The Essential RV Inspection Checklist

The Essential RV Inspection Checklist

by

George Cummings
November 21, 2021
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Any time you buy a used car from the lot, you probably do your best to check it over from top to toe and ensure that there’s nothing wrong with it.

If the vehicle in question happens to be an RV, you’ll want to be even more thorough with this inspection, considering it’s not just a mode of transport but also your potential new home.

What does an RV inspection cover? A comprehensive RV inspection needs to look at the inside and outside of a vehicle, including fixtures, plumbing, roof, electronics, awnings, doors, and windows.

You’ll be inspecting it thoroughly for signs of damage, rust, cracks, and general wear and tear, so it has to be thorough.

As one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, you want to be sure that your new RV is everything it claims to be.

We’ve created a simple RV inspection checklist that you can go over when you’re in the market for a new rig, showing you the most important parts to check out so you don’t drive off with a lemon.

Why Do I Need to Check Out an RV?

Why Do I Need to Check Out an RV?

A brand new RV can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $300,000, and even with a second-hand model, you’re still looking at similar pricing. it’s a fairly sizeable purchase.

As a vehicle with so many working parts and the potential for so many things to go wrong, you’ll want to give it a thorough assessment before handing over the cash.

An RV is not just a vehicle but also a home on wheels, so the need to check out its most important components is higher than usual.

You’re relying on this vehicle to take you where you need to go but also be reliable, even in the middle of nowhere, and it pays to be diligent during the initial assessment to look for signs of trouble.

The outside of an RV is just as important as the inside, and sellers often try to attach cheap fixtures or cover up major problems so that a potential buyer isn’t the wiser.

Whether you want to perform a comprehensive assessment yourself or have a professional do it for you, it’s crucial to go through a detailed checklist of all of the working parts to see what condition they’re in.

The Ultimate RV Inspection Checklist

If you’re in the market for a second-hand RV, or even a brand new one, it will help to take this list along and know what you’re looking for.

Spend some time going over each of these RV components and parts to see what condition they’re in before you strike a deal.

Roof

Roof

Get up on top of the RV and inspect the roof to look for signs of cracking, dents, and scratches. Check the leading and trailing edges of the roof as well, noting any issues.

Repairing and replacing an RV roof can be expensive and any cracks can lead to water damage inside of the vehicle, so it’s a major component.

Storage Bay

As the home to your belongings, you want to make sure the storage bay and compartments of an RV are fully functional.

In addition to looking inside the larger storage areas, you’ll also want to inspect the cup latches, hinges, locks, and doors of each compartment, and smaller parts like cup holders, bathroom cabinets, and glove compartment.

Air Conditioner

Take a note of all air conditioners in the RV and spend some time inspecting each one individually. You’ll want to turn them on and let them run for a few minutes to get a full assessment.

Check that they’re able to produce cold air, that there are no strange sounds coming from them, and that the vents and filters look clean and functional.

Hitch

A hitch system on an RV needs to be both in good condition and compatible with your vehicle if you plan on trailing it.

Spend some time looking at the hitch system and testing it out to see that it connects where it needs to without any issues, and make a note that all of the parts are there.

Hitches are prone to rust and corrosion, so you want them to be properly greased and smooth when you inspect them.

Wheels

Wheels

The wheels of an RV are one of the biggest areas you’ll want to spend time inspecting, looking at everything from the sidewalls to the tires.

During a check here, look at the tread of each tire, the individual GVWR ratings, and ask questions about their condition and how they were used.

You’ll also want to assess the rims and look for signs of rust and damage.

Slide Outs

Anything that slides out of the RV, inside and out, needs to be inspected. Take your time pulling each of these components out and checking that they’re in good order and that the sliding mechanism itself is working.

Make a note of the seals surrounding the slide-out and the cover of it, to ensure the whole thing is in good condition.

Underbelly

The underbelly of the vehicle can be hiding major problems and you’ll want to physically get underneath it to check it out.

When laying on your back under the vehicle, look for obvious signs of damage or anything major you can see.

Inspect the tanks and the bottom and see what protection they have and whether the underbelly of the RV is entirely enclosed and safe.

Engine

The engine is another major component that requires a lot of attention, and many people want to call in help from professionals to get an accurate assessment of it.

During this inspection, you’ll want to look at the condition of the wiring, how the engine appears physically, spot any signs of leaking fluids, check the tension of the drive belts, assess the radiator and fan shroud, and how dirty the air filter is.

The engine can tell you a lot about the condition of the RV and how well it’s been looked after, so it’s crucial to do it right.

Furniture

Furniture

Assess the various furniture in the RV, including the sofas, front seats, dining table, chairs, and anything else included in the sale.

Although this won’t affect the overall operation of the vehicle, it’s a good indication of how well the RV has been looked after.

You might also like to smell the soft furnishings like seat covers and curtains to see if there’s any sign of mold or mildew.

Electronics

The electrical components of the RV make up the bulk of the inspection, so you’ll want to check each of them individually.

Test the various power outlets and assess whether it uses AC or DC power, and plug them in accordingly to see that everything works.

Go through the cabin and check all of the interior lights and then do the same for exterior lighting.

Turn the refrigerator on if it’s not already and make sure it gets cold, and consider using a thermometer to test the temperature.

Any other appliances in the RV should be tested, including the microwave, television, stereo, and smoke or propane detectors.

Find the breaker panel in the RV and test it to make sure the converter is working by using a voltage meter.

Water Lines

Go through the cabin and test any water lines, including the kitchen and bathroom, to see that they’re working.

Turn the faucets and showerhead on and let them run for a few seconds, and check the toilet. If the RV has any exterior water sources, check these as well. You’ll be able to assess the water further when you check the tanks of the RV.

Propane

Most RVs operate with various propane systems, and you’ll need to check each of them for leaks and to see whether they’re working.

This includes the refrigerator, water heater, and oven, and range.  Turn them on, let them run for long enough so you can see that they’re functional, and then turn them back off.

Doors And Windows

Doors And Windows

As your new home, you’ll want to be sure that every window and door in the RV works as it should and is secure enough to sleep in at night.

Check all of the windows individually and see that they open and close with ease, whether they have locks, what the condition of the screens are, and whether there are any obvious gaps or damage anywhere.

The doors of the RV should open and close easily, all locks should work, and there should be no space around them where water could potentially leak through.

Ask about the keys that come with the vehicle and if there are any other security features on board.

Water Tanks

Check all three tanks of an RV before purchasing it and ask the seller questions about their use, including the capacity of each of the tanks.

Enquire whether the hoses come with the tanks and what condition they’re in, and then visually inspect them for yourself.

Look at all of the connections that hook the tanks up to the RV and make a note of any damage or cracks, as these will need to be rectified before you can use it.

If there’s no water in them, it can be harder to assess for smaller cracks, but you should get a good idea of the condition of the tank by looking at it.

Flooring         

RVs come with many different flooring surfaces, including carpet and hardwood, and you want it to be in good condition and without any obvious odors, marks, or excess wear.

The best way to tell how well an RV has been looked after is to assess the flooring for signs of damage.

Any warping or stains on the flooring of your RV could be caused by bigger issues like leaking water, so make sure you investigate them further.

Know Before You Buy

RVs are complex vehicles and there’s a lot more that you need to be aware of before buying one that you might not think to expect in a regular car.

By following our checklist and doing your due diligence before you purchase a new or used RV, you can avoid a lot of disappointment and money spent in the future.

Related Questions

An RV is a major investment no matter which model you’re buying and for many people it’s one of the biggest they’ll ever make.

If you still have questions about shopping for the best RV to suit your needs, here are some of the FAQs that other newcomers had that can push you in the right direction.

What Size RV Do I Need?

To determine the right RV size for you, consider how many people you’ll be traveling with, what facilities you require onboard the vehicle, and how much you’ll be taking along.

RVs are categorized by class, including Class A, B, and C, as well as the fifth wheel and travel trailer models.

Should I Buy A Used RV?

Should I Buy A Used RV?

Not everyone can afford to buy a brand new RV and if you’re able to find a good deal and purchase a vehicle that’s been thoroughly inspected, there’s nothing wrong with buying one second-hand.

It’s recommended that you have the RV inspected by a professional who can conduct a thorough interior and exterior assessment of its major components.

What Does An RV Inspection Consist Of?

A detailed RV inspection performed by a professional will include a visual assessment of the major and minor components that make up the vehicle.

During one of these checks, the electrical parts, frame, plumbing, tires, electronics, and propane will be assessed, as well as the doors, windows, axles, and leveling of the RV.

Resources:

George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.