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Old 07-09-2014, 03:08 PM   #1
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How to find a mechanic

Hi there, I'm in the market for my first RV (Class C). It's going to be quite old (most likely anywhere from 1987-1993) as I have a very small budget. So how do I go about finding a mechanic to come check out one or more RVs that I'm interested in? And what's a reasonable price range to expect to pay? I'm in the Sacramento, CA area, any recommendations?

Johanna
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:12 PM   #2
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Welcome to irv2. I think you're doing the smart thing here. You'll get plenty of ideas . I would call a few mobile rv service people and some local rv dealers. I imagine you'll have to pay their hourly rate plus travel if any. Goo luck and keep us informed.
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Old 07-14-2014, 04:22 PM   #3
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I found a guy that advertises on his website as being a member of the National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association. I checked out their website and it looks a little fishy. I can't find anything on BBB about either of them. I found another guy whose business is listed on BBB as one name, aka another name. And when I click on it, it comes up as the aka name, and there is an alert saying that name is no longer in business.
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Old 07-14-2014, 04:31 PM   #4
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Old 07-14-2014, 04:37 PM   #5
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Johanna,
I'm going to say don't do the RV thing. An older RV that is going to eat your budget is very likely to eat the rest of the money that you don't have if you're using professional mechanics / RV repair professionals.

Even newer RVs have issues, but as they're new, most issues are covered under warranty.

Mechanics would inspect the "truck" part of the coach. Not many will be able to inspect the "house" part. They're two separate specialties and you need both if you don't know what to look for.

In less than 2 years, I'm in over $5000 on repairs on a 2005 - and that's for stuff that mechanics wouldn't have found. Although that's a pretty extreme example, I'd say that it's routine to spend $1-$2k a year just to keep up with stuff and budget for things like tires.

And in terms of getting them repaired, I found that 9 out of 10 Ford dealers wouldn't even work on one - they don't have the lift capacity for a 31' vehicle that is about 11' tall.

Can you get away with buying an older one? Yes. If you've got funds for repairs.
Can you get away with buying an older one with a very limited repair budget? Yes, but you'll need to be able to make repairs of various types yourself.


When I was young and didn't have a budget, I took on several car projects because I had available time. I learned, albeit not-so-quickly, that I'm much better off putting more money in a newer / nicer vehicle up front and dropping long term repair costs.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:18 PM   #6
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I'm confused, you're suggesting I don't buy an RV at all? If so, why would you say that? These forums are supposed to be a place to support each other, ask questions, and offer insights. I hope I'm misreading or misunderstanding your post.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:58 PM   #7
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Johanna,
Here's a couple of things to consider when shopping. The tires may look good, but if the date code is close to 7 years( varies by opinion ) they may need to be replace and could set you back several thousand dollars.

If I was going to buy a older rig I would try to get one new enough that it is fuel injected instead of one with a carburetor. I think you will have less problems.

Slides are great, love them, but if you can live without it you may be able to find something cheaper.

I bought a 1999 about two years ago so far no major issues mostly things I could repair myself. That luck could change in a heart beat. Hope you find something the works out for you.

Good luck,

Charlie
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:59 PM   #8
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You are getting one persons opinion. What cb is saying is true. If your funds are limited that also means that your repair budget will also be limited. Now it also depends on this. You did not let us know how much you can fix yourself?? How you intend on using this MH. If you can fix some or a lot of stuff like the cosmetic aspect of an older coach. If you have some wood working skills, electrical skills, or know of a friend that can also help then you would be in a better position to buy older and fix.

The chassis stuff is another matter. If you bought a coach and lost the transmission or engine in the first few months that's very expensive. I can do almost anything on my coach even rebuilding engines and transmissions but in my current situation I don't have a shop facility to do a lot of it. Even doing brakes can cost you 2-3 thousand bucks. RV means bigger truck stuff and it's not cheap.

If you are going to travel within say a 300-500 mile range of home then older might work. If you get stranded with a major repair you can still get home within reason. If you are planning on traveling all around the US buying older used stuff could get very expensive. There was a guy on these forums just last month that bought a used MH. It broke down before he got it home and had a very, very hard time finding somebody who would trailer it to his location so he could fix it. He ended up finding a place close to where it broke down and had an axle repair done there so he could get it to his house so he could start the real restoration.

Nobody is trying to steer you away from a MH. We just want to let you know what's involved so you can make a good decision.

There may be somebody on these forums that feels qualified enough to help. Who knows that may work.

TeJay
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langfanatic View Post
Hi there, I'm in the market for my first RV (Class C). It's going to be quite old (most likely anywhere from 1987-1993) as I have a very small budget. So how do I go about finding a mechanic to come check out one or more RVs that I'm interested in? And what's a reasonable price range to expect to pay? I'm in the Sacramento, CA area, any recommendations?

Johanna

Haven't tried them, but thought it would help you out to give you some places to pick
from. All four places advertise that they do pre-purchase inspections on RV's.
Ballpark estimates of an inspection range from $200 - $450 depending upon how complex the RV is and how long it takes the inspector.

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Old 07-14-2014, 09:32 PM   #10
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Johanna don't get discouraged. Everyone seems to find an RV that is within their budget (maintenance included). Yes you could have a major expense, but if you have a good inspection done you will minmize the chance of that happening. If your dream is to enjoy an RV lifestyle, you will find a way to do it.

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Old 07-15-2014, 10:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langfanatic View Post
I'm confused, you're suggesting I don't buy an RV at all? If so, why would you say that? These forums are supposed to be a place to support each other, ask questions, and offer insights. I hope I'm misreading or misunderstanding your post.
I don't mean to be "discouraging" - I'm simply suggesting that what you need and the financial reality may not line up. If this is something you're after - you'll find great support here, but the reality is that on a thin budget, you'll have to learn to fix lots of things yourself. And this forum is great for that.

If your expectations are to buy an older RV, say early 1990s gas Class-C, have it inspected, and travel 5000 miles trouble-free, that isn't very likely (at least in my opinion). Could it happen? Absolutely, but I'm suggesting you plan for a less optimistic scenario.

One thing that might help us guide you to something that would work is if you disclosed budget for purchase, what you can handle in terms of monthly maintenance, and how you plan to use it. Fuel costs, for example, are going to run about .50 per mile on a gas class-C. The mileage on these things is shocking.. I just want to make sure you're not surprised, that's all!
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:43 PM   #12
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Thank you for clarifying, CB1000rider, I felt like you were telling me not to do it. I understand the concern over my finances, but I'm not going into this blind or completely broke. I have no intention of spending everything on the rig and leaving no cushion. I really was just asking for advice/recommendations on finding a mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection. There is a 1998 Minnie Winnie that I might want to have checked out. And if not that one, eventually I will find one I want to have looked at. I am not mechanically inclined at all, but I could certainly learn to do some things myself, but right now I'm more concerned with the purchase first. Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 07-15-2014, 02:28 PM   #13
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How to find a mechanic

Langfanatic,

I gave you four pre-purchase inspectors specifically operating in the Sacramento, CA area....did you make contact with any of them yet?

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Old 07-15-2014, 02:53 PM   #14
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Pasdad1, yes I did, thank you very much!
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