First Purchase

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dmckenna

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Aug 1, 2019
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I'm looking into my first RV Purchase.  I'm looking at an A or C Class, any recommendations for someone who has only rented in the past? What is more important age or miles?  I've been finding some good deals on Craigslist, any advice as to what to look for would be helpful!
 
Condition is everything, I would much rather buy a 10-15 year old well maintained coach that has been stored indoors, than a 3-5 year old coach which has been neglected.    Mileage is rarely an issue with most privately owned motorhomes, generally speaking they tend to accumulate only about 6,000 miles per year on average, and are built on commercial truck / van platforms with a 150,000 - 200,000 mile designed service life.    Therefore a typical 10 year old motorhome will have only around 60,000 miles on it.

On the topic of  condition, rot of one type are another is the prime killer of RV's mostly water intrusion from poorly sealed roof penetrations, roof damage or window or slide seals.    This water damage is likely far more extensive, and far more expensive to repair than it may appear at first glance.  In the overall category or rot, you have to also worry about rubber parts dry rotting on older coaches, tires should be replaced about every 7 years regardless of wear, other rubber parts, belts, hoses, and rubber bushings tend to last only 10-12 years before becoming brittle and starting to crumble.  There are a lot of such parts, way beyond just the main serpentine belt and radiator hose, included in this list is rubber brake hoses, the generator fuel line, the propane regulator, the various suspension bushings, ball joints, steering linkages, sway bar bushings, bump stops, etc.  I just had one crumble in my hand while changing the starter on my 18 year old Onan generator last week (the crank case breather tube, which delayed the reinstalling the generator by 5 days while waiting on a part).

As to craigslist, many of those apparent deals are really money pits waiting for the uninformed first time buyer to come along, many others are scams, this is not to say all are, I bought my current coach off a craigslist add, just be aware it is a buyer be ware environment and coaches that look good in selected low res photos, may look completely different to an experienced eye in person.
 
Thanks Isaac! Going to visit one in person tomorrow, another one on Saturday. Excited to be looking and will keep an eye out for conditioning.
 
Floor plan also is very important.  It has to be livable and fit your needs, wants, and lifestyle.  If you buy one that has an awkward floor plan you will become disenchanted fairly quickly.  For example, if you have knee problems and have to climb a ladder to get into the bed, that will get old very fast.  If you want an easy chair and it only has a straight-backed dinette bench, you won't enjoy it.  Start making lists of what you really must have, what you really do not want, and what features you wonder about whether you need and/or want.  Your lists might change as you learn more about the available RVs.  We've had people come on the forum thinking they absolutely must have or do not want an item only to change their minds after asking here about it.  A good example is a washer/dryer.  Another is a propane oven.  One thing you'll learn very quickly is that most of us here have opinions and will be more than happy to share them! ::) We all started with making that first purchase so we know how confusing it can seem.

ArdraF
 
One more thing to watch out about, particularly on the larger class C's which are usually built on 12,500 GVWR E350 chassis or sometimes 14,500 E450 chassis, is the cargo carrying capacity, this may be listed using the NCC, CCC or OCCC system depending on when it was built and by who, all RV's built since about 2009 should have the federally mandated OCCC weight carrying capacity yellow sticker near the drivers seat.  These measurements differ in how they are calculated (empty water tanks vs full water tanks, etc.)  On my coach which was built prior to the OCCC mandated system my CCC weight limit of about 2,000 pounds on my 28 ft Safari Trek class A which is on a 17,000 GVWR chassis is nearly a thousand pounds less than what it would be under the OCCC method primarily due to the 86 gallons fresh water tank capacity, so learn to convert and compare.
 
To expand to AndraF?s theme, don?t just look... get in the shower, sit on the toilet, lay on and walk around the bed.  We have to make the bed while on it... Not a problem when we first got our coach, but age happens and waistlines grow and it?s not so easy now. And that shower may look fine, but the door?s width may prove to be a challenge (did I mention expanding waistlines?)
 
What is more important age or miles?
Neither.  It's a house more so than a car, so condition and suitability for your needs are the prime considerations.  Age is pretty much irrelevant as long as condition is good, and mileage doesn't mean a lot unless it gets quite high, say 100k miles for a gas chassis coach. Somewhere north of 75k miles you are going to be replacing bolt-on stuff like alternator, starter, and water pump, so figure that into the purchase price, but that mileage is not a show-stopper as long as the coach has been maintained well.

Of course, this means you, or your professional assistant, need to be able to judge condition and the state of maintenance. Hire a pro RV inspector if needed (a mobile RV tech can substitute in a pinch).

The advice re weight carrying capacity (OCCC or NCC) is spot on and often overlooked by newcomers.  You are going to be carrying a lot more weight than you might expect.  Likewise the advice about trying on for size. It's real easy to get awed by how neat/cute everything has been sandwiched into a coach and its not till you spend some time onboard that you realize how frustrating cramped quarters can be. Especially the bath area and the galley.
 
Thanks everyone! We?ve looked at 5 units over the past few days- nothing has quite been right so far. Maintaining patience in our search :)
 
Keep shopping - 5 isn't many at all.  As you look at various sizes, styles, and layouts you will probably reevaluate what you like and think you need. That's one way you avoid making a mistake on your first purchase. There are numerous tradeoffs when you try to fit a lot of living into a small space (less than 400 sq ft), and you have to see the differences to properly appreciate them. A bigger bath area means a tighter bedroom or living room; a larger galley probably means a smaller sofa; a tiny bedroom may mean one person has to crawl over the other to get out of bed. That sort of thing.
 

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