Service Records - If you're buying from an
dealer and they can't produce something - you've got problems - possibly
serious ones. If not, he'd be proudly displaying the records. There should
at least be receipts for repairs, service work, and possibly old owners
Body Leaks -Other than structural rust, I know of no other exterior
related problem that will cost you as much money and cause you as many
headaches as exterior body leaks. Body leaks are among the most difficult
to fix if the body design is less than first rate. Front facing windows on
many Class C's are nearly impossible to stop leaking due to flexing and
I have been incredibly pleased with the purchase of my 1993 Class A.
However, the wood over skeleton frame roofs like the type Georgie Boy used
in this coach has begun to sag between the support tubes or "skeleton".
The weight of air-conditioners, vents, my roof mounted kayaks, and walking
up there to fix seams, has permanently created "ponding" issues. Price
quote from my very trusted and competent local
service center was $4,200 to rebuild my entire roof.
Ponding is water sitting on the roof when the coach is level. When this
happens you have increased chances of leaks, bugs, slime and algae growth,
and dirty water run off when you drive somewhere. Rounded formed
fiberglass roofs are the very best but only appear on the newer coaches
that were out of my price range.
have seen $30,000 to $60,000 coaches nearly ruined by leaks that went
unchecked. Be especially cautious if you see ANY delamination of the side
wall. I have never seen the permanent damage fixed for less than $4,000
and that is WITHOUT a guarantee that it won't happen again. This is
usually caused by poor roof and seam design.
underestimates how serious this is. I know I almost bought one.
Couldn't figure out why a great looking Santara diesel pusher would
only cost $24,000. Then I walked around to the drivers side and saw
the fiberglass body delaminating. I didn't think it looked too
expensive to repair. I figured caulk the seam and just screw the panel
back tighter to the frame. Of course the salesman agreed.
WRONG! People do not realize especially in older coaches that the WOOD
(yes I said the WOOD) that is under the fiberglass skin does offer
quite a bit of the stability, and rigidity of the exterior. Once it
gets wet for a prolonged period of time it rots, breaks down, and
becomes heavy enough to cause the entire skeleton to sag. Windows no
longer fit right, seams pop open worse, storage doors underneath
stick, and on and on. Do NOT buy an
RV with this problem. It
can cost as much as $13,000 to fix (highest horror story I have read
about on the RV chat logs thus far).
Body integrity is one of the more important advantages that the big
solidly constructed bus conversions have over 95% of the factory built
use. Do NOT purchase an
RV that has signs of
leaking without a thorough plan for paying for and fixing the problem.
Otherwise, I can assure you, it will destroy your experience and
investment in a short time.
Mechanical Leaks - Look for ANY signs of leaks, particularly from
Automatic Transmissions. Some Allison transmissions used in diesel
motor homes have wimpy front seals and leak constantly when the
transmission gets too hot. Don't buy an
RV with a leaky
transmission. A replacement Allison can cost $3,000 parts and labor to
replace. Leaking brake components or hydraulic systems can be
expensive to repair also.
Leaky radiators can be expensive to repair or replace on larger
coaches especially if the labor to pull them involves pulling a lot of
other items. Same goes for leaky dash air-conditioning systems.
Body Style - Check out the visibility differences. The entrance door
positions vary as well. The rear pusher buses offer a quieter ride.
Fifth Wheels usually do not have flat foors inside and almost
universally offer the "split level".
Transmissions - Get an automatic unless you
really like the absolute control of a standard and never intend to resell
it. Standard shifts are MUCH harder to sell as conversions because
retirees are the most common motor home buyers and they don't like to
shift. Allison makes the best transmission systems in the world. Many
older gas RV's
were mated to inferior transmissions that just cannot handle the extra
weight and pull issue.
Some RV's have
engine/transmission setups that are so underpowered you will never be able
to afford to use them. These transmissions are forever blowing seals,
leaking, overheating, and breaking down. Buy a replacement transmission
and guess what? Your only option may be a rebuilt version of the
problematic transmission you already own.
Engine - If you are going to be traveling through mountainous areas
regularly get the biggest engine you can afford. There is NO substitute
for size (raw cubic inches) I don't care what the ads say. My car has a
440 in it. Why would you buy a 34'
with a 318 in it? Check carefully how many miles on the engine or since
the engine rebuild. Gas engines last about 60-100,000 miles, depending on
whether they are driven stop and go in the mountains or over long
stretches of flat highway. Diesels can often approach 200,000 miles before
needing much of anything with proper maintenance.
If economy is a major concern, look for a good affordable coach with a
great miserly engine/transmission combination. I bought such a coach with
a Cummins 190 HP 6 cylinder diesel engine mated to an Allison 4 speed
automatic transmission. Over the course of our 31 day, 7,980 mile trip, in
mixed traffic, tough mountain and city driving, we averaged 10.6 MPG in
our 34 foot fully loaded class A live-a-board coach with 4 people and 2