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Post Info TOPIC: Buying a used 5th Wheel - what to look for?


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Buying a used 5th Wheel - what to look for?


We are going to be buy a used 5th wheel to keep our entry costs low and we hope to get a model that is 2-3 years old. 

What should we be on the lookout for in terms of use and abuse?  Should we stick with a dealer or private sellers?

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Peggy, Tony and 'the boys' aka Chopper & Fezzik
living our dream
http://blog.excessellence.com/
2011 F350 SRW
2008 Mobile Suites 32TK3


RV-Dreams Family Member

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First of all, welcome to the forums.  This is an excellent place to find out information regarding RV'ing.

As for advice, you must first base your decision on where you will be traveling.  I noticed in your signature that you are planning on fulltiming.  Thus, I recommend that you keep your options open.  Even if you find a floorplan that really jumps out at you, keep looking.

Go to as many RV shows that you can.  I think you are from the Denver area, so did you get to go to the one they had recently?  If you didn't get to the show, then start looking at the various dealerships in your area.

If you see something you like, make sure and get the information to find out the construction of whatever make and model you are interested in.  For instance, you may find one brand has a lot smaller frame than others.

Check the Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (GVWR) of the camper you are interested in and make sure that any current towing vehicle will SAFELY pull AND stop that much weight.  If you haven't purchased a tow vehicle yet, research the fifth wheel first and then get a tow vehicle that will pull that unit.  Don't let a SUPER GOOD deal on a pickup limit you on how big of a unit you want to pull.

If you are going to be spending time in cold termerature areas, make sure your fifth wheel is insulated well enough and has a good enough heating system to keep you warm AND prevent your plumbing and tanks from freezing up.

While looking, be on the lookout for units that won't be warrantied for someone that is full-timing.  There are companies that manufacture Four-Season units, but don't qualify for full timers.  There is a difference.

And above all, don't be afraid to ask questions on the forums.  We pride ourselves on saying that there are no dumb questions.  The participants on this forum are very helpful.

Terry


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Terry and Jo

2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB3
2008 Ford F450
2010 Ford F150 as Tag-along or Scout

Two minor works in progess....pictures taken over the years and a webblog:

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RV-Dreams Family Member

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On a used unit, the biggest thing I would be looking for is ANY sign of water damage. If it has water stains, bubbled-up areas on walls or around doors... walk away, it's the beginning of a nightmare you don't want to inherit.

-- Edited by DagoRanch on Tuesday 19th of January 2010 01:02:29 PM

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Tony & Madonna
Class of 2011


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Excellent point about the water damage, thank you.  I would look for that type of issue when buying a sitck and bricks, so I guess perhaps that is how we should be approaching this.

We went to the Denver RV show on Friday and spent 5 hours there looking at all the class A and 5th wheels.  It was exhausting but very informative and we learned a lot about what we do and don't like.  On Saturday afternoon we visited 2 dealers to further cement our preferences.

So far we have decided 1) a split bathroom where the commode is separate from the shower; 2) entertainment on the side slide out, not the rear; 3) no split kitchen across an aisle;  4) surprisingly we have settled on the 34 -36 foot length and 5) Montana, Bighorn and DRV.  I'm cold blooded (seriously my core temperature is 97.5) and we will be in sub-freezing temps so a solid construction and good insulation is a priority.

Friday afternoon we are headed to another dealer to look at some other floorplans.

Thank you for the good advice.

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Peggy, Tony and 'the boys' aka Chopper & Fezzik
living our dream
http://blog.excessellence.com/
2011 F350 SRW
2008 Mobile Suites 32TK3


RV-Dreams Family Member

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There's really not too much that can go wrong in a fifth wheel. You can see if there's physical damage to the outside and wear and tear to the appliances and surfaces on the inside. Unlike a motor home, there isn't a lot going on mechanically.

I feel it's best to identify the brands that are designed and built for fulltiming, then research the floorplans you favor. After that it's a shopping and waiting game. 'To get the best deal you have to be willing to travel to see the potentially good units that come on the market. They might be anywhere and from a dealer or private owner.

Before I'd finalize any deal, I'd pay a few hundred to have a professional tech check it out.
Shop carefully and there are some fantastic deals out there.

Good luck,

Fred

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Fred Wishnie

Full time since Feb 06 in Carriage Cameo 35KS3 and Ford F350


“If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”


RV-Dreams Family Member

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peg513 wrote:

We are going to be buy a used 5th wheel to keep our entry costs low and we hope to get a model that is 2-3 years old. 

What should we be on the lookout for in terms of use and abuse?  Should we stick with a dealer or private sellers?




Make sure everything works easily if the owner has some work around to get something to work then it's broken.

Make sure you can't see water damage but more important make sure you can't smell water damage.  The number of trailers we walked into and you could smell mold and mildew in when we were shopping is a big part of the reason we bought new.

Many companies have their older brouchures online so grab those to verify the tank sizes and weights for the unit to make sure it will handle your Rock Climbing and Biking.

Mallo

 



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RV-Dreams Family Member

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All that was said above plus....

Crawl underneath and look at the inside of the frame rails for bad rust or chunks of mud(indication unit has been in flood waters). Outside of frame may have been touched up but they rarely do the inside of the frames.

Take a look at the plastic membrane that protects the bottom of the 5th wheel from the elements, look for tears, repairs or cutout sections. If any of these are present it may indicate major repairs were performed at sometime.

Try out the electric brakes and emergency switch.

Fill up water tanks, holding tanks and check for leaks.

Try out all appliances including a/c, water heater and furnace.

Look for unusual wear on the king pin. If it's worn have it replaced.

Check the landing gear and stablizers for proper operation.

Ask about the batteries, if a couple of years old ask for new or a couple of hundred discount off the price so you can replace them.

Check all of the vent covers to see if they are brittle. Some of the older covers become very brittle to the point where you can stick a finger through them. If there is evidence of mold on the inside of the vent cover it indicates a lot of moisture build up in the rv.

If equipped with a generator, run it for at least 1/2 hour, run the a/c to make sure the genrator can handle a load.

Ask for service documentation and look for any unusual repairs.



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Larry
"Small House, Big Yard "
7 years to go to FT
Alfa See-Ya 5'er and 2007 Kodiak C4500 Monroe Pickup


RV-Dreams Community Member

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Do your homework!!

There are many floorplans, that will work but think about how you will use it and also about capacities of tanks and then how much you will be carrying(weight).  Pay attention to what has been added to the RV such as generators that affect your gross weight. 



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2008 Ford F-350 Lariat Crewcab DRW Diesel 4X4 pulling a 2009 Montana 3400RL with a 2008 Dodge Nitro as our chase car

Take only photos, leave only footprints, and always treasure your memories and the friends you make along the way!



RV-Dreams Family Member

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From a less technical perspective, I would try to find out why the previous owners are selling. That might be easier if buying from the owner and I realize you'd be relying on folks to be honest!

The size you're looking for might be a great one for those wishing to move up to a larger unit or for someone giving it up b/c they haven't used it as much as they planned. When we were looking, many of the used models had been traded for a toy-hauler as they have become so popular. Then there was one terrific Doubletree available, never actually used, b/c a man tried to surprise his wife with the purchase and she shut the whole thing down! Because it was a custom order, the dealer would not refund the purchase price so the poor guy was having the sell it as a 'used' model. The model didn't fit our floorplan needs but it sure was a great deal for a buyer!

As a word of encouragement, we've seen many owners in the RV parks that are very meticulous with their maintenance and hopefully it won't be too hard to tell if the unit's been handled roughly. As a matter of fact, a couple of units have been available on the classified portion of this board and you can see through the history of posts where they've been with their unit and check their blogs for a feel of how well they care for their unit. Having seen this over the past year of traveling, I would not be hesitant to purchase a used model as I was at our onset.

Best wishes on equipping yourselves for your dreams,
Linda

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Craig & Linda
'09 FR Cardinal BH 5th Wheel (Traded in for vacation trailer)
'05 Chevy 3500 Silverado
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