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Purchasing a Used Pop-Up-Camper

The first thing you need to do is find out the towing limits of your tow vehicle.  There is no reason to fall in love with a pop up that you could never tow.  Verify yourself what your towing limitations are and decide what size hitch you will need.  Check out the Towing and Hitch page for more information

Pricing for specific makes and models are different for different areas of the country One good source for pricing information is the NADA Guides.

As to the rest, just make sure that you go through the camper, part by part.  You should set it up and take it down whole drill - from start to finish with the owner BUT make sure that you do it with them.

  1. Inspect roof for any damage or abrasions
  2. Check latches and seal for proper seating (recheck this when you close it back)
  3. Make sure the lift system is in order and works correctly - let them show you how it cranks and you do it to see how it feels and works.
  4. That the door works and sets correctly
  5. The bunks and slide out pull out smoothly and watch how it sets up and poles to bunks set-up and attach.
  6. Have them show you how to set-up the awning as well
  7. Let them show you how to turn on and off the propane and look at the hoses making sure that they look in good shape. (You may find this easier to do before pulling out the bunks)
  8. Once the stabilizers are down, go inside, have them set-up the galley and have them hook-up to water (if possible) and check the sink, look under sink for visible leaks and inspect the hoses - bring a flashlight for this.
  9. Have him run the stove and refrigerator (on gas you should be able to feel that the inside of fridge is cooling off)
  10. Look inside for any visible signs of patching on canvas material, test all zippers, flip cushions to look for tears, rips or faulty zippers. Check curtains for water spots and rips. Look up at roof interior for any signs of water marks or damage.
  11. Open drawers and cabinets for any sign of runner/latch problems and observe storage space needs for your family
  12. Run all interior lights and A/C and ceiling vents
  13. Have them light the furnace and show you how it works as well as the hot water heater.
  14. Check around the shower floor for leaks and have them show you how the cassette toilet works as well as the shower and its set-up
  15. Walk the whole floor checking for soft spots (wood rot).
  16. Have them show you how to hook-up and run the outside stove (if applicable)
  17. Have them show you where the fresh water holding tank is and the water pump.
  18. Have them show you where the fuses are located.

If all is in order, go back outside and have them show you all the outside utility hook-ups and electric cord and the battery set-up.
Walk out the whole exterior for signs of side wall damage or any visible damage to the canvas/vinyl or how it attaches to camper. 

Then slowly start the process for closing the camper and watch them as you help them close the camper. Make sure that it closes smoothly, and that the top is tight to the body and latches without too much effort.

Assuming that you have a hitch for your tow vehicle - attach it to your camper and test the lights and turn signals. 

If you have grease pencil, mark where the bottom of the tire is (on the sidewall)  Pull forward and look at the tires all the way around for any signs of irregular wear or problems.  Ask them how long the camper has been sitting.  Tires that are exposed to the sun (UV rays) begin to break down quickly and become dangerous.  Be wary of the spot you marked where the tire contacted the ground and look for any signs of a "flat spot".  If in doubt about the tires, assume you will need to replace them and adjust your price accordingly.

Have them show you the manual and all paperwork for the appliances so if you do decide to purchase you will know up front if they have the information on the camper.

Inquire if they have made any warranty repairs or if they have ever had the wheel bearings repacked.  The bearings should be repacked once a year and you may need to have it done immediately upon purchase based on the age of the camper.

My thanks go out to CamperJones of the Pop-Up-Times message board for this list.  If you wish to see the original message board post, go here.  You can find more of CamperJones' wisdom at the Florida Pop Up Campers website.

   Revised: September  7, 2008

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