Buying a used recreational vehicle can be a great investment. But it can also be a nightmare if the RV is not as promised. Most buyers will advertise the used recreational vehicle in glowing terms and make you think that it is almost as good as buying new. Although there are some RV owners who really do maintain their RVs as carefully as the manufacturer recommends, most neglect at least one or two items which can lead to problems when you purchase it as a used recreational vehicle. You can take any used RV to your dealer or a good mechanic to get it checked out, but there are some things that you can look for which will give you an “early warning system” to save you the trouble if it is not worth your time.
1. The number one cause of structural problems in most used recreational vehicle models is water damage. Leaks in the ceiling, windows, doors and even from appliances like the water heater, refrigerator, and the dishwasher can cause problems and can ruin a used recreational vehicle well before its engine goes out. Look for excess sealant around windows and doors as well as stains in the ceiling and on the walls. If the floor feels “spongy” this is another indication of leaks.
2. A “smoky” (not cigarette) smell in a used recreational vehicle is another indication of problems. It is not uncommon for a fire to break out from a propane leak or tank problem. If this RV has been in a fire, you will want to know about it and any repairs that were done.
3. If the used recreational vehicle looks older than it should for its age, this usually means that it has not been well-maintained or stored properly. You will probably have to spend more money on repairs on this RV than you will save on the purchase price.
4. Of course you will take a test drive, but make sure that you travel both on freeways and surface streets to see how the RV handles and sounds in both situations.
5. Up to date and documented service records are a great resource if you can get them from the owner. If everything looks like it is in order, you can feel confident in taking it to your mechanic to get an even more thorough check before you buy.