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Old 12-02-2014, 05:15 PM   #1
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Shopping old RV's

I was looking at a 96 Santara 31.5 with 35,000 miles in Florida. I cant afford a new one and people seem to list used ones WAY above NADA. I had a couple of mechanics steer me hard away from older motor homes, mainly because of rot. Tires, hoses, belts, seals, brakes, fuel lines, all will go bad. Quote "You couldn't give me a 96 motor home" They were in the repair not the sales business so they didn't have a conflict, quite the opposite they stood to make a chunk of change off me. Any thoughts or opinions on this?

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Old 12-02-2014, 06:18 PM   #2
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My thoughts are most major breakdowns will occur in the first few years. Not knowing how it's been serviced, or how many miles is on it, rot wise on hoses, tires, etc. are normal replacements as they are needed. Drive it, listen to the engine, feel the shifts in the transmission, check the brakes etc. Then after you buy it, change oil and filter, flush transmission and brake fluids and go from there. As, for the price offer much lower than NADA unless all maintenance is completed and then only go up about $1500.

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Old 12-02-2014, 07:11 PM   #3
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When it comes to older motorhomes, it's all about condition and maintenance. NADA values tend to reflect the "typical" old motorhome, which will be in pretty sad shape after 20 years. You don't want one of those at ANY price!

Don't forget about things like a/c units, fridges, etc... they have a finite lifespan that you are very much getting into now... if they are still original on a 1996 model, you'll be fortunate not to have to replace them in the next handful of years...

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...and F-Troop: Fearghus, Fiona, and Frankie (Cairn Terriers)
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:08 PM   #4
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It depends what you're looking for and where you are. We're selling our '02 Georgetown 325 through a consignment dealer in Burlington, WA. I'll send you a PM with details, if you're interested.
Frank Damp -Anacortes, WA,(DW- Eileen)
ex-pat Brits (1968) and now ex-RVers, as of 08 Dec 14.
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:14 PM   #5
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We bought a 1999 Ford based Winnebago Chieftain. We brought it to the Ford Truck Dealer and paid for an inspection with instructions to fix anything and everything before we head out for our 4000 mile trip.

His report, it needed an oil change and a leaking shock absorber that would be fine for the trip. We've put 13000 miles on it in less then 2 years without a single engine or chassis problem other than oil changes and a tune up.

My point? Sure there are real horror stories out there, but there are also some real gems out there too. Don't give up because someone will tell you they had bad luck with what they bought.

Some general rules. Walk away from the unloved and "left to sit unused" rig. If they tell you it's low miles that may just mean it's dried up and rotted out. Instead find someone who took pride and loved their machine, many RV'ers are old school "I care for my property" personalities.

Before you buy it, pay to have that sucker checked from front to rear and top to bottoms by a QUALIFIED mechanic you choose, not the RV dealer or owner's mechanic.

When you have that vehicle figure what it's worth to you and if you can get it for that price, get it. What others tell you it's worth means little more than a very general ballpark.

If you can't get it for what it's worth to you, just walk away. I don't know about where you live, but here in Arizona, especially near the huge retirement cities, there is no shortage of motivated sellers who have aged out or upgraded, so another rig is just a phone call away.

Be very picky and always willing to walk away. I found a gem, and so can you.
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:28 AM   #6
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Welcome to IRV2! It's great to have you join the gang here!

Hope you find the right RV for your needs. Enjoy the forum!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
Joe & Annette

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Old 12-03-2014, 09:51 AM   #7
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We bought a 1996 Tioga for 9500.

It had; New roof (hail damage), new awning, custom mattress. I've had to repair a few things and I even have a small propane leak that I'm fixing today. If you find the right rig and are handy or know someone that can help than you can buy older and be very happy.

I've installed solar and bigger batteries and this is totally self contained for boondocking. It was so cheap we have even loaned it to a friend a couple of times.

Good luck.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:25 PM   #8
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Nothing wrong with buying an older motorhome, but you have to figure to spend a bunch of money replacing the aged/worn/rotted stuff. If you can do a lot of thr work yourself, it's often financially feasible. If you have to pay RV shop rates for every little thing, I would strongly recommend against buying it in the first place. Spend the extra money up front for a somewhat newer one.

It's not unusual for a $5000 motorhome to cost $10,000 before you can reliably enjoy it. And that's for one in apparent good condition. A "fixer-upper" might easily run much more.
Gary Brinck
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:48 PM   #9
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I'm planning on buying used but:
1) I have had to learn quite a bit over a long period of time to prepare myself for the challenge, including how pricing works.
2) I'm assuming a verification of condition, repairs, maintenance, diy modifications budget of $10,000 to $20,000
3) And these rvs are quite complex systems.
4) The big three are water leaks, rust, and condition of chassis/engine/suspension.

It is pretty easy it seems for new buyers with low knowledge to buy and then discover unwanted "challenges." But, you can't never be 100% sure ,even with savvy due diligence.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by KernelPanic View Post
Any thoughts or opinions on this?
Lots of good input on this. I would add that your mechanical ability/interest might be a factor. If not the least mechanically inclined nor interested in learning, an older rig may not be for you. It seems with mine ('94) there were plenty of small issues to track down and fix as well as lots of upgrades. None of this was very expensive but it was time consuming.
JD & Buddy (the ferocious feline) - Full timer out west
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:55 PM   #11
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Some question

We are also planning on buying a used class a or super c as they are called.

any advice would also be appreciated, we are going to new motorhome people (we have owned travel trailers) budget is fair and right now looking at diesels. We have been looking a 2008's and up in the 35ft range.

I read earlier in the thread to offer a good deal less than NADA. how much less is the norm.

thanks for all advice
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:04 PM   #12
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We bought used (2005) Would never buy a New Moho, Let someone else pay for the bugs and depreciation......
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Old 12-03-2014, 06:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DMTTRANSPORT View Post
We bought used (2005) Would never buy a New Moho, Let someone else pay for the bugs and depreciation......

Like that thought, thanks good advice
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Old 12-03-2014, 06:18 PM   #14
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We live in a 1987 motorhome full time with no problems. Condition is important and it does not cost that much to replace hoses and belts (but the tires will). It may depend on you as to how well you can do your own maintenance and or repairs.

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