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Old 06-22-2015, 04:28 PM   #1
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Thoughts on 2004 Itasca Meridian

Hey there! I've been "stalking" the forum for a couple months now and really enjoy all of the informative conversations and advice that is given. I figured it was about time I stop being a fly on the wall and ask some questions myself...

After looking at several models and floorplans we have become huge fans of the Itasca Meridian, especially the 34h since it's a short dp with a washer and dryer.

We have been considering an 04-05 to stay within a budget we are comfortable with since this will be our first RV.

I was wondering if anyone has any experience or advice on this specific year or model? Things we should look out for or keep in mind? I have saved the checklist found here, and we are going back again tomorrow to spend even more time in it and go over it a bit closer.

My other concern is purchasing from Camping World since I've read so many bad things about them, but they have the motorhome we want {a 2004 that appears to be well maintained} so I'm hoping if we can go in with as much information as possible, and with time on our side, we can make an educated purchase.

Thanks for your help!

Katie & Eric
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Old 06-22-2015, 04:32 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. I've moved your post here to get some Owner input. Cliff
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Old 06-22-2015, 04:52 PM   #3
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Katie and Eric,
Well, we have a sort of "Sister ship" to what you're presently considering. Ours is the '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT. We presently have 62K on the clock. We purchased it with 40,000 on it and, have had it for four years. We've had issues with it but, in all reality, nothing that we'd shout out to you to make you shy away from your potential buy.

The coach, Itasca in general, is a great coach. Well built, good quality and craftsmanship, and so far, great dependability. In '04, the Horizon was one step up from the Meridian. The coaches are close to the same only, I think there's a few more gizmos, accoutrements, amenities, etc. on the Horizon but, I've got quite a few friends who have Meridians, both my year and newer and, all of them like them immensely.

As with any coach builder, there's lots of outside influences. Parts, components, mechanisms, etc. Those are not Itascas, they are things like water pumps, fridges, TVs, radios, A/C units, heaters (propane) and a whole lot more. Many of those components go bad or hiccup over time. They all can do that, no matter what maker of coach they're installed in.


Ours, like about 99.99% of them, is riding on a Freightliner XC "Evolution" chassis. Absolutely no issues with that chassis. Great ride and, outstanding dependability and performance so far. We have the HWH 626 Computer Controlled Automatic Leveling system and, it works absolutely flawless, each and every time I use it. I stop the coach in the site, shut off the engine, turn the key to "Acc", turn the HWH system on, hit that same button again, and, simply get out of the coach and, what it level itself. EVERY TIME!

We too started looking at a 34H Meridian when we started looking. But, something happened and, we were shown a Horizon. We immediately liked the layout, better lighting, SLIDE OUT GENERATOR, ceiling fan (factory) in the bedroom, Trip-Tek-on screen engine/trip/operation/mileage information on the backup monitor, and more. So, we ended up with the 36' Horizon in the '04 era. We have the full body paint and love it to death.

We were lucky. Our coach has spent all it's life, even in the three previous owners, inside covered storage. It's that way now. We have an RV garage that's attached to our two-car garage. So, I get to tinker with it, without even GOING OUTSIDE, YAHOOO!

If you've got any specific questions, and can't get answers, surely PM me and, I'd be glad to try and answer. Good luck.
Scott
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Old 06-22-2015, 09:21 PM   #4
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We have the sister unit, the Winnebago Journey 34H and are very satisfied with it. Floor plan and overall length fit our needs and desires. The only recommendation I would have is to install a Trick L charger to insure the chassis batteries are charged when plugged into shore power if one has not already been installed by the previous owner.

I believe the Cat engine was standard on the Meridian so you should have all the power you need. How it was taken care of and maintained by the previous owner is far more important then who is selling it to you. Hopefully you will be able to review all the maintenance records before you commit to the purchase.
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Old 06-23-2015, 06:41 AM   #5
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'04 Meridian

I have owned an '04 Meridian 36G since delivery in October 2003 and have maintained it myself since. As of now, we have driven it 100K miles, and plan to enjoy it for many more years.

It is powered by the 3126E CAT engine, and has performed well. At the 94K mile mark, the sealed fan bearing let go, stranding us on the highway. Replaced the bearing, and all is well. The one IMPORTANT consideration is to keep the Charge Air Cooler (CAC) and radiator CLEAN! I clean mine at least once a year, but it will depend upon the road conditions. Remember that the engine fan works like a huge vacuum sweeper and all of the road debris/dust goes through the radiator. The most important issue is to ensure that the engine crankcase vent tube extends aft of the radiator. The oil mist will collect dust/dirt and deposit it on the radiator fins if not extended aft of the radiator.

There are several threads here concerning the issue. We have performed several mods, have looked at several new rigs, but plan to keep this one for a long time. If you have never owned a diesel rig, the one thing you need to remember is that maintenance costs are HIGH. Even if you do your own preventative maintenance, be prepared to spend money. Diesels are costly.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:22 PM   #6
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We purchased a 2004 Journey new in March of 2004 ... we now have 133,000 miles ... it has been in all 48 lower states (several of them more than once) and 5 Canadian provinces ... we are on our second set of tires ... third set of batteries ... we have updated the inside( new floors, upholstery on couch and dinette, new TVs, had the exterior paint touched up, new windshields) ... we spend at least 4 months of each year in the rig.

We have never been stranded or towed. We have only had one serious repair on the engine (a component of the turbocharger)

My suggestions if you purchase this unit.
1) Clean the radiator twice a year (I use a garden sprayer and Simple Green),
2) Extend the slobber tube (I used radiator hose),
3) Install a Trick-L-charge,
4) get the wheels aligned,
5)you will probably be needing a valve adjustment soon (I have had this done twice ... nearing time for third).

You have plenty of power to take you anywhere you want to go

I can't give you any advice about dealing with Camping World ... other than I would get everything in writing
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Old 06-23-2015, 02:25 PM   #7
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We enjoy traveling in our 04 Meridian 39K. We purchased it in 2010 with 20k; it now has 65k. I have it service at the Freightliner factory in Gaffney SC. Theses people are EXCELLENT and they have a training course called Camp Freightliner that will provide you with specifics of your coach while it is serviced. A two day course.

We have traveled in 47 states and 5 Canadian Provinces. In those travels we have had one major repair. It occurred in Homer AK. The HUEI pump failed. Very expensive repair. We were out of service for 8 days whole parts were flown in to repair. That was at 37K. While traveling to Monument Valley in Utah we hit a wash out in the road and a crack appeared at the bedroom slideout bottom front corner fiberglass. Our insurance covered the repair less deductible.

I second the above suggestions with an emphasis to go to a Freightliner maintenance manual and follow the prescribed maintenance. We have averaged between 8.4 and 8.7 MPG on our trips. Depending on the terrain. I drive 62-63 MPH and tow a Jeep Liberty.

Safe travels and THE JOY IS IN THE RIDE
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:36 PM   #8
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Thank you so much for the feedback everyone, it really means a lot to us. I took down some notes and had these responses with me while reviewing the Meridian near us today. Everything seemed to be going well until the extended test drive.... where the RV shut off while turning a corner after getting off the freeway. Yikes! Anyone have an experience like this before?

Luckily it started up quickly but that definitely freaked us out a bit. I'm keeping an eye out for some others in nearby states, but after getting quotes back on a comprehensive extended warranty from 3 different companies I'm not feeling so confident about purchasing a motorhome over 10 years old. We know diesels will cost more with maintenance and unexpected expenses, and love the way this one drove, but are going to do more research on pricing out warranties on some slightly newer models, along with considering a few gas models. We actually did take a drive to check out a Southwind and then discovered there was a lot of delamination going on. It was definitely frustrating to make a 2 hour drive with none of that information being disclosed. Oh well, live and learn. And so the research continues...

~Katie & Eric
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