Have you considered purchasing a new or used RV? If so, you have probably concluded the internet is full of advice, some good and some, well you get the idea. One such area is the question of should you have an inspection before buying a RV. There are opinions on both sides of the debate. Your RV dealer may tell you they have already done a “PDI” inspection and there is no need to have an inspection performed. Perhaps you have even considered an inspection and thought the cost was prohibitive.
We were recently part of a team that inspected one hundred brand new travel trailers. We want to talk about the results of these inspections. Read through the results and then you can decide for yourself if you should consider an inspection before buying a RV.
The travel trailers in this sample were all manufactured in 2020 and were brand new at the time of inspection. All travel trailers in the sample group were a mixture of different manufactures and dealers. The travel trailers were towable and had an approximate retail value of between $25,000 and $30,000. All had Slideouts and came in a variety of floor plans. The dealers who supplied the travel trailers were required to have inspected them before delivery. They were required to be delivered and ready for immediate occupancy. Out of one hundred brand new travel trailers there were one hundred and one inspections performed. One unit was inspected twice, due to initial issues that precluded it from being fully inspected the first time. All inspections were performed by NRVIA certified inspectors, utilizing a prepared template. This was done to ensure all travel trailers were inspected to the same standards.
Out of the 101 inspections, 85 had documented issues. Even after being inspected by the dealer the documented issues found ranged from minor to major life safety issues. For purposes of analysis the issues were divided into the following categories: Life Safety; Electrical; Air Conditioning; Furnace; Exterior and Roof; Water Systems; Appliances; Furniture and Interior Décor; and Other.
Life Safety Issues
Life Safety Issues accounted for nine issues found, or 3.52% of total issues. This may not seem like an extreme number or high enough to cause concern. However, it is important to note that life safety issues are generally defined as something that if not corrected or fixed before the RV is occupied could seriously affect the life and safety of any occupants. Examples included a LP detector that was not operable when tested and had to be replaced. Another LP detector was installed, but did not have any power supplied to it. A third LP detector was wired to a light switch. Every time the switch was turned off power to the LP detector was shut off causing the LP detector to not function. For clarification, the role of the LP detector is is to detect a propane leak and alert the occupants to potentially dangerous levels of propane. Further issues included no fire extinguisher and a fire extinguisher that was not installed within 24” of the door as required by code.
Electrical issues accounted for twenty-four issues found, or 9.38% of total issues. These issues included such things as missing power cords, electrical outlets that were not functional and had to be replaced, missing or failed GFCI outlets, and inability of the convertor/charger to charge house batteries on the travel trailer.
Air Conditioning Issues
Air conditioning issues accounted for seven issues found, or 2.73% of total issues. These issues included thermostats that were not functional and needed to be replaced and broken tabs on the air conditioning grill.
Furnace issues accounted for three issues found, or 1.17% of total issues. Among the issues was one furnace that would not operate at all due to a bad sail switch that needed replaced before the furnace would come on.
Exterior and Roof Issues
Exterior and roof issues accounted for seventy issues found, or 27.34% of total issues. Most of these issues were from a lack of sealant on the roof seems and seals or sealant that had already cracked and needed to be replaced to prevent water incursion into the travel trailer.
Water Systems Issues
Water issues accounted for sixty-two issues found, or 24.22% of total issues. Issues included a water heater element that was burned out, leaking faucets and other various water leaks, issues with water pumps, and missing handles on both black and grey water drains.
Appliance issues accounted for sixteen issues found, or 6.25% of total issues. These issues included an inoperable television, an inoperable exhaust vent in the kitchen, and broken refrigerator handles.
Furniture and Interior Décor Issues
Furniture and interior décor issues accounted for fifty-four issues found, or 21.1% of total issues. These issues included furniture not secure to the floor, misaligned door and drawer fronts, and window shades that were not aligned or would not stay up.
Other issues accounted for eleven issues found, or 4.3% of total issues. These issues included tires with low tire pressure, missing spare tires, inoperable propane quick connect fittings, and a bad stabilizer motor.
If you have read through the entire article you might be wondering if all RV dealers and manufactures are bad. The truth is that I know several dealers who are honest, good and dependable. Conversely, there are others who are not as quick to take care of the customer. With the high number of RVs being bought over the last few years I have personally observed dealers who exhibited an attitude of indifference towards customers. The belief was that it really did not matter if they sold the RV to the customer, as someone else would buy it. To an extent that is what you get when it is a sellers market. I wrote about our experience inspecting these travel trailers for two reasons. First, I wanted everyone to understand that buying an RV is not like buying a house. There are going to be issues, even if the RV is new. Secondly, when you are buying an RV take your time and don’t rush. When you rush it can be hard to make the right decision about which RV to buy and which dealer to work with.
Further, when buying a RV consider that over 85% of the RVs we inspected had issues. Even after being inspected by the manufacture and supplying dealers. Those issues ranged from minor issues to major life safety issues that could affect the safety of any occupants. To recap, the travel trailers inspected were all manufactured in 2020 and were brand new. If you plan on buying a new or used RV it is likely to have issues that will need to be addressed efore you can enjoy your RV. The question is will you be able to spot the issues yourself or do you trust the dealer to find and fix them for you? Ultimately each person who purchases an RV will make the decision if they want to have an independent inspection before purchasing an RV.