What to look for when buying a used pop up

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by Rhconcepts, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. Rhconcepts

    Rhconcepts Active Member

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    I would like to start a used buyers guide so people know what to look for when buying a used pop up. I just bought my first camper and had no clue what to look for. I ended up finding a lot of wood rot then I expected.

    I will bring other suggestions to the top so people don't need to scroll through tons of pages. And if any of the info is wrong please let me know. Maybe this could be pinned.

    1. First thing is ask if the owner has the title
    2. Check the tiers for dry rot or cracks
    3. Check the canvas for cuts, cracks and mold.
    4. Check the frame for major rust
    5. Plug in and check tail lights.
    6. Check power system, water system and sewerage system if you can.
    7. Check leveling jacks to see if they work. Correction, they are stabilizers :)
    8. Check the tow latch system.
    9. Raise the top and listen, it should go up smooth. Most will make a clicking sound when going up. If it should click and you don't hear it that could be dangerous.
    10. Feel the roof and walls all over for soft spots. If it's soft that could be rotted wood
    11. Look under the camper to check for rotted floor.
    12. Look under the mattress for mold and inspect the wood.

    "Info that Alan added in the post that has some helpful tips"
    1. Make sure the sin, facets, shower and toilet have no leaks.
    2. Check propane lines as well as trailer wiring to the tongue and plug for the tow vehicle.
    3. Check the tongue jack for proper operation.
    4. Have them light the range, the refrigerator and the water heater.
    5. Check to see if the refrigerator works on all phases, propane, 12 V and 120V. 6. Check all the trailer lights.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
    Bibi, Travis210, emellan and 2 others like this.
  2. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Check for insect nests. Sure sign the unit has not been used a lot and therefore not maintained. I recently looked at one that was good in the ad but had two wasp nests under the floor as big as my fist if not larger. Mud dauber nest on the inside too. Couple larger holes in the canvas and sun damaged thread on the corners.

    How has it been stored? Under cover, in a garage or out in the open? Be wary of ones that are stored over grass or in the path of neighborhood lawn sprinklers.

    Ask about regular maintenance tasks and check for evidence they were actually performed. Resealing the roof and seams, repacking bearings, age of tires, winterizing each year, condition of the spare tire. Ask how they leveled the trailer. I have run across some owners that did not know you had to level with the wheels. If they don't have that basic knowledge there may be other issues that they are completely ignorant of.

    I am still looking for my first pup but these are some of the issues I have run across. It has been an eye opening experience, especially when you are looking at pups in the lower end of the spectrum.
     
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  3. sawdusty

    sawdusty San Antonio

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    Regarding the title ...is it a clear title in the name of the person who is selling? Also check the VIN to assure it is the same as on the title as on the camper.

    Check tires for date of manufacture...some look great but are way out of date.

    BTW: #7 states leveling jacks. They are stabilizer jacks and not intended for leveling.
     
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  4. Redbird

    Redbird Member

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    Here's a helpful list of what to look for. I really like the detail that the authors of the article went into. We plan to use this list while we are shopping for our first PUP.
     
  5. dudlbugr

    dudlbugr New Member

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    Okay, as I've said elsewhere, I'm a total newb, and am in the market for my first pup... So, what is meant by " level with the wheels?"
    ( I figure I'm better off showing my ignorance, rather than trying to fake it until I make it, and messing something up...)
     
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  6. TDS-MN

    TDS-MN Active Member

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    Meaning that any lifting/adjustment shall be made under the wheel of the camper, using drive-on blocks, or a BAL which cradles the tire as it lifts.

    Some have tried to level by using the stabilizer arms, which are NOT designed to carry that kind of weight, and/or in turn transferring the weight to a part of the frame not intended for such a load, and risking bending the frame.

    By leveling with the wheels, the tires and axle will still be supporting all of the weight of the trailer, either sitting on grade or on top of your choice of leveling device.
     
    PonyGirl likes this.
  7. Eco-Charles

    Eco-Charles New Member

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    Thanks for sharing that.....I thought they were jacks and have used them every time along with house jacks instead of supporting under the tires.
     
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  8. mrporsha

    mrporsha 2004 Fleetwood Sedona

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    In addition to this thread can you guy think of more stuff??

    I've looked at a couple of them but would love a good checklist of things [RTM] that are important when buying your 1st popup [PU]. Be great if the list started from important to least important.
    With things to test, try out etc.
    Which brands/years/models/vintage [PU] to stay away from or are the best made.
    Trying to stay under 4k. Better to buy from the early 90s? or The mid-2000s and spend more? (heavier? Stronger? more modern/technology changes?)

    Shopping in Seattle,
    Thanks
    Michael
     
  9. mantis32

    mantis32 Member

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    As a new buyer...I want to stress the trust but verify. Everyone strangely has a different idea of 'excellent' or 'good' condition. Assume anything you don't verify to be working or operational as an item that you will not complain about when you get home and verify. The cost and fix is on you.

    I regret not FULLY checking out everything on the checklist provided which now means add'l out of pocket repair costs.
     
    DanielFlorida likes this.
  10. upstate family

    upstate family Member

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  11. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Unless you know for a fact the previous owner took care of it or you buy a newish camper. Always assume the tires, barring and brakes if any will need to be replaced. I bought my used camper from an RV dealer who inspected everything. I assumed all was fine as it passed inspection. But when I get it to my destination I find I was sadly mistaken. Apparently trailer inspection is nothing like a car inspection. My barrings were in very bad need of replacement, my brakes functioned and did some stopping, but were shot and the drums were rust buckets. I would have still bought this unit had I known, but would not have towed it the distance I did. So do keep that in mind.
     
  12. knucklebuster283

    knucklebuster283 New Member

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    First I would like to say thank you all that started and replied to this thread. Being a NEWBIE myself, I will testify to the importance of knowing what to look for when buying anything used. I've learned the hard way of not knowing what to look for in a pup. This is an account of our Craigslist purchase. We needed to downsize on our TV(tow vehicle) A 2001 2500 Suburban, had a 24' TT. Found two listings for a package deal trade. First was 98 S10 Blazer with 87 fleetwood pup. The other a 90 Chevy 1500 pickup with a 96 Viking Saga 2309. could not get a meeting set up to look at the first deal. So we went and looked at the second. The pup was set up on a just watered lawn, should have been my first "red light". The top was up, but not fully up, #2 "red light". Did a walk around twice on the outside, looked nice and straight no dents or bulging. All the attachment points looked good (water hookup, power, potable water inlet for water tank). Now for inside, first thing noticed a slight musty smell(#3 "red light") and the most important one. Asked the PO how long it had been since the last use of the pup. His reply last fall and it was Their one and only time they used it. As he put it With four kids, two dogs, was not a every good experience. #4 "red light". The was not hooked to water, but was powered. The AC worked the fridge did not. He said they never used it and was not plugged in for 120 volts. No battery and the propane tanks were empty, so did not check the fridge at all. Last the floor seemed nice and solid, walked all around two or three times hopping as I went. Seemed good to me. Went back outside and had him run through the closing up of the pup. #5 red light, the Queen end bunk went in a little hard not bad but not smoothly. The full bunk end slid in easily. He than cranked the top down, nice and easy. Did another walk around and he cranked the top up again, again not fully and lowered it back down. Went up ok But as an afterthought not evenly.The front just a little higher than the rear. Then went on to the truck everything there is good. Made the deal and went home. Parked the pup where it would spend the week before our first trip with it the next weekend. So decided to open it up and let it air out to help get out some of the musty smell. Now this was the first time I opened it up, got it up and the door would not fit together, cranked it up a little more and bang and a loud pop and the rear end completely fell down. Yeap I thought a cable broke. Got a couple of friends over and helped lift and prop up the rear of the roof. The next day started to tear into it and found one of the lift rod tubes completely ripped out of the floor. No camping that weekend or ever for this pup. Because the more I took apart, the more I found was rotten. All four corners of the floor, the bottom of all the walls, three of the side panels of the roof are rotted. So I now have utility trailer. I know this is a very long reply but I hope it helps someone else out. Oh by the way also found the fridge is junk, the water tank was missing, The main lift cable had been changed with a regular cable and not routed right, through one of the eye hooks, one corner cable of the wrong size cable spliced to the original cable. One very expensive lesson. I wished I had found this forum before I went looking. Also have no issues with the truck.
     
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  13. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    with any popup you do not need to downsize
    TV... but some people may need to upgrade the TV.

    [PU] [TV]
     
  14. Pirate Pup

    Pirate Pup New Member

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    Unfortunately I think a good portion of us didn't know about Pop up portal when we puchased our first pop up. I know I would have passed on the one I bought had I known what to look for.
    Like many used pups mine is useable and fixable, but I probably could have had one with a few less problems for a little more money.
    Single most important thing? The roof. Once the roof starts leaking the trailer is doomed unless it get fixed soon and correctly.
     
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  15. rlongfield

    rlongfield New Member

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    I'm late to the party on this thread and I missed out on the checklist.
    Does anyone have a local copy they can share? The linked one is no longer available. I ended up at some survey site.

    Thank You
     
  16. Mbartlett407

    Mbartlett407 New Member

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  17. Mbartlett407

    Mbartlett407 New Member

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    image.jpeg image.jpeg We failed to check everything on your list and wished we had. We bought a 2005 Niagara and when the first rain came, we discovered the previous owners attempted to replace the ceiling and did not do it correctly.
    My husband recoated the top and replaced the ceiling. I replaced the valances and curtains myself. It was really disappointing but the work we put in will last for years to come.
     
  18. JPBar

    JPBar Well-Known Member

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    Nice work!
     
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  19. Toxictom

    Toxictom Member

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    Once you get it cranked up make sure the bunks slide in and out without binding. When I inspected mine it was all set up. I ran to the bank to get the money while the seller closed it up. Didn't find out the slides on one end were bent until I tried setting it up. Luckily, I was able take everything apart and straighten them out to where they work fine. Had I tried sliding it in myself I would have realized it was bent and used that as a negotiating chip to lower the price down. I only paid $550 for mine so I'm not complaining.
     
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  20. rlongfield

    rlongfield New Member

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    Is that the same check list that Redbird linked out too?
     

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