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To inspect or not to inspect, what RVers told us

UNITED STATES — Most people wouldn’t purchase a home without hiring a trained professional to thoroughly inspect it. An inspection can show the unseen; the problems that lurk within the walls, under the shingles or in the foundation.

The same is true for your RV. An inspection by a qualified RV inspector can uncover what is hidden from the eye. Yet, many people do not get an RV inspected before they purchase it, despite the fact that, in some cases, these units cost nearly as much as a sticks-and-bricks home.

Certified RV inspectors can help prospective buyers make informed purchase decisions as they examine the overall condition of the vehicle and report their findings, even if the only thing uncovered is a minor cosmetic issue.

RV Daily Report recently launched a survey to hear more about RVers experiences with RV inspections. The following is what we learned:

Seventy-one percent of RV owners stated they got an inspection. Those getting an inspection found an inspector via a Google search (23.2 percent). Others found an inspector via the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA) website (21.9 percent), while the rest of the respondents found inspectors via recommendations from a friend or a referral from a dealer/campground.

One respondent recommended vetting an inspector before hiring as not all are created equal. “Who inspects the inspector?” this respondent asks. “Do they meet a defined level of competence or capability? If so, who determines and monitors them?” Another respondent recommended the NRVIA noting these inspectors are trained to “thoroughly inspect every aspect of an RV.”

Most respondents stated getting an inspection might cost money upfront but agreed it can save money and headaches in the end. Said one survey taker, “I have used an inspector for the last three coaches I purchased, not including two I walked away from after the inspection. Each of the coach inspections netted me back the inspection fee after further negotiation with the seller on the items found in the inspection.”

Seventy-five percent of those stating they had a pre-purchase inspection said they would recommend the process to others, 15 percent said they might do so, 5 percent said they would not, and the remaining respondents were undecided.

In the words of one respondent, “I strongly advise others to get an inspection before buying any RV, even if it is not their first one. Even if a buyer is used to repairing their own vehicles, an RV is different in many aspects. Overlooking something expensive to fix is usually the outcome of [not getting an inspection].”

When asked how long the inspection took, results varied. Some reported it took less than 30 minutes (10.9 percent), while 28.7 percent stated the inspection took between 30 minutes and two hours. More than half (50.6) reported the inspection took more than four hours.

Inspection reports also varied, with 31. 7 percent of respondents noting the results were delivered verbally. Twenty-one percent reported receiving handwritten notes, while 60.3 percent stated they received results in a formal-typed report with photos and recommended actions.

The cost of inspections ran the gamut from $100 or less (26 percent) all the way up to more than $800 (8.2 percent). Twenty-two percent paid between $100-$300 for an inspection, 16. 4 percent paid $301-$500, and 13.6 percent paid $501-800.

The price for these inspections seemed fair to most with 54.7 percent stated the cost was in line with the value they received. Twenty-five percent said the inspection didn’t provide enough value.

One respondent said, “An inspection is expensive, but it is worth it. It gives you some peace of mind, especially with the horror stories that are out there.”

When asked what respondents hired inspectors to look at, the break down was as follows: roof (81.8 percent); electrical (78.7 percent); appliances (78.7 percent); water (74.2 percent); interior (74.2 percent); tires (71.2 percent); sidewalls (68.1 percent); engine and drive train (39.3 percent); and other items (31.8 percent).

The issues revealed by inspection were everything from a small crack outside the rear of the coach to serious propane leaks that rendered the unit unsafe. One respondent reported the inspection found evidence of “rats and mice, worn shocks, contaminated drinking water, a leaking airbag, cracking tires, roof sealing issues, a non-functioning awning and a worn-out coach battery. Probably not a surprise, but the respondent did not buy this coach! Another survey taker reported the inspection found evidence of black mold throughout the coach. Yet another reported the issues were so serious that he “refused delivery and did not take the new RV fifth wheel toy hauler. “There were simply too many issues that would have required months to fix,” the respondent reported.

Learn more about the value of inspections or find a qualified inspector at the National RV Inspectors Association.



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About Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt is the editor in chief of RV Daily Report. She's been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and now the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year.

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One comment

  1. The inspections that took less than 4 hours were probably done by non-NRVIA certified inspectors. Most NRVIA certified inspectors would be excited to finish an inspection is less than 4 hours. I finished one in 6.5 hours and kept worrying about what I had missed, until I got home and wrote up the report. It turned out that I didn’t miss anything. The unit was just that clean and the inspection went fast. But I plan on all day. Although each NRVIA certified inspector runs his own business, I think most NRVIA certified inspectors probably do the same. It’s just not reasonable to think that you could do justice for your client, when inspecting something as complex as an RV, in less than 6 to 8 hours.

    A complete RV inspection should include a hot-skin test, thermal imaging (to identify air and moisture leaks and hot electrical wires), many moisture meter readings, a delta-T test of ALL air conditioners, a propane leak test (if the coach has propane), and a check of engine diagnostic codes (on motorized units built since 2006), just to name a few of the checks and tests that many RV inspectors who are not NRVIA certified probably don’t perform. I even use a borescope to look inside a furnace burn chamber and to see behind and inside other parts of the coach.

    And don’t forget that a complete set of fluids analysis should also be done at inspection time, on all motorcoaches, including even brand new coaches. I’ve had a fluid analysis find a rare problem that was known by the frame builder, but not by the motorhome builder. The point is that the lab can often tell more from a 3 ounce fluid sample than a mechanic can tell from overhauling an engine or transmission. If your inspector doesn’t offer fluid analysis for motorized units, then you probably should be looking elsewhere.

    This is all just my humble opinion. I could be wrong. That actually happened once. It was quite embarrassing. I thought I was wrong and it turned out I wasn’t. LOL.