Purchasing A New or Used RV


I’m looking at a 2002 Damon Escaper with an 8.3 Cummings 40’ motor home. The RV dealer who sells used RV’s has had it for nearly 14 months and recently dropped the price by $35,000. It has a great floor plan and everything looks really good and only has 52,000 miles. I took it for a short drive and the only problem I noticed was you have to push really hard on the brake pedal to get it to stop. I have been driving large mobile cranes so air brakes are not new to me. If the motor home is so good by is it still for sale? I don’t want to spend $130,000 and buy a pig.

You’re right to be wary about a used motor home that has been for sale for so long. However, not everyone wants a 40-foot motor home or rv and anyone looking at this motor home has the same question. What’s wrong with it?

That leaves anyone interested in purchasing a used RV or Used Motor Home to do his/her home work to determine as best as possible whether it is a good deal or not.

The following points should be considered and answered before any final decision is made:

Concerning Price:

1. Just for curiosity sake, I would want to know if this is a consignment sale. Find out if you can talk to the previous owner.

2. Find MSRP( manufacturers suggested retail price) when motor home was new.

3. First time buyer should have gotten at least an a 20% discount (or more). This gives you a realistic starting price point!!!

4. Get current NADA retail and wholesale value on the motor home Note: NADA quotes on internet are approximately 10% higher than their book

5. Used motor home (or any used rv) will seldom bring retail price unless it is “mint”, like new. Use a medium figure between retail and wholesale as a fair market value for this motor home. fair market value for this motor home.

In the final analysis the motor home will sell for whatever a perspective buyer will pay which is ultimately determined by supply and demand.

Motor Home Inspection

A thorough inspection is imperative to determine the value of any used RV or Motor Home.

#l. Brake system needs to be checked out and diagnosed by someone experienced with this chassis or at least large truck chassis.

#2. Get an “oil analysis” on engine and transmission fluid by a respectable firm such as Caterpillar. (These analysis are not expensive)

#3. Do another test drive. 30 minutes to an hour minimum. Get it out on the open road and get it up to operating temperature. Note engine and transmission response when hot in different driving conditions. Pay special attention to any excessive vibration, air leaks in the cabin, chassis noises, etc.

#4. Tire inspection. Check tire wear, oxidation, and tire pressure (over inflated or under inflated.

#5. For additional peace of mind, I would have chassis checked out by someone experienced in this area. Also, have all chassis electrical systems checked out.

#6. For expenditures of this size “house”(inside of motor home) should be inspected by a qualified RV technician to insure all systems are operating correctly.

- electrical (AC and DC)
- all appliances
- plumbing
- holding tanks
- etc

Once a thorough inspection is completed price can be negotiated from the NADA used price explained in #5 under price considerations above. Be very clear about what the dealer or previous owner will or will not take care of. Performing the above should separate any “lemons “ from the good quality used motor homes or used rv’s.

Good Luck!