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Old 01-07-2010, 03:11 PM   #1
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engine evaluation before buying?

Looking to buy a used DP in a few months and was curious if any buyers opt the have a diesel tech survey the drivetrain prior to purchase. In the RV world who would perform the survey? are there mobile mechanics that do this? I am in Houston. I am more familar with boat buying where the diesels are usually surveyed.

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Old 01-07-2010, 03:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Drop In View Post
Looking to buy a used DP in a few months and was curious if any buyers opt the have a diesel tech survey the drive train prior to purchase. In the RV world who would perform the survey? are there mobile mechanics that do this? I am in Houston. I am more familiar with boat buying where the diesels are usually surveyed.
Be very careful with who you hire. Make sure that person is certified and has been doing this for awhile. I had a coach "inspected" and road tested some years ago. The inspector gave it a passing grade of A, but missed a whole bunch of things and I ended up getting rid of it. I contacted him and told him about the things that were found to need work. He said, "I'll give your money back, I have only inspected a couple of MH's...My usual inspections are cars and pickups". So I got my $200 back, but that didn't cover what I lost when I dumped it. Now I know better.

Also check the coach for recalls at "recalls.gov". I didn't look there before I bought the one I have now and I am VERY sorry for that mistake. I guess we learn about this stuff when things go bad. This forum helps people like you and I. Too bad I didn't know about the forum when I purchased the last coach!

2008 Itasca Latitude 39W. Cummins ISB 6.7 Turbo 340HP. Allison 6 Speed. Freightliner XCS. Michelin XRV 255/80R 22.5 LRG. SuperSteer MCU. Safe-T-Plus.
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:58 AM   #3
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Obtain maintenance records before having it inspected. If it has been maintained per the engine manufactures schedule, then proceed to have it surveyed if you wish. If it has not then you could be getting into a problematic situation that even a good surveyor will advise against a purchase when the market has many to offer.
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:50 AM   #4
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Keep in mind, no mechanic, no matter how good they are can determine what the inside of the engine and drive-train look like, nor can they tell how the previous owner operated the vehicle. Did, they ride the brakes? Did they run the engine hot? Did they run the fluid/s low? etc. etc.

You can pay a shop to do what you ask, but you also by agreeing with them to do the job, you won't be able to hold them responsible. All they can do is give you a best guess.

As mentioned the maintenance records are the best bet.
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:23 PM   #5
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Figure the cost of a good inspection should run at least 3-5hrs on the mechanicals alone. Would mean lifting the coach, removing the wheels, etc.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:38 PM   #6
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1) review maintenance records to see they match the current coach mileage and that all service was performed at required intervals (need a checklist to do this properly- e.g. for exhaust brake, when was last lube of butterfly?)
2) check engine codes & interpret accordingly (tech needs engine mfgr's software for this, if he doesn't have it then he's not the guy for the job)
3) physical inspection for leaks in oil & coolant w/engine oil analysis for trace coolant (if engine oil was just changed there may be a reason), wire looms and hoses @ engine & tranny all secured and not rubbing, radiator intact and clean, remove a front wheel & inspect brake condition, check & count all lube zircs (the best lube reports tell how many zircs were lubed) for condition consistent w/latest lube report, check front end components for tight & check tires for age & wear (if there are brand new tires miraculously coinciding w/the potential sale, might be a reason), check battery age & condition- both banks incl. hydrometer reading on deep cycles by cell (keep record), note coolant age & if past 12 months check & note additive level, check belt conditions, disconnect ground(s) @ battery then check tightness of all battery cable connections fore & aft (using a wrench not fingers) then reconnect ground(s), if hydraulic brakes pull fluid sample & note condition, note install date on air drier (should be written on module if installed by decent tech) or get from docs if not written on module, finger up blow-by to check status (have engine cough twice, no just kidding about the cough)
I'm sure I'm missing several things here...
4) test drive including some steep hill climbs (note all engine/trans vitals) & descents noting engine/exhaust brake behavior, run A/C & note engine temp change if any on steep hill, cruise on then Acc & Decel functions, then cruise off, check lane drift on uneven pavement, pull over & shut down engine somewhere flat & quiet w/wheels straight for walk around listening for air leaks & check all wheels & tires for excess heat (wheels on hub near bearing, tires at ~1.5" below rim of tread on sidewall, remember to take infrared thermometer for this task), etc.
Increment this list w/all other suggestions.
4-5 hours is a good estimate for a proper survey including roof inspection and major systems in house (excluding the entertainment system which in some cases would drive a hatter sane).
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:51 PM   #7
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I would take it to the engine mfg for the evaluation. Alot of sound advice given by the folks on this forum, you should spend the time and speak with people that own the coach that you are interested in. They will let you know the short cummings and let you know if there are recalls and you would know what to look for and what to stay away from.

Happy hunting!!

Del & Lori 2007 Diplomat 40PDQ - 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. M&G brake system
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