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