The Motherload of Questions to Ask When Buying A Used RV
When we started on our “road” to RV ownership, we knew nothing about RVs. I mean, we knew they had an engine, and probably a generator, definitely lights and a refrigerator and a bed, but other than that, zilch. We didn’t even know what we didn’t know and boy do we wish we had this list of questions to ask!
Here are some of the most important questions to ask, especially when buying from a private seller, so you know exactly what you are getting into. Having this list beforehand would have saved us lots of time and money researching!
Top Questions To Ask When Buying A Used RV:
- Is the RV a motorhome (Class A) or trailer, fifth wheel, cab-over (Class C)?
- How many owners have owned it before and for how long?
- If known, how did they care for and store the RV?
- How often were the fluids changed? Tires rotated? Etc?
- Has the RV had any accidents or major repairs?
- What kind of lifestyle did the previous owners have? (boondocking, resort camping, national parks, weekend getaways, cross country trips, etc)
- Did kids use the RV?
- Did any previous owners change or alter the original layout, paint, structure, etc?
- Who is the registered owner of the RV?
- Who can accept an offer and handle transfer?
- Is the title clear?
- Are there any leans or outstanding debts on the vehicle?
- How often has it been used in the last two years?
- What kind of trips has it been on?
- How did it perform?
- Are the manuals available?
- Is there a history of repair available?
- What has been the MPG? While towing?
- Why is the current owner selling?
- Have animals been in the RV? What kind?
- How long is the RV in feet bumper to bumper (not just the model length, as model length can be shorter than bumper to bumper length)?
- Does it have slides?
- What is the condition of the paint and clear coat?
- Are all exterior lights (fog, signals, highbeams, running) functioning?
- Are there any leaks in the roof? (look around for any areas of patches or repairs)
- Have there ever been any leaks in the roof that the owner is aware of?
- Does it have working hydraulic levelers? (levelers are legs that pop up of the bottom of the RV to level you out and stabilize the RV when parked)
- When was the last time the tires were replaced? (it’s commonly thought that tires 8 years old or older should be replaced, regardless of the amount of tread they have left, as old tires may blow out unexpectedly)
- Do the tires have tread left on them? How much?
- Do the tires have dry rot on them? (check the inside and outside of all tires to look for small cracks which will damage the tires and eventually cause a blowout)
- Does it have a rear view camera? Is it functioning?
- Where has the RV been kept when not in storage?
- How do the seals around the antennas look?
- Is there adequate storage? Bays underneath?
- What supplies are included for dumping (dumping hose, non-potable hose, potable hose?)
BATTERIES, INVERTER & GENERATOR:
- How many batteries does it have?
- How many of those are for the coach?
- How many of those batteries are for the engine?
- How old are the batteries?
- Are they deep cycle?
- How big are the batteries? 12 volt? 6 volt?
- How are the batteries connected, in series or in parallel?
- Are they warrantied and if so, with whom?
- Does the RV have an inverter? (a device that will change electricity stored in the batteries into power that comes through the household outlets in the RV when you aren’t generating)
- Is there a backup battery? If yes, is it deep cycle?
- Is there a battery isolator?
- How many hours are on the generator?
- How loud is the generator?
- What places in the coach turn on the inverter? (panel, back-up camera?)
ENGINE, TRANSMISSION & INTERNAL:
- What kind of engine does it have?
- Where is it located?
- Is it gas or diesel?
- How many miles has the RV been driven? (low mileage is not necessarily a good thing for a used RV because if the RV isn’t driven enough, seals in the engine dry out and go bad and then you have engine leaks)
- What kind of transmission? Age?
- When were the wheel bearings last greased or replaced?
- Have there been any repairs to the engine, transmission, radiator, etc? Or is everything the original part? (having original parts could mean potential breakdown issues as all parts age over time)
- Where is the fuse box for the engine?
- Are all fuses functioning?
- What is the layout?
- How is the ceiling? (look for any out of the ordinary screw patterns which could suggest repairing a water damaged ceiling)
- Where is the fuse box?
- Which outlets are on 12 volt?
- Which outlets are GFCI?
- Is there an air conditioner? Age?
- Are there fans? Age?
- How big is the grey water tank?
- How big is the black water tank?
- How big is the potable water tank?
- How big is the propane tank?
- What appliances run on propane versus electric?
- Is there a hot water heater?
- Do all the appliances work?
- Is there an oven, ice fridge, stove, microwave? Age?
- Is the fridge a one way or a two way? (does the fridge run only on propane, or can it use electricity when you are plugged in or generating)
- How big is the sink?
- Do all fixtures work (sinks and shower)?
- Where is the shower located? (self contained or with toilet?)
- Is there a washer/dryer? (our experience has shown that you don't actually want a washer/dryer)
- Is there a TV? Age?
- What kind of toilet? (traditional or composting?) Age?
- How much internal storage is there?
- Do all the lights work?
- Do all the blinds and window coverings work?
- Do they have blackout shades?
- Are there screens on the windows?
- Do the windows open and close easily?
- Are there any gaps in the window seals?
- Is there an electric stair to outside?
- Does the stair work?
- Is everything bolted to the ground? (this is important for remodeled RVs as sometimes they don't bolt the furniture to the floor which is a real hazard)
- Where is the fuse box for the coach?
- Are all fuses functioning?
- Are all water lines functioning?
- Have there been any interior leaks or wiring issues?
- Have there ever been any interior repairs?
- Is there a sound system? Does it work?
- Where does the sound system reach?
HITCH FOR TOWING:
- Is there a hitch?
- How big is the hitch?
- What has the RV towed before in the past?
- What is the towing capacity for the RV?
- Are any tools included?
- What hoses included?
- What electrical cords are included?
- Is there a vacuum?
- Is there a broom?
- Are the remote controls included?
- Are any cleaning supplies included?
- Is any of the decor included? (pillows, sheets, frames, rugs)?
Get it Inspected!
Now that you've received the answers to these questions, you can get the RV inspected by a reliable company like Lemon Squad. We've used this company on numerous used RVs we were interested in to inspect on a deeper level and provide photographs of different areas of concern so we could make the most educated decisions. We highly recommend paying for the $300 service to flesh out any issues and just have a more knowledgeable mechanic look over the rig, especially if the rig you are looking at is located far away from you.
There really is a lot to consider when buying your first used RV, especially if you plan to live in it full time. Asking the right questions like the ones listed above, careful research and an in-person walk through are the best ways to make sure you make the right decision for you and your family. We did and we couldn’t be happier with our Safari!
Hope these questions helped you out! Let us know if we missed any!