Questions on Buying a Used Motor Home

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Gizmo

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Posts
1,840
Location
Bellingham,WA
We are considering purchasing a class A motor home, probably next year and have begun to look around to get some ideas.  At this point we are leaning towards buying used and have a couple of questions as this would be our first motor home, but not first RV.  While very low miles for the year of the vehicle at first glance looks appealing,  I know a motor vehicle that sit for long periods is not good and may present some issues.  So my first question is what kind of mileage per year is considered acceptable and not likely to throw up red flags?  To those have purchased a used motor home, did you have a separate inspection for the motor and drive train?  To those who have purchased used out of state, how did you handle an initial inspection to weed out a problem RV without investing time and money in travel to see it?  Thanks.
 
Gizmo said:
We are considering purchasing a class A motor home, probably next year and have begun to look around to get some ideas.  At this point we are leaning towards buying used and have a couple of questions as this would be our first motor home, but not first RV.
First off thank you for asking great questions before you buy. Very wise.
While very low miles for the year of the vehicle at first glance looks appealing,  I know a motor vehicle that sit for long periods is not good and may present some issues.  So my first question is what kind of mileage per year is considered acceptable and not likely to throw up red flags?
I have read that the average RV is driven 6000 miles per year. I have no idea if that is an urban legend, but it sure sounds about right to me.
To those have purchased a used motor home, did you have a separate inspection for the motor and drive train?
I did all the inspecting myself. I have been RVing since the 70s and I am a retired electrician and retired mechanic.
To those who have purchased used out of state, how did you handle an initial inspection to weed out a problem RV without investing time and money in travel to see it?  Thanks.
I had the seller post a whole bunch of current photos and I exchanged a lot of emails before I went. I was in Southern California at the time and the RV was in Phoenix so it was only a 500 mile trip.
 
You might look through our Library (button above) for the newcomer's docs and checklists -- there are ones for pre-purchase and much else. There's a lot you can learn from that library.

As to inspection, if you can recognize problems in many different areas yourself, that's fine, but many folks (especially newer folks) hire an RV mechanic or such to do inspections for them -- costs a little, but potentially can save big bucks.
 
SeilerBird said:
First off thank you for asking great questions before you buy. Very wise.I have read that the average RV is driven 6000 miles per year. I have no idea if that is an urban legend, but it sure sounds about right to me.I did all the inspecting myself. I have been RVing since the 70s and I am a retired electrician and retired mechanic.I had the seller post a whole bunch of current photos and I exchanged a lot of emails before I went. I was in Southern California at the time and the RV was in Phoenix so it was only a 500 mile trip.

Thank you SeilerBird especially for what seems like a ballpark figure on average miles per year.

Larry N. said:
You might look through our Library (button above) for the newcomer's docs and checklists -- there are ones for pre-purchase and much else. There's a lot you can learn from that library.

As to inspection, if you can recognize problems in many different areas yourself, that's fine, but many folks (especially newer folks) hire an RV mechanic or such to do inspections for them -- costs a little, but potentially can save big bucks.

Yes I did read through the library prior to posting my query and did see the checklists which I made note of for later if we do decide to purchase.  If we do buy, and buy used, and if a local purchase, I plan to do a 3-part inspection. First to determine if the particular unit meets our needs and overall condition, passing that I would go over carefully myself and make use of the lists in the library to assist and then pay a trained eye to verify my findings or point out items I may have missed.  Buying locally or within a fairly easy and short drive would be helpful and the easiest, but if a unit presented itself say across the country I would want to have a reasonable assurance the particular unit is worth my time and expense to travel to make the deal.  I would definitely want a trained eye to go over the motor and drive train, hence my question about a separate inspection.  I am guessing best done by a good mechanic at a truck maintenance and repair facility, but not having purchased a motor home before I m interested to know what other good options there are.
 
To try to answer your questions, there is no specific answer on mileage other than to say the average mileage for a motorhome is around 6,000 miles per year, the problem is without detailed logs it is hard to tell if a 10 year old 60,000 mile motorhome did 5,000-7,000 miles each year for 10 years, or if the owners did a 60,000 mile 24 month marathon circuit of the US then let it sit for 8 years.  Also sitting itself is only part of the problem, lack of routine maintenance is the other rubber parts dry rot, some will argue this happens faster if they just sit around, but being used or not it happens.  On  daily driven car or truck these rubber components will often wear out before they age out, this is not true on an RV that gets comparatively few miles of use each year, in the end what this means is most rubber compounds are dry rotted to the point of crumbling after 10 or 12 years, this includes all sorts of hoses (radiator, fuel, oil and transmission cooler, brake, ..), various suspension and steering bushings (shocks, sway bar, tie rod, bump stops, etc.) and of course tires, which most people will suggest should be replaced every 7 years regardless of wear level (check the DOT code dates on the tires as a set of tires on a class A coach can run $3,000 - $5,000).  RV appliances also tend to age out (air conditioners, water heaters, refrigerators) typically somewhere around the 15 year mark, though there are always those exceptions that seem to run forever.  So when shopping for a used RV I would suggest buying one with a good maintenance history, where the previous owners have maintained and replaced parts as needed.

I bought my current coach out of state from a private seller 1,100 miles away in Florida, after being RV-less for about a decade, I am not saying what I did was right, I rolled a dice, and knew I was doing it.  It was an educated dice roll though, I had been shopping for a coach for about 6 months, and had narrowed my selection down to a handful of models, and years.  When this one popped up on a craigslist ad I emailed the seller, we exchanged a few emails, then talked on the phone for about an hour.    The seller seemed knowledgeable about technical matters, common issues with this model, etc. (he was a retired electrician), I then did more online research, read the couple of dozen online messages he had posted over a couple of years on the brand owners group forum.  I then went through the whole offer and counter offer process, explaining the reason for my offer, including links to similar models and explanation about added retrieval cost of buying his vs a similar unit that was several hundred miles closer.    We ended up agreeing on a price about 25% below the asking price even though the ad had only been posted 2 days earlier.      I would have preferred to have a professional inspection done, but the seller was in a rush to sell, so I skipped that did an over the phone hand shake (I offered to put down a deposit) got a plane ticket and flew down to buy it, pending it being as represented.      The truth is there were a few things I felt were in worse shape than represented, though it would have taken more than that to make me walk away after having spent $500 on one way plane ticket, ...

Overall all things considered 2 years and 10,000 miles later I am happy with my decisions

 
Gizmo said:
Yes I did read through the library prior to posting my query and did see the checklists which I made note of for later if we do decide to purchase.  If we do buy, and buy used, and if a local purchase, I plan to do a 3-part inspection. First to determine if the particular unit meets our needs and overall condition, passing that I would go over carefully myself and make use of the lists in the library to assist and then pay a trained eye to verify my findings or point out items I may have missed.  Buying locally or within a fairly easy and short drive would be helpful and the easiest, but if a unit presented itself say across the country I would want to have a reasonable assurance the particular unit is worth my time and expense to travel to make the deal.  I would definitely want a trained eye to go over the motor and drive train, hence my question about a separate inspection.  I am guessing best done by a good mechanic at a truck maintenance and repair facility, but not having purchased a motor home before I m interested to know what other good options there are.

Purchasing local is obviously easier, but often times long distance ultimately gets you what you want.
We bought 1,700 miles away in AZ. We searched a long time for the specific model we wanted.
First - lengthy communication regarding condition, former service work, repairs and maintenance, any existing problems that need to be addressed, and a LOT of photos.

If that gives you the all clear, you should be reasonably committed to the purchase and hire a certified RV inspector close to the vicinity of the RV.
https://nrvia.org/inspector-locator-step-one/

The inspector can do as much or as little as you want. I had both the automotive and the RV systems inspected.

 
SeilerBird said:
First off thank you for asking great questions before you buy. Very wise.I have read that the average RV is driven 6000 miles per year. I have no idea if that is an urban legend, but it sure sounds about right to me.
About 6,000 per year is what I have been averaging for the last three years.  Will be more next year, hopefully
 
What kind of budget are you looking at? 5000- 6000 miles would be close depending if the person was still working or retired. I tend to drive more than some. I didn't get started till mid June and so far have clocked up 7680 and am still in Maine. :D
If you are able to travel to look your chances of finding the perfect coach go up.
Keep an eye on places like https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/ they are one of the biggest consignment lots in US. You can look at floor plans and see what is selling and for what price. Good luck and let us know how it is going.
Bill
 
We only average 3,000 miles per year, but our motorhome gets used a lot. Being working stiffs, our trips are frequent but close to home.
 
BinaryBob said:
Purchasing local is obviously easier, but often times long distance ultimately gets you what you want.
We bought 1,700 miles away in AZ. We searched a long time for the specific model we wanted.
First - lengthy communication regarding condition, former service work, repairs and maintenance, any existing problems that need to be addressed, and a LOT of photos.

If that gives you the all clear, you should be reasonably committed to the purchase and hire a certified RV inspector close to the vicinity of the RV.
https://nrvia.org/inspector-locator-step-one/

The inspector can do as much or as little as you want. I had both the automotive and the RV systems inspected.

Thank you for  this and the link which will be helpful.

WILDEBILL308 said:
What kind of budget are you looking at? 5000- 6000 miles would be close depending if the person was still working or retired. I tend to drive more than some. I didn't get started till mid June and so far have clocked up 7680 and am still in Maine. :D
If you are able to travel to look your chances of finding the perfect coach go up.
Keep an eye on places like https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/ they are one of the biggest consignment lots in US. You can look at floor plans and see what is selling and for what price. Good luck and let us know how it is going.
Bill

Thank you for this link which is another resource I was unaware of and may be helpful.

 
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