Buyers' Guide: Buying a motorhome
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For many Kiwis, dusting off the old tent from last summer and setting off on an adventure is the highlight of the year.
Others dread waking in a tent; preferring to travel in a motorhome. The only issue is the price. Buying new can cost anywhere from $85,000 for a built-up van to $300,000 for the ultimate motorhome machine.
For those on stricter budgets, a used motorhome is the only option when you want to avoid a leaking tent. But, with so many used motorhomes on the market, it’s important you know exactly what you’re buying.
Popular destinations for these vehicles tend to be on the coast or in the mountains, so it is important to pay attention not just to the structure, but underneath the vehicle.
Check for corrosion on the chassis, the hitch and suspension as these repairs can be costly. Look for paintwork inconsistencies as well as overuse of sealant as this may be covering something a tad more serious.
Much like a house, as these vehicles age, the seals and rubber components that keep the water out can deteriorate, and the interior fittings can suffer. If possible, have a look at the vehicle on a rainy day to discover any leaks.
Look for dampness and check interior woodwork as this can swell and, in more extreme cases, rot. Mould and mildew are also warning signs.
All fittings inside motorhomes are certified by the manufacturer or through a low-volume vehicle certifier to be considered safe for New Zealand roads.
Apart from minor interior adjustments, serious modifications to the interior will require re-certification. Ensure the vehicle size meets your needs.
As for the equipment, take time to ensure everything is up to scratch. Check the operation of the oven, fridge, shower, plumbing, sockets and gas cylinder. It might be worth getting everything checked by a qualified electrician.
Ensure the motorhome has a current Warrant of Fitness (WoF) or Certificate of Fitness (CoF) if over 3.5 tonnes. It might also require an electrical or gas certificate, so check these are valid.
The next step is to investigate the service history, which is extremely important for vehicles susceptible to high kilometres.
Check when the vehicle was last serviced, tyres replaced and when the timing belt was changed. Check for smoke, oil leaks, service stickers and general wear and tear. A pre- purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic will help erase concerns.
We recommend taking the motorhome for a thorough test drive before opening your wallet. If this is your first time behind the wheel of a large vehicle, you may want the owner to be a co-pilot.
Turn the music off, ease the conversation and listen for anything out of the ordinary, including the living quarters behind you. With long drives ahead, comfort should be a top priority.
Take it for a good drive, and feel free to take the kids along to ensure everyone will be a happy camper.
Like buying a house, buying a motorhome can be time-consuming. Take your time to thoroughly check over prospective rigs to ensure you end up with a motorhome that will bring you great pleasure down the road.