Should you buy an RV sight unseen without an inspection?

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By Al Pearce
Certified RV inspector

I know it is hard to believe, but I have seen people post on social media that they found this great RV on the internet and bought it sight unseen. Why would anyone do that, you ask? Beats me.

I know we are supposed to believe everything we hear and see on Facebook. You gotta think about it though. All you see are the people posting their success stories. No one ever posts something about how they bought a RV sight unseen and had all kinds of issues. They would be too embarrassed to admit it.

Perhaps the posters were bragging that they really got a great RV sight unseen. If that’s the case, they dodged a big problem. Maybe they just wanted to prod those who didn’t have a good experience. I don’t know. Would you take a chance on buying a RV sight unseen without an inspection?

Buying an RV away from your home area

Is it wise to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to look at a RV for sale?

This is a personal question only you can answer. We have had clients contact us after they have flown half-way across America to look at a RV only to find out the condition wasn’t what was described in the ad.

I often hear, “We cannot afford to fly across America and take time off work to look at a RV only to find out the condition wasn’t the way it was described in the ‘for sale’ ad.” I understand.

There are pictures above of an RV that someone was considering buying. In this case, the buyer only took one day off of work and drove approximately 300 miles round trip to view the RV. The ad indicated the RV was in great shape. You be the judge.

Would an inspection help?

If you were considering buying an RV that was some distance from your home, a pre-purchase inspection would absolutely alleviate these situations.

Consider these questions:

  • Can you perform a test to detect a propane leak?
  • Can you perform a Delta test to verify the efficiency of RV air conditioning units?
  • Can you verify the RV inverter is working properly?
  • Will you climb up on the roof of the RV to check for any sealant cracks that could lead to water penetration?
  • Are you willing to remove and inspect all the life safety devices in a RV? Most only have a life span of five to seven years.
  • Do you know how to perform a “hot skin” test on the exterior of the RV?
  • Can you see inside the engine of a motorhome? We cannot either. However, a fluid analysis of the engine’s oil or coolant is a wise choice. It is like getting a blood test for your body.

A lot of folks that have mechanical experience, like electricians or plumbers, could muddle their way through inspecting an RV before they purchase it. Yet, I know the inspection won’t be as in-depth as you would receive with a certified RV inspector.

I have believe the average buyer, especially newbies, cannot perform these tests either because they either do not have the training or the tools to perform the tests.

Does the RV’s age matter?

It does not matter whether you are considering buying a brand new RV or one that is a few years old. We have inspected 2018 models that have had issues.

People often ask what types of problems we most often find while performing an inspection. Maintenance — actually the lack of maintenance —  and roof sealant issues is the top problems. Many times those problems aren’t readily available unless you know what to look for and where.

A lot of RVers use their motorhomes and travel trailers occasionally. Consequently, they either don’t know that they should maintain their RV regularly, or they just plain forget to do it. They may not even know what to maintain. The bottom line is that something prevented the seller from doing any maintenance.

It is for that reason, that any RV should be inspected prior to purchase.

We are educating one buyer at a time regarding the need to have an RV inspected. However, our goal is to help train people so buyers can enjoy the RV lifestyle as it was meant to be — worry free.

Al Pearce

Al Pearce

Al Pearce is a Level 2 certified RV inspector with the National RV Inspectors Association and is the owner of A & L RV Inspection. He is based in Florida, but travels around the United States performing RV inspections. To learn more about RV inspections, the points of inspection that are evaluated, and how fluid analysis works to identify problems on an engine, visit www.inspectmyrv.com, email apearce@gmail.com or call 678.764.4450.

Leave a Comment

  • George says:

    I’ve drove 1500 miles twice and 1600 miles once to buy 5th wheels. I purchased all three through ebay that has a
    $50,000 buyer protection. Only one had several little things that could have all been fixed for under $100. I also flew 1900 miles to buy the truck I wanted. Same deal thru ebay. I made a deposit which was refundable as long as I at least showed up to view the units. No regrets on any of the purchases.

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