Buying A Used RV – My Top 5 Tips For Success

Top 5 Tips For Buying A Used RV

In this article, we’re going to be talking about buying a used RV. And the top five things that you need to be looking for in the buying process.

Of course, buying a used RV can be very scary for a lot of people. That’s because nobody wants to buy an RV that is somebody else’s problem.

You know what I mean, an RV money pit with hidden problems in it. That’s every used RV buyer’s nightmare.

But if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can put the odds on your side that you’re going to get a great RV. And at a much better price than buying new.

Table of Contents

So let’s go ahead and get started. And the first thing we want to talk about is that when you’re going to get any RV there’s a few things you need to do first.

For instance, you need to make sure you get the right length RV for your needs. Also, you need to make sure that it’s the floor plan that you really like.

And of course, make sure that you get it to fit your budget too. But we’re not going to cover those things in this article.

Instead, we’re going to go from there and talk about the top five things that need to be done to make sure you get a good RV. One that you can count on.

Click here to view my video on this subject

Buying A Used RV – Tip #1

And number one on the list is to buy a good RV brand. Now why do you need to do that?

Well if you do, the odds get much better that you’re actually going to get a quality RV. And that’s because it was originally built with good quality and good quality materials.

So you need to be able to identify the manufacturers out there that build good quality RVs. Especially in the segment of the industry that you’re buying in.

And then make sure that you look for those brands while you’re searching for a used RV.

Click here to view my guidebooks on the best RV brands

Tip #2 For Buying A Used RV

Now for the second point on our list. You need to look for maintenance and repair records on the RVs you’re considering.

This is really important. But a lot of the time, folks never even ask for these kind of records at all.

Download my R V guidebooks

However, it’s good to get maintenance and repair records that you can go over and review.

Why is that important? Well, it’s a good sign that the owners have been recognizing that an RV needs to be repaired and maintained.

And if they can show you those records, it indicates that they cared about that RV. That they have been caring for it well. And that’s a good thing!

But service records also lets you know what has been done on the RV so far in its life. And that can be useful to know in many ways.

So try to get an RV that has maintenance and service records.

Buying Used RVs – Tip #3

Now number three is really critical. And that is to check all of the joints and the seals on that RV.

And I’m not talking about just the side joints or the ones that’s easy to find.

No, you need to get up on that RV’s roof too. And if you can’t do it, then get someone you know that you can trust who will go up on the roof for you.

Either you or they will need to examine the joints and seals on the roof as well.

Because what happens if the roof joint sealant has begun to crack and get holes in it?

Or maybe something scraped it off as the RV went under a tree. Or a tree branch could have punctured the rubber roof.

These are places where water can get into your RV. And that means that you could have a serious water intrusion problem developing.

Buying a used RV - check the roof joints and seams
Roof joint sealant with cracks – a water intrusion issue

Remember that water intrusion is the number one enemy of RVs. It can break down your RV before you know it, requiring costly repairs to fix.

So get up there and look at all those roof joints and seams. You want to see everything covered with sealant. And you want that sealant to be in really good shape.

Other Places To Inspect

But of course, don’t just do it on the roof. Come down and examine the side joints of the RV too.

How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit

Especially where the front cap and the rear cap attaches to the RV. Most of the time, there’s a big joint there and you need to check that sealant too.

And don’t forget about the RV windows either. Because that’s another place that a lot of water intrusion can take place.

So look very carefully at the sealant around those areas as well.

Buying A Used RV – Tip #4

Now let’s move on to tip number four. And that is to try to figure out how well the owner has really cared for this RV.

You can do that by inspecting certain areas of the RV. Because there’s certain things to look for that gives you some insight into whether that owner has really been looking after the RV or not.

And one of those areas is the battery compartment. You might see batteries that are filthy dirty like nobody has been cleaning them.

Maybe they have corrosion on the connections and battery cables. Well, that’s an indication somebody is not looking after that electrical system in the RV.

RV battery connection corrosion
Battery connection corrosion

Next take a look in the RV’s water bay. I often look in there and find it’s dirty, filthy, and not organized in any way. Well, what does that say?

It says that this is an owner that’s not really looking after things on their RV.

Next look at the exterior walls of the RV. Are they faded and cracked? Does it look like they haven’t been washed in a while?

Once again, that’s an indication of the level of care that RV has been given.

And if you see problems in these areas, my recommendation is to proceed carefully. Because what else has that RV owner not been maintaining that you can’t see?

Of course, maybe they have taken care of the more important things on the RV.

But my experience is that if they’re not caring for the smaller things, they usually don’t care for the bigger things on their RV.

RV Buying Tip #5

Now number five is about tires, and the age of RV tires. I mention this because I see a lot of used RV buyers lose money in this area.

RV Gear

Now if you’re buying a car, you look at the tire tread, right? And if the tread looks good, that’s about as far as you go.

But that’s not the case on RVs. That’s because RV tires age out before they wear out.

So be sure to look at the date that each tire was manufactured. And the tire’s manufacture date is right on the sidewall of the tire. It’s a four digit code usually in an oval.

The two first digits tell you the number of the week that the tire was manufactured. And the last two digits is the last two digits of the year that it was manufactured.

This tire was made the 34th week of 2018

So if you see a tire date that has 3520 on it, that means it was manufactured in the 35th week of 2020. Now why is this important?

It’s because most RV tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires every five or six years.

So let’s say that you find that those tires are four years old. Well, that means you’ve got a big expense coming up to replace all those tires at one time.

And you need to know about that! You don’t want to buy the RV and then suddenly realize you have to replace all those tires.

It costs thousands of dollars in many cases. And you may not appreciate that until after you have bought the RV.

So check the tire dates before you buy any used RV.

More Tips For Used RV Buying

Okay, those are my five top things to look for when buying a used RV. Now is that everything you need to inspect before buying?

No way, not even close! So if you really want to know more about how to buy a used RV, I’ve created a guidebook for that.

It’s all about buying used RVs. And it will list not only the things we covered here in this article but much more as well.

It reveals many of the more expensive items that you need to be checking.

That way you can make sure that the RV you’re looking at is even worthy of consideration.

Click here for my used RV buying guide

Then the guidebook will help you learn how to narrow your search for RVs. From several to the very few that will really be the best to choose from.

Now once you’ve done all of that, I highly recommend getting an NRVIA certified RV inspector to go through that RV thoroughly.

Do this before you buy any used RV out there. And make sure that it is an NRVIA certified inspector that looks at the coach.

Don’t just hire somebody who’s going to charge you a couple hundred dollars and go through some quick checklist.

Instead, you want an inspector that’s going to go from top to bottom of that RV.

RV repairs - don't pay for them

And their going to make sure everything in that RV is in the condition it should be in. That way you’ll know what you’re buying!

What About Older Motorhomes?

Now what if it’s a 10 year old or older motorhome? Then I also recommend that you do a fluid analysis as well.

Watch my video on motorhome fluid analysis

An analysis of the engine, the radiator coolant, and on the transmission fluid too.

But don’t forget the RV’s generator if it’s a diesel powered unit. Analyze it’s radiator coolant and oil as well.

You need to check those fluids because it will tell you a lot about what’s going on with the mechanical components of that RV.

And the older the RV is, the more important it is to get a thorough fluid analysis performed.


Now if you follow the guidelines that I’ve provided here in this article, here’s the good news.

You really can expect to get an RV that you will not only love, but also won’t be an RV money pit.

And you can avoid the pain of regret that so many used RV buyers experience.

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