<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Untitled Document
NOTE: While this is designated as an ARCHIVE FILE, it is retained despite the date of first publication because it offers information of continuing current interest and/or for its historical perspective. Please be guided accordingly.



 Buying a Used RV

By: Bob Gummersall

[Ed Note 10/2011: Tips on buying a used RV is one of the most frequently asked questions by those contemplating a first RV purchase. It can be a challenge, because it's quite different from purchasing a used car -- and the guidance provided below can be of considerable value to the first-time buyer.]

I am often asked to outline the techniques of buying a used RV. Once you have selected the rig that suits your price, configuration, color, etc; follow these procedures and you may well save lots of money and perhaps save expensive repairs. Buying real estate they say there are three major considerations: Location, Location and Location. Well I think there are three similar major considerations for buying a used RV: Condition, Condition, Condition.

There is not better way of determining the condition of an RV, than by paying a qualified and independent RV Mechanic to perform an inspection/survey. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but it will be the best investment towards safe and happy RVing that you can make. If the inspection uncovers no show- stoppers and you still want to purchase the rig, then you have an excellent tool to help you negotiate a lower price. The inspection should enumerate a detailed description of every problem found and show the estimated costs of repair. This list, generated by an emotionally uninvolved person, becomes a very objective way to discuss the real value of the RV with the seller or dealer. I recommend establishing a tentative selling price before you have this inspection. This price can be developed by (1) Asking Price, (2) NADA Average Selling Price or Kelly's Blue Book Loan Value, (3) local advertised asking prices for similar rigs, and (4) your desire to own this specific unit. NADA is on the web at http://www.nadaguides.com and your local library, bank, or insurance company has Kelly's Blue Book. You can then agree that this price is conditional upon results of the inspection. This way the seller knows you are serious, and you will not spend the money for the inspection until you are ready to buy. The agreement should be put in writing. Part of the inspection should be your test driving the rig if it's motorized and on that test drive go to a public scale and get the actual weights of each axle. Weighing each corner is also advisable since it will indicate whether the unit is properly balanced. These weights should be compared to the GCWR and GVWR sticker weights on the manufacturer's label. If the rig is overweight, then don't buy it because this problem cannot be readily corrected.

The previous owner's maintenance records are another way to determine the condition of things that can't readily be seen or tested during an inspection. Internal parts of the engine, transmission, brakes, wheel bearings, exhaust, cooling that need to be lubricated, cooled or both can be evaluated using these records. Pay particular attention to the interval between oil and filter changes. If it was done regularly, then other maintenance was probably done properly.

Another way to evaluate the Condition of the RV is by looking closely at it's cosmetics. Neglect of the cosmetics of a rig often times indicates that there may have been neglect of things that can't be seen. You should look anywhere in the rig that will give you peek at what is underneath. If you open an emergency window exit you can get a better view of possible neglect due to water damage. Remove the ceiling trim from an air conditioner to see if there are any signs of water leakage. Trim panels covering plumbing, faucets, electrical connection can tell you if anything has been water damaged and repaired. In many rigs it is possible to lift up the bottom flows of cabinets. This will give you an idea of things that may have happened and been repaired. Odors should also be included in cosmetics, so check out any stale or musty odor, it will probably lead you to water damage. If the storage bays show abuse, then other things were abused. If you add all this information to the inspection list, you will have an accurate assessment of the Condition of this RV.

If the seller won't let you get an inspection, then run don't walk away. If he balks at getting the rig weighed, terminate the negotiations. If he won't let you test drive the rig (motorized) for at least 50 miles, then walk away. I also recommend, staying in the RV, even if it's in the seller's driveway, for at least one night. Use every appliance, heater, water heater, shower, toilet, furnace, converter, etc. Make sure everything works. When buying a used RV, it is very important to realize that it is buyer beware. There is little recourse in the law when sellers hide faults from buyers.