See Why A Diesel Pusher Gives You The Most Bang For Your Buck When Buying A Used Motorhome



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Investing in a new motorhome is a pricey proposition.

Even entry level RVs start at about $80,000 and can go up well into the millions — especially when you start talking top-of-the-line models.

That said, there is good reason to give used motorhomes some serious consideration.

1993-diesel-pusher-motorhome

I recently purchased a used diesel pusher myself. It’s the one pictured here.

Must Read: Pros & Cons of Diesel Pusher Motorhomes

 

What You Can Expect From A Used Motorhome

With the economy lagging, the used RV market is still very much a buyer’s market.

The key to getting the best deal is to know what it is you’re looking at when you go shopping.

Not all motorhomes are created equal:

  • The average used motorhome on most dealers’ lots will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 to 70,000 miles on it.
  • Age range can run from 5 years to 20 years.
  • The condition of used motorhomes will be all over the map.

How do you know which would be the best one to consider? And how do you know what to watch out for?

Here are some tips to consider that may help you score a better deal on a used RV than the next guy…

 

5 Most Important Things To Consider Before Buying A Used Motorhome

 

#1 – In terms of maintenance, a gas engine — especially in a motorhome — has a service life of about 100,000 miles.

At 70,000 miles, three-fourths of its life is spent. Sure the price of the RV has dropped, but know that if you plan to travel extensively, you will probably be investing in some pricey mechanical repairs.

Diesel pusher motorhomes have the same (or similar) heavy-duty commercial running gear that’s found on many over the road trucks. They are designed to run roughly a million miles before being due for any major rebuilding. At 70,000 miles, they have just been broken in, and with proper maintenance will have most of their useful life ahead of them.

 

#2 – Motorhomes depreciate dramatically.

Gas or diesel makes little difference. They drop in value rapidly. What may have been way out of your price range new, will fall within reach in time.

Surprisingly, top-of-the-line diesel pushers will often drop down to similar price levels as many Gas Powered motorhomes.

 

#3 – Age is hard on gas-powered motorhomes.

Many gas-powered RVs require lightweight construction techniques to remain viable using the less powerful gas motors. The end result is they often flex and bend.

This distorts walls, loosens seams, and sets the groundwork for water infiltration over time. The 20-year-old gas motorhome that doesn’t show signs of leakage was likely stored inside. Even then, if it has normal mileage, it will likely start leaking if it’s exposed to the elements.

Age is not all that important with high-end diesel pushers. Diesel pushers are built so strong that their structural integrity will be equal to almost new 20 years down the road.

 

#4 – Rust is a deal breaker.

The first thing you should do with any used motorhome is crawl under it. Before you even go inside, look the bottom side over closely. If you see extensive rust on components, walk away rapidly.

Diesel pusher or not, you don’t want a rusty RV.

 

#5 – After rust, tire condition can be a deal breaker as well.

Cracked, checked tires will fail unexpectedly. Replacement will run well into the multiple thousands of dollars.

Generally speaking, people who can afford to purchase new high end luxury motorhomes have sufficient funds to maintain them properly. A careful inspection will quickly confirm if that is the case.

Diesel pusher or not, the used motorhome you buy should have decent tires on it.

 

Must Read: Buyer Beware – Top Things To Look For When Buying A Used RV

 

used-diesel-motorhome

How A Diesel Pusher Gives The Most Bang For Your Buck

Using the 1993 Pace Arrow Turbo Diesel that I recently purchased as an example, I will run down the reasons I felt it was one heck of a bargain for anyone looking to invest in a secondhand motorhome.

  • Its current mileage is 70,000. For 20 years old, that is very modest mileage and is leaving the majority of its life for the next owner.
  • It came from California and was apparently stored under a carport. Paint and upholstery is in excellent condition with no dry rot from sun exposure.
  • There is absolutely no rust underneath. It looks like it just came off the assembly line.
  • Tires look newer — with no sign of deterioration, wear, or dry rot.
  • Combine low mileage with minimal interior wear, it is unlikely that it was lived in full time.
  • There is no sign of interior leakage. The roof has been recently coated and the joints resealed. All indications are that the previous owner took pride in maintaining this RV.
  • The engine start batteries are top-of-the-line Optima AGM batteries — better than original equipment.
  • The house batteries had stickers with installation dates of only a year ago. They’re all practically new.
  • Because it was a high-end coach, the exterior walls and storage doors are all straight, well functioning, and still with their locks in place and operational.

In today’s market, a premium level motorhome like this would be priced well over $400,000 new.

This RV new sold in 1993 for $140,000. It was recently sold for $27,000, and still has most of its useful life ahead of it.

It’s definitely a buyer’s market. If you know what to look for, you can easily score a high-end champagne level coach for the price of a beer model.

This one was passed over a number of times because it didn’t have a slide-out and was 20 years old. People just didn’t know what to look for.

Curtis

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller... you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide! Many of them have over 25K shares.

4 thoughts on “See Why A Diesel Pusher Gives You The Most Bang For Your Buck When Buying A Used Motorhome

  1. My husband and I are looking and studying and ruminating on buying a used DP motorcoach. Our plan is to retire in about 15 months; sell our house and live in a motorcoach and do lots of traveling. We have already started making arrangements to “park” at our daughter and son-in-law’s home as our home base. We have another daughter that lives several states away and will be staying near her for several months at a time. We believe a 39-40 ft DP with four slide outs will give us the best accommodations. We have been looking at a lot of them and now know the sort of thing we like such as walking around the bed in the master bedroom is a must. Simple decoration of the coach is better than all the moldings and lights and bells and whistles. Thanks for sharing your post as it gives me more hope we will find that special coach just for us. We have our price range set and when we are closer to purchasing, we believe we will find the one we can live with.

  2. I had read many articles similar to this. Ended up buying a used 8 year old DP and full-timed for about 5 years. The last couple of years however involved so many repairs(yes, DP engines themselves may last a long time but they are full of parts that break and it is VERY expensive to have anything fixed on a DP), that, after about 5 breakdowns in the middle of no-where each ending up costing over 6K and more, I finally had to give up on my love of full timing. WAY more expensive as it turned out, than living in a stix and brick. If I had to do it over again, I would definitely go for a gas engine. Much less costly to buy, repair and yes, it would be less expensive to have the entire gas engine replaced every 75K miles or so, than the cost of maintaining a DP. I would never consider a DP again.

  3. The story of how I came to own and cherish my ’98 Country Coach Intrigue Diesel pusher is a pure example of “the right place and the right time”!

    My wife and I had a ’13 Keystone Cougar by Montana (5th wheel) that was less than a year old and FALLING APART AT THE SEAMS-LITERALLY! Total junk! We sold that, and the Ram Diesel 3500 Dually we towed it with, and were just about finished with RVing altogether, when I was going through the postings on Craigslist, and came across this GORGEOUS chocolate brown/gold/black 36′ motorhome-I didn’t know a DP from a ‘gasser’ back then-and I looked at the price and was convinced it was a typo….25K! The pictures all screamed “$125,000”!!!

    Well, turns out that its owned by this incredibly nice gay couple who had purchased it NEW, and now were waiting for the delivery of their Brand-new Pusher, and needed to sell this one QUICK!…..and its not sterotyping to say that they reallllllly take care of things! The interior-solid cherrywood…no veneer or pressboard to be found anywhere!….a 2-year old $8,000.00 CLEAR-COAT CUSTOM PAINT JOB…mirrors everywhere, real marble countertops, ceramic tile floors, an awesome memory-foam mattress, washer/dryer combo, and so much luxury it took my breath away, I called my wife and told her we just bought another RV, and to TRUST me! LOL!!!

    But we didn’t really discover just HOW awesome it was until we got it home, and then later took it in for maintanence! The technicians stumbled over themselves telling us just what fantastic shape this coach was in! Found out later that it listed new for TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS, and that its structural integrity was near 100% of the day it was built!!

    So when YOU start shopping for a used DP, look ONLY at Country Coaches!!!! They are the best of the best!!

    Rick & Cindi
    1998 Country Coach Intrigue 36′ 8.3 Cummings 5Spd Allison tranny

    ‘toad’- 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD Turbo-Diesel

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