Transmission. Have the transmission looked at within the intervals suggested in your manual. The transmission is very important and will be an expensive fix.
- Electrical. Electrical makes up a good portion of how the internals in your RV work. Make sure to get it inspected. Check the power connections for the RV to ensure it can receive power.
- Rust. Rust is a sign the vehicle’s metals have received excess moisture, most likely from sitting outside. Beating rust is very difficult, if not impossible. Given the RVs weigh more than vehicle, it’s also likely that “fixing” a rusted spot on the frame will cost more to fix.
- Plumbing. Most vehicles don’t have bathrooms in them. RVs do tend to have bathrooms. Ensure the toilet flushes properly and that all pipes and seals are not leaking and are in good shape.
Also, just like most passenger vehicles, RVs are rarely actually completely dead. Most any mechnical vehicle can be revived. The only difference is the cost or if the owner prefers something different. An RV isn’t actually limited to a number of miles and other factors like new amenities or the inability to drive can also factor into a new RV or selling one.
Just know that there are more factors to deal with than mileage, like with a car.
RV mileage signs
The question about RV mileage is often asked by people who are considering buying a used RV. GIven how RVs are driven differently from traditional vehicles, their mileage amounts can be confusing.
An RV that is 10 years old with 50,000 miles sounds like a good combination of age and mileage. This is actually 5,000 miles per year or less. As with all RVs, ask for maintenance records. You’ll want to see the RV was maintained readily during it’s downtime.
Downtime can be bad for RVs, especially those that are left outside. Ensure that the plumbing system, electrical, battery, and engine were all well maintained, even if not used much.
An RV with more miles on it, like 70,000 in 10 years old can be good if it has a list of maintenance.
The key here is that the most important factor in motorhome miles is maintenance – not miles.
Just like a regular car, an RV can last a long time with proper maintenance. With proper maintenance, RVs can last over 200,000 miles or more of giving you and yours worry free vacations.
The most important ways to look at the vehicle’s mileage is to consider the maintenance more. Mileage will wear down a vehicle gradually, but a lack of maintenance while the vehicle is either under or overused will do significantly more harm.
We hope our article has inspired some confidence either in purchasing an RV or knowing how long your current RV should last. Remember the maintenance lists in your manual and how they might impact resale value too – the next buyer probably has the same concerns as you!