What to Expect from an RV Inspection – The Ultimate Guide

Inspection Process

What to Expect from an RV Inspection – The Ultimate Guide

Inspection Process

Table of Contents:

Whether you’re buying a used RV, tending to regular maintenance, or signing up for an extended warranty program, your RV will need to undergo an inspection at some point. Although the process may vary, inspections are designed to ensure that a vehicle is in good working condition and identify any issues that might impact the functionality of the vehicle. Here is everything you can expect from an RV inspection. 

Understanding the Pre-Warranty RV Inspection Requirement  

People are often skeptical about why some warranty brokers require an RV inspection prior to signing an extended warranty. Although the process does protect the warranty company from potentially paying out on pre-existing issues and aids in their credibility, the inspection is beneficial to the RVer as well.

To qualify for an RV extended warranty policy, all reputable warranty brokers will require vehicles to submit to an inspection before signing the contract. This process ensures that any pre-existing conditions are addressed and repaired prior to coverage going into place.

Other warranty companies that do not require an RV inspection may take advantage of customers. If you sign a contract with them and experience a sudden mechanical failure, the broker may claim that the failure is the result of a pre-existing condition. They will avoid covering repair costs without explicitly violating your contract. This is why the inspection process is important: in the event you run into a claim early in your contract, you will have the inspection report showing that all items were in working condition at the time of the contract signing, and the new failure is not a pre-existing issue.

Further, many providers will try to get around this inspection requirement by implementing a “waiting period” on your contract before the policy goes into effect. Most often, this will be a 30 day AND 1,000-mile waiting period, meaning you cannot file a claim during the first 30 days and 1,000 miles your policy is in effect. For many RVers, it can take months to travel 1,000 miles, during which they cannot use the policy they purchased. At Wholesale Warranties, we do not offer any policies with waiting periods, instead protecting both the customer and our RV warranty partners via inspection.

Key Components Checked During an RV Inspection 

During an RV inspection, several key components should be thoroughly checked to ensure the vehicle is in good condition. Keep in mind that inspections will vary depending on the agency and requirements. For example, a full prior-to-purchase inspection should include an examination of the safety features. On the other hand, an inspection for a warranty will only consist of mechanical and electrical components covered under the policy. Here’s a comprehensive list of the items a certified inspector might examine during the process:

Exterior Body: Look for any signs of damage, cracks, or dents on the exterior body, including the roof, walls, and windows.

Frame and Chassis: Inspect the frame and chassis for rust, cracks, or any signs of damage that could compromise structural integrity.

Tires: Check the tire condition, including tread depth, signs of wear, and tire pressure. Inspect for any cracks, bulges, or uneven wear patterns.

Suspension System: The RV suspension system is crucial, as it absorbs road shocks, maintains stability, and enhances overall ride smoothness for both passengers and cargo. Inspect the suspension system, including springs, shocks, and axles, for signs of wear, damage, or leakage.

Brakes: Test the brakes to ensure they are functioning properly. Check brake pads, rotors, and brake fluid levels. A functioning brake system is essential for safety.

Lights and Electrical Systems: The RV lights and electrical systems are essential for ensuring visibility, and therefore safety, on the road. Electricity provides power for various appliances and amenities within the vehicle. Check all exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. Test the electrical system, including outlets, appliances, and batteries.

Plumbing System: Inspect the plumbing system for leaks, including fresh water, gray water, and black water tanks. Check faucets, toilets, and water lines for any signs of damage. Leaks may cause water damage before they’re discovered, so this is an important step.

HVAC System: Test the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to ensure it is working properly. Check for any leaks or malfunctions in the system.

Propane System: A functioning propane system is important, as it provides fuel for cooking, heating, and refrigeration. This system is key for off-grid living. Inspect the tanks, lines, and appliances, for leaks or damage. Additionally, test all propane-powered appliances, such as stoves and furnaces.

Interior Components: Check the interior of the RV for any signs of damage or wear, including flooring, upholstery, cabinets, and appliances. Keep in mind that RV warranties do not typically cover aesthetic components such as flooring or upholstery but will cover specific appliances outlined in your policy.

Slide-Outs: Slide-outs are among the most common RV breakdowns, so it is essential to check their working condition during an RV inspection. If the RV has slide-outs, inspect them for proper operation and any signs of damage or leaks. An RV extended warranty will protect you in the event of a slide-out failure.

Generators and Power Systems: RV generators and power systems are crucial, providing electricity for onboard appliances, HVAC systems, and other essential amenities. This enables self-sufficiency and comfortable living conditions even in remote locations. The inspector should test the generator and other power systems, such as solar panels or inverters, to ensure they are functioning correctly. Inverters use the RV’s batteries to power appliances such as microwaves, TVs, ovens, or even the charger for your laptop so you can work on the go.

Safety Features: Fully functioning safety features are essential for protection on and off the road. Check all safety features, including smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and exit points.

Seals and Seams: Seals are subject to wear and tear after exposure to the elements. Inspect all seals and seams, including around windows, doors, and roof vents. During the RV inspection, look for obvious signs of wear or damage that could lead to leaks, such as cracking or rotting.

Documentation and Registration: This is an important step to take, as you will likely need to provide this information prior to the inspection. Verify that all documentation and registration for the RV are up to date and in order.

Whether you’re buying an RV or awaiting approval for an RV extended warranty, performing a thorough inspection of these key components can help identify any issues or potential problems with the RV and ensure it is safe and roadworthy. As soon as the inspector produces a clean bill of health, you can sign your warranty contract for immediate RV protection. 

Certified RV Inspectors

To ensure a thorough RV inspection, you need to work with a certified representative from a reputable company. There are many ways to find a certified RV inspector. Browse online directories, join RV associations, or refer to reviews from experienced RVers.

Another trustworthy method is to contact certification bodies such as the National RV Training Academy (NRVTA) or the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA) directly and inquire about certified inspectors in your area. These certification agencies guarantee that you will be working with an accredited inspection company. Working with a reputable inspector will grant you peace of mind.

If you need an inspection for a warranty contract, some warranty companies offer the convenience of certified inspectors. Wholesale Warranties employs a national network of certified inspectors. They will send a qualified representative to inspect your vehicle. That’s right, you don’t even have to take it to a shop! From there, the inspector will examine the mechanical condition of the RV. Once the inspection is complete, the customer will receive a copy of the inspection report. This review includes a report of the general condition of the vehicle along with photos of the components they tested.

RV Inspection Checklist

There are many key components examined during the RV inspection process. Now that you know which components may need to be addressed, it’s a good idea to create a checklist for each item. This ensures that every component is thoroughly inspected. There are many free, downloadable and printable checklists online. Some inspections may be more or less extensive depending on the purpose of the inspection, so be sure to have the inspector review the components with you.

Common Issues Uncovered During RV Inspections

When inspecting a used RV, there is always the possibility of discovering maintenance issues. A professional inspection is important because it may reveal common issues the owner was previously unaware of. This allows the owner the opportunity to address repairs prior to selling their RV or purchasing an extended warranty. Here are some common issues uncovered during RV inspections:

Water Damage: Unfortunately, water damage is a common issue diagnosed during the inspection process. This emphasizes the importance of tending to regular maintenance and addressing potential leaks ahead of time. Leaks in the roof, windows, or plumbing system can lead to water damage, including rot, mold, and delamination of walls and floors.

Appliance Malfunctions: Refrigerators, stoves, ovens, air conditioners, heaters, and other appliances may have malfunctions or defects that affect their performance or safety. RV appliance malfunctions are problematic because they can lead to inconvenience, discomfort, and even safety hazards for travelers, affecting their ability to cook, refrigerate food, regulate temperature, and perform other essential tasks while traveling. 

Tire Wear and Damage: Tires may show signs of wear, such as uneven tread wear or sidewall damage, indicating potential safety hazards or the need for replacement. In order to avoid blowouts, tires should be replaced depending on various factors, such as age, tread height, and damage. Wholesale Warranties offers RV wheel and tire protection to keep you covered in the event of a blowout.

Electrical Problems: Common issues with the electrical system include faulty wiring, malfunctioning outlets, or inadequate power supply. These problems can pose safety risks and affect the operation of appliances and systems. It’s important to address these repair concerns before the next big trip.

Propane Leaks or Malfunctions: The propane system may have leaks, faulty regulators, or malfunctioning appliances, posing fire and safety hazards. Like appliance malfunctions, issues with the propane system may impact occupants’ ability to cook or refrigerate food. Although malfunctions don’t impact the RV’s mechanical functionality, they can severely limit self-sufficiency during travel. 

Structural Integrity: Damage to the frame, chassis, or slide-out mechanisms can compromise the structural integrity of the RV, leading to safety concerns and costly repairs. If your inspector discovers any issues with the structure, you will be alerted to them so you can address them accordingly. 

HVAC System Issues: Problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system may result in inadequate climate control, discomfort, or poor air quality inside the RV. Addressing regular maintenance will help prevent problems with the RV HVAC system. Check the filters, test the heating and cooling systems, and make sure the electrical system is providing sufficient power. 

Seal and Seam Damage: Routinely checking and fixing seals is a simple, inexpensive task that prevents costly water damage. Seals gradually wear down due to air and sun exposure. Worn or damaged seals and seams around windows, doors, and roof vents can allow water intrusion, leading to leaks and water damage. 

Battery and Charging System Problems: Batteries lose power over time. RV battery life expectancy depends on battery type, age, and usage. Issues with the battery, charging system, or inverters can result in power shortages, electrical failures, or the inability to operate appliances and systems. Because batteries are subject to regular replacement, they are not covered under extended warranties. This is why it’s important to keep up with proper battery care and replacement. 

Safety Equipment Deficiencies: Missing or malfunctioning safety equipment, such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits, can compromise occupant safety in the event of an emergency. During the RV inspection, a certified representative should check the batteries in the detectors and test their performance. Fortunately, equipment deficiencies are among the easiest and least costly issues to address. However, if they go unnoticed, they can present serious problems in an emergency situation.

These are just some of the common issues that may be uncovered during an RV inspection, highlighting the importance of thorough evaluation. Repair concerns should be addressed swiftly to ensure the vehicle’s safety, functionality, and longevity.

Preparing Your RV for a Warranty Inspection 

All RVs must pass the inspection before they are eligible for coverage. Once you have provided your warranty broker with a down payment, the process can begin. Preparing your RV for a warranty inspection involves ensuring that the vehicle is in good condition and that any warranty-related issues are documented and addressed. Here’s how you can prepare: 

First, address any issues with the RV you are already aware of, particularly any defects covered under the warranty. This step may involve scheduling repairs or maintenance with a licensed service provider. Check for any apparent damage and test your systems to ensure they are functioning properly. A little-known tip is verifying that there are no outstanding recalls for your RV model. Additionally, it’s a good idea to clean the interior and exterior of your RV beforehand.

The next step is to gather any relevant documents you may need, such as your receipts, warranty documents, and service records, if you have them. Be sure that your title, registration, and VIN information are available and up to date. After compiling the necessary documents, review your warranty coverage information.

Once your rig and documents are prepared, you are ready to schedule the inspection! Be present throughout the process so you can ask any questions you may have prepared and ensure the vehicle is thoroughly inspected. The technician will be able to answer questions and provide further information about the vehicle. 

What Happens if Your RV Fails the Inspection?  

If the RV fails its inspection, it is by no means the end of the world. It’s important to catch issues that may have otherwise been overlooked. Neglected repairs could lead to safety issues and negatively impact the longevity of your RV.

If you’re buying an RV, consider having it inspected by a certified inspector who can help identify any existing issues or potential problems before finalizing the purchase. If buying used, outstanding issues will affect the resale value of the unit, so work with the current owner to decide on the next course of action. If they decide to handle repairs on their end, be sure to obtain service records.

If you’re purchasing a warranty, failing the inspection will just require some extra steps. Note that all RV warranty policies exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Therefore, if the inspector does find something wrong with the RV, the warranty company will not provide coverage on the failed component until the customer has completed and provided proof of repairs. Then, the RVer is free to sign a contract. Investing in a trustworthy RV Warranty can extend the lifetime of your RV. Get a free quote today.

How Inspection Findings Affect Your Warranty Coverage

The RV inspection process occurs prior to finalizing coverage, meaning you will not yet be at risk of losing coverage. If the inspection yields a clean bill of health, then the warranty company will proceed, and you can sign your contract. If the inspection reveals issues that require attention, then the warranty company will pause the transaction until those repairs are properly addressed. This does not render the vehicle totally ineligible for coverage. As long as the repairs are made, then you will be able to enjoy the same level of RV warranty coverage you were quoted for.

However, there is one instance in which the RV owner will no longer be eligible for warranty protection. If the RV inspector finds that the vehicle is too old or the engine has surpassed the mileage cap, then the vehicle will not qualify for coverage. This can be easily avoided by being upfront with the warranty company about vehicle history. 

Documentation and Reports Post-Inspection

It’s best practice to keep documented records of all inspection reports. After an inspection, the service representative should provide a receipt of services and an inspection report. Typically, these reports include detailed information about the condition of various components and systems of the vehicle. This report provides documented proof of your RV’s working condition. 

Benefits of an RV Inspection for Warranty Holders   

For warranty holders, an RV inspection offers several benefits. The inspection process can identify issues or defects, ensuring that they are documented and addressed promptly. If you have to file a claim after your policy goes into effect, the inspection report will prevent warranty administrators from claiming any issues as pre-existing. 

By identifying and addressing warranty-covered issues early, warranty holders can maximize their coverage. They can ensure that repairs or replacements are completed at no additional cost. Knowing that a certified professional has thoroughly inspected their RV provides peace of mind. Warranty holders understand that their investment is protected and that any potential issues have been addressed.

RV inspections help policyholders avoid costly repairs. By identifying potential problems before they escalate, an inspection can help warranty holders avoid expensive repairs or replacements that may arise if issues are left unaddressed. 

In general, inspections help RV owners maintain resale value. A well-documented history of regular inspections and maintenance can enhance the resale value of an RV, demonstrating to potential buyers that the vehicle has been well cared for and is in good condition. 

Overall, an RV inspection serves warranty policyholders as a proactive measure. Proof of inspection helps protect their investment, maintain warranty coverage, and ensure the long-term reliability and value of their RV.


How do you inspect an RV?

Industry professionals recommend receiving an inspection from a certified RV inspector. The inspector will conduct a thorough examination of the vehicle, assessing both mechanical and electrical functionality. The process will cover components that make up the vehicle’s exterior, interior, and systems.  

What fails NYS inspection?

In New York State (NYS), vehicles can fail inspection for various reasons. Common issues include safety equipment deficiencies, exhaust system problems, emissions control system malfunctions, suspension defects, frame damage, and tire wear. Additionally, be sure window tinting is compliant with New York State law. A vehicle may also fail NYS inspection if any other conditions or modifications pose a safety hazard or do not meet regulatory requirements.

Does my Camper need to be inspected to get an extended warranty?

Not all extended warranty companies require inspections. However, every reputable warranty company requires RV inspections before contract signing. Companies that do not require inspections often subject policyholders to waiting periods of 30 days and 1,000 miles. If the camper suffers a failure during the waiting period, the damages will not be covered under warranty even though the policyholder has already paid for the warranty. Pre-warranty inspections allow policies to go into effect immediately and prevent companies from claiming any malfunction is a pre-existing condition.

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