You can get a great deal on a used RV – no doubt about it. But you can also get a “lemon,” an unreliable vehicle that could cost you a fortune in repairs and become a source of vacation frustration. How can you be sure the used RV you’re interested in won’t be a money-pit-on-wheels? Start by asking the right questions.
Savvy RV shoppers know that asking the right questions is the key to getting the best RV for your money. And for used RVs, asking the right questions before you sign on the dotted linemight prevent a lot of headaches afterward. Every shopper will have a different list of questions – hopefully, an extensive one. But we’ve put together a list of 10 things every used RV shopper should ask to get you started. Some of these questions you can directly ask the seller. Other ones will prompt you to do some research. But the answers you uncover will give you a good indication of whether the used RV you’re considering is a solid choice.
1. Is the Asking Price Competitive?
Technically, this isn’t a question to ask the seller – but it’s a critical question for starting your research and getting the best deal. Compare the seller’s asking price to what’s printed in the NADA RV pricing guide and the Recreational Vehicle Blue Book; use that as your starting point for negotiations. Then ask your other questions, do some hands-on investigating, and use what you find to select the best deal.
2. What is the RVs Camping History?
Unlike cars, an RV with low mileage may not be your best bet. Some RV experts recommendlooking for a used RV with at least 10,000 miles on it (and preferably not more than 35,000), since too few miles can be an indicator of a problem-prone vehicle or one that’s difficult to drive. Motorhomes that have been parked and unused for a significant amount of time may require expensive service, including replacing fuel pumps, belts, batteries, tires and brakes, and possibly even rebuilding the carburetor on the generator. If you’re looking at a used RV that has spent some winters in cold climates and perhaps has not been properly winterized, be sure to check the plumbing for ruptured linesand leaks.
3. Why is It Being Sold?
This question will give you a glimpse on how, when, and under what conditions the RV has been used. In many cases, people sell their RV because they can no longer travel as much as they once did. Or the RV was purchased for family vacations but they have realized they don’t use it enough to justify the investment. These can be best-case scenarios for a used-RV buyer because they often indicate that the RV has been used very little (but enough to know that it runs well), has low mileage, and still has lots of life left in it.
4. Have There Been Any Accidents/Recalls on the RV?
A little research here can give you reliable answers. There are several online services that will provide you with an RV’s accident history – you’ll have to provide the VIN and a fee (starting around $25). For recalls on a particular model, check NHTSA.gov. If there are any, record the RV’s VIN and call the manufacturer to see if there are any open recalls (recalls that have not been addressed).
5. How/Where Was It Stored During the Off Season?
Most RVs are only active for a few months out of the year, but where and how they spend the off-season affects their condition and value. For example, if an RV spends winters parked in the cold and deep snow, you can expect cracks in the tanks and lines. On the other hand, if it’s parked for long periods of time in a hot and sunny climate, the interior upholstery and the plastic components can turn yellow and become brittle. Not only that, if the RV has spent a lot of time parked on grass rather than asphalt or cement, moisture can “wick up” from the ground and cause it to rust and deteriorate from the bottom up.
6. What Type of Routine Maintenance Was Performed Onthe RV and When Was It Last Performed?
You should be able to find the manufacturer’s recommended routine maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. There are several online resources for general recommendations, as well. With luck, the seller was conscientious about routine RV maintenance.
7. Do Electrical Systems and HVAC Systems Work?
Now is the time for some hands-on investigating, Check all electrical systems under power of the house battery.Then check all systems hooked in to an external power source (not using the battery). Do the same for the water – make sure everything runs when plugged in. Does the RV have a generator? Fire it up! Turn on the A/C and heater and make sure they’re in good working order.
8. Is Anything Leaking?
This is question covers a lot of RV turf. First, look for leaks in the roof and seams. Look for any discoloration and feel for any soft spots on the ceiling around roof vents, air conditioners, TV antennas, plumbing vents, and any other openings that were cut in the roof. Same goes for around all the windows, doors, vents, slide-outs, and any other openings cut out in the side walls.Open all overhead cabinets, and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for any discoloration or soft spots. Check all outside storage compartments for any indications of water leaks or water damage. Finally, look and feel on the outside of the RV for any signs of delaminating, which is caused by water getting between the exterior fiberglass and the sidewall.
Next, fill all the tanks and inspect them for leaks (the propane tank, too, if you can). Identify where the water heater, furnace, outside shower, potable water fill and city water inlet are located on the outside of the RV, then access those areas from the inside of the RV and look for any indications of water damage around these openings.
If you’re looking at a motorhome, check for oil and transmission fluid leaks. If you see a small cloud of blue smoke when you start it up, that’s a good indication that valve guide seals may be leaking and causing you to burn oil. Also, inspect the seam between the engine and transmission. Any sign of red fluid indicates a transmission front seal leak, which can be a costly repair.
9. How Many Miles Are on the Tires? How Were They Cared for In Storage?
Check the tires, just like you would on a car. Is the wear even? Were the tires protected from the sun and the elements during the off-season? When was the last time the RV was moved? Tires that sit for long periods of time are prone to premature aging from ozone cracking and flattening.
10. What Will the Insurance Be for This Model?
Before you seal the deal, find out what you’ll be paying in insurance for the RV. Insurance can take a sizeable chunk of your RV budget, which is not something you want to find out after you’ve purchased your used RV.
If you’re looking for a used RV, the professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (844) 601-1171
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