Are you the proud new owner of an RV? Or perhaps you’re about to become one? Your RV purchase is one of the biggest you’ll make, after your home. And, just like your home, you want to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. That is especially true while it’s still under warranty. Which is why you’ll want to double check eight key things immediately after your RV purchase.
There are many reasons for this. Of course, you checked it thoroughly before you bought it. Perhaps you even managed to spend a night in the RV. Moreover, many dealerships have hookups on site and encourage customers to spend a night before they make an RV purchase. But no matter how thoroughly you feel you inspected the RV before you bought it, you should still double-check it afterward.
After an RV Purchase, Always Double Check
Imagine yourself driving along the open highway, the Grand Canyon to your right as your family excitedly points and shouts. Of course, they are ecstatic. And you are the Captain of this voyage. You are the hero providing the memories they will keep with them all their lives. But did you know that the Captain is also responsible for the safety of the crew and passengers?
Equally, with great power comes great responsibility, and one of these responsibilities is to double-check everything after your RV purchase.
WHY DOUBLE CHECK AFTER YOUR RV PURCHASE?
Because you can miss a lot of things before your RV purchase, you’ll want to double-check after also. Before your purchase, you are excited. You may think you know what you’re doing. And you may even have a checklist with you. However, the rose-tinted glasses of the pre-purchase phase is where most people miss key details.
Also, there’s the pressure of the sale. All successful salespeople are pros at putting pressure on the customer. This pressure creates stress, which limits your ability to make a clear-headed purchase decision. It’s part of the science of sales. It also means that you won’t notice tiny details which might stop you from buying.
Common issues with RVs
RVs come in all different shapes and sizes. There are a dozen manufacturers, although only two or three dominate the North American market. But no matter what kind of RV you buy, or who it’s made by, they all have some common issues. Many of these you’ll notice after your RV purchase.
These include leaking roofs, windows which aren’t sealed properly, and old or cheap motor components. This is important especially if you’re buying a used RV.
How to double-check an RV
In order to properly inspect your RV purchase, you need to plan your checking procedure. That means deciding the order you’re going to check everything in and writing it down. If you’ve ever driven a large commercial vehicle, then you may know this as a pre-trip inspection. You should also perform this inspection each time you set out in your RV - it will save you a lot of problems if you do.
The pre-trip inspection procedure
Doing a pre-trip inspection is pretty easy. You’re going to walk around your RV in a circle, checking each component on the route as you go. For example, truck drivers, school bus drivers, and others do this every day. Because you don’t need to be a trained mechanic to do a pre-trip inspection, it’s fairly easy. You’re looking for anything out of place. When you inspect with an eye to detail, irregularities will jump out at you. We'll dig in to the things you really want to be looking for a little lower down the page.
Here’s how you can do it after your RV purchase before you drive it away:
Start at the front
Begin at the front of your RV. Don’t bother going inside yet. Stand back and look at the front up and down. Open the engine compartment. As you inspect the engine, imagine you’re reading a book. Scan with your eyes from the top left to the right, then the middle left to the right, and then the bottom left to the right.
Walk around the driver’s side
After you’ve closed the engine compartment, begin your circular route along the driver’s side, walking towards the back and inspecting things as you go. First, stand next to the driver’s window and look along the length of the vehicle.
Check under your RV
Once you’re in the middle of the RV, crouch down and look underneath the vehicle. Make sure the axles are okay, and that the drive shaft is where it should be. Also, check the back side of the tires on the opposite of the RV. Use a flashlight if you need.
Walk to the back
Once you get to the back of your RV, do the same up-and-down inspection that you did at the front.
Climb to the roof
Here’s where you get to have fun. If there’s a ladder on your RV, it will be at the back. Climb up it to the roof and take a look, making sure everything looks okay.
Walk up the passenger side
Walk along the passenger side from the back heading towards the front. Stop halfway and check under so you can see the back of the tires on the other side. Also, check the fuel cap and make sure it fits tight and has no rust on the door hinges.
Enter and check startup
Now you can enter your RV and start the engine. Listen for strange noises, make sure all the dash lights are functioning, and swivel the steering wheel to make sure it works.
For this stage, you’ll want to make sure nobody is near the RV, especially if you have children around. You’re going to pull the RV forward a few feet and apply the brakes. Put on the parking brake. Now, release the parking brake and reverse a few feet and then brake again. Apply the parking brake. If the RV braked fine in both directions, the pedal felt normal, and the parking brake held, your brakes are okay.
Put on your headlights, any overhead lights, and your four-ways or hazard lights. Make sure you can see them all flashing in your mirrors (exit the vehicle if there are lights you can’t see from inside). An easier way to perform this check is with a second person viewing the lights as you turn them on and off if there are lights you can't see.
Now walk along the length of your RV inside. Check the benches, tables, cupboards, and drawers. Make sure everything is secured. Push on the backs of any seats to make sure they’re stable. Find the emergency exits and open them, making sure they don’t stick.
Congrats, you’ve just pre-trip inspected your RV.
DOUBLE-CHECK THESE 8 THINGS
Because you’re going to be pre-tripping the entire vehicle, you will get a chance to double-check for eight common issues the average RV purchase may have.
1. Basic Engine Components
First, you’ll want to make sure the fan blades are in good condition. There should be no rusting. Additionally, visually inspect the belts to make sure they’re not frayed or tearing. Double-check that any hoses and wires you can see look attached to other things and don’t have holes. Also, check your oil, using a rag to clean the oil dipper, so you get a clean reading.
As you visually inspect your vehicle from the outside, make sure the window seals are in place. You shouldn’t see any cracks or seals sticking out from the runners. Also, make sure there are no small cracks in the windows. If it’s winter, make sure there’s no condensation between any double panes, as this means a seal broke.
Next, check the tires as you walk along both sides of your RV. The lug nuts shouldn’t have any silvering. That means there should be no bright scratches or patches of what looks like brand new silver. If there is, this means the lug nut came loose. Despite popular myth, don’t kick your tires or hit them with a heavy object. That can damage the rubber.
4. Exterior walls
Next is a fairly easy part of your new RV purchase to inspect. Make sure the exterior walls are in good condition. If you’ve bought your RV used, then you’ll probably see some scratches. Also, you may find some minor dents. These won’t affect the performance of your RV. However, you don’t want to see large panels bulging out (or in). That could mean an interior support is warped. Also, make sure there are no long cracks in the paneling, running from the top to the bottom.
5. Power and electrical
Fifth, double check the power distribution panel once you’re doing your interior check. You want to make sure that no fuses are sticking out more than the others. Also, each fuse switch should be stiff, and not flip over easily.
Once you’ve started the vehicle, make sure all of the interior lights work. Switch them on and off. Check the appliances, and don’t forget to check any electrical outlets, especially in the washroom.
6. Vents and fans
Now, after you’ve checked the power and electrical, make sure all the vents and fans work. You’ll check the driver's vents and fans while you’re in your chair during your circle check. Every setting should work, and you should be able to switch between each setting and then off again. Check the A/C in the unit, and any vents throughout the rest of the RV.
7. Emergency exits
Next is one of the most important things to check. You’ll do this while you’re walking along the vehicle, checking the benches and whatnot. If any windows are emergency exits, open them to make sure they work. Also, check the roof hatch. You want every emergency exit to open without resistance. Remember, in the event of a crash or a rollover, the ability for your passengers or the first responders to get those exits open is life and death.
8. The roof
Finally, during your circle check, we advised you to climb up to the roof. And while you’re there, double check that there are no visible cracks. One of the biggest issues a new RV purchase can have is a leaking roof. Check seams and joints, pull off vent covers and look for mold, and blast the roof with a hose, looking for leaks. Use a flashlight to peer into fridge vents.
Be Safe and Have Fun!
Now that you’ve double-checked key areas of your new RV purchase, you’re ready to hit the road. If, during any of your circle check, you find something wrong with one of these eight areas, before the sale, make sure you get the seller to fix it. It’s best to double check these items the same day you take possession of the RV. This way, any warranties or buyers laws will still apply.
That said, most of the time you’ll find nothing wrong. Now you can truly be the Captain, taking your family on a safe and fun adventure of a lifetime!