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What to Check Before Buying a Used RV or Travel Trailer

Used RV

If you’re a traveler or outdoor enthusiast, and you’re looking to purchase your first used motorhome or towable trailer, then you’re at the right place. Today we’re going over some of the most important things you should look for when shopping for a used RV or travel trailer. Obviously, there are a lot of things you should look at (such as ensuring that there are no wiring or electrical issues, and that all appliances are in good working order, and that the engine – if applicable – has been meticulously maintained with a detailed service record), but for this post, we’ve narrowed things down to¬†structural integrity and water damage. So grab a pen and paper and get ready to take some notes. You won’t want to miss any of these, or you could be looking at expensive repairs before you’re even able to use your new ride.

The first thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at a used RV or travel trailer is this: most shoppers tend to look mostly at things that are waist-high and up and don’t spend enough time assessing the flooring for signs of water damage. When you walk through the RV, be sure to get footprints in all the corners, not just the main walk ways. Get right up to the kitchen sink, walk around the corners of the beds, etc and put some weight into your step. There’s no need to stomp, but do press firmly. What you’re feeling for is spongy, sagging, or unstable flooring. What you’re looking for is black mold around the edges of the floor. Sometimes, if the water damage is bad enough, you can put your foot right through the floor. Flooring can be one of the most expensive things to replace in RVs and travel trailers, costing in excess of $1,000 in many cases. The reason it’s so expensive is because you have to remove everything in order to replace the flooring – something that may not even be worth doing for older trailers.

Next, you want to go through and open up every drawer, cabinet door and look behind appliances for signs of water damage. Check for wrinkling wallpaper or spongy laminate. Check corners for black mold. Use a flashlight to inspect every inch of these spaces to ensure that the roof is watertight and you aren’t getting any runoff inside your RV or trailer. If your RV or trailer has slide outs, make sure you are inspecting closely around the corners of those areas. Use your hand to check carpet around edges and corners for any moisture.

Anything that is hung or bolted down from the ceiling, such as lights, vents, fans, air conditioners, etc should be closely inspected to ensure that it’s fastened properly and that there’s no abnormal wiggle or play. If there is, then that’s a possible sign that you have some water damage in that area of your ceiling. Roof caulking wears out frequently, and if not replaced, water will definitely work it’s way down in the seams and into your trailer where you don’t want it.

This next tip has to do with the exterior of your RV or trailer. Generally, there are two types of exteriors – excluding aluminum – laminated fiberglass and hung fiberglass. If your RV or trailer is laminated fiberglass, then what you’ll want to do is take your time walking around the exterior looking for wavy or bulging areas where the fiberglass as become delaminated or separated from the surface of the wood. Check around doors and windows in particular. Adjust your position so you are looking from different angles. Use the glare to your advantage to spot inconsistencies in the surface of the fiberglass.

While you’re outside, check all four corners of the RV to ensure that they are held firmly together. Sometimes, if there has been water damage and things have begun to delaminate and deteriorate, one of the first places you’ll notice problems is the outside corners of the RV or trailer. You might find excessive caulking in corner areas where the previous owner has tried to seal up bigger seams that have been created by water damage.

If you’re able to get up on the roof (dealerships shouldn’t have any problem with you climbing on the roof to inspect the RV, and hopefully private owners aren’t opposed to this) then look at the quality of the caulking. Is it dried and shrunk and cracked? Was old caulking left on there and new caulking applied over top of it instead of being scraped off and recaulked properly? Are there any areas on the roof that don’t look right where you suspect there may be a leak? If so, go back inside the RV or trailer and inspect again from the inside. The last thing you want, after falling in love with a used RV or trailer and spending a decent amount of money on it, is coming home and opening up cabinets only to find evidence of water damage that you didn’t notice before.

Got Problems? Our Experienced RV Service & Repair Technicians Can Help

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you and give you more confidence when you go shopping. If you feel like we’ve left something out, please let us know! If you’ve discovered water damage or you’re encountering other problems with your RV or trailer, give us a call at (281) 812-3085 and let our experienced RV service and repair technicians give you a hand. We’re highly rated and guarantee our work.

CC photo courtesy of grassrootsgroundswell at Flickr

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