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Buying a New or Used Jayco Swan

This article provides information on what you should look for when buying a new or used Jayco swan. We will address the used checklist first.

Click here to skip to the checklist for buying a New Jayco Swan.

1. MAKE SURE THERE’S NO RUST OR DAMAGE TO THE CHASSIS

With any camper it is always worth having a good look underneath.  If there is some rust it is safe to say that this is only definite go/no-go thing on this list. With a damaged underside there is no real way to ensure you have a long standing vehicle.

Best to walk away.

2. CHECK THE CANVAS IS IN GOOD CONDITION

After you have checked the chassis the next most expensive location is the canvas.

A canvas can be the single most expensive thing to replace on a Jayco camper trailer

Depending on the model you may be able to get a new canvas direct from Jayco for a cost of $2000 to $3000. If your actual model year is out of stock then you will need to look at getting a new one made and then fitted which can cost anything between $2,500-$5,000

When you are inspecting the canvas it is best to check the velcro on the underside of the bed ends. The velcro should create a strong bond. Replacing that will will cost a $100-$200 to replace too, that is a fairly simple job.

3. CHECK FOR SIGNS OF ROOF LEAKS

One of the most common faults in a Jayco camper trailer is a leaking roof, people tend to make a lot of “improvements” to the camper which can cause a leak. The other way leaks happen is where there is old sealant. Once there has been a leak the wood and roof can become damaged which leads to the paint peeling and could cause mould. The the roof has been regularly re-sealed (or a leak has been immediately fixed) then everything should be fine.

If the silicone has started to deteriorate then you could be facing costs of:

  • Around $600-$700 to have it resealed,
  • About $50 of sealant from Bunnings, some safety razors, turps, a few hours’ work, and a lot of patience
  • Worst case a new roof (if you can find one) can cost $3,000-$3,500.

Some tell-tale signs and places to look for water damage include:

  • Roof is no longer flat and is sagging
  • There’s dodgy silicon around the roof (especially around the corner mouldings)
  • Paint is cracking on the ceiling near the join
  • Watermarks on the ceiling, behind the curtains, in cupboards, under the bed, or in the wood under the lounge seats
  • Mattresses have stains (unless they’re the kid related ones!)
  • Freshly painted areas could be covering up previous damage

Tip: Set it up in the driveway and wash it ASAP so you can check for wet spots (better to find out now than when you’re out camping)

4. CHECK THE FLYSCREENS AREN’T BRITTLE OR DON’T HAVE TOO MANY HOLES

A huge reason people love the Jayco is because of the fly screens. The screens can experience a lot of wear-and-tear because of the setting-up and packing-up process.

The costs here can be as follows:

  • A small hole or two can be easily fixed with some heat activated patches, around $20+
  • The average cost to replace the flyscreen is $100 per window. The price varies quite a bit though, and some places charge as much as $400 to remove and refit the canvas.
  • Replacing the flyscreens for the whole camper can vary anywhere between $500 to $1,700

The good news with flyscreen is that (unlike the canvas) you can do it DIY if you’re handy.

5. CHECK THE FRIDGE RUNS ON EACH SETTING

If the fridge doesn’t work a new one will cost around $1,500.

So when you inspect the camper check that it is running on each cycle. Here it is best to ask the seller to turn it onto 240V a day before you inspect your potential Jayco camper. When you are there you can make sure it’ll light on gas.

To make sure it works on 12V in most cases you’ll usually need to hook up the camper to a tow vehicle. Most of the 3-way fridges aren’t wired to the camper’s battery unless it’s been modified.

6. LOOK FOR CRACKS IN THE ROOF CORNER CAPS

The corner caps can be a weak point on the camper. If the roof corner caps are cracked there’s no point trying to seal them, they need to be replaced:

  • Depending on the year a cap will cost $70-$100 each. On top of that you have the labour.

They break if you try to take them off so they need to be smashed out in little bits, the silicone cleaned off, then the new ones put on with heaps of sealant.

(if you’re not handy you might be looking at around $1,000 for all corners)

7. MAKE SURE THE ROOF WINDS UP AND DOWN EASILY AND INSPECT THE WINCH SYSTEM

You will need to inspect how easy it is to wind up and down the camper. During inspection ask the seller to raise the roof and set up the door 3-5 times, or have a go a couple of times yourself. This will help you learn the correct sequence.

There’s only a few screws that need to be removed to check out the winch system. A few things to check include:

  • The winch is firmly fixed to the floor
  • Eye bolts aren’t stretching open, and
  • There’s no frayed cables

If the cables need to be replaced, you’d be looking at around:

  • $200-$300 for the main cable
  • $500-$1,000 for all 4 corner cables

If you’re handy and keen to give it a go, then it’s a lot cheaper:

  • A set of 4 corner cables will cost around $120 from Jayco
  • You can fix a broken main cable for less than $20 with parts from Bunnings

8. CHECK THAT THE LIFTER ARMS AREN’T BENT

If the roof doesn’t go up and down easily then one of the causes could be bent lifter arms.

The good thing is that these aren’t that expensive to replace:

Around $80 each to buy the part and DIY, or around $150 each if you get someone else to do it for you.

9. MAKE SURE THE UNDERSIDE OF THE MATTRESS HASN’T GONE MOULDY

A common occurrence in Jayco camper trailers is that the underside of the mattress gets damp with condensation. Then, if the camper is packed up before it’s aired out, the underside of the mattress gets mouldy. Now, many people don’t like the idea of having a mattress that others have slept on and plan on replacing anyway…

…but if that’s not you, you might need to budget $100-$200 for a new mattress anyway.

10. CHECK THE TYRES ARE LESS THAN 5 YEARS OLD (INCLUDING THE SPARE)

Rubber deteriorates over time so most manufactures recommended replacing tyres once they’re over 6 years old. Safety issues aside, if you get a puncture and they’re older than this then some tyre repair centres will refuse to work on it. You would be looking at around $600 for a complete set.

To find out when the tyres were manufactured find the ‘DOT’ stamp and look at the last 4 numbers:

The first 2 numbers represent the week, and the last 2 numbers the year.

11. CHECK THE ZIPPERS ON THE AWNING BAG AND BED END FLYS DON’T NEED REPLACING

Zippers can catch quite easily. It is best to check the zippers move freely. The zippers can catch the flys and cause them damage. The solution here would be to replace the whole bag and possibly the fly.

You’d be looking at around $100 per bed end fly bag (and more like $150 for the awning bag) at a canvas repair place.

12. CHECK THAT THE BATTERY IS LESS THAN 6 YEARS OLD (AND FULLY CHARGED)

It’ll cost $250-$300 if you have to replace a half-decent 100 Ah deep cycle battery. You will be looking at around $900 for a standard lithium battery. The typical AGM deep cycle battery will last up to 6 years if it is well maintained. If the AGM or Lead Acid is allowed to go below 50% charge the battery will be very ineffective after that.

Also, check the screen of the charger (or use a multi-meter) to make sure it’s at least 12.7v floating on a AGM/Lead Acid. With Lithium you are looking for around 13.5v plus depending on the model.

13. MAKE SURE THE BEDS EASILY SLIDE IN AND OUT

Another simple check is to slide the bed ends in and out. They should move fairly easily given their size and weight. The key is to check for it catching.  If they don’t, it might just mean they need a little lubrication. You will need to check that the bed tracks aren’t pulling out of the walls or the tracks aren’t bent. If the bed tracks do need replacement they’re about $40 each.

It’s a pretty simple 5 minute replacement job with a spanner and socket set:

  1. Bed supports in
  2. Replace one at a time.
  3. There’s 4 bolts (and the bolt that stops the rail extending too far

14. CHECK THE DOOR, ITS HINGES AND ASSOCIATED CONNECTIONS

The door is a weak point on the camper. The door hinges are screwed in from behind the door trim

The problem with this is that the screw heads are easily pulled through the trim because it’s thin plastic. If this happens, to fix it you need to take off the lower section of the door and trim. This is a job that doesn’t require parts, just the time and effort to remove it all, put in a backing plate, and re-seal.

15. CHECK IF THE AXLE HAS BEEN UNDERSLUNG MAKE SURE THAT IT’S BEEN DONE PROPERLY

The axle on a Jayco camper trailer normally sits above the leaf springs. A common modification is to under-sling the axle so that it sits under the leaf springs, this creates some extra clearance height.

Sometimes this has been done incorrectly as the axle shouldn’t be flipped or rotated. You will need to be familiar with the axel setup on your model.  If the camper you are looking at has been underslung, ask some questions about who did it.

16. MAKE SURE THE STOVETOP WORKS ON BOTH GAS AND 240 V

In most caravan cooktops there’s usually 3 gas burners and one electric hotplate. Simple job here but important. You will not be able to check this battery as it draws too much current, so check when it’s connected to mains power.

17. TEST THAT ALL LIGHTS AND POWER-POINTS ARE WORKING

If the camper has a battery, first check the 12 V system by testing:

  • All lights (inside and outside), and
  • Any 12 V outlets (sockets and USB)

Then, connect the camper to mains power and check the 240 V system by checking:

  • All lights still work, and
  • All power-points work

Remember:

The power-points will only work when you’re connected to 240 V mains power unless an inverter is installed

18. MAKE SURE THERE’S NO CRACKS IN THE SPARE WHEEL HOLDER ON THE BUMPER

Attaching bike racks to the spare wheel on the rear bumper is quite common.

This can put a lot of extra stress on the welds though:

It’s a combination of an extra 20-30 kg, the load being further away, and the bouncing along the highway.

19. TEST THAT THE STABILISER LEGS WIND DOWN SMOOTHLY (AND AREN’T BENT)

It’s surprising how often stabiliser legs get bent or broken:

Some people use them as levelling devices rather than stabiliser legs.

Not hard to replace, but at around $100 a leg it’s something you don’t want to have to replace if you can avoid it.

20. CHECK THAT IT HAS A JACK AND WHEEL BRACE AND OTHER STANDARD TOOLS

If these are missing, it’s just another thing you’ll need to budget for.

21. CHECK THE SERVICE HISTORY (ESPECIALLY BRAKES AND WHEEL BEARINGS)

Getting a Jayco camper trailer serviced means different things depending on where you go.

Key things to ask though include:

  1. When were the brakes checked?
  2. How long ago were the wheel bearings done?

(ideally they should be checked and re-greased every 10,000 kms or 12 months)

22. MAKE SURE IT HAS ALL REQUIRED ROADWORTHY, SAFETY, AND COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATES

Different states have different requirements regarding roadworthy and compliance certificates.

Rather than try to list them all here, check these links for your state:

ACTMotor vehicle registration transfer

NSWApply to register a camper trailer or caravan

NTBuying and selling a used vehicle: registration

QLDSafety certificates

SATransfer vehicle registration

TASBuying, selling or transferring

VICTransfer a trailer or caravan

WALicense a caravan or camper trailer

23. CONDUCT A PPSR (AKA REVS) CHECK

Check that the camper you’re looking at is registered in the seller’s name.

Then, using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), for $25 on this website you can get a:

  • Stolen vehicle check
  • Written-off check
  • Vehicle financial liability check
  • The registration details, and a
  • Flood and storm damage check

A cheap price to pay for peace of mind.

SUMMARY: THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A USED JAYCO CAMPER TRAILER

These are the most common things to look for when buying a Jayco camper trailer:

Some of these things are unique to a wind-up campers, others are things you’ll need to look for whenever buying any camper or caravan.

Once you pick it up make sure you get a thorough handover AND then stay a night or two close to where you pick it up

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