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Old 04-24-2014, 06:15 PM   #1
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Motorhome purchase advice

Well I am a newbie here wow a guy could spend hours on here! Anyway as we get closer to retirement we plan on purchasing a used class a motorhome . We would like to spend between 20 and 40 k . Our purchase won't be for a few years yet but we want to make the right choice . Would like at least one slide and from 28 to 34 foot long. I guess my question for starters is, would it be better to buy from a dealer or a private party? At a dealer if after a few days we find a problem we would have somewhere to take it back to, private owner your on your own. A private party might be cheaper because there is no salesman to get his commission . Any advice would be appreciated

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Old 04-24-2014, 06:23 PM   #2
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If you are not familiar with RV's and what to look for I would hire someone or if you have a knowledgeable friend the knows these things, take them with you. There is junk at dealers that they try to pawn off as good (had a salesman try it on me) and the same with private sales. It is hard to say where you would get a better deal. A private owner may be higher because they need to pay off their loan over a dealer. Or a dealer may try to retire off you. The best thing to do is research as you are doing and try to get a list together on things you want and need. Even rent one to see what works and does not work for you. There are sooooooo many aspects to this hobby and everyone has their own set of needs and wants.

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Old 04-24-2014, 06:34 PM   #3
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Either way could be a crap shoot just do your homework and find out what you can get with your budget and go from there.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:06 PM   #4
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I guess I should add that we have had travel trailers all our married life, so we know our way somewhat around an rv, they all seem to have the same water heaters, fridges, stove, furnace ac units etc. so then it comes down to diesel or gas leaning towards gas as we just really want to snow bird in Florida from wisc. for 3 or 4 months then head back home. Thanks to everyone keep the advice coming...
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:17 PM   #5
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I wouldn't count on being able to take it back to the dealer with any problems unless you plan on paying for the repairs yourself. unless you buy an extended warranty or are given a warranty all used rv sales are "as is". some dealers may help you out a little but most will not.

in the older vintage lower priced motorhomes I would most definitely be looking at gas. just too many high priced systems on the diesels that could turn your 20k investment into much more than that.
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 89sandman View Post
I wouldn't count on being able to take it back to the dealer with any problems unless you plan on paying for the repairs yourself. unless you buy an extended warranty or are given a warranty all used rv sales are "as is". some dealers may help you out a little but most will not.

in the older vintage lower priced motorhomes I would most definitely be looking at gas. just too many high priced systems on the diesels that could turn your 20k investment into much more than that.
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:59 PM   #7
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Since you have experience with most of the equipment from your TT Days, I would strongly suggest you check the tire age before purchasing.

If your purchasing from a Dealer or Private Party and the tires are over 5 years old, get them to knock down the price as your going to need to put new tires on shortly or immediately after the purchase and they are a big ticket item.

I purchased "Used" from a Dealer and I paid something like $150 to have them inspect and repair or at least bring to my attention anything that need repair/replacement and show me how everything worked as it was my 1st experience with any type RV. First trip I have house battery problems, took the MH to a RV Repair shop much closer to my home then the dealer and found all 4 6V batteries shot. Replaced them and presented the Dealer with the info and a report form the Repair Shop and they reimbursed me for the Batteries and fired the Tech in their shop who said he had inspected them and found them good.

It was not until a few months later here on IRV2 that I learned about tire age, because the tires looked great tread and sidewall wise. Tires were 11 years old, so off they came, but I could not go back to the dealer at that point and I was more concerned with my family safety then money.

Just something for you to think about, it is so easy to over look something.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:55 AM   #8
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I agree with what everyone say's dealer vs private owner. If purchased through a dealer I would see about an extended waranty. If purchased from an individual I would seek out a RV dealer near by and have them inspect as a condition of purchase. That way you will have at lease done as much as you could to protect your self. I agree with some of the bells and whistle's there is a lot of things that can go wrong, although some of them are nice features to have.

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Old 04-25-2014, 11:08 AM   #9
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I retire in a short 5 weeks from now and I too have been looking a purchasing a used class A. For us (DW and I), were are looking for a 10 year old, 40ft or more, DP like a Mountain Aire or similar for around $100K.

I have been doing a great deal of research for and noted that not only is there a considerable price difference between many dealer and private sale (asking) prices, but you are also competing again dealers for the well priced private untis on the market.

Though it has been 30 years since we owned a class C, we did rental a motorhome for a short vacation a year ago to help remind ourselves of some of the RV issues. I am also fortunate to be mechanically inclined and even if my back and knees don't lend well to self maintenance, I can at least do some of the maintenance and understand when a tradesperson is doing a job correctly and fairly or not.

I personally would not place to much faith in after sales support by a dealer, especially when working with a motorhome in that price range. Some may be very earnest but I expect they may be in the minority. You will lso find that many of the top line dealers may not keep used stock in that price range but will instead farm them out to smaller second tier dealers, again lowering the likelihood of significant after sales support.

Whichever way you choose to go, be sure to have an independent technician check it out, whether you are buying from a dealer or private party. It will likely cost you $300 to $400 dollars but not only will it give you peace of mind but also a valuable negotiating tool to help you get what you are paying for.

I also suggest that, if you ave not already done so, create a "must & want list". I have one that lists all the non-gotiable specifications and feature we feel our motorhome "must" have as well as the features and components we "want" or would be nice to have. I find this especially useful for keeping my eye on the target, to hold out for the right rig.

Personally, I am looking at dealers and private but my expectation is that I'll end up with a private seller.

Good luck in your quest.
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:32 PM   #10
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Lots of good advice here thanks to everyone! I am leaning towards buying from a dealer, I will have them put new tires on right away for starters, and I will want to see all the systems working, furnace ac water pump gen set etc, if anything needs repaired or replaced I will request that right away. As I look around it looks like I will be going more for the 40 to 45 k range but we will see . Right now floor plan is high on the list being as we will be living in it for 4 months or so at a time.
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Old 04-26-2014, 11:06 AM   #11
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I like private party because you meet the owners and can gauge a lot from that alone. The coach we intend to purchase is owned by a couple who keep everything they own very meticulously. You can see this when you look at their other things like the cars, house, etc. We looked a quite a few at dealers. One we looked at was nice on the inside but I think it spent its life at the beach, underneath was completely rotted away including the frame. Dealer had a unit from the same manufacturer with a different floor plan (less expensive) to the one we are looking at and it was a year newer. Coach was obviously not well taken care of, was dirty inside and had the original tires. Inside the lower storage was dirty as well. It didn't look like it had ever been waxed. They were asking $20K more than the one we are interested in.

I would just keep looking, usually the cream puffs will show up if you look hard enough. There is no guarantee with any of them, but at least if you find an owner who took a lot of pride in the coach you reduce your odds of having issues.
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:45 PM   #12
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I think there are different ways to go about it based on each person's own preference. I believe there are reputable big name RV dealers out there that one could trust and feel confident that they truly inspected and fixed everything on the coach to make it as close to new as possible. But that assurance and peace of mind will cost you plenty, yet some feel more comfortable going that route.

I sort of go the opposite route when I buy vehicles of any sort. I look a long time and get input regarding the make, year, models etc to sort out what coaches I find top of the line and/or highly dependable in that they will last "forever" if they have been kept up. I like older, but very high end vehicles. I always buy from a private party who is a one owner or at least as owned it for a long time. I want to be able to hear direct from the owner the history of the RV, see what all he has done to keep it up especially most recently. When I find a low mileage one that appears very well cared for (and you get a sense of this as you see dozens and dozens of them), I then go over it and the best I can find those little things that don't work (and they're always there no matter who and how well it has been kept). Things like age of tires, batteries, condition of appliances are generally easy to ascertain. Any of the obvious big items that will cost thousands to fix or replace are immediately negotiated off the asking price. IF I find the home to be "me" and I really can see myself living and being comfortable with this one, then I will make an offer which I feel is fair for both parties, knowing full well that no matter how nice it looks and shape it is in, that I will immediately spend thousands more to get it fixed up to my satisfaction and taste.

I don't mind spending that initial few thousands to get the RV to perfection by my standards. I just consider this as part of my initial cost to buy the RV. My peace of mind and happiness comes in the fact that I got a top quality (even though it may be older) coach and it is now in as perfect condition as any out there. Of course I have a trusted mechanic that immediately goes through the whole thing and gets my OK to fix and do whatever it takes to make it "right", including installing the new tires all around. After my own mechanic has done his thing for a week or so, and while he has it, I make an appt at Camping World for adding, upgrading, updating, etc anything that would be less mechanical and more about the coach itself, ie. new bigger toilet (a must), new or better ceiling fans and/or rain covers, new antenna/satelitte, etc. These last things are usually just personal upgrades for more comfort and modernization.

Next is a trip to Best Buy to install a new Sirius XM radio and antenna for such. Then its on to my local and wonderful Car Wash/Detail shop for a complete outside detail to make it shine like new and protect the paint in the future. Then must find a custom paint specialist to inscribe what I want onto the back of the coach, like the name I give it, favorite saying, website, or whatever.

Next it is on home for my own work: detailing the inside, thorough carpet and upholstery cleaning, fixing or touching up any minor scratches, scrubbing down the whole inside top to bottom with pine sol et al, and decorating to my colorful taste, including a trip to Costco for new TVs to go with the wall mounts I have already ordered through Amazon, new memory foam bed topper of some sort, new sheets, blankets, or whatever.

To me, one of the best things about this approach is that I am learning about my new coach, getting to know it inside and out, much more than just buying a new one and driving off into the sunset hoping you never have to deal with any of these things.

Have I left anything out? Well, now that I have it "perfect" and wonderfully mine in every way, it is time to sell it to the highest bidder. NO, NO, I mean its time to take off and enjoy the rest of my life in it. I do wonder who one day I will leave it to in my will. I don't have any relatives left alive, no family, or close friends. Anyone have any suggestions as to who might want and cherish my only possession of value?

PS. By the way, this was easy to write for I am just now part way through doing all these things to my "new" '85 Vogue Elite.
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Old 04-27-2014, 05:29 AM   #13
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Just to add one thought even though I don't yet have a coach. I also take a list of the recalls and ask about each as we walk around the coach. For the coach I am currently pursuing, each time I asked he showed me the fix and every recall or know "issue" to that particular coach was taken care of. For example, I am looking at a Newmar and spent a lot of time in the Newmar owners forums picking up owner issues that I could then check on the coach.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:36 AM   #14
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"HAVE A PROFESSIONAL SURVEY DONE" Unless you are an expert on all the systems of an RV. $300 to find most of the problems makes for a cheap walk away if need arises.


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