What is an RV Inspection?
RV inspections are examinations of an RV by a third party and are typically done by a certified RV inspector instead of an auto mechanic. That's because there's more to an RV. National organizations train, certify and connect professional RV inspection services with RV purchasers, who can request two types of RV inspections: Level 1, basic safety and cosmetic inspection, or a Level 2 inspection, which is a more thorough pre-purchase inspection.
What is included on an RV inspection?
Mandatory state RV inspections
This is a basic RV inspection, which your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) might require as part of the RV's annual registration process and fee payment. The state inspection focuses on the operational safety of the RV as a vehicle and compliance with emissions standards or weight restrictions. The process is similar to an annual state inspection for a car.
Level 1 RV inspections
In addition to ensuring the RV is safe to drive, a Level 1 RV inspection examines the features and condition of the RV itself. The inspector will visually survey the RV and its parts and check its systems and amenities to ensure they're in good working order. This process takes about half a day.
Level 2 RV inspections
Sometimes referred to as a pre-purchase inspection, the Level 2 RV inspection is much more comprehensive. It includes gathering fluid samples from various automotive and RV systems for laboratory analysis. The process usually takes a day or more, and it may take up to two weeks to get back the lab results.
Can you perform an RV inspection yourself?
Yes. It's easy to find websites that offer detailed RV inspection checklists. However, a certified RV inspector may discover things that you may miss because of their history in the field, and that may end up saving you money in the long run.
When do you need an RV or motor home inspection?
Your state may require you to get an annual inspection to complete your registration renewal. When purchasing either a new or a used RV from a dealer, the dealer usually handles the inspection; sometimes they may pass the fee on to you as part of your total purchase price.
Level 1 and Level 2 inspections are generally optional. However, many newer RVs cost thousands of dollars; some even get into six figures. Consider an RV inspection by an unbiased and certified third party to ensure you're making a good investment. If you're financing your purchase of a new or used RV, the lender may require a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection as part of their financing terms. Learn more about buying a used RV.
Do fifth wheel or travel trailers require mandatory state inspections?
RV laws vary by state, but typically there's a weight requirement. The trailer must be inspected annually and registered with the DMV if it is over a certain weight. You don't have to get a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection, but it's usually a good idea. And because they're smaller than other RVs and can't be driven by themselves, the inspections are generally quicker and less expensive. Learn more about RV insurance requirements by state.