Should I Buy a 10 Plus Year Old Used Motorcoach?
Buying a used motorhome makes more financial sense than a new coach, but it also comes with some hiccups, which you need to investigate before making a purchase.
The biggest one is the condition of the motorhome, which in most cases relates to age.
So, the first question to ask yourself when purchasing a used motorhome is, “how old is too old” for a used RV? Of course, if age is just a number for you, the real question should be how used is too used for a used trailer?
Let’s jump in and discuss everything you need to know about selecting a used RV and the “right” age to go for.
If you have a used motorhome that is more than 10 years, you’ve probably found yourself running into the “10-year rule” in some of the upscale campgrounds.
The 10-year rule is simply a policy in some campgrounds that bans travel trailers of more than 10 years. It’s a discriminatory rule that denies motorcoaches access based on their age limit.
It’s a rare occurrence, though, and something most RVers like debating about. In my opinion, the 10-year rule for RVs is mainly about classism, but it’s legal.
However, there are also usually valid reasons for implementing this rule, and a camp will deny your 10-year-old rig access mainly because of the following:
- Legal reasons
Of course, most national, state, and army corps for engineer parks, normal KOAs, or random locally owned campgrounds don’t have the 10-year rule. You can always tell which campgrounds have this rule by how “resort” they look.
Generally, any place with a “resort” in the name could be a snob about it.
But from experience, most parks with this rule will use a “judgment call” on your older RV, and if it’s well-kept and maintained, they’ll be fine with you accessing their park.
Generally, your rig shouldn’t be an eyesore; honestly, it depends on how it presents itself.
But as in some instances, you might not be lucky, and you won’t gain access no matter how nice your old RV looks. So, you must stay tuned, especially if your idea of RVing is camping in the high visitation and deluxe resort parks.
Outside the actual usage, the other important factor that makes a used RV too old is its condition, which is usually more than its age.
How well-maintained an RV is determined by whether it’s a worthy purchase, age notwithstanding.
See, every piece of equipment in your RV has its maintenance schedule based on time, hours of operation, etc.
For example, in my Winnebago Class B, there are different critical equipment such as propane generators, water heaters, furnaces, and fridges. These components require periodic maintenance, even when my RV is idle.
The generator manual, for example, requires that I run it for at least 30 minutes under load every minute.
Now, if I skip any maintenance records for a long time, shit will go down and may break at the worst of times.
When buying a used trailer, you can’t always assume the previous owner maintained the RV. So, the first step is to request maintenance records.
If they have a scrupulous maintenance record, that’s a plus on your side. It indicates the previous owners have been responsible for maintaining the RV.
However, if they have no maintenance records to show for it, be prepared to inspect and probably replace everything.
The inspection isn’t so easy, especially if you’re new to an RV, because you need to track down the manual for every piece of equipment and determine what inspection to do or how to troubleshoot issues.
One of the key elements you should be wary of when inspecting a used RV is the presence of water damage.
Saggy or spongy floors and soft spots in the walls and ceiling may indicate the presence of water intrusion. It’s usually sneaky and difficult to manage.
Also, check if there’s the presence of recent repairs and patches here and there. It may be a sign of a band-aid project to cover up for extensive damage.
Even then, I’d recommend hiring a professional to inspect. Professional inspectors are a tad expensive, but they’re worth it. They have a keen eye and will easily spot damage on a used RV in places you wouldn’t have imagined or thought about.
From experience, I don’t think the mileage is such a huge indicator of how much a travel trailer has been used.
For example, some folks I know use an RV trailer for commuting to work. Their RVs have a lot of mileage but little actual use. On the other hand, if you park and live in your RV, it’ll have low mileage but a lot of use.
My previous examples may be extreme, but this is just to clarify my point that there’re several ways to determine the worthiness of a used RV, more than just the mileage.
But the thing is, RVs aren’t designed to be used frequently. For example, typical RVers only travel 3 to 4 times a year, so it’s not unusual to find old and used RVs with a modest or low mileage of 4,500 miles per year.
However, as I explained, it doesn’t mean the RV isn’t getting used because of the low mileage.
On the other hand, be wary of RVs with high mileage. The higher the mileage, the longer the distance covered, and the more wear and tear.
In my opinion, you’d want a rig with average use.
The ideal rig should have racked up some miles, and the previous owner should have lived or used it consistently. It may indicate they’ve probably kept all systems up and probably noticed any potential issues.
Keep away from the used rigs with extremely low mileage because it might be an indicator of idleness. Several factors, such as weather inclement can be hard on RVs sitting unused for extended periods.
Knowing the exact mileage of an RV is simple as checking the odometer unless it has been tampered with. The problem comes from telling mileage on a travel trailer.
There’re, however, several ways to deduce the mileage of a travel trailer. For example, asking the previous owner about the frequency of use and slipping in questions about their favorite camping location and frequency may help you deduce some truthful mileage estimates.
You should also inquire how often they’ve changed the wheels on the travel trailer because it usually correlates to the distance traveled.
Most RVs will probably spend a considerable chunk of their life idle and parking and less on the road. Now, depending on the storage, your RV may wear out much quicker in storage than on the road.
How well your potential choice for a used RV will have been stored will determine whether it’s a worthy purchase.
Ideally, you should store an RV in a shelter at a covered facility. But we all know this rarely happens. Now, if you come across an RV exposed to inclement weather during storage, it’s likely to look beaten up.
Extended exposure to sunlight, for example, takes a huge toll on the RV decal, fades the paint, damages the curtains, and dries out the tires, causing rot.
Exposing it to rainy conditions will cause damaging issues such as leaks, mildew and mold formation, and algae growth.
Combined, these external factors can cause the RV to look older than it looks. Even worse, they may take a toll on the structural integrity of the RV.
So, before purchasing a used motorhome, be sure to ask the previous owners whether they stored their RV under a shade. Also, confirm whether they regularly washed and waxed the RV. It helps to keep your RV looking new.
Beware of Vintage RVs
Sometimes, you need to differentiate between an “old” RV, which looks like it’s fresh from the grave, and a ‘fossil” RV.
The problem with the RVs in junkyards is that it can be hard to find the OEM parts. Some of the manufacturers of these RVs are usually out of the market and no longer producing RVs.
However, this doesn’t mean you should always walk away from all vintage models. Go for it if you find one renovated with new safety equipment, including new propane lines.
Classic vintage RVs also have much better opportunities, and finding replacement parts on Craigslist or some RV forms might be somewhat easier.
If you’re planning to invest in a specific used RV brand, understand there’re the “sweet” years and the years not so “hot” for different RV models.
There’s no cutoff date as such, but for example, when a manufacturer introduced a new technology, the brands that followed a few years after probably had issues.
Ditto for the years the manufacturer was about to go bankrupt and close their doors; most would produce products with shoddy workmanship issues and poor quality.
It’s not necessarily true for every case, but if you research and come across a persistent manufacturing defect across different models of the same year and brand, it would be best to stay away from the RV.
Q: How Old Of A Used Motorhome Should I Buy?
A: There’s no age limit to the motorhome to buy. The most important thing is to check on the condition of the RV.
Q: How long do motorhomes last?
A: The useful life of an RV is up to 20 years or 200,000 miles. However, you can greatly extend the lifespan of your RV through proper maintenance and care.
Q: What is considered high mileage on a motorhome?
A: Roughly speaking, used motorhomes with anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 could be considered high mileage. But depending on how well they’re taken care of, they might be worth it.
When searching for the best-used RV, it’s usually more than the actual age. Yes, age may play some part in determining the worthiness of a motorhome, but it’s mainly about the condition.
I’ve come across 10-year-old used RVs that are worth dying for. And then there are 2-year-old RVs that are a complete wreck.
The most important thing to do when buying a used RV, especially based on the age limit, is to do your homework diligently. Pay attention to the evidence of water intrusion. Check the tires. Get down and search for cracks.
A thoroughly inspected RV with no inherent defects will serve you much better and make your RVing more enjoyable.