View Full Version : Reliability. A Step Up?

03-15-2015, 06:35 AM
Hello All,

I have been lurking on the forum for quite some time as we consider our motorhoming future. We currently own a very nice Monaco product and it is our 11th motorhome and 7th diesel pusher. While we love the opportunities that traveling by motorhome offers, I am amazed by the continual mechanical (chassis) and coach problems we experience. This does not seem to be brand specific as we have owned several different brands and they have all suffered from nearly continuous costly and inconvenient repair needs.

Please don't get me wrong, I understand the rigors a coach must endure, but am curious if moving up to a Newell or Prevost based coach will cure these continuous pains in the "you know what!". My wife hates to fly, so RV travel will likely remain our preferred method of travel, but before we spend the money for the step up to a Newell (a used one, as we do not have anywhere near the net worth to buy a new one), I was curious if they follow the same reliability issues or is their quality a true step up? I am hoping some of you have been through this same scenario and can share some real life experience related to this topic.

I appreciate any input, opinion or direction you may offer.

Thank you,


Route 66
03-15-2015, 12:40 PM

Welcome to the forum!

03-16-2015, 10:25 AM
The reality is that all of these coaches, particularly the high-end ones such as Newell, are complex machines with lots of systems that have to be properly integrated in order for the coach to perform as desired.

As a result, all of these vehicles require a higher level of maintenance than would a regular car or truck. It's more like keeping on top of an airplane in some ways than it is an automobile. And, the more complexities (slide-outs, multiple A/C units, generator, enhanced plumbing, communications devices, etc), the more time and money one will spend on maintaining all of it.

I've known people,unfamiliar with RVs, who buy one and then are disappointed that a lot of knowledge and work is required to keep the ship sailing. Always best to really know what's going to be required before taking the plunge.

03-18-2015, 05:26 AM

I appreciate your insight and completely agree. I am a perfectionist in maintaining anything I own and after nearly 35 years in the RV lifestyle and close to 30 Yeats of owning motorhomes, I can certainly relate to everything you mentioned.

I am just curious if Newell, or other luxury manufacturers, take a truly higher road related to the construction and pride taken in their product than the more traditional brands. My current coach had an original sticker price of over $700,000, but the quality in general is no better than my first DP that cost about $150k.

I am hoping that some on this forum have come up through the ranks like I have, and can offer their insight, observations and perspectives related to the differences, or lack thereof, between a Newell and the traditional brands. Your comments lead me to think there may not be much difference, and that is great input for me!

Thank you again,


03-18-2015, 06:03 AM
Hi Dan -
Well, no product is absolutely perfect, but I'd say that Newell and the other ultra-high-end coach builders are about as well-built as you can get (and given the price of these things, they should be).

These coaches should last a good 40 years or so, given normal upkeep and service. Our "new" coach, 139, is a 1987, but it is extremely sturdy, and the components are top of the line. I like these better than the new ones, because they don't have the fiberglas caps - all aluminum.

One has to remember that these motorhomes have a hugely complex interface of systems; you're basically taking a house and driving down the highway with it. So there will always be issues with getting everything to work together, no matter how good the components and assembly is. The same thing happens with $40 million jets - which is why they are constantly being sent to the hangar to get repaired...



03-18-2015, 11:40 AM
I, like you have owned five motorhomes constantly since 1980. I too am a perfectionist in maintaining them & do 95% of my own work. Rather than provide you with my opinion, I'll share with you my experience. All of my motorhomes have provided me good service, but all have required maintenance & some repair.

I have owned a Harvest, Fleetwood, Holiday Rambler, Country Coach and now a Newell. All five were purchased used. The Harvest was a stick built motorhome on a truck chassis. It was the poorest quality coach I have owned, but with proper maintenance it served me well. I then bought a top of the line Fleetwood coach. Owned it for 10 years and with proper maintenance it served me well. Owned the Holiday Rambler for two years and did not have a single problem with it-just did all recommended maintenance. Purchased the Country Coach with a slide & felt like we had taken a BIG jump in quality. Did not deal with a single serious issue in 8 years of ownership, but was meticulous in its maintenance. I purchased a Newell that was only one year newer than the Country Coach to get 2 slides. The quality jump is unbelieveable! Felt like we had moved up 10 years. This coach feels like it will last forever and has many more features than my well equipped CC. Have owned the Newell for five years and provide it with meticulous maintenance. While I constantly work on my coach at home in my quest for perfection, last year I never even opened my tool box while on the road for over 12,000 miles--my best year ever!

Now you have probably noticed a common thread in my experience. All of my coaches have served me well, but all have received proper maintenance. Most people are reactionary to issues where I try to avoid them.

Quality? I have owned a full range of quality. From the poorly built Harvest to the Newell. The chassis components under the Newell are designed to last over many miles. Take a look at a twenty year old Newell & compare it to any twenty year old fiberglas coach. Also I would encourage you to go to the factory in Miami, OK and take a factory tour and see for yourself how they are built--they build them the same today as they did forty years ago. Also no other coach manufacturer offers 24/7 support like Newell does.

I hope my experience will answer some of your questions and help you in any future decision.

Newell #531

03-19-2015, 03:52 AM
Hi Penumbra and Steve,

Fantastic and very much appreciated input! I agree and understand the house on wheels concept - in fact, my motorhome has way more features and complicated systems than my home by a long ways!

Steve, your experiences sound very familiar as well and I too try to prevent, rather than cure issues. My current coach has really been a challenge though and is the reason I have been pondering the move to the Newell. They are complicated and since I too always buy used, I think I have fixed all the issues the former owner chose to either ignore or even hide from me.

My back of the mind question now is have I fixed it all and can now enjoy it or what else is coming and should I move on before it costs me a ton more? We love the floor plan and the drive train, but have had constant issues with the electronics and hydraulic systems. Right now, I think I have it all under control, but, do I?

I have wanted a Newell for many, many years and just could not afford it. At this point, I think I could afford one that is ten years old or so, but just want to make sure I am not jumping from one frying pan to another, or worse, into the fire! Based on both of your experiences, I think I would be OK and I am going to start looking for the right coach. I am not in a hurry and will look until I find the right one, but I think I am ready for the step up to a Newell.

Thank you again for both your comments and insight!


03-19-2015, 04:28 AM
Hey guys-

One of the reasons we like the "classic" Newells is that they don't have slide-outs. I think the issues with slides have been pretty well addressed in modern coaches. HOWEVER - having slides increases the already complicated list of stuff that could,under the right (wrong?) conditions, turn a pleasant RV trip into a voyage on the Titanic. Slides do jam, sometimes in the "extended"position, sometimes not, and most of these coaches do not have a manual override ("crank") to bring them in or out. I wouldn't personally have a rig without manual overrides.

Another of the things we like about the older Newells is that you feel like you're spending time in... a submarine, or aircraft, and not a house, which is what the rigs with all the slides sometimes feel like. If we were living in the Newell, it might be a different story, but our trips are maybe six weeks at the most; living space has never been an issue...


03-21-2015, 05:05 AM
Mark and Steve,

Thank you again for the great input. My search begins!


03-21-2015, 10:58 AM
Only you will know what is "the right coach" for you, but if there is any thing I can do to help feel free to ask or email me directly. Good luck and remember the only thing more fun than looking for "your Newell" is owning a Newell.


03-21-2015, 01:10 PM
Likewise, Dan, should you have a question, any question at all, please feel free to keep it to yourself.

Ahem, I mean, feel free to ask anything, and if I don't know the answer, rest assured that I will make up something plausable.



03-22-2015, 02:54 AM
Thank you guys. If anything comes up, you can rest assured I will call on the troops of the forum!

Thanks again,


03-30-2015, 10:59 AM
I've always said "Take an old house and an old truck and put them together and you have an old motorhome....Maintenance will be required." Generally appliances and components have a 20 year life span. After restifying two Newells I continue to be impressed with the basic structure and feel that it is more worthy of continual upgrades than most less expensive motorhomes. I could go into detail about 7 ply 3/4" plywood, heavy duty rivets holding inner structures in place, almost no glue or staples, robust wiring...all things most people don't even see that is done very well. The other difference is that most mass produced motorhomes are built to a "price". For the most part a Newell is built to a "standard" with price a secondary consideration.

04-26-2015, 08:50 PM
I happen to be in a similar situation to Dan. I started with a Safari Ivory and learned to hate it rather quickly. The owned two new American Eagles back in the mid - late 90's. Full timed for near 3 years back then.
Had an excellent experience with the Amer. Coach group and always took the rigs to the factory for all service and just general checkups.

Now, we are putting the house up for sale this week and going to take off to full time for 3-5 years while I still can!

Pattern will be to be staying in most locations for 2-6+ weeks and spending time getting to know each town and it's personality profile. Expect when we finally get tired of traveling we'll return to where we liked the best and give it a final test before buying a home.

Now, I've done the Eagle twice and at this point I would like to try something new. Like many, I've lusted for a Newell since the first one I toured years ago. At this point, I can afford to comfortable pay cash for a 2001-2003.

Like Dan, I'm a perfectionist - actually my wife and friends say I'm the Poster Child for the North American Anal Retentive. Thus, with a personality profile like that and lacking the genetic structure to have any patience with chronic problems ........ you get the picture?

Now, let's say I pass on passion and go back to a used Eagle. And let's say Day buys a same year, 2002, Newell.

First, is it safe to assume that both Dan and I will have a like number of problems over the next 4 years of ownership?

Second, if we have the same number, and ever say the same components fail, will the cost to maintain the Newell be dramatically greater than the Eagle?

In short, cost of entry is only the beginning point in the equation. I'd like to evaluate the cost of ownership.

Feedback is appreciated.


04-27-2015, 12:34 AM
You really can't compare a Fleetwood to a Newell. There are no Fleetwoods that are designed for 1 million plus miles, all Newells are. They may look similar on a spec sheet as far as options, but there is no similarity in build quality. Consider the difference between a Chrysler and S Class Mercedes, yes, they both have power steering, heater, A/C, radio, etc... but the driving experience isn't comparable. Do yourself a favor and opt for quality.

04-27-2015, 01:36 AM
The answer to your first question is no. My opinion is that the coach that has been maintained will have a lower cost of ownership than a neglected coach. Therefore the key in controlling your cost of ownership is to buy a coach that has received proper maintenance.

I can only answer question two with my experience. I owned a Country Coach for 8 yrs & drove it 120,000 miles. I have owned my Newell for 5 yrs & driven it 60,000 miles. I have not noticed an increase in cost between the two except tires & batteries. More & bigger tires. More batteries.

Concentrate on finding a well maintained coach, no matter the brand, and your cost of ownership will be lower.

Now let's talk about what is the highest part of cost of ownership. It is NOT parts & labor-----it is depreciation!

04-27-2015, 01:42 AM
I realize this question has not been part of this discussion but safety was a consideration to me when I was shopping. I know of one Newell that ended up on it's side after being struck by a tornado while moving. After it was righted and fluids checked although it had broken windows etc. it was drivable. I have seen many fiberglass RV's that are split open and totally demolished after lesser impacts.

04-28-2015, 10:47 AM
Steve, that was informative. I had expected to see a dramatic increase in the cost of operating the Newell verse a "standard" coach. On finding a well maintained coach, I'm finding it difficult to locate one where the owner kept any records to prove then at least had the oil changed. I'm not one that does well on "trust me" comments that it was done.

Hoosier Daddy -
I agree with the safety comment BUT if I was really focused on it I'd be buying a Dynamax, assuming I'm willing to over look the poor Dynamax reliability ratings on the living quarters. Truck drivers have a saying about "flat nose" trucks: "You'll be the first one at the scene of the accident". They prefer "long nose rigs" for safety.

04-28-2015, 01:51 PM
I realize this question has not been part of this discussion but safety was a consideration to me when I was shopping. I know of one Newell that ended up on it's side after being struck by a tornado while moving. After it was righted and fluids checked although it had broken windows etc. it was drivable. I have seen many fiberglass RV's that are split open and totally demolished after lesser impacts.
I came across this unit when looking for a donor coach, good illistration of what HoosierDaddy is talking about. http://images.copart.com/website/data/pix/20141118/33673864_1X.JPG

04-28-2015, 02:26 PM
I figure there is a higher probability of being confronted with a head on collision as compared to a tornato. Then again, Fate has had Her fun with me before!

04-28-2015, 02:29 PM
The salvage site has it listed as a rollover, more fun pictures here: http://www.copart.com/us/Lot/33673864/Photos?SearchId=65423290

04-28-2015, 08:22 PM
I'm with you on not trusting words. If the owner cannot produce convincing records and receipts I assumed it was not done.

The owner of my coach could produce no records. We agreed to adjust the price and I banked the savings. I still have some in my maintenance account.

Your due diligence will pay dividends in the end.

Good Luck

04-29-2015, 11:03 AM
Any other comments to define the cost of ownership for a Newell verse Eagles, Magnas, etc?

04-29-2015, 10:27 PM
Quality comes at a price. Newell equips their coaches with the highest quality components available at time of manufacture. If they fail, they will cost more money to replace with the same quality. With proper maintenance the higher quality components should outlast lesser quality components, and with a little luck, the higher quality components won’t fail.

What you’re doing comparing Fleetwood to Newell because they're both American motorhomes would be like comparing Fiats and Lamborghinis because they’re both Italian cars.

04-30-2015, 01:37 AM
Labor costs on various RVs are generally the same per hour; many of the major components (engine, transmission, wheels and tires, generators, etc) are often the same. The luxury stuff is more expensive, but usually lasts for a very long time if cared for.