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Old 10-14-2013, 10:38 AM   #1
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Used RV Purchase

So, we're not current RV owners but are the process of figuring out which kind we want to get. We have two young children (3.5 and 1.5) and are considering a used Class C.

We are interested in hearing different tips on buying used RV's. Does it matter how old they are? What about mileage? I definitely plan to pay for a thorough inspection before purchasing...any recommendations on where to get that done in western WA state?
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Old 10-14-2013, 02:28 PM   #2
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There are many books on the subjects. You can find them on Amazon.com and at places like Camping World.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:32 PM   #3
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Hi wescape,
Welcome to iRV2. There are three main items to consider.
1. Floor plan (usually the wife's decision)
2. Will the coach carry all your stuff and your family (NCC or CCC).
3. Will the coach tow the vehicle you want to tow (GCWR-GVWR and hitch weight rating)

After that, the decision can be made as simple or as complex as one can make it.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:28 PM   #4
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Buying any used RV, especially a motorhome, can be a fun process but one filled with risk. Most of us who have owned more than one motorhome (if we are completely honest) will admit we wished we had done this or that when we bought our first motorhome.

If you are inclined to do so, I would suggest you rent a class C (rental class C's seem plentiful, especially out west) for a family trip and see how it goes. You will gain real experience in how you and your family feel about vacationing in a motorhome.

If, after the rental experience, you still want to pursue a motorhome, you will probably have gained some good ideas about what will work best for your family.

The other obvious considerations are finding a used coach that has been well cared for, is mechanically sound, doesn't leak, etc. As you noted, paying for an expert inspection is a great idea.

Good luck with the search and enjoy the journey.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smlranger View Post
...I would suggest you rent a class C (rental class C's seem plentiful, especially out west) for a family trip and see how it goes. You will gain real experience in how you and your family feel about vacationing in a motorhome.
Great idea, I second the motion!

Plus, renting will give you a worst-case scenario, ie you'll never be as far out of your element, have so many unanticipated things come up, etc. If you like renting, you'll love owning.
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:49 PM   #6
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Good Deal?

Yes, I think renting first is definitely the way to go. With that said, I'm still trying to get a feel for what is or is not a good deal on a used coach. For example, is the following worth $29k assuming it is in good condition?

1999 Minnie Winnie 31 with slide

Also, any recommendations when it comes to buying from a dealer vs. private owner?
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wescape View Post
Yes, I think renting first is definitely the way to go. With that said, I'm still trying to get a feel for what is or is not a good deal on a used coach. For example, is the following worth $29k assuming it is in good condition?

1999 Minnie Winnie 31 with slide

Also, any recommendations when it comes to buying from a dealer vs. private owner?
On that particular rig, check NADA RV prices for that year/model and see how it compares to 'low retail.' Generally, with good negotiation, you can get a coach for less than low retail. NADA average for that coach is only about $13,000 so that dealer is looking for an uninformed buyer IMO. Also you can check RVtrader.com, RVonline, etc, to see what similar rigs are listed for.

On private vs. dealer, dealers will usually price a rig higher....no surprise there. However, some dealers will offer some warranty and, if they have a decent service department, will fix things for you as part of the sale and delivery of the coach. The reputation of the dealer with other customers is important and you need to do your homework on that.

You should be able to get a better price from a private owner unless they have unrealistic expectations, and many do. It is on you to verify condition of the coach and be willing to accept the risk that they may be less than truthful about some things.

Our first motorhome was from a private seller and it was an as-is purchase. It was a learning experience for us. Our second and third were from reputable dealers and with the condition that the coaches be one-owner and have maintenance records.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:27 AM   #8
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Floor plan, floor plan and oh yea floor plan. That is really important. You will spend more time inside then driving it. Of course make sure the engine is good. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. Really imagine yourself living in it.
Where will you put all your stuff? Storage ...... some look great but looking at the small amount of storage takes them off our list.
If it has slides can you still get to things like the toilet, microwave, fridge, sink etc?
Can you move comfortably in it?
Really look at where things are and will it interfere with anyone else? ie how wide are the walkways, is there anything like ottomans, tables, chairs that block the way
Try everything out. The bed, couches, tv viewing ....
How are the tires? How are the batteries? How many does it have? Does it have solar (if you want that)?

Here's one that is subjective. Age. We have run into the CGs that limit age of coaches. The one near us right now is a 15 yr or newer limit. We have run across ones that have a limit of 10 yrs or newer. These were not expensive resorts either. Some were mom and pop cgs, some parts of different chains.
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Old 10-15-2013, 06:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wescape View Post
Yes, I think renting first is definitely the way to go. With that said, I'm still trying to get a feel for what is or is not a good deal on a used coach. For example, is the following worth $29k assuming it is in good condition?

1999 Minnie Winnie 31 with slide

Also, any recommendations when it comes to buying from a dealer vs. private owner?
Here is a link to the NADA site, which should give you an idea on pricing:

RV Prices, Values & Reviews - NADAguides
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:12 PM   #10
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It sounds like you've settled on a class C, which is probably a good choice with kids. once you've settled on the floor plan, make sure the owner starts the fridge and it gets cold, fill the tanks with water and check for leaks, check the hot water heater. I bought a used class A, first camping trip I noticed a severe leak coming from the hot water heater (I didn't do what I'm telling you), luckily it was just a broken valve and I replaced it myself but it would have cost hundreds if I couldn't fix things. My coach only had 12,000 miles on it so I wasn't worried mechanically but the rest is like buying a house. Check the air conditioner, both the roof top and the dashboard. Make sure you take it on the freeway, not just around town. I tested mine on city streets, bought it, then drove it on the freeway, wind hit it and scared the heck out of me. Anyway, good luck and happy RVing
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:36 AM   #11
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Just purchased an older (1999) MH from a private seller. Some minor issues but still happy with our purchase for now. We knew we wanted a diesel and due to our pull behind had a good thought on the floor plan. A slide was a must to add room. We did a lot of looking and a lot of homework. Talked to many owners for insights. NADA is a great resource. It gets to be a real job but keep looking till you find the one that is right for you. They are out there, just takes time and a lot of effort.
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smlranger View Post

You should be able to get a better price from a private owner unless they have unrealistic expectations, and many do. It is on you to verify condition of the coach and be willing to accept the risk that they may be less than truthful about some things.

Our first motorhome was from a private seller and it was an as-is purchase. It was a learning experience for us. Our second and third were from reputable dealers and with the condition that the coaches be one-owner and have maintenance records.
Hi - I know this is a few months old, but I wanted to ask if you knew of any sort of service similar to "Car FAX" that has information on RVs about accidents or excessive repairs, etc.

One of my concerns in buying used is in getting FULL maintenance and other service records about the coach. Not everybody keeps good records and I cannot imagine it's something that's easily validated.

OTOH, I would also assume that a person who has kept good records would willingly offer them up to a buyer, which should bode well for the coach.

Thanks for any information/advice you might have.

Laura
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:35 PM   #13
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Lots of good things said already; I'll add that when buying a used MH, no matter how thoroughly inspected it is and how complete the maintenance history is, age can still catch up. Be prepared with some reserves to fix what simply reaches the end of its useful life at an inopportune moment, and a little know-how goes a long way toward turning a showstopper into a minor speed bump.

For instance, we took on our Winnebago with a good service history and after having the dealer fix my laundry list of inspection issues. Everything was satisfactory; all systems were working fine. Then the water heater's control board decided to give up the ghost and took the gas valve solenoid out with it. Right as we started out a trip. It's annoying to hunt down replacements for older parts, but I had money set aside just in case. I can repair most systems myself, too which is a huge savings. It took a day to find the parts, and only half an hour, taking my time in a Wally World parking lot, to put the water heater back in operation -- such is life with an RV!
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:05 AM   #14
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We have two boys 6 & 8 and we bought our first one when our youngest was 1 or 2. I bought the first one on a whim not knowing anything about about them (and I hate tent camping) because I got it at a good deal. In all honesty, I was really just going to flip it. I told my wife that to go to Arizona to pick up a mh (we live in Ontario, Canada) so I had to go away for a few days. After the desire to choke the life out of me passed, she decided that we could make a family vacation out of it (one of her girlfriends joined us as well) and during that trip, we realized that we really enjoyed it and travelling like that really worked well for our family and we've kept doing it since (although we've upgraded mhs a few times since).

We've only had class A's so I can't really comment on class C's. With the cab over, class C's are definately better for sleeping arrangements for families (so are towables) but looking at the floorplan, I think in general class As are much better for living space - especially with young kids, that's something to keep in mind.

As far as choosing a mh, as someone else said, the floorplan should be your first concern. Our first mh was 37' but with no slides and it really limits the amount of usable space. A few years later we upgraded to a 36' with 2 slides and it's a huge improvement (some like no slides and for a couple it might work fine but we'd never consider a no slide floorplan again). Having kids, I have to say that having them sleep on the dinette / sofa really is a PITA but it's certainly doable. We'd put the kids to bed in the master and let them fall asleep there so that we can stay up in the front and when it was time for us to go to sleep, we'd take down the front beds and move them over so that we could sleep in the master. Last year, I upgraded again to a larger mh (40' DP) which had a wall-to-wall closet in the back so that I could take that out and put bunk beds there (https://plus.google.com/photos/11541...xHCiEzQ&cfem=1). I'm really happy I did it and even my wife who was very skeptical and not particularly supportive of the whole idea (kept saying we don't need it) is very happy having them but it's certainly not something you need (ditto the cab over on a class C).

As far as buying used, as others mentioned, there are a lot of different systems. You're buying used car and a used house so there's a lot of things that can (and do) break. If you are like me and buying older machines, it's probably good to be reasonably handy to fix little things that break (as this happens all the time). Personally, I'd strongly recommend you have any unit inspected before you buy it - this would actually probably be two inspections by two different people. A mechanic will like at the automotive side (in all likelyhood, you'll be buying something that's either a Ford truck chassis or a Chevy truck chassis). Then you'll also want an inspection by someone who can look at the 'house' side of the motorhome (this part I usually just do myself now that I'm more familiar with mhs).

As mentioned above, if you look around, I'm sure you can find something similar to the one you listed (class A or C) for under $15k. I'm really not familiar with the prices for class Cs but I suspect you could even get one for under $10k

Renting is probably a good idea. For about $1000 you can probably rent a mh for a week so that you can A) see if you like it B) learn about it so that you can see what you might ultimately want to get and C) it should be dependable. That said, personally, I'm probably too cheap to pay that money to rent. Rather than pay $1000 / week to rent, I'd rather just buy a used one for $12k and take it on a 2 week trip and if I don't like it, I'll just sell it (that was how I got into this whole mess).

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you get a class C (or a class A), you'll probably want to be able to take your car with you as well. For the first few years we didn't bother but now we tow a car. We tow with a tow dolly (which is not ideal) but it gives us more flexibility about which car we bring and also neither our cars can be towed flat without any modifications.

Hope this helps.
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