A New RV Inspection – The Reason to Get One!

New RV Inspection Story

We recently had the chance to help a friend who purchased a new 5th-wheel RV.  It is one of the higher-end units that is touted as a full time living RV.  That is what my friend was looking for as they are full time RVers who are now on their third RV.

They purchased the RV from an RV dealership and trusted that they would check it out thoroughly for manufacturer defects before they took possession of it and hit the road.  We met our new friends a few days later when they stayed at an RV park that we were at.

You see, they were there for a 5-day RV Tech Course that we were teaching a business session for.  They attended the five-day class and decided to stay for the next week’s class, which focused on RV inspections.  During the process of learning about the RV inspection process and all the steps that an inspection requires while on the roof of their new RV, some issues started to be discovered.  One thing that was immediately apparent was the rear ladder was bent, so much so that use of it would not be recommended.

You say, how can someone not notice a bent ladder when picking up their new RV home?  It happens in all the excitement of getting a new RV.  Things are missed!  You see, people fall in love with all the interior niceties and miss the important stuff.

new rv inspection

While on the roof, we noticed sizeable gaps in the sealant of the front and rear cap joints: those are the seals that join the roof to the front and rear molded caps.  The damage was severe enough to allow water to penetrate the seal and enter the interior of the RV.

new rv inspection

Upon further evaluation of the roof, it was observed that some of the other sealant joints around the vents and antenna had already cracked.  Also, the rubber seals that seal the slideout to the sidewalls were torn away or slightly separated. 

These issues will lead to further water intrusion into the RV as time progresses.  Eventually, that will lead to structural degradation and the possibility of mold development.

new rv inspection

new rv inspection

new rv inspection

A few days after witnessing these issues, our friends left the RV park.  They said that they would take the RV back to the dealership for the needed repairs.  Now realize when you are living in your RV full time, that means you have to leave your RV home unless the RV dealership makes arrangements for you to keep living in it while they work on it.  Not many will do that due to liability issues.

The Rest of the Story!

On the way to their next destination, our friends had a sudden and unexpected issue that could have been catastrophic!  They were traveling down a major highway, and the curbside rear axle broke loose from the leaf spring assembly and wedged itself against the rear curbside leveling jack.  Fortunately, a passer-by on the highway flagged our friends and notified them just after the occurrence.

They were quickly able to get the RV off the highway and assess the damage.  The RV was not going to be able to be moved, as it was, and my friend’s search for assistance was not being welcomed with a quick response.  So, they had to limp off the busy highway to a side road, park there, and figure out how to get the RV to a dealership.

They could strap the rear axle to the front axle and pull it back inline with a heavy-duty ratchet strap.  Once that was done, with a police escort, my friends could make it to a hotel.  At that point, they were not interested in spending the night in their new RV.

new rv inspection

The next day, they got the RV back to the RV dealership.  They needed to return to one related to the dealership they purchased from, and fortunately, there was one close by.

It was at this point that our new friends reached out to us to see if we could help them out with their situation.  They felt that given all the RV’s issues that they learned about in class and with what had just happened, they needed a full assessment of the RV’s current condition.

So, knowing what they learned from their two weeks with us, they decided that a full RV inspection by an NRVIA-certified RV inspector was the only way to document all the current issues with the RV.

So, once we worked out all the details with the owner and the RV dealership, we set a date to inspect the RV.  It was located in the dealership’s RV delivery bay and plugged into shore power.  We also wanted water and sewer service to test all systems, but that was not provided.  

The manufacturer of the RV was also involved in this situation.  They wanted a copy of the RV inspection report, once completed, to decide what the next steps would be: fix the RV or replace it.

We started our RV inspection at 9 AM.  The normal process is to start on the roof.  Once I set the ladder against the rear of the RV, I met with resistance.  I carry a $1.1 million dollar liability policy for which I was willing to share a copy with the dealership.  I was told I could not get on the roof even though that is where I needed to go to document the roof issues.

I proceeded anyway, as the RV dealership owner could not be reached.  By the time I was off the roof, had investigated all the sidewalls, and evaluated the slideouts, I was told that I could not use my ladder to evaluate anything else.

I agreed to do that.  A short while later, I was approached by the general manager of the dealership and asked to leave the premises!  

He stated that if he had known what we would do, he would not have allowed us on the property.  Huh?  What were they afraid of?  The manufacturer’s warranty would cover any issues with the RV, and the RV dealership would be paid for the repairs.  Is that not repair revenue for them?

Or, is it that they were embarrassed by the lack of quality of the RV and were trying to cover up the issues and keep them within the confines of those in the employ of the RV dealership?  The only thing they were neglecting to consider is that the RV owner is willing to go to local media sources and pursue legal avenues to get what he wants.

What is the Situation Right Now?

At this point, the RV is sitting at the dealership, and it is not being fixed.  The owners are in a hotel waiting for their RV home to be repaired so they can continue with their lives.

If they had gotten an RV inspection before signing the paperwork and picking up the RV, these issues might have been avoided.  But, at that time, they did not know such a service existed.

If any RV Dealership does not allow a licensed and insured RV inspector on the premises, this will be taken as a buying signal to walk away and not purchase the RV from them.  If they do not allow an RV inspector on the premises, then they must be afraid of what will be found.

An RV inspector’s goal is not to condemn anyone.  We desire to assist those in the RV industry to be sure that once a previous owner or RV dealership sells an RV, it is functional and safe for travel so that the new owner can create lasting memories while enjoying safe travels with friends and family!

If you want to know more about this service, please contact howard@nrvia.org.



UPDATE:  After two months at the dealership and my friend patiently waiting to get the RV back with all the needed repairs made, the RV was returned to him and his wife.  Along with their fur-kids, they needed to head to California.  Unfortunately, the repairs were not performed to his satisfaction, leaving him to have to deal with the issues later.

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