For information on normal use of motorhomes - see our new instructional videos. They focus on our Dethleffs rental cars, but the information is general and works for other brands as well. Click on the link below:
Motorhomes are mostly built on smaller truck chassis. Make sure you have the right tools - often larger than normal for passenger cars. Oil change on older Fiat requires an Allen key 12 mm for example. Wheel bolts are size 24 or even larger. The air pressure in the tires is often as high as 5 bar (4 bar is often the maximum on petrol station equipment). Often workshop visits are the only spacious thing.
Most older motorhomes draw (or leak) a little oil - so check carefully. Oil in a diesel engine is normally black, so it is a bit difficult to see wear, but inspect the oil for metal chips. Of course, the oil should not be greyish - this can mean that the engine is not tight inside.
Old diesel engines are tough and normally durable, but of course also wear over time. Be observant of the smoke - a little black smoke in the beginning is normal, but black smoke during smooth driving with a hot engine can mean worn pistons and extensive service. At that point, the car probably feels a little extra tough and powerless as well.
The Fiat 1.9 TDi (1995-2002) engine has a small peculiarity - it is important not to start with the key immediately - but to start the ignition, wait a few seconds and then turn around all the way. It is an immobilizer that must "get started". Old diesels must also be annealed - check that the annealing lamp goes out before starting.
Gearboxes on Fiat until 2003 seem to suffer from a design failure which means that the lubrication is not available for the 5-speed gearbox. Fiat recommends not driving slower than 80 km / h on the 5th. Please read more at http://www.gosoft.se/
Another fault that often occurs on the Fiat is poor front wheel bearings . Mainly affects cars with 15 ″ wheels, 16 ″ seems to hold better.
Door frames on Fiat Ducato 230 and 244 sometimes suffer from another fault: they do not rest against the rubber strip. This can mean extra noise in the car. It will be worst on older alcove cars with extra turbulence around the cab. It is possible to adjust hinges, but requires some knowledge.
Moisture is a dear chapter in Sweden, our climate makes cars extra vulnerable. Most cars are built with wooden boards of some kind on the inside, wooden joists in the construction and aluminum sheet or thin fiberglass on the outside. The principle is that the body should be tight on the outside and not tight - and ventilated - on the inside. All joints and holes in the body are particularly exposed, especially on the back of the car and the roof. Look around windows, doors, chimney, etc. Note that for best results, do not use silicone - it does not last long enough. There are various butyl seals, in the form of glue or tape. They do not harden for a very long time and keep tight. Winter storage plays a big role when it comes to moisture - the best is of course indoors, dark and cool. If this is not possible - make sure that the car is well ventilated so that moisture does not collect.
The aluminum sheet body is relatively easy to make - it can be joined, welded or glued and that technique is well proven. Make sure everything is dry underneath before the job is done. Fiberglass , on the other hand, is very similar to plastic boats - you can putty and sand. However, the discs are thin and that makes the job a bit awkward.
Old plastic parts are often brittle and tend to crack. Often turns yellow with time. Replacement details are difficult to obtain and expensive. If you want the car in perfect condition - then the plastic often has to be glued and varnished - neither easily nor cheaply.
Electricity and electronics are often a source of frustration. Many comfort accessories (awning, blackout, stairs) can be electrically operated and rarely work on older motorhomes. In general - the simpler the better in the long run.