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Buying a used RV
Old 08-11-2011, 01:31 PM   #1
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Buying a used RV

Hi,

I am going to see a 2005 Winnebago Sightseer this weekend - 78,000 miles on a Chevy Workhorse chassis. My concern is that this unit is being sold in some places for $60,000. This dealer wants $30K.

Whenever something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Any advice on what to look for?

Nui
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:57 PM   #2
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My concern is that this unit is being sold in some places for $60,000. This dealer wants $30K.
I hope you meant to say "Some folks who are upside down in them are asking $60K."

Depending on model (27C, 29R, 30B, 33L, 34A or 35N) it looks like a price between $27K and $36K might be reasonable, depending on condition and maintenance records. 78,000 is a bunch of miles for an 05 RV as most are driven fewer than 5,000 miles per year. It may have been owned by a full-timer and have some serious wear and tear.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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Aren't Motorhomes kind of like time-shares ? They depreciate like crazy.

used is the only way to go in my opinion.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:48 PM   #4
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I agree those are high miles. My 1976 only had 79k miles on it when I bought it in 2004!
Get a mechanic to check the engine, but you'll have to assess the chassis yourself, more than likely. Is there an RV forum for these models where you can go search for known problems/likely issues?
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:20 PM   #5
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Check carefully for water damage--look in closets and inside drawers.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:36 PM   #6
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Check carefully for water damage--look in closets and inside drawers.
Nwsteve
Caveat: have never owned a RV... Have owned a bumper-pull camper.

But what nwsteve said. Check the undercarriage for damage, rust, etc. Check the roof, especially around a roof-mounted AC unit, the ceiling, in hidden places such as inside cabinets, around any plumbing fixtures, etc. for water damage/mold/rot.

Rumbling down the road tends to bend things out of alignment, and/or rattle things loose.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:15 AM   #7
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if that is a gas model that is too many miles on it in my opinion I would look elsewhere.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:23 AM   #8
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Lots of checklists online. Just search or hit some of the RV forums and look around. You might want to join one and ask the question there too. Some of us are RV people, all of them are.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:24 AM   #9
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We almost purchased an RV but changed our mind because of the % of our savings that would be tied up. However, that is not to imply that it isn't a good decision for others. What I did learn while researching this potential purchase is what I didn't know. I bought the full program from RV Consumer Org and learned a lot! For one thing you want a RV that was quality and has decent highway handling when new.. and there aren't many of those. They have a software program (down loadable) that helps you focus your search. Then they have both a software program and a paperback (included) to help you inspect the coach you are considering.. including a printable checklist.

We were looking at Class Cs and found that there were two CN manufacturers that are highly rated, one I know is Bigfoot. They lost their shirt on those so only used are on the market. Another small manufacturer in the US that is highly rated is Born Free. On the high volume side several Winnebago/Itasca models are very good. The road handling sweet-spot seems to be 30.5-31 feet. This is the point where a longer wheel base is required and the higher the ratio of wheelbase to length the better the handling.

The other decision we made is to limit ourselves to a fiberglass lid. Our son and wife have a boat yard, they repair fiberglass boats all the time. I believe that fiberglass is much easier to maintain and repair than those rubber/vinyl roofs.

The other thing to remember is that RV sales folks rarely tell the whole truth.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:55 AM   #10
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Is the floorplan a 30B? It seems there are a ton of those one the market. Also the miles suggest the unit may have been a rental. The unit may be priced correct. There are several RV forums on line with owners offering great advice.
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:49 AM   #11
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These were highly rated (2006): Itasca Spirit 31T, Winnebago Winnie-Minnie & Outlook 31C. They differ in their interior finishes. Here is a link to the previous model brochures where you can see the floor plans and what options were offered. You can also find the wheelbase of all the coaches in each of their lines. http://www.winnebagoind.com/products/previous-models/ Remember, the higher the ratio to legnth the better the road handling.
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Saw this ad - dang hippies! Might make some overhangs a bit dicey.

2 Story School Bus Conversion!!
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:09 PM   #13
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It looks more like Jed Clampett's RV.
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Old 09-27-2011, 02:10 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
I agree those are high miles. My 1976 only had 79k miles on it when I bought it in 2004!
Get a mechanic to check the engine, but you'll have to assess the chassis yourself, more than likely. Is there an RV forum for these models where you can go search for known problems/likely issues?
We just bought a 1991 Class C from DH's parent. Since it was his parents and they sold it to us for half of current retail we didn't have it inspected.

It is now in the shop and the total for all repairs just to make is mechanically SAFE is $4800!!

So please get it inspected if you don't want the RV version of the 'Money Pit'.
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Old 09-27-2011, 03:49 PM   #15
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I recall looking at a private sale unit in Victoria, BC, some years ago......it was sitting in their driveway, and when we were inside the owner started giving us the "It's like one of the family" spiel....."We're always out in it....etc, etc".

Doing an exterior walkaround I noticed that the license plates were out of date by about 3 years.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:18 PM   #16
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So please get it inspected if you don't want the RV version of the 'Money Pit'.
They are all money pits. Imagine you house on the back of a flatbed truck. Now imagine the truck going down the average freeway in the country. Bouncing, jarring, tilting, and twisting as it goes down the road. Also, imagine all the secondary systems like water, both 12volt and 120 volt electricity, holding tanks, septic piping, drain pipes, air conditioner units, propane heaters, water heaters, sinks, toilets, and other items not made by the coach manufacturer. With all this stuff jostling down the road at 65 MPH things are bound to come lose, crack, unscrew, twist, dislodge, and just plain break.

If you are going to have any RV, new or used, be prepared to pay to have things fixed or replaced unless you can do it yourself. I'm not trying to talk you out of anything...just don't think any RV, inspected or not, is not going to cost you something with regular frequency. The more complex they are the more stuff there is to break or malfunction. Having it inspected for the chassis in a great idea but you must know what you are looking for in all the various systems in the "house" part of the motorhome unless you can find an "expert" somewhere to do it for you. Even then, there may be things hidden from view or are just about to break. All you can do is the best you can to determine the current condition of a unit. Stuff about to break is beyond most folks to determine unless it is an obvious mechanical or electrical issue.

RVing is fun and is a great way to travel; especially with all the issues with air travel with luggage costs, weight restrictions, airport headaches and late and overbooked flights. Having what you want to take with you in quantities far more than you can stuff into a suitcase weighing less than 51 pounds as well as your own bed, towels, sheets, food and pets is a great want to travel.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:26 PM   #17
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They are all money pits. Imagine you house on the back of a flatbed truck. Now imagine the truck going down the average freeway in the country. Bouncing, jarring, tilting, and twisting as it goes down the road. Also, imagine all the secondary systems like water, both 12volt and 120 volt electricity, holding tanks, septic piping, drain pipes, air conditioner units, propane heaters, water heaters, sinks, toilets, and other items not made by the coach manufacturer. With all this stuff jostling down the road at 65 MPH things are bound to come lose, crack, unscrew, twist, dislodge, and just plain break.
That is definitely true. However, if you are comparing an RV or trailer to a second/vacation stick home, you can buy a pretty elaborate RV for the amount of money and aggravation it takes to maintain a piece of non-primary residential real estate. (Don't ask me about a basement flooding 1800 miles away from where I am now)
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Old 09-28-2011, 02:40 AM   #18
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Nuiloa, perhaps you have stated elsewhere why you are considering an RV (adventure, money savings on travel, "life-style", "full-time", etc.) If not, I do hope that you know yourself well enough to at least be able to answer that "why" question for yourself. As others, I wouldn't try to talk you out of anything, but I suppose I've just never thought there were good financial reasons to RV (unless it would be to full-time RV - i.e, you no longer need a house.)

Have you experimented with the life style (rented or previously owned an RV? - again, perhaps you have already answered this elsewhere). If I ever considered RVing, I would have to spread-sheet it very carefully to see if it was affordable and sustainable.

I wish you the best in your decision making process.
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:38 AM   #19
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They are all money pits. Imagine you house on the back of a flatbed truck. Now imagine the truck going down the average freeway in the country. Bouncing, jarring, tilting, and twisting as it goes down the road. Also, imagine all the secondary systems like water, both 12volt and 120 volt electricity, holding tanks, septic piping, drain pipes, air conditioner units, propane heaters, water heaters, sinks, toilets, and other items not made by the coach manufacturer. With all this stuff jostling down the road at 65 MPH things are bound to come lose, crack, unscrew, twist, dislodge, and just plain break.

If you are going to have any RV, new or used, be prepared to pay to have things fixed or replaced unless you can do it yourself. I'm not trying to talk you out of anything...just don't think any RV, inspected or not, is not going to cost you something with regular frequency. The more complex they are the more stuff there is to break or malfunction. Having it inspected for the chassis in a great idea but you must know what you are looking for in all the various systems in the "house" part of the motorhome unless you can find an "expert" somewhere to do it for you. Even then, there may be things hidden from view or are just about to break. All you can do is the best you can to determine the current condition of a unit. Stuff about to break is beyond most folks to determine unless it is an obvious mechanical or electrical issue.

RVing is fun and is a great way to travel; especially with all the issues with air travel with luggage costs, weight restrictions, airport headaches and late and overbooked flights. Having what you want to take with you in quantities far more than you can stuff into a suitcase weighing less than 51 pounds as well as your own bed, towels, sheets, food and pets is a great want to travel.
When we were first getting started buying rental property I was working as a mechanic. It was immediately obvious that rental houses were way easier to maintain and took way less brain power to keep running: nowhere near the number of moving parts. As you point out, on a vehicle, even the non-moving parts are moving.
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:45 AM   #20
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As others, I wouldn't try to talk you out of anything, but I suppose I've just never thought there were good financial reasons to RV (unless it would be to full-time RV - i.e, you no longer need a house.)
Anyone who knows beans about RVing knows there is no "good financial reason" to own a rolling residence. Outside full-timing and not owning/renting a sticks & bricks location, RVing is like almost every other true hobby - you have to pay to play.
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