July 28, 2017 at 2:25 PM
The majority of motorhome owners buy second hand vehicles. You may feel confident choosing a second hand car, but a motorhome is another kettle of fish altogether, and special care should be taken to ensure you buy something that runs well and suits your touring lifestyle. After all, a motorhome is likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to make, so it is worth spending a little longer and doing some homework to get it right.
Like everything else, second hand motorhomes have a host of advantages and disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of buying a second hand or used motorhome is that you are unlikely to find something absolutely perfect. That is not to say there aren’t any great motorhomes available, there are, but you will need longer to search for one, and will have to see a lot before you make a decision. Then, even if you find the make and model you are looking for, there is no guarantee that it will run well, and function correctly straight away.
The main advantage of buying a second hand motorhome is fairly obvious: cost. A second hand motorhome is far cheaper than a brand new one, in fact a new motorhome loses its value the minute it is driven away from the dealership. A used motorhome is perfect for first timer as it gives you the chance to get to know the motorhoming lifestyle without spending so much money. There are many bargains to be had, but you must make sure you know what you’re looking for to avoid being ‘done’.
- Do your homework…
Look at used motorhomes in classified ads, both online and offline and you’ll easily get a gauge on types of motorhomes and prices. Get a shortlist of makes and models that most interest you, then key each one into a search engine with the words ‘fault’ or ‘problem’ next to the make or model of motorhome and you should get a good idea of any major issues with the model. This isn’t perfect, but it should give you a good idea of common faults.
- Set a Budget!
Now you know roughly the makes and models of motorhome that are most suitable for you, you should also have some idea of the price of vehicle you want. Use this to set a budget, but remember the price of the motorhome isn’t the only cost involved. There are the running costs to consider as well. Make sure you can afford to run your chosen motorhome! Factor in such necessities as motorhome insurance, regular servicing, recovery and fuel economy and, if necessary storage costs, in to your calculations. You should then end up with two figures, the initial outlay cost of the vehicle itself, and the cost of running it. This should help you narrow down your search for the right vehicle.
You probably have strong ideas about the layout of the vehicle you plan to buy. Be prepared to be flexible in this, but, just as when you buy a house, make a list of absolute necessities. You could also make a list of desirable attributes, as well. Remember though, the longer your list of requirements, the longer it will take to find a second hand motorhome to fit your purpose!
- Base Vehicles
This is is an important factor to consider. The base vehicles used are varied, but one of the most common is a Fiat Ducato which is designed specifically for motorhomes. Other base vehicles available are; Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Volkswagen Transporter and the Iveco Daily. A good tip to remember is that some of the best bargains to be had are on motorhomes made on less widely used base vehicles, so don’t rule anything out. Although, it is wise to also consider the availability of parts, and whether you have a local specialist who can service and fix any engine or vehicle faults.
- Book Test Drives
Spend a day (or weekend) doing test drives. Make sure you book with the dealer(s) to avoid disappointment on the day. When you get there, check the engine isn’t warm and that you can start it yourself – a common way to disguise starting problems in vehicles is to start the engine prior to the arrival of the potential buyer. Make sure your route includes a steep hill, a section of the motorway or a duel carriageway, and drive around a town to get the feel of real driving conditions. Make sure the test drive is long enough to get a true feeling of the vehicle. Try a hill start to check the clutch works correctly. Park the vehicle – if you’ve never driven something so large before then parking could be tricky at first so keep this in mind, but if you feel the vehicle is too big at this stage then maybe it’s time to reconsider the size of vehicle for you. Also look at such things as whether the stereo can be heard in the back, to help avoid boredom on long journeys!
- Check, Check, Check…
Make sure you check the overall condition of the vehicle. This includes looking at the chassis, the engine and check the mileage, just as you would when buying a second hand car. You should then also look at the seals and trims on the exterior as well as checking for cracks and dents. When you get to the interior, have a good old sniff! If it smells musty or damp, then there may be underlying problems. Check the soft furnishings, carpets, cupboards (do they close properly?). Check the shower works (if the water tank is empty, as for it to be filled). Check all gas and electric appliances work correctly. Make sure all service records are available for both the vehicle and the interior services.
- Picture yourself in the Motorhome
This may sound a bit daft, but bear with us… See if you can picture yourself and your family having a holiday in the motorhome. If you can see yourselves having fun in the vehicle, then it’s the right motorhome for you!
If you follow these few simple rules, you should be able to find a great used motorhome, save a whole load of cash and end up with a vehicle that will last for many years. As long as you keep up with regular servicing, habitation checks and store the motorhome correctly out of season, it will return many happy miles on the road.