Tag Archives: motorhome

Towing A 2016 Honda HR-V Manual Transmission Four-Down

When Amber suggested a Honda HR-V as a tow vehicle, I started searching the web for information on whether it was possible to tow four-down behind a motorhome. I couldn’t find any definitive information on whether an automatic or manual transmission could be towed this way, but, from other make and model owners manuals I had read, towing a manual was pretty much a given.

We found a manual at a dealership in Tampa and made arrangements to test drive and talk numbers. I was a bit rusty, but I was able to do a test drive and it was just like riding a bike again, you never forget. Once we hashed out numbers, we asked them to provide us definitive documentation that the vehicle we were about to purchase could be towed four-down. After a bit of time, they provided us with a salesperson training brochure that mentioned being able to do it. They also said that in the HR-V owners CD, it has a section on what needs to be done to accomplish this.

Since I could not find any definitive documentation on the web, I figured I would provide the actual page from the owners CD that outlines how to tow a 2016 Honda HR-V with a manual transmission four-down.

Towing HR-V Manual Transmission Behind a Motorhome

Taking a 36.5 ft. Motorhome for a Drive

I have been itching to drive Irving again ever since we got him to the storage lot about a month ago. Yeah, I know, we bought an expensive motorhome and we haven’t driven it since we took delivery. We had Christopher’s birthday vacation to Animal Kingdom Lodge and Amber and Christopher spent time at the beach with friends in June. These things were planned long before we bought our coach, so there was no avoiding them.

In a previous post, I mentioned that the bed in our coach was way too hard for us, so I ended up ordering a memory foam mattress with a foam base. It came yesterday, so we decided to take the RV for spin to get gas and then back home to install the new mattress. We didn’t need gas, I wanted the practice of getting gas before we had to do it. I noticed that the Sam’s Club near our house had very high clearance, so we decided to go there.

I got very lucky pulling out of the storage lot, traffic lights going in both directions we red and I was easily able to cross to the other side of the road. Heading home from Sam’s Club meant that I would have to go into our residential neighborhood of narrow streets. I decided to take the long way around because the usual entrance to our neighborhood has a median that I would have never been able to turn into. These are things that need to be thought out ahead of time and I’m glad I did. We did encounter some tree branches that made that screeching sound as they ran down the side of the coach. I cringed.

After getting Irving home and into the driveway, our across the street neighbor came over to see Irving. He’s been wanting to do what we are doing for a long time and all he could say is that we had a gorgeous coach. We got the mattress installed and headed back to the storage lot. I made the mistake of taking back roads in our neighborhood and it was pretty stressful. Our coach barely fit in the lane and Amber was very jumpy, making me anxious. We made it back to the storage lot unharmed and I had more driving experience under my belt.

We all agreed that this will only get easier.

Exercising A RV Generator

Cummins Onan 5500 Generator
I had picked up from various sources that running the coach generator was a good idea for at least an hour a month. Then I started reading the manual for our generator and discovered how important “exercising” an RV generator really is.

When you don’t use an RV generator regularly, moisture builds up and the system starts to degrade. For our Cummings Onan 5500 gas generator, it is recommended that it be run at a minimum of 50% capacity for two hours every four weeks. It is best to run the generator for one long rather than several small periods of time. This keeps the internal parts lubricated, gets moisture our of the system, and prevents what’s called varnishing.

We were worried that we would not be able to run the generator while at the storage lot, so Amber asked the management and they said it was ok. I have gone to the storage lot to check on Irving and while I was there the last two times, I ran the generator for over an hour each time with both air conditioning unit running. It was very necessary to run both A/C units since it was over 100 degrees in the coach when I arrived.

We are definitely learning these things as we go along. It helps to learn as much as you can about your particular RV so you can keep it running for many years.

Itching To Get Out!!

It’s been a busy few weeks since we brought Irving home to the storage lot. We have visited him a few times, but with a vacation that was planned and Amber and Christopher going to spend time at the beach with friends, we have not camped since we took delivery.

I have been looking at maps of the US to find campgrounds in places we want to go and have started making a list. It’s been frustrating for me not to be able to make a real trip yet. I know it’s coming, but I am anxious to get going on our adventure.

We have already made a reservation for Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground in late August. We will be doing a trip to the KOA about 5 miles from our house, most likely at the end of July. We wanted to go close by to get more practice with setting up and if we forgot anything, we can go home and add it to our list. We can also practice cooking, etc.

Sometimes things take time, but they happen eventually.

Reality Sets In

After we spent the weekend in the RV we were happy to be home, in our comfortable space.  It made me think about how this RV experience feels a lot like when you bring your new baby home for the first time.  You go through your pregnancy and you can’t wait for that new baby to get here.  That day finally arrives and you are excited and totally in love, but then you go home.  Everything is new, you have no idea what you are supposed to do.  And then there is the poop! You know that eventually you’ll figure it out and it will be awesome, but right now you are thinking what did we do. No turning back now.

We were definitely outside of our comfort zone this weekend, trying to figure everything out. The weekend was stressful but I think we handled it in stride.  We made it through, but Sunday night when we were sitting in our comfortable bed we were both questioning this whole RV thing.  The idea of it was very exciting, we couldn’t wait for the day to get here so we could try out our new “baby”.

Much like having a baby, this is a totally life changing experience. No turning back.  I think that is kind of the point, though.  You grow when you are challenged and get out of your comfort zone.

Our Second Night

Our first campground stay at Lazydays in Seffner, FL.
Our first campground stay at Lazydays in Seffner, FL.

The dealership was great about addressing the issues with our coach, so we got to spend the night at their campground last night.

We got some good practice getting hooked up to electric, water and cable TV. We were disappointed that the TVs in our coach (one in the bedroom and one in the living room) were not showing cable channels. We called our dealer’s 24 hour help line and they suggested scanning the cable signal for channels. That worked just fine. We held off hooking up the sewer line, more on this later. We were hungry and tired after a long day, so we went to dinner.

While at dinner, a pretty significant thunderstorm blew in and dumped heavy rain on us. We didn’t feel like hooking up the sewer line in the rain, so we went inside to get ready for bed. Christopher and I finished our shower and Amber wanted to get in next. I checked the level of the gray tank and it showed full. Oops. If we had hooked up before dinner, we could have, at least, dumped enough water out to allow Amber to take her shower. To make things worse, this morning when I went to hook up the sewer line, I discovered that the previous occupant had screwed the lid on way too tight and I couldn’t take it off. We didn’t have any tools, so we had to wait until 9:00am to call the office and have someone help us take it off. This really cut into the time we had to get our tanks dumped so we could check out of the park at 11:00am. Fortunately, it all worked out and we were able to dump all of our tanks before heading out right at 11:00am.

Lesson #1: Set up all connections as soon as your arrive at the campsite to address issues right away.

Our First Night In Our New Motorhome

It was an overwhelming day yesterday. We took the driver’s confidence course, which was great for both of us. Amber had never driven a vehicle as big as our coach and I had only driven ours once during the test drive. Amber did great, better than me in certain places. 😉

Then it was time to do the walk-through. There is a lot to know and Amber felt a bit overwhelmed after it. Not so much for me since I have been reading the owners manual for the last few weeks and I was somewhat familiar with the systems and workings. For anyone that isn’t familiar with a class A coach, there is the generator, fresh water, black water, gray water tanks, batteries, liquid propane (LP) tanks, among other things. It can be pretty overwhelming. We also found some issues that will be addressed this morning. From what I have heard, this is common since there are so many things in these motorhomes.

Next, it was time to spend the night at the dealership’s lot. We had a 50 amp electric hookup, so the vital systems of the coach, the A/C’s (there are two, it’s Florida, this is vital to us), fridge, water heater, and water pump, were fully operational on AC. We had a full tank of fresh water (91) gallons, so we had to take it easy on the water, but no big deal since are used to water restrictions. The bed was pretty hard, much harder than we are used to, we have a memory foam mattress at home. We will definitely be looking for a mattress topper for it, but since the size of the beds in RVs are different from residential beds, it may be a challenge.

For our first time ever in a motorhome, I think we did pretty good. We did forget some things (ibuprofen, waste baskets, etc.), but we are hoping this becomes second nature after a while. We are planning on staying at the dealership’s campground tonight, at least that’s the plan if they can get the issues we discovered fixed.

Our RV Journey Starts This Weekend!

We have signed the papers and it’s time to take delivery of Irving, our name for our new motorhome tomorrow. We were supposed to take delivery on June 4th, 2016, but we were having a hard time finding storage, so we delayed it until now. We are so anxious about finally having it and planning trips!

We will stay the first night at Lazydays, the dealership where we purchased the motorhome. We are taking the driver’s confidence class during the day and have the walkthrough after that, then we stay with only an electrical connection and full water tanks that night. Saturday night, we will stay at their campground and get a feel for what camping will be like.

Which one is it going to be?

Now that we have decided that a Class A would be the best for our family and situation, we need to figure out which brand would offer the best quality in our price range. Chris took to the internet to research reviews, complaints and other RVers experiences.  After a few weeks of research we zeroed in on Winnebago.  From what we read, it seemed like Winnebago had less issues with initial quality than other brands.

Our goal was to try to stay under $100k, but we knew that we might need to go a little higher to get something that would work for us for the long term. RVs are depreciating assets, so starting too small and then needing to upgrade in just a few years would be too costly. When we started looking at prices, we noticed that they varied widely from dealership to dealership. That got us wondering if the RV buying process was similar to the car buying process. From what we could gather there seems to be a 30% mark-up from dealer invoice to MSRP.  The other challenge in determining price is all of the available options and upgrades and very limited information on the cost of upgrades.

We decided to head back out to the dealership Memorial Day weekend armed with all of the information we had to look at some Winnebagos.  We wanted to see a 2016 Vista 31BE and a 2016 Vista LX 35B.  The 31BE had an MSRP of about $113k and based on our assumed formula dealer invoice would be $87k. The 35B had an MSRP of $151k and assumed that the dealer invoice would be about $116k. The dealership had already listed “discounted” prices which looked to be $4000 over invoice. We wondered how much negotiating room was left.  Another thing that influences what kind of deals car dealers are willing to make is manufacturer incentives and floor planning.  As each month comes to a close, dealerships get more aggressive in order to reach sales targets so that they get additional incentives or “kickbacks” from the manufacturer.  Floor planning is short-term financing that dealerships use to finance the inventory on the lot.  If they have new inventory coming in, they are more motivated to “move” the vehicles that are sitting on the lot.  These are just a few reasons that the end of the month and end of the model year are great times to purchase a vehicle from dealer stock.

We looked at the smaller 31BE first, it was nice and would work for our family.  It had one slide that was the length of one wall. It was well within our budget at the dealer’s sale price of $92k. Next we looked at the 35B, it had a lot more room with an additional 4 feet of length and 2 more slides.  The 35B was fully loaded with all available upgrades, but at the dealer sale price of $120 it was still way over our budget. At that point we asked our salesman, Bob, if there was any room in that sale price to get us closer to our budget.  We decided to go to lunch and talk it over and to give Bob a chance to talk to the sales manager and see what could be done.

After lunch, we came back, and to our surprise, they came down an additional $5000. He worked up some finance numbers with an assumed rate of 4.99% and $10k down. After looking at everything we felt that it would work in our budget, so we headed off to talk to the finance guy.  We completed an application and waited for an answer from the bank.  It was a Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, so we weren’t sure if we would get an answer that day.  After 20 minutes or so, we had an answer, 5.49% with $13k down.  At that point, we decided to take a break.  This was such a big decision and we just want to make sure we are not getting in too far over our heads.

Over the next 24 hours we went back and forth, should we buy this one, should we stop.  Of course, we got a call Sunday from the Finance manager to check in with us.  Some how, they managed to get the rate down to 4.99%, we still were unsure.  So Monday, our salesman, Bob, called. They couldn’t come down on the price any further, but they could offer us $1500 in Visa gift cards to offset the increased down payment amount. With that, we said yes! We went in on Memorial Day and signed all of the paperwork.
IMG_7144
We are now the proud owners of a Winnebago Vista LX 35B!!!

Finding the right RV for us

We started really talking about looking at RVs in early 2016, we were watching all the shows about RVing. In April we made the decision on a trip back from Disney to stop at a big RV dealer along I-4. At that point we had NO idea what we were looking for. Class A, Class C or Fifth Wheel.  So we asked to look at all of them.  We made it clear that we weren’t buying that day and were just gathering information.  So we looked at a Class A Gas and a couple of Class C’s, one in particular was a Minnie Whinnie.  After looking we went home to do some more research and see what our budget could handle.  Over the next month or so we talked ourselves out of doing this and talked ourselves back into it. Not the right time, need to save more money.  Or if not now, when? Our son, Christopher, is young and still likes hanging out with us and Chris has a job that he can work anywhere as long as he has internet.

We are not campers.  I think that the last time I went tent camping I was maybe 6 or 7 years old.  It rained the entire time and my mom and I slept in the car.  The only other camping I did was with girl scouts when I was 10 and we slept in cabins.  We are not what you would call “roughing it” kind of people.  So in looking at an RV, comfort and amenities were at the top of our list.  We also did a lot of research on quality, we wanted something that would last and hold up well if we decide to do this full time.  We needed space, somewhere Chris could work and bunk beds or a bunkhouse for our son. We also wanted a kitchen with some counter space, which is hard to come by in many RVs.

After all of our research we were torn between a Class A (32-36 feet) and a Fifth Wheel with a bunkhouse.  We have a 2016 CR-V that we purchased in November which obviously would not be suited for towing anything and, as we discovered, can not be towed behind a class A.  The choice between the two was a difficult one.  In a Fifth wheel, we could have the most overall space, including a full bunk room for Christopher. The downside is that our travel time would be spent confined to a vehicle rather than having the more open space in a class A coach.  The other con was the cost of the truck that we would have to buy in order to tow the size of Fifth Wheel that we want.

One of the pros of a Class A is that everything is self-contained. No hooking up to truck, you can grab a snack from the fridge while cruising down the road and just have more space during your driving time.  The biggest con is price, since it is all one unit, you are paying for your living space and your vehicle.

Since we would have to purchase a large, expensive ($50K+) truck to tow a fifth wheel, a class A just made more sense for our situation.