The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Motorhome Parts

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Motorhome Parts

When restoring or repairing a motorhome, caravan, or camper, many owners consider approaching these projects utilising used parts as a resource. Used motorhome parts have certain distinct benefits, including a lower price point and the ethical advantage of being 'recycled' products. Whether an individual plans on undertaking a large scale remodel of a classic motorhome, a savvy repair of an engine, or a quick cosmetic repair to a motorhome's interior, used parts can be a fantastic resource.

Of course, when purchasing used motorhome parts, consumers can benefit from leveraging some useful tips that are intended to help individuals in the market for used spare parts find the right, quality parts for their needs. Consumers in the market for used motorhome parts can also gain an edge in the marketplace by learning about some of the retail options that are available to provide them with a large catalogue of used auto parts, including the online retailer eBay. Shopping locally can be a bit more of a challenge when it comes to used parts, but buyers can sometimes check classified ads or work with motorhome service centres to find the parts they need.

Finding the Right Parts

The most critical aspect of the search for used motorhome parts is finding the correct parts for specific projects. There are some basic Do's and Don'ts that consumers can follow to ensure they find the right fit when it comes to used spares.

Do Use Year, Make, and Model to Find Used Parts

Used parts are often listed in association with the specific year, make, and model of a motorhome. When initiating a search, consumers should utilise this information as much as possible. If for whatever reason, a consumer is not sure of the particular year, make, or model of a motorhome, that individual may be able to use the motorhome's VIN or chassis number to get these essential details. Having this information correct down to the year can be the biggest difference between finding the correct spare part and being left with a dud part that does not suit a particular project.

Do Leverage Motorhome Manuals and Parts Catalogues

Motorhome manuals and parts catalogues can be essential guides when it comes to finding the right spare parts for a motorhome. Literature of this kind usually comes with a motorhome at purchase, although that may not be a true with a used motorhome purchase. Even when they are included, these useful books often get lost or misplaced as the years go by. If a consumer does not have the correct literature for a caravan, he or she may want to consider buying copies. A wide variety of manuals and parts catalogues are available for sale, and this type of small purchase can greatly facilitate the search for a correct spare part for a motorhome. In some cases, manuals and parts catalogues can be found online at the manufacturer's website.

Don't Try to Force a Fit

Schematics for a motorhome can change dramatically from one model to the next, even for models that are in the same series. Consumers should be aware that used parts that are appropriate for one model within a series may not work for another. When shopping for used motorhome parts, it is important that consumers find the actual correct part and do not try to force an inappropriate part to work. For cosmetic spares, such as a cabinet front, for example, exceptions can be made. When it comes to integral parts related to the mechanics of a motorhome, such as engine parts, it is best to stick with used spares that were designed specifically for a particular model.

Finding Quality Used Parts

Almost as crucial as finding the right part is finding a part that is in good working order and condition. By following a few helpful hints, buyers can find these quality parts.

Do Understand Which Parts are Best Purchased Used

Generally speaking, there are certain categories of spare parts that make for better quality used parts. Certain parts that undergo a lot of wear and tear in the course of a vehicle's operation are not always the best parts to buy used. Other parts, on the other hand, such as an oil pan, undergo practically no wear and tear during the regular operation of a motorhome. Additionally, there are parts that are subject to some wear and tear but do not suffer much damage. These parts are typically protected in some way during regular operation.

The following chart provides consumers with a general guideline that they can use when determining whether or not they should buy a certain part in used condition.

Good as Used Parts

Can Be Good as Used Parts

Not Good as Used Parts

body components and panels

fenders & bumpers

reservoirs & fuel tank

window components (electric & manual)

exhaust manifold and pipes

front grill

hub caps

all mirrors

seats, headrests, armrests

steering wheel and components

stereos and other head units

window and sunroof motor

lights

wiper components

wheels

air conditioning components

ABS components

alternator

brake drums

dashboard gauges

distributor

engine block

engine mounts

oil cooler

oil lines

oil pump

pistons

radiator

spare tire or rim

timing chain

tyres

transmission

air bags and filters

ball joints

brake discs or pads

catalytic converter

distributor cap

fuel lines

fuses

gaskets

muffler

piston rings

radiator hoses

rotor

shock absorbers

spark plugs and related components

strut bearings and inserts

timing chain

valves

water pump

There are, of course, exceptions to all of these scenarios. An item that one might safely assume is not a good option as a used part can, at times, be found in good condition. The condition of any used motorhome part should be confirmed at the point of purchase with a vendor.

Do Consider a 'For Parts' Purchase

For large scale projects where consumers need a good number of parts, they might consider buying a non-working motorhome or a chassis as a 'for parts' purchase. A 'for parts' purchase means that a consumer is not expecting a working vehicle, but rather wishes to break that vehicle down into separate spares. This, of course, demands a good deal of skill and know-how; however, if a consumer feels up to it, a 'for parts' purchase can be just the ticket for finding a number of quality parts that are also a guaranteed fit for a particular model.

Don't Avoid Questions

When buying used spare parts, it is important for consumers to be proactive in communicating with vendors. Consumers should ask as many questions as necessary to confirm the quality of items and their usage histories, if applicable. Engaging a vendor and asking questions is also a good way for a consumer to learn more about what he or she needs for a repair. Sellers of used parts are often well-seasoned in parts and repairs and can be excellent sources of information. Consumers should make an extra effort to communicate with sellers and start a dialogue.

Don't Forget New Old Stock

An alternative to used motorhome parts is "New Old Stock'', sometimes referred to as N.O.S. parts. These parts are older, legacy parts that have been discontinued by their manufacturers but have not actually been used in any working vehicles. They may be in stock because they were initially overstocked and a vendor did not sell the entire inventory. New Old Stock may also include aftermarket options, which are parts that replicate the schematics of manufacturer parts but were not made by the original equipment manufacturer.

Buying Used Motorhome Parts on eBay

The online retailer eBay aggregates multiple parts vendors to offer consumers a large catalogue of used options. When you first visit the site, look for the search interface on any page. This helpful search box allows you to enter a keyword term, such as ' used motorhome part'', to pull up any listing on the site related to that term. You can also use eBay's Advanced Search option to run a narrower, more specialised search.

Evaluating Sellers on eBay

When sourcing used spares for a motorhome on eBay, it can be very helpful if you take a moment to evaluate any seller from whom you are interested in buying a used part. To do this, click on the seller's name inside a listing. This takes you to the seller's page where you can look through the vendor's past listings and read the opinions of other consumers in the feedback section. Any and all of this information can help you determine whether you can trust the seller to provide the correct quality part.

Conclusion

Finding good quality used parts for use in a motorhome does not need to be a complicated matter. Whether a consumer needs an engine part, a brake component, dashboard gauges, electric window components, or the right body part for a motorhome, accessing the right used parts is only a matter of following a few, helpful hints to understand which parts are the best bet in used condition. For one thing, digging up old user manuals and noting the exact year, make, and model number of the motorhome is a great place to start.

Using the right resources for purchasing used motorhome parts, such as eBay and local motorhome repair centres, can make an enormous difference in the final result and cost. Adhering to a few simple Do's and Don'ts ensures almost any consumer can source quality used parts for a motorhome renovation or repair and enjoy a relatively pain-free experience.

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