A Guide to buying a Second Hand Motorhome

Buying a motorhome can be very overwhelming for first time buyers. There are a lot more gadgets in most motorhomes than your regular vehicle, and therefore potentially more that could go wrong or be in disrepair.

Buying a motorhome can be very overwhelming for first time buyers. There are a lot more gadgets in most motorhomes than your regular vehicle, and therefore potentially more that could go wrong or be in disrepair. We have put together a short guide to give you an idea of what to look out for when buying your first motorhome, and to help you make that first purchase. One of the most important things to keep in mind when purchasing a motorhome is that they sit in storage for the majority of the time. This has some pros and cons. It means that the wear on the brakes, transmission and internal engine components are minimal, but it is also unhealthy for mechanical equipment to be left unused. The inner workings can be damaged when they are left to sit for months or even years at a time without having to do any work.

There are a few tests you should perform on the inner workings of any second hand motorhome before making the decision to purchase it. First, start the motorhome to see if there is any blue smoke that goes away fairly quickly when you first start the engine. This may mean that the motorhome has excessive oil consumption and that the valve guide seals are leaking. The rubber gaskets may have hardened while sitting unused for a long period of time. 

You will also want to see if there are any signs of leaks between the transmission and the engine. If you see any red, this means that there may be a front seal leak in the transmission. You will need to disassemble and replace the leaking seal if it is damaged, and that could mean a substantial financial commitment. Be sure to check the oil level and its appearance. Look at spark plugs to ensure good condition. Inspect the carburetor to see if it is clean and if the parts are freely moving. Take a look at the belts and hoses to see if they are in good condition. Look at the air cleaner to check for the filter condition and for proper seals. You may also wish to perform a compression test to the engine to ensure that all of the cylinders are fairly equal. 

You will also want to check for leaking lines and excessive wear in the brakes. Check for excessive rust and that all hangars are in place for the exhaust. Get under the vehicle to look for damage from rocks and debris to the chasis. Ensure that the lube points have been properly maintained. Take a look at the tyres to check for cracking, mis-alignment and proper inflation. Ensure that there are no dents or cracks in the rims and that all of its bolts are present and tightened.

Once you are satisfied with the internal workings of the motorhome, you sould check for roof leaks inside of cabinets, closets and open spaces inside the motorhome. Water leaks can cause dry rot in the motorhome’s walls and framing. Dry rot in a motorhome can be very costly to repair, so you may want to steer clear of purchasing a secondhand motorhome that has discolored patches in the walls or in the ceiling.

Once you are satisfied with the internal workings and the roof of the second hand motorhome, take a look around the rest of the inside of the vehicle. Check out the refrigerator and the stove to be sure that they are in working order. Try opeerating the the water heater, electric pump, heater, air conditioner, thermostat, lights and accessories to be sure there aren’t any problems with them. Try out the toilet, kitchen and bathroom sinks and the shower to check for proper operation and drainage. Take a look at the wiring for any damage. Check the windows to make sure that they can open and close properly. Check the entry door latch to be sure that it works properly, and don’t be afraid to ask for an owner’s manual. If the overall condition of the motorhome is good, and there are only a few minor glitches with the vehicle or the body work, you may be able to use to negotiate on the price of the motorhome. If you are unsure how much the repairs will cost – ring your local motorhome servicing and repair centre to try and get an estimate for the work.

Purchasing a second hand motorhome is a lot like buying a second hand car, but it is even more complicated. You and your loved ones will be spending a lot of time in your second hand motorhome, so you want to make sure that it is a worthwhile investment that will be around for many years to come. Do not let a salesman win you over by showing you its fancy kitchen accessories and other glamorous features. Focus on the parts that really matter, and then you can turn your attention to the aesthetics and the fancy bells and wistles that the second hand motorhome may feature. Keep in mind that none of those fancy features matter unless the motorhome’s engine, transmission, tyres, chasis and other crucial parts are in good order. Don’t be afraid to bring a checklist and even an experienced motorhome mechanic with you if you are serious about purchasing a second hand motorhome.


Advice provided by JC Leisure – New & Used Motorhome Dealership in Kent.

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