What to Look For When Purchasing a Pre Owned Camper Or Motorhome
By Cam R Snyder
When going to get a used popup, trailer, or motorhome, there are obviously things to look for before making the big purchase. Here are some main pointers for completing this task. Remember- the more you know, the happier you will be with your purchase down the road (literally and metaphorically)!
As mentioned in another post, the value of these things depreciate very quickly. Even in a year, your new investment will have already decreased greatly in value. This, of course, is where buying used comes in. The savings are huge, and the difference between used and new can be minimal if you play your cards right. A used big unit may be the same cost or cheaper than a new, smaller unit.
Research, people. Research is what it's all about. Being patient and acquiring the right knowledge on what you're looking for will make the task of buying the perfect used unit much easier than going in blind.
Of course, when looking at a used unit, you should place overall condition high on the list. Remember this- the exterior of the unit is the easiest part to keep nice. What you really need to look into is the interior. Has it been smoked in? Pet or kid inhabited? Etc. Also, make sure everything is up to date mechanically and electrically. You don't need a fire hazard on your camping trip. With RV's, check out the drive train, undercarriage rust, tires, and everything else that you would when purchasing a vehicle. Yes, you are going to need to do a big time inspection to be sure that what you are looking at is worth the price.
If there are problems, no matter how small, learn how much the repair or replacement will cost you, and tack that on to the initial price. Maybe it will still be a good deal, given the seller realizes these things, but more often than not, the seller will try (maybe even unknowingly) to hide these issues. Go over all switches, lights, and appliances inside of the unit. Make sure the water system and restrooms are functional (hot AND cold water, as well. I have seen many water heaters go out in said units). Check out the a/c. Check out the heat. If you aren't mechanically inclined enough to look into the engine, electrical components,etc.. bring along a buddy or maybe even hire someone who is. Ask to test drive, or "test tow" the vehicle as well, not only to make sure everything functions correctly, but to be sure that you feel comfortable with maneuvering on the road with the added size.
Back to the bottom line though, the price. Obviously, you are going used to save money. If there's a big dealer mark up, you're shooting your plan in the rear end from the get go. Knowledge is your best friend here. There's tons of price guides out there to find a great guideline on what's a good deal and what's not. Take advantage of the web and use the resources available here. Hopefully, you'll soon find yourself in the used unit that saves you money and fulfills your desires.