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Old 01-02-2013, 11:04 AM   #1
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How many miles are too many for a motorhome?

We are only looking at diesels and the years we are looking at are 1997-2001 and we are finding anywhere from 20k miles to 120k on MH. How many miles are too many? I see it as a 2 sided sword, on one side if you buy a MH that is 15 years old with 20k miles chances are they didn't maintain it properly, it sat for a long time unused. On the other hand if you buy one with 111k miles it was used, hopefully maintained correct and didn't just sit and tor.

So exactly how important are miles when looking for a used diesel MH? Should it not be a worry? My thinking is more miles is not a bad thing.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:19 AM   #2
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"hopefully maintained correct"

A diesel can go 2 millions miles if it was properly maintained.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:19 AM   #3
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In either case, access to maintenance history and an independent inspection would go a long way toward reassuring me that I was making a good choice.

You see people here all the time that purchase a 100k plus DP and end up with a positive overall experience, same for others 'lucky' enough to find that 10 year old rig with only 12k miles. If properly stored a rig can survive the decades quite well, although I'd think in either scenario various seals, gaskets, belts and hoses tend to be more time sensitive regardless of use.

No matter what you end up with I suggest you try and keep a sizable reserve set aside for probable deferred maintenance or deterioration related issues.

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:26 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ArmyMPFromMO View Post
"hopefully maintained correct"

A diesel can go 2 millions miles if it was properly maintained.
My problem is 9/10 MH for sale are from a dealer, not private party. I have spoken with dozens of dealers from California to Florida and I all hear the same thing 'we would have loved to get detailed maintenance records but we never do'.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:27 AM   #5
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In either case, access to maintenance history and an independent inspection would go a long way toward reassuring me that I was making a good choice.

You see people here all the time that purchase a 100k plus DP and end up with a positive overall experience, same for others 'lucky' enough to find that 10 year old rig with only 12k miles. If properly stored a rig can survive the decades quite well, although I'd think in either scenario various seals, gaskets, belts and hoses tend to be more time sensitive regardless of use.

No matter what you end up with I suggest you try and keep a sizable reserve set aside for probable deferred maintenance or deterioration related issues.

Good luck!
This is why I am not shy of buying a MH with 100k + miles, they would have had to replace those hoses, belts etc because they were actually driving it on a regular basis. I am more scared about the one with 12k miles.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:33 AM   #6
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Well the diesel engine may go 2 million miles with a rebuild or two, but the stuff hanging on the engine does sometimes need repair and can be expensive. The chassis, brakes, air system, exhaust system, cooling system, electrical systems all will sustain wear and tear and involve some big bucks to execute the repair.

A rig with low miles may have been used as a full time concrete queen or stored with lack of attention to maintenance.

Many diesel engines are stored with little attention until they are needed. Farm and construction equipment would fit that description.

A concrete queen might be ok but the house portion may have visible wear.

5,000 miles per year would be average miles I would expect from routine use of most any vintage rig.

There really is no substitute for close visual inspection and expert inspection of the drive train and chassis where the big bucks hide.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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We have over 120K on our engine, 10 years old, going strong. Yes, we have had to replace some things - things wear out. Same as with a house. You didn't specify if you were going gas or diesel - - that is really a consideration when looking at miles.

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Old 01-02-2013, 11:52 AM   #8
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I agree, we will not be purchasing anything without a complete inspection. I have contacted a few RV mechanics and this ranges from $250-$500, do I need to call out a specific mechanic for the brand or motor? Do I call out 2 mechanices? One for the engine and the other for the motorhome?

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Well the diesel engine may go 2 million miles with a rebuild or two, but the stuff hanging on the engine does sometimes need repair and can be expensive. The chassis, brakes, air system, exhaust system, cooling system, electrical systems all will sustain wear and tear and involve some big bucks to execute the repair.

A rig with low miles may have been used as a full time concrete queen or stored with lack of attention to maintenance.

Many diesel engines are stored with little attention until they are needed. Farm and construction equipment would fit that description.

A concrete queen might be ok but the house portion may have visible wear.

5,000 miles per year would be average miles I would expect from routine use of most any vintage rig.

There really is no substitute for close visual inspection and expert inspection of the drive train and chassis where the big bucks hide.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:54 AM   #9
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We have over 120K on our engine, 10 years old, going strong. Yes, we have had to replace some things - things wear out. Same as with a house. You didn't specify if you were going gas or diesel - - that is really a consideration when looking at miles.

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:33 PM   #10
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Yes, in most cases you will need two technicians - one for the "house" and one for the chassis. Rarely will one person have both skills, though they may not be totally unknowledgeable about the other. For example, some Cummins Power locations have RV-trained techs who can do at least basic "house" stuff.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoafan View Post
My problem is 9/10 MH for sale are from a dealer, not private party. I have spoken with dozens of dealers from California to Florida and I all hear the same thing 'we would have loved to get detailed maintenance records but we never do'.
You're exactly right, getting the real story is extremely difficult unless you can buy from someone you know is truly maintaining it correctly. Buying is a crap shoot and the only thing you can do is your best research and have it evaluated from a professional as been previously stated.

Good luck and keep touch with us, it's amazing what you can pick up.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:46 PM   #12
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I am not really sure how good maintenance records are, they can be easily doctored, and I don't think you can predict when an injector may go south, a turbo, or even a bearing. Sometimes things wear out prematurely, and not due to a lack of maintenance. The only way you can know for sure is to look at the internal components, but that is also no guarantee a water pump won't go south, a piston won't crack, or a bearing spin. I look at anything mechanical with a grain of salt, if it moves, it is subject to breaking. Most rigs don't get enough miles on them in a year to service by miles, most of the time it is yearly. I am not sure missing a year will have that much of an effect on internal wear considering most engines will never see 1/2 of it's expected service life in an RV.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:12 PM   #13
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Having purchased two MH in the past two years I don't feel any dealer selling a used MH will give you copies of repair orders or any document that has the previous owner's name and address. They don't want you to talk to the previous owner in the first place. My two experiences support that statement but I'm sure some will find exceptions. Sales people will tell you stories and say things like the tires only have 8k on them and when you look at the tires the tread is like new. Now check the DOT date code. In our experience with the current DP the salesman said the tires "only" had 8k on them but the date code showed they were 8 years old and I was too stupid to pick up on that. I firmly believe and support the idea of two inspections, the "house" and the driveline. You may spend some bucks up front but IMO it is worth the dollars. Having two inspectors come to look at a used MH on the dealer's lot may be an issue the next time we buy.

We'll see next time when we go looking at used tag axle coaches.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:39 PM   #14
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Motor homes are built on what amounts to a truck chassis, most of that (the improtant parts) are built to truck standards. There is some 'Wiggle" on shocks, and tires but that's about all. (More comfortable ride)

Many Semi truck drivers do 150,000 miles a year and have tractors that are several years old. And hauling that big trailer is way harder on the tractor than your light weight motor home.. I mean that for a well built truck, Your motor home is somewhere between "bobtail" (Tractor, not trailer) and "Deadhead" (Trailer empty)
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