Are you buying a used motorhome? Shopping for used RVs is quite a bit different than looking at used cars. There’s more to pay attention to with a home on wheels.
Read on to learn what we looked for when buying our used Class A motorhome. From engine to floorplan, there is a lot to cover. So let’s get started!
Table of contents
- What Is a Class A Motorhome?
- Buying a Used Motorhome vs. New
- Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Class A Motorhome
- Tips for Narrowing Your Search
- Buying a Used Motorhome Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
What Is a Class A Motorhome?
Class A motorhomes are on a truck or bus chassis. They range between 25 to 45 feet long from the front bumper to the rear bumper. You can find them with gas engines or diesel. You can quickly identify them by their large front window that resembles a bus. In addition, Class A RVs often have a larger wheelbase and tires than Class C or Class B RVs.
Buying a Used Motorhome vs. New
Motorhomes depreciate the second you drive them off a dealer’s lot by 20% on average, and they continue to decline in value each year thereafter. So purchasing a new RV isn’t necessarily a good investment. Instead, buying a used motorhome that has been well-maintained can be a wiser move. Before deciding between used and new, consider all of the factors involved however.
Pro Tip: Ready to buy a used RV? Find out where to look for and How to Buy a Used RV From a Private Party
Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Class A Motorhome
We’ve identified ten factors that helped us in buying a used motorhome. It’s an excellent checklist to use when shopping for an RV to keep you focused on getting the best one for your needs.
1. Fuel Type: Gas or Diesel
Class A motorhomes can have gas or diesel engines. The difference between the two is significant. Diesel engines may be more expensive to maintain, but they’re also more durable and likely to outlast a gas engine. They are also your only option if you are going to be buying a heavy coach as gas engines dont get big enough.
That’s why we chose a diesel engine, as it’s a more fuel-efficient powerhouse for getting a large Class A RV down the road.
Join the Debate: We took a closer look at Class A diesel pushers versus gas motorhomes. Can you guess Which Class A RV Type Is Better?
2. Weight Carrying Capacity
When buying a used motorhome, be sure to look up the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) and cargo-carrying capacity for the model and year. The cargo capacity on Class A motorhomes is typically pretty high compared to other motorhomes, fifth wheels, or travel trailers. Determine if you’re going to be carrying water on board in addition to gear when factoring how much cargo capacity you’ll need.
Dont only consider its total weight, but the weight on the axles as well. Many motorhomes have plenty of capacity in the rear, but can be close on the front axle because there are only two tires. The front axle is frequently a weight limiting factor.
If you’re towing a vehicle or trailer behind the motorhome, you’ll want to know the maximum towing capacity as well.
3. Engine Model
When we shopped for a Class A motorhome, we made sure to research the history of engine problems for the ones we were most interested in buying. Some years and models may have more issues than others.
Engine and transmission issues are often well documented in reviews and online forums. You can search to weigh if the year you’re considering is more likely to have problems. It’s also helpful to ask the seller for maintenance records and any known issues.
4. Maintance And Storage Location
We wanted a coach that we knew had been maintained. This is one of the reasons we bought from a private party, usually, you get more records. Proper maintenance is one of the best ways to avoid future problems and is one of the best reasons to buy new. However, getting records can be very helpful.
Along the same lines as maintenance is storage location. How the coach was kept can significantly impact its used quality. A coach kept outside in Florida will be in very poor shape compared to a garage kept coach in the desert. We chose to buy a coach from a dry climate that had been kept covered.
Motorhomes are meant to be used. When we looked for a Class A RV, we didn’t want something that sat in storage its whole life. At the same time, we didn’t want one driven hard with a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, we recommend looking for a motorhome that has been driven approximately three to five thousand miles each year.
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When buying a used motorhome, you’ll find all different lengths between 25 and 45 feet. Some also have slide-outs that widen the RV for even more living space. So how do you know which size to choose?
Consider how much space you need, then examine your travel style. If you’re moving around a lot and going to places like national parks, you may want a shorter motorhome. Shorter Class A RVs are easier to maneuver and fit better in campsites.
Personally, we were looking for a Class A with more space and more features, so we opted for a longer model. When we want to travel more extensively and visit places that require a nimble rig, we’ll use our overland truck camper.
There are two types of heating you’ll find in Class A motorhomes: forced air and hydronic systems. When buying a used motorhome, we recommend determining which you prefer and where it ranks on your priority list.
We wanted hydronic heat, which uses tubing to run hot liquid into heat exchangers that disperse warm air throughout the RV. Hydronic systems tend to be quieter and more efficient. They also help control humidity in your RV.
Pro Tip: Learn more about What Is Aqua-Hot or Hydro-Hot in an RV to make heating your RV easier.
8. Hard Floor vs. Carpet
It’s common to find carpet in older RVs. However, when looking for a Class A motorhome, we wanted as little carpet as possible.
Laminate or vinyl flooring is easier to clean and maintain than carpet. It can also help reduce smells, especially when traveling with pets. If you do purchase an RV with carpet, it’s something you could consider replacing with hard floors in the future.
Finding the right floorplan to fit your needs is one of the essential factors in buying a used motorhome. You’ll want to determine how many beds you need and what size they should be. Things like appliances, furniture, and overall layout are crucial to ensure your home on wheels suits you.
For example, we wanted a king-size bed, a residential refrigerator, a dishwasher and a pull-out L kitchen. So we made sure to look at Class A motorhomes with these features.
10. Overall Condition & Anticipated Maintenance
When buying a used motorhome, anticipate that it will need maintenance. Ask the seller if they have previous maintenance records and know of any current issues. If you’re buying from a private seller, ask them leading questions to ensure they understand their coach well and what problems it has or used to have. Common and expensive maintenance items a coach may need are tires, transmission fluid changes, airbag replacement (diesels)and brake jobs.
For example, ask how old the tires are, whether the oil is changed regularly, and how many hours the generator has on it. Things like new tires can add up, so you want to be sure of what you’re getting into before negotiating on a price. Always be ready to walk away. If this RV isn’t for you, there will be another one.
Pro Tip: Make sure you don’t overpay for your used RV by using these tips on How to Determine Used Camper Values.
Tips for Narrowing Your Search
When buying a used motorhome, narrow your search by making a priority list. Knowing what you want and what you need are the first steps. Then start researching and find a brand or several that you like. Once you have a good idea of what you want, use sites like RV Trader and Facebook Marketplace to locate used RVs for sale.
You’ll also want to determine your budget. It will help you know if you’re able to look at a top-of-the-line motorhome or a different tier. Also, consider if you’re willing to compromise and identify upgrades you could make yourself.
For example, if you find the motorhome you want and it doesn’t have a dishwasher (like the one we found), could you add a dishwasher later? Remember, if you can DIY some of the features you’re looking for, they don’t necessarily have to factor into the sale.
Also, if you find a camper you want, but it’s on the other side of the country, be willing to travel for it. We traveled all the way to Arizona from Florida to get our coach!
Buying a Used Motorhome Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
Buying a used motorhome doesn’t have to be complicated. You can make things easier on yourself by using the factors we shared above as a starting point. Once you have these bases covered, it’s a simple matter of finding the brand that meets your needs best.
If you follow these steps, we have no doubt you’ll be driving off in your new-to-you motorhome in no time.
What are you looking for in a motorhome? Drop a comment below and tell us what factors are most important to you.
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Read More From The Mortons:
Saturday 22nd of October 2022
Did your new-to-you motorhome come with solar panels? If not, have you designed or installed a solar system similar to the one on the fifth wheel? If you have any videos or a blog post on that design or install, could you send me a link? Thanks!
Thursday 6th of October 2022
You misspelled Maintenance several times.
Tuesday 15th of March 2022
Curious what resrouces you used to begin actually making the search once you had worked up your priorities? Any insights into where we can find reliable private owner sources would be appreciated. I guess you are now back to being a two rig household??? Enjoy the road.
Mortons on the Move
Sunday 10th of April 2022
Check out our article about this! https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/buying-a-used-rv-from-private-party/