Buying a motorhome from a distance

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Jul 1, 2006
Land of Lincoln
For anyone that has bought a motorhome sight unseen (or maybe seen for the first time when you arrived to pick it up), how far did you travel to get it?  What kind of travel limit would you set for this kind of purchase?  I'm shopping all over the 'net for older, used Class C's and of course eBay is a large section of the ads I'm seeing.  I've kinda limited myself to a 2-state travel distance in any direction (I live in central IL), but even now as I consider one in Richfield, OH that seems like a long way to travel.  It's about 460 miles, and even at a liberal 10mpg that's 46 gallons of fuel just for the driving trip home.  Let me point out that I'm only looking to spend $4-$6k so I can't (nor do I want to) justify dropping $500 on airfare out to Arizona or Texas to view/pick up a rig.  I'm a working joe too, with a wife and two little kids... so taking a few days to travel somewhere for a purchase that *may* not pan out would not be an easy venture.  Should I wait for the *perfect* purchase before buying long-distance?  Or just keep looking locally and hope the right one will pop up?  I know there are common sense answers to these questions, but I just need some advice from folks who have been there / done that.  Thanks - ;)
Certainly hope you aren't planning on dealing with Tom Raper RV  If you are, take 3 days to a week and plan on being there so everything gets fixed are repaired  Don't go on promises that they will take care of it later or mail it to you.  I fought them for 2 years and didn't get what I was supposed to get.  Sales force was great Serviced and parts Dept SUCK.  Lie  lie  lie lie lie,.. and then lie again.  NEVER Agin.  If they had a 1 yeaR old Holiday Rambler 40' for 20G  it wouldn't be worth it.  Took nearly 3 years to get the title straightened out.  And I'm not the only one.  I gave them a month to make adjustments and repairs and went back to pick it up and it was basically like it was when I left it, plus some things had been removed.  If it's them  Run or suffer. Not worth it.
Nope, no dealership; this is a private seller whose MH I saw on eBay.  However it did receive a high enough bid to sell so I am now e-mailing him discussing a direct purchase (not thru eBay).
We were living in Lantana, FL and purchased our Blue Bird Wanderlodge from a private seller in Jacksonville, FL. That was a 4.5 hr drive for us. A few weeks before that, we were going to fly out to San Diego to purchase a used BB at a BB dealership. That deal fell through.

I would guess that more Class C's are available for sale than Blue Birds. <smile> If you are uncomfortable about dropping $500 on air fare, don't do it.

Good luck,
Liz Pearce
I wouldn't buy a used RV without seeing it in person, or having someone I trust look it over carefully.  There are a lot of RVs for sale, I'm sure you can find something closer to home.
When buying long distance, you must be prepared to walk away after viewing the rig. Anything else and you may as well just send the check without looking at it at all.

Given your circumstances, I would say "wait for a local deal"  There are always lots of RVs on the market and sooner or later the right one will pop up much closer to your home base.
scottydl said:
. . . but I just need some advice from folks who have been there / done that.? Thanks - ;)

Hi Scotty:

Earlier this year, I was there, and did that -- and it worked out well for me on a rig I found in RV Trader On-Line. I traveled from Quartzsite, AZ to Round Rock, TX -- then returned to my home base in Sacramento, CA.  However, I set up some rules for myself that you may find helpful. Once I decided the rig was the one I wanted, my approach was to work "everything" out on the phone, Internet, and from pictures -- other than a final kicking of tires and test driving myself after traveling to the sellers location. And the seller would have to agree that if I found something wrong, I could walk away. The seller and I talked probably 10 to 15 times by phone during the process.

o Once I found the one I wanted, I priced it out using NADA. I wanted to determine exactly what I would pay for this rig -- regardless of what his asking price was.

o After my arrival, the seller had to agree that it was OK for me to take the rig to any dealer I saw fit to have the engine, drive train or whatever checked out prior to purchase. This one made me nervous because something might have shown up the the seller was not aware of -- and that would have nixed the deal. Of course, if the seller agrees, this could be done by the buyer prior to traveling to the location. However, I would find the dealer to do the check-out vs. asking the seller to find one for me.

o I "did" work out the exact deal on the phone -- and confirmed it in an email.. That is important. I would not travel that far to wind up on the short end of a price negotiation.

o And finally, I asked the seller the question I have asked on every used vehicle I have ever purchased. "Is there 'anything' that you know of about this vehicle, that I should know prior to buying this vehicle"? Actually, I asked it twice. Once on the phone, and once while looking him straight in the eye after my arrival.

All this said, in the price range you are looking at, I would agree with Roamer and Ned.  I spent about $1,600 on the way home getting several things fixed that did not surface during the entire process. Breaking down in an RV on a long lonesome highway is "not" a fun experience. <g> The probability of more problems in an older Class C would keep me personally from buying via long distance. My purchase was a '96 Class A with 45k miles.

Check the newspapers in the closest cities to your location for rigs more local to you -- and find one that you can easily get to and check out prior to even beginning to negotiate. And continue to look on line to find a rig closer to you.

Either way -- good luck and please post what you come up with.
Thanks Bob and everyone... you've cleared up some of what I already knew, and given me some more to think about.  Don't worry Bob, I'll certainly advise when & what I end up buying.  As much as I've bugged everyone around here during my research phase, I can't possibly deprive you of the end result!  ;)
I bought a used mh from someone i knew . He told me he knew that everything worked fine. I spent a year getting every thing fixed  . It was a very expensive lesson. It got to the point that repairs were just as much as the price i paid for the mh. So take this advice. Have them hookup and run everything. just to cover your butt .No matter if you know them or not.  If they are not hidding anything there will be no hassle from them to do it.
I did have to battle with the seller but every thing has worked out
If you buy in ILL, it should come under the 3 S law.  It must start, stop, as steer unless it's purchased as an As Is deal.  Other than those 3 items you have no recourse. You could be duck soup.It's buyer beware.  Also never  buy without having the Title in your hand, I've see many people get tagged pretty good.  If he has a loan on it,  When You pay him for it go to his bank and pick up the title when you pay him.  Much better to be safe than sorry.
Hiya Scotty. I live in west chicago about 45 min from chicago. If you find anything up this way I could take a look at it for you before you drive up. I'm not a mechanic or anything but i could give you the general idea of how it is or pretend I'm interested and see if they tell me anything different then they tell you.
Beerman said:
Hiya Scotty. I live in west chicago about 45 min from chicago. If you find anything up this way I could take a look at it for you before you drive up. I'm not a mechanic or anything but i could give you the general idea of how it is or pretend I'm interested and see if they tell me anything different then they tell you.

Brian, thanks a TON for that offer.  I will certainly keep it in mind!  Recently I did see something listed on eBay in Naperville, but the floorplan wasn't exactly what I wanted.  Other than that, nothing seems to be close (which is why I started this thread initially).  I'm only finding MH's in other states for the most part.  Another member did mention finding a great deal on for his MH, which is one classifieds listing that I haven't been checking.
Locate a professional in the area and pay for an inspection.  It will be the best investment you will make.  I bought an 88 class C from a very nice couple (????) in Highland N.Y.  I have now paid more for repairs than I had paid for the MH.
All it needed was TLC, according to theirn e-bay listing, yeah right. They lied through their teeth and I was stupid enough to believe them.  Like someone said earlier, have the people run everything, if they don't, it doesn't work.
Good Luck,
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