RV Inspections, The Good, Bad, and Ugly

RV inspections is a topic that can generate much debate. Many RV buyers have observed the benefits of having a professional third party RV inspection. RV buyers have saved money by having an RV inspected and have had peace of mind about their purchase. Some RV dealers accept and understand the benefits of RV inspections. Others tend to push back against the idea and actively discourage customers from hiring an independent RV inspector. Sometimes, dealers will actually not allow customers to hire an independent RV inspector until after the customer had taken delivery of the RV.

But, the trend of RV inspections continues to grow. During 2021, we had the opportunity to inspect many different types and classes of RVs for our clients. We inspected lower priced entry level travel trailers to luxury motor coaches costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. No matter what type or class of RV, almost all of them had some sort of issues. Some issues were relatively minor, and easily fixed. Some were major and would cost thousands of dollars to fix.

New and Used Problems

As an inspector, you never know what you will find when inspecting and RV. New or Used, you know there is going to be something. One brand new RV, previously inspected at the factory and by the dealer, gave us some unusual surprises. The toilet was not connected to the black tank. When the toilet was flushed it simply emptied into the basement. The customer would have had a real problem on their hands if this was not discovered until after they took delivery of the RV and had it transported halfway across the country. This brand new RV also had cracks in the fiberglass sidewall of the slideout and baggage door locks that would not adequately latch. As a result, the dealer had to completely remove the slideout and rebuild the sidewall. By having an inspection, our client saved some major headaches.

Cracked Slideout Wall

We always recommend having all utilities available, including water, for an inspection. One out of state customer had us inspect a fifth wheel he was considering. A major water leak was discovered when water was hooked up to the RV. The RV had not been properly winterized and water was left in the water heater. As a result the water in the water heater froze and cracked the tank. As a result the owners had to install a new water heater before they could sell the RV. Our client would have not discovered the leak until either going to the expense of coming from out of state to pick up the RV, or having it delivered to him.

RV Water Heater Split From Freezing

RV Roofs and Water

RV roofs, if not taken care of, can lead to major issues with water intrusion. One of the most common things we find is sealant that is cracking due to aging. As an RV owner it is important to get on the roof of your RV regularly to check the condition of your seals and sealant. Not taking care of these routine maintenance items can lead to costly repairs and roof replacements. In addition to cracks in the sealant, we have observed ripples in roof membranes. This is a result of the roof membrane not adequately adhering to the roof. Over time and with exposure to UV rays, a roof membrane will start to crack. When this happens it is only a matter of time until you start to see water intrusion.

Life Safety Issues

Life safety items included numerous smoke detectors, LP detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers that were either not functioning, did not have power to them, or were expired. Additionally, both new and used RVs were found to have leaks in the propane system. Any or all of these items could have deadly consequences to the occupants of the RV. These are items you will not see, unless you are trained and know specifically what to look for. Unfortunately, it does not matter whether or not the RV is new or used. Even in brand new RVs we observed propane leaks and detectors that were not functioning, even after the RV had been through the factory and dealer inspections.

Often fit and finish issues are the things were find. Fit and finish issued can include doors and trim that are not aligned. Sometimes it can be smells in the RV. Often these are things you will never see or experience until actually walking into the RV. I like to tell our clients we are their eyes and ears. Many clients have concerns about smells in RVs, such as smoke or pet smells. Wouldn’t it be nice to know before making the trip to pick up an RV, that it did not have any unusual smells that would be an automatic deal breaker for you. Those are part of the value we bring to our clients. When you hire an independent inspector we are working for you. Our results are provided to you and no one else. Many of our clients have used the inspection results to negotiate, often saving more than the amount they paid for the inspection. Others have simply used the results to affirm they were purchasing an RV that would fit their lifestyle. While others decided the RV was not the one for them.

So, no matter if you are purchasing a new or used RV it pays to have it inspected by a qualified and certified RV inspector. Sometimes, the price of an inspection can be recouped in negotiations with the RV seller concerning the price of the RV. Having a independent RV inspection gives you facts to use in the negations and allows you to see the overall condition of the RV. So, insist on an independent third party inspection when buying a RV. After all, most people would not buy a house without having an inspection. Buying an RV should not be any different.

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