If you’re considering purchasing an RV with some mileage, you may wonder if one with 100000 miles is wise. After all, with that many miles, even buying from an RV dealer, you likely won’t have an RV warranty.
There are few things to keep in mind when making this decision. Below is your complete guide on what to consider when purchasing an older RV.
Buying a motorhome, or any vehicle with high mileage can be a gamble. Looking at the odometer with 100000 miles makes you wonder how much more life is left in this home on wheels.
The good news is that following the guidelines below reduces your risk of being stuck with a total dud of a motorhome. As our dad may have done, just kicking the tires is not the best rule of thumb on buying an older rig.
The guideline below works for all types of campers. This guide will help with Class A, Class B, or even Class C motorhomes. They even work with campervans. Any old rig that has an engine and a place to live should follow the tips and guidelines below.
Table of Contents
- High Mileage
- Maintenance Records
- Visual Inspection
- Test Drive
An odometer showing 100000 miles may sound like a lot of miles and may cause concern on how this motorhome will last. Also, you may have a concern on buying a lemon and what the maintenance costs will be. All valid concerns and you should go into any purchase with thought and plan on what the risks will be.
When you buy a motorhome, you are basically buying a pickup truck. The engine, transmission and suspension are all very similar to the typical pick up truck on the road. My current truck has 200000 miles on it, so I am not afraid to see any vehicle with 100000 miles on it. The key is how that vehicle lived for those 100000 miles.
Just as in anything in life, how something was treated and maintained is a good indicator of how long it will last. Regular maintenance is the key to any vehicle lasting a long time. My truck, which has over 200000 miles, was treated very well through out its life. I changed the oil as recommended and followed all the service recommendations by the manufacturer.
First question I would ask a seller is if they have any maintenance records. I have found that people who have records, generally do follow the service recommendations. Things like oil changes, transmission fluid changes, and even radiator flushes will extend the life of a vehicle.
Good records will include the date of service as well as the mileage the service was performed.
Go online and check what the service recommendations are for that motorhome. Manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz and Winnebago usually have recommendations on service intervals.
Next thing to look for is the age of the vehicle. There is a big difference between a camper that has high mileage in 5 years vs 15 years.
Vehicles like to be driven. Especially if you have a diesel engine, which loves to be on the road for hours. With the engine and transmission at operating temperature, it evaporates any condensation (moisture) and keeps the inner components cleaner and with less rust.
A road trip is best when long and the components warm up as designed. Short trips and turning the engine on and off put extra wear and tear on the components.
The weather can wreak havoc on the life of a motorhome. Cold weather, snow, ice, salt and even sunshine can degrade and damage many components. Steel will rust, aluminum will corrode and plastics will harden and crack.
If you are buying in a region of the country where there is cold weather and the RV was likely in storage at some time in its life, see if you can find out how the RV was stored. Indoor or covered storage is great for keeping the exterior looking like new.
Also, in the hot states, see how it was protected from the harsh sun. Were sunshades and tire covers used?
You will see a better condition as a whole on the motorhouse that was protected from the elements.
This may sound simple, but if you are not certain what to look out for, you may miss something. It will pay to spend time walking around the outside and the inside of the motorhome to look around.
Check the engine compartment. This is easier in a Class B or a Class C motorhome with the engine location. Check for condition of battery, loose wires or any odd sounds that you may hear when the engine is running. Most of us can’t rebuild an engine, but I bet most people know when the engine doesn’t sound right.
Check the oil. Is it low? Check the radiator fluid, is it low? If they are, its a good sign the current owner may not have taken good care of it.
If you are able, I suggest you look under motorhome. You can learn a lot by sticking your head under a motorhome (or any vehicle for that matter). See if there are any leaks on the ground. Any oil or grease on any of the components will also show signs of leaking even if not on the ground.
Check for excessive rust on the frame or the sheet metal work. If there is excessive rust, this is not easily repairable and a good sign for you to continue on looking for other vehicles.
Sealant and Plastics
Water is the most damaging factor to any motorhome. Regardless of mileage, water will damage any new or old rv.
When you walk around the motorhome or camper, look at seams, windows and doors for any signs of loose or missing sealants. Any gaps or lose caulk will allow water to enter in the trailer and cause damage.
Look at the plastic components as you walk around the trailer. Is there signs of cracked or brittle plastic? Is there any signs of discoloration? Many plastic components can be a source for water to enter. Check around these areas for any signs where water can get in.
Check the interior of the trailer for any signs of water damage or leaks. Check the ceiling, walls, and floor. Any bubbling in these areas is a sign that water has entered in at one time or is still entering.
Stiff around. Sounds weird, but if there is a major issue with water, it will usually give off that musty or moldy smell. So don’t look at a high mileage RV when you have a cold or stuffy nose.
Sometimes the best way to test an older RV is to just drive it.
When on the road, pay attention to every little thing that we sometimes tune out. Engine sounds, handling around corners and brakes should all be the focus of your attention. Although you will likely hear more noises than a new RV, pay attention to the feel and if anything is excessive.
Shopping for an RV is a major decision. And buying an older RV with some mileage takes on some concerns that should not be taken lightly. Understanding the history of the motorhome by reviewing the maintenance records and doing your visual inspections will reduce your risk on whether you should buy an RV with 100000 miles or not.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.