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Old 05-31-2007, 11:31 AM   #1
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Jage's SMB

Jage...it's been fun watching, reading and communicating with you from the begining of your quest for your SMB. I hope you can share some of your "purchase" experience so those of us who have yet to leap into the abyss can get a few pointers.
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Old 06-04-2007, 07:46 PM   #2
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Well, I don't know how much of a template you should use my experience as...but here goes:

After agreeing on a price based on the unit being in "absolute pristine condition" I drove 14 hours to Fairplay.

The van was very nice and for sight-unseen, I was impressed. Still- there was a ding in the driver door window sill, chipped windshield, tires need replacing, the rear window glass tint does not match (1 yellow 1 green), the Fantastic Fan was a home-job install, and the mileage in the ad was 38,000... actual vehicle miles 39,490.

Based on all that I asked him to knock off $500. He said "no".

Along with the Fantastic Fan being put in with roofing tar, the other "user" installed mods were also disappointing. There is a little aftermarket indoor outdoor temp sensor that is just velcroed to the wall with the wire hanging out. The fantastic fan caused the dome lights to move over the passenger seat, and there is no easy way to get interior light when driving if you're alone. The CB install is pretty basic and the CB is a cruddy little Uniden.

I also found while going through the van and later that lights were out or fuses were loose. I haven't taken the time to go through everything but I guess the van was sitting, or they just didn't keep up with little stuff very well.

There was also a missing stop-cock on the water fill line (below the water fill on the outside to drain the actual fill line for winterizing). It had just rattled out.

The jack and handle are rusty from being stored in the bumper.

The Hella aux lights are misadjusted and don't seem to be very much help. (could just be the aim but I was underwhelmed knowing how much they cost).

The latch release on the tire side of the aluminess doesn't work. Probably just a spring, but an annoyance and something I'll have to monkey with.

I think that was everything I knew before I bought the van. We drove around mountainy Colorado for around and hour going to another town to go to the bank. It seemed to have some oversteer but the guy claimed that it was just really windy.

Basically the conundrum that I got into was that all of this minor stuff is totally unacceptable when paying so much for a vehicle, but when paying so much to get what you really want (the EB, SMB 4x4, etc.) a little thing like buying 5 new tires shouldn't get in the way. Still this was over the top of my budget already so putting an extra $700 out is going to be difficult.

He did throw in a 7-pin to 4 pin converter for the tow lights and a microwave that he'd promised me in the first few conversations (although he was kind of surprised that I remembered and wanted him to pony up the MW).

He also spent several HOURS with me going through the van. I videotaped the whole thing- A) to make sure I didn't forget (lots of info to a newbie to RVing) and B) so I can make my DW watch it instead of trying to explain it all myself

I have some questions about some of the advice, but that will go in another thread.

So by and by I had the title and hooked up my Jeep to flat tow it home.

20 minutes later the check engine light came on.

The next day the Airbag light joined the check engine light.



I found that there is some definite oversteer and the front end jounces my brains out. I'm not sure if it's bad shocks (the jouncing) or just a side effect of the SMB lift (both), or just the fact that it's a van. Even if those are side effects of the SMB lift I wouldn't give it up for the world- 3 times the ability to U-turn within about 3 lanes while hooked up (can't back up when flat towing) saved my bacon.

The engine cowl gets hot where my right leg touches it. Not hot enough to pop popcorn, but definitely hot enough for good fondue. The engine temp was constant and not high, but there is no freeway in BF Colorado so I didn't exactly get to road test on the interstate.

The turbo and the fridge are both very loud. I pretty much could find my van from across the mall by waiting 2 minutes for the compressor to start again. The turbo either calmed down or I got used to it. Maybe it burned up and that's what the engine light is about...

Still, because of the jouncing I feel like a bobble headed doll after driving on New Mexico highways. It's maddening, both that the roads are so bad and that every bounce seems to be reverberated through my back shoulders neck and head. I'm hoping it's bad shocks to go with the so-so tires and I can just replace them. The brakes were fine, even with the Jeep on the back, but they squealed a bit through one part of the trip and seemed really soft once I got to Tucson.

I don't know about gas mileage yet, but being able to put 35 gallons of diesel in when I found it at 2.89 in a world of $3.15 plus was a huge boon.

A few people came up to me at the campground and many people drove by with that look I used to get when I saw a 4x4 van. I know what it's like to be the guy driving past, so it was mostly just weird for me.

One of the coolest weird side effects was that there was nary a rig that gave me that wistful bit of envy. There were some nice rigs, but not a single one that I'd trade 3 of for what I was in. That's a cool feeling.

I have some other impressions that I'll be asking for feedback on in other threads, and I'm leaving out the gobs of cool stuff that's just reiterating how great having an SMB is (sink, fridge, etc). The 50 package is great. Still, I've considered calling up SMB West and having the relist it for me. I'm sure it's just a bit of buyer's remorse, but it's a lot of money to spend and then have to stare at some idiot lights for 3 days wondering what the is wrong.

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Old 06-04-2007, 10:05 PM   #3
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The previous owners of our SMB decided to deliver it to us for a final trip. On the way, the CEL came on. After taking the van, I took it to a Ford dealer who diagnosed it as a bad turbo. This on an '06 with 26,000 miles. Turbo replaced in a day and a half and under warranty - whew!

As for the Aluminess tire carrier, with mine it helps if you push in the tire carrier assembly (towards the van body), and then press in the trigger, or whatever you call it. I do think that it doesn't release, or catch, as well as it should. Not sure if there are adjustments for it or not.

I did notice the sealing job around the fantastic fan. Shouldn't be too hard to redo, but no, you shouldn't have had to. Sounds like the seller had you over a barrell after you travelled so far to the vehicle sight unseen. Too bad we didn't have a good network of trusted SMB owners who could have looked over it for you (at least until you set up this board).


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Old 06-04-2007, 10:26 PM   #4
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You know it wouldn't have mattered probably, having someone else check it out. I would have liked to have seen and driven an SMB previously, but there's only one other SMB I would seriously consider on the market right now and my wife hated the color. (So did my financial adviser after I told her it was $20K more than this one)

It is truly 95% immaculate, the problem is that first 5% really seems significant. In some years when it's 85% immaculate that 5% will be lost in the mix.

As far as having me over a barrel, I felt that driving the Jeep to the van actually had me in a better position as I could just hop back in and drive off. I probably should have flown to Denver and had him pick me up or something... or better yet have Colorado Ken pick me up so we could check out the SMB together!
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:11 AM   #5
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Jage's SMB

I guess you have to keep in mind you saved about $20k over a new van similarly equipped. If all you need are tires and shocks you are still ok.
I compliment your bravery on making the purchase sight unseen. Even if it costs me a few $$$ to travel for a test drive I'd do that. I don't think I could go on the word of the seller alone. One man's princess is another man's pig! I've never bought a used car that wasn't in "great shape" ...according to the seller. There will always be something to adjust or repair. I actually like the initial phase of tinkering around with a new used car and getting to know it. I hope you do too. It's a new "adventure".
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Old 06-07-2007, 07:37 PM   #6
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Well my fascinating luck continues. The Ford Dealership is keeping my van overnight and the DMV (MVD in Arizona) cannot recognise a Sportsmobile and so wants to charge me 3x the tax. But it's not called a luxury tax so apparently I shouldn't be upset.

I called before purchasing, gave all the details, asked all the questions, and they said "It'll be $350".

I got it inspected and the guy put MVH down but couldn't find Sportsmobile and told me they'd look it up inside.

Once inside the lady couldn't find Sportsmobile but found "Taxable amount $27,000" on the Colorado Title. Same deal, about $350. But I had to return with my wife's signature to put her on the title, so she printed the "estimated cost" on a sheet and sent me on my way.

It is, you see, based on the van Chassis. According the the website: "a vehicle license tax (VLT) assessed (...). The VLT is based on an assessed value of 60% of the manufacturer's base retail price reduced by 16.25% for each year (...)

The "manufacturer's base retail price" being the chassis cost according to all the people I've taked to. Except one.

That was the one in the window I got to go back to today. You know that way that in like 30 seconds you can tell the person has it in for you? Within the minute she'd looked at the purchase price on the back of the title and then the $350 printed quote and said, "this ain't right."

She spent an hour trying to figure out how it wasn't right and got a supervisor involved who eventually had us leave because they couldn't find "Sportsmobile" in any of the guides and all the RV dealers they'd called hadn't heard of this "Sportsmobile" thing. They're basically looking for some way to make the "base retail price" be the $95,000 the van would cost new and more than tripling my tax.

It makes me mad too because if I'd gone to any other window *any* *other* and it would have been the same answer I got both on the phone and in person- $350. And of course the van is in the Ford dealership with the 3-day temp plate ticking away, so I can't exactly drag the super out to the parking lot and SHOW her it's a van and not some monsterous 40' er or one of those bubble backed van front Bs. Not that that matters "technically" but I figure if they see it they might stop trying to charge me up the yin yang for every possible improvement.

It's asanine too, the same EB chassis could be built between $30K and $120K and they're suddenly claiming that I'd have to pay exactly what each vehicle is built as. And that's bullhockey because if this was a Lexus they wouldn't be charging me more for getting the $10K leather/stereo/upgrade package. They have no way to know from the vehicle badge what the original cost was, and the only reason they're screwing me is because they can't find "Sportsmobile" in their little book.

So what do I do? Get a lawyer to save me paying them $700 or more in extrenous fees?

I am so pissed.
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Old 06-08-2007, 05:34 PM   #7
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Here's the "final" word (I have my plate):

$550 this year
$462 in 2008
$388 in 2009
$326 in 2010
$274 in 2011
$230 in 2012
$193 in 2013
$162 in 2014
$136 in 2015
$115 in 2016
$96 in 2017
$81 in 2018
$68 in 2019
$57 in 2020
$48 in 2021
$40 in 2022
$34 in 2023
$28 in 2024
$24 in 2025
$20 in 2026
$17 in 2027
exempt by only 2028
$3349 Lifetime which is equivalent to ~7.6% luxury tax (on their ascribed value)

That's not bad considering that I would have paid 8 or 9% off the bat in luxury tax or excise tax, and it would have been on whatever I paid not some base for the vehicle.

NOW, if the Ford dealership would just look at the engine light I might get to take my van out next weekend... after two full days "in line" a personal visit from me finally got it moved to "priority" for Saturday morning.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:18 AM   #8
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Welcome to......


Jage;
Welcome to the wonderful world of "pre-Loved" SMB ownership.
As You previously acknowledged, You're no stranger to used vehicles in "Mint Condition."
Realizing that You've done vast research, may I suggest:
For Your "Check Engine" and "Air Bag" concerns Your Ford dealer is the place to go.
For chassis, suspension, and 4WD concerns, I'd surely be tempted to take it to SMB West where they're familiar with all manner of problems and cures.
Check around the forums, You're familiar with most of them, for copious information and tech support.
Here's hoping that eventually You and the family come to LOVE Your SMB as much as we LOVE ours.
In the end You may relent and have SMB build one for You.
Or perhaps, You'll buy a new van and build Your own.
In the meantime, enjoy Your new "Tinker Toy."
And remember that when You drive Your house down the road, [and off road], You're sure to shake something[s] loose.
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:12 PM   #9
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Jage...

Congratulations on your new SMB. Just a thought on your air bag ligh, when mine came on I was able to track it down to the connector under the passenger seat, somehow it had come unplugged. Hope it helps.

Nathan
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:08 PM   #10
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There is actually a loose connector under each seat. I'll try to get a photo later...
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