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Essential Truck Camping Advice

6 Tips For Buying Used Campers

Finding the right used truck camper for sale can be a real challenge.  We reveal where to search, what to look out for, and what price to pay.  Tip 1: Never buy a used camper sight unseen.

Buying Used Campers

For months you’ve been on the hunt for a specific make and model of truck camper.  Everyday you check Truck Camper Magazine’s used truck camper listings, online classifieds, local dealer websites, eBay, and Craigslist.  Every day you get skunked; no used camper for you.

Then, there it is!  At last, the exact truck camper you’ve been looking for.  The pictures look perfect and the price is right.  The only problem is that it’s on Craigslist about 500 miles away, and the guy wants payment in full to hold it for you.  He’s had a lot of interest in the camper, of course.

Tip Number 1: Never Buy A Used Camper Sight Unseen

Unless you are prepared to lose your payment, and/or pickup a damaged camper, do not send that cashiers check.  There are far too many possible issues to purchase a used truck camper sight unseen.  In a situation like this, the best advice is to clear your schedule, grab your used truck camper checklist, get in your truck, and go see that camper as soon as possible.

A lot of things can quickly go wrong if a truck camper is not properly cared for or maintained.  Worse, a number of the most common problems can be hard to spot in photography.  You really need to be with a camper in person to spot many of these issues.

For example, if a truck camper is not winterized and experiences below freezing temperatures, water lines can burst, plumbing fixtures can break, and toilet fixtures can fail.  Every spring, RV dealerships are literally flooded with customers who didn’t properly winterize and are experiencing plumbing leaks, breaks, and failures.

Roof, side, and underbody seals need to be routinely monitored and repaired or campers can delaminate, rot, and/or mold beyond feasible repair.  The overwhelming majority of truck campers and RVs are eventually destroyed by leaks caused by unchecked and/or poorly maintained seals.  Read that last sentence again.  It’s a sad truth.

As if poor winterization and seal maintenance aren’t enough, some owners abuse their truck campers from the beginning.  They might be heavy smokers, have five large destructive dogs, stow their towing equipment in the wet bath, or just don’t clean – ever.  We have seen many late-model truck campers that seem okay at first blush, but are severely damaged upon closer inspection.

Tip Number 2: Start With The History

Before getting too excited about a used truck camper, you need to learn as much as you can about the history of the camper.  This is especially helpful when you’re purchasing the camper from the current owner.  Their answers (and evidence thereof) can tip the scales one way or another for your decision.

If a truck camper is a trade-in on a dealer lot, it may be impossible to learn the history of the unit.  The dealer may be willing to put you in contact with the previous owner.  After that, you’re banking on in-person inspections.  Let’s get to the history questions:

1. Where and how was the camper stored?

Was it kept inside a dry garage?  Was it outside and covered?  Or was it outside exposed to the elements year round?  Obviously, garage kept is the goal, but covered beats exposed by a mile.  Be careful if a unit has been left outside and uncovered for a long time.

2. Did they routinely maintain the camper seals?

If they did, how did they maintain the seals, and how often?  When were the seals last checked, and what sealant was used?  Evidence of seal maintenance should not be hard to find on the unit.  The most meticulous owners might even have a log book of maintenance and repairs.

3. How much did they use the camper?  And what for?

Did they take it to Alaska and then park it for two years?  Was it a weekend camper for fishing?  Did they live in it full time?  Did they drag it over miles of logging roads to reach their favorite fishing spot?  You want a camper that’s been used, but not full time, and not under overly stressful off-road situations.

4. Why are they selling the camper?

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