What would you do? If buying a 20 year old MH

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PeterH

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Jan 17, 2016
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32
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Sandpoint, Idaho
Hello.

While my search continues for a suitable new-to-me motorhome of the Class A DP flavor, I'm trying to think ahead to the things I might want to replace before taking to the road. Assuming this rig is between 15 and 20 years old when I purchase it. My intent is to attempt to avoid as many mechanical problems early in the adventure.

I know this is a wide open question that is impossible to answer completely, but I'm fishing for ideas since I've never owned a DP before. After a lot of reading and youtube time, right away I can assume that I will need:

(I am focusing just on the chasis because the normal RV equipment that is fairly common to most motorhomes is much more of a 'known issue' to me.)

New tires
Complete engine service of all fluids
Complete transmission service

As a preventative, should I:

replace the brake system air dryer?
have the brakes themselves replaced/serviced?
should I have all the hoses and belts on the motor replaced?

I'm guessing you get the idea by now... so any thoughts to contribute?

Thanks,
Pete
 

SpencerPJ

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Midwest
It all depends.  If you buy it off a private individual that keeps good maintenance records, then address what needs to be.  Tires, there is a date code, familiarize yourself with this.  After 7 years old, they need replaced no matter what they look like.  Might be negotiating chip.  Regular maintenance items, fluid changes, depends, let a professional mechanic give you advise, they are much better at looking at things and replacing or changing what needs to be done.  I would encourage you to have it professionally inspected prior to purchase.  You will know what to expect, and might have a written receipt of fixes required that will aid in closing the deal. 
 

Isaac-1

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While not diesel pusher specific, replace anything made from rubber this includes hoses, belts and bushings. My gas coach turns 17 in a couple of weeks, and I can tell you nearly everything I find made of rubber that is still original under it is crumbling, thankfully much of it was changed out before I bought the coach, and of course some "rubber" is built better than other.  At a minimum carefully inspect those hoses and don't forget ones for the oil cooler, and transmission cooler.
 
S

sightseers

Guest
a big problem with older DPs is air suspension and air leveling system leaks.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
If you don't know the current maintenance status, replacing ALL filters and fluids is a good pre-emptive step.  Yes, that includes the air dryer desiccant cartridge, the radiator coolant, hydraulic fluid & filter (if any), and the transmission fluid filter(s).  Maybe the tranny fluid itself too, if old enough and never changed.  I might also change the two main drive belts, though they can be inspected first to determine cracking or damage.

Checking the air system for leaks is a good idea, but not urgent unless you hear air leaking or the suspension sags while driving or within a 30-60 minutes when parked.
The brakes pads and wheel hardware on a DP motorhome rarely need help - they should be good for 100k+ miles in normal RV usage.  If there is no indication of pulling or unusual noises, I wouldn't worry about them.
 

Isaac-1

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Also research potential unobtainable chassis parts for your chosen coach

Even on my 2002 gas coach there are a few front suspension components that are now available only from junk yards
 

judway

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West Melbourne, FL
Place $5000 to $10,000 in an easily obtained account to be available when needed. Things are not cheap for RVs. Engine computers, transmissions and differentials are expensive and might fail at any time or place.
 

muskoka guy

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MUSKOKA ONTARIO
Do the routine maintenance like oils and filters. The best thing to do otherwise, is do like me, and travel with a diesel mechanic. It also helps to have a few thousand dollars handy at all times, just in case.
 
S

sightseers

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It's not just the cost of maintenance or repairs that can hurt....I often hear of towing charges in the thousands of dollars.
 

BigNormitasca

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Apr 25, 2018
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i bought a 1976 Itasca a few months ago and i will tell you that RVs this old are real money pits.    If you replace something thats leaking the system builds good pressure again and the next thing blows out one right after the other.  Mine sat for about 2 years prior to me buying it and the previous owner probably never had the thng serviced from what i can tell.  So steer towards a buy that has  extensive repair records and receipts.  Atleast that way youll know they took care of it along the way.
 

Willandgiselarv

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Jul 20, 2015
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Location
Fairfield, Ca
I bought a 10 yr old DP. That was reasonably maintained..I spent about 10k, all fluids, 4k was for cracked radiator fan, but since they were back there I had waterpump, thermostat all hoses, all belts .
This budget was also because I got great deal on 6 tires..Toyos 2500.00 for 6.
I would have done some of the work and saved a lot of money but had too many life issues.
Knock on wood I never got stranded...

I think I posted this in wrong thread, it's was supposed to be on "buying 20 yr old RV
 

malexander

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Oklahoma City, OK
Pretty much what Gary said.
When we bought our '07 Bounder 4 years ago, we knew nothing about the previous maintenance. It only had 13,000 miles on it so not much should have to have been done. I found one receipt for an oil change.
First thing I did, as soon as I got it home, was put new tires on it. Then took it to the Cat dealer in town and had all the engine fluids and filters changed. I changed the belt on it myself. Then to the transmission shop for a complete service. Then the front end shop for alignment. Lastly, to the Onan (Cummins) service center for a complete service of the genny. I spent a total of $6000.00 on it before I ever used it, but I haven't had one minutes trouble with it in 4 years. EXCEPT the TV crapped out ;D Some times it'd work some times it wouldn't, we thought it was the B.O.M.B. or cabling. Wound up just being the tv.
 

PeterH

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Jan 17, 2016
Posts
32
Location
Sandpoint, Idaho
Thank you everyone for your input. As always, I've learned some good points about this possible purchase. I will update this thread tomorrow after I get a close look at our possibly new purchase.

Pete
 

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