Buying A Used RV Checklist: How To Buy Guide and Tips & What To Look For In Dealers

buying Caravans stored in rows on a sunny day.a used rv checklist


buying a used rv checklist

Buying a used RV for yourself, kids and family can be a daunting task, especially if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re supposed to be looking for in a used RV. Checking each of the vehicle’s unique appliances, in addition to the engine, tires, battery, and structure is a task that should not be taken lightly. Here are a few specific things you should look for as well as a few tips for buying a used RV in Seattle


Before buying a used RV, there are a few warnings signs that a buyer can look for before you even step inside the vehicle.

Previous Use

One of your biggest concerns should always be how much the vehicle has already been used. Many used RVs spend around 10 -11 months in storage, being used for short 1-2 month periods during the summer. Used vehicles are often 10 years old or more and have around 20,000 miles or less.

While a rv that has been used less might seem like a better option, this can actually mean that the engine and machinery will break faster. Machinery that sits around for long periods of time tends to fall into disrepair and not operate at an optimal level. Ask the seller about how the RV was used previously to get a good idea of whether or not this RV or travel trailer is worth your time.

Storage Location

When buying a used RV or 5th wheel here in the Pacific Northwest, it is important to ask about where the vehicle has been kept when it wasn’t in use. Because of the incredible amounts of rain and snow that the Northwest gets, vehicles that are stored outside, particularly on grassy surfaces, experience the worst exposure to the elements. Fluctuating moisture levels and element exposure can mean serious internal damage to the vehicle that cannot be repaired without serious financial expense.

buying Caravans stored in rows on a sunny day.a used rv checklist

The Inspection

Well, if the vehicle you’re considering has cleared these warnings with no concerns and you’ve done all your research, it’s time to take a look under the hood! Every used diesel pusher, Class vehicle, or fifth wheel is going to look different. Ultimately, you’re looking for a quality vehicle that meets your needs.


If the interior of the vehicle is not a place you would consider living out of for a few weeks, then it’s probably not worth the investment. While cleanliness is one of your highest priorities, here are some other important areas you should check before moving forward.


Make sure that the upholstery fabric is still soft, pliable, and has retained vibrant colors. Also before buying, be sure the fabric is clean with no water damage. This can help keep your motorhome comfortable and clean for the long trips you’ll be using it. Replacing the upholstery can be an expensive job, so make sure it’s in good condition and something you like.


The ceiling of your RV acts like the roof of your home for weeks and months on end. A leaky roof at your house is no different than one on your RV, so be sure that the ceiling looks clean and strong from the inside, as well as the outside. You shouldn’t see any cracks or additional ceiling plates and screws, because these are often signs of previous leaks.


All appliances, from the oven and microwave in your used diesel pusher to the electricity and water pressure in your used class c motorhome, should be tested to ensure full functionality. Check the water pressure and holding tanks to be sure no leaks or cracks have appeared and that they are fully operational.

what to look for when buying a used rv


The exterior conditions and vehicular quality of the RV are one of the most important parts of RV. Be sure to inspect these areas to ensure that they are in good condition and can operate appropriately.


One of your biggest sign when considering a pre-owned motorhome is if the engine is in a solid working condition. Check for signs of leakage at the seam between the transmission and the engine, because replacing these parts can be incredibly expensive and a serious investment. Don’t be afraid to have a compression test done on the engine to ensure a strong and efficient engine. Another way to get some peace of mind when buying an RV is to have the dealer send your the used RV maintenance records. When buying used, it may be a good idea to ask someone if you can take the rig out for a test drive. If perhaps the steering pulls more to one side, you can get a great deal on a used RV.


Checking the underside of an RV will give an honest glimpse at its storage and travelling life. This is a common thing someone does for the first time when they buy a used RV. If the underside is still black, like RVs are supposed to be, then the RV has been stored well and has not suffered from too much exposure. If a thick layer of rust covers a majority of the RV, the internal workings are thick with oxidation and the RV is a risk.

While you’re down there, make sure that there are no patches in the flooring and that the frame is straight. If you see any additional welds in the frame, it might mean that the RV was involved in some kind of an accident. Also, check the tires to make sure everything is in line and in good condition before the purchase. If you search the frame and something seems a bit off, don’t hesitate to the owner or dealer for the vehicle identification number.


Even though you might have already taken a look at the ceiling from the interior of the RV, ask to get a look at the roof. Check the corners for any water damage or water leaks, and check the surface for any patches or added sealer that might indicate leaks. Also inspect the antenna entry points and around the air conditioning unit for cracks or old caulking. Any old or cracked caulking should be replaced. You don’t want to buy a used rv or lemon when coming down to your final decision.


Finding a good RV at a reasonable deal can sometimes be a difficult task especially in today’s market values. As you conduct your inspection, consider if the RV’s conditions and quality match the seller’s price tag. Don’t be afraid to look somewhere else at other RV prices if your seller’s set price seems to be pushing it or even try asking more questions to get a better deal for your money.


More Helpful Reading & Resources:

Used RVs for Sale: A Brief Guide to Choosing The Right Motorhome



Best Vehicle in Industry

The diesel pusher is commonly accepted as one of the best RVs in the industry. What makes these RV unique to other models is their spacious and luxurious living areas, accessible even while traveling. While top model diesel pushers are normally quite expensive, used diesel pushers in more basic models tend to come with a lower price tag. Not only can these great rv offer a higher mileage rate, but used diesel pushers can be a financially conservative choice without compromising comfort.


Where is the best place to buy a used RV?

At Kirkland RV, we offer a broad selection of used diesel pushers, Class Cs, and Fifth wheels. To view our selection, come by our Everett location and test your inspection skills. For more information, feel free to give us a call or fill out our contact form.

Recommended Article: How to Fix Common RV/Camper Repairs