<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Buying Tips for Motorhome Shoppers
Little Log


About a motor home you are seriously considering buying

By: Russell Warren


[Ed Note 10/2011: Although first written several years ago, the recommendations contained herein are timeless.]

Let us assume that you have found a motor home that you really want to buy. The size is right. The color is OK. The floor plan suits you and your copilot, and the price & terms are within your means.

Let’s also assume that this is a new motor home and you are working with a sales rep. There are numerous items of information that you should require before you sign on the dotted line. (This article discusses the interior; another article will cover the exterior.)

First, sit in the drivers seat. Locate and use all of the seat adjustments: up, down, forward, aft, tilt, armrests, etc. Find the best position for you. Also move the steering wheel and pedals (if they adjust). Can you read the instruments? Can you see the mirrors? Are all switches, buttons and knobs easy to reach? If the copilot also drives, repeat the above. Now take an extensive test drive. See how the coach handles on the Interstate with the trucks and on narrow secondary roads. Let a few of trucks blow by you to make sure the rig handles the winds that are created. At a lower speed on a secondary road where there is not traffic, try a few maneuvers that you know that you will have to make sometime for real, like a quick lane change. I emphasis doing this a lower speeds so there is not real risk of an accident. Let’s face it, you are going to drive this rig many hours and it has to feel right. If you are not comfortable doing these maneuvers, ask the sales rep to do them for you. You need to know how it feels to be in this rig. As you make this test drive, watch all the gauges very carefully. Temperatures and pressures need to be normal. If the sales rep says that they don’t allow this kind of test drive then find another dealer.

For the remainder of the checkout, TAKE NOTES. There are usually far too many details to remember without them.

Now it’s time for the sales rep to earn his/her money. Don’t be surprised if all questions aren’t answered during the first session. That’s where your notes will help if you need to talk with a service technician. Have the sales rep describe and demonstrate the use of every knob, switch, lever or button on or near the dash. Observe that the expected result, such as light goes on or jack goes down, actually happens. Even window locks or blinds controls may require explanation.

Begin a systematic survey of the remainder of the coach. Often there are controls located near the co-pilots chair, exterior door, kitchen counter or slides. Learning about them now will prevent frustration later. Don’t neglect to open every door & drawer to check for smooth operation and positive latching. Motor home appliances may also have secrets that you need to know. Locate the monitor panel. Usually this is where the water pump switch is located. Unless it is turned on the sinks and shower won’t work. Check the noise level of the pump. There are ways to lessen pump noise. (On some coaches there are also one or more valves located in an external compartment that must be placed in the correct position.) Microwave/convection ovens may also fool you. We discovered that a wire rack inside the oven had to be removed to allow use as a microwave oven. Likewise, we found a black switch in a black panel below eye level on our refrigerator that had to be moved to allow storage with the door cracked open and without the interior light being on.

Another thing to discover are those items hidden under the floor or behind wall panels. Circuit breakers both A.C. and D.C. must be located. In addition there are usually additional blocks of fuses or circuit breakers under the dash or in the engine compartment for chassis systems. The water pump and various isolation or drain valves may also be well hidden.

Finally, get the documentation package that is provided with the coach. Read everything. Take notes and get answers. A motor home is complex! To enjoy owning and traveling in it you must know how each piece of equipment functions. Finally ask everyone you know about this make and model, go on the internet and see what you can find out. It is important to know as much as you can, before you sign the dotted line. The hours that this takes will ensure maximum enjoyment or, possibly, prevent an unsatisfying purchase.