Buying a new motorhome isn’t always feasible for everyone, going for a used or pre-owned motorhome is a great alternative that allows you to enjoy the van life without breaking the bank.
Buying a used motorhome does mean doing a bit of research to ensure you are getting what you want and establishing where you might need to spend money for upgrades.
In this blog, we will cover the red flags to look out for when purchasing a pre-owned motorhome, and what kind of things you want to make sure are included in the purchase.
Used motorhomes have a lot to offer and can actually be a better solution for some families over buying new.
Some of the benefits of buying a second-hand motorhome include:
Used motorhomes will typically offer a lower price point than brand new motorhomes, which can also mean lower insurance premium costs as well.
Much like a new house, buying a brand new motorhome might mean you max out your budget and put you off wanting to make changes after spending a larger amount of money. Buying a pre-owned motorhome is likely to leave a bit of budget for making personalisations to suit your taste.
Used motorhomes are likely to have a more lived-in feel, which can be great for families with kids as you don’t need to worry about getting a few scuffs here and there like you would with a brand new model.
Motorhome users who will only travel occasionally in the year may want to invest in a used model rather than investing in a higher-priced one that won’t be used much.
Travelling in a motorhome for a year might be on your bucket list, but may not be something you plan on doing for life.
A used motorhome is a great option for those only planning to travel for a short amount of time as you don’t need to invest heavily.
Buying any vehicle second-hand requires a few extra checks, and that is also true for motorhomes. There are many parts to a motorhome that if not cared for properly can result in costly repairs, not exactly the start you want to your new life as a motorhome owner!
Let’s look at the things you don’t want to see, and also what you do want to see, to ensure your motorhome comes with everything it should.
We’ve put together a list of red flags that can indicate issues with a motorhome, so you don’t end up with a lemon.
Once the exterior shell of the motorhome is damaged, the inside of your motorhome can be at risk too. If water gets into your vehicle where it shouldn’t it can cause rotting, leaking, mould and even damage to electrics.
Repairing rust is usually a specialist task, so keep an eye out for excessive amounts of it, as that will also cause a vehicle to fail roadworthy certification. Make sure to get under the vehicle and check axles and suspension, then check inside all panels and storage spaces for damage.
Leaks can be caused not only by the weather but also by pipes and hoses. Be sure to check ceilings are not leaking, then check all kitchen, bathroom and mechanical pipes and hoses.
The last thing you want hindering your trip is a broken down motorhome, especially since you will be living in it. Take the motorhome for a decent drive to ensure the gearbox is smooth, there are no strange noises, and you have good wheel alignment.
Lack of ventilation can cause mould which is particularly dangerous to health especially in sleeping areas. Check walls, ceilings, flooring and the inside of cupboards for signs of mould.
Faulty doors and windows will need to be replaced professionally, and if multiple need replacing that can get expensive quickly. Check seals and locks, as well as hinges.
A floor that is dipping or sinking in areas may indicate a problem with water damage. Make sure it feels sturdy and that there is no rot present.
If either of these are not working it could indicate the motorhome has not been maintained properly. Check the toilet is flushing, and the taps and drains are flowing correctly.
If you are investing in a powered motorhome it’s important to ensure the main power cord is not frayed or damaged.
All gas systems should be installed by a professional, and be checked off as safe. The motorhome should come with evidence of a legitimate install.
Ture, used motorhomes will have a higher odometer reading than new models, but if it has been regularly serviced and built by a reliable manufacturer, you should be worried about it too much. An ex-rental for instance is different, as vehicles that are built for rental are designed to last, and serviced regularly. Because they run on diesel, high mileage is not something you really need to concern about.
There are a number of things that your motorhome should include, which will indicate the motorhome has been maintained and is worth considering for purchase.
Here are some things you should ensure are included:
A warrant of fitness will give you peace of mind that the vehicle is mechanically sound and in good working order. Do be mindful that vehicles with a WOF expiring soon are not guaranteed to pass the next check, so consider asking the seller to renew that before purchase so you aren’t left with additional costs.
To ensure everything is working correctly, always ask for the motorhome to be powered up so you can switch appliances on and give them a test. That should include air conditioning, heaters, fridge, microwave and media units. If appliances are older or not included, you may be able to negotiate the price, as these are easy to replace.
The starter motor battery and house battery should be checked to ensure they are in good condition. This can be done with a multimeter.
Checking all the fuses is an important part of making sure the motorhome can be powered correctly. If you are unsure what to look for, you may need to ask a motorhome specialist to complete a service.
Awnings are a great asset to a motorhome so do open them up to make sure they aren’t broken or need repair.
As you will be cooking and sleeping in the motorhome it’s important that smoke alarms are installed and working for safety.
The following things are all replaceable, and don’t affect the motorhome working but are good to keep in mind if you are on a budget, as you may want to work costs in for the future.
Check the curtains to see if they are showing signs of mould or fading.
Check the seats for stains, rips and fading.
Check if you are happy with things like speakers or the TV or if you would want to replace them at some point.
Buying privately you might find cheap campervans for sale that seem too good to be true, and sometimes that is the case. Even though a privately sold motorhome might seem above board upon inspection, there is nothing to confirm the history of the vehicle in terms of how well it’s been taken care of.
It’s important to ensure you are buying from someone that you can confirm has taken care of the vehicle, or you could end up with a troublesome motorhome and no way to return it.
Manufacturers and people who work on motorhomes for a living know what they are talking about, and can provide the most experienced advice. They can also help you to choose what kind of motorhome would be suitable for you from a range of options.
Servicing is really important in order to keep your motorhome running well, and a legitimate motorhome dealer will have a record of maintenance.
With over 25 years of experience, KEA Motorhomes are made for Australian roads and this promise extends to refurbished vehicles. All ex-rental and pre-owned vehicles are refurbished with care by our team of experts so you can trust the quality.
A warranty will give you some peace of mind that you won’t be sold a vehicle that can’t be returned if you had concerns. This is a huge benefit that buying privately doesn’t offer.
If you don’t have the means to pay for a motorhome outright, financing is a great option and is generally only available with motorhome dealerships.
Once you have fallen in love with being a motorhome owner, an RV dealership can help you to find your next upgrade, by trading in for something different.
Visit us at KEA to view our entire range of refurbished pre-owned motorhomes. Call your local certified KEA dealers or visit us online to chat with our motorhome experts.