Summer is just about upon us and, in this economy especially, buying an RV is a very attractive prospect. You've searched, shopped, compared, and finally chosen the perfect camper for you - be it new or "new to you". Congratulations...it's very exciting! But before you sign on the dotted line it's critical that you, in partnership with your sales person or their techs, conduct a PDI - pre-delivery inspection.
Typically the dealer will do a PDI on your RV before you arrive to pick it up but you know how it is...no one cares about your camper like you do. You must take the time to do a thorough walk-through - your own PDI. Ask any RV owner - it's important to make sure everything is in full and complete working order before you sign the papers and take delivery of your “new baby”.
Your PDI will be lengthy and may take more time than the dealer will want to spend but again, it’s up to you to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. It’s never a bad idea to forward your checklist to the dealer in advance so they know what you will be looking for. This is advantageous to both parties.
Arrive equipped with that checklist, a pen and pad of paper, and a keen eye for detail. You should present a list of the items you’ve noted as "not acceptable" to your sales person and require the dealer to repair any items prior to finalizing the purchase if at all possible. If the noted items cannot be fixed that day get an agreement of when and exactly what will be attended to in writing.
You’ll find that every area of the RV needs to be looked at. Some (but certainly not all) items for your consideration:
- Inspect the outside of the coach including all doors, locks, latches, and slide outs. Look for flaws in the siding such as delamination. The caulk around windows, doors, edges, etc. should be fresh and without breaks.
- If necessary, be sure the technician explains – and you fully understand – how to operate the connections – water, sewer, cable, telephone, etc.
- Understand how the propane tanks work and check for proper ventilation. Make sure a leak test has been performed.
- Inspect the roof – this is vital – for proper caulking around the edges and all rooftop components. Look for bubbles that indicate loose rubber roofing.
- Look closely at the tires – are they all the same? Check the tire pressure and tread wear. Make sure the luguts are torqued to the proper specs.
- Open every closet, cupboard and drawer, make sure the finish is acceptable (not marred or gouged), inspect the furniture and fabric, open and close the window shades and windows.
- Look for any spotting or staining on the ceiling or walls (even inside cupboards and closets) that might indicate a leak.
- Operate and inspect all systems including the A/C, furnace, slide outs, TV antenna, stove and oven, etc.
- If your new RV is motorized you’ll want to fully inspect the cockpit, start and run the engine, check the brakes, etc.
If you are purchasing from a private owner it’s still a good idea to complete a PDI. What’s that saying? Buyer beware. Even if you find a few flaws and decide to go ahead with the sale you’ll go into it with your eyes wide open.
There are several great websites that offer checklists for your use - here's an in-depth checklist for your perusal.
If this is your first RV purchase this may seem over the top. If it’s not your first, you know what I mean. Your diligence will pay off in the end – it always does. Making sure your “new” RV is in tip-top shape, a thorough PDI will help you avoid pesky – and potentially expensive – problems down the road.
RVing is one of the greatest ways to vacation...choose your camper wisely and inspect it well. It will provide you fabulous experiences and lifelong memories for years to come.
Maybe I'll see you on the road?