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Old 08-27-2015, 10:49 AM   #1
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Jayco Senecas

I am new to the forum and am hoping to get information from those of you who own or are familiar with Jayco Senecas.

My wife and I currently have a 2009 Gulf Stream BT Cruiser. It’s a Freightliner Sprinter 3500 on Freightliner chassis with a Mercedes diesel engine. We have had it for about three years. It was our first RV. Overall, we have been very satisfied with it, and it’s got us hooked on the lifestyle. I retired last December and my wife, who is a teacher, may retire at the end of this school year. We are considering at least RVing part time after that happens and want to consider something larger. Our thirteen year old granddaughter usually travels with us. That means we essentially lose the dinette completely. Also, the bed in the BT Cruiser is a bear to make.
Although we haven’t driven one yet, we keep coming back to the Jayco Seneca as a favored possibility. We think we want to stay with a Class C. I have considered a Tiffin Allegro Red QBA, but my wife still prefers the Seneca and doesn’t think she wants a Class A. She especially likes the RB since it has the added ˝ bath, but I think we could work with other models. The TS interests me. Any thoughts on this would be welcomed.

I do have some questions:

1. We do like to travel in the mountains in the U.S. and Canada. How does the Seneca handle 7% grades? Our tow car is a 2006 Mini Cooper S, so not too much added weight.

2. Filling up with fuel is a sometimes a challenge on a good day. How do you handle the two separate tanks? That concerns me a bit.

3. What is your experience with dry camping? How does the power hold up? Since the water heater is tank-less, is it solely electric?

4. I know I’ll miss the 16 mpg I can get not towing with the BT Cruiser on the Florida flatlands. I can even get 12 – 13 towing if conditions are right. So, what is to be expected with the Seneca?

We would prefer to buy something 2 – 3 years old if we can. So, again, any suggestions on that would be appreciated.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Harold & Tess Williams
Naples, Florida
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Old 08-27-2015, 11:37 AM   #2
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I have a 2014 37TS so I will weigh in:

#1. While it is not a dragster, I have been very happy with the performance of my Seneca compared to my previous 2006 Class C with the gasser Ford V-10. You obviously are not going to maintain 65mph on a long grade towing, but I feel strongly it does significantly better than my former gas unit. And I have a heavier toad than I did before. I used to only tow my '13 Focus, but now I also tow my '14 Explorer which is 1500+ pounds heavier. My towing experiences are from my home in Ohio to IL, WV, PA, and up to and through New England. Probably not as long or steep as western grades, other owners may give you that "flavor".

#2. I find fueling is somewhat easier than my gas unit because (towing) I was limited frequently on what gas pumps I could access. Since modern stations are intent on cramming as many pumps in as they can, they limit access to a long combination as I had. But now the diesel truck lanes are where I go. Pumps on both sides so the DW and I both get out and fill our respective sides. You do have to be careful, the truck pumps really put out the flow and bubbling/spilling occur if you are not careful. If I am by myself, I find that filling the passenger side tank first seems to allow me to cram in as much fuel as possible. Coming from the gas engine world with a 55 gallon tank, my effective range is at least 150% what it was before, so my stops are more spread out.

#3. I have dry camped several outings and never had a problem depleting the battery bank. But I mostly used just lights (LED in Seneca), some TV (from inverter), water pump as needed, fridge control circuits, water heater, etc. No microwave (which can run off inverter). Went 2 days before I decided to run generator "just because", my battery indicator still showed 3/4. And water heater is ONLY propane, there is no 110-volt heater you can used when plugged in. I dislike mine for dry camping, there are multiple threads in this forum about their unreliability and unique usage requirements. Some owners have even swapped their tankless for a traditional tank-style. I am strongly considering that.

#4. Mileage - the great unknown! I did get 10.8 avg. mpg towing my Explorer from Akron (OH) to Rockford (IL) and back. 65-70 where legal and possible, this is a fairly flat trip. Stop and go traffic through Chicago was part of that, but not a lot. To Maine and back recently, 9.5 mpg (also towing my Explorer). Many more grades, but still kept it around 65 most places. I have a ScanGauge D installed so I can see my average and instantaneous mileage, but my cited figures are from actual consumption and miles traveled at fill ups. But the reading are always very close. For comparison, my former gas Class C got between 6.5 to 8.5 mpg traveling these same routes!

We very much love almost everything (water heater!) about our Seneca and hope to enjoy it for many years to come.
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Old 08-27-2015, 01:30 PM   #3
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Pretty much what Robbbyr said. I came from a class A with same engine but about 3 tons heavier. To me the Seneca is a rocket. I haven't hit any rated climbs yet but am very pleased with the pulling power compared to the class A.

Definitely use the truck lanes as you need to fill from both sides. Just keep it in the middle as sometimes hoses can be shorter than expected. Measured MPG is 9.5 towing 3,000 lb car and using cruise control set to approx 65 mph.

No dry camping yet, we like the creature comforts. But with AGS dry camping should be less of a problem.

On-demand WH is propane only. Our Seneca is currenty at dealer getting the water heater replaced with gas/electric tank type. Spent a whole week with only cold showers or GI showers…problem could have been altitude (7,000 feet) or low campground water pressure. Worked OK at lower altitudes and more urban campgrounds.
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:17 PM   #4
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Echo above...I have only owned mine for a month and taken two trips. I towed a 7000lbs enclosed trailer on the first trip and a jeep toad on the second. Mileage right now is around 8.5mpg and I hope as the engine breaks in it will get a little better. We bought new because all of the 2-3 year old units were pretty close to what we paid new. You do have to plan the fuel out as stopping at a regular station is not a great idea (I forgot about the swing coming home the first trip and the trailer took "out" the fuel pumps. Not a good experience) I can laugh at it now.
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:32 AM   #5
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Thanks, Robbbyr. I really appreciate you sharing the information.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:14 AM   #6
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Some "points to ponder" about what particular "vintage" of the new Seneca to buy if you decide to go that route. The very first Freightliner-based Senecas (2012 models I think, running into 2013) had a slightly different drivetrain/suspension combination than current units. They had smaller wheels and tires and a traditional leaf spring suspension in the rear. The newer units have 22.5" wheels and tires and a true air suspension in the rear. Reportedly a better highway ride with the airbags. But the newer units are very tall, my unit is reportedly 13'1" tall per Jayco, I have not actually measured it to see for sure.

Their engine torque rating also was less than current models (660 vs. current 700 lb-ft.) The first "revised" Senecas also had traditional windows in the coach, not the current "frameless". Some liked the older windows since they generally open more, the frameless are limited in how much they open. But I do really like the way the frameless look. The 2016 Senecas even carried the frameless window theme to the entry door, I really wish my unit had that.

The 2012-2015 Senecas have traditional hydraulic brakes, but the later 2013-2015 units have an air-actuated driveline parking brake. Sounds like air brakes when it applies, and has the release knob on the dash just like an air brake-equipped truck. Reportedly the 2016 Senecas have a full air brake system and even air suspension seats in the cab, but I have not seen one in person yet. Never had any problems stopping with my hydraulic brakes and never thought the cab ride in my unit was all that bad. Someone with a brand new unit may have a take on how those items affect the drive.

If you shop you will have to do your own assessment, but when I was first looking to upgrade from my Ford Class C I too was considering a used unit. But while reading some comments from 2012 owners online there were complaints about the ride, especially if that person had the opportunity to drive a newer one with air ride. So I focused on the newer units. Got my 2014 brand new as a year-end closeout and felt I got a good deal.
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Old 08-28-2015, 09:02 AM   #7
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Same here as Robbbyr said. We had been looking at the Senecas since 2006 but because of life events, business etc put off buying till last year. We love our TS. Had looked at several models but because our grand kids sometimes travel with us choose the TS for its extra space up front. Love the booth dinnett and the couch on that side that opens out to a full size bed. Smaller couch on the other side is a jack knife couch that opens to a smaller size bed and one can sleep over the cab in front of the entertainment center. It rides/drives great on the plains here in GA and down in FL as well in the mountains of TN, NC and SC. We're getting on average 9 to 10 mpg depending on if we are in the mountains or flats and if we are pulling our 16' enclosed trailer with motorcycles inside or our dolly with a smaller suv. One thing we do when the grands are with us is they use their sleeping bags on the beds, so a quick roll up and easy close of the beds and we then have all of our space back for day time use. They are RV sleeping bags that have a summer side and winter side that work great at keeping them cool or warm. Good luck finding the right one that suits your needs, Happy Hunting and Enjoy.
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Old 08-28-2015, 11:59 AM   #8
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Thanks, again Robbbyr. I was aware of some of the differences with the 2012 model, but your information certainly helps clarify it.
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Old 08-28-2015, 12:00 PM   #9
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Thanks, Sandy. I appreciate the sleeping bag tip.
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Old 08-28-2015, 12:45 PM   #10
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We have a 2015 Seneca FS (bunk beds) and recently returned from 3,500 mile trip thru the SE U.S. We traveled with four; me, my DW and 2 grandkids. On a CAT Scale we weighed about 27,500 GCWR with a 4,700 Jeep 4 door.

During the trip we drove abt 65 mph and got anywhere from 9.5 to 10.5 mpg depending on conditions. Did travel some 6% grades. The unit did as I expected, in a lower gear, using the far right lanes.

The tankless water heater went out 3 weeks into the trip. As we weren't boondocking it wasn't an issue. A Girad tech helped me diagnose the problem and was willing to ship me parts, but I elected to wait and have the dealer fix it under warranty. I'm not sold on the tankless water heater, but willling to give it a try. When it worked it was great.

Fueling was a breeze, we used truck stops diesel lanes only. Set the pump on it's lowest setting and you won't have any overfill. Pilot/Flying J has a corporate card thru Good Sam that saves you a few cents/gallon.

Overall we really like the unit much better than our previous 5th wheel.
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