My Buying Process, Part 3: The Nitty Grittty

After i’ve done my walkthrough, if I really like the unit, i’m ready to buy. I’ll go over some of the basics of price, condition, options, etc, but the next major step for me is a complete inspection.

If you’re not familiar with RV’s, or not comfortable completing your own inspection, I would urge to hire an RVIA certified inspector, which you can find here. These are people who have been thoroughly trained in all the parts and pieces of an RV, and know how things are supposed to look, work, act, function, do, and/or be.

This step, to me, is the most important step, because this is the step that will make or break any deal you might be getting, so it’s important that you do it right, do it well, and do it thoroughly!

A complete inspection of the unit requires full hookups, and two to three hours. It’s nice to have a helper as well, but it’s not required.
I like to start by ensuring the unit is leveled, blocked, and powered up. I’ll move the slides out, one at a time, listening carefully for any creaks, snaps, or other odd noises. I’m also noting how smooth they run, but keep in mind these run on DC motors, so a battery or converter in poor health may play a role in any slide movement problems.
Once i’ve got my slides out, i’ll do a long, slow, walk around the entire unit, looking at every joint, hatch, latch, window, door, seal, and anything else that goes into, comes out of, or passes through the wall of the unit. I’m looking for any signs of water intrusion, debris, damage, or failure to function.
I’ll check my propane tanks, batteries(battery), tongue jack, tongue, safety chains, RV lights connector, and my breakaway system during this portion of the test, including connecting the trailer electrical connection to my truck and checking all of the lights functions, as well as the brakes.
When inspecting the tires, I first look at the date of manufacture, then the overall condition, then the tread depth. Anything older than three years, less than 4/32″, or less than good condition is a tire I need to replace.

I then make my way to the roof, arguably the most important, and most problematic, part of any RV. If the RV did not come equipped from the manufacturer with a ladder, it’s safe to say the roof is not built to be walked on, so don’t walk on a roof that doesn’t have a ladder. Instead, use an a-frame ladder stood next to the RV, and inspect the roof, and the tops of the slides, one piece at a time.
When i’m inspecting the roof, I am checking every seam, fastener, vent, pass through, or anything else in or on the roof for any signs of water intrusion, debris, fit, form, function, or failure. Take your time here, and make sure you check the roof, and the roof vents, from several different angles.
Once i’m satisfied that the roof and outside of the unit are in good shape, i’ll go ahead and hook up my hose to start filling the water tank, then connect my sewer hoses, then switch the water hose to the city water connection, or turn the handle if so equipped.

With my hookups complete, I can go inside and start testing out things in there. If the fridge isn’t already on (it should be!) i’ll turn that on and check to make sure the doors are closed tightly. I’ll start my plumbing inspection by listening for any water leaks, then operating all of the faucets and plumbing, including turning on the shower, and flushing the toilet, to make sure everything works without any troubles.
I also make sure to turn the city water connection off, turn the water pump on, and test the faucets with the water pump. I then turn on the water heater, electric if that’s an option, and let it warm up as I start my electrical inspection.

I go through and turn on and off anything electrical, ensuring everything works; lights, fans, A/C, heater, microwave, TV, stereo, etc. I also like to bring an outlet tester and plug it into various outlets to ensure they’re working correctly. I finish my electrical inspection by going over the breaker and fuse panel (two separate items!) to check for any loose, tripped, cracked, blown, broken, or missing stuffs before completing my electrical inspection.

Now that the water has had time to heat up (20-30 minutes or so), i’ll go ahead and check for hot water. If I have it, i’ll turn off the electric heater, leave it alone for awhile to cool down, then test the gas function of the heater. This is also a good time to check the gas stove and gas oven if so equipped.

During my inspection, it’s normal for me to pause in various places, sit down in various places, and generally just exist in some space for a few minutes at a time. This lets me test the floor or the seat in that space, as well as focus on a small space of wall or ceiling to see if there’s any damage or issues i’ve overlooked in my walkthrough.

Once i’m, happy with all the stuff inside, and i’ve put several gallons of water into all of the tanks, i’ll head back outside and start the dumping process. The main thing i’m concerned with here is that the valves, handles, and connections all function correctly, and that liquid flows out of the tanks when I open the valves, but not when the valves are closed.

Once all of that is done, i’ll do one more walk around to see if there’s anything I missed, look over my notes, and if all is well, i’ll move on to the purchase!


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