Buying a used older travel trailer

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Zimmer522

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Feb 24, 2019
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We are upgrading from our old pop-up camper but don't want to go in debt. We are looking at older campers, preferably without a slide. Any things to be wary of? What to inspect? We saw a 2004 citation on craigs list. Is that brand any good? We would like to eventually do some traveling with it instead of just short camping trips, we are in our 60's. Thanks
 

lynnmor

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Check and re-check everywhere for water intrusion.  Any stains, soft roof or floor, run.

Since you want to travel, tires, bearings, brakes, spring bushings and all related parts need to be inspected and serviced.  All the pretty stuff is secondary and can be fixed as time permits, but a failure causing the trailer to not be roadworthy is a major problem.
 

donn

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Your biggest worry is water leaks.  Inspect inside all cabinets, closets etc for any soft spots.  Same for all of the floor.  Next is appliances work?  Check them all.
 

Rene T

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donn said:
Your biggest worry is water leaks.  Inspect inside all cabinets, closets etc for any soft spots.  Same for all of the floor.  Next is appliances work?  Check them all.

And get up on the roof and check for soft spots. If the seller says "no way", walk away.
 

Lou Schneider

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Roof walkability can vary according to the type of roof. Most trailers have rubber or EDPM roofs with a firm layer of wood underneath for support and these should be walkable without soft spots.

But some older trailers used aluminum sheet roofing without an underlayment.  My 1990 Sierra 5th wheel had this kind of roof and it only had underlying support in the cargo rack area near the ladder.  Outside of that area I had to use plywood sheets to spread my weight to the crossbeams when I needed to work up there.
 

IBTripping

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I purchased a TT that is over 20 years old. It's built solid, was well cared for, and everything works. Bought it in the fall for a little less than $4,000 from a young family that wanted to upgrade. I inspected inside for water damage. Using a bright LED light I checked everywhere including opening all the cabinets and closets. FYI - there are several Youtube videos that show how to inspect an RV for water problems.

I crawled under the TT as far as I could checking for signs of water leaks and rust. I checked the tires which were all fairly new. Talked with the owner who was forthright in answering my questions including that the house battery was a cheap non-deep cycle battery. And, another very important item was that the I liked the floor plan; it would work well for me. Also, before inspecting, I did an Internet search to get the cargo capacity and GVWR to make sure my TV could tow it and it had sufficient cargo capacity for all my camping stuff.

Since it is an older TT, I assumed I'd need to spend a few hundred dollars doing updates and installing not necessary things to make it comfortable for me. However, if I wanted, I could have taken it out camping immediately after the purchase. Turns out I didn't need to spend much on needed updates which included replacing the converter/charger, buying a study hydraulic jack in case of a flat tire, 2 deep cycle 6 volt batteries, and heat gun to check TT tires and brakes for excessive heat when traveling. It came with a good weight distribution hitch, but I had to buy an anti-sway device. Total of about $800.

So, my recommendation is to pay attention to the floor plan and whether you like it and it will work for you. As others have suggested, closely inspect for water damage. Take a ladder and couple of pieces of plywood to inspect the roof and check for uncaulked seams including around the vents, a/c, etc. Be sure you have enough cash after purchase to pay for updates and other things you'd like to have. Does it come with a  weight distribution hitch with included sway control? If not, you'll need to pay about $500 for a WDH with sway or $50 to $100 for a friction sway bar. Other stuff will cost a whole lot less. For instance, I paid $190 for an updated converter/charger and about $200 for new house batteries.

Result is I have a nice TT that is fully paid.

Good luck finding a TT that will work well for you. And, my compliments for deciding not to go into debt to purchase a recreational item. 





 

grashley

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May 7, 2015
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Western Kentucky
Welcome to the Forum!

IBT gave GREAT advise!
There ARE great, gently used TT out there if you have the patience to find them.  Try  RVTrader.com and E Bay as two sites to check.  We also have a For Sale board near the bottom of the HOME page.

My points:  Floor Plan is the most important item.  Do you LOVE the floor plan?
Do a very thorough inspection.  There are inspection checklists in the library ( click <Library> near top of page)
Check the tire date codes.  Anything over 5 or 6 years will need replaced, regardless of tread condition.

I applaud your 100% down and no payment approach.  However, budget at least $1500 for stuff that needs fixed or things you want to change or add.

Keep us posted to your progress!
 

IBTripping

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Virginia
grashley said:
I applaud your 100% down and no payment approach.  However, budget at least $1500 for stuff that needs fixed or things you want to change or add.

You are good! Stuff I need = $800. Stuff I want (electric tongue jack, inverter, residential refrigerator, etc.) = over $800.  ;D ;D ;D
 

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