Motorhome buyers guide
TMI Motorhome Buyers Beware Guide.
We've compiled this handy guide from the members of Total Motorhome Ireland's advice, to try and assist you when making the decision, to buy Privately.
Buying from a dealer?
It is only dealers who will provide warranty cover options and you can contact them should anything go wrong. This is not the case if you buy privately. Buying from a private seller can save you compared to buying the same model from a dealer, but you have no comeback once you've parted with your cash.
If you're buying from a dealer Ask around from the community for reviews, what are they like to deal with. More important what is their after sales service like and how promptly do they resolve warranty work and supply any technical information you may require.
If you're buying from a dealer Ask around your friends for reviews, what are they like to deal with. More important what is their after sales service like and how promptly do they resolve warranty work and supply any technical information you may require.
If you do plan to buy a motorhome privately, then:
Have a full damp test carried out by a professional. If serious damp is found, consider very very carefully whether you want to proceed and ensure the asking price reflects the level of repair work needed
Have a HPI check carried out to ensure (as best you can) that the vehicle is not stolen or is an insurance write off
Ensure you view the motorhome at the seller's house. Check this against the owner documents when you arrive
Always bring someone with you if possible, especially if you are carrying large amounts of cash, better to do a bank transfer !!
If you are not sure what you are doing, get a mechanic to check the base vehicle and the cab for signs of rust and rot - electric windows and mirrors, radio, sat-nav, air-con, lights, Horn etc, when were fluids last changed ?
Take it for a test drive, but ensure you have insurance cover !!
Check the gas and electrics in the habitation area - so check the fridge works on battery, gas or hook-up or all three if appropriate; check the oven, grill and hob all work; check the 240v sockets work if there are any; check all the lights; check the awning operation and condition if it has one, Check TV operation, Aerial or satellite system Check everything in the washroom works - shower, flushing toilet, sink taps, lights etc Check for signs of age or cracking on sink and shower tray if applicable.
Have a lay on the bed and make sure it is comfortable to get in and out off, especially if it is over the cab or above a high-level garage, if electric, check operation, check mattress for signs of wear and bed slots for cracks
Construct any beds that are made from the seats, even if you plan not to use them
Check the cab seats - do they swivel and lock into place, can they be adjusted to your comfort levels, especially the driver's seat for comfortable driving
Check the interior and exterior for damage
Check operation of all doors, drawer slider operation
Ask the seller for proof of work done and check to see that it has been done by a reputable dealer, especially work like fitting a bike rack or television satellite system
Ask for Habitation Cert and is it up to date , check GAS cert is in date and Electrical tests
How many Leisure batteries, Amp Hours (AH) and what age ? Receipts ?
Solar panel or panels, are they fitted, if so what wattage, are they working ?
Has the Vehicle an inverter and what type, does it work? Check if it comes with Gas bottles or a Gaslow type system (expensive but good)
Outside, is there a BBQ point if so test,
Of course one of the downsides of buying a used motorhome is that someone will have slept in the bed and used the facilities in the kitchen and bathroom. So check everything is clean and well cared for. If not, don't instantly walk away but haggle for a reduction in the asking price and treat the motorhome to new bedding, kitchen facilities and a good overhaul of the WC with the savings. You could even get it re-upholstered and new cushions added.
Tips to consider when buying a used motorhome:
Get up close and personal: look along the sides for ripples or dents, check where sealant has been applied and the care that has gone into the build.
Remember, stickers or reflectors applied in unusual places could be hiding something sinister
Press against the side of a coach built – judge the thickness of the aluminium and quality of the build
Have a good sniff around. A musty scent is a good indicator of damp in a motorhome
A spongy feel can mean delamination of the floor – fixable but costly
Make sure the payload is sufficient to your needs – insist on a trip to a weighbridge to make sure you’re not being short changed
If buying from a dealer, check how good the dealer's warranty is compared to competitors
If buying from a dealer, make sure your deal is done subject to you seeing systems working and beds made up, Get the handover done before you make final payment.
Take a test drive over bumpier rougher roads, not just the forecourt's smooth surface
Check the roof or get it checked, seals and what's up there is it clean and cared for.
Is there a Tow bar fitted if so what is the tow Vertical loading and permissible towing weight. Check wiring operation. Remember, it's ok to haggle!
Buying used is of course worth some serious consideration. You'll be parting with a large amount of money
Consider the motorhome's layout when buying including:
Toilet and shower - Do you need these and is the shower realistically usable? Some are quite petite for the larger framed person
Kitchen - Is the cooking equipment clean and in good order? Do you prefer a cooker with an electric ring, do you need a microwave?
Storage - As good as anything might look, is it practical for your storage needs? Remember, you'll be living in your vehicle when away in it for holidays and weekends.
Sleeping - Do you find the beds comfortable? Lie on them for a while and make sure. Are the beds sagging after just a few years?
Disclaimer: This guide is designed to help you, but whatever you do is ultimately your choice and decision. TMI will not take any responsibility for any purchase you may make. TMI also cannot offer individual advice on vehicles. Take your time, and try to make the right personal choice for you.