Buying A Used Motorhome? - What To Think About
29 January 2009
With the motorhome season rushing towards us some of you may well be thinking about upgrading or buying your first motorhome.
There are some good reasons to buy a used motorhome as opposed to brand new. There are many frustrated owners of new motorhomes who have suffered countless teething problems and there's a lot to be said for letting someone else carry the cost of the first year's depreciation especially in the current market with prices falling.
If you've decided to go the used route then perhaps the first thing to think about is where you are going to buy it. Using a dealer can be the most expensive route but if they're reputable you have some comeback if your new coach doesn't come up to expectations. Buying privately may well save you money but always set aside a budget for the unexpected. The internet has definitely arrived and you can find some real bargains but beware the dealer in disguise and I would suggest steering clear of any dealer who only sells on eBay and hasn't got a bricks and mortar site.
Be prepared to travel to see the best coaches. Limiting yourself to a certain distance from home can only limit your choice. Think of a checklist of questions that you want to ask on the phone prior to a visit and only go to see any that get ticks in all the boxes. Be ruthless, if in doubt, cross it off the list and move on.
Do your research, spend some time checking and watching prices and get a good feel for what you should be paying. There's nothing worse than finding that you've overspent a few weeks after you take delivery. Try checking out prices at www.rvtraderonline.com This will give you a good indication of current prices and put you in a stronger negotiating position.
Think carefully about the model and spec you want and draw up a list before you start looking. Prioritise and decide what you will be prepared to trade off or do without. You'll end up with a list of must have and want to haves. Any coach that is missing any of the must haves is off the list straight away.
Do lots of research, there are plenty of blogs, clubs and sites out there which can give you a wealth of information on potential problems with specific models and general areas to look at.
Once you've got your list of possibles, you need to take a good look over the coach, both the mechanics and the house. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends who are already owners. Most of us are delighted to be asked for an opinion and will willingly share our experience with others.
Make a checklist before you go to see a coach and go through it thoroughly; don't be embarrassed into skimping the check over. Some faults are worse than others. If it's easy to fix then it's simply a negotiating tool. If you're not sure then leave it alone or check out the cost before making an offer.
A good rule is to always find out how frequently the motorhome has been used. Any coach that has been stood for anytime can develop some nasty problems, not just mildew and dry rot but also some fairly serious problems with brakes and fuel lines. It might look great but you could spend a fortune sorting out undetected neglect. If it is a frequently used coach, then it is more likely to be in good serviceable condition.
There are lots of areas to be looked at. Chassis and running gear, brakes and tires, shocks and suspension. Remember that the suspension with a motorhome can take a fair bit of wear. Check out the electrics, with a motorhome, it's all linked up with generator, batteries and invertors / convertor. Again if in doubt consult an expert or experienced person.
Check out the house, you will definitely need to look for any water damage as this is a good indication of roof condition Make sure that all window seals are water tight and that all the doors and windows open and shut as expected. If the windows are dual pane then make sure that there is no condensation in them, a sure sign that the seals have blown.
If the coach has added extras like air conditioning then check that it is working properly. Make sure that the refrigerator works from the hook up battery and gas if applicable. Does the heating and water system work ok?
Do make sure that all cabinet doors and drawers open easily and shut securely. There is nothing more irritating than a cupboard door that keeps coming open when you're travelling.
You need to set a few hours by to do a decent inspection. Any genuine owner will understand and be happy to help show off their pride and joy.
Finally check out the documentation and servicing history, is it all present and correct? You need to make sure that you get all the manuals for the added extras, otherwise you could spend days trying to work out how to get things working.
Be cautious and don't be afraid to walk away if in doubt. You can always do some research on things and go back with an offer later and remember to ask questions and read up on Blogs and the Internet.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Trips.
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