Article provided by: RV America Insurance
Its a home on wheels.
Keep that statement in mind as you begin your motor home or travel trailer buying project. Take a moment right now to inventory in your mind everything that needs fixing in your home right now. You might be imagining items as simple as a loose doorknob all the way to the intermittent problems youre having with your heating and air conditioning system.
Now, add an engine and or wheels to the mix, and you have the idea its going to be difficult to find the perfect used RV. You might have to settle for a few little problems, or decide to pay a few extra bucks for something thats in pristine condition. There are a myriad of things that can go wrong with a RV travel trailer fifth wheel or motor home, so a careful pre-buy inspection is a must.
Here then, is a starter used RV buying guide of what to look for when purchasing a used motorhome, RV travel trailer or fifth wheel.
Used RV Pre-Buy Inspection Checklist:
1. Check everything that relates to your propane system. RV fires do happen and many times theyre the result of a neglected propane system. Check the tank, the hoses, and the regulator. I cant stress how important this is. You could be risking your investment, and your life if you overlook even the simplest of problems in this area.
2. Check the condition of the house batteries. The house batteries hold the charge that powers your lights and other items when youre not connected to shore power. They can be expensive to replace, and there might be as many as six of them. Are they properly topped off with water, and do they hold a charge? These batteries are heavy so you really dont want to be doing this job yourself, and youll have to take the cores back for your deposit.
3. Check to make sure the refrigerator works on both propane and electricity. It should automatically switch from electric to gas when you unplug your shore power. Repairs can be costly so run this little test before you finalize the purchase.
4. Check the furnace and air conditioning equipment. These can be expensive units to repair, and youll want to ask for a little discount if these arent working correctly. It’s not enough that the fan runs…make sure furnace burner lights and you can feel warm air. Let the air cinditioner run until you feel cold air.
5. Does the toilet hold water? If the RV has been sitting for a period of time the seal in the toilet will have dried out. Add a little water to the toilet and see if it holds water for more than 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the water in the toilet is what holds back the fumes trying to escape from the black water holding tank.
6. Check for soft spots in the flooring especially in the bathroom and kitchen areas. These could be symptoms of a much larger problem. The unit may have leaky supply pipes or drains that are causing the wood to rot.
7. Check the skin on the outside of the RV. Look for bubbles. Although cosmetic, youre probably dealing with a corrosion issue. These can be resolved, but will involve removal of paint, treatment of the affected area, and repainting. Sounds expensive to me.
8. If the RV has a gas engine, then carefully inspect the engine records. A good owner will have kept receipts of all engine maintenance. It would even behoove you to have the engine looked over by a trusted mechanic. What do you suppose it would cost to replace an engine?
9. Finally, do a THOROUGH walk-through. Open and close everything. Turn everything on and off. Be suspicious and take notes as you walk through the rig, and at least youll go into the purchase with your head up.
One final thought. Youll never find the perfect used RV travel trailer, fifth wheel or motorhome, but you can minimize the hidden expenses by following the above guidelines.
You may also want to read: A Checklist for Buying an RV