ex-rental motorhomes

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 19:38
ThreadID: 95149 Views:8536 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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Recently the partner and I flew to Tassie to spend a week in a Maui camper van. We wanted to try one on for size as I was thinking of perhaps buying an ex-rental van.
The vehicle was great, powerful and easy to drive, a Volkswagon Crafter turbo diesel with auto transmission.
the camper conversion ok, perhaps using a bit too much chipboard.
BUT...the service light came on every time we started it, and in the log book, there was no sign of it ever having been serviced. It had done 40,000 ks from new.
Probably they will get around to servicing it sometime, and they won't suffer much from the lack of oil changes. It only affects the later life of the engine, and the poor sucker who buys one with 150,000 or so Ks on the clock.
Has anyone else on the forum had any experience buying one of these ?
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Reply By: Madfisher - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 19:49

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 19:49
Because of the competive nature of the rental business service intervals do get stretched but 40000ks is over the top. However some vehicles just seem to miss out ,due to quick turn around times.
Next one you check may be fine, a lot depends on the fleet or maintance manager.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 484197

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 19:54

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 19:54
I ment to ask what was the service interval, I have got a feeling it may be as much as 30000ks.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 759432

Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:10

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:10
I've never seen any ex-rental camper vehicle, particularly a high-outlay motorhome, for sale with only 40,000 kms on the clock.
They usually don't sell them until they've done 400,000 kms. The rental companies outlay big $$'s for these campervans and motorhomes, and they want big $$'s back out of them in hire money.

All rental vehicles get minimal maintenance. It's not the first time I've seen a rental car that has never been maintained according to the log book, in 40,000 kms, and has never had an oil change.
These vehicles are usually in extremely high demand, and the companies want them working (and therefore earning), all day, every day.
As a result, they come back off hire, are quickly checked to see if everything still works, and they go right back out again.
Workshops and mechanics are not something rental companies want on their payroll. They're a drag, a real cost burden.

It's easier and more efficient for them to buy a new car, hire it for 40,000 or 60,000 kms, then boot it off down to the auction yard, where they still bring good $$'s, because they're still essentially, near-new. They then go and buy a new replacement vehicle.

Motorhomes are a different kettle of fish, though. Because they cost so much to buy new, and because they lose a lot of value via depreciation in the first couple of years, the rental crowds keep them for much longer than cars.
Because they're diesel, and built on commercial chassis, they will do high kms without a lot of repairs.
We (missus & I) have hired a couple in the last couple of years, and they've all done around 300,000 kms or more. We're hiring another one in June for a fortnight, and I don't expect anything with less kms. They state you can expect a motorhome up to 6 yrs old, when you do a budget deal with them.

I would be suspicious of a rental motorhome that is for sale with such low kms. It might have been in a major prang, and has undergone very substantial repairs. Companies won't keep vehicles that have been pranged, because they are usually a source of trouble, due to repairs never having been done properly and thoroughly.

I agree with the "too much chipboard" construction. A lot of their construction appears to be done to a price, not a quality level.
The Mercedes we toured Kakadu in, in 2008, you couldn't adjust the passenger seat in any manner! I thought that was pretty poor.
The missus has big long solid legs, and likes to shove the seat back, and stretch out. She was really cramped in the seat and we couldn't do anything about it!

The Mercedes was a pretty good rig. Fuel was $2.03 at Rum Jungle in July 2008, so we pedalled along softly, at a pretty steady 85-90kmh - and I got 8.0L/100km out of it! I was duly impressed. This was the 3L manual.
Haven't had any experience with the VW, and I've heard little feedback on them.
The rental crowds seem to keep a mix of Ford, VW and Mercedes motorhomes, and I don't know if that's because they like to play one against the other, or because they're still trying to see which is best suited for the job.
AnswerID: 484227

Follow Up By: walwffoeg - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:42

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:42
Hi Ron
sorry for the confusion, I should have mentioned we hired that vehicle for a week.
Our aliner is a bit small so we need to get something bigger and its going to be either a motorhome/campervan, or a caravan.
We wanted to try out a camper van with a toilet and shower for a while.
We went to Maui because they are the newest. after about 3 years they rebadge them as Britz.

I liked not towing anything behind, it was great. But for longer holidays we find a caravan more suitable .
FollowupID: 759465

Reply By: walwffoeg - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:47

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 22:47
Forgot to mention, apparently the VW Crafter and Mercedes Sprinter come out of the same factory. They have some differences, such as a different motor and trans, otherwise they are essentially the same vehicle.
The camper conversion had screws falling out here and there, and a handle coming off one of the drawers. We had to get them to fix them before we set off.
We found that dropping the table and setting up the bed every evening was a bit tiresome.
We liked having a toilet and shower on board. A luxury we don't get in our Aliner.
AnswerID: 484237

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 23:22

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 23:22
Hmm, that's interesting, didn't know that bit about the VW and Mercedes being identical except for drivetrain. Model-sharing is pretty common nowadays though, and you certainly have to do your research.

Yes, changing the bed to a table every day was one thing that we found a bit of a chore, too. This time around we're going for a 4 berth, that has two double beds, so we get the choice of either one!

I agree on the shower & toilet. I've spent all the years I need to spend, living in vans with no shower or toilet.
It's O.K. when you're young, but as you get older, creature comforts certainly make travelling and camping much more enjoyable.
We found the shower & toilet setup excellent in the Britz Mercedes motorhome. It never failed to perform, and was easy enough to use.

I have the attitude that owning a $50,000, $80,000 or $100,000 motorhome is a dead loss.
When you own it, you have to wear all the depreciation, the maintenance & repairs, the rego, the insurance, and all the incidental costs. If you have to finance the motorhome, that's a heap more $$'s.
Then you have to store it somewhere. If you have a rural property, perhaps that's O.K. - but as city dwellers, we have minimal room, and vehicle storage is at premium.

I firmly believe that forking out a bit over $3000 for 15 days 4 berth motorhome hire this June/July, to drive from Perth to Darwin, is more economic than owning one. We drop it off in Darwin in mid-July and fly off to Singapore for another extended break. Once we hand the motorhome back, that's the end of any worry or cost on our behalf. I like that part.
If it blows up on the road, we call for assistance, and they deliver a replacement. I like that part, too.
FollowupID: 759470

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:19

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:19
you are correct about merc and vw body sharing and they use there own drivetrains there was an article in the vw magazine some time ago that they send meabout that
in respect to eng oil changes i'm sure 40,000km's is well over due in the crafter
as my golf diesel has 15,000km oil changes but i have always changed oil and filter at 5000km's as i never have and never will adopt the long oil change that manufactures are recommending these days as i believe it just trying to make the service costs sound cheaper and helps to wear the engine out so you have to buy a new onec
FollowupID: 759509

Reply By: The Bantam - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 14:17

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 14:17
One thing to be very aware of with modern vehicles but particularly modern common rail diesels is that in the early part of their life thay can be very cheap to own and run, and as such that can be very attractive to fleet owners.....but as their age rolls on servicing them can get very expensive.

I have seen a couple of sprinters going quite cheap...ahh but they are in need of injectors or some such.

and because of the way some of these vehicles have the mechanicals crammed into smaller spaces, doing anything significant on them gets realy expensive.

As has been mentioned......oil change interval alone is a real concern with diesels, all diesels.

As has been mentioned lots of rental and fleet cars are turned over before anybody has a chance to bugger em up, some still have the original tires on them.

But the rental motorhomes may be a different story.

I would be very very carefull about the condition and service history of any used motor home.

AnswerID: 484268

Reply By: Madfisher - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:36

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 20:36
If I was looking at buying a motorhome I would be looking at a pampered private sale one. you can then talk to the owner and gauge how he has looked after it, and if he is mechanical minded. If he is he will have serviced it on time.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 484319

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