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Old 01-13-2016, 10:17 AM   #1
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Motor Home Chassis/Engine Inspection

We've looked at several different motor homes over the last three months and unfortunately haven't found any that passed our first inspection--they all had water leaks. We never even got to doing a detailed inspection of the coach systems or the drive train and engine. We'll use the sticky PDI checklist for that if we ever get to that point.

Each time we've gone to look at a coach, I've found a diesel repair place local to the coach and arranged for them to potentially do an inspection of the chassis and engine. Here's a list of things I've asked them to check out.

Chassis:
check condition of steering gear and front end components including ball joints, tie rod ends, king pin, drag link, Pittman arm, sway bar or any other steering components. Check for looseness and damaged boots.
condition of any bushings
suspension--shocks leaking and air bag condition
brakes and brake linings (remove wheels)
air system including dryer and filter
frame-corrosion or damage

Engine:
General condition
check for engine or transmission leaks
check for engine or transmission codes
check exhaust manifold for leaks (Cummins 8.3)
cooling system including fan operation
electrical system

Are there any other things I should have them look at if I find a coach that pass our first look?
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Old 01-13-2016, 10:57 AM   #2
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If a coach passes the above checking, I'd then pull the fluids and send in for analysis.

The other comment, is I would also have (and you may have this) a list of chassis characteristics determined up front, and not go look at coaches that did not have the chassis/engine combo that meets what you want.

For example, you may decide on:
-IFS
-Side radiator
-Tag
-Power to weight ratio of 100 per HP

(These are just examples, only you as a potential buyer, can determine the chassis engine parameters that matter to you.)

This would limit the number of coaches to go spend your time researching and spending money on...

Best of ongoing luck on your hunt,
Smitty
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:36 AM   #3
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My checklist is pretty simple:

If there's a button, switch or knob... activate it and make sure something good happens.

usually checks out most of the important stuff.
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty77 View Post
If a coach passes the above checking, I'd then pull the fluids and send in for analysis.

The other comment, is I would also have (and you may have this) a list of chassis characteristics determined up front, and not go look at coaches that did not have the chassis/engine combo that meets what you want.

For example, you may decide on:
-IFS
-Side radiator
-Tag
-Power to weight ratio of 100 per HP

(These are just examples, only you as a potential buyer, can determine the chassis engine parameters that matter to you.)

This would limit the number of coaches to go spend your time researching and spending money on...

Best of ongoing luck on your hunt,
Smitty
We already have that list Smitty, I'm looking at stuff I want a mechanic to check out before we seal the deal.
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Todd157k View Post
My checklist is pretty simple:

If there's a button, switch or knob... activate it and make sure something good happens.

usually checks out most of the important stuff.
That's a good idea, but I'm worried about stuff you normally don't see under the chassis or in the engine bay.
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:09 PM   #6
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If it starts and runs smooth and passes the tests you listed I would feel pretty good. On my cat the technician did a cylinder cut out test. That checks each cylinder for power contribution (is each contributing the same amount of power to the engine). This can indicate a fuel injector problem
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Old 01-13-2016, 02:04 PM   #7
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That's a good idea, but I'm worried about stuff you normally don't see under the chassis or in the engine bay.
Getting in a vehicle and going for a spin will generally give you a good indication of things.

Stick your head underneath and look for fluid leaks, or rust, or broken/hanging bits. Test everything inside to make sure it all works. Look at the belts to see if they are cracked. If you've tested everything in the coach and it all works as it should; then you drove the coach and it gave you the warm and fuzzies then I'd say you're 90% of the way there. Couple that with a thorough visual inspection and really all your looking for after that are the low probability gremlins that, if present, will only manifest themselves when properly tested.

Make sure to get up on the roof and check the sealing material. Check the condition of things like the shower dome and A/C covers. Over time they can become brittle and crack, causing leaks. Check the ceiling inside for any evidence of water seeping through around the roof cap.

Test the transfer switch to make sure it works, which will also include testing the generator. Make sure the hot water heater heats up and delivers clean, hot water while not dumping excess hot water out the side of the rig (if the temp/pressure valve is bad it will dump water).

Run your tests of the water system using the on-board pump, not the city hookup. Listen for the pump to cycle. It should get up to pressure and stop. It shouldn't cycle again until you use water somewhere. If it does then something, somewhere, isn't right.

If you start encountering problems with systems that can be a quick indication of the level of care the coach has received. Someone who can't be bothered to change some blown light bulbs or fix some dried out Dicor likely can't be bothered to take it to a proper diesel service center for an annual check up either.
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Old 01-13-2016, 02:09 PM   #8
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BTW: a competent tech shouldn't need you to give them a list of things to check. They should already know.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scatterbrain View Post
Getting in a vehicle and going for a spin will generally give you a good indication of things.

Stick your head underneath and look for fluid leaks, or rust, or broken/hanging bits. Test everything inside to make sure it all works. Look at the belts to see if they are cracked. If you've tested everything in the coach and it all works as it should; then you drove the coach and it gave you the warm and fuzzies then I'd say you're 90% of the way there. Couple that with a thorough visual inspection and really all your looking for after that are the low probability gremlins that, if present, will only manifest themselves when properly tested.

Make sure to get up on the roof and check the sealing material. Check the condition of things like the shower dome and A/C covers. Over time they can become brittle and crack, causing leaks. Check the ceiling inside for any evidence of water seeping through around the roof cap.

Test the transfer switch to make sure it works, which will also include testing the generator. Make sure the hot water heater heats up and delivers clean, hot water while not dumping excess hot water out the side of the rig (if the temp/pressure valve is bad it will dump water).

Run your tests of the water system using the on-board pump, not the city hookup. Listen for the pump to cycle. It should get up to pressure and stop. It shouldn't cycle again until you use water somewhere. If it does then something, somewhere, isn't right.

If you start encountering problems with systems that can be a quick indication of the level of care the coach has received. Someone who can't be bothered to change some blown light bulbs or fix some dried out Dicor likely can't be bothered to take it to a proper diesel service center for an annual check up either.

I'm having those systems checked by an RV inspector.
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