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Old 01-22-2008, 06:41 AM   #1
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We want to purchase a motorhome and join the ranks of the fulltimers - however I have a question. As I search the internet for used RV's that match our selection criteria - I find the majority of them are not close to where I am located in the Seattle area. It appears that most are in the southeast or southwest. So how does one purchase a unit when the located in a different area of the country - I can not afford to fly all over the place to look at and inspect them and come to terms on price?


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Old 01-22-2008, 06:41 AM   #2
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We want to purchase a motorhome and join the ranks of the fulltimers - however I have a question. As I search the internet for used RV's that match our selection criteria - I find the majority of them are not close to where I am located in the Seattle area. It appears that most are in the southeast or southwest. So how does one purchase a unit when the located in a different area of the country - I can not afford to fly all over the place to look at and inspect them and come to terms on price?


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Old 01-22-2008, 07:42 AM   #3
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We bought one remotely, it was in Albuquerque and we live in Cal.

We started off exchanging lots of pictures via email. This was followed by several phone calls getting a 'warm fuzzy' on the seller.

We finally made a provisional deal based on the accuracy of the pictures and the converstaions. We then flew to ABQ, did the deal and had a wonderful vacation on the way back, including Chaco canyon.

We flew out with minimal stuff for the MoHo. We spent the first night at a super WalMart cleaning to our standards and equiping (minimum again) it for the trip home.

Part of our remote buy was driven by the fact that my wife had locked on a very unusual model. It is a 1998 Tioga 19A which is the shortest real class C that I am aware of. It was the last year of this model and the only one with the V10.

Out experience was good, do your diligence and be ready to walk if it doesn't smell right.
2001 Winnebago Adventurer, 35U, W-20 8.1
F+R Trac bars, F+R sway bars, SafTsteer, F Sumo Springs, 4 Koni FSDs

2007 Forest River Lexington Ford E450 Chassis
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Old 01-22-2008, 10:47 AM   #4
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bill Moss:
We want to purchase a motorhome and join the ranks of the fulltimers..[QUOTE]
Be certain that the unit you choose can actually
be lived in with no ill effects to both your family and the rig.

Some are known leakers of very bad chemicals into the air inside, from the glues and products
used to build it. And others say, right in the
Owner's Manual: Not for extended occupancy..
The very moisture of you breathing inside them cause the wallpapers to come off, among other very bad things, like de-lamination and warpage.

Just a heads-up..and MHO..
Steady Eddie/1999 KSCA 3357/P12 Chassis/454 Vortec L-21

Allison transmisson
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Old 01-22-2008, 12:50 PM   #5
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I just, a month and a half, did just that. Was set to purchase in WI but the weather closed in. And found one in OR. Ask for lots of pictures and records, get ???? together and phone Talk and Talk and Talk some more. Get together on a price With the deal being as advertised and presented. Ask whats wrong as well as whats right. Then spend at least a day looking it over and test every little detail. Make sure every thing works. Then fly- drive to pick it up. If you don't want to inspect get an inspection and then agree on a price. a couple hundred for an inspection can save a lot later.

2004 Clss C 31' Winnebgo
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:51 AM   #6
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The benefit of buying used and choosing from inventory out of your area is you can save a bundle and there is more inventory to choose from. So if you have to spend a few dollars on travel it is worth it. And probably the least amount you will spend when doing the RV Lifestyle!

You can use the approach that others haved suggested. You can also go to an area like Phoenix, Tucson, or Southern Cal, where there are huge inventories of RV's, shop, have it checked out and make a deal, all in a week or so.

Another option is a big RV rally, like the FMCA rally coming up in Pamona in Feb. There will be probably 1000 or more coaches there to view and buy. At the Regional FMCA in Indio a couple of weeks ago I was surprised at all the used coaches on display by dealers. If you are interested in buying from a dealer, you can use this as a screening and they will let you know what else they have. (They are not shy!)

Being from Seattle, I know there is little to choose from there, esp. this time of year. Head South and you will be amazing what you have to choose from. Given the ecomony and fuel prices, their are great deals to be had/made.

Good luck in your search for the "perfect" motorhome.
Joe in Seattle; winter at Motorcoach CC, Indio, CA
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Old 01-24-2008, 03:58 PM   #7
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A very good point is made by Steady Eddie with respect to off-gassing of construction materials.For example,the second last MH that we owned,needed IMHO, a few modifications in my laneway after we arrived home with it.After two hours with heat on and the rig closed up,I developed a raw throat which was repeated over the next few days any time I spent any significant length of time in the MH.The prevaling material of construction was CHIPBOARD and this was probably the single contributing factor most reponsible for the throat irritation.Be aware that this sort of toxicity can be manifest in other organs with very bad outcomes.
04 Southwind 37C W22

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Old 01-24-2008, 05:28 PM   #8
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Interesting about the materials thing. I didn't think of that. We researched as many as we could online since the local dealers were out of our price range. We found some in Texas which is where we finally bought ours. The Recycler online is a good source.

I had a few issues to deal with on our maiden voyage back home but some were due to the coach sitting unused on the lot while others were due to neglect, age and manufacturing. None have been unsurmountable though and we like it very much.

Look Here

Look at my post (#3) and see what I have been up to.

Take your time (unlike us who tend to jump into the water head first with the sharks circling... )

1998 Gulfstream 36' Sun Voyager Bus Platinum
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Old 01-24-2008, 05:34 PM   #9
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We bought ours remote also.

I have bought and sold a few vehicles on Ebay, and I guess that warmed me up somewhat to the idea. I didn't have a problem there, and really didn't expect one buying through a distant dealer, but I was cautious.

It isn't a process to take lightly, but I wouldn't let it be a barrier if you find the right deal. What other posters said about getting plenty of pictures and several phone conversations plays a big part of that, as well as reviews and talking with people who own a similar unit, so you know what to expect when looking at it.

I recommend buying it through a dealer who does internet or who has handled long distance sales. Most of the big ones have a lot of repeat customers from far away. If it is a private seller, I would defiantly make sure you have that warm fuzzy feeling before leaving.

After your decided, make sure you have you stuff in order before you consider going out to make the deal. Financing, title/license, and insurance are the big three, but also have a backup plan for the little things like who/how are you going to get from the airport to the dealer/seller? where are you gonna sleep when the deal falls through, etc. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but plan for the worst case.

In our deal, I was making a deal on a different unit closer to us that just wasn't panning out when we stumbled across another unit similar to that one. I called the dealer in NC (we were in IL at the time) and he was frank that I wouldn't be happy with the one I called about. Being insistent, he sent pics, and I saw why. I was ready to walk away and he told me about the unit we are in now. I was reluctant at the time since it was a bit more than I originally wanted to spend, but the combination of him being aggressive, and putting together a really good deal, we took a second look.

The dealer sent the specs, pictures, and we went to work looking at if we wanted to pursue it further by doing research on the make and model. I was lucky to have several friends that have current and past model Winnebago's and they were very knowledgeable, and helpful in outlining areas to watch for on my PDI.

We decided we wanted it, we made a "conditional deal" in which we also were trading our current unit. That meant we had to tow it to NC, and figure out how to tow the truck back. Part of our conditional deal was that if the unit was not as advertised and disclosed that the defects would be corrected in the time we had alloted or the deal was off and the dealer was to pay our fuel costs, and wages for time off work. We had this in writing on the original purchase offer. The dealer also helped get us awesome financing, all done over the phone and through a fax.

We arrived in NC, they had sites arranged at a campground next door, in which they comped for us without even telling us they would do that (we had already made reservations at the same place... when I went in to register/pay they said "Mr. Moder/Etnyre, here is your site, enjoy your stay and the dealer has taken care of this for you". They knew us when we walked in the door, which was a super warm fuzzy for me!

Our salesman stayed late to greet us, and let us walk through the unit the night we arrived. We we tired, he suggested a restaurant, and told us what to expect in the morning, and we went our separate ways to relax and unwind from the marathon drive.

The next AM, he greeted us, and we did the walk through with a tech. I found a few things, and they took care of the minor ones, and made arrangements to get the parts for the slide out awning sent to us. Our big complaint came in here, the unit was filthy. I have no doubt that he would have had it cleaned up if I would have made a big stink, but we didn't have time, and it wasn't worth the fight at this point. Pretty much everything at this point was either fixed or arranged, and we were for the most part happy.

The dealer did fill the unit with propane, and diesel, did a fresh PM on the trans, engine, chassis, and genny, and took it to an alignment shop as part of the deal. This was all done before we arrived, and documented.

After a full day of signing and inspecting, we were wiped out, but took the unit to the site next to us to prepare for the marathon move. I swear this part was harder the the whole deal was. It took us 8 hours to move all our junk out of a smaller unit and find the right spot in the bigger unit. Being full-timers it wasn't an easy process, since we literally had all we owned with us...

After the move out and in, we cleaned up the old unit, and started cleaning the new unit. I worked on finishing the wiring for the truck and familiarizing myself with our new home and ride.

We had a relatively trouble free ride home, with our only problems related to being new motor home owners, and not fully understanding how to properly drive the Frieghtliner/Allison rear radiator combo.

The downfall of buying from a distant dealer is service. Once your out the door, your gone. Hence the need to be a very informed buyer, and do a very good PDI. Because of the age of our unit, and the fact that the engine and trans were out of warranty, we opted for an extended service contract, which I normally don't agree to. The dealer also cut us a pretty good deal on that coming in less than 1/4 of the initial price he quoted us (about another $1200 for a two year 'Gold' agreement), again, something you should seriously look into the company and specifics before you buy.

If it is a private seller, you will need to be a bit more tenacious about arrangements. I tend to feel the more that I can control the better the outcome, ie leave less to other people, and less goes wrong. In the end it will come down to your gut feeling about it all.

I certainly wouldn't let distance come between a good used unit, just be careful.

"It's always wrong, everywhere, for anyone, to believe anything beyond insufficient evidence" -- William Kingdon Clifford

John (N9MXX) & Derek (KC9KEM)
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:06 PM   #10
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congrats on your newer coach and having a safe trip home
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:44 AM   #11
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We too are new to MHing. Having been retired for a few years I had been wanting to join this life style for years. DW was reluctant. Then, last summer for some unknown reason she came around - on the concept. but we were not in agreement on the RV. She wanted a trailer, I wanted a MH. Finally, I agreed but insisted that we needed an Airstream. DW had heard that AS would have less storage because of the curved ceiling, but gave in and we started looking. A few days later I walked in the house and was informed that she had found an AS MH on E-Bay and the price was attractive.

I reviewed the E-Bay listing, compared the Buy It Now price to NADA book prices and determined that it was a fair price. We called the owners and got a pretty warm fuzy feeling and agreed on a deal, assuming that everything was as represented. The unit was up by Chicago representing a two day trip for us, so with our best friends in tow to drive the car back we headed up that way.

When we arrived we toured the unit and checked it out. Being an older unit we found lots of minor things that needed attention, but apparently the major stuff was well cared for. There was a new fridg, toilet, and the interior was well kept and attractive. We bought it.

We knew up front that two tires needed replacement and the sellers helped on that.

Our first trip out we were in a rain storm and discovered some leaks. We were just sick and seriously considered trying to unload the thing! However, once we got past the emotional part of that we found the leak repair to be pretty simple. We have spent considerable money on bringing the unit towards our standards, but slowly. This includes new mattress, awning, $800 in windshield repair. Clearly the previous owners had little mechanical aptitude but did understand the necessity of maintaining the major items.

All in all, we feel we saved a lot of money by buying used and buying from an individual. Surely, had we bought from a dealer we would have paid more, and things may not have been any different. buy correcting a lot of small stuff i have become more familiar with the unit as a whole and have great confidence that it really is a solid unit.

Bottom line from my perspective: Buying used (particularly without a warranty) is risky. There are no free lunches, and the best deals generally require a degree of risk. If you can't handle the risk you would be better off buying new from a reputable dealer. If you can do some of the work yourself, buying a used unit that requires a little TLC and save some bucks.
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:18 PM   #12
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I am also a buyer on Ebay. I did as everyone else has described. Talk, talk, talk and then talk some more. Lots of pictures were sent my way and the dealer described everything that I could think of to ask about. Finally in one of the final question/answer sessions, I just asked, is everything working? The dealer said that it was and that anything that was not to my satisfaction would be made right while I was there to pick up the unit. As someone else has said before, I would only deal with a dealer who has sold thru the internet and the feedback is 100% OK --- the dealer that I dealt with met those criteria. We put down a small ($1,000.00) deposit on the unit and flew from Atlanta to Dallas, TX to see the unit. When we got there, it was as described -- the only flaws were minor road chips on the front end (the dealer had sent me pics of this and had disclosed). All items on the MH worked with no problems.

Someone else has mentioned that there is a problem with the dealer being a long way from where you live. In my case, the dealer was over 900 miles away. I did purchase a 4 year, 40,000 mile extended warranty for the unit (the dealer and I split the cost on the warranty). So far I have had two repairs of a major type on the unit and the warranty policy covered both -- I have actually almost recovered all of my cost of the warranty. Since the dealer was not close to me, I started going to Cummins South which is very close to me -- they are a coach care center. My Ultimate Advantage has a Cummins engine and a Spartan chassis -- Cummins South supports both of these. You probably can find a similiar situation close to you so that aleviates the problem with the dealer being so far away.

Just research your dealer, get the pics, and talk alot. Lots of luck on making your purchase !!!!

Dave and Karen -- '02 Ultimate Advantage 36 C, 350 HP Cummins, Allison 3060 Tranny
'07 Ford Escort, Brake Master 4160, '13 Ford Edge, InvisiBrake
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