Buying a used RV is not as simple as it may seem. It can be especially difficult are you are going to be living in the motorhome or 5th wheel for any amount of time. It could be likened to buying a car and a house at the same time, except this house has wheel and goes 65 miles per hour, and this car has a stove and shower.
For this reason, it is crucial to have some great checklists to go over to ensure you find any problems there might be. Sellers usually will not tell you each and every issue they know of. Some sellers will try to hide known problems. As the saying goes: "Buyer Beware".
Using your checklist to look over used vehicles at the used RV Dealer is equally important. The dealer makes his commission no matter how long the RV runs for you, so it's really up to you to make sure you get a good rig!
So let's save you time, money, and frustration and give you some of the key things to look over when viewing a used RV, Camper, Motorhome, Class AB or C, or 5th Wheel for the first time:
Oil Analysis – As with any vehicle, oil is the lifeblood of the engine. Checking the oil is a great start to ensure the integrity of the engine. If the oil smells burnt, is unusual in color or consistency, is too low or too high, you may have a problem on your hands.
Rust – Rust is the natuaral breakdown of iron or a metal with iron in it. Rust is much worse in parts of the country with snow and salt on the roads. Purchasing RV's from the south can help with rust problems, but they will usually cost a bit more. Do a complete rust check. If there is structural rust on the frame, AVOID THE RV AT ALL COSTS. You are buying an RV at the end of its life.
Service Records – Thses will show whether the previous owners did regualar maintenance, on the rig. It will also show you how many previous owners there have been. And, if they do not have any paperwork- why not?
NOTE: If the VIN number on the service records or receives does not match the vehicle you are purchasing then obviously that paperwork is meaningless.
Financing your RV – Many companies offer better financing for certain preferred builders and even certain models, especially those that have the lowest depreciation. The purchase of any used rv for business should not be done without a thorough evaluation of the finance options that are attached to it. Some banks will not finance a commercial vehicle until it has passed a DOT inspection, some offer lower rates for "occasional use", and some charge a higher percentage rate if you plan to "live aboard".
RV Insurance – this can be a real "dream breaker". How will you tell your family that you got a great deal on the rv for them and fixed it up real nice, but … well nobody will insure it because it's too old, or the brakes are after a market, or there was a recall on it. Rv converters, how would you like to finish your rv repairs with $ 30,000 in renovations only to learn it's uninsurable with normal companies due to "gross vehicle weight issues".
In my opinion, learning enough about RV's to make an educated buying decision is just good common sense. What you learn before you get the RV will certainly carry over into what you'll need to know to keep your new rig in tip-top shape while you are on the road later.