Newly diagnosed, upgrading motorhome, should i get an automatic to future proof ?



I have just seen a Rh Consultant and have been confirmed as with RA but not [yet] bad enough to justify the meds with their side effects. Fingers stiff and on rising 3 of them 'gel' / lock closed until i do exercises to free them.

We have a campervan that have been thinking of upgrading to a Motorhome with a fixed bed, initially for my hubbies bad back, but now we want to factor in the potential of my RA. ATM I can drive manuals fine, hubby has a manual low open top roadster which isn't an issue for me.

I have done a quick search on here and it seems that the main car things people find themselves needing are not low (motorhome has that well covered!) and an Auto box.

Both car lovers, we hate Autos but as we want something we can keep for 10+ years. I am 56 hubby is 61.

My head is telling me to get an Auto, my heart is rebelling quite strongly.

Obvs it's my decision to make, but to help inform it, what are other peoples experiences of how bad / how far along their RA journey they were before they felt they needed to go Auto?




  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,713

    In answer to your question, probably but......

    There's more to RA than gear sticks and low isn't necessarily a good thing though I guess it's important to be able to get in and out😁

    I was well down the RA path before I learnt to drive on an automatic mini with adapted gear stick (pull on and push off) and switched pedals.

    None of us can say how quickly or slowly your RA will progress as we're all different but it will certainly be quicker without any DMARDS (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs). (The clue is in the name.) You won't necessarily have any side effects. Obviously, those who do are more likely to go online to talk about it. The others are just getting on with life.

    Whatever you decide I hope it goes well for you.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 223

    I'm also a car lover and made the change from manual to automatic some years ago although I still occasionally drive my partner's manual car for short distances. My automatics have been cars rather than motorhomes so very different. I thought flappy paddles (steering wheel controls to change up and down) would be something I'd often use, but I hardly do, so wouldn't be too concerned if my next car didn't have them and I'm not sure it's a feature offered on motorhomes.

    Automatic gearboxes have improved substantially and if you haven't driven a modern automatic you might be surprised by how good they now are. Formula One and most other motorsport cars are now automatic, albeit a different sort of automatic gearbox to those fitted in road cars. Automatic cars are now often more fuel efficient than equivalent cars with manual gearboxes.

    The main downside is less control and engagement in the driving experience but with my back and arthritis problems I'd now find a manual uncomfortable to drive more than half an hour especially in stop start traffic. A lot depends upon how far you drive and in what sort of traffic conditions.

  • Arthuritis
    Arthuritis Member Posts: 444

    @sharon35 I don’t drive anymore (no longer have the long drives to clients) but I do like automatics now, but after trying a smart electric car I liked that even more!

    Love your passion for a motorhome, been watching a lot of youtube vanlife videos with envy! Oh to be in your 20’s and living in a converted Sprinter or an Airstream making whatever new place your home.

    Wasted my youth paying rent for a London shoebox, it was great, but I could have been smarter with money!

    I guess looking at anything that requires your hands to deliver strong turning force should be considered. In my case that’s what went first, months before I was formally diagnosed, and I had the same thoughts you did, and listed all the things that might get harder and either bought assistive devices or replaced them eg kitchen sink taps replaced with ceramic 1/4 turn while I still could do it myself. That is one thing I did right, and I am happy I did!

    You might consider adding to the motorhome toolbox an electric impact wrench & electric car jack & air compressor. These are all inexpensive assistive things.

  • sharon35
    sharon35 Member Posts: 7

    Thx all, Yes auto it is.

    We have found that the Fiat base vehicle , whilst we would have preferred Ford, comes with an Auto that is 9 speed and actually gives more torque than the manual, so hubby is happy too!

    It will unlikely come before 2023 as these things v popular and having supply issues, so plenty of time for us to look at electric accessories to keep life easy.