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Old 07-23-2015, 01:00 PM   #1
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Urgent PDI Question from Noob

Hi. I go by Bill, or Mild Bill (since the Army in 1977). I am 100% new to RVs but retired early and am jumping in with both feet.

Friday I am scheduled to evaluate and buy a super clean, three axle, single slider, 1994 37' Newmar Mountain Aire w/62k miles. It has the Banks Power kit and drives great. My mechanical skills and toolbox is "not bad" but a disability limits me.

My first of many questions for the forum:

Does the rig need a professional evaluation for RV systems and/or the Ford drivetrains and chassis?

Or is it enough that I personally follow the wonderful and very thorough PDI Checklist listed on the FAQ page?



Sorry for the rush but I thought I posted this days ago.

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Old 07-23-2015, 01:12 PM   #2
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Since you indicate you are new to RV's I would be hesitant to fly solo on this. An older RV will have specific things that need to be looked at to confirm condition. In particular brakes and drive train, these would cost you the most if they failed. I would recommend an oil analysis on both engine and transmission, and possibly the coolant. These could tell you of significant problems that are hidden to the eye.

Jim J
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:16 PM   #3
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Bill, do you have an experienced RVer and friend who can walk through your RV with you? If this experienced friend is also an automotive mechanic, that would be a God-send.

Most definitely do NOT go through this process without someone(s) who have a lot of experience and expertise in RVs and automotive systems.
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:42 PM   #4
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No local mechanical friends.

$650 to check out RV items.
Calling for price for Ford drive train evaluation.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:23 PM   #5
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I think based on the fact you have a tool box... You should be fine to evaluate the "chassis" part of the equation..

Basically, if you're competent enough to buy a car, you shouldn't have too much of an issue purchasing an RV with a gas chassis.. if it were diesel.. well, that's a whole 'nother set of rules..

As for the "coach" portion... The number one question I would ask; when was the last time the RV was used on an extended camping trip? I think this is a pretty valuable piece of information..
  • If the answer is a year or longer.. well, you better bring out your Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass and go over that rig with a fine tooth comb... Having any system sit for extended periods of time is not good.. without having a good working knowledge of RV systems, you may want to get a professional involved
  • If the answer is less than 6 months.. I would think having the current owner go thru each system and actually demonstrate it working could be good enough..
That means:
  • Running the generator with load (AC units) - let run for more than 5 minutes if possible
  • Running everything electric - both via shore power and generator
  • Running water thru the system (Both city connection and holding tank operations)
  • Turn on and run the stove burners/microwave/convection oven/oven
  • Toilet operations - flushing clean water is fine - let him "dump" all that clean water in his lawn to show you there are no issues in the wet bay
  • Running the furnace
  • Go onto the roof and check all seams and caulking.. look for any damage
Basically... run everything the RV has to offer both on generator and shore power.. run water to every faucet and/or shower.. and if you're a complete newbie.. video tape the current owner doing it so you have a reference on how to do something.. spend specific time on the wet bay.. how to run water from the city, how to run water from the holding tank.. While doing this portion... try to be on clean dry pavement so you can see if any water is leaking underneath the RV while testing all water systems..

Obviously on the chassis part.. ask for records.. belt changes, filter changes, tune up's... anything you'd ask if you were buying a new car.. and don't fall for the "mileage" answer.. all the above need to be changed based on mileage AND/OR time... usually its "time" with RV's..

MOST IMPORTANT ---> find date codes of the tires (even check the inner duals of the rear)... If they are past 5 years, you may be able to use that as a bargaining tool.. they will need to be replaced soon and that is no cheap date... and it doesn't matter how good they look.. or how few miles are on them.. the UV rays ruin RV tires, not mileage..

Finally... I didn't notice your location.. maybe if you let people know where you're at, someone from IRV2 will spend a couple hours free of charge.. I know I would if you lived in my area (Milwaukee, WI)..

Finally.. keep in mind.. you are buying a 20yr old house and car.. no matter how well you inspect it.. things will go wrong.. it's inevitable.. especially when you start driving it and it bounces down the road... don't be discouraged.. just make sure you have a "warranty fund" you can dip into should the need arise..

Good luck !!!
Eric & Denise
2012 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2010 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:49 PM   #6
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X's 2 what oakcreekeric said,
That was an excellent response. Heed what he said. Great information.

You can see from my signature my location. I'm a certified technician and retired automotive teacher. I'd help if you are even somewhat close. Just put out the word.

TeJay Auto Instructor/4-yrs USAF/ Liz: RN/ WBGO 2014 Vista 30T/ F-53/CHF/5-Star/Koni * Bella & Izzy * Golden /Cocker mix/ Louie The Cat* All Retired
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:39 PM   #7
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Welcome to the world of RVing and irv2, Bill.
Here is the Newmar PDI for a new coach and here is one for a older coach.
Here is information for your third axel and braking system.
1994 MACA Brochure
Good luck with your PDI.
98KSCA, 99MACA, 03 KSCA-3740- 8.1 Chev-- ALLISON Trans, now in good hands
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:23 PM   #8
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Urgent PDI Question from Noob

While you may feel the cost of a professional inspection is high, compared to the cost of repaired of things missed by a newbie it could pay for itself.

The initial cost and any findings could be negotiated in the final price if you decide to buy.

I suggest you check or call http://nrvia.org for a professional third party inspector.

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Old 07-23-2015, 05:54 PM   #9
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Thanks guys. Especially of course oakcreekeric!!!

The RV is in Selma Ca. I will be in Sacramento after that for a few days.

I own a 100+ year old apartment rental so basic plumbing, electricity, etc so I the basics will be an interesting puzzle.

Doing the Ford evaluation and self PDI the coach (w videocam in hand).

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