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Old 10-17-2020, 05:13 PM   #1
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Default Thinking about buying a Rialta

Hi everyone!

I'm thinking about buying my first RV which is the Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta because I don't want a big RV. I want something small and easy to drive, easy to park and the Rialta's gas mileage is excellent. The only thing stopping me is that Volkswagen discontinued the Rialta and not making parts for it if I breaks down. So my question is, if it does break down, will I be able to find parts for it? Are there companies out there making parts to fit the Rialta? I've googled it and didn't find much. Any help is greatly appreciated because the last thing I need is to be stuck if something breaks down and not being able find parts for it. If parts are not available, then I'll just buy an extended Ford Transit high roof, and convert it to a camper van.
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Old 10-17-2020, 06:17 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forums



I have a fondness for rialtas- I havent owned one, they were on my shortlist.
I like that they came in 4 floor plans and have "interesting" sink and table arrangements and some have good separation between sleeping area & lounge



I believe the last 2 years had more power- these will not fly up a mountain at 70 mph..like the VW's we remember as kids, they get passed on hills. on flatground I see them cruising at 70.


the low floor is particularly good for people who have mobility issues stepping up- or assistive devices



VW made millions of each of the mechanical components in the VW chassis- parts shouldn't a big deal.

Poptop heaven in Yucaipa CA specializes in these- I see them lined up and shiny when i drive by on I-10


if you are handy enough to consider a self-built, I don;t think anything would phase you with a 20 year old RV



Cheers, Mike
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Old 10-17-2020, 06:45 PM   #3
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Pros & Cons of a Rialta
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Old 10-17-2020, 06:57 PM   #4
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I owned a 2004 Rialta HD and loved it but was too small for long trips. Joined the Rialta club for support. Found this Rialta QD on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...65699761450287

MLogan
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Old 10-17-2020, 08:02 PM   #5
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Found another newer Rialta.
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...96790904139527

MLogan
Smyrna, TN
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:09 AM   #6
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This was the Rialta I was gonna buy but they said it's pending now. Thank you for looking into it.
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Old 10-20-2020, 12:19 AM   #7
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We owned a 2002 Rialta HD floor plan for 6 years from 2011 to 2017. All Rialtas from 2002 to 2005 have the VW 24 valve 200 hp VR6 engine. 98 to 2001 have the 12 Valve VR6 with lower output. Earlier models from 95 Have an in-line 5 cylinder engine.

Parts are not a problem since the front chassis is a VW Eurovan and parts can be bought at any VW dealer or aftermarket supplier. The entire rear coach, even the rear wheels were made by Winnebago which has Pretty good parts availability right back to one of those iconic 70’s Brave models.

The best forum to join to ask these questions is the Rialtatech.groups.io forum. While this Class B+ site has a Rialta header, you will find a very active group on the Rialta tech forum.

A fantastic info site known colloquially as “Baldy’s site” (after the author) is rialtainfo.com. Parts catalogs, floor plans, common modifications, issues, etc.


Good luck in your hunt.
Gary
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Old 10-22-2020, 05:36 PM   #8
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I've owned a 99 rialta for 10 years. Traveled from Maine to Alaska to Newfoundland. Since it's built on a vw eurovan base. Mechanical parts continue to be available. Winnebago has a lot of the coach parts and manufacturers of the various appliances do to. Enjoy your rialta.
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Old 10-22-2020, 06:05 PM   #9
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I love those Rialtas. I have a Sightseer 27c that isn't exactly the easiest handling rig in the world. We started coming with a travel trailer where we went someplace and stayed a week. Now we move around a lot and rarely stay 2 nights in the same place.

2 questions.

First, how do they handle compared to my long overhang Class A?

Second I would like to tow my motorcycle with an open trailer and motorcycle combined weight of 1,300 pounds. Would this be a problem?

I like the model that has 2 passenger seats right behind the driver seats.
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Old 10-22-2020, 06:52 PM   #10
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The model you describe is a QD. I took those seats out and built box benches parallel to the walls. It gave more storage, more floor space and easier seating while parked.
As to handling, I've never driven a long overhang class A, but the Rialta handles extremely well. You barely notice the 22 foot size either while going down the road, or in narrow streets in small towns. Also no size restrictions in national parks.
Don't know about towing. Comes with a class lll hitch, but you should check towing capacity specs to get that answer.
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Old 10-22-2020, 10:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayKay View Post
Hi everyone!

I'm thinking about buying my first RV which is the Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta because I don't want a big RV. I want something small and easy to drive, easy to park and the Rialta's gas mileage is excellent. The only thing stopping me is that Volkswagen discontinued the Rialta and not making parts for it if I breaks down. So my question is, if it does break down, will I be able to find parts for it? Are there companies out there making parts to fit the Rialta? I've googled it and didn't find much. Any help is greatly appreciated because the last thing I need is to be stuck if something breaks down and not being able find parts for it. If parts are not available, then I'll just buy an extended Ford Transit high roof, and convert it to a camper van.
Hi IMO I would avoid this model because it is too unreliable. There are other much better class B RV's out there to buy that are more reliable and repairable - maybe worst MPG. VW is known to have so many issues that a mechanic in the middle of nowhere could not fix ever. Also the interior fit and finish does not age well over the years. Just my 2 cents
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:08 AM   #12
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I own a 2003 Rialta and it has been very reliable. Do your maintenance and VW's are reliable. The winnebago has fit issues as do most RV chassis. Love mine and have had it for 8 years.
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Old 10-23-2020, 01:17 AM   #13
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We had a Rialta for a couple of years. Design wise, it was perfect compared with my current Roadtrek. However, they are underpowered and are notorious for having transmission problems. If you get one definitely get a cooler for the transmission and a way to monitor the temperature. I have a motorcycle and would never attempt to tow it with the Rialta. The engine will strain and you'll likely over tax the transmission- no way in the mountains. I remodeled ours- leaks everywhere and then finally threw in the towel after that and a valve body (transmission) rebuild. The brakes are not up to snuff either. It's too bad- the size and design is just right.
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Old 10-23-2020, 03:26 AM   #14
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A Rialta will require the same maintenance that any RV would need. My 2003 FD has been very reliable.

There is a web site called Baldy that covers everything Rialta. Winnebago Rialta Motor Home .

There is also a facebook page called Rialta Owners Group of America. https://www.facebook.com/groups/869040643201627 , the group owner worked for Winnebago when the Rialtas were being built. He is an encyclopedia of Rialta info. There are several other moderators that are also wise in the way of the Rialta.

The weak point is the transmission but with a cooler installed they will last a long time.

The earlier models had a 140 HP 12 valve VR6, in 2001 they updated to a 24 VR6 that makes 201 HP.

Max towing is 2,000 pounds with 200 on the hitch. Here again the transmission cooler will help keep the tranny healthy.

Try to find one that has documents of maintenance done. Paperwork counts.

Enjoy
HOBO
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:53 AM   #15
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I owned a '97 Winnebago EuroVan Camper, the smaller equivalent to the Rialta. Mine was a true class B with the original van body (but a pop-up roof). I had mine from 1997 through 2007.

It was mechanically sound, and I had no problems with it other than routine maintenance. Maintenance was done at a VW dealer. The dealer did mention in passing that he'd had problems working on Rialtas, because his lifts weren't rated for the weight of the Rialta.

The VW EuroVan is much more popular in Europe than in the USA. There are lots and lots of spare parts, because there are so many of those vans, at least in Europe. But quick availability in the US isn't going to be as robust as, say, availability of parts for a Ford F-150, for example (try getting parts for a Ford F-150 in Italy sometime). Still, if you're patient, in the very worst case, parts can be shipped from Europe. I never had to do that, though.

There were two things that annoyed me about parts availability: Tires and oil filters. There was only ONE type of tire that fit that van and had the proper load rating for its weight. It was always a special order, and took a week or more to arrive (and I live in the San Francisco Bay area, where VW vans are more common than most places in the US). I know some EuroVan owners swapped the wheels out so they could put on more common tires, and I probably would have done that eventually, too. I'm not sure if the Rialta has the same issue, since I suspect the rear axle, at least, is different. The oil filter for that VR6 engine was also a rare part, available only at VW dealers, and expensive. I learned to buy them in advance at the dealer, and then I could get any shop to do an oil change with the filter I provided.

Fortunately, the engine and chassis were very reliable, but I always figured that if I had a serious mechanical issue in a remote spot, I'd at least be waiting a while for parts.

Keep up with the preventative maintenance.
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