15-20 yr old class c

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Ginger8814

Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Posts
5
I have been looking for a year for a "good" used Class C.  Probably about 15 years old is all my budget will allow.  That's about $15,000.

I am about to give up because I've read so many horror stories about used motorhomes.  One story I read is about how a you tuber bought a used class c and put $24,000 into it.  Ouch!  Seems like the dream could become the nightmare fairly fast.  And yes I'd have it inspected first.

Is it possible to find a well taken care of Class C that won't be a money pit?
I'm not young, but I am quite mechanically inclined.

Thanks all!

 

SeilerBird

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Posts
16,700
Location
St Cloud Florida USA
It is absolutely possible to find a great class C for that price range. But with all old used RVs you are going to have to put some money into it. It is just the nature of the beast. Just about every old RV needs tires since 7 years is the maximum age you want to drive an RV on. Odds are about 90% that it will need the roof resealed. Then you have the appliances to contend with, most of which will be at the end of their useful life. Most important is to slow down, take your time and look at a lot of units before you pull the trigger. You need to kiss a lot of frogs before you will kiss your prince.
 

Isaac-1

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
5,858
Location
SW Louisiana
My suggestion is to find a good candidate and save about $850 - $1,000 to spend on a  detailed set of inspections, if you need to find an n inspector I would suggest checking NRVIA.org inspector locator.      (full disclosure I took the NRVIA level 2 inspector course last spring, and was very impressed with what it covers).    in addition to an RV inspection you will want to get a chassis inspection by a qualified mechanic knowledgeable in  whatever brand of chassis the coach is built on(Ford  E350,450, Chevy, etc).  In the 15 year age range there are likely lots of  rubber parts (belts, hoses, suspension /  steering bushings, etc.) in need of replacement if they have not already been replaced, often people will change the main fan belt, and radiator hoses, but forget things like the rubber brake hoses, sway bar bushings, bump stops, etc.).

Many NRVIA inspectors charge between $350 (basic minimal)-$700 (mid level detailed)  for an inspection depending on part of the country before add on items like oil and fluid testing for a typical class C coach.    These inspection should take somewhere between 3.5-7 man hours on such a coach, perhaps more.      Unfortunately it takes the same if not more labor to inspect a 15-20 year old RV as it does a  2-3 year old coach.  Chassis mechanical inspections on a gas coach, typically run 2-3 hours at a  shop rate of  $75-$100 per hour depending on location.      Just be aware  most mechanics will know nothing about inspecting the RV side of things, so will not know to look for roof rot, leaking RV refrigerators which may be a major fire hazard,  expired CO and LPG detectors, ... so don't think an mechanic chassis inspection is a substitute for an RV inspection.
 

Ginger8814

Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Posts
5
Thanks SeilerBird & Isaac.  I figured I'd have to have lots of things replaced.  Guess the big things would be the engine and the transmission?  Do RV inspectors also take them for a test drive?
 

SeilerBird

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Posts
16,700
Location
St Cloud Florida USA
I think the engine and tranny are least of your problems with an old RV. RVs don't get driven a lot so there usually is a lot of miles left in them if they have gotten any servicing at all in it's lifetime.
 

Isaac-1

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
5,858
Location
SW Louisiana
Most RV inspectors will not do test drives due to insurance liability issues.  As to the engine and transmission while they do fail, if properly maintained, fluids changed regularly, etc. it is a rare occurrence.  Instead the biggest killer of RV's is rot, most class C's will have a Rubber EPDM or TPO roof (though there are a few exceptions) regadless of type of roof there will be numerous roof penetrations for vents, antennas, etc. what happens usually is the roof or one of the window seals get compromised (this often happens around the over cab bunk on class C's) water gets in and the wood in the walls and ceiling rot.  This wood rot is often FAR more extensive than it initially appears, and is FAR more expensive to repair than many people initially estimate.  This is why all good RV inspections should include considerable time (an hour or more) spent on the roof, up close (hands and knees) checking all those bits of sealant.
 

SpencerPJ

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Posts
4,031
Location
Midwest
What are your intentions with the RV.  Cross country, full-time, or more local stuff? 
You say you are mechanically inclined, this site has many smart (not me) people that can help you with many/most you will ever face.
If you are mechanically inclined, have it mechanically tested and inspected if you wish, leaks and rot is what you least want to find.  Personally I like buying off private sellers, you get a vibe of what / why they are selling.  Dealers you get nothing but lies.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,141
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
"House" and chassis/mechanical inspections are separate, and RV inspectors don't do chassis mechanical inspection except for maybe a cursory "starts and runs" thing. If you want engine/tranny/ suspension checks, you need to get it to a shop that can handle those things. Chances are a 15+ year old rig needs  front end work (alignment, shocks, maybe brakes, etc). Tires too, unless replaced within the previous 5 years.  Tires age, so good tread is not an adequate check.

The house structure, appliances, electric systems, and furnishings are the big things, and water leaks the big damage risk.  An RV inspection can usually spot all that stuff.

The people who have the horror stories probably lacked any clue how to recognize signs of water damage, faulty electric & plumbing, cabinetry, etc. They likely would have had much the same problems buying a house, and an RV house is more complex. It's tough for a newcomer to RVing to know what to look at.
 
Top Bottom