I probably shouldn't start this report on motor home chassis this way but here at rv motor home answers we live and work where the rubber meets the fluff, just the truth. You can go anywhere and get fluff...but not here. So I must bring this up.

The one thing I've seen in this business that sours people faster than anything is a rv or motor home purchase (new or used) in which the buyer later feels they made a mistake. There's too many of you out there and we're out to change that.

Any prospective buyer of a used motor home who doesn't thoroughly investigate the motor home chasis is not just taking a chance... he's asking for trouble. You can easily spend from hundreds of dollars to thousands to have a dependable truck ( thats what a motor home chasis is) that is going to take its pay load (your house on wheels) down the road without worry.

Remember I don't care what the inside of the motor home looks like or that the bed has never been slept in. Such things are irrelevant for this discussion. Our goal is get you go down the road in a cloud of dust ... not a burst of smoke. OK, the major components of motor home chassis are engine , transmission , drive train, differential, brakes and wheel bearings, and suspension systems. The depth of the chassis investigation will depend upon the amount of money involved in your prospective purchase and the size of the motor home but there are three steps you must consider.

#1 Do a test drive

A road test will tell you if you want to pursue this transaction Use the following as a guide of things to watch for on the road test and add things you think of to it.

  • motor home handling,
  • in town and on the open road. Hopefully you will encounter some wind out on the highway to see how it handles.

  • how does the motor home stop?

  • are you comfortable driving it?

  • how does it perform? Does it have adequate power? How is it on hills? (Remember it will be empty however)

  • is it air tight Look for air leaks around windshield and windows. Listen for any howling or whistling.

  • listen for creaks, squeaks, rattles, and vibrations

If possible you want to do a road test of at least an hour. Often, but not always, engines, transmissions, and rear ends (differential) may exhibit problems once they get hot. This is a good time to check acceleration, transmission shifting. and stopping. The end of the test drive is a good time to take the fluid samples. (Check with oil analysis testing agency for proper proceedure for taking samples)

#2 Oil (fluid) analysis

The next step in your investigation. The beauty of a oil(fluid) analysis is they are inexpensive and will give you an "inside look" of the system being analyzed with out tearing it apart.

What is a oil analysis?

Oil and fluid can be analyzed for various properties and material to monitor wear and contaminants in such systems as engine, transmission, and hydraulic systems. In addition sampling on a routine basis will establish a "baseline" of normal wear and will help indicate when abnormal wear or contamination is occuring.

The fact of the matter is oil in a mechanical system for a period of time reflects the actual condition of that system. For example, engine oil will not only have the metallic traces of engine wear but also the products of combustion and become a working history of the engine. In addition a typical oil analysis can help determine source of wear, detect contaminants, and check the use of proper lubricants.

An engine oil analysis can detect:

  • fuel dilution of engine oil
  • dirt contamination of engine oil
  • antifreeze in the oil
  • excessive bearing wear
  • misappropriation of lubricants

Abnormal levels of a particular material can give warning of future problems. Oil analysis then of engine, transmission, and differential along with the inspection of these components by a professional will give you a meaningful idea of the current condition of these components.

(For more information on this topic visit

#3 Chassis inspection by professional truck mechanic

Do the necessary research to locate a reputable truck repair facility and communicate with them the importance and the depth to which you want them to go. If you're not sure, ask for their advice. Once you're to this step you'll most likely have some concerns for them to check out and then let them do their thing. They should inspect the drive train, brakes and possibly wheelbearings, shocks, springs, etc. Depending on whether or not you have any records on the motorhome you probably should have them pull a front wheel and check out the front brakes. This is not something you want done at the end of their day in some half hearted way. Your paying for it so be sure you get your money's worth.

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