Purchasing a used RV is a great way to score a deal on the motorhome of your dreams. Often, buying an RV that is a year or two old will allow you to upgrade to many of the premium features you want without surpassing your budget. However, when purchasing a used RV, you want to make sure that you are buying a motorhome that has been well maintained and will continue to carry you safely down the road.
In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about purchasing a used RV. From inspecting the mechanical features of the RV to ensuring the interior cabin is in tip-top shape, this guide will help you choose the ideal used motorhome for your needs.
Inspect the Mechanics
Before test driving a used RV, start the engine and listen carefully for any strange sounds. Take note of whether or not the RV turns over easily. Next, with the RV running, check the exhaust for smoke. Blue smoke can be an indication of burning oil, and white smoke can indicate that coolant is being burned. Keep in mind that exhaust will sometimes create a small amount of steam first thing in the morning or in cold weather, but this steam should burn off within a minute or two.
Next, enlist the help of someone to check that the headlights, brake lights, running lights, and turn signals are working. Give the horn a quick test and check over the instrument cluster, taking note of any check engine lights or other warning lights.
From here, look over the tires to ensure that they have good tread and are pressurized to the cold pressure PSI stated on the interior driver-side door on the manufacturer's sticker. Ideally, the motorhome tires should be less than six years old. You can request information about the age of the tires from the seller.
Take it on a Test Drive
Now that you're ready to hit the road make sure the reverse camera — if the motorhome is equipped with one — is working by putting the RV in reverse and checking the monitor.
Proceed forward slowly and tap the brakes to make sure they work efficiently and don't pull the RV left or right. Take a moment to check the full turning radius of the RV in an empty parking lot. Listen for any sounds of metal on metal or popping that could be telltale signs of issues with the front end.
Once you have the RV up to speed, pay attention to any notable vibrations in the steering wheel. Normal clatter and vibrations from the interior of the RV are common and not worrisome.
After your test drive, park the RV and leave it running. Pop the hood and check for any unusual smells of burning fluids or plastics. Check the exhaust again for any signs of smoke.
Shut off the engine and check the brake fluid, power steering fluid, oil, and transmission fluid by cleaning off the dipsticks with a rag or paper towel, reinserting them into the reservoir, and pulling them back out. Always be careful checking fluids when an engine is hot. Make sure each fluid is filled up to the proper level and looks clean, with no metal or debris present in the fluid.
Check Over the Interior
Now that you feel comfortable with the mechanical abilities of the RV, it's time to take a look at the interior. The number one culprit to watch out for is water damage. Water damage can rot the wood in RV frames and grow mold that can pose a serious health risk. Pay special attention to the front corner seams of the RV. These are the most common spots for leaks. Water damage often looks like stains or wavering in the walls and ceiling.
Walk around the RV and inspect the inside thoroughly, making note of any damages to seating, sleeping areas, shelving, or cabinets.
Test the RV Electrical Systems
Next, you will want to check the electrical breaker in the RV to make sure none of the breakers are tripped. Tripped breakers can be a sign of a significant electrical problem.
Go through the RV and test each electrical item available. Small things, such as a burnt-out light bulb, are easy to repair. However, if an entire lighting system won't turn on, the RV might have a bigger electrical issue.
Turn on the AC and Heating Systems
Check that both the heating and cooling system work. Ask the seller if there are any filters for the system and where they are located. If the RV has propane heating, have the owner/salesperson show you how to operate it safely and where the propane disconnect is located.
Pay Attention to the Plumbing
If possible, make sure the sink faucet, bathroom(s) faucets, and shower are in good working order and have adequate pressure. Some RVs have outdoor showers built in, so inquire if the RV has one and where it is located.
Ask the seller to show you how to properly hook up the water connections, check the levels, operate any pumps, and hook up the sewer connections.
When shopping for a used RV, if you come across issues that concern you or you need more information, ask the seller if you can have the RV looked at by a certified RV mechanic.
Visit Our Team at Transwest for Trustworthy Used RV Sales
If you are looking to purchase a used RV, come visit our team at Transwest. We believe in helping our customers find the best RV for their needs. Throughout the entire sales process, our knowledgeable team will be happy to answer questions and provide you with the history of the RV.
Stop by one of our on-site service centers, and we can have a mechanic provide you with the peace of mind that your new ride is road ready. Stop by one of our locations or give us a call to learn more.
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