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Old 01-07-2015, 04:03 PM   #1
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Newbie closing in on first RV purchase seeking advice

Hello everyone,
I hope you all had great holidays! We started asking you guys questions about buying an RV last October, and we've taken the last couple months to get all our financial stuff in order and now we are getting serious about buying our RV.
My in-laws have a friend who is selling and we are looking at this one pretty closely as it fits all our criteria. She thought it was an '06, but the manufacture plate says it was manufactured July '05, its a Fleetwood Southwind 32v or 32vs. (not sure what the difference is between the "v" and "vs" trim packages is). Its on a workhorse chassis with the 8.1L vortec. with 20,000 miles on the vehicle.
She said that there was a leak and at the price she offered it we were expecting huge water stains and sagging ceiling panels, but it was still worth it to check it out. We looked at it, and it looks as good or better than any unit we've looked at a dealer's lot. We couldn't find any stain on the ceilings anywhere! We finally found these two spots.

It looks like some discoloration on the shade, and a little tucked up on the trim of the living room slide.

So the advice we need is: Has anyone experienced these type of discolorations in these locations, where did the water come from in your situation, or is it "normal" wear to get a little water stain on the trim if water got underneath the slide topper? Here is a view of the internal slide seals.

The watermarks are so minor, but I could use your advice on what you see here. Thanks in advance for your input.
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Old 01-07-2015, 04:39 PM   #2
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That is a leak and I would not buy it. Usually when you see a leak the damage is already done.

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Old 01-07-2015, 04:56 PM   #3
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A leak is considered by many as the number one worst issue to have and potentially very (very) expensive to fix. I'm not sure you have quite grasped that it is not an issue of what you can see, but what you can't see.

I think you would be well advised to spend some time researching rv leaks and if your heart is set on buying that rv, you probably won't know what you have until you start tearing things apart and then tearing it apart some more and some more...potentially.

Best of luck. Personally, unless you love the idea of potential have to tear the RV apart big time, I would move on.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:15 PM   #4
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I would look closely around the window for any other signs of water stains, especially below the window. By the picture it looks like a bed or sofa under the window and also the floor. I would look closely behind there. If it is a bad leak it will show up as a stain or soft spot on the wall or floor. The stain shown on the blind would not take alot of water to make it.
On the slide i would spray with a hose with the slide out and see if any water comes in. It looks to me like it may be the seal on the slide. Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:22 PM   #5
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While a leak is serious business, the one you show in the pictures does not look to be too damaging. The stain on the window shades is probably just that - the shade got wet. At worst there may have been a leak around that window, but the water doesn't leap onto the shade from the wall. Maybe nothing at all... Check the sidewall inside and below the window for leak signs, e.g. wrinkled wall covering, soft spots, etc. Floor too.

The slide damage is maybe an issue and maybe not. It looks to me like a leak in the corner of the slide roof, which isn't all that unusual. I've had a couple of those myself. I sealed 'em up again and no problem. Check carefully in that area for soft feeling wood - real damage usually results in noticeable soft areas nearby. Also talk to the owners about when the leak was first noticed, and whether anything has been done since.

Bottom line is I don't think this is a big gamble if the rig is otherwise clean and well-cared for. And the price is right, of course. Owners tend to have an inflated idea of what a rig is worth, especially if they owe big bucks on it. The price should reflect the water damage risk.
Built in July 2005 could bn a 2006 model year - they sometimes come out that early. See what the title says. IN any case, with those low miles it probably has original tires and they are now pushing 10 years old. That's end-of-life for the materials in the tire body, so they need to be replaced ASAP (regardless of what the tread looks like). Six new tires could run $3500, so figure that into the price too.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:14 AM   #6
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It's always the water damage you can't see that creates the major problem. I would be most concerned with what's going on inside the walls, and how long it's been going on.
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:57 AM   #7
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If the RV looks better than the dealers you have been looking at I would not run yet. HAVE a pro inspect it and have him investigate the water damage(looks light damage, but who knows) the window share damage looks to be stain from condensation on the window. Then if it passes with reasonable repair cost and update tires and batteries factored in make an offer based on facts. You should expect to pay less than a dealer model so it might be a win win for you and the seller.

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Old 01-08-2015, 05:16 PM   #8
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The advise of having it professionally inspected is the best idea. Ask if they have test equipment to test for moisture in walls etc. These are people that may have experience with units such as this one also. Good for you that you took pictures and are looking closely at RV's it will save you headaches in the future. Good Luck
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:03 PM   #9
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There is a camping world where I'm camping now in Robertson, Al that advertises it will do a comprehensive leak evaluation for something like $400 with leak detection equipment. I generally stay away from that place but it may be one of the only places big enough to warrant buying that thype of equipment. Possibly other large dealers hae it.
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:27 AM   #10
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Thank you to everyone who responded! Everything you said, the good and the bad, I had already been thinking, and concerned about. I took your advice and called a RV service technician that does pre-purchase inspections. Turns out there aren't that many in my area of WA, but I did find one that was close enough not to charge me extra to travel to the RV. He said they take about 2 hours to go thru all the systems and general condition checklists...and I will quietly follow him around to see how everything works! Your advice pointed out the real truth: I don't know what I don't know...and I know just enough about RV's to get myself in trouble, so it was time to call in a professional...at least someone who fixes them for a living. So, we'll get that done in a little bit, and have a better idea how to proceed.

Thanks again guys, you've all been very helpful, in this thread and in the others that I posted in the past. Its been very beneficial to be able to tap into your experience pool when I need too! Hope to see you all on the road very soon!
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:59 PM   #11
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The water stain up on the trim near the corner of the slide...That was typically caused by not having the slide completely closed so that the outer seal was fully compressed. Either end of the slide could have been out by only 1/2", and if it rained, water got past the seal, ran across/down the roof of the slide until it got to one end or the other.
This is not at all unusual, based on what I've seen. The real thing to check on is does the slide seal if properly retracted.
Your walls are sealed...so I wouldn't be very concerned about water entering a wall.
If the slide seals properly, and it was at a good price point, I'd buy it in a minute.

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Old 01-12-2015, 05:15 PM   #12
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I agree completely with Jim, Looks like you've found a gem. I'd do the same as he suggests with checking on the retraction of the slider and how the seals set. As an HVAC guy I'm also an advocate for turning on the main engine AC to bring in fresh outside air. Crack a window to see if the AC fan is helping to pressurize the cabin. Then with the window closed, use a lit incense or for those of us heating guys a smoke pencil to check around the outside for air leaks around the slider seals. Also, my 23' is the same age and has a rubber roof that needed to be cleaned and recoated this fall. If yours has the same type of roof and spent its life outside it's likely time to do a though cleaning and reapply to keep it in good condition. RV service centers can do it for you; or like me, I found 1 gallon cans of white elastomeric roofing at Home Depot and on a warm day two or three coats should give it another 8 to 10 years use.

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