Online Offgrid - How to buy a campervan 101_2

How to buy a Used Camper / Motorhome

Checking Vehicle Identification & Service History - Is It LEGAL!

Ever wondered if the Service History is FULL or FONY? It PAYS to check it out.

We didn't and we bought our first ever motorhome TO LIVE IN and MOVE INTO within a week of buying. It cost us nearly £5K to get it up to the standard the seller "promised" it was in. How naive were we???

We know we made some rather silly mistakes. And this time was no different... leading with the heart, not the head for this one. We just loved it as it "appeared" to be so much we didn't dig enough and follow due diligence

Miles: "I can hear my Dad saying that now, from the grave!"

So... here is the next in the essential 101 series. 101.2 - How to check that the vehicle documentation is GENUINE and LEGAL, AND if the Service History is FULL or FONY!

Hope you have a smoother buying process for your Used Motorhome / Campervan! In fact, I can be pretty certain that if you follow this guide, you will be lowering the risk significantly. Whether it is for a casual 'few times a year holiday home on the move' motorhome or campervan, they cost way more than you think, and you connect and bond with them more than you think you would.

Also, while doing this research for you, it dawned on us that there was one more vital check to do. This will make sure you can keep it (on the road OR off it) once you buy it and the seller has walked off with your cash!

Please do view our 101.3 in the “How to Buy a Used Motorhome / Campervan - 101” video series that are included in our 20+ video series on “How to Buy a Used Motorhome / Campervan”:

101.3 - by OnlineOffgrid - CHECK if the vehicle has been STOLEN, Owned by a Finance Company, CRASHED or WRITTEN-OFF - BEFORE you go to view it

See you soon...

Miles & Tamra

Online Offgrid

Here's our dialogue from the video . . .

How To Buy a USED Motorhome-Campervan 101.2 - VIN & Service History Checks

Tamra: Following on from 101.1 where we talked about… what… what did you talk about? (LOL)

Miles: Okay, so 101.1 was about how you can check online before even going to view the vehicle of your dreams… certain aspects of things that failed on the MOT.

There's all sorts of history things you need to check before you even go… so this is on to 101.2 where we now talk about some of the vehicle documentation that you can start…

Tamra: Wait! Don’t tell them what we're going to say… “Just watch the video!” :)

1: Log Book (V5C) - FORGERY Test
Miles: Things to check on the v5c logbook documentation is, as you see in this picture, you've got a number of pages to this and the first thing to do is to make sure this document (the V5C logbook) is actually legal.

Yes… just like bank notes, people tend to forge these and then change the identification numbers like the VIN number on the vehicle to match the documents and you think you've got yourself a legal vehicle. It's not always the case, so the tell-tale signs are to hold up the opened out document to the light and you'll see there is a watermark that says DVL in capital letters on every single page.

Make sure that's present on every single page… and then, in the first inside page you will see in the top right-hand circle, under the V5C(W) in brackets, there is a number and it's usually preceded by the letter “B”. What you're looking for here is to make sure it is a “B”… and that the numbers after that either have a “G” like “BG8…” or “BG9…” and there are seven digits after it…

Or it could be “B123…” or “B128…” (or similar) and again there are the same number of digits so in this case there are 8 numbers that go with the letter “B” so that just means that it is a legitimate serial number that's been provided by the DVLA as well.

The next thing to check on there is the address… so the address of the registered keeper will be in this second inside page, in the green section, and one thing to note about the registered keeper is that the registered keeper is not necessarily the owner. So, if you can get hold of the sellers driving license or something that proves their address, to make sure their name and their address matches what is on the registered keeper area of this document… then at least you know you're talking to both the owner and the registered keeper. If it doesn't match, then find out who the actual owner is because that person is the only person who can consent to the sale, not the registered keeper.

So you go, those are sort of things to look out for on the V5C and you'll see also in certain cases the mileage of the vehicle at last time of purchase and it will also tell you how many owners the vehicle has had since it was registered originally at its own vehicles birthdate.

So take a look at those and how many owners that has because that can sometimes have a reflection on the value of the vehicle as well.

2: VIN Number - Validity Check
If you don't know where a VIN number is on a vehicle then the easiest place to check is Google!

Pop into the Google, in the search window… search for “VIN number on a Ford Transit,” click return and what you'll see is a typical list in the results.

What I tend to do is pop to the images link… so in the image to link near the top, click that… and then just look for something that resembles a plaque or a plate with numbers on it.

Here you can see a few examples here and you can see also that they're actually part of a Ford Transit Forum in this particular case which is really useful. So if you click on that link one of those links to the Ford Transit Forum it'll pop open.

And the great thing about Ford Transit forum or any forum that has to do with any particular vehicle is people that are on there who are usually experts, or have experience and just want to help!

So what you can see is an enlarged image of a VIN number that’s stamped here that she looks like it's somewhere in the engine bay… here it's on the window… and here is one that's somewhere else in the vehicle…

If you read some of the captions it says here, “Ignore the plate under the bonnet” and also a good point here is to “Ignore the one that's on the engine, that's an engine ID number not a vehicle identification number… the VIN.”

So we're looking for here, as it says here, is the chassis number which is also the VIN number, on the plate here on the dash, and inside the passenger door for the Ford Transit. (It will be in different places for different vehicles and you'll find that out as you search.)

Now, what you're looking for is the long digit number here, which starts “WFO” that long digit number there is what you want to check is the same if there is an etching on the windscreen… if there is a plaque that's on the dashboard somewhere… and make sure that all three of those match the number, the VIN number, that is printed on the V5C document. That's the most essential thing to make sure that vehicle is a genuine, once you have determined that the log book itself is genuine too, from what we said before.

Now sure how to check the M.O.T. Status & History online?
Check out: How to Buy a USED Camper / Motorhome 101.1

If you haven't managed to identify where the VIN number is by the time you go to visit the vehicle… then what you can do is get the maintenance documents that come with a vehicle and in there you'll see in the index, (I’m showing here) that they're the pages where it is on the Fiat Ducato. And you'll see it tells you where the the vehicle identification number labels are positioned in the vehicle.

3: Service History - FULL or FONY?
Now… onto the vehicles servicing history. Every vehicle should come with a history stamps or a list of receipts that have been provided by the dealerships or servicing locations. In this case you're seeing an image here that is either going to be in the service book that comes in the pack (where the manual is and other information regarding the vehicle), or it could be in the aftercare pamphlet which is where I found the vehicle servicing history for this mobile home.

Now, in that pamphlet, you'll see there are pages where all the stamps provide you with the dates that the servicing was carried out, the mileage of the vehicle at that time, very mineral information as to what has been done, and the address and stamp and hopefully a signature of the dealership or authorized repair center that did the servicing.

First of all you'll see whether the engine oil has been changed as well, that's an important one, it doesn't have to happen every single servicing… it's all due to the number of mileage allowance that you have for that a particular oil fill.

And one of the key things you're looking for here is when was the cam belt changed?

Because the cam belt is one of those items on a vehicle that should it fail, it can be catastrophic and completely ruin the engine, it's a complete engine change in many cases… so you wanna make sure that's being changed. A cam belt has a life from 40,000 and up to 60,000 miles… or four to ten years.

Now that's a very wide range depending on the vehicle, and the cam belt is fitted to those vehicles so it's a very wide range so it's very much worth checking your manual that comes with the vehicle or with a service center or dealership that deals with this particular model and asking them what the life of that cam belt is.

It's just too important and it is not one or the other… it's when the first one happens. So if it's only done 10,000 miles but it's been 10 or 12 years, and that's the life of that belt, then it really is essential that it gets changed.

In this case, as you'll see on this servicing on the fourth of January 2016, at the mileage of 40,950, it says cam belt kit and oil change as well… and you can see the name of the test center that did it.

Now if you are not absolutely convinced that this has been done… or that any of these stamps are not looking completely genuine, then don't be afraid to get your phone out and call that test center… call that garage… phone them up, tell them your vehicle registration and the mileage at the time, and what they have listed as being done.

The other way to check this is that what the a seller should have is accompanying documentation… all the receipts and listings of all work done at every service point, (just as due diligence), and it'll tell you comprehensibly what's been done and the date that is has been done… and it should match with the name of the center that did it, the stamps in your book if it has stamps in a book here, if it doesn't you are relying only on that paperwork.

If they don't have it… then you don't believe anybody, seller or any only anybody else, as to what's been changed, when servicing were done… it's going to be have to be considered as a reduction in the value of the sale offer that the seller has given you.

And if the cambelt has not been done, or is getting very very close to needing to be done… I would consider talking to the seller about how that (being somewhere in the region of between 2 and 4 hundred pounds worth of servicing to change a cambelt) is something that could be considered to come off the price of the vehicle, so that you have a vehicle you can walk away with and now it's got a life certainly for the your ownership.

Cambelt CHANGE can cost from £300!!… depending on the Make & Model

Make a NEW offer to the seller to reflect the EXTRA cost to YOU!

That is the vehicles servicing history stamp book and any documentation that goes with it.

All of its absolutely essential and a big part of the value of the vehicle at the time of sale!

Check out the final step in this 101 series…
Is the vehicle STOLEN or FINANCED?
Click here:

See you soon…
Miles and Tamra
Online Offgrid

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