How to play an active role in your RV inspection
Congratulations! You’ve done the research, decided on the floorplan that you think will fit your situation and you’ve decided to hire a certified RV inspector. Now what?
- Did you inform the dealership, consignment dealer or private RV seller that the deal is contingent on the results of an independent RV inspection?
- Do you need to (want to) attend the RV inspection?
- What does the RV inspector need to provide you with the most thorough RV inspection report possible?
There are many factors to consider – important things that will help the RV inspection process go smoothly for everybody. From selecting the right RV inspection company to having the RV inspection report delivered to you, there are many varied steps depending on the unique situation. So let’s take a look at some things that you may be aware of – and maybe some you’re not.
What does an independent inspection consist of?
Most reputable RV inspection companies will provide you with a document called Motorhome Points of Inspection or Towable Points of Inspection. Considering they’ll probably ask you to sign a copy, you’ll want to read it fully to ensure you’re getting the RV inspection you expect.
Some newer RV inspection companies perform different levels of inspections for different prices to stay competitive. That’s fine, as long as they are clear about the differences and can explain those differences to you. What you want to steer clear of is any company that doesn’t use certified RV inspectors and more importantly, do NOT hire a company who does not actually get on the RV roof.
PRO TIP: If you’re buying from an RV dealership that doesn’t allow the RV inspector to get on the RV roof, consider that a huge red flag. As long as your RV inspection company has the proper insurance, this should be a non-issue for the RV dealership – just don’t forget to ask!
Do I need to schedule the RV inspection with the seller/salesperson myself?
Simply put, yes. In rare cases, the RV inspection company will coordinate the RV inspection date and time but most often, you should expect to handle those details. Think of it this way… the more interaction the RV inspector has with the person selling an RV, the less “independent” they become. They want to remain unbiased to have a clear mind when they are actually inspecting.
This is especially true when buying an RV from a private seller. RVers who have decided to sell an RV know intimate details about that RV. They typically try to explain their way out of RV issues – things like “those lights haven’t worked since I bought it” or “the RV repair shop said it’s normal for the slideout room to move like that.”
It is not uncommon for an RV buyer to call the inspector to check their availability, and then contact the RV seller or their contact person at the RV dealership to coordinate the RV inspection date. Usually when you have the call with the RV inspector you also discuss…
What does an RV inspector need to complete an RV inspection?
The best case scenario is… full hook-ups. Most importantly, the appropriate power supply! Running adapters from 50 amp or 30 amp connections to hook-up to house power is NOT ideal.
In fact, since house power and house receptacles are wired for 15 amps, running one AC unit can potentially damage it. Not to mention, that doesn’t allow the appropriate testing because thorough RV inspectors try to simulate what components an average RVer will run at the same time.
PRO TIP: Trustworthy RV inspection companies will have a document outlining what they require and what you can expect for the RV inspection process. They will share it with you and you should share it with the RV seller so everyone is on the same page.
Can I just use the RV generator for power during an RV inspection?
Sure, it can be done. But in reality, it’s not the best case scenario. I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve shown up to an RV inspection and the RV generator won’t start for whatever reason – not enough fuel, low battery voltage, etc.
This means, an RV inspection report will include a lot of “Not Inspected” comments. And that’s not good for anyone – the buyer doesn’t get a full inspection and the RV inspector must comment on many inspection items indicating a reason these items weren’t inspected.
What about RV water and RV sewer hookups? Are they required for an RV inspection?
Having a city water connection and sewer connection will give you a more thorough inspection. That said, it’s not uncommon for RV dealerships and RV private sellers to instead provide a full tank of water in the RV freshwater tank. RV inspectors can run all the faucets and toilets from the RV water pump so that only leaves a few items in the RV inspection report as “Not Inspected.”
Having access to RV sewer connection also allows for more complete testing of the RV gray tanks and RV black tanks but can be worked around when necessary. Unfortunately, RV inspection companies can’t test the RV gate valves without a connection to the RV wastewater system. Speaking of that…
Is it recommended to get on the road immediately after signing on the dotted line?
RV inspectors almost always recommend staying close by immediately after purchase so you have access to the dealership or private seller, at least for the first few days.
After all, RV inspectors may spend up to 8 hours or more during the inspection period but they aren’t cooking food, taking a shower or using the toilet like you will once you take delivery of the RV. They certainly aren’t hooking up your fifth wheel or travel trailer and they also aren’t driving the RV, because most RV inspector insurance policies don’t cover that RV service.
PRO TIP: Don’t make reservations at a campground miles away from the RV inspection location for the first week after the RV inspection. It’s very tempting to plan your first journey for the days immediately following the RV inspection.
Chances are, you’ll be waiting for RV repairs or RV parts to be delivered for at least several days after – if not, weeks or months with the way the RV industry and RV supply chain is right now. Be flexible!
Should I plan on attending the RV inspection?
Most RV inspectors allow their RV customers to show up on inspection day BUT they prefer if you do so several hours after the RV inspection start time. (All companies differ here, so be sure to ask!)
This may not be an option if you are several states away and that’s okay. RV inspectors typically build time into their RV inspection process to have a nice long chat about their findings.
Ultimately you must be aware that hiring a third party RV inspector to perform an independent RV inspection is very different from hiring them to perform an RV walk-through. This service is also known as a “New RV Owner Orientation.”
What’s the difference between an RV inspection and a “New RV Owner Orientation”?
RV inspectors can explain how to work the components like RV multiplex touch-screens, RV air conditioners and RV furnaces. They are also a wealth of information and can give you lots of tips about RV water heaters or RV hydronic heating systems and many other things.
The challenge in expecting your RV inspector to explain RV systems and RV appliances during an RV inspection is the likelihood of distracting them or adding hours to an already long process.
PRO TIP: If you are interested in hiring an RV inspector for an RV walk-through or New RV Owner Orientation, it’s OK if it’s a different RV inspector. Especially if you’ve moved from the original RV inspector’s service area – although I do recommend asking them for a referral. Sometimes it’s better to travel a bit or at least spend some time in your new or used RV first. Then, you’ll know what questions to ask.
What should I do the day before my RV inspection is scheduled at an RV dealership?
If you haven’t already, be sure to contact the RV salesperson at the RV dealership to ensure the RV will be set-up and ready for your RV inspector to get started at the agreed upon time. We’ve been in too many situations where the RV salesman is “off that day” or “it’s the RV delivery person’s responsibility.”
The RV inspector needs to have the mobile phone number of the contact person in case they run into an issue on RV inspection day – think traffic, illness, or other event preventing them from starting on time. This is also a great excuse to have their cell phone number instead of the work phone number. That helps the RV inspector contact them directly in case the RV isn’t set-up and ready. It’s happened too many times to count!
What should I do the day before my RV inspection is scheduled with a private seller?
If you are dealing with an RV consignment dealer or private seller, they may have agreed to rent an RV spot in a state or national park or RV campground so that the RV has full hookups. Typically, they won’t have the RV lot number, RV site number or RV spot number until the day before. This is also a great time to confirm how to gain access to the RV park and the RV itself – who will meet the RV inspector, who will have the RV keys or where the RV keys will be stored before and after the RV inspection.
PRO TIP: If the recreational vehicle is equipped with an RV type absorption refrigerator, the RV must be plugged and the RV fridge turned on for at least 12 hours prior to the RV inspection start time. If there’s a residential RV refrigerator or 12 Volt RV fridge, 4 hours should be plenty of time for it to get down to the appropriate temperature.
What should I expect after my RV inspection?
Generally, the RV inspection report is delivered within 24 hours of the inspection, but lots of qualified RV inspectors strive to deliver the RV inspection report the same evening. This isn’t always possible for a variety of reasons – usually related to travel time or issues with technology.
Be sure to ask your inspector what method of delivery they use for RV inspection reporting. Tons of RV inspectors use report writing software. There is software that provides a PDF version of the report which is very intuitive for RV inspectors to use and produces a quality RV inspection report.
Additionally, there is interactive software that includes videos and 360 degree images along with still photos that can be zoomed and panned around to see lots of details. This provides for a unique customer experience and provides the ability to create an RV “Punch List” that includes the actual pictures and comments from the inspector.
How do I read my RV inspection report?
It is always best to view the RV inspection report on a PC or laptop. The larger screen and adjusted layout is ideal for RV report navigation and to allow for pictures to be enlarged.
We recommend that our customers take a little time to read through the report on a large screen and call us after they’ve taken in the information – it’s A LOT and it’s overwhelming!
Usually the “summary issues” are listed at the top of the report and can be discussed in detail over the phone. These issues are subjective and include Life Safety issues, Major issues, Minor issues and Noteworthy Comments. Your RV inspector can elaborate why he or she chose a specific summary for a specific issue – and the reasoning may differ from the opinion of the seller or dealership.
DISCLAIMER: I can’t speak for every RV inspector so the opinions expressed in all my RV inspection articles are solely based on mine and Jason’s experiences in performing hundreds of RV inspections since 2017.
Every RV inspection company has their own policies, procedures and pricing. The only way to know is to ask – and become the most informed RV customer possible. It’s much better to do that prior to hiring an RV inspection company rather than after.