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Old 05-21-2014, 01:05 PM   #1
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Pre-purchase Inspection Reveals $30k in Hidden Defects

My wife and I thought we had found the right DP to purchase but It was located at a dealer more than 3,000 miles away. The dealer provided us with a 20-minute video tour along with over 130 photos of the unit and all the defects and blemishes, including the need for new tires all the way around.

After a great deal of difficulty I finally hired an RV inspector and diesel mechanic who I felt were qualified to do a proper inspection. Part of my pre-qualification of an RV inspector was to find one that used a moisture meter. This was both difficult and expensive, costing $400 for the 5-6 hour inspection and report time, plus $150 mileage charge as the inspector had to travel 130 miles to the MH location. The chassis inspection cost $180, the minimum charge for the mobile mechanical service contracted for the job.

It turned out that the moisture meter played a very important part as it uncovered water damage that the dealer was not aware of and even the RV inspector stated there were no visual signs of moisture penetration. The dealer and inspector videoed a re-inspection of the problematic area and no visual indicators were present. Other than that, the inspector confirmed that the coach was generally as advertised.

The chassis inspection turned up some additional surprises that were only evident from under the chassis and buried inside the engine bay. The underside of the engine battery tray was rusted to the point of requiring immediate repair to prevent the batteries from being dumped into the engine pulley system. Oddly, this was the only rust issue. There was also an exhaust leak that required attention, as it was a serious safety issue. The mechanic also listed a number of other problems that did not require immediately repair but would in the near future including, all new airbags, a water pump update common to the Cummins ISL, a number of brake and hydraulic lines either rubbing or nearing end of life.

More problems than I had expected but potentially still manageable on the mechanical end if the dealer and I could negotiate a new purchase price.

I then tackled the wall moisture issue by sending a copy of the inspection video to Monaco and asking for a repair estimate. The moisture was found in a 6 ft strip, about 12 at the top, running down the wall immediately behind the forward slide on the driverís side. Monaco quickly got back to me, advising that the complete sidewall would have to be replaced and that also meant a repaint. The cost, about $25,000, but the cost could be discounts somewhat if the repair was done during the slower winter season.

In summary, I was cautious and did the work required to do a professional inspection of the coach and chassis. I spent $730, which seemed to me to be greatly overpriced but ended up potentially saving myself tens of thousands of dollars and many sleepless nights. It sometimes takes care and hard work to do things the right way, but its can have a huge payback.

I retire in just a few days (end of May) and I had hoped to find the right coach by then but the search goes on and whatever I end up choosing will certainly have undergone a professional coach and chassis inspection.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:14 PM   #2
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Thanks for the advise. I'd recommend buying new.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:22 PM   #3
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Thank you for the report. We balk at spending $$ for inspections on used RV's, especially when purchasing from a dealer (figuring they've done the inspection & fixed any issues) but you've just proven the value of such an outlay. A small price to pay for peace of mind when forking over as much money as we do on these rolling palaces.

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Old 05-21-2014, 01:23 PM   #4
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So he can sit at a factory getting things fixed?

There are plenty of used units available. I'm sure you'll find one that fits. You did the right things and it saved you from a major problems. Just keep looking.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:33 PM   #5
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For someone like myself, a first timer to RV'ing who plans to purchase a used DP in about 24 months, this is invaluable information. Thanks very much for posting and best of luck with your ongoing search.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:38 PM   #6
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If you don't buy that coach atleast you know who to contact to inspect the next one you are interested in.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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How did you go about finding an inspector with a moisture meter? How is the meter used to inspect closed spaces?
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:06 PM   #8
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For an investment of this size I would never consider purchase without a thorough inspection by a qualified technician. I had a similar experience with a boat. Seller was out of town so I hired an inspector to take a look before I flew down to sea trial. Inspector fee ranged from $300 up depending on time required. He called me after being on the boat for 15 minutes and said run away from the vessel. He charged me $200 and saved me $100K in repairs. Don't buy used without a professional survey.
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_H View Post
My wife and I thought we had found the right DP to purchase but It was located at a dealer more than 3,000 miles away. The dealer provided us with a 20-minute video tour along with over 130 photos of the unit and all the defects and blemishes, including the need for new tires all the way around.

After a great deal of difficulty I finally hired an RV inspector and diesel mechanic who I felt were qualified to do a proper inspection. Part of my pre-qualification of an RV inspector was to find one that used a moisture meter. This was both difficult and expensive, costing $400 for the 5-6 hour inspection and report time, plus $150 mileage charge as the inspector had to travel 130 miles to the MH location. The chassis inspection cost $180, the minimum charge for the mobile mechanical service contracted for the job.

It turned out that the moisture meter played a very important part as it uncovered water damage that the dealer was not aware of and even the RV inspector stated there were no visual signs of moisture penetration. The dealer and inspector videoed a re-inspection of the problematic area and no visual indicators were present. Other than that, the inspector confirmed that the coach was generally as advertised.

The chassis inspection turned up some additional surprises that were only evident from under the chassis and buried inside the engine bay. The underside of the engine battery tray was rusted to the point of requiring immediate repair to prevent the batteries from being dumped into the engine pulley system. Oddly, this was the only rust issue. There was also an exhaust leak that required attention, as it was a serious safety issue. The mechanic also listed a number of other problems that did not require immediately repair but would in the near future including, all new airbags, a water pump update common to the Cummins ISL, a number of brake and hydraulic lines either rubbing or nearing end of life.

More problems than I had expected but potentially still manageable on the mechanical end if the dealer and I could negotiate a new purchase price.

I then tackled the wall moisture issue by sending a copy of the inspection video to Monaco and asking for a repair estimate. The moisture was found in a 6 ft strip, about 12 at the top, running down the wall immediately behind the forward slide on the driverís side. Monaco quickly got back to me, advising that the complete sidewall would have to be replaced and that also meant a repaint. The cost, about $25,000, but the cost could be discounts somewhat if the repair was done during the slower winter season.

In summary, I was cautious and did the work required to do a professional inspection of the coach and chassis. I spent $730, which seemed to me to be greatly overpriced but ended up potentially saving myself tens of thousands of dollars and many sleepless nights. It sometimes takes care and hard work to do things the right way, but its can have a huge payback.

I retire in just a few days (end of May) and I had hoped to find the right coach by then but the search goes on and whatever I end up choosing will certainly have undergone a professional coach and chassis inspection.

WOW! Did you ever dodge a bullet! That was the best $730 you will ever spend! Hope you find the right rig without all the problems!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:15 PM   #10
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I wonder what the results would be if you did the same full inspection on a brand new unit. From some of the horror stories on the forum on new high dollar Class A's I think a pre purchase inspection would be well worth the cost.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin-B View Post
Thanks for the advise. I'd recommend buying new.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveB2 View Post
So he can sit at a factory getting things fixed?
There are plenty of used units available. I'm sure you'll find one that fits. You did the right things and it saved you from a major problems. Just keep looking.
Pre Purchase Inspections:
From what I've experienced, (and read), RV sellers DON'T tell you if/when there is something wrong with a RV they are hoping to sell.
IMO, an independent RV inspection and a professional chassis/engine inspection should be done on any RV one is considering... (new or used).
On a new RV:.... To discover everything the factory did wrong and/or forgot to do, AND what is not working!
On a used RV:... To discover what is broken, worn out, leaking, and/or missing....(which. BTW, are the same things that break, wear out, and leak on a new coach as it ages and is used and driven)!

If you intend to purchase a RV, I hope that you do what I recommend, (not what I didn't do).

Ron_H
Thanks for the excellent post.

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Old 05-21-2014, 07:24 PM   #12
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What year Monaco were you looking at. I would agree this was a good idea to check any coach out, but if you were looking at a 10+ year old coach, it's going to have some issues.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:34 PM   #13
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Thanks for the advise. I'd recommend buying new.
I would love to buy new unfortunately my retirement savings simply don't make that an options. As my wife said, "You can go buy a new motorhome if you want but remember that you won't have much money to buy diesel to burn in it."

She is pretty trusting with that statement considering she said something about buying "new" motorcycle a few years back when I was looking at a used one and suddenly a brand new Honda Goldwing appeared in our garage.

In spite of this occurring I'm not discouraged in terms of buying used. It simply points out that one has to take care and do the homework. It was truly disappointing at first but I'm back in the hunt and I'm going my legwork checking out a couple of more units now. If my research goes well, I'll be hiring another couple of inspectors before my check book comes out.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MRUSA14 View Post
How did you go about finding an inspector with a moisture meter? How is the meter used to inspect closed spaces?
While researching motorhomes, I came across a mention of a moisture meter being used as part of the inspection process. It made a lot of sense to me so I did a little research and became convinced that if properly used, they could see beyond what a standard visual inspection might be able to uncover.

When I was looking for an RV inspector, I got them on the phone and asked them if they used any instrumentation, like a moisture meter, in their inspection. Most proudly said that their experienced eye was the best way to detect moisture incursion. I then found an inspector who said he does a careful visual inspection but also checks the walls thoroughly with a moisture meter. I asked him what his inspection rate was and hired him to do the job.
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