Inspect it Yourself

VLRV feels that every coach needs to be inspected prior to purchasing.

Inspect your own Coach

Anthony and Tonya have been doing RV inspections since March of 2019 on both new and used coaches and there is not much they have not seen. The sales of RV’s have increased substantially in the wake of recent circumstances and even if they wanted to, they could not possibly inspect every coach that is purchased.  VLRV feels strongly that every coach, new or used, that is purchased needs to be inspected. If VLRV, due to time allotted or other reasons are unable to do the inspection for you on the coach you are looking to purchase, they want to help you, the purchaser, feel more secure in your purchase.

Do your homework!! Although all RVs and Campers use the same components in them, not all manufacturers are the same, nor are all dealerships the same.  From production to customer service, there are huge differences. When purchasing new or used, after sales customer service from the manufacturer and the dealership can make a big difference in your purchasing experience.  When something goes wrong with your coach, having purchased a coach from the right manufacturer and the right dealership can make a huge difference.

Once you think you have found the coach you want to purchase, inform the seller or dealer that you would like to spend 4-5 hours inspecting the coach prior to finalizing the purchase (if private seller) or taking delivery (if purchasing from dealership-this will not be at your final walk through). During this time, you will be inspecting your coach. Request that the coach be leveled upon arrival, hooked up to 30amp or 50amp service, water, and sewage if available. If the coach has a Hydrogen/Absorption (camper refrigerator), have it running 24 hours in advance on electric, have the unit de-winterized, water in the water heater (running on electric) and water in the fresh tank and, if applicable, propane in the tanks.

The items you will need to do your inspection are a camera, a notepad, a 3-wire receptacle tester, an analog thermometer that reads 0°-220°F, a coffee mug, a dish towel, a CD, a DVD and painter’s tape (to put on anything you find an issue with). IF you are really handy, a Volt meter.  Although you are not a professional, you can do a large amount of the items on the checklist yourself.  Read over the following checklist, watch some how-to videos and be prepared. All of the items on the list are standard operating procedures for the coach.

During the process of your inspection, do not do any of the items you do not feel comfortable with.  Ask the seller, salesman or technician at the dealership to help you with it.

  • Roof Inspection (Because of insurance issues, many places and people may not allow you to get on the roof. It may be possible to use a ladder around the unit to inspect most of the areas).
      • Check all of the sealant on the roof to see if it has cracks or crevices  in it.  All of the components on the roof are protrusions through the roof and all should have sealant around them.  The seams at the front, back and sides of the coach should have sealant. Be aware that even new coaches may show signs of dried out sealant, or even missing sealant.
      • As you go over the roof make note of any areas that may seem soft or brittle.  These could be areas where water damage has occurred.  You will want to check that area on the interior to see if there are any signs of water intrusion (Stains, soft, wet, brittle)
    Check the components of the roof (skylights, vent covers, vent lids, and plumbing vent caps) to see if they are missing or damaged. if something doesn't look right, it probably isn't.
  • Interior
    • Check where the ceiling meets the walls (as well as inside cabinets and closets) to see if there are any signs of water intrusion. (Stains, dampness or brittleness)
    • Also check under window for same signs of water intrusion
    • Open and close all cabinetry and compartments to make sure the catches are working properly.
    • Inspect and open all windows, even emergency windows (not complete push out windows in older units), to make sure they operate properly, as well as all window shades and blinds.
    • Check to see if all furniture that has multiple uses will properly transform into those.
  • Electrical 
    • Test all receptacles with a 3-wire tester and test to see if all GFCI outlets (inside, outside and in storage compartments) will trip. (The tester has a label on it to indicate what issue is present if any)
    • There should be a monitor panel to give a reading on the battery level.  It should read full or 13.3 Volts. This lets you know the battery is being charged by the converter/inverter.
    • Generator - Start and run the generator.  To test the generator under load, run an air conditioner.  (if your volt meter will read hertz, then verify that the generator is producing between 59 and 61 hertz.
    • Battery - Inspect the battery/s condition and ensure they are of like size and age.  There should be no corrosion or swelling and the connections should be tight.
    • Electrical Panel box - Only perform this if you are comfortable with it -DISCONNECT FROM SHORE POWER -(During this step is a good time to check the shore power plug head for signs of overheating(evident by discoloration or melting) and check the brass connectors, they should not be loose) In the electric panel box, check for loose or disconnected wires and evidence of overheating (discolored insulation/copper).
    • Fuse Panel Box - on modern fuse panels, a red light will be on if a fuse is blown.
  • Water Systems
    • Check the inlet (wet bay) to make sure there is no water leaking at the hook up.
    • Run water at all faucets for several minutes (confirm you have both cold and hot water available at all sources) Make sure the faucets themselves do not leak, check underneath the sinks to make sue the p-trap and water lines do not leak.
    • Run water in the shower, spraying it on all surface areas, and around the frame of the shower door to make sure no water escapes between the frame and the shower surround and shower pan.
    • Flush all toilets, make sure water holds in the bowl after the flush, check the water lines coming into the back of the toilet to ensure there are no leaks there.  Also check the toilet itself to make sure it is not loose.
    • If the water heater has both gas and electric, turn on the gas switch for the water heater, run hot water in to a sink, then go outside by the water heater and wait for it to start on propane (you will hear it if it works)
    • If sewage hook up is available, pull all waste valves to confirm they work.
  • Appliances
    • light all burners on stove top and oven if present (may want to have a grill lighter available in case it is manual ignition or the auto pezio ignitor isn't working).
    • put a coffee mug half full of water in the microwave for 1 minute.  The water should heat to around 140° F.
    • Refrigerator temperature reading should be 38°F - 40°F and the freezer should be 0°F or below.  If it a hydrogen absorption (camper refrigerator)make sure it is set on auto, open the freezer door, go outside, open the panel to gain access to the back of the refrigerator and unplug the power cord from the outlet at the back of the refrigerator.  Listen for and check that he gas burner ignites.  (plug back in after test)
    • if dishwasher is present run a cycle.
    • if washing machine and or dryer are present, run a cycle, and make sure heat is produced by dryer.
    • if in-house vacuum system is present, get the attachments out to see if it is functioning.
    • if there is a fireplace present, turn it on to see if it works 
    • turn on all electronics to see if operating properly.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems
    • If there is more than one air conditioner, run one at a time and perform a Delta-T test.  Measure the temperature going into the air conditioner at the return and then the temperature of the air coming out of the closest output vent.  The difference in the two temperature readings is its Delta-T.  A good Delta-T reading is between 16 and 30.  This will vary depending on humidity.  Please learn more about hot to perform and calculate this test prior to doing it.
    • Some air conditioners have heat strips or heat pumps, check each one individually to see if it is working.
    • Check to see if the furnace/s ae working as well.  Check all output vents to ensure there is airflow to all.
    • if the unit has an Aqua-hot or Oasis system, confirm that each zone is working.
    • some units may have heated floors, this can be tested with an infrared thermometer, by checking the temperature prior to turning on and then rechecking after it has been on for some time.
  • Slides
    • Extend and retract all slides in and out several times to see if there are any  issues that need to be addressed. Check to make sure that all seals are in place.  This  procedure is best done with 2 people, one outside and one in to operate it (Make sure you have clearance to put the slides out) During this point you will want to check any slide toppers.  Checking that the fabric is not torn or sagging, and that the fabric or the hardware is not catching or rolling over on the top of the slide.
  • Awning/s
    • Extend and retract awning/s several times. Checking the condition of the awning fabric and making sure the awning closes and opens properly.
  • Wheels and leveling components
    • Check the DOT date and condition of every tire (many need a telescoping mirror) IF the tires have a few years on them and they have been conditioned, rubbing baby powder on them will reveal signs of dry rot.  for more information on tires, see our "Helpful Hints" section.
    • Look underneath the coach for any thing bent, broken, loose, damaged or leaking.
    • Operate the manual jacks
    • Operate the tongue jack (manual or electric)
    • Operate electric or hydraulic leveling system (if present) Make sure no one is under the coach!!!!  SAFETY FIRST, ALWAYS!!!! 
  • Propane 
    • The nose knows.  if you smell a bad rotten egg smell, there may be a leak.
  • Exterior
    • closely look over the exterior of the coach for any signs of delamination, damage or anything that looks off-putting to you.  Examples are: Screws missing or backing out, entrance steps (whether manual or electric) functioning properly, compartments have signs of water intrusion, all the keys for doors and compartments work.
  • LIfe Safety
    • Test the smoke detector, LP detector, and Carbon Monoxide Detector.  If the coach is more than 5 years of, it is recommended to replace these.  Make sure a fire extinguisher is installed within 24" of the entrance door.  If the coach has an on-board generator, it should be a 10-B.C. rated extinguisher.
  • Drivable Units
    • Check the bottom of the motor for any fluids that me be escaping the motor
    • Check all the engine fluids for level and color
    • Check all of the DOT lights for proper function
    • Check backup and side cameras (if present)
    • Check the dash air conditioner output, temperature should be 35° - 48°F and the heater should produce temperatures from 115°-140°F
    • Check the radio system to see if working properly, many of the systems will have speaker throughout the coach, so check all speakers to see if they are working.
    • Operate all the buttons is the cab area to make sure they function properly.  Remember that if you are unsure, as the seller, salesperson or technician to demonstrate and teach you.

Again, I will stress, please do not do anything you do not feel comfortable with, ask for help if needed.

A good many of the visual items on the list you will be able to look for during your initial introduction to the coach before you decide it is a coach you may want to purchase. When you are ready to move forward with an inspection, I would recommend having a plan of action.  Make a list of the items that are most important to you. Check these items first.  If you make it past these, then you will be able to continue on to the other items with confidence that this may be the coach for you.  

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