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Old 07-27-2023, 01:03 AM   #21
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2013 31L
State: Florida
Posts: 2,237
THOR #908
Pre-buy research is exactly why I got hooked on forums like this one many years ago... that first was a popup camper forum when we were looking to buy.... Moved over to a more motor-home centric one researching motorhomes...that was before this forum had really taken off with activity.

Anyway, I've probably written it here before...but just to add my 2 cents worth to your list
regarding the prebuy.... I don't recall exactly, but my pre-buy was probably more than 4 hours....and I still didn't catch everything.

- If possible, I suggest scheduling it for a week day (so that you can schedule a maintenance bay appointment at the dealer the next day)
- and do it in the morning so you have plenty of time. Test everything, open every hatch, fill and dump every tank, operate every system....
- I'd ask...(but would not expect them to comply)...ask that they not prep the unit for the prebuy, and not plug it in. (for mine, they had detailed the unit which is fine, but whatever they sprayed on it temporarily hid the fading that was already there on the outside....and also they had it plugged in with AC blowing when I showed up.... so no way to test the batteries...I had even brought along a battery load tester)...and guess what, the battery was shot but I couldn't tell.
- spend that first night in the rig, either at the dealer if you can, or near by.
- You'll probably discover some stuff poking around and living in it that evening

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Old 07-27-2023, 04:14 AM   #22
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Model: Chateau 24F
State: Ohio
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Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
Pre-buy research is exactly why I got hooked on forums like this one many years ago... that first was a popup camper forum when we were looking to buy.... Moved over to a more motor-home centric one researching motorhomes...that was before this forum had really taken off with activity.

Anyway, I've probably written it here before...but just to add my 2 cents worth to your list
regarding the prebuy.... I don't recall exactly, but my pre-buy was probably more than 4 hours....and I still didn't catch everything.

- If possible, I suggest scheduling it for a week day (so that you can schedule a maintenance bay appointment at the dealer the next day)
- and do it in the morning so you have plenty of time. Test everything, open every hatch, fill and dump every tank, operate every system....
- I'd ask...(but would not expect them to comply)...ask that they not prep the unit for the prebuy, and not plug it in. (for mine, they had detailed the unit which is fine, but whatever they sprayed on it temporarily hid the fading that was already there on the outside....and also they had it plugged in with AC blowing when I showed up.... so no way to test the batteries...I had even brought along a battery load tester)...and guess what, the battery was shot but I couldn't tell.
- spend that first night in the rig, either at the dealer if you can, or near by.
- You'll probably discover some stuff poking around and living in it that evening
If the rig has been sitting on the dealer lot for close to a season or more... with NO solar on the roof - guaranteed the battery is toast. That's happened twice to me... I didn't load test at inspection (), and they wouldn't hold a decent charge after a couple months of use.
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Old 07-27-2023, 08:54 AM   #23
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Model: Sunstar 29VE Winnebago
State: Texas
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Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
If the rig has been sitting on the dealer lot for close to a season or more... with NO solar on the roof - guaranteed the battery is toast. That's happened twice to me... I didn't load test at inspection (), and they wouldn't hold a decent charge after a couple months of use.
The first Thor MC that I was serious about buying ( brand new ACE 29.3) I noticed one battery had exploded just before my PDI. Dealer agreed to replace both batteries, but the battery compartment, floor and parts of the hydraulics in the same bay was all corroded. Dealer said they would not fix, TMC said it was Dealer issue not warranty, and company that made the hydraulics said if levers were to go bad or stop working they would not cover under warranty due to neglect / misuse. I didn't buy ( I remember coming to this forum, and people saying run as fast as I could) Well I did run, but I kept looking back; tied two more times on two other coaches, never passed my PDI inspection. Never needed or tried a professional RV Inspector even though I was a newbie. It had to pass the eyeball test and then everything had to worked. We only finished one PDI, and it took 6 hours. We had sent the dealer a list of all of the things from previous PDI that were defective so they had chance to ensure and verify that none of those things would be a concern BEFORE we even went to the lot. No wax, but I took the chance anyway because the RV had been stored in their very large indoor showroom since it's arrival
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Old 07-27-2023, 08:05 PM   #24
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THOR #908
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Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
If the rig has been sitting on the dealer lot for close to a season or more... with NO solar on the roof - guaranteed the battery is toast. That's happened twice to me... I didn't load test at inspection (), and they wouldn't hold a decent charge after a couple months of use.
yes for sure.

I expand that though to any RV or any age. How often do people...either customers, salesmen, or maintenance folks... while the rig is on the lot flip a light on or some other thing, and forget to turn it off and there it sits till the next day or longer....
In my experience a flooded lead acid battery is damaged after just one trip to down <12 volts
add to that just sitting on the lot for a month...with self discharge rates of maybe 4% to 8% per month (even with the cables completely disconnected)...it doesn't take long for a partially discharged battery to drop below that damage threshold....
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Old 08-09-2023, 10:29 PM   #25
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Model: Chateau 25v
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An excellent post!

We have just returned from a great three-week trip from Florida to the upper peninsula of Michigan. On this trip we ticked over the 10,000 mile mark on our Class C, and the trip was completely uneventful from a mechanical/maintenance/equipment failure point of view.

We are enjoying our fifth RV in six years. Two travel trailers, two “C”s, and a Class A. Currently, we are rebuilding a brand new 2022 Thor Chateau 25V which we purchased new from Camping World in Tampa about a year ago.

After four previous purchases, we knew the PDI was simply a list of things that I would fix myself. So we’ve replaced warped interior doors with doors we fabricated ourselves; aligned the entry door so it closes properly; eliminated the automatic transfer switch (very loud buzzing noise) and redesigned the shore power vs. generator electrical system; finished all of the interior moldings (missing from the factory); refastened the AC unit (leaked due to not being properly installed); replaced flimsy drawer slides with heavy duty units; added indirect lighting to the interior; replaced faulty valve stem extensions; added privacy curtain between driver cockpit and the living area; reworked bathroom plumbing (fabricated new toilet mount to stop rocking), and installed residential hardware in shower and sink; fabricated and installed replacement panels for broken (at the factory) under-bed supports; and the list goes on. Poor installation of low-quality materials is the primary problem we have encountered in our Thor purchase experience.

If a newbie takes just one thing from the original post, it should be this: if you are not prepared to do your own repairs, and don’t like the idea of your RV being out of commission for weeks or months at a time due to dealer inefficiency, then maybe rethink your choice of recreation.

I found that my new Thor was fairly well-designed, but the construction and assembly process is flawed in the extreme. Paying assembly workers on a piece-work basis is a recipe for poor product. The dealers have neither the intention nor the expertise to make up for the lack of QC at the factory. I made it clear to the dealer at the time of purchase that their service department would never see this RV again as long as I own it.

Having completed everything needed to bring the Chateau up to “road-readiness”, we are now very happy with the purchase. Everything works, and there is no problem we can imagine that would sideline us during any of our frequent camping trips.

So, like the Boy Scouts say… “Be prepared!”
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Old 08-10-2023, 10:45 AM   #26
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You’ve customized your kit and made it yours. Well done!
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Old 09-30-2023, 10:53 PM   #27
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Always go to the thor factory shop for major repairs. Went to dealer for estimate on replacing two sheets of plywood in bottom of my 2018 thor aria. Dealer $30,400.00 thor factory 1,500.00. I think i saved money.
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Old 09-30-2023, 11:40 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Mcarter477 View Post
Always go to the thor factory shop for major repairs. Went to dealer for estimate on replacing two sheets of plywood in bottom of my 2018 thor aria. Dealer $30,400.00 thor factory 1,500.00. I think i saved money.
Unless you use kurts repair in MT
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Old 10-15-2023, 02:56 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Judge View Post
Many RV newbies get bashed for buying a new RV and then come to this and other Forums to complain about the many problems they have encountered with their new rig, the dealer or even Thor.

Those newbies tend to get bashed by the “experts” on the Forum and will hear comments such as…

- You should have done a thorough PDI!

- Why would you drive it off the dealer lot with all of those problems?

- It’s your own fault for purchasing a low-end RV.!

- You should have known better for buying Manufacturer XYZ!

People don’t know what they don’t know….especially if they have no first-hand experience with something or have no family or close friends with experience they can consult with before their purchase.

Many people assume that if they spend a lot of money for an RV….. and a lot of money can be anything from $50,00 to $500,000…. there is an expectation that the rig will be of reasonable quality and work as designed.

We all know what can happen when we assume…. but in reality people purchase big-ticket items like houses and automobiles every day and most of the time those purchases aren't nightmares. That is not always the case in the RV industry.

In the world of RV’s you can’t assume that spending a lot of your hard earned money is going to get you a quality rig that works properly from the time you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately this is the ugly truth in the RV industry that RV dealers and manufacturers won't tell you!

I get very tired seeing the chastising of newbies so in the spirit of trying to be helpful vs critical, I wanted to start a thread to help RV newbies before they purchase their first RV.

Perhaps the Admins will see fit to make this a “sticky” and others will also add their advice and experience to it in order to help first-time RV owners. If not…. hey.... at least I tried to do something positive on this Forum to help prospective new RV owners.


1. First ask yourself how often you plan to use the RV. Will it be every weekend? Once a month? One or two trips per year? Will you travel for multiple weeks or months in a row? Will it be two of you or a family of four? Will it be a stepping stone to another RV down the road? Determining the answers to these questions first will help with the next items on the list.


2. Determine your budget for the purchase….. then add 5 - 10% on top of that number for accessories, repairs and eventual upgrades you will need to do at some point. Even when the rig is under “warranty” repairs and upgrades will end up costing some money. So if you want to purchase a $100,000 RV, plan to have an additional $5,000 - $10,000 of disposable income for potential repairs and upgrades.... and a few accessories.... but mostly repairs and upgrades. If you don't end up using it all, then you have more money for fuel and campgrounds!


3. RV quality and workmanship is nothing near what it is when purchasing an automobile or most other big-ticket items. Quality and workmanship is almost nonexistent for many RV manufacturers. There will be problems! You can count on it like death and taxes! Sometimes small problems…. sometimes large problems….. but be prepared that you will have issues after laying out a lot of money for a new RV. Knowing this and having some money put aside will help you from going off the deep end after your purchase.


4. Ask yourself if you have good mechanical skills. Are you mechanically inclined? Are you able to do many of the repairs in your home and on your car? Do you like doing your own repairs? Or do you hate having to do repairs and maintenance? Do you usually call someone to fix things at home or take the car to the dealer or a shop?

If you are good at fixing things and like it, you will have a better chance of being happy with your RV purchase. If you rely on other people to fix things for you, then be prepared to have your RV out of service for long periods of time…. weeks or months..... even for small issues. Also be prepared for having the same issue fixed multiple times.

There is nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on an RV and not being able to use it because it is sitting at the dealer for weeks. Being able to do your own repairs, upgrades and maintenance will keep you on the road and much happier in the long run.


5. Pick the floor plan that best meets your needs. Think about things like bed size…. being able to get into and out of the bed from either side….. shower size….. toilet position….. seating and how comfortable is needs to be….. kitchen layout and amenities….. amount of storage and what you plan to take on your trips.


6. Make a list of must-have features… nice-to-have features….. and can-live-without features to reference in your search for the "right" model.


7. Slides! Slides are great.... and not so great! They can add a lot more room to the RV, which can be important if your spend weeks or months every year using it. But slides can also be a tremendous source of pain. They can be very problematic. Having a slide stuck out at a campground can be a nerve-wracking experience!

Here is some advice about slides:

- Stay away from full-wall slides if at all possible. High-end RV’s will use hydraulic mechanisms, which are better for large and heavy slides but in general large and heavy slides tend to be problematic and expensive to repair and maintain.

- Stay away from slides that contain any plumbing and wiring. Many slides will have a kitchen on it and that means water lines and drains that have to deal with a moving slide. This can be a source of leaks and other issues right out of the gate or over time. If a model you like has a kitchen on a slide, be sure to do a very detailed inspection before taking ownership (see #14 below).

- Stay away from floor plans that require the slide to be opened in order to use the bed. If a slide fails during a trip, being able to use the bed can mean the difference between continuing the trip or not.

- Make sure you can access the bathroom and fridge when the slides are closed.

- Ultimately, the fewer and smaller the slides, the better.


8. Pick 3 or 4 different models across different manufacturers that you think will meet most of your previously identified needs.


9. Do your homework and research….. research….. and then research some more for each of the potential models you have identified. Read forums. Read reviews online. Watch reviews and walkthroughs on YouTube.

Talk to actual owners. If you join a couple RV Forums, many people will be happy to talk about the good, bad and ugly of their ownership experiences for the models you are interested in purchasing so you know what you may be getting into before you lay down that hard earned cash!


10. Identify a minimum of two different dealers for each model that you have identified as a possible fit for your RV lifestyle. Visit those dealers in person before you ever ask to see one of their RV's.

Tell the dealer you are in a market for an RV but you want to interview dealers first to see if they make the cut for a potential purchase from them. Ask to talk to the sales manager and ask them what makes them different and what you should buy from them. Ask to talk to the service manager and ask about their backlog for service and average turnaround times for repairs.

Ask to talk to a couple of the dealer's customers. While dealers will only provide the contacts of known friendly customers most people will be honest and provide both good and bad things about their dealer experience. You will be better off eliminating a bad dealer long before you start looking at an RV and getting pulled in by an aggressive... and empty.... sales pitch.


11. Go shopping! Go see the models in person. Lay on the bed….. step in the shower….. sit on the toilet (pants on please!)….. open the storage cabinets and bays. See if it meets your expectations and checks of your list of must-have features. Look at the overall quality and workmanship as you look at each part of the rig.


12. Test drive all candidates! Do not purchase any RV without driving it first (or towing it if it is a towable). The difference in ride and handling can be drastically different across makes and models. Drive the back roads as well as highways and interstates. Go up and down hills….. go around curves. Take your time and don’t let the sales guy rush your test drive. Remember you will need to drive an RV in a lot of tight places and in a lot of different conditions so make sure it is comfortable to drive and maneuver.


13. Once you have identified your RV….. negotiate! Before COVID you could easily negotiate with dealers and expect discounts of 25 - 35% or even more off MSRP. COVID and inflation changed a lot of that but things are swinging back in favor of the buyer once again. Having two identified dealers with the same model can give you more leverage in your negotiations.

Also, if you saw anything that needed to be fixed during your walkthrough or test drive, tell the dealer those items must be addressed before taking delivery and make sure they list it in the sales agreement.


14. Once you have an agreement to purchase, then it is time to prepare for your PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection)!!! A PDI is very important to making sure you drive away with as few issues as possible so you can enjoy your new RV.

Contrary to what some people may tell you on this and other Forums it is difficult to identify every single problem or a potential problem that is lurking behind the scenes. But if you prepare in advance and do a thorough PDI before taking delivery, it can minimize issues now and down the road.

There are many PDI Check-Lists available online (I have included a few example as well for you). Download the PDI Check-Lists and print them out. Read each one thoroughly and then decide which line items on the PDI best match the RV you will be purchasing. I actually took several PDI’s and then copied and pasted line items to create a PDI that most closely matched the RV I was purchasing.

Also make a list of questions you have about the RV, including how specific systems work like the Inverter or Generator, if so equipped. Ask about how to empty your black and gray tanks. Ask how to use shore power vs battery power and which systems work on shore power and which systems only work on battery power. Ask how to use the furnace and air conditioner, etc.


15. Once you have the delivery date, tell the dealer you plan to spend up to 4 hours doing your Pre-Delivery Inspection! Don’t let them try to tell you that you won’t need that much time. You may not need it but then again you just may need to take that much time. Be prepared to walk from your deal if they will not allow you to take all the time you need to go through your PDI Check-List and to ask your questions about how everything operates on the RV.

Tip: Take another experienced RV owner with your for the PDI. Someone who has been down this road before can know what to look for or know what questions to ask. Plus another set of eyes and ears is always helpful!


16. During the PDI identify anything that is not working properly or needs to be fixed. Tell the dealer you will not complete the paperwork for the purchase until everything you have identified is addressed to your satisfaction. Don’t let a dealer tell you they will fix it later! Later can mean months later or the RV sitting on their lot for weeks or months waiting to be fixed….. while your main payments and the warranty clock is running! Be prepared to walk if the dealer cannot fix all items identified during the PDI before you sign the paperwork to take ownership.


17. Once you are satisfied that all items identified during the PDI have been properly addressed by the dealer and everything works as designed, sign the paperwork and take ownership and start enjoying your new RV! If you have to walk from the deal…. move onto the next dealer and start over. As frustrating and disappointing as it may be, you will be better off starting over.


18. Begin keeping a log (Warranty Punch-List) of items you find aren’t working or break as you start using your new RV. As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to find every single problem or every potential problem lurking during the PDI. Use the RV as much as you can early on to flush out potential issues while there is still a lot of warranty time remaining.

If they are minor issues, strongly consider fixing them yourself if you have the skills to do so. I have been very lucky calling the Customer Warranty Support Line and having Thor send me parts under warranty so I could do my own repairs…. faster and better than any dealer could do those repairs.

Obviously if there is a major issue, it might need to go back to the dealer or the Factory Service Center (often a better option than the dealer for major problems). If you have to take it back to the dealer, make sure you provide them with the Warranty Punch-List you have been keeping as issues developed so they get fixed as well.


If you are new to RV's and are considering purchasing one for the first time, I hope this thread gives you some useful information and sets some expectations to avoid disappointment after your purchase!


One last tip......

Buying a used RV as your first RV is not a bad way to go. You may get more bang for your buck. But more importantly if you find the right owner, they may have repaired and upgraded many of the issues with the RV that they experienced when it was new. You can end up getting a very solid rig that is more reliable... and even more enjoyable than a new RV.


Good luck!!!!!
Very good advice. Well worth reading.
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Old 11-22-2023, 09:08 PM   #30
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Model: vegas 24.1
State: Nevada
Posts: 228
THOR #17346
great advice, great post, thanks for the time and care you put into it. a post worth remembering.
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Old 01-08-2024, 02:40 AM   #31
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Model: 29M
State: Missouri
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THOR #31583
well written and your attachments should be well received by the group new or old.

Mark
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Old 07-19-2024, 09:28 PM   #32
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THOR #33216
Great advise judge! I'm a new by and appreciate all the knowledge and experience you've shared.
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