Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of having an RV inspected before purchase?

Purchasing a recreational vehicle is a large financial investment. Most people would never consider buying a home without having it professionally inspected. Buying a recreational vehicle should not be any different. The benefits to having a professional inspect a recreational vehicle are many.

Working with RV P. I. will give you the most detailed picture of the current condition of the recreational vehicle, as it was inspected by our certified inspector and technician. Our inspector will test and evaluate the recreational vehicle from top to bottom and front to back, both inside and outside. While our reports are not a guarantee the recreational vehicle is free of any defects or that you will not have any breakdowns, it is the most comprehensive picture of the current condition of the recreational vehicle. Our inspection report will give you an idea of needed repairs before you take delivery or items to monitor as part of routine maintenance. The knowledge gained from the inspection can also give you more room to negotiate with the seller. We have had clients who once they received our report and findings were able to negotiate a lower price for the RV, paying for our services and needed repairs.

Our inspectors are specifically trained in inspecting all types of recreational vehicles and will conduct an incredibly detailed inspection of your recreational vehicle in the time allotted. Often, our clients find the money spent on hiring us is easily recouped in what they would have spent travelling to look at the recreational vehicle themselves or in things our inspectors found that our clients would have missed.

Can’t I just inspect the RV myself instead of hiring you?

Certainly, with a little effort you can find checklists that will guide you through an inspection. However, do you have all the tools, time, and training needed to inspect an RV?

We use specialized equipment, often costing more than the price of the inspection fee. Our equipment allows us to test for stray voltage that could be deadly, if not corrected. Thermal cameras and moisture meters, when appropriate, allow us to look for problematic electrical connections or potential water damage. We use specialized cameras to document the interior and exterior of the RV, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the RV and visualize if it will fully meet your needs. We also use specialized equipment and cameras to access areas, such as the undercarriage and frame, which would not otherwise be accessible without lifts or an inspection pit. We have spent thousands of dollars on the equipment and training needed to provide you with the most accurate picture of the condition of the recreational vehicle.

Another factor to consider is how much your time is worth and do you have the time to fully inspect a recreational vehicle. At RV P. I., our inspections typically last a minimum of five to six hours. However, depending on the size of the recreational vehicle, it is common for inspections to last upwards of eight to ten hours. Further, conversion coaches, such as Prevost and Newells, can take upwards of two days to fully inspect.

Additionally, choosing to inspect the recreational vehicle yourself may be problematic in that we often become emotionally attached. When we become emotionally attached to the recreational vehicle, we may not see an obvious problem. Having an independent inspector allows us to avoid the complicated issues of emotional attachment to the recreational vehicle.

How much does an inspection cost?

At RV P. I. Our inspection prices vary, depending on the type and size of the RV being inspected. Additionally, we may charge a travel fee depending on how far we must travel to get to the RV. In some cases, we may have to charge for one- or two-nights’ accommodation as well. To provide an accurate estimate of the inspection fees and any travel expenses, it is best if we talk with you about the specific RV you are considering. Providing us with as many details, such as online listings for the RV can also help us accurately estimate the inspection for you.

Additionally, we offer the ability to take samples of fluids, such as engine oil and engine coolant for an additional fee. These fluids are then submitted to an independent lab for testing and analysis.

Why does the inspection cost so much? I can hire a national inspection company for less money.

Inspecting a recreational vehicle may seem like an expensive proposition. Often, fees can be hundreds of dollars to over a thousand dollars. Our fees are based on the type and size of the recreational vehicle and the complexity of its systems. Additionally, we factor in the time involved in conducting the onsite inspection and preparing the written report. When hiring RV P.I., you are also paying for our certifications, training, and experience in inspecting many different types of recreational vehicles. 

Sure, you can hire a nationally known company and you will pay less money. But make sure you take time to compare “apples to apples.” You need to know what the “less expensive” company will and will not inspect. For example, will they get on the roof and look for water damage? Often you cannot find water damage without getting on the roof and feeling with your hands and feet. How long with that less expensive inspection company be on site inspecting the recreational vehicle? Will you be able to talk directly with the actual person inspecting the recreational vehicle and do they have specialized training and certifications in inspecting recreational vehicles? Unfortunately, paying less now for an inspection can led to spending more money later on damage or repairs that could have been reported by a competent and certified inspector such as RV P. I.

How long does an inspection take and when will i get the results?

At RV P. I., our inspections take a minimum of five hours. Larger RVs and coaches can last upwards of ten hours or more. Large conversion coaches can take two full days to complete. The time it takes us to complete the onsite inspection is dependent on the size of the RV and complexity of its systems. The specialized inspection software we use has been designed to allow us to complete the onsite inspection as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Once we complete the onsite inspection our goal is to have the completed inspection delivered to you within twenty-four hours. Often, we will deliver the completed report to you the same day. If you elect to take advantage of the fluid analysis, we offer the samples are submitted to the lab either the same day or the day after the onsite inspection. The lab will typically have the results emailed to us within five to seven business days. However, they do offer a rush service if the results are needed sooner. Once we receive the results from the lab, they will be forwarded to you separately from the inspection report.

Do I need to be present for the inspection?

Not at all. A lot of our clients are not local and are hiring us to be their eyes and ears is cheaper and takes less time than driving or flying in to look at the recreational vehicle themselves. However, some clients are already in the area and really want to be present for the inspection. If you have the time and ability to be present for the inspection you are always welcome to attend any or all the inspection with us. It is a terrific opportunity for you to learn about recreational vehicles and to become familiar with the recreational vehicle and its systems. Our inspections are a minimum of five hours, and some can last upwards of ten hours or more, so remember it will be a long day for us and you. Often our clients choose to arrive a few hours after we have started the inspection. This gives us time to start the inspection and by the time you arrive we will have more to talk about, given what we have inspected. Once we complete the onsite inspection will be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss our findings. So, if you’re planning to attend the inspection with us, we would recommend arriving a few hours after our scheduled start time.

If you are not local to the inspection location and not able to attend that is okay. We will communicate with you during the inspection process to let you know if anything major is observed. Once we complete the onsite inspection, we will again communicate with you to discuss our preliminary findings before delivering the final inspection report.

How do I pay you for the inspection and when will I get the report?

Invoices for our services are submitted electronically, which can be paid securely online. Once you decide to move forward with the inspection, we will send an inspection agreement for you to review and digital signature. At this time, we will also send the invoice. To consider the inspection “booked” we need to have the agreement signed and the invoice paid.

Once we have finished the onsite inspection, we will contact you to discuss our findings and recommendations with you. The completed inspection report will be ready within twenty-four hours. However, we are often able to deliver the completed report to you within the same business day.

What if the dealer or seller does not allow me to have an inspection performed by an independent third-party inspector?

Unfortunately, some dealers and sellers do not allow independent inspection. Often this is because they do not fully understand the role an independent inspector plays in the purchasing process. Their understanding is often based on myths or past experiences with inadequately trained and certified inspectors. If the dealer or seller refuses to allow an independent inspection, my first question would be why not? Are they hiding something, or do they not want to fix things that might be wrong with the RV? If a dealer or seller does not want to allow you to use an independent third-party inspector, I would consider this to be a “red flag” that something may be wrong with the RV, of that they are not going to stand behind you if something needs fixed.

Often, when our clients have faced resistance from dealers or sellers, they have had success by just being persistent in insisting on having the inspection. Occasionally, clients have had to tell the dealer or seller if they are not allowed to have an independent inspection that they, the client, will walk away from the deal and find another recreational vehicle. Additionally, RV P. I. carries liability insurance in the amount of $1,00,000. This can help facilitate inspections when the dealer or seller is afraid of damage sustained during the inspection.

How long have you been doing inspections and how many inspections have you performed?

We started performing inspections in 2019. In 2020, we decided to go into the inspection and repair business full-time. This is all we do. Therefore, we do not have other employment competing for our attention. Since going into the RV business full-time, we have conducted approximately three hundred inspections on all different classes and types of RVs.

What if the inspection reveals something wrong with the RV I am considering?

I am sure it is your desire to have things go well and for us to not find anything “wrong” with the RV we are inspecting. The truth is, there are likely to be findings, whether major or minor. Even on new RVs. We would rather find out what needs to be fixed before you take delivery of the camper from the dealership or seller. After taking delivery, it is much harder to have things fixed or your concerns addressed.

Many of the problems we encounter during our inspections can be classified as minor issues, which can easily be dealt with either before taking delivery, or as part of routine maintenance. Other issues are more serious and might range from major damage, such as water damage to the roof, delamination of the sidewalls, or other serious issues that could be classified as life safety issues. Knowing the extent of damage or issues allows you to fully evaluate if this is the right RV for you. But you need to know this before taking delivery of the RV. When you receive our report, you will have clearly defined issues and recommendations which can be presented to the dealer or seller with requests to be fixed. Previous clients have been able to negotiate a discount in the price of the RV based on our report. One client was able to negotiate a new set of tires for a large class A motorhome, which would have cost him several thousands of dollars.

So, when you get your report carefully consider the findings and recommendations and the financial investment it will take to address any necessary repairs.

What can I do to make sure the inspection goes well?

Several things. First provide us with as much information as possible. Do you have a link to an online listing? They contain valuable information for us. Is this your first RV, or do you consider yourself a seasoned RV owner? How do you plan to use the RV? Are you only going to use the RV occasionally, or will you be living in it full-time? Knowing your plans enables us to better serve you.

We also depend on you to communicate with the seller in setting up the inspection. Your communication with the seller as to the inspection requirements helps minimize surprises on the day of the inspection. When you communicate with the dealer, it is important to let them know our inspection requirements. Don’t worry though, we have a document which lists all the inspection requirements which we will provide you with. Feel free to provide this document to the seller.

Can you tell me about your training and certifications?

Of course. To become a certified RV inspector, we attended over 80 hours of training and completed two mock RV inspections. Additionally, we attended over 240 hours of advanced training to become certified RV technicians. Not only are we certified RV inspectors, but we are certified RV technicians. Further, we are also certified Spartan chassis technicians, having attended technician training at the Spartan factory. This allows us to better understand how all the RV systems operate and interact with each other. Further, we have attended advanced training with manufacturers of RV components. We continue to advance our education yearly but attending training. You can find out more about our training and certifications on our about us page.

Who coordinates the inspection with the dealer/seller?

While we are happy to communicate with the seller we rely on you, the buyer, to help set up the inspection. When you work with us, we provide a document that lists the inspection requirements. These requirements include making sure the RV is hooked up to the appropriate electrical service, has a source of water and has propane on board. Additionally, if the RV has a generator there needs to be sufficient fuel to power the generator while it is tested under load. Having sewer hookups is also helpful and allows us to fully evaluate such things as the wastewater system.

Some buyers and sellers agree to take the RV to a local campground, so it is hooked up to all utilities. This is preferred, as again, it allows for the RV to be more accurately evaluated. However, we understand not all RVs can be taken to a campground and hooked up to full utilities. If that is the case, we will do our best to evaluate the RV and will let you know what systems are not able to be evaluated.

What do you inspect?

During the inspection our goal is to inspect and evaluate every system and appliance on the RV. Basically, we want to inspect the RV from top to bottom and front to back, both inside and outside. As part of our agreement, you will be provided with a detailed sheet, which is our “Points of Inspection.” This sheet details all the items and systems we will evaluate as part of the inspection process.

Generally, though, we will get on the roof and inspect everything on the roof. We will evaluate all the sidewalls, windows, doors, awnings, tires, slideouts, undercarriage and frame. We will evaluate everything on the outside of the RV and then go inside and evaluate everything inside of the RV. We will evaluate the performance of all the appliances, electrical and water systems. We will evaluate the life safety systems. We will be looking for soft spots and indications of damage on the floors, walls, and ceiling on the inside of the RV. We will be looking for stains, which could be an indication of past damage.  At the end of the inspection, it is our goal to have touched and evaluated every system on the RV, so you have the most complete and accurate picture of the RV’s current condition.

Sometimes though, we are not able to properly evaluate all the systems on the RV. For example, if the recreational vehicle is winterized and and the seller does not want to dewinterize the RV we are not able to properly evaluate many of the water systems.

What should I do when I receive the report from you?

When you receive our report, please take time to read it and consider any findings as well as the costs associated with repairing or fixing anything. It is common for our reports to be over one hundred fifty pages, especially, when you consider the extent to which we evaluate the RV and that the report can easily contain more than three hundred pictures and videos. So, please take your time in reading the report. Also, call us. When you read the report. We know you are going to have some questions. We want you to call and ask us to help clarify anything you do not understand, or anything you need more information about. Finally, when you receive the report, you will also receive a list of items that were flagged and items we recommend some sort of action. Feel free to provide any or all to the dealer for repairs or negotiation. Many of our clients do not want to provide the whole report to the dealer. So, the action list makes an easy and compact list to send over, instead of the full report.

Do I really need an inspection if I am buying a brand-new RV?

We receive this question all the time. Sometimes it is phrased like this. “The dealer said I do not need an inspection because I am buying a new RV and that they will fix anything that is wrong.” Other times we have heard this from potential clients. “The dealer told us not to waste the money on an inspection. They said we just need to take the RV camping and make a list of all the things not working and bring it back to them to fix”

Every RV needs to be inspected, no matter if it is brand new or used. Let me say that again. Every RV needs to be inspected, no matter if it is brand new or used. Every year for the past few years RV manufacturers have sold record numbers of RV. In 2021, over six hundred thousand brand new RVs were shipped from manufacturers. No matter if the RV is a high-end luxury class A diesel pusher or an entry level travel trailer there are going to be things that got missed during the manufacturing process and dealer preparation. For example, we inspected a high end fifth wheel for a client who was going to have the fifth wheel delivered to him halfway across the country. Both the manufacturer and dealer had inspected this fifth wheel. When I inspected the fifth wheel one of the toilets was not connected to any plumbing. When the toilet was flushed it emptied into the basement of the RV. Additionally, we found cracks in the slideout sidewalls, which meant the slideout had to be completely removed from the fifth wheel and the sidewall rebuilt. Can you imagine the mess and ordeal if the client did not discover the unplumbed toilet until he used it and was several thousand miles away from the dealer?

So, ask yourself how is the dealer going to fix the things wrong if they do not know what is wrong?

If the dealer tells you to just take the RV and go camping to make a list of things that are wrong, do not do it. Refuse. While the dealer still owns the RV, you have more leverage to get things fixed. Once you accept the RV and drive off the dealer’s lot, it and all the potential problems are yours. Sure, you can go camping and make a list of things that need to be fixed. The dealer will fix them eventually. Once you take delivery of the RV and go back for service you are just another customer wanting service. One of the biggest problems in the RV industry currently is there are not enough service technicians to keep up with the demand for service. So, it is common for your brand-new RV to sit for months waiting for the technician to look at it and determine what is wrong. Then they may have to order parts, for which you are still waiting and then they must install the parts once they come in. Before you take delivery of the RV dealers can and will make sure you are taken care of, so that you take delivery of the RV and the RV is no longer on their books.

The dealer told me they do their own inspection and that hiring an independent inspector is a waste of money.

We hear this often from potential clients. I have even visited dealers who, knowing I was an RV inspector, told me it was a waste of time and money, that no one needs to have an RV inspected. One dealer even stated they were okay with losing a few sales if people wanted to have an inspection because they would not allow third party inspectors on their lot.

I suspect each dealer has their reasons for not wanting to allow clients to have an independent inspection, but here are some reasons the dealer may tell you that inspections are a waste of money. At many dealerships, the salespeople are paid on commission, which means they do not get paid until the unit rolls off the lot. The longer it takes for the RV to leave the longer it is until they get paid. Additionally, many dealers do not actually own the RVs sitting on their lots. They have loans on the RVs and every day the RV sits on the lot they are paying interest to the bank. So, they want the client to take delivery of the RV as quickly as possible.

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