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Do You Need an RV Inspection Service?

It Might Just Be Worth The Investment

Whether you are purchasing your rig new or used, getting an RV inspection is worth the investment. But you need to do it correctly and at the right time. Here’s why.

When we purchased our rig, we bought it from an individual in California. We lived in Texas. For us, getting an RV inspector on site was part of the process. We didn’t think twice about whether we should have an inspection or not. We did it for our brick-and-mortar. Why wouldn’t we do it for the next home we planned to live in 24/7?

Some purchasers don’t think they need to do it for a brand-new RV. Some don’t think an RV inspection is not necessary if they are not full-timing. But you should and there is a right time to do it in the process of purchase.

Why Get an RV Inspection?

Do you need an RV inspection on new motorhomes or trailers?

Yes! Brand new RVs are not built on government-covered recommendations or guidelines. Each RV company follows its own policies and processes. RVs are also not built on automated, robotic assembly lines where every piece and every screw is torqued the same on every rig and frame. Each one is hand-built. Your staples and nails are not in the exact place each time. Items and tools can be left behind. Pipes may not be twisted or turned ‘just so’. We have toured RV manufacturing plants and they do excellent jobs at putting together the best RVs possible for us. We are human though.

Plus, the RVs have been moved from the manufacturer to the dealership. Maybe long distances or maybe moved more than once. No matter how well-made, an RV driving down the interstate means a lot of shaking, increasing the possibility of issues once it arrives at the dealership.

The most responsible thing you can do is get an RV inspection. Some may find it makes a little more sense to get an RV inspection on a used RV but don’t skip an inspection on new ones.

RV Inspections are Essential on Used RVs

You definitely need an RV inspection on used RVs, regardless of whether it is slightly used or has been on the road for many years. This is how you find out what issues the RV may have been through.

Stored RVs Need RV Inspections Too.

RVs in storage have just as many issues as those that have been on the road. Rust, water, erosion, and exposure will all contribute to issues in the absence of use. Worse yet, these types of issues may not be available to the naked eye. Inspections can dig deep and find leaks, eroded pipes, rodent problems, and more.

When Do You Get the RV Inspection?

Man inspecting RV vent
New, used, or stored, your RV needs an inspection.

The time to get an RV inspection is before you commit and when you think it might be the one for you. If you are ready to zone in on one RV, it’s time to schedule an RV inspector. Don’t let the RV salesperson or the RV individual seller talk you out of this step. Don’t let threats or comments that the rig may not be available or will be sold before the inspection can be done. Types of excuses or pressure comments you may hear:

  • We can’t permit anyone onsite or access to our storage area.
  • We have already had it inspected and everything is fine.
  • We can do the inspection for you.
  • We need you to put down a non-refundable deposit before you can bring out an inspector.
  • You can’t have an inspector come out until you have made the purchase.

All of these are untrue, and some are illegal. If you are overly invested in one RV because the price is too good to pass up, there might be a reason. You must be prepared to step away if they are discouraging an RV inspection. This is a good sign it may not be a good deal.

How Do You Get an RV Inspection?

The NRVIA provides a search so you can find RV inspectors in your area. If you do not see any listed, contact them because there are also mobile RV inspectors available. RV inspection costs can range from $300-$1,000+. Locate a few inspectors, tell them about the rig you are looking at and ask for a quote. When you select the inspector, you want to use, schedule them with a date and time you have arranged with the seller or dealership. Also make sure they give the RV inspector full access to what he needs for testing like full tanks, electricity, etc. The RV inspector will let you know what he needs to begin testing.

What to Expect from the Service

Person inspecting RV burner
Everything in your RV will be inspected from appliances to seals to wiring.

An RV Inspection can take up to an entire day depending on the size of your rig. Some inspectors will let you trail them on the inspection so it can also be a good learning experience. You will receive a multi-page report on everything in the rig. There will be items on the checklist that are listed as minor issues and others that are major. The RV inspector is not obligated to provide their opinion on what you should and shouldn’t have repaired prior to service but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

How to Use the Results

When we purchased our RV, the cost of the RV inspector was $500. In his report, the inspector provided about $1000 in issues that were minor. There were no major issues found.

We negotiated with the seller and they split the $1000 cost with us. The $500 they discounted on the sale of the RV paid for our inspection. It was well worth the investment because we knew exactly what things we needed to repair immediately and what might be coming up on down the road.

Do be aware that even the RV inspector may not catch everything. We found loose battery terminals later which were costly but that is the cost of owning a home.

From RV Inspection to Buying Negotiations

What a good RV inspection does is give you a good head start in understanding where you stand in your potential RV purchase. You might need a little self-education on what items are critical repairs upfront so you can triage and more importantly, determine if the cost outweighs the purchase. But you can take the report and use it to negotiate with the seller or the dealership.

If you do request repairs prior to purchase, you may negotiate with the seller or dealership to put down a refundable deposit with your intent to purchase once the repairs are complete. Or you can discuss the required repairs, the cost of the repairs, and negotiate a lower purchase price.

Whichever solution you utilize, get everything in writing, get a confirmed date for a completion date – maybe even additional discounts if repairs are not completed on time. When you leave the RV behind for repairs, you should be prepared to have a second inspection done to make sure the repairs were completed and done correctly.

The important thing about RV inspections is they should give you peace of mind that you are starting off your RV lifestyle in a dependable home. Trying to learn the RV ropes or learning a new RV at the same time you are traveling is tough if you are also having issue after issue. You want to enjoy your travels so make sure you get an inspection and start off right.

  • Lucinda Belden is a travel writer and advisor.  She gets her inspiration from her and her husbands full-time RV lifestyle, her avid motorcycle/sidecar adventures, and world travels.  Lucinda is the Program Director for MyRVRadio.  Follow her stories and adventures at fb.com/DirectionWideOpen.

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2 thoughts on “Do You Need an RV Inspection Service?”

  1. Most of what you say is true about inspections but you missed probably the most important item,,,,,the inspector. If they don’t have training, a checklist that covers all the items completely, generates a concise report and are insured, they are no better than hiring some guy who might know a lot about RV’s. Having significant experience in this area, I can assure you there are posers out there and you don’t get what you paid for.

    Just thought you should know and include in future articles.

  2. Be VERY careful who you hire to perform the inspection! I hired a “Certified” NRVIA Inspector and paid $950 to perform a thorough inspection of a coach 3000 miles away in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, I did not VET him enough, so I got burnt in the final transaction. He was not educated in high end motorcoach systems, so he missed and overlooked numerous systems that were not operating correctly of had completely failed. If I had known ahead of time about these failures, I would have been able to negotiate a far better price for the coach which was on consignment at Clays RV in Salt Lake City. I spent a few thousands of dollars repairing and replacing the failed systems and components. Lesson learned, don’t make the same mistake I did!

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