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Old 01-21-2011, 03:51 PM   #1
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Newbies about to purchase 1997 Safari Sahara

Looking for any feedback on the quality and reliability of a 97 safari sahara diesel pusher. 35'. joined the forum yesterday and started getting cold feet looking at the potential money pit an RV could become.
Is it possible to purchase a somewhat turnkey 97 Diesel pusher? or are we rolling the dice that the bus could die on the way home from the state we purchase it in. 300 HP diesel with ~40k miles on it which are barely breaking in the engine... Are there any common components which fail and need watching.

Any comments greatly appreciated
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:05 PM   #2
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97 Safari--40,000 miles. My first thought--What condition are the tires? Any cracks-rot sign? Can be a very expensive item and leave a bitter taste. I have been rv'ing in a motor coach for the past ten years and was using a fifth wheel trailer before that. Most of the time, I wish I had my trailer back--it was a lot cheaper to own and travel in. If this is your first coach, I would find a friend to help me look and make decisions. Even a cheap coach might be hard to sell if you were not happy.
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:17 PM   #3
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Welcome to iRV2. As with any used TV, tires are a very big concern. Check the date codes on the back side. Any thing in the 5 to 7 year old range needs to be replaced.

Next, maintenance records are a must.

Check the RV thoroughly for leaks and roof sealing.

If it passes muster on these items, have an independent RV technician check the unit and test all of the systems for proper operation. Have a chassis/engine tech check the chassis, engine and transmission.

A couple of rules:
Buyer beware.
Never believe the RV sales person.

Have fun checking it over.

ken
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:46 PM   #4
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Hi jsauger,
Welcome to iRV2. Lack of use, not abuse is the main threat to a low mileage coach that is over 10 years old. The big items need to be checked out by a certified tech.
For the chassis:
engine
tranny
rear end
air system
front end

Coach systems:
HVAC
generator
shore power
roof
side walls and end caps
plumbing
pump(s)
waste system (leaks?) Fill the waste tanks
fresh water tank (leaks") Fill the fresh water tank.
Refer (is it cold after 24 hours)
Leveling jacks (extend and retract)
Hot water tank
tires

There is a lot more, but these are the big items.

You are buying into a way of life. No matter what you purchase this way of life is not cheap. A horse, boat and motor coach; they all cost more than they should. That being said, you are buying memories. The value of the memories vs the cost of ownership must be weighed. I started driving class A coach in 1978. Now you know which (memories or cost) is more important to me.
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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Gary forgot to mention wives.

By far, they are the most expensive.

I made the same plunge, thank goodness a longtime friend was selling his rig as I was approaching the breaking point, dealing with dealer offerings.

My RV buddy who used to maintain motorhomes for a living put it best: "The ones that are used regularly are the best; and, never forget that rubber dies."

What he means is that a '97 driven 10,000 miles might be more of a challenge than one with 80,000 miles if the hoses, belts, and tires have been left alone on the former due to mileage. Ten year old rubber is like your grandma's knees: failure is imminent if pressure is put on 'em.

Good food for thought. The only other thing I can pass along: recently, dealers have been snapping up rigs at 60 cents on the wholesale dollar. As a buyer, you rule the market, no matter what they say. Take your time, and don't buy anything for more than wholesale NADA.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:44 PM   #6
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First off, welcome to the Mobile Insanity & yes they can be a money pit, butttttttttttttttttttt a very comfortable and convenient one that is very enjoyable. And as a very Satisfied 1997 Safari Serengeti M-4040 owner let me give you the first tip that I thought at the time, the most valuable!!! We Loyal Safari Nuts have our very own website (Yahoo User Group) and here's the link -- Safarifriends : To promote the exchange of information regarding SAFARI MOTORHOMES. Please join & in particular, go to the files section and download the PDF titled "Used MH Check List.pdf ". It is a bit long but extremely thorough. The folks there are very friendly and helpful. We shopped/looked for Safari's for almost a year before buying ours and used that checklist to go through about 12 Safari's. Another tip I got from the site was that most folks who were selling made a very common mistake using NADA/KBB in that they didn't realize that all of the various "Options" that they were ticking off were actually standard equipment and a part of the "Base Price." A least with the Serengeti's/Continentials, there were very few added options, most came from the factory fully loaded. We passed on two Serengeti's (M-4040 floor plan with the angled kitchen/bath wall) because the owners had unrealistically high & faulty Blue Book prices. The Safari site encouraged us to hang tough and lo & behold two months later we were driving away with ours at a decent and fair price.

And to be honest, we have had to do some catch up maintenance & fixes & updates (I'm kinda of a Gadget Junkie). My advise, look/inspect very closely at coaches with either high miles (100K +) or low miles (> 40K). Low milers have probably sat too long without any "Exercises." One item that sold us for our 82K coach was that it had all of the original documentation, and complete maintenance/upgrades documentation.

Oh, and I think/feel/believe these Safaris are/were so well built that they are probably better than a lot of others on the roads half their ages. Bottom line on a "Do Over" You Betcha!!!
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:46 PM   #7
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Duh on me, I forgot the Family Motorcoach Safari Chapter website that also has a bunch of good info/tips/references -- http://www.safari-international.org/
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:34 PM   #8
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NorCalNewbee - Safari motor homes are some good and some not so good. I checked and found that the 35' Sahara has a very short chassis. That may cause it to be tiring to drive and also be a handful in an emergency. The 37' Sahara comes with a much better chassis to house ratio.

We have close friends who bought an inexpensive 35' (Winny not Safari) 1998 about a year and a half ago. They did not pay much money and have used the heck out of it with little problem. If you are careful and check out the coach systems before you buy many older well taken care of coaches have years of life left in them.
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