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What Is High Mileage For a Class B Motorhome?

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Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine

Are you asking, “What is high mileage for a class B motorhome?”

Remember the adage thrown out there by Indiana Jones? “It’s not the years; it’s the mileage.” As a middle-aged man, who has spent more time wandering around the globe and at war than at peace, I empathize entirely with Doctor Jones. I know he’s not a real guy, but I sympathize with his wisdom and practicality. So, we’ll let’s get down to brass tacks. We’re trying to determine what is high milage for Class B motorhomes.

Popular opinion in the RV world states that a Class B motorhome with 100,000 to 200,000 is considered high mileage. But see, things are not that simple. First, it matters what you have under the hood. Diesel engines are inherently better at lubricating the engine’s moving parts, as gas-powered engines tend to scrub the engine’s inner workings with detergents, accelerating engine breakdown. In addition, diesel engines last longer, known as “million miles” engines.

The class B motorhome is built on the chassis of popular cargo-type vans manufactured by Dodge, Mercedes, Ford, Chevvy, and Toyota. These over-glorified vans have become very popular recently due to their versatility and affordability. They make the RVing experience easier to manage but maximize the traveler’s experience with convenience, ease of drive, and overall experience.

So, what is the high mileage for a Class B motorhome? I’m going to say 453,567 miles arbitrarily. No, I mean 345,837 miles. Heck, it could be 43,124 miles. These are users’ experiences with their rigs; no two rigs are the same. Most of us would instead put our RVs in the grave after ½ million miles – thus, everyone is happy, but the RV. Mileage may not be the most accurate measurement of an RV’s quality or serviceability. There are several considerations when purchasing a new RV or somebody else’s nightmare.

Degradation Due To Years

The biggest enemy of an older RV is dry rot. It hits your tires hard. RV tires that are not protected and are exposed to daylight all year long tend to become dry and weak. Visible sidewall cracks are a tell-tale sign that it is time to change tires.

Day-after-day exposure to the Ultra-Violet rays from the sun will break down plastic on your rig, from A/C shrouds to awnings to outside vents and even indoor stuff like binds. Neglected plastic parts on your roof will be problematic as your rig ages.

A good start would be a spray-on, wipe-off plastic, and vinyl cleaner. I recommend Meguiar’s treatment as UV rays can damage your car, but they offer protection with their treatment. I apply it to everything plastic on my Class-C, from the rear-view mirrors and moldings and on top with A/C shrouding and vents. Everything on the roof gets treatment. If you stay on top of it, you won’t have to deal with cracking, peeling, and disintegrating plastic parts as your rig ages.

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Water damage is the worse. Sometimes it is hard to detect before it’s almost too late. That drip, drip into the living room of your RV can spell disaster over time. Even an RV with low mileage can be ruined unless you stay proactive in keeping your rig leakproof.

Treat your roof on your rig every year. First, wash the top thoroughly and get the pine sap off. Then, re-seal your roof every couple of years by a professional. It will save you many headaches knowing that your rig is watertight.

Degradation Due To Miles

Motorhomes can come in many classes, but one of the most popular ones is Class B. These were introduced in the 70s and are easy to convert into motorhomes. However, Volkswagen Vanagons, built  I’ve talked to many of their owners while camping in the Poudre Canyon, and I’ve gotten some good advice about keeping your Class B in tip-top shape.

You’ll be driving your Class B for miles around the country when you take a family trip or load up camp gear. Everything, your engine, your drivetrain, your suspension, and your brakes, is affected by use. But as a Class B owner, you are spared the significant weight and wear and tear that Class A and Class B motorhomes suffer.

Schedule oil changes at least every 5,000 miles. Goopy oil and clogged oil filters will eat an engine up faster than anything. Old antifreeze will cause problems with engine water flow and clogged thermostats. I follow the 3,000 miles or the 3–4-month oil change for a class B. Shop around for a good deal. Yes, even oil that sits in a new engine will expire at the date noted.

Be mindful of where you spend most of your time driving. If you spend most of your time in town or the city, you can expect more wear-and-tear on your rig from braking at stop lights, accelerating and decelerating, and putting a load on your transmission with all that gear changing.

On the other hand, highway driving is the preferred mode to get around. It’s easier on your brakes and your transmission. My stretch of scenic highway runs from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Walden, Colorado. Highway 14, Roosevelt National Forest, and eventually over the Great Divide. It follows the Cache La Poudre River, with its class five rapids and plenty of sightseeing.

By the way, a trip up Highway 14 is much easier in your lightweight Class B than on the bigger rigs, with less intense breaking and a smoother, more comfortable, and less nail-biting trip. I know I’ve made the trip in a Class A and a Class B – big difference.

The Brakes Will Wear Out With Use

Amazingly, these small devices made from graphite and ceramic that are very easy to remove and install can hold back thousands of pounds. Your breaks are critical to safe driving and towing experience. Remember that front brakes deal with the greatest load of the vehicle. Operational brake pads should not make scratching or scraping sounds. To the touch, the pads should be smooth and without groves or divots.

Class B weighs between 10,000 to 20,000 pounds, while a 9-passenger Chevy Suburban weighs around 6,000 pounds. Compare that to Class C and Class A rigs weighing 15,000 to 30,000 pounds. You can expect a brake job on Class B to cost around $200 and, if done correctly, should last about 40,000 miles. Get that brake job!

Tune-Ups, Oil Changes, And Timing Belts

Timing belts are a crucial part of your engine’s functions. Given the narrow valve clearance of modern motors, a damaged or broken timing belt can spell disaster for your rig. Just imagine a timing belt brakes, and the valves stop lifting up and down, but the pistons keep on jamming. You’re going to have a mess. And an expensive one on that note. So while those expert mechanics are changing your timing (or serpentine belt), please give them the thumbs up to replace the water pump while they are at it.

Keep your Class B well-oiled, and most importantly, replace that timing belt. A well-oiled machine will not only prolong the longevity of your rig but also improve gas mileage. Couple the oil change with a tune-up, which may involve replacing spark plugs, air filters, wires, and other ignition parts. The mechanics may also check your hoses and filters, such as the oil filter.

Check Those Tires

The sun and weather break down your RV’s tires over time. For mileage check, you thread depth and refer to the DoT’s website for standards for new and used tires. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has set the limit for safe tires at 2/32 of an inch. If you find cracks in the sidewall, it’s time to grab a new set of tires all around. Tires can mean a happy Labor Day Weekend and a miserable one.

Staying On Top Of Years

Years of exposure to all sorts of elements, like sunlight, wind, rain, and temperature variations, can take their toll on the exterior plastic of a car. So the condition of your roof, the cab, the dashboard, the seats, and other plastic objects depends on your diligence to protect these guys.

Here are a few tips for taking care of the Plastic and Leather in your investment.

Use an RV cover -a cover that protects your rig from the elements while allowing the RV to breathe to avoid condensation and mold growth is an essential tool.

Clean the dashboard and other plastic parts annually and apply a coat of protectant like Armor All. Not only will it bring out the shine and fresh, new-car smell, but it will also protect your dash and leather seats from harmful UV rays.

Prolonging The Life Of Your RV

Periodic maintenance on your Class B – Brakes, Oil, Air Filter, and inspection must be accomplished on a set schedule to ensure the proper operation of your rig. The cost of new brake pads and installation is reasonable. Nice, thick brake pads can make the difference between a fun holiday weekend and a couple of hours on the side of the road waiting for a wrecker.

I use the look/listen to principle for brake wear. Listen for squealing or a scratching sound coming from the front wheels. The sound means that the wear indicators have made contact with the rotor – time to change pads. You can also observe excessive brake dust on the wheels, and you may even feel grooves or raised spots plus corrosion – it’s time to change your pads.

Final Thoughts

I’m praying that my advice today will help you construct a plan where your Class B maintenance is essential to a positive RV experience for yourself, your kids, and your kids. I prefer to travel in an older RV that has been well-maintained than the most abundant new model that has just rolled off the showroom floor.

Periodic maintenance will benefit your Class B and your RVing experience. Oil changes should be frequent at either every 3,000 miles or three months. Air filters can be replaced at six months up to a year, depending on how dusty the roads you travel. A clean air filter will allow your rig to breathe correctly and the engine to run most efficiently.

Has your timing belt been replaced between 60,000 – 100,000 miles? I recommend closer to 60k. While they are at it, replace the water pump. Have them drain, flush, and fill the coolant system. Stay confident and get out there and enjoy those experiences.

Before heading off, make sure you check out these other great RV sites.

Can an RV Tip Over?

How to Buy a Used RV from a Dealer

How to Buy a Used RV Out of State

Edward Kipfinger
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