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I'm about to buy an RV from a friend. I've never bought any kind of vehicle before, and I know nothing about cars except through web searches. But I do have a grad-level physics education and some engineering experience with which to understand answers to this question.

It appears that everything works well except the shocks, which are incredibly soft. They may be as much as 20 years old. I plan to drive this only 10-100 miles at a time, 100-500 miles per year, so I'm not worried but I want to make sure...

  1. Could an old suspension pose any kind of safety hazard?
  2. Could an old suspension pose any kind of risk of damaging something (i.e. expensive repair)?
  3. Could an old suspension cost me in any other way, like a drastically reduced resale value?
  4. Is there ever going to be a time when the suspension absolutely needs to be replaced just to drive it a few miles?
  5. Is there ever going to be a time when the suspension absolutely needs to be replaced to legally sell the RV?
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The shocks serve several functions. They moderate the compression and extension of the suspension. When a spring is deflected the shock allows it to compress and expand at a controlled rate. It dampens the "pogo stick" effect. If the pogo stick effect goes on for a period of times it can cause early spring failure. This happens because the spring goes from fully compressed to fully extended at a rapid rate. This rapid movement can result in a rollover in high wind or emergency maneuvers. Have you ever seen a vehicle turned over during a civil disturbance? It is done by shifting the weight from one side to the other in a rapid manner. This is similar to driving in a high wind, especially in a tall vehicle with broad flat sides.

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