Buy Used Travel Trailer With My 1st Best PDI Inspection Checklist For Everyone


I have written this article for my fellow RVers who have decided to buy used travel trailer. Factories will claim that it is the best to avoid to buy used RV. Not the case!

I have specifically designed this article to be your helping hand when going for the PDI inspection checklist before you buy used travel trailer.

In case you follow my article on how to buy used RV, you will have the chance to save yourself from huge troubles. You can take into consideration each point and make them individually appropriate for your won case, depending on the trailer you are considering to buy.

I recommend putting all these points, one step at a time in a PDI inspection checklist.

What is a PDI inspection checklist?

If you want the acronym’s full sentence, it is pre-delivery inspection. Usually, all manufacturing companies have a special department, designed and competent for product inspection.

What they do is the following. Once you make the order of picking up a certain trailer, they do the PDI inspection checklist point by point before the product is delivered.

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In case they find something wrong with the trailer, the mechanics should fix it before delivery. Being a somewhat experienced RVer, I have come to understand that checking a trailer for defects is not a fast task.

Moreover, the period becomes longer when you have to make a full body and electronic checkup on this huge vehicle. Most of the time, the management of the selling company would do their best to avoid spending this much time on inspection.

Therefore, I definitely recommend doing the PDI inspection checklist points on your own, right at the delivery company. In this case PDI turns into PAI (pre-acceptance inspection).

As you may already be familiar with the buying process, you pay a certain amount of money in advance and the rest after the delivery.

You can easily pay less money before buying. This way the leverage of getting all the necessary things fixed on the RV will be firmer.

Buy used travel trailer: weight and balance

Unfortunately, there are numerous trailers out there, which are overweight. The worst news is that there are many, which weight so much, that it becomes a safety problem.

There are only so many ways that you can weight your trailer and know the exact number for sure. Certified public scales are available at any campsite.

Most of the time the process starts straight form the manufacturers. They weight the corners of the trailer separately and then add the numbers.

After this process, a document is attached to the delivery documents. If you have the paperwork, then it is easier for you to go on with the rest of the process.

Outside of the vehicle PDI inspection checklist when you buy used RV

The outside of the RV is composed from various factors. The first one is the roof with all the seals. Those are very important, since just one damage can cause the whole trailer huge problems.

When you buy used RV, feel comfortable to climb up on the roof of the vehicle and do a thorough checkup on each seal and gasket.

Ventilation system holes, antennas, AC units also require a special examination. The rubber part of the roof is very vulnerable to damage. There may be bubbles under the seals, which can be results of repairs.

Moreover, the cleanness of the roof will say a lot about the all in all maintenance of the vehicle and hwo the owner took care of it before selling.

Finally, the mountings of the awning are also important to have a look at. In case of any damage, you should be very concerned.

Make sure to check out my article on Champion 75537i generator.

Buy used travel trailer: doors and windows inspection

The next stop is the doors. Properly aligned and sealed doors are a good sign. This means that the RV never got hit on the sides.

Do not forget to check the locks. This is crucial, because it is a minor point, which is often forgotten and you can face an unwanted situation when camping.

Checking the doors and windows of the trailer also means to go around the storage space and making sure everything is functioning normally.

The basic thing to check the first is the sealing and the alignment. Make sure to spend extra time on opening and closing the doors and the windows.

Additionally, there might be problems with moisture on the walls, floors, ceilings or storage space. This means that there is a water leakage somewhere in the trailer.

Liquid container tanks checkup when you buy used RV

The next step is the liquid containers. Sewer, fresh and gray water tank damages will ruin your life forever. Therefore, make sure that you will not have to deal with any of those when you buy used travel trailer.

If you are not sure how the water systems work, how they are connected and where they go, try to find a friend who knows all this.

buy used RV

For trailers, which have a TV, internet and phone connections, it is important to check the mountings. In addition, weather caps play a big role in keeping those features intact and in proper conditions.

I think it goes without saying that the propane tanks are extremely dangerous to play around with. Unless all the connections and pigtails are operating properly, you cannot buy used travel trailer.

Look under the hood when you buy used travel trailer

When under the hood of a huge vehicle, anything can be a problem. The first thing to be worried about is the battery.

They can be very expensive to get a new one. Therefore, take care of this piece gently.

Checking for any corrosion is the first step. Next, look for some cracks or any other visible damage. You will know, for sure, if the battery maintenance was held poorly.

Additionally, checking the entire body of the trailer when you buy used RV is clear to everyone. Any bumps or uneven surfaces are a reason to be alerted.

Buy used RV: checking the tires

Any damage with tires or wheels will cost a fortune to repair. Tread wear is a common occurrence. However, when you buy used travel trailer, it is best to avoid such occurrences.

Damaged axles, for instance, can be caused by overloading the vehicle. Checking the sidewalls on the tires from outside, as well as from inside is also important.

You can find bubbles, which can mean that there are separations.

The DOT number will give you information about when the tires were manufactured. It is not similar to the usual expiration date numbers.

I will explain! 0509 means what these tires were created during the fifth week of the year 2009.

If the year is more than five years ago, they are subject to potential damage to the vehicle in the best case and they can cause severe accidents in the worst case.

In case you are dealing with a brand new rig, you can demand for the tires being replaced. Otherwise, bravely negotiate with the price and get a lower rate.

Additionally, tires have a load range. This indication shows the capacity of tires to hold a certain weight. The number should correspond to the loaded RV weight.

The indications come in alphabetic letters. The higher ones mean that the capacity is higher. You can google and see which weight corresponds to which letter.

Tire pressure is among the most significant things when hitting the road, especially in a loaded trailer. There should be no differences between tires.

Inspection of the awning

Retracting and extending the patio awning with show any defects and damage. It may also showcase some poor maintenance by folding out dirty and stained.

The awning should be attached to the RV very securely. The retracted position is the primary position. Therefore, check the locked awning in that place.

Underneath the camper inspection is crucial when you buy used RV

Chassis and undercarriage are where it all starts for the trailer issues. Therefore, get right in there and grab a flashlight to see everything clearly.

When you are dealing with underbelly casing, sagging is a common possibility. Water leak is the most probable reason.

Suspension has various components and each can have its own problems. Exclude them one by one through a detailed inspection.

Any loose bolts or any welds that are broken mean a problem with the whole system.

Brakes are critically important on any vehicle, especially on huge campers

Brakes operate through electrical wires underneath the vehicle. In case these wires touch anything metal down there, you are in huge trouble.

The wire connections are important. They should not have any open areas, which can be a potential cause of a spark.

Slide outs inspection from underneath the vehicle: buy used RV

If you can get a friend who can help you out with all the PDI inspection checklist points when you buy used travel trailer, it would be perfect.

When you are underneath the camper, get someone to operate the slide outs, while you look for any insufficient lubrication or anything similar to corrosion or weird noises.

PDI inspection checklist for inside a camper

Slide outs should be seals in a way that you fail to see any sunlight through the frame. Those slide outs have either rollers or wheels. They should be perfectly aligned.

Most of the time you will be dealing with vinyl floors when you buy used RV. Therefore, play around with slide out rollers to make sure they do not leave any tracks on the surface.

When inside the camper, do not be afraid to look like a crazy person and freely open and close all the cabinet doors. This is for inspecting the latches and making sure the mounting is done correctly and securely.

Meanwhile, you can search for any stains or water leakage signs inside the cabinets.

Drawers need to operate smoothly and without making any noise. The most important part with both the cabinets and the drawers is the way they perform while driving.

In case of any noise, you can be concerned about poorly secured latches or hinges.

Additionally, any sign of mold is a red sign.

Again, do not be afraid to look stupid or crazy. You are doing a PDI inspection checklist points observation. Anything that can potentially be damaged is a subject to investigate.

Light switches can be too many in campers, sometimes. However, you have the right to turn on and off every single one of those to make sure they operate properly.

PDI inspection checklist

Moreover, you will find out about any burned out light bulbs as well.

The inside of the camper also has doors and they are at higher risk of being damaged. Therefore, check for any uneven frames ad moldings.

Water leaks are a real problem

Windows are the first place to search for leaks. The first step is to lock the window and latch it. This will make the test more objective.

Ask someone to drop water from the outside and examine the alignment carefully. If you see anything on the inside of the camper, you have a hole in the rubber frame of the window.

The blinds and window shades can get damaged very soon. As a result, I recommend making sure to look at them several times in order to make sure that you buy used travel trailer in good condition.

Counter tops of the kitchen are exposed to more damage. People prepare food using sharp object like knives. It is normal that the counter top can be a little damaged.

While in the kitchen area, make sure to check the faucets as well. Is there any leakage from the sides or the base of the faucet.

Consider these comfortable small champers with bathrooms.

Buy used RV after full system checkup

The whole RV is composed from various electrical devices and therefore, there are countless cords. The first thing you are required to do is to pull out all those cords.

Do a proper inspection of the cords being worn out, torn or generally damaged. The plugs are very common to blacken because of excess heating of the cords.

When doing electrical system checkup, your best friend should be the tester. There are camper, which have different voltage outlets.

Check on all 110 voltage outlets. Accurate wiring is essential.

Your trailer definitely has a fuse and breaker panel. They have different voltages. The fuse is 12, the breaker is 110.

It is crucial that they are differentiated accordingly. Just in case you misplace a plug of a device, you can simply be left with a broken anything.

You should have an electrical converter in the camper. The battery shows its condition on a monitor.

Make sure the camper is with shore power. In case the monitor shows low battery, you should be concerned about the converter doing its job with properly charging the battery.

Moreover, you can add some pressure on the converter by turning on several lights or a couple devices on the RV. Listen carefully for any noise or vibration coming out of the converter.

However, if you notice pace change in cooling of the converter, it is a normal occurrence. Depending on the amount of pressure the converter has, the cooling system works accordingly.

Interior water checkup PDI inspection checklist

Fresh water hose valve should be turned on in order to be able to see any leakage. If you have a pressure regulator, the job will be easier.

Heating system for the water is another point to pay attention to. Both fresh water and propane tanks need to be carefully inspected.

One of the greatest comforts of travelling with an RV is having hot water whenever you want. Therefore, make sure to check if all the faucets have hot water.

I understand that it may not always be possible to do so, but if you have the chance, go for it! Fill in all tanks, most importantly the gray and black water tanks.

These are the most problematic when you are dealing with a leak.

Moreover, hook up the sewer connection to the tank and check the dump valves for smooth operation. The dumping system connections should have the best seals.

It is important to have a proper travel trailer checklist when going for a PDI inspection.

Buy used travel trailer with proper heating systems

Problems with durance can cause damage to many systems. Turn the thermostat to trigger the heat to occur. There should be no click noises of any igniter what so ever.

In the case the furnace won’t light up, the ignition will be off. This means you are dealing with a badly operating furnace.

There are several steps you should follow on my PDI inspection checklist when checking the furnace. After it is lit, you should notice warm air from each one heat register.

Afterwards, you should turn down the thermostat. This will result the furnace to turn off. However, be attentive to notice the air still blowing for some time, until cooling down.

PDI inspection checklist for AC system if you buy used travel trailer

One of the most important devices on your trailer is definitely the air conditioning. This thing will help you out countless times when travelling to hotter states.

Make sure to pay extra time and effort to make sure everything works properly.

Certain campers have several units, from which the cold air comes out. If this is the case with your camper, go around and check each one of them.

Moreover, while checking for cold air coming out of each register, make sure to inspect for any cracks and damage from the inside of those units.

Finally, do not forget to have a look at the filters. Similar to other pieces of other devices, this is the perfect indication for you to see the maintenance of the AC units.

Safety above all: smoke detectors inspection when you buy used RV

Usually, the camper will have three gas detectors: carbon monoxide, smoke and LP. They are triggered through a test button, one for each.

Do not be shy to push all the buttons and check if the detectors work properly. However, you can face a simple situation with low batteries. Do change them and repeat the test.

Fridge operation system when you buy user travel trailer

You have already been at the process of checking the trailer for over an hour. This means that the generator is working and the RV has power.

Therefore, it is logical that the fridge should be cool already. About 36 degree is perfect. The freezer temperature should be 0.

The fridge should hold up the temperature when operating electrically and on gas. This being said, go ahead and check the switch from electrical to gas operating system.

Again, if the camper has features, such as a TV, radio or antennas, check them as well. The antenna should have no problems rising and rotating.

Meanwhile, since you are already checking near the ceiling, make sure to look at the vents and fans opening and closing effortlessly.

The final electrical device is the microwave, if there is any, of course. The test is composed from the following steps: get a cup of water and put it in.

Set the microwave on the highest. If everything is working properly, the water should be boiling at four minutes. Might be even less.

Finally, the oven has several components for checkup. Each burner should operate properly. The ignitions should work perfectly and light the stove momentarily.

Conclusion on PDI inspection checklist when you buy used travel trailer

If you everything as I have mentioned, the whole checkup should take you about three hours. This is the minimum time you should devote to a proper checkup.

Sometimes with certain sellers and dealers this process can be aggravating. Therefore, to avoid any potential conflict, let them know in advance that you are going to inspect each corner of the camper, until you are satisfied with the results.

This will set them to the proper mood and they will be prepared to stand there for at least three hours. When you buy used RV, demand all the service records from the owner.

This way you will know exactly what work has been done on the camper.

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Andy Fisher

Campers Mag is the website where I will share a lot of information about my experience, trailer, and things, that will help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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