How to Check Out a Used RV
RVs are big toys, are big fun and have big repair costs. When checking out a used RV to buy, take a thorough look at the inside, outside and engine before sealing the deal. The RV may look great at the first glance and seem to drive smoothly, but this does not mean it is really in good condition. Knowing what clues to look for can save you from making an investment in a RV that comes with hidden problems that lead to big repair costs.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Bring an RV mechanic with you to look at the recreational vehicle. Have the mechanic check out the electrical systems as well as the mechanical components. Engine, transmission, brake, axle and electrical repairs can be expensive to fix and the problems are not always noticeable right away to a nonprofessional. Do not forget to take the RV for a test drive with the mechanic, to get a feel for how well the vehicle operates.
Look at the exterior siding of the RV. Is there bubbling in the siding? Does it look like the siding is separating from the RV walls? This separation is called delamination. Delamination is when the siding adhesive stops holding. This can be caused by leaks allowing water to seep between the siding and underlying wood or it can result from poor manufacturing processes. Either way, repairing or replacing RV siding costs thousands of dollars.
Check the condition of the caulking around the windows, roof seams and roof appliances. Is there a lot of caulking gooped on those areas? If there is, beware, it often means the owners were trying to stop water leaks. Does the caulking look cracked; is it coming off or missing all together? You can repair old caulking yourself at home; so old caulking in itself is not too big of a problem. However, if the RV has worn out caulking, be extra careful to examine the RV for water damage.
Look for tears and holes on the roof. Small tears and holes can be patched, but water damage may have already entered through the damage. If the damage is extensive, the RV may need a new roof, which costs thousands of dollars.
Feel for soft spots in the floor and walls of the RV. Soft spots equal wood rot and are caused by water damage. Also, look for stains on the ceilings and walls---another sign of water damage.
Turn on the air conditioner, heaters, oven, stove, water pumps, hot water and all other appliances and systems to make sure they work.
Run an interior light off the house battery. The light should burn bright. A dim light could mean that electrical system is not correctly charging the house battery or it could be a sign of an old battery.
Turn on the generator to make sure it works.
Inspect the propane tank and propane fuel lines for cracks. Check the propane tank connections to make sure they do not look worn, which may mean they are leaking.
Inspect the black water, gray water and fresh water tanks. Look for holes and signs of leaks. Tanks are expensive to replace.
Open and close the steps.
Release the stabilizing jacks and walk around the exterior of the RV to make sure they all dropped down. Retract the stabilizing jacks and walk around the RV again to make sure they all went back up.
Tips & Warnings
Bring a fellow RVer along with you to inspect the RV. It is helpful to have an extra set of eyes for the RV inspection, to help catch little things wrong with the RV.
Article Written By Rose Kivi
Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.
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