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Selecting the Right Previously-Owned RV


As RVing becomes more and more popular among the working class, more and more families are looking in the classifieds and at RV lots for previously-owned RVs, fifth-wheels and trailers. For most, breaking into the RVing sport dictates starting at the bottom instead of the top. Sure, that new deisel pusher catches your eye on the show room floor. Who wouldn't want a $300,000 RV to run around in on the weekends and that once a year vacation getaway.

The truth is, there are plenty of good previously-owned RVs out there, and there are great bargains to be had for the diligent buyer. But - just like buying a previously-owned car or truck - there can be major pitfalls for the careless or uniformed.

If you own an RV, this may seem rather remedial, But if you're a first time buyre, read on and save yourself, potential, many troubles and a great deal of money.

Let us assume at this point that you have researched enough to know what type of recreational vehicle you want. You know the difference between a Class A, Class B and Class C motorhome. You know what a fifth-wheel is and perhaps you made up your mind which kind is the right choice for you.

For the sake of argument, let's say you have chosen a motorhome over other types of recreational units. The principles for selecting a used motorhome are adaptable to purchases of other types of vehicles, so we will use this for an example.

Rule Number One: All motorized RVs should be mechanically checked over by YOUR mechanic, and all RVs should have a complete systems, appliance, and running gear check-out by a reputable RV dealer. There is no acceptable substitute for this. Even if there is a charge involved, it could be the best investment you'll ever make.

A complete systems check includes the propane system for leaks, all interior lights, 12 volt outlets, 110 volt outlets, converter, battery charger, inverter and  fans. The water lines, taps, traps, fresh water tank, water pump, grey and black water tank and slide valves should all filled and tested for leaks. Window seals and mechanisms, roof vents drawers, cupboard latches should all be checked for proper operation.

Exterior running, signal and back-up lights should all be tested to insure proper working condition. It's easy to get a short in a system, but difficult to correct it.

Also to be checked, the brake shoes, magnets, drums, wheel bearings, axles, springs, tires, and stabilizing jacks. All appliances should be checked and tested, The  air-conditioner and generator should be inspected and serviced.

Inspection of the underbelly and roof should be included in your check-out.

Don't be afraid to ask the owner (or dealer) for a history of the RV, especially any and all receipts, warranties and paperwork for work done or replacements made to the unit.

Finally, take the unit out on the road and DRIVE! See how it handles, listen, watch and feel for any problems. If possible, set the unit up for camping. Your driveway will work, or a short drive to the nearest RV park. Until you have set up and taken down an RV, you can't possible know what all is involved and whether or not everything is in goor working order to facilitate your on-the-road experience.

If , after all of this, you like what you find, check the blue-book price for the unit and compare it to other, similar units on the market.

Now you've done it. Welcome to the world of RVing.