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Used RV parts: Are they really a bargain?

By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service

Every so often I’ll get a call from someone asking about used parts for their RV — whether I have any, how much can they get for theirs or whether I am willing to swap parts from one RV they own to another they also own. With those issues in mind, here are my thoughts.

The dollar value of used parts, unless they are of very recent vintage (say a year or two old) is very small, as is the demand. Parts manufactured before the year 2000 have almost no value at all. The reasoning goes like this: Who is willing to pay for something using technology from a bygone era, no warranty, unknown history of use, often no parts availability, etc. Scrap value would be about it.

In my opinion, parts from the ’80s have no value. I’m not saying an Onan generator from that decade won’t work. What I am saying is buying one and installing it, only to discover it needs work is a gamble I would rather not make. If someone gave me one and I was low on cash, maybe. Anything other than Onan from the ’80s and ’90s is better put to use as a boat anchor, from my perspective. Appliances one and all? Off to the recycler.

Move to the ’90s and the likelihood things are still working is better, but where are you going to get parts? For some appliances from some manufacturers, parts are still around. For others, parts have not been available for years (this is also true for some things that were on stage in the 2000s). The lifespan is anyone’s guess. Once you get beyond, say, 2005, things are looking up for used — but make sure it works before plunking down your cash!

How about parting-out an RV you have and putting the parts into another rig you own? If you are doing the work yourself and think you know the history, maybe — but make sure the one you want to keep is working and is the same brand. For example, some control systems will not work with other brands and some flat out won’t fit. Paying me or someone like me to do the work is costly. Why? You are paying me to both take the old one out and then put it into the new location. Can I do it? Probably, but the labor for the installation is all I will warranty. When it comes to whether the part swap will result in a working appliance or system is entirely in your ballpark!

photo: Allan Cleaver on flickr.com

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