Buying and owning an RV is a great way to explore the United States and embark on new adventures, but it is important to understand the process of RV inspections, as this can impact the safety and reliability of your vehicle. This comprehensive guide will provide you with an overview of the history, purpose, and process of RV inspections, so that you can be informed and confident when it comes to purchasing or maintaining your RV. From the types of inspections to what you can expect when getting an inspection, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to ensure that your RV is in top condition.
History of RV Inspections
RV inspections have been around for several years. They came about after a need was recognized for independent inspections due to observed quality problems in the RV industry. The need for independent RV inspections is even greater today.
In recent years manufacturers have shipped record numbers of RVs. The high number of RVs being shipped from manufacturers and problems getting components have led to concerns about the quality. The primary purpose of RV inspections is to ensure that the vehicle is up to standards set forth by the RV industry. This includes checking the exterior systems, interior systems, life safety items, and other components of the RV to ensure that they are in good working order. RV inspectors also inspect the interior of the vehicle, such as the plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the exterior, such as the roof and windows.
Today, RV inspections are seen as a necessary step for any RV owner. They help protect both the owner and other drivers on the road, as well as help ensure that the vehicle is safe and reliable. Additionally, RV inspections can also alert owners to any potential maintenance or safety issues that may need to be addressed before the RV is purchased or just part of routine maintenance.
Currently, the only organization training and certifying RV inspectors is the National RV Inspectors Association or, NRVIA. To be certified inspectors are required to attend three weeks of training on basic RV systems and inspection methodology. To maintain membership in the NRVIA members are required to adhere to the NRVIA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Further, RV inspectors are required to attend training annually to stay current in the RV industry. After being certified as an RV inspector, many inspectors choose to attend training as either a registered RV technician or more advanced training as a certified RV technician through other trade organizations such as the RV Technician Association of America (RVTAA), or the RV Technical Institute, (RVTI), which is part of the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Types of RV Inspections
There are two main types of RV inspections: pre-purchase inspections and annual inspections. Pre-purchase inspections are typically done before buying an RV, and they are designed to help ensure that the vehicle is in good condition and free of any serious issues. Pre-purchase inspections can be either done for the buyer of an RV or the seller. Typically, someone looking to purchase an RV will ask an independent certified RV inspector to do an inspection for them. Sometimes, sellers will ask for an inspection of their RV prior to selling the RV. Pre-purchase inspections are more detailed and comprehensive than routine inspections, as they are designed to help the buyer make an informed decision. It is common for this inspection to take upwards of ten hours on site with the RV. Afterwards the inspector will prepare a written report for the client. The reports can easily exceed two hundred pages of information and upwards of three hundred pictures and videos. We have a sample report of an Airstream travel trailer available on our website.
Routine inspections, on the other hand, are typically done at least once a year and are designed to help maintain the safety and reliability of the vehicle. These types of inspections will help RV owners identify annual maintenance items and make sure such things as life safety equipment is still functioning as intended. Routine inspections are typically less extensive than pre-purchase inspections, as they are designed to help maintain the safety and reliability of the vehicle. These inspections involve a visual inspection of the vehicle and often include life safety items, an inspection of the roof, a brief inspection of the interior and exterior, and other items that may be of concern to the owner.
How Much Should an RV Inspection Cost?
When considering an RV inspection, a natural question is often related to how much an RV inspection costs. Searching the internet will led to articles that are often wrong, or out of date with the answers they provide. RV inspectors are free to set their own pricing and some RV inspectors even offer different levels of inspection. The best advice we can give is to shop around. Locate several certified inspectors and ask for a quote for the specific RV you want to have inspected. You may see differences of several hundred dollars. Some inspectors will also include fluid analysis or travel in the inspection price. Remember though, price should not be the only factor you use to choose your RV inspector.
What to Look for in an RV Inspector
When choosing an RV inspector, it is important to make sure that they are experienced and knowledgeable. At a minimum, the inspector should be certified and have the appropriate insurance. They should have experience inspecting the type of RV you are considering and should be familiar with the systems on the RV. Further, RV inspectors should continue to attend training to become more knowledgeable. By hiring an inspector who is experienced and knowledgeable you have access to all their education and experience during your inspection. Some questions to ask the inspector include:
- How long have you been inspecting RVs and what education do you have beyond being certified as an RV inspector?
- How many RVs have you inspected, and do you have experience inspecting the type of RV I am considering?
- How long will the on-site inspection take and when will I receive a copy of the report?
- What is included in the price of the inspection?
- Tell me about your inspection process and what you inspect?
It may be tempting to hire the lowest priced inspector but be warned. There are companies who claim to do RV inspections for a significantly lower price than a certified RV inspector. However, these companies are typically not trained or certified in RV inspections. Many will not spend the same amount of time inspecting the RV as a certified inspector and some will not even get on the roof, which is necessary to find such things as soft spots, which are indicative of water damage. I have personally had RV dealers tell me of non-certified inspectors who did not know how to operate any of the RV systems and spent less than an hour inspecting the RV.
Common Problems Found During RV Inspections
A common myth is “I am buying a new RV, so I do not need an inspection.” Nothing could be further from the truth. All RVs need an inspection. Especially, if you have not had the opportunity to see it first. We have personally inspected brand new RVs that were inspected after assembly at the factory and by the dealer which had significant issues. One RV had a toilet that was not properly plumbed. Every time the toilet was flushed the wastewater would empty into the basement and flow into the main living area. This client lived halfway across the United States and would never have known of the problem until the RV was delivered to him.
During an RV inspection, the inspector is likely to find a variety of issues, such as outdated tires, inoperable lights, as well as problems with the plumbing and electrical systems. Additionally, the inspector may find issues with the roof, windows, and other components, both on the exterior and interior. They may also find inoperable or outdated life safety devices, such as smoke detectors or LP detectors.
It is important to note that some of these issues may not be major and can be easily fixed. However, some issues may require more extensive repairs, or may be considered life safety issues which should be addressed before the RV is occupied. Some items, such as delamination or the potential for water damage are key issues that may make you reconsider the potential purchase.
Any issue identified by the inspector should be thoroughly documented in the report, along with photos or videos of the issue. In addition to the report, you should receive a list of the identified items, along with recommendations, that you can provide to the seller. This list can be used to negotiate the price of the RV or as a list of requested repairs.
Preparing for an RV Inspection
Once you have selected the RV inspector you wish to work with, they should help you by providing information and resources about the inspection process and what to expect before, during, and after the inspection. They should provide information you can give to the seller to make sure the RV is prepared and ready for the inspection. Meaning, does the RV have propane, is it connected to water and electricity, and has the refrigerator been running for more than twelve hours prior to the inspection? Communicating the inspection requirements to the seller will help ensure you get the best possible inspection results.
It is also important to have all the necessary documents and paperwork on hand, such as any maintenance records. Having these documents ready will help make the inspection process go more smoothly and provide better insight as to the condition and maintenance of the RV.
Benefits of Regular RV Inspections
Annual RV inspections can help to ensure that your vehicle is safe and reliable, as well as alert you to any potential maintenance issues that may need to be addressed. Additionally, regular inspections can help to extend the life of your vehicle, as they can help to identify and address any issues before they become serious.
Just like your home, RVs require annual maintenance. Some items that need to be inspected annually include the roof, tires, life safety items, and the propane system. If you are not comfortable checking items or getting on top of the RV, consider hiring a knowledgeable RV technician to do the inspection for you. The price paid for the inspection and repairs not only will prolong the life of the RV but could also keep you from paying for more expensive repairs later.
Resources for RV Inspections
If you are looking for more information on RV inspections, there are a variety of resources available. At RV P. I., we are continually adding to our list of growing resources for RV owners. We currently have a large archive of RV brochures and RV owner manuals, as well as technical information on many RV systems. Our resources are available by registering on rvpillc.com. The NRVIA has information on RV inspections, as they provide training, certification, and other resources for RV inspectors. Many RV inspectors have information and resources available for RV buyers. Additionally, there are a variety of online resources available, such as websites and forums, where you can find information and ask questions about RV inspections. However, do your due diligence when looking online as some resources contain outdated or inaccurate information regarding RV inspections.
RV inspections are an important part of purchasing and owning an RV, as they help to ensure that the vehicle is safe and reliable. This comprehensive guide has provided you with an overview of the history, purpose, and process of RV inspections, as well as what to expect, what to look for in an inspector, and common problems found during inspections. Additionally, this guide has outlined the benefits of regular RV inspections and provided resources for further information. With this knowledge, you can be confident and informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining your RV.