5 Things to Look for When Buying a Used RV

Now that the world is opening back up, you might find yourself yearning for a road trip in a travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome, or other RV. Used RVs, which are cheaper and depreciate less than new RVs, are a great choice for many families looking to get away this summer. However, there are a number of points to check when looking over a new-to-you RV, to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

The biggest factor to whether you’re looking at a good deal or a lemon is water, specifically water where it shouldn’t be. An RV can develop leaks around the seals of the roof, windows, or doors, leading to mold growth or rot, and that damage might not be immediately obvious. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might not catch it before you buy.

Other systems to be sure and check include the electrical, air conditioning, gas, plumbing, and undercarriage. When we at Blue Compass RV buy a used RV, we check all these systems before we put the RV on our lot. Let’s take a closer look.

Water damage

When you’re deciding whether a used motorhome or other RV is right for you, the first thing you want to check for is signs of water damage. These include mold anywhere, brown spots on the ceiling or floor, a bowed ceiling, corrosion on exterior screws, squishy walls or roof, or corroded parts. Test the floor and roof by walking around, and even jumping — carefully! — on parts where water might leak, like around the shower and toilet.

Closely inspect the whole RV for signs of water damage. Water damage is the most common type of damage on an RV, and it can be easy to miss. To be extra careful, if you haven’t bought a used RV before or aren’t sure what to look for, buy from a reliable RV reseller like Blue Compass RV.

Electrical systems

The electrical systems of an RV include the AC and DC wiring, outlets, and power cords; lighting fixtures and bulbs, inside and out; the battery bank; and the electric kitchenappliances like refrigerator, microwave, or stove.

You want to check each AC breaker and DC fuse for good operation and non-excessive heat when operational. The main power cord must be defect-free and all the AC outlets should pull a current.

Make sure none of the batteries show signs of corrosion, and check their voltages with a multimeter or hydrometer, depending on the type. Also, batteries don’t usually last longer than 5-7 years, so check how old they are!

Make sure the fridge and freezer properly cool when running, and make sure all the outside access panels are clean and debris-free. The fridge actually has a gas mode as well, so make sure the auto switch over feature works by shutting power and watching for a flame in the burner.

Air conditioning and heating systems

The A/C and heating units are what make the inside of your RV livable for most of the year, so it’s pretty important to ensure their proper operation. Inspect the inside for leaks from the roof gasket and make sure the filter is in good condition, the rooftop part of the unit for debris and damage, and the wiring, electric connections, and fan, too.

Ideally, you should run the A/C for about a quarter hour and check the inside temperature, which should be 18-22°F cooler than outside. Make sure the exhaust vent fans work as well, and that bug screens are in one piece.

Gas and plumbing

Even though it’s legally required to have an RV’s LP Gas system inspected and certified before sale, it’s a good idea to check it yourself as well. Make sure the propane cylinders are fewer than ten years old, and that the rubber hoses, regulator and tank switch over valves, and all other parts of the system are free of potentially deadly propane leaks.

Test the water hookup by filling up the fresh water and waste tanks and driving the RV around, if you can. Afterward, check for leaks under the RV and dump the waste tanks, looking for a good flow to egress. Also make sure the water pump works properly and can supply a good stream to all the faucets.

You also want to be sure the water heater, toilet, and other plumbing features work properly. Make sure everything has good flow and is without leaks, especially around the toilet and shower. Make sure the water heater heats the water as it comes out of every faucet.

Everything else

There are a number of other systems to check for proper operation before buying a used travel trailer, fifth wheel, or RV. These include the entertainment center, undercarriage, various safety equipment, and all the nooks and crannies the seller might not have thought about when preparing the RV for sale. Some of those include the sink drains, areas behind access panels, and inside roof and furnace vents.

Purchasing a used RV is easy from Blue Compass RV

While you can save a lot of money buying a used RV, it can come with the risk of getting stuck with a lemon. Luckily, we here at Blue Compass RV thoroughly inspect all the used RVs on our lot, so you can rest assured that when you get a used fifth wheel or other RV from us, you’ll get a capable vehicle for years of camping trips.

If you’re looking to trade in your used RV for an upgrade or just for some extra cash this summer, Blue Compass RV is also running a Buy Back campaign right now! You can take advantage of our “Sell Us Your RV” program by using our online tool to find your RV’s value, or by talking to one of our dedicated Trade-In Specialists about scheduling an appraisal!

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a used RV, Blue Compass RV has the deal for you!

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