buying a use RV

3 things to look for when buying a used RV

Adventure 3 min read

You’ve decided to start looking into used RVs. First off congratulations, you’re going to have a blast regardless if you plan to full-time or be a weekend warrior. But now that you’ve made the decision to purchase a used RV it’s important to check some things before you pull the trigger.

I don’t recommend relying on the dealership or previous owner to cough up any issues a RV may have, so it’s best to do your due diligence to catch any red flags early on. Below I’m going to highlight 3 things to look for when buying a used RV. While there are more aspects you’ll want to consider purchasing, these 3 things can help narrow down your search.

Maintenance records:

One of the first questions you should ask when looking at a used RV is if the previous maintenance records are available. While having previous records doesn’t guarantee a RV is free of issues, it can provide a glimpse of the RV’s history to know if maintenance was performed, or learn about previous damage and repairs.

Water damage:

Water damage in a RV can not only be a major headache, but it can lead to bigger problems down the road, including costly repairs. That’s why it’s so important to inspect the RV you’re looking at for current or potential water damage.

There are several ways to check for water damage, one of which is to push on the ceiling inside all of the upper cabinets to check for soft spots.

Make sure to check the lower cabinets and all corners of the RV as well, keeping an eye out for any drip marks, dry rot, discoloration, or mold. Don’t forget to inspect the roof, especially the skylight, otherwise you may run into the same costly mistake we did when we purchased our used rig.

Another sign of water damage in a RV is sidewall delamination, which can be very difficult and extremely costly to repair. Some signs of delamination are waves, bubbles, or cracks to the interior or exterior walls. If you see these signs I’d run away and not look back.

Tire manufacture date:

Tires are one of the most important aspects to safety on a RV. A blow out when you’re going down the road can be bad enough, but with the amount of weight you’re carrying in a RV it can be downright frightening.

Even RV tires with near perfect tread can lead to blow outs. This is one of those instances where age trumps appearance so do yourself a favor and check the age of the tires on the RV you’re looking at, even if it’s brand new. The general rule of thumb is to consider replacing your RV tires at or around 5 years of age.

To check the age of RV tires, you’ll want to locate the “DOT” letters on the tires. Following those letters you’ll generally see two or three codes. The one you’ll want to pay attention to is the four-digit code with only numbers. In the photo below you can see our four-digit code with only numbers is the last grouping. It reads 4813.

The first two numbers represent the week the tires were made, and the second set of two numbers represent the year. In our case we know our tires were manufactured in the 48th week of 2013, and will likely need to be replaced around December 2018.

There are a lot of other aspects that go into purchasing a used RV, but if you keep an eye out for these three things, you’ll be well on your way to narrowing down your search. And if you’re looking for a more detailed list, be sure to download this pre-inspection checklist to take with you.

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