The chassis—the foundation of your RV—what should you look for when contemplating your future purchases? There is a lot to consider in this decision. Many RVers go through multiple rigs in their lifetime, as their needs evolve and technology develops. So, whether you are a first time buyer or a seasoned pro, understanding what chassis are available can help you ultimately decide what motorhome is the best fit for you.Chassis for Gasoline Engines
Generally speaking, gas rigs are less expensive. They cost less when you buy them and the overall maintenance costs are lower. Unfortunately, they usually have poor gas mileage and don’t last as long as diesel options. In fact, gasoline RV engines are considered past their prime when they have as few as 70,000 miles on them. Additionally, they aren’t equipped to handle excessive loads.
Many Class C motorhomes (and smaller) use passenger van chassis. Ford and Chevy Workhorse are the primary suppliers for gas-fueled RVs. Although newer versions can definitely haul more than older ones, (the Ford F53 has a 22,000-lbs. chassis and Workhorse has a 24,000-lbs. version) they don’t have the capacity a diesel pusher has. Chassis for Diesel Engines
On the other hand, diesel units cost more to buy and maintain. They do, however, get better fuel mileage and are more resilient. They can easily go more than 500,000 miles without needing an overhaul and aren’t considered truly “broken in” until they’ve reached 100,000.
Some chassis for these rigs are brand specific—Country Coach RVs, for example, are always built on a DynoMax chassis—and others are produced by well-known truck manufacturers like Freightliner. These can handle loads of 22,000 lbs. to nearly 60,000 lbs. and are equipped with a combination of air/hydraulic brakes because of it.
Here is some basic information on these.
DynoMax Chassis, Country Coach
The proprietary chassis of Country Coach, DynoMax produces a 100% all-welded steel construction frame without any aluminum or wood framing. It is considered semi-monocoque, which means that the structure for the majority of the coach’s foundation is “unibody”, but frame rails are attached to support the front and rear axles, as well as the drive train. It provides independent front suspension and large bus-style air springs.
Evolution Chassis, Winnebago Industries
Freightliner assisted with the design of the proprietary Winnebago Industries RV chassis, the Evolution. A completely monocoque design, the custom-formed chassis rails allow for more basement storage space than typically found without weakening the integrity and durability of the chassis.
Freightliner Chassis, Daimler Trucks North America
A leading manufacturer in the field, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation—of Freightliner and Mercedes-Benz—makes more than half of the Class A diesel RV chassis on the market. Each is custom-built to the particular manufacturer and model specifications making it a very dependable and popular mid-range option. The steel frame offers floorplan and storage versatility with a variety of frame rail configurations, and the independent front suspension and 60-degree wheel cut make navigating tight spaces easier.
Liberty Chassis, American Coach
The Liberty Chassis, created by American Coach and Spartan, is the proprietary platform for all of their models. Its all-steel structure creates a lower center of gravity, while the independent front suspension and 55-degree wheel cut improve maneuverability providing a more stable driving experience.
Magnum, Safari and Beaver
The proprietary chassis producer for Safari and Beaver, Magnum supplies a wide variety of innovative options for lower-middle end to very high level foundations. All Magnum chassis have basically the same design with raised rails to allow for maximum storage space and strength. The higher-end ones, however, feature an eight air-bag suspension system for a smoother ride.
Roadmaster Chassis, Monaco Coach Corporation
Specializing in customizing seven chassis platforms, Roadmaster is the proprietary brand for all RVs created by the Monaco Coach Corp. In fact, they provide the widest variety from entry-level to the higher-end semi-monocoque options. The active, air-glide suspension with outboard airbags ensure a smoother ride without the side-to-side sway that occurs on curvy roads, in high wind, and in emergency maneuvering, as it adjusts the airbag pressure to minimize the impact.
As you can see, there are a lot of options on the market with a variety of perks to each. Personally, we have a Freightliner chassis. One of the primary benefits of buying an RV with this type is the ease of servicing since there is a Freightliner dealership in nearly every major city in the U.S. This is a major purchase that has the ability to greatly affect your life for the better or worse, so the main thing is to do your research ahead of time. Then test drive your favorites before committing to one. Assess the handling, swaying, turn radius, noise, and overall comfort of the ride to ensure that the RV you buy next is the right fit for you.