VanDweller Community Forums

Full Version: The road to hades is paved with good intentions
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
My wife has a friend who was always curious to hear about our travels, loved getting post cards from us and poured over our photos when we got back. Over the time we've known her, we had taken several lengthy trips, one of over a years duration all over the US and Mexico. She said if she had the means it was something she always wanted to do, and in hindsight, we naively encouraged her. Fate interceded, she inherited some money, moved to Florida to handle affairs there. She bought a small class B, '95 roadtrek IIRC. This is now in the past so she has put this behind her. My wife felt somewhat guilty, we giving tacit encouragement without more thought and caution or making assumptions about a person's resourcefulness. We offered help at the time and she's back on her feet but it was uncomfortable for all while it was happening. She ended up unloading the money pit. I asked if I could use what she wrote back then and she gladly agreed if it would help someone avoid the mistakes she made.


About 6 weeks ago I bought the RV and the mechanic I had look at it before I bought it said it was in good shape.
I thought I had done my homework and due diligence but now find I got in WAY over my head. Driving it across country moving from Florida to Arizona, it broke down. I was totally unprepared for the disaster that would follow. In a small Texas town on a holiday weekend it began. Over a 2 week period I had to have it towed several times and pay for a motel only to find out later the mechanic I did get managed to break several unrelated things while working on it.

It broke down again 300 miles later. Turns out it was electrical. So, here we go again, towing and motel and paying to locate & repair of the electrical issue. They also messed up unrelated things, not to mention the tow truck driver in Texas that bottomed out with the RV over railroad tracks and messed up some of the plumbing..would have been good to know about before there was a whole NEW issue to deal with!

So...now I am homeless, living in the RV in state campgrounds with no money to get a place or start a new life because of this lengthy ordeal taking everything I'D saved. Somewhere along the line the generator went but to be honest, I'm afraid to have anyone else work on it.


First of all, I can't afford anymore motel rooms and secondly, they keep messing other things up which of course they deny. This has broken me financially. The only option I see is to sell the RV for WAY less than I paid for it. The repairs left to do are minimal but I need to sell it very quickly (like yesterday)! I have to get into an apartment as can not continue living this way.

Really getting nervous! I can't express how dire the situation is. I seem to be unable to find a place that might buy it outright even at a fraction of what it's worth.  I am willing to take less (even much less) if I can find a place to just take it and walk away with some cash to get back on my feet. I am desperate. I had NO idea how wrong things could go with one of these. Lesson learned. Not something to just jump into and learn as you go. At a complete loss.
Wow. She ran into more than her share of useless people. Too bad.
Thanks for posting the story.

This very much reminds me of my experience with my first van. Thought I had done my due diligence. Two mechanics and a relative had all said it was a really good buy. I remember at least two people specifically noting it had really good tires and it should all last me a while. Turns out I could not go two months in a row without something major going out on it. Turns out the tires were over 12 years old, which I didn't find out until they began blowing out on me at freeway speeds one at a time--three in a row. Found out after it was sold that it had a warped flywheel, which none of the half dozen mechanics who looked at it caught, so it ate through multiple starters with mechanics refusing to warranty the work...then it developed a carburetor problem, at this point I was totally broke and couldn't afford any more mechanical work, so I sought the help of someone who claimed they could help and instead made it completely undrivable, then broke the fuel line. Even caught it on fire while attempting to fix that, but put it out with minimal damage.

I lived in that van for 6 months and there was not a single 60 day period when I did not spend several hundred dollars in repairs, tires, and major maintenance (master brake cylinder, battery, etc). This is while living off of $733/month income. Let's just say there were a lot of days during that time I didn't eat and I drove as little as possible. The ridiculous thing is, people kept telling me how reliable these vans are, and I'm like "not this one!!" And people would convince me that now that it's all fixed up and the mechanic said it's all good to go, that I can venture out of the city safely, and I'd be like "once it's gone two months without a major breakdown I'll consider it." Never happened.

I only got out of that minimally scathed because my dad gave me a fresh start with a 2004 Sienna minivan.

Anyway, just adding my voice to the cautionary "this can happen" tale. Staying in the city and living in a plain old (non-converted) van meant my issues happened on a much smaller scale than hers, but the impact on my life was equally horrible. The experience definitely makes me more hesitant to deal with older vehicles, and to keep my setup within what I'm able to manage.

Glad she's doing better now!
12 year old tires with good tread on them is a definite indication that the van spent more time parked than it did being driven. This frequently means it is either a lemon, or it will soon be in need of many repairs.

The secret to purchasing older vans is to get ones that have been driven regularly as well as maintained regularly.
If she is still in TX, she might contact PPL RV in Houston. They are a huge and very successful RV consignment company.
My 12 year old SUV has only 90K miles on it and I can list a whole bunch of things broken or not functioning properly on it. Coolant leaks, ball joints busted, bumper broken, temp actuator broken, etc. If someone told me that their '95 van is in good condition with no problem, I would smile and move on.

Getting accustomed to ultra-frugal living sucks, but eventually it becomes the new normal, and maybe even leads to a new sense of freedom from money.
(01-28-2016, 02:48 AM)Bitty Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for posting the story.

This very much reminds me of my experience with my first van. Thought I had done my due diligence. Two mechanics and a relative had all said it was a really good buy. I remember at least two people specifically noting it had really good tires and it should all last me a while. Turns out I could not go two months in a row without something major going out on it. Turns out the tires were over 12 years old, which I didn't find out until they began blowing out on me at freeway speeds one at a time--three in a row. Found out after it was sold that it had a warped flywheel, which none of the half dozen mechanics who looked at it caught, so it ate through multiple starters with mechanics refusing to warranty the work...then it developed a carburetor problem, at this point I was totally broke and couldn't afford any more mechanical work, so I sought the help of someone who claimed they could help and instead made it completely undrivable, then broke the fuel line. Even caught it on fire while attempting to fix that, but put it out with minimal damage.

I lived in that van for 6 months and there was not a single 60 day period when I did not spend several hundred dollars in repairs, tires, and major maintenance (master brake cylinder, battery, etc). This is while living off of $733/month income. Let's just say there were a lot of days during that time I didn't eat and I drove as little as possible. The ridiculous thing is, people kept telling me how reliable these vans are, and I'm like "not this one!!" And people would convince me that now that it's all fixed up and the mechanic said it's all good to go, that I can venture out of the city safely, and I'd be like "once it's gone two months without a major breakdown I'll consider it." Never happened.

I only got out of that minimally scathed because my dad gave me a fresh start with a 2004 Sienna minivan.

Anyway, just adding my voice to the cautionary "this can happen" tale. Staying in the city and living in a plain old (non-converted) van meant my issues happened on a much smaller scale than hers, but the impact on my life was equally horrible. The experience definitely makes me more hesitant to deal with older vehicles, and to keep my setup within what I'm able to manage.

Glad she's doing better now!

Hi Bitty! I remember reading about some of the trials you had to weather, that had to be more than a handful and would seriously test my resolve I know,  your strength in spirit is impressive and got you through, so glad you posted, I hope the Sienna is serving you well. Cheers!
ATB, this should be required reading for anyone considering a jump into this life. Plenty of folks out there willing to encourage and hype their money making ventures for personal gain without any thought as to the harm they may cause.
There's the plan- then there's what happens.

I've heard of this happening with houses, too. Seems to me it doesn't matter what you do, if you get into a situation that is more expensive than planned, it is what it is. You do as much due diligence as is reasonable then go for it. Having an emergency fund is good, but few of us have the funds to prepare for any emergency or string of problems.

Sometimes, when it rains it pours. She got drenched.
I don't think I would venture into this lifestyle if I didn't have some mechanical knowledge. It is a bit like going farming, you have to have a wide set of skills to make it on a small budget. Of course there are some that are just that determined that they manage and others that have the luxury of a big bank account. Even then you need a bit of luck on your side and it sounds like this person just didn't get any breaks.
Pages: 1 2