RV Daily Report recently posted several stories, and a podcast interview, about a new movement to develop a nationwide network of certified RV inspectors. The stories have opened a debate as to whether ordinary people can be trained to become RV inspectors through an online course or five days of in-person instruction.
Some say that only trained technicians should perform RV inspection services. I disagree.
Inspecting is not the same as diagnosing a problem and it certainly isn’t the same as knowing what to do to fix the problem. However, completing a diagnostic evaluation and then repairing whatever is wrong would certainly be within the realm of an RV technician.
But, I don’t need to be a certified technician to:
- Detect water damage in an RV
- Ensure that all appliances are working properly
- Look for signs of rodent infestation
- Ensure that the slideouts work properly
- Check the condition of an awning and slide toppers
- Make sure electrical outlets all work
- Ensure the roof is not cracked
- Check the operation of smoke and LP detectors
- Check the fluid levels of a motorhome and expose the fluid to chemical analysis to detect abnormalities
- Check the tread wear of tires, determine the amount of brake pad remaining — and conduct a test to determine braking distance.
In fact, if I attended an extensive five-day training course on what to look for when conducting an inspection, and I was shown examples of what problems look like, I could certainly take a detailed checklist and inspect an RV with a great deal of confidence in the accuracy of the assessment.
Further, even without the training, as daily RV user for the past 18 weeks, I now know better than most people who have never used an RV what to look for and listen for to detect potential problems. Add some training to the mix, and I know I would be a very accurate inspector.
It doesn’t mean I know what’s causing the problem or how to fix it. But, I can certainly tell that something is not right.
This industry is in desperate need of RV inspectors. People are buying RVs from private sellers all the time. They need an assurance that the RV is in good working order to justify the purchase. They need someone to identify what’s wrong with the RV so that the purchase price can be negotiated to reflect needed repair work.
Insurance companies want inspections before they issue extended warranties.
Banks want inspections to help them justify the worth of a vehicle and, therefore, the amount it is willing to lend.
The problem is that we don’t have enough technicians to get the job done, yet a solution is needed.
There is a fear that someone could work at a fast food restaurant one day and become an RV inspector the next. There is justification for that concern because we don’t want unqualified people doing inspections.
But, pretty much any full-time RVer, retired construction worker, off-duty firefighter — or anyone with good attention to detail can be trained to inspect RVs.
The National RV Inspectors Association has developed criteria to ensure the professionalism of inspectors. The group imposes an education requirement, standards of practice and a code of ethics.
I especially appreciate the idea that people who inspect RVs can’t financially benefit from the results of the inspection. Therefore, they can’t recommend that things be fixed that don’t need fixing simply because they don’t get a kickback on every service or accessory product they recommend.
May I be so bold as to claim that some RV dealerships hire people with less training to be technicians. But, because the technician works for an RV dealership, should people assume he has more credibility? I thought that was the whole point of having certified and master certified technicians.
So, if we are going to say that people aren’t qualified to be RV inspectors after just five days of training, are people qualified to be RV technicians and empowered to diagnose and fix problems without some level of training and testing?
I paid $650 to have my motorhome inspected by a dealership technician. It took one week to get the appointment. During the inspection, he discovered the serpentine belt needed replacing, along with the slide toppers and two tires.
Within a month of starting my journey, I discovered a loose electrical outlet, the hot/cold water was switched in the bathroom and the smoke detector was not working. Another RV technician discovered a crack in the roof and said the seals needed to be replaced.
The point is that despite having an RV technician initially inspect my motorhome, several important things were missed. So, the process is not perfect as it is now, nor will it likely be if we have certified inspectors evaluating RVs. But, it’s a start.
Let’s review some facts:
- The RV Industry Association believes there are now 8.9 million RV owning households.
- The RV Dealers Association predicts there are about 2,000 RV dealerships in America.
- That means there are 4,450 RVs per dealership — without adding in the 180,000 new RVs expected to be sold this year.
- If each RV requires just one service appointment per year, at an average length of three hours, each RV dealership will need to perform 13,350 hours of service per year just to handle its share of the demand. (Note that my RV has been in for service five times since March.)
- That will require the full-time work of 6.5 RV technicians per dealership just to keep existing customers on the road.
- That does not include time to inspect RVs coming onto the lot from manufacturers or trade ins.
- It certainly does not include time to inspect RVs for private sellers, banks or insurance companies.
The RV industry needs to embrace the idea of a network of certified, trained RV inspectors and I applaud Steve Anderson and Terry Cooper for their investment in making it a reality.