I  was asked by a few friends over the years,, what do I look for when buying a used RV,,,Motor home, trailers. (which includes bumper pulls and 5th wheels).

I first look at over-all structure. Looking for damage, especially water damage.

I walk around the outside looking at the siding , and looking underneath at the under carriage. This will include, holding tanks (if equipped).

I will check the tank drain valves for easy movement and any leakage.

I look at the wheels,tires axles and springs. I don't get discouraged if the tires are junk,,,, tires are easily replaceable.

I will grab each wheel and give it a shake back and forth,, this will give me a moderate indication if the bearings are loose. ( If the wheel has play in it,, the bearings are loose and havent been checked or serviced in awhile).

After I have done my outside walk around, I enter the RV. Looking at the door latch and hinging. Paying special attention to the flooring just inside the door.

Checking for soft flooring as I step in.  I then walk from front to back feeling the flooring as I look at the ceiling for apparent water damage.  I look especially close around the roof vents and a/c unit area,(if so equipped). I look at the lower framing of the windows,(water tends to puddle on lower sections of the windows if there is a water leak). I check the mechanical handles of the window cranks to see if they work.  I open lower cabinets,especially the kitchen cabinet and look for previous leaks or potential problems with plumbing,, water lines, drain pipes etc.

I will step into the shower and feel the flooring under neath, feeling for soft spots, and to see if I can actually turn around as if I am taking a shower.

If the shower has a sliding hard curtain or door, I look at the tracking for previous leaking under the rails. I look around and behind the toilet for leaking connections or evidence of previous plumbing problems. ( checking for a soft floor around base of toilet.). While I am in the bathroom, I check the walls by feeling for soft spots. (most people don't realize that while showering, 99% of the people don't open the top vent to let the steam and moisture escape,, leaving the walls to absorb the steam and moisture.)

If the trailer is NOT plugged in to check appliances, you are pretty much at the mercy of the sellers word for it. At this point, visually look at each power receptacle and pop the covers off the ceiling lights and look for evidence of water damage inside the outlet. If it has an onboard battery, check the connections and what ever wire that is visable. If there is an converter under the cabinet,, look at the wiring, both the 110.V and 12 V.  If there is a breaker box,, inspect the breakers for damage or burns.

If at all possible,, take a second look on a rainy day... this is the perfect time to check for water leaks.. a plus is, during this time, if you can visually check the roof from the outside, look for heavy puddling,, I call them roof lakes.

This will indicate roof sagging or a soft roof.

Before finishing up a quick check over, DON"T forget to check the hitch coupling.  Check bumper pulls tongue and ball hitch assembly. Does the hitch lock securely, and safety latch engage?. Are safety chains properly attached to tongue frame?. Is the wiring plug intact?.

On 5th wheels,, is the king pin in good shape, with no flat spots on the upper portion of the pin?. Is the Butt plate on the bottom of the pin not rounded off.?  If it has a pin extension, (90%) of 5th wheels do). Check the mounting hardware and bolts for stress cracks and rusted bolts. Check hitch mounting frame area for stress fractures or weakened areas.  Is the wiring plug intact?. Does it have a break away switch installed and intact?

 On both trailer types,, does the lifting cranks work properly,, up and down? 

If an electric was installed,, does it have a manual over ride?

On Motor homes,, all the above is relavent.  But with a motor home, you have an engine and transmission and rear axle to be concerned about.

Listen to the engine,, check for excessive exhaust smoke.. check how it holds up under acceleration,, feeling if the transmission shifts accordingly and smooth. (don't forget to check reverse). Visually inspect engine compartment for rodent damage of tell tale signs of overheating,,,  rusty residue along fender wells and engine.If you are not mechanically enclined have a friend or a certified mechanic look over the mechanicals of the RV.

The idea of buying a used RV over new, is the cost. If the unit needs repair, take into concideration of how much you want to invest into rebuilding/ repairing. What you can or cannot repair yourself.

You will never actually get back everything you invest into your RV. It is a labor of love.

And, remember when your buying USED,, It's NOT going to be everything brand new and flaw free. Its especially true when buying a vintage trailer to restore. Its the fun of bringing a classic back to life and feeling good about doing the whole process yourself. Then standing back and saying ,I DID THAT. With blisters on your hands and sweat on your brow, You took something that was old and made it new with life again.

This is just a rough pre check to looking at purchasing a used RV.. There are tons of info in the forums that can and will help you along.

Happy camping and remember the memories.

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Comment by Michael A. Glenn on June 19, 2016 at 3:15am

I have found the issue, not a crack anywhere, just the fitting directly under the shower isnt secured as well as the pipe goes into a rubber sleeve after making the normal bends and its held on by hose clamps which look loose. Should be an easy fix.

Comment by Lakota Wolf on May 25, 2016 at 11:57pm

If the tanks are opposite of the shower,, then you have a crack in the drain pipe or connections, going from the shower to the tank.  Hope its a fairly easy task fixing it.. good luck.

Comment by Michael A. Glenn on May 25, 2016 at 8:19pm

Forgot to mention that both Grey and Black tanks run lengthwise on the drivers rear, opposite of the shower.

Comment by Michael A. Glenn on May 25, 2016 at 8:17pm

Lakota, I crawled under again today and this time took a strategic location (old dogs can learn new tricks) I had another person pour water down the kitchen sink, then the bathroom sink, followed by the toilet and finished it off with water down the shower drain, waiting each time until I heard water entering the perspective tank.When water went down the shower is the only time it leaked. JUst like yours there is a double wall so I cant see exactly where its leaking but its coming out just shy of the grey tank. Thinking Ill have to cut and patch that area to get to the root of the issue.

Comment by Lakota Wolf on May 25, 2016 at 4:55pm

After thinking a little more on your situation,,, I am possibly thinking you have had water left in your *P* trap under the shower. and if it was exposed to freezing temps, it could have expanded and cracked the P trap, or seperated the connections.Do you have access to behind the shower? (usually thru a cabinet on the adjoining wall.).(I have access on mine along side the fridge and furnace, and have just enough room to get a quick look and blindly reach in and can feel my *P trap and connections.

(NOTE). My Rv has a double floor so to speak. The main flooring, which the plumbing drops down through and an under belly flooring that Protects the plumbing from exposer, which is also closed in by an aluminum belly pan.My waste tanks are at the very back and run width width wise between the frame rails and are secured with 20 plus bolts and straps.(Mine are concidered after market added, due to getting over sized from regular specs when I had bought it new from the dealer in Nov. 1984 ).

Have patience and be persistant ,, it can get nerve racking, but take breaks and think it through and tackle it at intervals with a clear mind and fresh perspectives and you will get it,,  then the best part is when you get it fixed you can laugh about it later while sipping a refreshing beverage next to a nice camp fire.

Comment by Michael A. Glenn on May 25, 2016 at 1:07am

I crawled under there today and did just that expecting to see water from as you said coming from under the shower.was very puzzled when I saw water pouring /dripping out from what looks like the undercarriage on the opposite side of the coach. There is no tank under my shower it is on the same side just further back. the leak is just in front of the black water tank, I couldnt see nay pipes where it was leaking but then again I was kinda in a hurry to get out from under it as I decided to crawl under the leaking side to get a better view of the opposite side , Will gather the courage to go back under again and choose my position a bit more wisely this time.

Comment by Lakota Wolf on May 25, 2016 at 12:06am

Your shower *should be right above your GREY tank,(sink water not waste). It is quite possible the gasket seal around the drain tube is bad,, or you have a crack in your tank. Don't panic,,, I would have some one slowly pour some water down the drain again as you go underneath and see if you can zero in on the leaking area.,, Good BUY  on the RV,, you got a good deal... Good luck with the repairs and upgrades and dont be afraid to get your hands dirty,, its all worth it.

Comment by Michael A. Glenn on May 24, 2016 at 9:43pm

Thanks for the info Lakota, Ive gone ahead and purchased a 31 footer for 2700 and it lists for 10K so I have a pretty good window for making repairs but that being said , the person I bought it form had a cow when I told him he didnt have to do every repair needed and insisted that I get a good working RV for my money, I have noticed some soft spots in front of the couch, but since Im yanking the carpet to put hardwood flooring in it I dont mind too much. I have a friend who used to work at a RV repair shop that is willing to help me fix this issue, the only other real issue Im looking at is when I poured water down the shower drain it ran out onto my driveway so that is like the major issue. It poured here twice now since Ive had it home and Ive been all through it with a flashlight looking for leaks but havent found any. Good write up, thanks!!

Comment by Lakota Wolf on June 9, 2014 at 8:01pm

Excellent input Ron... I did forget to mention the future livablity factor. which has a lot to do with purchasing a Rig. i.e, to big to small, wrong layout etc..  Thanks for the comment.

Comment by Ron Buckner on June 9, 2014 at 7:52pm
Good job Lakota, You nailed everything mechanically, I'd add just one thing. Take into account the "future livability " of the floor plan your looking for. Bunk beds for teen age kids today may be a bit shortsighted for continued usage tomorrow. Also 100 gallon fuel tanks/water tanks/holding tanks for weekend warrior usage is just plain excessive and that unused tank space will either rust or bloom. I'd recommend thinking about how you want to use your new-to-you coach and the floor plan that meets those needs well before looking at the bones of any coach. Being proud of your work will come with anything you work at, but if it doesn't fit the need. It will not be used.



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