How to Buy Used Motorhome and Campervan Parts on eBay

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How to Buy Used Motorhome and Campervan Parts on eBay

For many owners, motorhomes and campervans are nothing less than a ticket to freedom. They provide all the comforts of home wherever the owner takes them, whether it be up to Scotland or across the continent. However, like all motor vehicles, they do require both regular maintenance and occasional repairs. This means they need spare parts; something that is common to every motor vehicle, regardless of their usage. Some parts simply wear out with use no matter how carefully the owner drives; others can be damaged by nothing more than sheer bad luck on the owner's part. Regardless of the reason, parts are something that every motorhome or campervan owner needs to budget for. One way a motorhome owner can keep control of that budget is to buy used parts on eBay rather than buying new ones from the manufacturer. Therefore, if the buyer is willing to spend a small amount of time on some research, the savings are well worth it.

Differences Between Motorhomes and Campervans

While many people use the two terms interchangeably, there are actually some distinct differences between motorhomes and campervans. The most obvious one to the casual observer is size: campervans are generally smaller than motorhomes. Another is that all campervans are built on a van chassis, and not all motorhomes are. The key point about size is that there is a top limit on size for a campervan, but not for a motorhome, although they do tend to be larger. Internally, motorhomes are more spacious and usually have room for bathroom facilities, which are not always present in a campervan. The other determining factor is that the motorhome generally has a divider of some sort between the living quarters and the driving compartment, while the campervan does not.

Types of Motorhomes and Campervans

There are three basic types of motorhomes and campervans, with the difference being based on the amount of original bodywork that is present on the finished vehicle. The following table lays out the basics of the three types:

Type

Size

Description

Class A

Large

Purpose built motorhome from the frame up

Coachbuilt

Medium

Conversion with original cab section and new body

Van Conversion

Small

Van with interior fitted for camping

Prospective buyers should note that either of the first two types may commonly be referred to as motorhomes, and either of the second two types may commonly be described as campervans, so it is a good idea to pay attention to more than just the name being used.

Determining Motorhome and Campervan Parts Needs

One of the keys to buying the right parts for any campervan or motorhome is finding the right parts for that particular vehicle. Basic van conversions are often the easiest to find parts for because they retain all of the original running gear, and so they use exactly the same mechanical parts as the van they were built from. Coachbuilt motorhomes work in the same way, although it may sometimes be harder to determine exactly what model they were built from. While it may not be obvious from the outside, the paperwork that comes with a Class A motorhome should explain exactly what chassis it is built on and make it relatively easy for you to find the right parts to meet any needs.

Importance of a Shop Manual

One key to buying used parts is having a good manual for the vehicle in question, and campervans are no exception. A good shop manual provides all the information needed to not only perform repairs but also to find the right parts for that particular vehicle. Even though coachbuilt and Class A motorhomes bear very little outward resemblance to the base vehicle, they still share the same running gear so having a shop manual makes finding the right parts that much easier.

Why Buy Used Parts for Motorhomes and Campervans?

There are a number of reasons to look for used parts for a motorhome rather than new ones. One very common reason is price. Used parts are often easier on the budget than new parts, and so they enable the buyer to obtain the maximum leverage from their available parts budget. This can be particularly helpful when restoring a motorhome. Another reason for looking at used parts is availability. Depending on the age of the campervan, new parts may be difficult to find, particularly if the base engine and chassis combination is no longer in production. In a case like that, used parts are likely to be the owner's salvation when new ones are no longer available at any price.

Parts That Should Never be Bought Used

While there are many parts that show very little wear over their lifetime and can be bought used with excellent results, there are some parts that should never be bought used. This is particularly important when looking at parts such as gaskets, which are both inexpensive and impossible to remove without damage. It simply is not worth the effort to try and reuse these kinds of parts. As a general rule, buyers should never buy used parts if they are damaged by removal, or if they are both inexpensive and highly stressed when in use.

The Keys to Buying Used Parts on eBay

The most powerful weapon in any buyer's arsenal is knowledge. This holds true for every purchase anywhere, but it is doubly true for used purchases. The key here is that unlike new parts, which are not only interchangeable but essentially identical, every used part is unique. They may start out identical, as just the contents of another box on the shelf, but after they have been put in a vehicle each part inherits its own individual history. Some parts are installed in well-maintained, lightly used vehicles, and seem almost new when removed. Other parts are used hard and never maintained. Most fall somewhere in between.

The Importance of Due Diligence

This is why when buying used parts, it is important for the buyer to get as much information on that specific part as they can. They should start with researching whether it is a good part to buy used, or one that suffers so much wear in normal use that used ones are rarely usable. Then they should pay attention to the individual parts they are planning to buy. This means they should look at every piece of information the seller provides; every picture, and every word of text tells some of the part's history. Listings also show exactly what is included, whether it is just the functional core of the part, or whether it includes the attachments necessary to connect it to the vehicle. All the information any buyer needs is there, it just requires the patience to sift through it.

Conclusion

Buying used parts on eBay is an excellent way to keep a campervan or motorhome, whatever the owner chooses to call it, in perfect running order. Not only can it extend the buyer's budget, in some cases, buying used parts may be the only way to find the specific parts required for a particular motorhome. Luckily, for the majority of campervans and motorhomes, the parts they need are the same as the base vehicle they are built on. This is particularly true for many van conversions. Still, as with any such purchase, the most important thing for any buyer is knowledge; knowledge of their campervan, and knowledge of the parts involved. It is not enough to focus on general knowledge of the parts, either; each used part is unique, so buyers have to focus on the specifics of the individual part they intend to buy as well as the details of that part in general. This means taking the time required to do the research. Buying used parts has always taken a little more effort on the buyer's part, but the results are frequently well worth it.

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