Grants Pass RV and Auto Repair

Things To Know Before Buying A Used Coach: Will It Be A Dream Or A Nightmare?

“Pay me now or pay me later” -- Mr. Goodwrench


I asked people, “If you were going to buy a house on the side of a mountain, would you want to know what the foundation was?”


Purchasing an R.V. can be likely the most expensive purchase you make outside of your house.

Quite often I ask folks if they paid more money for their R.V. than their first house? Hands shoot up everywhere. So, I ask about the second house, the third house; again, hands go up.

The point is made that purchasing an R.V. is a substantial investment.  


I ask people “How many of you test drove your motorhome, pulled your 5th wheel or hauled your camper?” Maybe a quarter of the hands go up and that is a generous estimate! If they did drive or pull it, it was on a nice preselected route by the salesman. It was most likely not with truck passing, road construction, windy conditions, truck ruts and various bumps, bridge transitions, etc. these are real-world conditions you are guaranteed to experience once you get out on the road!


One thing I’ve learned over the years is almost any motorhome or RV will drive fine, on a smooth road without real-world ruts, bumps and passing trucks in windy conditions.


The bottom line is people fall in love with the floor plan and all the nice features, which is only natural.


Recently, I had some friends sell their coach that we had completed a lot of upgrades on, which they loved. But they really wanted a diesel coach. They were able to sell their coach for their asking price and purchase a used diesel. When I next saw them at a rally where we were working, I found out about their new coach, a used Beaver Patriot.

It sounds good, right? Beaver had a name that was synonymous with quality. To this day I tell some folks if they own a Beaver Coach they may want to consider keeping it and fixing anything to keep it on the road.

The only problem with my friends’ purchase, it was a very early model. When I first looked at this motorhome, it was beautiful inside and out. We never put it over a pit since we were at a rally, so I did not have the advantage of inspecting it from that angle.

My friend did a lot of work on the Beaver, he spent several days putting all-new airbags on it. I did a visual inspection on the front end as I lay on the ground, everything appeared good other than I recommended a blueprinted steering gear and shocks, M.C.U.’s (Motion Control Units) and Safe-T-Plus steering control.

We said, “See you later!” he headed east on his first long trip with this rig and we headed out on an airplane the next day to an FMCA rally.

We were hoping to see them in a few weeks, as they could stop at our shop on their way home. We heard from them, all right! We got a text saying they were broke down in a little town in Central Oregon, Chemult. My friend said a trac bar had come loose. That sounded like an easy fix, right? I tried finding a welder to go up there to repair it. I was not having much success with that plan.

When I saw the first photos, I was horrified! Someone had had their trac bar come loose before and done a horrible patch job on it!

I had a friend who owns a wrecker service and a repair shop in Medford, OR. He said he would go all the way up there, even though it was Sunday, and get that disabled coach down to the Rogue Valley.

He got them to our shop alright! He reached them in Chemult around 5:00 PM Sunday and after a lot of work and “MacGyvering” arrived at our shop at 4:00 AM Monday morning.

I had two expert welders look at the situation, one of them had a $25,000 minimum. The other one was about 15,000.

The first magnum chassis was built by folks who were just getting started in the chassis business. The cost of an RPA is $306 for a complete test drive before and after plus the weights on all four corners seems like a bargain and a detailed evaluation of all the steering and ride characteristics. 

I know our experienced techs, Eric Beck of 26 years, would have seen what I missed just giving it a quick glance at an RV Park!

I really felt awful that I had not seen it. However, in all my years, this was a new one on me. When they first started making the Magnum Chassis, they may have only made 5 or less of a certain model.

Lesson learned: Make sure and find out the idiosyncrasies of a certain chassis BEFORE you buy.

The same thing is true for the rest of the coach. Find out about the roof, look for signs of water damage, slide mechanism problems, etc.

His towing insurance would not send a tow truck for him with a low boy. I am so grateful for my friend who went above and beyond the call to help this brother and his wife as they were stranded. Ed did an amazing job chaining up that rear suspension, so he could move them from their host’s front yard in Chemult.

Yes, the insurance miraculously covered the repair, probably because the rest of the coach was in great shape as well as the prayers that God answered because the repairs were about what he paid for the coach and they were looking at totaling it out. 

So, before you decide on that used coach, motorhome, camper, trailer, or 5th wheel, be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection from a trusted RV repair mechanic. You could save yourself from a lot of headaches and be thankful an expert pair of eyes are looking out for you.

If you want the team at Henderson’s Line-Up in Grants Pass, Oregon to do the RV inspection and repairs for you, we would love to be of service. We invite you to book an appointment and watch the video we created to prepare the RV for a thorough inspection.

P.S. If you would like to see the first chapter of Robert Henderson’s new book, Living Life One Mile At A Time, click here.


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