We’re back, but today we’re talking about something less than exciting. In fact, it’s kind of nerve-racking. Nobody wants to have an inspection of any kind, but when you’re considering purchasing an RV, it’s smart to have it inspected by a third party first.
Much like buying a home, you need to have an RV inspection to make sure everything is in proper working order. This process will reveal structural instabilities, health risks, and anything else that could potentially go wrong when you’re on the road.
About RV Inspections
First, it’s important to understand what an RV inspection is. It sounds pretty self-explanatory, but there are some things to note that not all beginners (or experienced RVers, even) think about.
Here’s what’s included in an RV inspection. It all depends on what kind of RV you’re buying, but this is what the inspector will look for and it includes the interior, exterior, mechanics, and much more.
- Exterior condition including damage, rust, slides, windows, paint, decals, etc.
- Tires, batteries, and generator
- Appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, washer and dryer, etc.
- Slide operation
- Propane and gas systems
- Holding tanks and drainage systems
- Video, audio, TV, and satellite systems
If the RV you’re buying is a motorhome, the inspector will also check:
- Fluid levels
- Engine and transmission
- Operations like cruise control, air conditioning, warning lights, and gauges
- Braking and suspension
A test drive of the motorhome may reveal squeaks, vibrations, or other concerns you wouldn’t otherwise find.
One of the most important aspects of an RV inspection is that you’ll be educated about your RV. Once s/he is done, s/he will provide you with photos of the RV, especially if there are concerns with a particular area or system. They will write a report and you will get a copy.
In addition, you should also insist that the inspector walk you through the RV and detail the systems and operations either before, during, or after they complete their inspection. That way you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into.
Benefits of an RV Inspection
Even if you consider yourself an experienced RVers, when you’re shopping around for an RV, especially a used one, it’s important that you get an inspection for several reasons.
1. You’re not always the expert.
You may know a whole lot about RVing, but do you know everything there is to know about RVs? The answer is, probably not. Unless you’re a trained mechanic or engineer, you’re not going to thoroughly understand every aspect of every single system.
There are a lot of components and moving parts involved in the structure of the RV, not to mention thousands of different types of RVs. It would be impossible for every RVer to understand everything there is to know.
2. You’re taking a risk.
Whether you have an RV inspection or not, buying an RV is a risk. It’s much like buying a home or a car. In fact, having an RV inspection is like having a home inspection. You likely wouldn’t dare purchase a new home without one, so why would you buy an RV without one?
No matter if the RV is new or used, you need to ensure that its equipment will function later on down the road (no pun intended). Anything you can do to mitigate the risk for a minimal upfront cost is well worth the investment.
3. It’s another set of eyes.
You should always perform your own inspection. After all, you know exactly what you’re looking for in an RV. So, while the inspector can tell you if it works, s/he can’t tell you whether it will work for you.
They’ll give you a skilled and unbiased opinion that you can use to make a final determination. You’ll have all of the information you need to make the right decision and ensure that it’s exactly what you want and it’s going to last.
4. It highlights issues in advance.
Even if you decide to move forward with the purchase of the RV, you’ll know well in advance of anything that could go wrong. You can use this information to more effectively negotiate a purchase price, saving you money upfront.
You also can’t put a price on the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that even if something goes wrong, you’re prepared for it. There won’t be any surprises, you can start a repair budget in anticipation of needing to spend the money, and you may even want to look into an extended service warranty.
RV Inspection Cost
An RV inspection will cost roughly the same amount as a home inspection. You’ll pay around $300-400 for a towable RV inspection and about $500 for a motorhome inspection. A motorhome inspection is more complex and takes longer, which is why it costs a bit more.
While this might be a big investment upfront if you don’t end up buying the RV, it can save you thousands later if you do. It’s well worth it to find out now that you need new tires or an expensive repair so you can work that out of your purchase price. The inspection may even end up paying for itself.
When shopping for your first (or next) RV, I highly recommend you get a professional inspection from a third party. They can offer an unbiased opinion and give you peace of mind to make a better decision.
You may also want to consider shopping around for an extended service contract. Many times, if you’re buying an RV from a dealership, you can work this into your purchase price, but prices will vary based on age, type, and mileage.
Overall, if you’re on the fence about whether to get an RV inspection, you won’t regret doing it. However, if you decide to forego the inspection, you’ll likely be sorry later. Believe me, we’ve been there and done that.