Gary Thurlow
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Dover, DE

Checklist for Use When Examining Any RV
There are at least six major areas to cover in your examination:

1) Engine and Drivetrain
2) Suspension and running gear
3) Exterior items and appearance (including potential roof and seam leaks)
4) RV Systems (including coach and vehicle controls and accessories)
5) Interior Items (cabinets, beds, seats, storage)
6) Maintenance records

If you haven't done anything like this before, some beginning advice is warranted.  First, you need to do this during the daylight hours when it is not raining.  Second, you are going to need an assistant.  The assistant is important for a couple of reasons: to record your observations and to make observations on things you've overlooked.

Things you'll need during your examination:
1) Good flashlight.  I prefer to carry a 6 volt lantern with a tilting head and a pocket flashlight for peering into smaller darkened areas.

2) A clipboard to hold your checklist and notes.  A few pencils (unless you have a pen that writes upside-down and on greasy paper).

3) Rags to wipe-off your hands and anything else that gets dirty.  White rags, like diapers will make is very easy to see the condition of crankcase fluids.  Some waterless hand cleaner also goes a long way to keeping the seller happy.  Work gloves just in case the unit is hot.  I almost always carry latex examination gloves (like hospitals use) for their convinience.

4) Coveralls.  After crawling around under that rig, it is nice to be able to remove your dirty clothing before getting back into your car.

5) Eye protection.  Pulling on old exhaust systems is a recipe for eye disaster unless you are wearing some sort of eye protection.

One other overriding idea to keep in mind is that you're looking for evidence of regular maintenance and care.  Don't worry too much about "normal" maintenance items.  For example, the tires or shocks may be old or worn.  These are typically replaced every five years or so.  Don't be too surprised if they need replacement.  On the other hand, closely look at the front suspension.  If it is worn, the ball joints are leaking and out of grease, your chances are pretty good that the previous owners deferred critical maintenance and you may be in for other expensive surprises.

Areas of Inspection:
1) Engine and Drivetrain
Engine - general condition & cleanliness
Carbeurator - cruddy looking & covered with deposits?
Exhaust Manifolds - look for cracked or warped stock manifolds
Ignition System (alternator, coil, spark plugs, wires, distributor)
Radiator including all hoses
Oil Cooler & lines should not leak and not be older than 5 years
Transmission Cooler & lines should not leak and not be older than 5 years
Transmission pan/fluid - any evidence of leakage?
Master Cylinder - positively must be perfect
Wheel bearings front and rear - check bearing runout with wheels off the
CV Joints should be dry outside and well lubed inside
Belts - no checking or cracking
Fuel Lines - if spongy rubber, they're a problem
Fuel tank - no leaks or rust
Starting battery - full of distilled water and fully charged
Tire condition and inflation - check inflation and age of rubber
Wheel condition - split steel wheels are dangerous
Bogie pins lubed - check with seller - if he has no clue, they haven't
been Visually check alignment on both sides of coach
Exhaust system - holes and rust?

With Motor Running:
Check Transmission Oil Level - smell it.  Burned fluid is bad
Check Power Steering Fluid - smell it also
Review all gauges and driver controls:
        Oil Pressure
        Oil Temperature
        Voltage Meter/Ammeter
        Water Temp
        Fuel Level - all tanks
        Airbag pressure
        Accessory Warning Indicators
        Vacuum level
        Parking brake
        Dash/instrument lighting (headlights on outside)
        Dimmer for dash lights
        High beam indicator (inside and outside)
        Turn signal indicators (inside and outside)
        Emergency flashers (inside and outside)
        Parking lights (inside and outside)
        Clearance lights (outside)
        Compartment lights
        Windshield wipers and washer
        Panel A/C and Heater Controls - especially check A/C function
        CB Radio

Driving Checks:
        Speedometer and odometer
        Cruise Control
        Steering responsiveness
                straight road
                rough roads
                crowned roads
        Brakes - normal and panic
        Traction - especially uphill
        Transmission shifting
        Manually downshift & upshift
        Passing gear
        Exhaust noise
        Shocks & Air Bag Condition
        Wiper Blades' Condition

2) Suspension & Running Gear
Steering & Linkages should be tight
Brakes - examine brake linings and disks/drums on all wheels
         examine steel lines running from master cylinder to all wheels
         examine all flexible brake hoses
Wheel Bearings
CV Joints
Shock absorbers - no evidence of leakage
Bushings - cracked and distorted will need to be replaced
Ball Joints - check for play and recent grease
Brake Lines at wheels - look for soft hoses
Steel Brake Lines on coach frame
Coach frame (rust)

3) Exterior Items
Main entry door seal/lock
Outside mirrors
Roll-down windows
Sliding windows (especially rubber at tracks)
Fixed windows
General paint condition
Bumpers (rust) chromed?
Access Doors (self supporting, flapping)
Fresh water hookup
Electrical hookup
Generator - make and model
        Generator Hours
        Turn on Generator using Front/Rear switches
        Generator Volt Meter Gauge
        Generator Water Temp Gauge
        Generator Hour Meter Gauge
        Generator Oil Pressure Gauge
        Extend & Retract Generator Drawer
        Check Generator Oil at Dipstick
        Check Power Line Monitors
        Generator Battery Condition
        Generator Service Manual

Spare tire and condition (same as others?)
Macerator type and function
Fuel filler & cap (check overflow hose)
Towing equipment
Roof pods (evidence of overloading and leakage)
Roof air (specifically dents & evidence of leakage)
Fans (evidence of leakage)
Fresh water tanks
Grey water tank
Black water tank
Main and Window Awning(s)
Solar charging system
Jack functioning?
Fresh water hoses and water purifier included?

4) RV Systems
Refrigerator - brand, type and age
Built-in appliances (coffee maker, blender, vacuum, etc.)
Kitchen sink (check drains)
Ice maker
Sound system
Exhaust fans
Air conditioning - brand, type, age and efficiency
Water heater
Water pump
Toilet (leaks, drains, etc.)
Bathroom sink
Shower (alert to water damage, hot water capacity)
System Monitor & Control Panels
Thermometer & Clock
Tank Monitors
Propane Monitor
Refrigerator Fan Switch
AC Power Selector Switch
House batteries
110 volt inverters
Sewer hose
Power lines (50 amp, 30 amp and 20 amp adapters)

5) Interior Items
Driver seat controls and comfort
Passenger seat controls and comfort
All seat belts intact
Auxiliary seating
Dining - how many can sit comfortably
A/C and D/C outlets functioning
Window screens
Interior lights
Access to storage
Doors latch
Drawers secure
Bedding fresh (mildew in mattress is impossible to remove)
Evidence of any water damage?
        Roof line
        Inside storage areas
        Below grade (ie, under coach)
        Bath and storage tank area
        Seams at roof and sidewalls
        Any delamination or evidence of water damage should scare you

6) Maintenance Records
Service or Repair logs
Major systems rebuilt
Owner's manuals for coach and all applicances
Last Oil Change - type of oil
Last chassis lube
Last tuneup
Spare Filters:
Any Spare Parts
Tires - brand and size
Previous owners

I've Appended the following excellent RV Data Sheet (from Mike Finnicum) It may help to organize things for you!

Model Year:
Price:                How firm:
Total Mileage:        Can it be documented:
How long have you owned coach:
Location of coach:

CID (455 or 403):
Original (Y/N):
If overhauled
Miles since overhaul:
How extensive:
Any warranty left:
Other major work done:
Current Condition:

Transmission/Final Drive
Original (Y/N):
If overhauled
Miles since overhaul:
How extensive:
Any warranty left:
Final Gear Ratio (ie: 3.08, 3.46):
Other major work done:
Current Condition:

When last painted:
How extensive:
Photos available:

Year replaced:

Front - Year replaced:
Rear - Year replaced:

Maint records
Are they available
Is there a cronology
How far back do they go

Facing mini-couches:      Table:
Queen Bed Fixed:          Are orig mini-couches avail:
Twin Beds:

Orig Couch/Bunkbed:
Orig Dinette w/table:
Orig Swivel Chairs w/table:

Orig Capt Chairs:

Type fabric:
Condition (New, Perfect, Good, Fair, Needs replacing):
When last redone:
How extensive:
Are different fabrics/colors/textures
used for different items?
If so please explain:

Style (Berber, Plush, etc):
Condition (New, Perfect, Good, Fair, Needs replacing):
When last redone:
How extensive:

Style (curtains, miniblinds, other):
Condition (New, Perfect, Good, Fair, Needs replacing):
When last redone:
How extensive:

Refrigerator:      2way?    or    3way(w/gas)?
Condition (New, Perfect, Good, Fair, Needs replacing):
When replaced:


Towing hitch?

Any damage?

Ever wrecked?

What does not work?

What needs attention?

Any special features, options, comments?

How stored?          Inside:       Outside:

Your Mileage experience?
Gary Thurlow
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St. Louis, MO
76 Operation Manual
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