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Thread: Things to look for when buying a used coach:

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Clearwater
    Posts
    231

    Default Things to look for when buying a used coach:

    We see these questions all the time, and often the mistakes associated with not knowing, so I feel it may help to discuss things the look for when buying an older coach.

    The problem as of late is that since the older XL models have come down in price as they have, people see that they can now afford to own "The Ultimate Class" coach. The problem is that a 10+ year old coach has costly maintenance items that will soon need to be performed, if not already done. Some people come to us shocked about the costs to get the coach that has not had any of these items taken care of, and quickly see that their budget is blown or far exceded.

    When looking at a Prevost, I suggest buyers look at the same things we do when buying inventory or taking trades. The top three costly items to rehabilitate a coach for resale for us are: 1)tires, 2) batteries, 3) electronics, followed by rubber items (including air suspension bags, Norgren valves, brake chambers, and existance of air leaks). A common cost for us to ready a trade or purchase for resale if none of these things has been taken care of normally runs us $15-20k, and depending on severity and extent of air leak issues, possibly upwards of $25k total. If there are several windows that are fogged up from a break in their thermo seal, add further to that total.
    The most expensive rehabilitate for delivery was just over $30k, and that did not include any customer tailored requests like reupholstery of seats, etc. If you are looking to purchase an older used Prevost, I strongly suggest without knowing the condition of these above-mentioned items, to plan on $30,000.00 excess budget to cover possible repairs needed.

    Tires: the general industry-accepted standard is that the tires be Michelin, appropriately sized, and if over 7 years old, expect to replace. If the tires are mismatched brands, etc, beware. The Michelin date code is a 4-digit all numeric code. The first two digits are week of the year they were produced, and second two are the year of manufacture. Example: 1814 would have been made the 18th week of 2014.

    Batteries: my personal pet peeve. Make sure the batteries are of the appropriate type for your coach! There are only a very select few Prevost conversions in which it is LEGAL to put vented liquid lead-acid batteries in for house batteries for several reasons. If the batteries are in a system that uses Trace 4000watt Sinewave Inverter/Chargers, you will be sorry if you have any other battery than a Lifeline AGM. If the house batteries are installed in a compartment (as most are) that is not COMPLETELY SEALED OFF from ANY source of a spark (i.e. inverters, transfer switches, parallel relays, contactors, etc) it is PROHIBITED under the National Fire Prevention Act, the NFPA, article 70, which for the laymen is the National Electric Code. Such installations MUST have ignition-proof, sealed batteries, which means either AGM or Gel.
    The standard cheap battery you buy at NAPA, Interstate, etc are less than half the price of AGM or Gel-cell batteries, but are a fire hazard in a compartment storage compartment of a Prevost where they are not sealed from the rest of the compartment. The older series Country Coach conversions are the only ones I can remember seeing that were installed in an adequate compartment to allow regular vented liquid batteries, but they are still not installed in such a way that a customer will be able to check the liquid electrolyte level monthly. Remember, vented batteries will dry out and you will need to add distilled water regularly. Water evaporates! Especially in the summer. There are Liberty, Marathon, Vantare, and Parliament conversions with the batteries located in a vented rear compartment behind the tag axle, but the same applies: They are impossible to access to check water level if vented liquid batteries were to be installed.
    You don't get something for nothing! If you install or a previous owner installed the "cheap" liquid batteries, plan on having to replace them every few years because that's how long they will last.

    Electronics: If the satellite dish is more than 10-years old, the likelihood is there that it has a serial data port between the dish and receiver. The dish may have been operating for the last customer, but DirecTV WILL NOT activate a receiver that is branded anything but DirecTV and have a Reciever ID number. I.E. a Sony or RCA receiver that was active and communicating with the dish will have to be replaced, and the new receivers lack the serial data port, so the dish will no longer operate once the new receivers are installed. You will have to replace the satellite dish. Also, few coaches prior to 2007 will have digital "over-the-air" television receivers, so you would only be able to watch the RV park cable to watch anything but satellite. Now there comes the issues in upgrading like what types of inputs and outputs the television had before, how the sound got into the coach, etc. Just changing a tube TV for a fancy new LCD may open a whole "can of worms" and require a new sound system, a sound bar, different DVD or Blueray player rather than the old VCR....and the story goes on and on.

    Air suspension bags: If they have cracks deep enough to stick a quarter in, they need to be replaced! At that point, expect that they all will need replaced at the same time or shortly thereafter.

    Brake chambers: Remember, there is a rubber bellows inside that makes them work. Rubber rots/wears out over time. Noticeable air hissing around the drive/tag axle area with the park brake off are indications of failures in these.

    In summary, remember, this all sounds overwhelming, but when making the purchase of an older 10-15+ year old coach (of ANY type/make, not just a Prevost) these the maintenance costs need to be in the forefront of everyones' minds. If you cannot afford to have these items replaced, and replaced with the right parts, you are better off not to make the purchase at all. A Prevost may be beautiful, but I am not convinced it makes the best choice for a lawn ornament.
    Ben Cummings
    U.S.A. Luxury Coaches, LLC
    Clearwater, FL

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Huntsville
    Posts
    3,099

    Default

    Ben,

    Thanks for the comprehensive reminder.
    Dale & Paulette
    1998 American Carriage XL45 Single Slide
    "God Loves you and has a plan for your life!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Beverly Hills
    Posts
    2,543

    Default

    Ben makes some great points. But his comments should not be limited to 10-15 year old coaches.

    If tires should be replaced at 7 years or so and certainly before 10 years there's a good change a 10 year old coach has newer tires than a 7 year old coach.

    Batteries generally last 5-10 years with most probably lasting the 7 or so years as batteries. Like tires, a 10 year old coach may have newer batteries than a 7 year old coach.

    Electronics are becoming obsolete at a much faster pace than any other coach system. The good news is that their prices have come down. Some more bad news. Newer TVs are 16:9 format meaning you may have to modify the location were the old TV was mounted. More bad news, new TVs don't generally have forward facing speakers meaning you will likely need external speakers. I've been in many 2005 coaches that don't have TVs capable of tuning in new ATSC (digital) broadcast.

    Many newer coaches also went to Crestron, Tech-Link and other automation systems that may be obsolete. In fairness to Ben and Parliament their late model coaches didn't go the route of Crestron and its custom add-on controllers.

    And then there's the XL-II delamination problems, Charge Air Cooler failures, and reduced fuel economy of the EGR engines.

    Ben makes great points that any coach owner or prospective owner should be aware of REGARDLESS of the year of the coach you're considering. I caution prospective owners not to drink the kool-aid that some others profess. Changing tires and batteries every 5 years is one example of going overboard with unnecessary preventive maintenance. Of course, if cost is no object, then these extremely conservative and atypical replacement may fit you.
    Last edited by Gil_J; 06-05-2018 at 10:50 AM.


    Gil and Durlene
    2003 H-3 Hoffman Conversion

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Crown Point
    Posts
    2

    Default

    I should have joined this group before I purchased my coach. LOL!!! The Prevost learning curve is steep. But, thanks to Gil and others, I am confident I will be Prevost competent shortly.
    2001 Featherlite Vantare’ XLII “Indio”

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Golden Oak
    Posts
    187

    Default

    Q: "Things to look for when buying a used coach"

    A: Gil's phone number.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Marysville
    Posts
    39

    Default

    I couldn't agree more with TheGadgetGuru, having the right and knowledgeable person do a competent inspection (PDI) is the key to making a good purchase choice. My lessons have been learned the hard way, but learned none the less.
    Last edited by Dave D; 06-05-2018 at 11:01 AM.

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