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Old 10-23-2008, 10:47 AM   #1
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Buying Used

Greetings everyone. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on purchasing a used SMB. Things to inspect, anything that experience has taught you. Anyone who has purchased used and regretted it, wished they had gone new? Anyone completely happy with going used?
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Old 10-23-2008, 11:32 AM   #2
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My primary piece of advice for buying used is to have your financing arranged ahead of time and be ready to pull the trigger if you find the right one. When I bought used, the SMB market was quite a bit "hotter" than it is now, so used SMBs weren't typically on the market very long, but even today used SMBs at realistic market prices (whatever that might be) don't last long.

Overall we've been very happy with our SMB. We were going to buy a new one to our spec, but a used one came along that was "close" to what we really wanted, but at the same time had much more on it than we would have been able to justify/afford if we had bought new. It's all tradeoffs.

If you're considering a used SMB, I recommend you make a list of must-have criteria (options) that you can use to screen out pre-owned SMBs that would not work for you. There do seem to be quite a few more used SMBs for sale than when I was looking.


Good luck,
Herb
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:57 PM   #3
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I agree with everything Herb just said. My wife and I had been looking at Sportsmobiles for many years. We had planned to buy new but could never decide whether to go RB or EB, diesel or gas, electric top or manual top, etc etc. So we kept putting off buying it because we didn't want to spend 90 to 100 thousand and then regret out decision. We decided the best way to go would be to buy a used one and used it for a couple years and then either keep it or sell it and order a new one once we find out how we have used it and what we liked or disliked. This turned out to be a good way to go and we have not regretted it one bit. The van we bought was a 2004 with 32,000 miles onit and was in extremely nice condition. We haven't had any issues with it and use it a lot. We may even keep it indefinately. Good luck. oclv
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:29 PM   #4
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Kinewave, we too are very happy with our used SMB, and it's REALLY used- a 1993 "hardtop" that had about 82k miles on it when we got it early this year. We have found the quality of work on the conversion to be from good to excellent. The original Norcold dual-voltage fridge is dying, but that's just old age. The last owner put in a rebuilt transmission at around 80k; the engine and other mechanicals and electricals of the Econoline itself are in great shape. This is NOT a 4WD and has not had hard, off-road use, plus the earlier owners took good care of it. You can tell right away when you look at a used vehicle if it's had really good care.
Stuff you might want to check:
For the van itself, drive it until it's well warmed up and then park it over some spread-out newspapers to see what, if anything, leaks out.
Pull both dipsticks and open the radiator cap to see how dirty the oil, tranny fluid, and coolant are. Unless they were just changed, there may be some discoloration, but you should not see any solid matter in there.
Make the sale contingent on taking the SMB to a really good RV place where you'll pay for a checkup of the on-board systems etc. You can do the same for the chassis, motor and tranny.
On ours, I knew we'd need to get new tires because age cracks were obvious, but I trusted the voltmeter for the two house batteries and did not unscrew and open up the cases to check the batteries' condition. We learned during our first trip that they were both shot - wouldn't hold a charge.
Others will certainly have other things to add, but most stuff you find wrong can be corrected if you negotiate a good price. Hope you find the right one and enjoy it as much as we're enjoying ours!
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Old 10-23-2008, 10:12 PM   #5
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I had problems from the get go with my van, I put myself in a situation where I had to buy it or go without for several more months, which included missing out on camping with my niece. (actually it would have put us back camping in the truck cap for her first ever camping experience)

It started with an extra 2K on the odometer from where it was listed, and the check engine light came on literally a block from the guys driveway as soon as I was driving solo.

Anyway, despite all the problems and dealing with dealerships across the country, two trips to SMB locations, bad batteries and everything else I've never seen a van I liked better enough to regret the decision. The best lesson I've learned is, whenever possible, to go ahead an fix problems yourself- and expect to have at least some of that buying used... uh, buying any SMB.

Now that we're through the initial problems it has been nothing but great. The real issue I think was my expectation was to have a pristine, perfect, gently used van with zero issues from the start, and that just isn't realistic.

Thank goodness for the extended warranty too!
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Old 10-24-2008, 12:03 AM   #6
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Since just about every SMB is one-of-a-kind, it seems that lots of folks have issues with brand new ones. Hoses end up routed such that they are at risk, air intakes poorly placed, etc.

Mine too is "very used" at 102k miles, but I kind of like knowing that if there were any kinks from the build, they were ironed out long ago. Have not actually had it long enough to validate that theory, but seems like a nice theory nonetheless!

Definitely think hard about the features that are must-haves and which ones are not: it'll help you narrow down the field, and also help you find one that fits the bill. We ended up without many of the "RV" bells and whistles we thought were "must-haves", and I think we'll be just fine.

Ok, we need to add one bell and one whistle, but THEN we'll be fine.
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:20 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone. Solid advice. Hopefully I'll be posting pics of my new (used) SMB soon.

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Old 10-25-2008, 01:47 PM   #8
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You might also consider having an oil analysis done. This is especially true if you are buying a diesel, because the cost of rebuilding one of these engines. http://www.blackstone-labs.com/index.html

John
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Old 10-26-2008, 12:22 PM   #9
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Good to know about the oil analysis. The SMB I'm looking at only has 35k miles, so it's still covered under the Ford factory warranty.
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:33 PM   #10
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Does anyone have any experience purchasing an out of state vehicle?
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