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Old 08-03-2012, 09:55 AM   #1
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Newbie questions re: buying a used van

I've bought used cars before And now I'm in the market for my first sportsmobile. I have a few questions and was hoping I could get some answers here.

1) I'm looking at a van out of state. I Plan to travel to see it and test drive it but should I also make an appointment to have it checked out by a mechanic? ( this is what I would do if I was buying a used car) Because I'm looking at a van out of state I can't take it to my mechanic before buying. If I can't find someone close that specializes in sportsmobiles should I take it to a mechanic that works on fords or rv's?

2) what are some good sportsmobile specific questions I should ask when buying a used one?

Thanks!
Kathryn
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Old 08-04-2012, 01:46 AM   #2
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Hi Kathryn,

Basically you need to check the van mechanical part out like you would any used car, a dealer or good repair shop would work. AAA might be able to recomend someone.
As for the Sportsmobile stuff you will have to work with the current owner and see how things work.
As far as I know most of those systems either work or they dont.
You might ask around at RV shops to see if they might check it out.
I bought my van (not a Sportsmobile) in Ohio and drove it back to Northern California.
I had it checked out by the local Ford dealer and they even gave me copies of the service records.

Good luvk...
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Old 08-04-2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Hi Kathryn --

Definitely get the van itself checked out, just like a used car.

To source a local mechanic, when I was on the road for 10 months I relied on the Mechanics File http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechanics-files of listener recommendations/reviews at the website for the NPR show "CarTalk" (Tom and Ray Magliozzi). It always turned out well.

Note that many mechanics are not open on Saturday, so arrange the inspection accordingly (I got caught out on this when I bought my current van three years ago; my only open choice in the rural county seat was the Ford dealership which was open until noon.) As noted above, ask about prior service records if possible. The dealership (Ford or other) can check to see if any recalls are outstanding.

For the SMB components, if there is a fridge may I suggest:
  • Ask the seller to cool the fridge down before you arrive (to prove it cools properly).[/*:m:3otx3o8j]
  • when you get there, check the fridge (bring a thermometer to toss in there if possible). Then, if s/he had it on 110V switch it to 12V, continue with the rest of your visit/discussion[/*:m:3otx3o8j]
  • finally recheck the fridge to make sure that it indeed cools/stays cool on 12V as well as 110V.[/*:m:3otx3o8j]

This is the only thing that I can think of that will take cooperation of the seller, arranged ahead of time.

If the van has a PH house, make sure you can lift it. This is a matter of spring adjustment: the more easily it goes up, the harder it is to bring down. This is something that SMB can adjust, so it's not a deal-breaker -- if you can take the van to an SMB location. Other folks on the forum may be able to chime in here.

Good luck, and have fun!

--Meredith
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:10 AM   #4
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Assuming the SMB you're looking at is a Ford, I would recommend having it looked at by a Ford dealer. When I bought my Van from a place in Denver (when I lived in Salt Lake), I had a dealer look it over, then I called and talked to them about it. They also emailed me the Oasis report, which is a list generated by Ford, outlining every warranty claim made for that particular vehicle. Any service writer can get you a copy if you have the VIN.

If the vehicle you're looking at is a diesel, here's a 5 part video series that discusses factors pertaining to the 6.0L engine and transmission. He's dealing with pickups, but most of it applies to vans with the 6.0.

http://powerstrokehelp.com/PSD_common/u ... ed_PSD.asp

I think at some point it's a leap of faith, and that's a bit scary. I think the best approach is to not mentally commit to buying it, and be willing to walk away when you get there if things aren't right. Of course, if you have decent negotiating skills, any problems you discover could be points for negotiating a reduced price. Good luck!
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:41 PM   #5
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

More info here if you missed it:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6192
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Old 08-04-2012, 03:30 PM   #6
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Thanks everyone! I appreciate the input!
Kathryn
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Old 08-07-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Kind of out of my league here but I thought I would ask a couple of questions.

Does the owner have the SMB provided manuals?

Does anyone know if SMB keeps records of their builds for reference if someone needs quick help and the manual isn't around. Like so if something breaks you don't have to take it out to see what brand/model it is etc...? Does it matter?

Chumley
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:56 AM   #8
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Re: Newbie questions re: buying a used van

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chumley
Does anyone know if SMB keeps records of their builds for reference if someone needs quick help and the manual isn't around. Like so if something breaks you don't have to take it out to see what brand/model it is etc...? Does it matter?
Yes, at least West keeps build info by last part of vin number. No guarantee as equipment may have been replaced over the years. Also many things are standard, like: if your SMB is like post 2003 pre 2011 you most likely have a Sure Power 1315 separator.
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