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Author Topic: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome  (Read 3541 times)


  • Posts: 3
Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« on: February 22, 2012, 10:53:16 AM »
Hello. Hubby and I want to get on the road again, but funds for motorhome purchase are limited. We have found a '97 Itasca with 52000 miles on it for a price we can afford.  We want to take a trip from Texas, to Arkansas, thru Tennessee, thru Virginia up to Washington DC, into Philly (relatives in Philly). From Philly will go to Lancaster and Gettysburg.  Heading back we plan to go south thru Richmond, Raleigh, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Savannah, down to Florida (Disney World), then on to Mobile, and the stops along the way back to Texas.  My fear is that 52000 miles on a coach is way too many and that by that many miles everything on it needs to be replaced.  I'm looking for input - good or bad - about purchasing a pre-owned motorhome. 


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  • Posts: 526
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 10:56:12 AM »
It depends.  Is it gas or diesel?  The best way to allay your fears is to have a professional inspect it and tell you what HAS to be done and what needs to be looked at in the near future.  52,000 isn't the point, how it has been maintained over that mileage is much more important.


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  • Posts: 154
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 01:04:34 PM »
Hi Ho:   Sheltie has it right.  We have a 2000 Itasca Suncruiser that we bought new.  It has fewer problems and is more reliable than most new coaches.  Of course, I am pretty anal about upkeep and maintenance.  My wife is even worse about the ineterior.  Everything works as it should and most things have been upgraded.  For example, we have a really comfortable pillowtop mattress, new Michelin tires, new batteries etc.

By the way, we are just in the process of getting a 2005 diesel pusher, so I guess the Suncruiser will be for sale.  Hope the new owner has as much fun as we have had.

Dirk and Katie and Duke (Golden Retriever)
Coach:  2006 Tiffin Phaeton 40QDH
What else:  Private Pilot (Piper Turbo Arrow), Woodworking, Scuba
Past life:  Electronic engineer (wireless R&D)

Wolf Pack Fan

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  • Posts: 321
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 12:46:33 PM »
I totally agree with Sheltie.  A professional mechanical inspection is a good idea.  It would probably be even better to have it done at a place that specializes in RV's.  They should be able to inspect the drive train as well as the many other systems of the motor home.  I would also recommend driving it.  You'll want to see if it's got any pull left or right when going down the road plus whether or not it has any bad shake or vibration going down the road.  There will be rattles here and there because there's a lot of stuff that can generatre rattles.  It shouldn't be unpleasant to drive though.
Proud to have served 1976-1996.  Retired US Army, Airborne.
2005, 34' National Dolphin, Gasser.
Long time camper, first time RV camper.  Love it!


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  • Posts: 9993
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2012, 01:16:11 PM »
Good advice.  It's a 1997 which means it's 15 years old with 52,000 miles.  That means it's only been driven about 3,500 per year which isn't very much at all.  Where was it all those years?  Sitting in someone's yard or storage facility?  If so, I'd be looking at anything rubber which deteriorates over time.  You might need to replace belts and such.  Does it have maintenance records?  That would help a lot in determining how well it has been maintained.  We keep detailed records so all maintenance is documented and those records stay with our motorhomes when we sell them.

Of course, the obvious question is, does it LOOK well maintained?  If you walked inside and thought, wow this is really clean and looks good, then that's a good sign.  If it looks dirty and/or worn, then that's probably a bad sign.  Look inside everything, including all the cupboards.  Does everything work?  If latches and lights are broken, then maybe that's a bad sign too.  Sometimes it's little things like latches that tell the really maintenance story.  Are there any manuals so you can find information about the unit when you need to repair something?


:D :D

Charlie Two Tracks

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  • Posts: 32
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2012, 10:08:38 AM »
I don't think that there is any good answer to your question. You can try to cover all the bases but on any used vehicle, there is no guarantee. We bought a used 95 a few years ago and it looked to be in great shape. We went all over it and everything worked. On our first trip, the engine blew with just 62,000 miles on it. We had it replaced and the MH works great now. Just one of those things that happen. The MH had been checked out but there are no guarantees. Check the age of the tires and as others have said, have a mechanic check it out. If you know someone who has a MH, have them look at it. If you are not familiar with a motor home, there is a lot of stuff to learn about.
1995 Winnebago Brave 27'
1986 Bass Tracker
My stuff is getting old and so am I.

farmer dan

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  • Posts: 102
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 11:55:55 AM »
As the above have said looking and smelling clean isn't all you need to look at. We looked at a 97 four wind. They were asking 13000 at the dealer. My wife was first to walk in. "wow it looks fleaand doesn't stink.". I walked in, I smelled it. The cleaner. Now smell past it, you could tell it was that strong tp hide something. Then it hit me the faint smell of mildew. Wet wood. I started to look at the walls. Just under the Windows. That's when I found what I was looking for. The wood under the windows go so wet that it swelled out around the window frame. At the floor of the wall was the real problem. The wall was deteriorating, and pieces were on the rug. I told her no. Then showed her my reason.So make sure you have a sound body. Then go over the rest. Good luck to you.
1996 Winnebago Adventure 34rq
Driver: Daniel
Co. Pilot: (and wife) Scottie
Back seat driver: Zachary


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Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 05:06:07 PM »
Check the big items and make sure they work properly: Tires (wear & age), batteries, fridge, stove, hotwater heater, bulges in the outside side walls, roof/ceiling (for leaks), engine for weird noises.


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  • Posts: 1774
Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2012, 05:22:55 PM »
One of the most important items you need to check is the age of the tires. Anything older than 7 years old should be replaced before you start on any trip. Otherwise you will be running the risk of a blowout(s). It is quite possible that the original tires might still be on the RV with that mileage.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 05:24:45 PM by Chet18013 »
Full time in a 45' '04 Monaco Signature
towing a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel


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Re: Need Input re: Purchasing Pre-Owned Motorhome
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2012, 11:15:07 AM »
My fear is that 52000 miles on a coach is way too many

As mentioned, that mileage may actually be on the low side... you want an RV that's been used and maintained, not one that has sat parked in a storage lot or campground for years.  But, it all depends on the motorhome's history and maintenance.  No "once over" look will tell you that, you've got to drive it, run every appliance and electronic gizmo that it has, and get a professional inspection if you are not confident enough to rely on your own observations.

With any used RV, you will never know the complete history and you should PLAN to replace some items along the way.  Especially if the unit has been sitting for awhile and is just getting back on the road.  Rubber parts (tires, belts, hoses) wear out even with non-use and will need checking.  Make sure your budget leaves another $1000-2000 for unexpected repairs, so you won't be in the hole or overly disappointed WHEN the rig needs work.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012