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Old 02-13-2009, 07:00 AM   #1
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My wife and I have owned a towable for 10 years. Now we want to buy a used diesel pusher motorhome. If I was to go out and buy a new 5er, I'd know exactily what questions to ask and what to look for. However, when it comes to a MH, I'm pretty clueless. What are the critical questions I should be asking and what should I be looking at in a motorhome? Thanks

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Old 02-13-2009, 07:28 AM   #2
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Diesel pushers are quieter, more power,more expensive. Gas are louder and often using engines from the main truck line. i.e.Chevy uses their 454 and Dodge uses their 460 and Ford uses their V-10 engine.
I got a super deal by shopping on line thru e-bay. You have to know what you have to have and what you can compromise with. For us it was diesel pusher, one slide, and low miles.
We got a Holiday Rambler with slide and only 23K on the drive train.

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Old 02-13-2009, 07:29 AM   #3
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Maintenance is a key issue to any motorhome purchase. The seller should be able to provide full documentation of all service and maintenance of the coach.

If you are not familiar with diesels, drive trains and chasis, you need to have a diesel shop inspect and report on the mechanical sections of the coach.

As a minimum I would have the seller, provide a oil and filter change for the engine and transmision, oil and filter change on the generator, chasis lubrication, battery connection check and coolant test and check.

Also check all of the tires (date codes) and make sure thay are not older thna 5 years.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:35 AM   #4
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Much the same concerns as to inspecting for build quality, body damage, sidewall delamination, etc. For the motorhome you want to see maintenance records, and the mfg recommended service intervals if possible for comparison ...I could easily hand you all that for mine. Both the diesel chassis and generator require annual service regardless of mileage/use. You need some assurance that regular maintenance has been accomplished. You want a diesel powered generator rather than LP, and you want to check the hours to ensure it has been properly exercised at least an hour a month over it's lifetime ...and you want to hear it start up and run and verify that is is supplying power to the coach. You want to know what the CCC is. A mfg sheet would be nice, an actual weight sheet would be great. You want to check the tire mfg dates. I would even check the tire size and then I would reference the tire mfg charts to ensure it has adequate tires for the GVWR. That should get you started!!
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:29 AM   #5
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As stated by others; maintenance is a big issue. What looks cheaper may not always be. Don't buy anything that does not have maintenance records unless you are prepared to bring all maintenance up to date. That means you must me getting one heck of a deal. Got to the different manufacturer sections on this forum and read up on what the maintenance entails and what it costs. Check tire codes on any coach before you buy. Six new tires cost allot of money but what is your life worth.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:32 AM   #6
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I have several suggestions:
1. Select your purchase range. There are used entry level DPs like ours all the way up to Prevosts and Newells costing millions. Narrowing down that list to what you want to spend will help a lot.
2. Now, you want to get the best value possible in the range. "Value" is a combination of performance, comfort and reliability. You would be well served to work out floor plan requirements as you would on a 5er but then noting the chassis, engine, transmission and driving support that each of those that you like has. For example, engine brakes are better than exhaust brakes but are only available on the larger diesels. A two stage exhaust brake is better than a single, etc. You mission for this step is to line up interior comfort and driving comfort on value. This effort will also have the additional benefit of starting to teach you about DPs. In the reliability area, the suggestions of other posters about maintenance records is great. The drive line, for example, can be badly damaged by failure to regularly lubricate it. You would be surprised at how many people get behind the wheel and simply drive, ignoring all maintenance. You could inherit thousands of dollars of delayed costs as you start to use the DP and stuff starts to fail. The problem is that many of the types of maintenance (air brake filter replacement, power steering fluid replacement) that are not familiar to regular passenger car users.
3. Comfort in driving. This is the real challenge. I can honestly tell you that we didn't understand it until we had driven 5k miles and then realized that we had handling problems and paid to have them fixed. If I had it to do over again, I would have shopped harder for different types of MHs to get the experience of driving them. It was that lack of experience that caused me not to recognize what should and what shouldn't be. An alternative is to have an experienced MH driver drive what you are planning to buy, when you get close to doing that, and offer his or her opinion. I would still be at a disadvantage in that today because I've not driven an air bag suspension DP. Those give it a different feel and I wouldn't have a clue about whether that feel was correct or incorrect.

Just my thoughts.

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Old 02-17-2009, 10:25 AM   #7
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All the above are great ideas. I like to have the ability to get to the engine, so we bought a pusher with a north/south bed that when raised, I can see the entire engine and transmission and can reach everything with out reaching thru a small hole in the bedroom floor.

I would look for a older, higher end coach, rather than a newer lower end coach. I would look for a coach with filters that are easy to service. Look at the radiator to ensure it does not have the tanks that are glued or epoxied together. On the generator, yes diesel is great, but on my 13year old pusher I have a 6.3Lp gen set and it has less than 300 hours, so to me that is not that important. Look at HP vs weight. Rule of thumb is 100hp vs 10,000lbs. I have 300hp/860tq and weigh loaded 24,000. I have excellent performance. Make sure it has a 6 speed tranny. I would look at coaches with full body paint. Nothing with decals that fade and peal. No rubber roofs, only fiberglass.

And last, weigh it before you buy it, and do the math to determine CCC and weight placement.

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Old 02-23-2009, 09:22 AM   #8
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I don't agree with having the seller change the oil etc. It's more important for the seller to have the service records and all the current manuals.

Check for any evidence of leaking from the roof to the plumbing. If you see mold - that can be a buy buster or if you are able to isolate the cause a price buster.

Check the engine for cleanliness, same for the drive train. If you see a lot of oil/grease anywhere keep shopping. If you test drive make sure the engine pulls strongly. Make sure the tranny shifts effortlessly. If the tranny hasn't been serviced regularly shop on.

Check the coach for overall cleanliness including the basement compartments. The stove, refrigerator, generator etc. A dirty MH is not a well maintained MH.

After you buy it depending upon it's age be prepared to change all the fluids, oil, antifreeze, tranny etc just to be on the safe side. Change the belts and hoses and probably the batteries. If you have a heater hose going to the water heater change it out. Now that you have done it or had it done you know for sure it has been done and done properly.

It's not to hard to find a good mechanic that works on the weekends on his own.

If you buy an older gas MH having an EFI engine is a big plus and be prepared to put a 3" exhaust on it, trackbars, steering dampers etc.

Check the awnings. If they have the aluminum covers a big plus.

You are in a buyers market I think this goes for just about everywhere. Here in So. Ca. they are super abundant.
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:58 AM   #9
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I don't know what your budget is, but you may be able to get a new or newer gasser for the same price as an older diesel. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. A lot also depends on your intended usage - weekends only or extended use or full-time use.

Another option is the FRED (FRont Engine Diesel) from Freightliner. The FRED has been around for several years. It gives you some of the advantages of a diesel at a lot lower price than a pusher. However, the FRED will be noisier than a pusher, but most owners say it is not objectionable. If you are used to a diesel pickup pulling a 5er, it might be similar.

Good luck in your search.

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