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Getting a high mileage campervan might be a bit worrying because you don’t want to risk mechanical failures. The longer a vehicle is on the road, the more likely it is to experience problems. However, campervans are RVs, which means they’re not used as often or built the same as commuter cars, so they don’t follow the same recommendations.
200,000 miles is considered high mileage for a campervan. It’s enough to put a fair amount of wear and tear on the engine, hoses, and battery. Once the campervan breaches 200,000 miles, you’ll likely have to deal with expensive repairs, including transmission failure, alternator issues, and more.
Throughout this article, we’ll explain how many miles are too much for a used campervan, whether or not an old campervan is worth buying, and how you can get more miles out of a used, high mileage camper. Good luck!
What Is High Mileage for a Camper?
High mileage for a camper is anything that causes too much strain on the engine, hoses, and battery. However, this number is debated and usually accepted as anything between 100,000 to 200,000 miles or more. Variables such as misuse, city driving vs. highway driving, make, model and weight directly impact how long the campervan will last.
Motor Biscuit recommends keeping your campervan purchases below 200,000 miles if you can swing it. High-mileage campervans are usually much cheaper than newer, low-mileage options, but they come with loads of headaches and required repairs.
That being said, mileage isn’t the only factor to keep in mind when buying a campervan. After all, a well-maintained high-mileage campervan can be in better shape than a poorly-maintained low-mileage campervan.
If you’ve never bought a campervan, it’s reasonable to assume you might be a little stressed about all of the high mileage options in your area. People often try to sell their campervans when they’re beyond their golden years.
Those who only go on a couple of trips annually can risk a campervan over 200,000 miles, but anyone considering long trips over 100 miles or living the van life should steer clear of anything more than 150,000 miles or so.
Are Old Campervans Worth Buying?
Old campervans are worth buying if they’ve been taken care of and don’t have too many miles. Ensure the owner keeps a clean interior and has the necessary paperwork to prove a reliable, consistent maintenance history. Consider your budget range compared to the campervan’s age and mileage to determine if it’s a good buy.
Follow these four rules to know if an old, high mileage campervan is worth buying:
- How old is the campervan? Age is just a number, but it’s also a variable that greatly impacts your campervan’s performance. An old campervan that’s been on the road for more than a decade will experience many more issues than a younger make and model. It’s best to get a campervan that’s between one to nine years old if possible.
- How many miles does it have? As mentioned before, the campervan shouldn’t have more than 200,000 miles, but less than 100,000 miles is ideal. Triple digits are typically a sign that more repairs are right around the corner. Even the best maintenance can’t prevent inevitable issues.
- Does the owner have a proven maintenance history? Classic Motorhome Owner suggests looking for rust, window damage, broken seals on the outside, and electrical problems. These are some of the primary areas of concern because they should be on the maintenance records for respectable owners.
- Is the interior in good condition? Campervans add an extra layer of maintenance compared to other road vehicles. The interior consists of living quarters, bathroom spaces, and kitchen amenities not found in a regular car. Turn on the water pump, check the fridge, and don’t forget to flush the toilet to see if it’s working properly.
More info: Buying a used RV: How old is too old?
How to Make a Campervan With High Mileage Last Longer
To make a campervan with high mileage last longer, try these tips:
- Inspect and repair broken seals annually to prevent water leaks. Roof vents, solar panels, and other amenities that require waterproof seals can crack if they dry or are aged. Remove the old seal and use silicone sealant to cover the gaps. Do this maintenance upkeep on a dry, sunny day for the best results.
- Check the fluids and replace them as needed. Campervans often need their fluids changed more often because they’re under more stress. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to know how often you should change brake fluid, oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and so on.
- Never overload the campervan beyond its recommended weight capacity. All campervans should have a weight capacity listed in the owner’s manual, inside of the glove box, or on one of the doors. Overloading the campervan is a beginner mistake that puts too much pressure on the engine and tires.
- Rotate the vehicle’s tires every few thousand miles to prevent uneven weight distribution. Camper Report shows tire blowouts are much more common on campervans and other RVs than most road vehicles. There’s a lot of weight that shifts dramatically when turning or going downhill. Rotating the tires will ensure none of them bear more weight than the others.
We aren’t all able to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line campervan, but you don’t have to stress about constant maintenance or unexpected breakdowns when choosing a low-budget campervan. Preparation is the key factor in preventing expensive repairs.
For example, changing the transmission fluid makes your transmission last longer. Failure to add a fluid that costs less than $50 can end up costing you over $2,000 when it’s time to replace or repair the transmission. Regular maintenance is crucial and irreplaceable!
Now that you know what’s considered high mileage for a campervan, you can decide how high you want to go. While you’ll save a lot of money on upfront costs, you’ll end up paying more money down the road. There’s a sweet spot between 50,000 to 100,000 miles that keeps the campervan relatively affordable without being too risky or worn down.
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