I have surf fished at Island Beach State Park for years and I’m envious of the guys who can drive their Class C RV 4×4 conversions on the beach. But for years I never realized that it was even possible to convert an RV to a 4×4. I just assumed they were all 2WD. And then one day I read that in order to drive on the beach your vehicle must be 4 wheel drive. It was at that point that I realized that the Class C Motorhomes I had seen driving on the beach for all these years had to be Class C 4×4 RVs.
I was simultaneously amazed at my power of observation and dismayed by my inability to see the obvious. Let’s just call it a humbling experience and leave it at that. Yet another in a long line of humbling experiences.
Anyway, all this made me wonder if I could buy a 4×4 Class C Motorhome. So I began talking to RVers on the beach to find out where they bought their RVs. I quickly discovered that all of their Class C RVs were actually 4×4 conversions. I asked at least 10 RVers, How Much Does a Class C RV 4×4 Conversion Cost? The answer is, the average price for a Class C RV 4×4 conversion is $14,000.
Why Convert An RV to 4 Wheel Drive?
The biggest advantage of converting an RV or Motorhome to 4 wheel drive is traction. If you want or need, to drive in the sand, mud or snow you need traction. A 4 wheel drive RV will allow you to traverse all types of terrain to reach remote or inaccessible locations.
Motorhome conversions are especially an advantage if you like to go RV camping on the beach. I have yet to see a two-wheel drive vehicle of any kind navigate through the sand even with the air out of the tires. And I have learned through the years that you need to lower your tire pressure to different psi depending on your location. For example, at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey, we lower our tire pressure to 18 psi. But on the outer banks of Nort Carolina, we need to lower the psi from 12 to14 because the sand is much finer.
Some other advantages of an RV 4×4 conversion are improved turning radius, on and off road safety, improved drivability in adverse weather conditions and better steering control.
Does Converting My RV to a 4×4 Void the Warranty?
Converting your RV to a 4×4 can definitely void your manufacturer’s warranty. However, if you use an authorized conversion facility to convert your RV the original manufacturer’s RV warranty will remain in full effect for all original equipment. Obviously, RV chassis manufacturers like Ford, GM, and Mercedes will not warrant any components that are used for the conversion. So, to keep your manufacturer’s warranty for voiding you must find a conversion company who is authorized by your RV manufacturer.
Once you find an authorized converter you will want to be sure that they offer a warranty on all of the components and parts used for the conversion. So between the major manufacturer and the conversion company you will be fully warranted. It is also worth noting that the conversion company should use all industry standard parts so you are able to order parts to make repairs if needed in the future.
Should I Buy a New 4×4 RV or Convert Mine?
So, is it better just to buy a new RV equipped with 4 wheel drive or convert an RV to 4×4? After discussing this subject with Sales Reps from some of the largest RV Manufacturers in the country I found some very interesting information to help answer this question. First of all, most of the Class C 4×4 RVs that come built from the factory, like the Dynamax Isata 5, are Super C RVs with a diesel engine and many other luxury features. The prices for these RVs start from $140,000 so they are not cheap.
Also, 4 wheel drive is an option you have to purchase from the manufacturer. It is not included in the base price of the RV. The price for the 4×4 option ranges from $6,000 to $9,000.
So, I would say that if you are considering a brand new Super C RV it is better to buy the 4 wheel drive option from the manufacturer. If you don’t want to spend $140,000 plus on an RV then buy a less expensive RV, or convert the one you have, and then have the RV 4×4 conversion completed by a reputable company. One of the most reputable RV 4×4 conversion mechanics on the east coast is Quigley Motor Company located in PA.
What if I do the Conversion Myself?
There is another option for a Class C RV 4×4 conversion and that is to order an RV 4×4 conversion kit and do it yourself or with the help of your mechanic. I only recommend this option if you are experienced in auto mechanics or know a mechanic who is familiar with 4×4 conversions. There is a company called U-Joint Offroad that sells RV 4×4 conversion kits complete with instructions and a Youtube video but you need experience and a welder.
How Do You Convert an RV from 2WD to 4WD?
An RV or Motorhome is converted from a 2WD to 4WD by replacing the axles, hubs, transmission, driveshafts, wheels, tires and certain suspension components of the vehicle. There is a lot of automotive jargon and terminology used in regard to a Class C RV 4×4 conversion. The average layperson will probably have no idea what any these terms mean. Check out this glossary of terms specific to RV 4×4 conversions. I found it on the Quigley Motor Company 4×4 Conversion website and it’s pretty comprehensive.
Below is a chart which lists the items typically involved for an RV 4×4 conversion. Also listed is the original equipment on your RV that will remain after the conversion. You will probably need to reference the glossary above to understand some of the items on the list.
|Conversion May Include||Original Equipment Retained After Conversion|
|Front drive-steer solid axle||Four Wheel Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS)|
|Manual lock-out hubs||OEM brake hoses|
|Drive Shafts, front and rear||OEM Pitman arm|
|17″ x 7.5″ steel wheels||OEM front coil suspension|
|Transfer case||OEM anti-roll bar|
|2 speed (4Hi, 4Low)||Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)|
|4×4 Indicator Light||Advanced Trac w Roll Stability Control System (RSC)|
|Manual shifter||OEM Front Anti-Sway Bar|
|LT245/70R17 tires||OEM Brake System|
|17″ x 6.5″ steel dual wheels on rear axles||OEM Steering|
1. Are there other Classes of RVs that are 4×4?
Many classes of RVs can be converted from 2WD to 4WD. The most popular types of RVs that are converted to a 4×4 are Camper Vans, Class B RVs, and Class C RVs. Some RVs have six wheels. Two wheels are in front and four wheels are in the back on dual rear axles. This type of RV conversion is called a 6×6 RV conversion.
2. Is there a big demand for Class C 4×4 RVs?
Actually, Class C 4×4 RV’s are flying off the shelf. In researching this article I couldn’t find any 4×4 RVs on local RV dealer lots and I learned that they sell out of the 4×4 RV models very quickly. I also called some of the biggest 4×4 RV Manufacturers and learned the RV manufacturers are having trouble supplying 4×4 RVs to the local RV dealerships fast enough to keep up with the demand. So when you search online for 4×4 Class C RVs for sale they are quite hard to find.
3. Where Can I Drive My RV on the Beach?
RELATED READING: There are lots of great places to drive on the beach. Check out our article 21 Best RV Campgrounds on the Beach – East Coast Guide to find some beautiful beaches to drive and camp.
What are your thoughts on converting an RV or motorhome to 4×4? Please leave a comment below.
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