You can avoid unfixable problems and make an intelligent, wise investment once you know what to look for and when to walk away.
Most motorhome sidewall exteriors are thin pieces of plywood with thinner sheets of fiberglass glued to it, the next layer is an inch to an inch and a half layer of Styrofoam covering yet another layer of plywood, often covered in vinyl. Over time or through damage, these layers begin to separate and is a very difficult, if not impossible, problem to amend. The easiest way to ascertain if the RV you are looking at has problems of delamination is by standing at the rear end of the vehicle and look down the side towards the front – if there are any bulges, or any areas where the siding is no longer attached to the inner layers – walk away. It will be more trouble than what it is worth.
Depending on the severity of the water leak and where it is coming from, it could be a matter of simply replacing seals around the windows. However, if the water leak has resulted in water damage into the interior wall or the floor, you could be looking at extensive and expensive repairs. Check for staining around all windows, doors, the walls, any air conditioning units or vents, sky lights and other areas where water could seep. Sliding doors are notorious for causing water leakage issues. Fill up any tanks that come equipped on the vehicle to ensure there are no leaks. Exterior leaks are easier to get to and cheaper to fix than interior leaks.
Electrical, Engine and Generators
Depending on the type of RV you are buying, you may need to check to see if the generator is running in good condition. If the generator is shot, a replacement can be extremely costly and not worth it in the long run. Make sure all electrical systems are up to date, in good condition and running as it should. The same goes for any appliances that come with the motorhome. The bottom line is figuring out if there is a problem, how much it will cost to repair and weighing that against the purchasing price being asked for the vehicle. If you are knowledgeable and experienced in being able to fix these types of issues, it may be a good buy where as someone who would need to go to a licensed professional will have to figure in the cost of labor as well. Refrigerators and furnaces are often the most expensive items to fix or replace.
You will also want to check out the battery, all cables, the engine if it has one and any mechanical components. If you are unsure what to look or check for, do not hesitate to have a mechanic look it over, it can save you potentially thousands of dollars.
Look for motorhomes that have well taken care of interiors and upholstery. If the interior is shabby, dirty and unkempt, it can give you a good idea as to how the rest of the vehicle was maintained. If there are a few dirty spots, it can be relatively cheap to replace or it may not be a big deal to you. If there are any fold down tables or beds, make sure the mechanical arms are in good shape and function as they should.
Tires should be in great condition, free of significant cracks and any sign of dry rot. While tires do not seem like they would be that expensive to replace, on a standard size class A motorhome, replacing six to eight tires can run upwards of three to four thousand dollars.
Buying a motorhome pre-owned can save you a substantial amount of money over buying brand new. Knowing what to look for can ensure you are buying a quality vehicle.