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Old 02-21-2013, 04:00 PM   #1
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About purchasing a used RV

Hello All, Currently not an RV owner but wanted to stop by to get the opinion of the experts before purchasing. I don't mind working on things to an extent and have done a lot of mechanical / engine work to my Saab 9-5 Wagon to keep it on the road.
If you're looking at older smaller rv's, say in the 25' to 35' range, are there any brands or models that were known to have been designed better than others with regards to being more leak resistant? I'd like to find an rv that isn't plagued with water intrusion damage, mold, wood rot, etc. Perhaps this topic has already been covered, can any of you point me in the direction of a post? Any suggestions? Thanks
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:22 PM   #2
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Hi my name is Dean, what size are you looking for? I have a 37' Vogue Prima Vista Diesel Pusher for sale if you are interested.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:47 PM   #3
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It really isn't about brands when it comes to leaks. An entry level can leak just as well as a top of the line model. I had an 87 Allegro that had a couple of leak issues and I fixed them the correct way the first time and never had a problem. An older MH is all about maintenance. Make sure you feel all wall and ceiling areas inside cabnets and out. Physically look at the roof and in the bathroom area. It's all about how the previous owner took care of it. No matter how much you spend on anything older than 20 years you will probably put another $2k to $4k into it. I just picked up an 03 and have put about $700 into it and by next fall will put another $1500+ into it. But I will know the in's and out's of the coach.

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Old 02-21-2013, 06:56 PM   #4
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Hi my name is Dean, what size are you looking for? I have a 37' Vogue Prima Vista Diesel Pusher for sale if you are interested.
Thanks Dean, At this point I'm just trying to learn more about the process of what I should be looking out for, not ready to pull the trigger just yet, but thank for the response.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:58 PM   #5
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It really isn't about brands when it comes to leaks. An entry level can leak just as well as a top of the line model. I had an 87 Allegro that had a couple of leak issues and I fixed them the correct way the first time and never had a problem. An older MH is all about maintenance. Make sure you feel all wall and ceiling areas inside cabnets and out. Physically look at the roof and in the bathroom area. It's all about how the previous owner took care of it. No matter how much you spend on anything older than 20 years you will probably put another $2k to $4k into it. I just picked up an 03 and have put about $700 into it and by next fall will put another $1500+ into it. But I will know the in's and out's of the coach.

Good Luck
Arnold
Thanks Arnold, That's exactly the type of guidance i was hoping to find. Experience is the best teacher, I just don't have any experience. Great advice.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:04 PM   #6
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Yep. It aint what it is, its how it was cared for.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:19 PM   #7
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Born Free class C motor homes are known for their single piece fibreglass construction and should be pretty much leaf free. Also a very well built motor home.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:54 PM   #8
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Motor homes have either a rubber sheet or a fiberglass roof. Most of them have holes cut in the roof for skylites, AC, vents, TV antennas, etc. All of these are potential spots for leaks and need to be checked carefully to insure leak damage hasn't occured. The rubber roofs degradate faster than the fiberglass, but as said above, care and maintenance will effect the life of either. An RV dealer once told me 15yrs is about the effective life of an RV, but how its cared for will effect that a whole bunch. Check things out as best you can before signing on the dotted line and if you are new to this game I would strongly suggest you hire a professional to do a complete inspection prior to agreeing on a price. Not just for leaks, but all the other things also. Its most likely the best money you will ever spend on a RV. Good luck.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:10 PM   #9
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It's all about the previous owner(s), much like anything actually. There are good, clean units out there you just need to dig through a few bad ones to find them most often. The key is knowing what you're looking at. If you don't feel comfortable, take some along with you that is when it's time to inspect, as most of the "big problems" are usually "hidden" ones as well. Rot is the big concern, and should be where you dig the deepest, so-to-speak. And, if I had to rank the remaining concerns they would probably be systems (i.e. refrigerator, air conditioning, etc.), wiring, plumbing (to include leak-free holding tanks) with engine/trans lower on the list. Too many times I've seen people focus all their energy into making sure the "motor drives great", with some of those instances being important because the buyer "drove it to the recycler", lol.

In short, focus less on the odometer and more and what's behind the wall below the sink. Push in on the outside especially near where water lines are hooked up. Get up on the roof and apply pressure, stuff like that. RVs are like boats in that most of the damage comes from sitting, not usage. Good luck and I hope you find "the one".
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:15 AM   #10
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My Dutch Star is leak free after I have put Eternabond on the roof seams. Any older MH probably had roof leaks and depending on the owners immediate care of the problem will determine if any damage was done. I have no damage from the initial leaks.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:41 AM   #11
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Hi Photo-

+1 on all the foregoing responses. I've always approached the research/inspection/purchase with a pretty basic philosophy:

-First, it's a used car (OK, used truck). Check it's driveline, exhaust, and propulsion support systems the same way you'd look at any used vehicle. Crawl under it, photograph it liberally (you'd be amazed at details you can see from a pic while viewing liesurely at home that may not have impressed you when you were laying under the unit on your back...in a puddle...in the rain...or snow...
-Second, look at the cabin and see if the floorplan and frills are what you really want to pay for. (This would be a strategically excellent time to consult your S/O if you have one).
-Third, does the unit give you the impression that it's been well cared for, regardless of age?
-Fourth: drive the thing and revert to step #1: brakes? transmission? steering? suspension? power? do all the normal functions work (windshield wipers, defrost/heat/ac, etc)? All that "used car" sort of stuff

If it meets your standards in ALL those areas, then it's time to match it against your budget.

Good luck. The search is half the fun (OK, maybe just a quarter of the fun....or an eighth.......or...)

Happy trails
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:44 AM   #12
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All good suggestions I've read on this post. Here's another thing to consider. If it's mechanical and moves there will be things to fix. If you're a little handy with tools then you'll be looking at parts, if not the lifestyle can cost you some big dollars. Little things like tightening screws before each travelling season, oil changing regularly, resealing roof joints, cleaning, detailing, etc etc etc all start to add up. Once you purchase an RV, the preventative maintanence makes a difference. Starting with a solid rig is always a good thing. Just because a rig has low miles, it doesn't mean it was cared for. Most major systems are the same on most brands (fridge, stove, furnance, air conditioners etc) and then if buying a gasser either ford or chevy. So floor plan is the real difference between brands. Looking for water stains back of upper cupboards is a great idea. Check roof seams and look for soft spots on roof. Decide on your needs and how you are going to use your RV. Example, It is now just my wife and I travelling so when purchasing we were thinking of sleeping for 2. A free standing dinette is what we wanted. A friend of mine travels with his kids so his class A has a booth for extra sleeping. There are lots on the market and if you are willing to travel to pick up your rig then you most likely will have the best options and price. Check out a site like PPL Moterhomes for they have the floor plans posted with the motorhomes they are selling. Not to say you should or shouldn't buy from PPL, just that it's a good site to check out the many floor plans. And last but not least, don't get foottitus. Bigger is not always better. Buy to your needs. Good luck with your search. It's a great lifestyle, couldn't imagine not having a class A in my driveway.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:55 PM   #13
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Thanks to all of you for your responses to this thread! The DW and I just put a deposit on a 04 Allegro Bay, pending my independent mechanic completing an inspection. All of the input here helped us steering the right direction in our first MH search. No more pulling that trailer around!
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