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Old 04-09-2016, 03:09 AM   #1
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"Get a pre-purchase Inspection by a Qualified..."

I am shopping for my first RV. I believe I need a 30-36' Class A motorhome manufactured before 2012. I will be either a Full-timer for more than a year or I will be a Snowbird, living in the unit for 6 months at a time. Full-time is more likely. I will drive up and down the highway to Alaska twice a year. Even though it's paved, the highway has a reputation for breaking down or wearing out trailers and 5th-wheelers after more than one round trip. My motorhome will encounter harsh driving conditions even though I plan to baby it. The Canadians do not use sand on the road; they use rocks. Broken windshields are the norm.

For me, it's obvious that I need to get a thorough inspection & report on any RV I purchase, especially if I am unable or unqualified to do a proper inspection of the drive-train, suspension, brakes and all the other systems that involve riding down that long lonesome road. Furthermore, it takes a different set of knowledge to evaluate the residential box sitting atop the chassis; there are several systems to inspect. This is a tall order, finding and hiring a qualified expert who is conveniently available to make a site inspection and provide a report that is unbiased, informative, correct, truthful and complete.

1.) So how does one get such an inspection and a report? Who do I call, Ghostbusters? Shall I hire a mechanic working for the dealer whose salesman is selling the rig to me (without any hint of a conflict of interest)? Shall I hirie a tech working at the competitor's shop just down the street (who has no conflict of interest in making a report that blows the sale so the customer comes to their shop)? Is there a highly-regarded "National Association of RV Inspectors"? What's a buyer to do?

2.) What is a reasonable price to pay for the inspection of a 36' Class A motorhome with Satellite package, Washer/Dryer and a few other options? Travel time + Time doing the inspection (Time & Materials)? Fixed Fee (which, if underbid, produces a tendency for cut-rate work)?

This matter is probably more troublesome for me than you, since I am looking Nationwide because I have few good choices in Anchorage, Alaska. If I negotiate an option to purchase subject to a satisfactory inspection, you can bet I'll spend a lot of costly air travel and travel time hoping that the inspection was well done and properly reported. How comfortable would you be on the flight(s) to Atlanta from Anchorage to see the RV?

What do you suggest?
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Old 04-09-2016, 04:14 AM   #2
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Have you done your homework on the coaches that fit what you want and need in one? If not, I would recommend renting a few before you purchase and discover what you would want to be different such as floor plan or outside patio area and the way the compartment, TV or LP gas availability lends to your desires. Once you have narrowed down the make and model, you now can try to find one on the market. Once you have located one you are serious about if the inspection comes back good, Google up RV Inspector within several hundred miles of the selling area. Now is time to do the homework on the inspector. Get referrals of those that have used them and give them a call to find out how well he or she did the job. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 04-09-2016, 04:35 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Pre-purchase inspection... by whom?

Selecting a suitable machine is less of a challenge than finding someone who can provide a good inspection. I know the Makes and models and floor plans and specs that can suit my needs. (I an an incurable "data hound" known for meticulous research.) The one and only airplane I purchased after research proved ideal for more than 20 years until I lost my medical certificate. One of my flight instructors asked for a "first right of refusal" on the plane whenever I decided to sell it. 25 years later, it took him 4 hours to finalize the sale. Other flying friends hoped they could buy it, but I digress...

By the initials following your name, it seems there IS an organization that certifies inspectors to assure a quality inspection.

Other than your general suggestion about finding a person, can you be more specific about the practices in the RV Inspection arena? I have substantial expertise in renting the time of lawyers, accountants, engineers of all sorts, etc. How do Inspectors traditionally charge for their services?
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Old 04-09-2016, 05:23 PM   #4
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The only person I would feel comfortable with inspecting a motorhome would have to carry the certifications posted by RV Wizard. That being "RVIA & RVSA Certified Master RV Technician".

To me a masters certificate is necessary. It shows the technician is proficient in appliance, body, chassis, electrical systems and plumbing repairs.

If the chassis is your major concern I would look to an ASE Master Truck Technician. They are certified as proficient in engine, drive train, brakes, suspension & steering, electrical/electronic systems, and heating ventilation & ac systems.

A masters certification in either field shows a dedication to and an understanding of the profession.

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Old 04-10-2016, 05:25 AM   #5
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There is another private organization that has started training individuals for RV inspections but I don't know much about them. I would want someone that has been around the block for many years to check things out for me if I did not already know these machines. I spent 5 years doing research also before buying our coach 15 years ago. Wish I could give you a name but I am unfamiliar with anyone in any particular area.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:06 AM   #6
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I would never trust even one of the better RV techs I've met to do a decent chassis inspection, especially if it were a DP.

In my mind, you need 2 different inspections. One on the coach, the next on the chassis.

As a side note, I would require anyone I hired as an inspector, to provide photos of any item/area not passing his inspection. This should help you determine corrective action (if required), and what it might cost.

Last, I would not spend dime on a coach I haven't touched/seen in person. If you can't find certified inspectors, good mobile techs (RV and chassis) should be easier to find. RV dealers would be my absolute last choice of potential inspection candidates.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:50 AM   #7
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As mentioned by Ahicks, you are looking at TWO inspections. Chassis, and Coach. We felt comfortable doing the Coach inspection myself. Spent several hours going over the coach with the previous owner, who was extremely knowledgeable on his coach. Tested EVERY water fixture, EVERY outlet (with a tester that would show reversed neutral, etc) EVERY light fixture, power steps, tilt steering wheel, ran generator for extended period of time, both heat pumps, water heater on both propane and electric, furnace, entertainment center. Opened EVERY closet, door, drawer, looked behind drawers for signs of critters, or construction debris etc. Walked the roof, and inspected EVERY inch of seams, caulking, vents, etc. Outside of Coach, inspected EVERY inch of seals around windows and any other penetrations. Are you getting the picture? We felt very comfortable with our inspection . . . of the Coach.

On the Chassis, we elected to take the coach to a certified Freightliner repair shop, even though I am a certified aircraft mechanic. My expertise is NOT in Motor Home Chassis. I know what I don't know! They had one young guy who did all their RV inspections. He was great! I got to follow along with him as he explained everything he was looking at and what was acceptable wear and what was not. I was thoroughly impressed by his knowledge and willingness to explain everything. I will say that we lucked out in that his boss let me accompany him on the inspection of the underside of the vehicle. That is probably the exception rather than the norm unfortunately. They pulled codes on the engine and tranny as well. About the only thing I did not do is pull fluid samples for analysis, although I would recommend this to anyone considering purchasing a coach. Total Chassis inspection took about 2 hours and cost $147.00 for basically an extended "DOT" inspection but I think budgeting about $300.00 would be a better bet.

Good luck in whatever you decide!
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:25 AM   #8
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2 good points. One, many of us are capable of doing the coach inspection. It's not that hard if you're in possession of some RV experience. I would caution only that you be very careful of water damage/rain water intrusion. Those can absolutely kill a coach's value, and often impossible to repair considering what the coach is worth.

Second, when seeking out that chassis inspection, asking potential repair centers for a DOT inspection is a great plan, with the explanation telling them this is a purchase, and you'd like them to go over the entire chassis, which is a step up from their normal DOT inspection. Expecting a quick road test as part of the inspection a great plan if you can arrange it. Many may balk at the idea of becoming involved with a coach inspection. Make sure they understand you are looking for a chassis inspection only. Furnaces, AC's, etc. will not need their attention.
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:34 AM   #9
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Lessons Learned So Far...

I've learned that, like an Airplane, there are a couple major components (Airframe & Powerplant); in Motorhomes, there's a Chassis (tires, frame, steering, fuel, exhaust, etc) So, I'm told to

(1.) Get a "Pre-Purchase Chassis Inspection" from a truck mechanic familiar with a "DOT Inspection" which is an annual inspection required under subsection 396.17 (See https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcs...t-396form6.pdf ) which covers the Brake System, Exhaust System, Fuel System, Lighting, Steering Mechanism, Suspension, Frame & Tires, Wheels & Rims, Windshield & Windshield Wipers.

(2.) The next check is the Coach (i.e., the "box on the chassis"). Such inspections can be performed well by a RVIA & RVSA Certified Master RV Technician. I purchased an excellent $20 book available at RVSurvey RV Inspection, an outfit that offers to perform inspections for a fee like the ones charged by residential real estate appraisers in connection with home loans. Their book is written for a fellow who is willing to do the inspection for himself, provided he knows what to look for. This book tells what to look for (and why).

(3.) Finally, it may be necessary to visit the local Diesel engine shop specializing in your specific drivetrain (i.e. Cummins, Cat). Their mechanics are paid about $30/hr, so it seems many shops are quite willing to gouge transient RV owners who will never come back again.
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