RV inspection is a topic that few people really understand. And what you hear about RV inspections online is often downright misleading.
But the good news is that I am a certified NRVIA RV inspector. And I am happy to explain the truth about RV inspections and inspectors.
I also have produced a lot of content online specifically about RVs and RV life. And a lot of that content has included information about RV inspections.
But now I’ve decided to produce the ultimate guide on RV inspections. And include everything that you need or even want to know about them.
And that is what you are reading now. So let’s get started!
What Is An RV Inspection?
Actually there are different kinds of RV inspections depending on their purpose. For instance, here are a few:
- Insurance companies sometimes request an RV inspection prior to insuring an RV
- Loan companies can also request an inspection of an RV for loan purposes
- Some states have a basic inspection requirement on all of their resident’s RVs from time to time
- RV sellers will sometimes provide an RV inspection report on an RV they are selling to verify that it is good shape
- Prospective RV buyers often will have an inspection on an RV they are considering to buy to make sure that there are no major hidden problems
Out of that list that I just provided, there is one main type of RV inspection that I will be covering here. And that is the one by prospective RV buyers.
The reason for that is that by far it is the most common type of RV inspection. And it is the one that most people have questions about. So let get those questions answered!
Why Have An Inspection Performed On An RV?
When you buy an RV, you want to feel confident that it is worthy of purchase. In other words, nobody wants to buy an RV that has hidden issues and problems.
After all, you are going to spend a lot of money when you buy an item that big. And it is not a cheap or insignificant purchase.
Also, repairing an RV can be very expensive, depending on what needs repairs. If it is a major repair, it could cost several thousands of dollars.
And very few RV buyers have an intimate knowledge of how an RV works. They may have a general familiarity with them if they have been RVing for a while.
But there aren’t many who can spot hidden problems in a motorhome or towable RV easily.
And when most people start RV shopping, they usually focus on superficial matters. Like the colors, the floor plan, the size, and so forth.
And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But there is so much more to consider if you want to make sure that you are making a good purchase.
And that is where the RV inspector comes in. They are an unbiased third-party that has extensive knowledge of how RVs work.
So their honest assessment of the condition of an RV is invaluable in the buying process.
What Is An RV Inspector?
So what is an R V inspector anyway? And I’m sure that you are also thinking “How can I find an RV inspector near me?”
Let’s start with the first question and identify what an RV inspector is.
In broad terms, an RV inspector is someone who has a thorough knowledge of RVs.
At least enough to be able to correctly test and assess everything in an RV. And make sure that it functions as it should.
So many people will hire an RV service technician that they feel is qualified for the inspection. And that may be sufficient.
But there are drawbacks to that approach. Here are some of the reasons that I don’t recommend hiring RV service techs for inspections:
the cons of hiring an RV service tech
- They are not certified as RV inspectors. They may be very proficient in the repair of some parts of an RV. But an inspector needs to be thoroughly trained in every aspect of RV systems and equipment. Without certification you don’t know what skills they have or do not possess.
- But suppose that they are knowledgeable about all systems in an RV. More is still required for a thorough inspection report. Having a consistent workflow that takes them through every part of the RV is critical. It is easy for those who do not have the right software and checklists to miss things as they go. Many times without even realizing it. So to inspect an RV properly there needs to be a system for guiding the inspector from one task to another.
- The inspection of the RV itself is only one part of the process. It is the report that they produce that translates the information to the buyer. And that report needs to be readable and easy to follow. It should also contains numerous photos and videos for the buyers benefit. That way they can really understand the condition of the RV they may purchase.
Who Should Inspect Your RV?
So then, who is best qualified to inspect your RV? Here is my recommendation.
There is an organization that educates, trains and certifies RV inspectors. And it is called the NRVIA (National RV Inspectors Association).
If you hire an inspector that has been through their school and has been certified, the odds are on your side that you will get a great inspection on your RV.
The school is very thorough in its education about RVs themselves. But it also provides hands-on training about the inspection process as well.
It also helps make sure that RV inspectors have all the correct tools to do the job right.
And the instructors make themselves available after certification for ongoing support too. And this is critical.
That’s because nobody knows everything about every RV out there. So having a large helpful support system to draw from is a big help.
And the collective knowledge that experienced RV inspectors share in this group is amazing. And it leads to better, more thorough and accurate inspections on a wide range of RVs.
I have been through this school myself and became a certified NRVIA RV inspector. And I can highly recommend my fellow certified peers with confidence.
Where Can I Find An RV Inspector Near Me?
This is a questions that I get a lot. “How to get an RV inspector near me?”
The good news is that its pretty easy in most cases. The first step is to visit the NRVIA website.
On the home page there is large button that says “Find An RV Inspector”.
Press that button and the next page has a map of all the inspectors in the US. And there is a pretty good representation of them throughout most of the country.
You can use the search box to find an inspector near you. Or you can also just zoom in on the map to find one in your area.
In many cases, there will be multiple inspectors near you. And that is a good thing since they often stay pretty busy.
So use the contact information for each inspector to reach out to them. You can email or call them to find out about their upcoming availability for RV inspections.
But I also recommend that you visit their website and learn more about them too. You can often get a feel for the kind of inspector you want by doing that.
When you contact them, let them know about the RV you are considering first. The make, model and year, and so on.
Then let them know where it is located and how soon you need it inspected. Finally, you can ask how much they charge for the inspection.
And if there are any other questions you would like to ask, go right ahead. Then you can choose the inspector that will fit your needs best.
What If There Aren’t Any Inspectors Near Me?
Sometimes the RV you are considering may be in an area that does not have many NRVIA inspectors. So what can you do then?
The NRVIA does its very best to provide a quality inspection for every request. So if you can’t find an inspector near the RV, email them and explain your situation.
The email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them that you have tried to locate an inspector using their map, but were unsuccessful.
When they receive your email, they will do their best to find an inspector that is willing to travel to you. And in many cases they are able to do that.
They will put you in touch with that inspector and you can work out the details together.
This can also be a good solution if all of the NRVIA inspectors in your area are busy. Maybe they just can’t get to your RV inspection as soon as you need them.
Then contact the NRVIA as I mentioned above and they will do their best to help out.
another source for finding rv inspectors
There is another great source for getting an inspector for your RV that is certified by the NRVIA.
It’s a website called MyRVResource.com
You will find lots of inspectors listed on this site. And you can also find other RV related professionals too.
The site is owned and operated by a couple who are both Master Certified RV Inspectors. And they have created a really helpful resource for RVers of all kinds here.
When Should You Arrange For An RV Inspection?
Arranging for an inspection can be a little tricky sometimes, but it is very doable.
The first step is that you need to find an RV that you feel is worthy of purchase. One that you like well enough to be ready to buy if it passes the inspection.
Then you need to contact the inspectors in your area and ask about their availability.
Sometimes they will be able to arrange the job right away. But in some cases, it may be a few days before they can get to it.
This will call for good communication on your part with the RV seller at this point. They need to know that you are arranging for an inspection to be done. And they need to understand the timetable for it.
Of course, most RV sellers want to sell the rig as soon as they can. So you may need to provide them with some kind of refundable payment to let them know you are a serious buyer.
So keep good lines of communication open between yourself and the seller in this process. And do the same with the inspector as well.
If you do, things go much smoother for everyone concerned.
Where Can An RV Inspection Be Done?
A large number of RV sales are made by private sellers. So most inspectors are able to conduct mobile RV inspections wherever needed.
But there also a large number of sales made by RV dealers too. And the inspector can perform the inspection on their lot if needed.
Regardless of where the inspection takes place though, some things will be needed in advance. And here are a few of those things.
- It is best that the RV be hooked up to electric, water and a septic system for the inspection. That way all of these systems can be thoroughly inspected.
- It is also best to get the refrigerator working the day before the inspection. At least if it is a gas absorption RV refrigerator/freezer. They take a long time to cool down.
- Also make sure there is enough propane in the tank for testing that system. And enough fuel in a motorhome and/or generator to start and run them too.
- It’s also helpful to have all electronic remotes available. And keys to all storage compartments as well.
What Does An R V Inspection Cover?
First of all, its important to note that not all inspections of RVs are alike. This is because there are several different kinds of RVs out there.
There are motorhomes and towable RVs. And there are different sizes of each too.
Some are small travel trailers or maybe even truck campers. Others are giant diesel pushers with every convenience imaginable.
So an RV inspector’s job can be very different from one day to another. And they have to be ready for almost anything.
But generally speaking, an inspection will cover everything in that RV from the roof to the tires. Both inside and outside the RV.
That includes all systems and components such as:
- The propane, water, waste and electrical systems. And there are lots of components that go into each one of those systems.
- Also all appliances such as the water heater, refrigerator, air conditioning, stove, oven, etc.
- Then there is the construction of the RV too. Things like the condition of the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, and much more.
- RV awnings, slide outs and toppers, and on-board generators.
- Also leveling systems and suspension components.
- Then there are all of the electronic items in the RV too. Things like the TV, microwave, radio, USB ports
- And the list goes on and on.
What About A Motorhome Chassis RV Inspection?
If the RV being inspected is a motorhome, it is usually built on a third-party chassis.
In other words, the chassis components like the engine, drivetrain and suspension were bought first. And then the RV was built on top of and around the chassis.
So is an inspector qualified to inspect chassis components? The answer is, to some degree.
A visual inspection of these mechanical components and equipment is possible. But the vast majority of NRVIA R V inspectors are not mechanics.
So anything beyond a visual inspection is usually not included in their report.
Of course, it may be helpful to have the chassis inspected more thoroughly. And that means that it may be beneficial to have a qualified mechanic inspect it as well.
But there is another way to get a pretty good idea of the condition of the major chassis components.
What About Performing An RV Chassis Fluid Analysis?
It is certainly understandable that many RV buyers would like to assess the mechanical condition of the RV.
But getting a thorough inspection of these components by a qualified mechanic is not always easy.
In that case, many RV inspectors offer the ability to perform a fluid analysis of these components.
In this case, fluid can be drawn from the engine oil and coolant. Also from the transmission fluid. And from an on-board generator’s oil and coolant if it is present.
These fluid samples are then sent to a lab that specializes in examining those kind of fluids.
The lab then produces a very detailed report about the wear and tear found in those component’s fluids.
That is because all fluids contain residue from the equipment where they are being used.
And that residue can reveal a lot about the condition of that equipment. Especially under the scrutiny of a trained examiner.
In fact, a fluid analysis can often provide even more information than a mechanic may provide. That’s because the mechanic cannot see inside the engine or transmission.
But the fluid sample gives the examiner a good idea of what is going on inside.
Not all inspectors offer this kind of service though. So if you are interested in getting a fluid analysis, ask about whether it is available.
Do RV Inspections Come With A Guarantee?
I think you can see that an NRVIA inspection is very comprehensive in nature. And it is not just a quick overall visual check that only takes a couple of hours.
There are companies out there that do that kind of inspection. But it is very limited in nature and nowhere near as thorough as the one I’ve described.
So is the inspection report that is presented to the buyer at the end a guarantee of RV performance and function?
Well, a guarantee like that is impossible to provide. What functions one day on an RV may not function the same way tomorrow.
And most long-time RVers are aware of that. There is always something on an RV that needs work or adjustment. No matter how diligent you are in maintaining it.
So the inspector will not be providing a guarantee of any kind with the inspection report.
But what you are getting is an unbiased and thorough snapshot of the condition of that RV at the time it was inspected.
Does An RV Inspector Repair Problems They Find?
As the RV inspector does their job, they will always uncover something that needs attention. Some things may be minor in nature. And other things may be major.
So does the inspector then repair or fix the issues that was found? No, and there is a good reason for that.
Inspectors that are certified by the NRVIA hold to a high standard in their code of ethics.
And one of those standards mandates that an inspector may not repair an RV for some time after the inspection.
This safeguard is in place for the benefit of the RV buyer. To make sure that there are never financial incentives for an RV inspector to find problems.
All they are allowed to do is identify the issues as they find them. They may not profit by fixing them and charging for that service.
It is in the best interest of the RV buyer to keep the inspection and repair services separate in this way.
What About The RV Inspection Report?
The most useful part of the inspection for the buyer is the report that they receive. This is all of the gathered information that the inspector has found about that RV.
The report needs to be complete and thorough. And yet it also needs to be easily understood and clear.
And that is a difficult balance to strike. After all, they are taking very technical information and making it readable by the average person.
A typical NRVIA inspection report will also include lots of pictures about what was found. Especially about the problems that were observed.
But it may also include videos about how some parts of the RV were functioning when tested.
And the report should also include a no-charge question and answer session with the inspector. This takes place after the inspection is concluded.
And this is where they can put their findings in words along with the written report. In this way, anything in the report that wasn’t clear can be explained more thoroughly.
This is one of the best features of an RV inspection by a certified RV inspector. The time spent with them after the inspection allows a free flow of information in a relaxed setting.
What Question Should You Never Ask The Inspector?
There is one question that typically comes up in these question and answer sessions. And it’s a question that the inspector simly cannot answer.
That question is “After inspecting it, would you buy this RV”?
It is understandable that some buyers would like to make a difficult decision easier. And asking the inspector whether they would buy the RV is a way to do that.
But it is an unfair question. The RV inspector is not interested in buying the RV they inspected. They are just performing a service for the prospective buyer.
And how do they know what the buyer wants in an RV anyway? All they can do is accurately list the condition of the RV at that point in time.
It is not fair to try to shift the burden of the buying decision to them as well.
I have always been amazed when some buyers accept an RV that has major problems. And then other buyers reject another RV with relatively minor issues.
So an RV inspector can’t make the call for each buyer about whether they should purchase or not. It is a very personal decision for each buyer to make.
Should You Accompany The Inspector On The Job?
Some inspectors will allow the buyer to go along with them as they inspect the rig.
But I feel that this is not the best thing to do for the buyer. And why would I say that?
As I mentioned earlier an R V inspection requires a consistent uninterrupted workflow. Otherwise, very important parts of the inspection could be missed or not completed.
And when someone else is following along, it is easy to get distracted. And at a time when focus is really required to do the job right.
So my personal recommendation is to let the inspector do their job alone. Then once they are done, feel free to ask them anything you like about what they found.
How Much Does An RV Inspection Cost?
OK, so here’s the big question, right? How much will an NRVIA certified RV inspector charge you for the inspection?
To answer that question, let me remind you that there are so many different kinds of RVs. And they come in all kinds of sizes.
Some are relatively very simple in nature. And others can be incredibly complex.
Some can require only a few hours of time to inspect. Others may take many hours with even two people working on them.
So there is no way that one price can fit all RV inspections. And the cost of an inspection has to fit the RV that is being inspected.
The other point is that NRVIA certified inspectors are not employees of the NRVIA. They are usually self-employed entrepreneurs with businesses of their own.
So they are free to set their own prices for each job that they take. And some choose to charge more than others according to what the market will bear in their area.
With that said, the average charge for an RV inspection starts around $500. This would be in line for a small travel trailer.
But the cost for some rigs, like diesel pusher RVs, may be close to $1500. This is due to the extensive equipment that has to be inspected. And the complexity that is involved.
Of course, the cost for other RVs between these two extremes falls somewhere in the middle.
Inspecting Used RVs
When you buy a used RV, there could be many hidden problems you can’t see. In fact, the seller may not even be aware of some problems yet.
So before buying any used RV, it is highly advisable to get it inspected by a qualified inspector.
This will help you make a very important decision about whether to buy that RV or not.
After all, it could have major hidden problems that could be very expensive to repair. And you may not want to spend that kind of money after purchasing the RV.
In that case, the inspection saved you lots of money, time and frustration that would have been spent on a problematic RV.
But suppose you buy the RV even after the report alerts you to some repairs that are needed. In this case, the inspection may even save you more than the cost of the inspection itself.
That’s because the report can help you have more bargaining power with the seller. Especially when they are made aware of the repairs that are needed on their RV.
And it is often possible to negotiate a lower price with the seller based on what was found in the inspection.
So an RV inspection is always a good idea when buying used RVs!
Inspecting New RVs
But should you pay to inspect a new RV? Well, there is some controversy about this in the minds of some RV buyers.
That’s because they assume that a new RV should not have many problems that need repair. Especially major ones.
But that assumption is not true. And we RV inspectors see problems with new RVs all the time.
These days new RV manufacturers are turning out record numbers of units every month. And that reflects the fact that RVing is becoming very popular.
But the downside of this increased production is that quality control measures often suffer. Because quality control tends to slow down production lines. And RV factories don’t want that.
So the RV leaves the factory in new condition. But sometimes with significant problems.
What About RV Dealer Pre-Delivery Inspections?
So many buyers assume that the RV dealer will focus on fixing all of the problems before the sale.
But they would often be wrong again. Because many RV dealers are mainly focused on one thing. And that is selling RVs.
Fixing the myriad of issues that many new RVs have as they leave the factory slows down the sale process. And that is not what they want either.
So in recent years, RV buyers have often really taken it on the chin. They have born the brunt of the frustration over poor build quality.
Of course, most RV manufacturers will stand behind their product with a solid warranty. At least for the first year or so.
But to get the rig fixed under warranty you may have to stand in line for months. In fact, the service department of many dealers is often overwhelmed with work.
So after the sale, any problems you find that need attention will often have to wait. Until the service department can fit you in for an appointment.
And you may continue finding problems as you go through your first year of ownership. So the frustration just continues!
How an rv inspection can help
But if you insist on an inspection of a new RV, all of these problems are solved. Because the dealer really wants to sell the RV and move it off their lot.
So an RV inspection can identify the issues that need attention. Then you can present the dealer with the total list of issues that need repair.
If you refuse to take delivery of the new RV until all issues are fixed, things start to move quickly. Suddenly, instead of going to the back of the service line, you are at the front instead.
Because they want to conclude the sale and get paid as quickly as possible. And this means that your repair list becomes a priority.
So by getting a new RV inspection you get the RV you paid for on the very first day of ownership.
Can You Inspect An RV Yourself?
This is a tricky question to answer. So let me try to answer it as clearly as I can.
If you are asking whether the average person can perform an RV inspection that equals that of a certified RV inspector, the answer is NO!
Without proper training, a thorough inspection of an RV is just not possible.
But I personally believe that the average person should be able to recognize an inspection-worthy RV. And this means that they should know enough to weed out RVs that shouldn’t be considered.
I say this because if you call in an inspector on every RV that you look at, it can become very expensive. Especially if you aren’t very familiar with RVs to begin with.
But if you have the guidance to be able to do a simple pre-inspection RV exam, it can be a very good thing. Because you know enough to only call in the RV inspector when they are truly needed.
There are lots of RVs for sale out there right now. But finding a quality RV that is in excellent working condition is much harder to find.
So I have created some guidebooks to help the average RV buyer be able to find the RV that is best for them.
They can then make sure that it is functionally worthy of purchase. And get it at the best price possible.
Click here for my guidebook on buying used RVs
Click here for my guidebook on buying new RVs
Is An RV Inspection Worth It?
If you want to buy a quality RV that functions well, then an RV inspection is very worth it.
It can help you avoid the pain and frustration of buying something that will cause you a lot of trouble. And you will save much more than the cost of the inspection if the RV has serious hidden problems.
Because you have the option of passing on the purchase of that RV, and avoiding the trouble it could bring.
And even if it doesn’t have serious issues, the inspection can still be worth it. Because any problems found during the inspection can be used to negotiate a lower price for the RV.
Additionally, when the inspection is complete, you know the condition of that RV. So if you decide to buy it, you have peace of mind that you made an educated decision.
And now you don’t have to worry as much about unexpected surprise repairs right away.
You didn’t just buy it and hope for the best like most RV buyers do. Instead, you did your due diligence on a high dollar purchase.
And that is something that you can and should be proud of!
How To Become A Certified RV Inspector
So what if you are thinking about becoming an RV inspector too? Where can you get RV inspection training?
Well, I have gone through the NRVIA training course for inspectors. And I can highly recommend it for you if you wish to inspect RVs as well.
You will be expected to attend classes at their training facility in Athens, TX. And the classes will last for three weeks.
You will learn all about RVs themselves first. Then you will learn the process of how to inspect an RV the right way.
It will include a lot of hands-on training too. So don’t expect to just sit in a classroom all day.
At the end of the training period, you will need to be able to perform an RV inspection correctly. When you show that you can do that, you will be certified by the NRVIA.
You can even further your education to become an RV service technician. But that is entirely up to you.
After becoming a certified RV inspector by the NRVIA you are ready to start work. Many graduates become their own boss as a business owner.
From there you will need to pay your annual membership dues each year. And you will need to meet a 24 hour continuing education requirement annually as well.
I know that this is a lot of information to take in about R V inspections. But in all fairness, there is a lot to learn about the subject.
And I have tried to answer the vast majority of questions that I get asked about the subject regularly. Hopefully it has answered your questions too.
I have enjoyed my experience as an inspector of RVs. And I hope to continue doing it for quite a while.
If you found this guide helpful, you may also like to subscribe to my Youtube channel too.
That’s where I share a lot more information about RVs and RV life. You can subscribe by clicking here.
2 thoughts on “RV Inspection – The Ultimate Guide (New And Used)”
Where are you located? How would I contact you regarding inspecting an RV for us?
Hi Barb. Unfortunately my schedule is jam packed for the foreseeable future now, so I won’t be able to inspect this RV for you.
There are other NRVIA inspectors in this area that I’m sure could do a fine job for you though.
Just visit nrvia.org and select “Find An Inspector”. Then you can view all of the local inspectors on the map there and contact them about their availability.
Any certified NRVIA inspector has the necessary training to provide a top quality RV inspection for you.
I usually recommend choosing the one that you feel most comfortable with.