How to do a pre-delivery RV inspection

With camper show season coming to a close most of you are probably preparing for your new camper coming soon. Which is great news! Welcome to the family if you are new to camping!

Take it from some of us that have been through this process a few times, there are some things to keep in mind when you go pick up that new rig.


Our first RV camper experience

The first camper we bought we had a wonderful experience with the orientation. The service guy went through absolutely everything with us, helped us hook up the camper to the truck and even took us for a drive so we could feel how it pulled and listen to all the sounds it made. This was phenomenal!


He even gave me the best advice ever and I will never forget it. He looked right at me and said “you make sure you learn how to drive this thing!”

He then proceeded to tell a story of a couple he met when he was camping where the wife had no idea how to drive the rig and when the husband ended up in the hospital she was panicked. He got her hooked up and pointed straight and just said “pull the darn thing in the front yard when you get there and make him deal with it!”


We laughed but I still remember that story to this day and you better believe I practiced driving the rig in the old high school parking lot before our first trip.


But for some people, they have less than stellar orientations or “pre-delivery inspections” as they are called. I wanted to hear from others on their experiences as we had both a good one and then a not so good one on our second buy.


Who does a pre-delivery RV inspection?

So I reached out on Facebook to the many camping groups that I am in and just asked the question “what do you remember most from your camper orientation?”

Overwhelmingly people commented with “what camper orientation?” or “I knew more than the guy did!”


I assumed this was typical and felt bad for those that didn’t learn enough about their camper and had some bad experiences because of it. One guy said it best though when he said: “you learn more from fellow campers than you ever will from the dealership.” And that’s the truth.


How to inspect an RV camper before delivery.

But you still should go through the orientation and here are some things to keep in mind when you do.

  1. Both partners need to know how to do everything. See my story above. Or better yet she wants to take the camper out on a girls’ trip, she should know how to do everything from pulling it to dumping it. Make sure everyone knows where all the switches are and how to load up and get out.

  2. Do your pre-delivery inspection before you sign any paperwork. It seems obvious but in a high pressure, high excitement environment you may sign on a camper and then get a dealership that won’t let you change your mind if the inspection goes south. Insist on looking the entire camper over before signing.

  3. See if your dealership will let you sleep in the camper on their lot for the night. Some places have full hook-ups for you to do this. It makes a world of difference if you can go through the orientation, stay the night and then wake up with a few more questions the next day. This is very helpful for any brand new camper owners.

  4. Do a “shakedown” every year. This is the first trip of the year that you take and you go somewhere close to your home. That way in case something breaks you are close enough the grab a tool or hit the parts shop. We do this every year and it gives us peace of mind knowing we have gotten the shakedown trip done for the year.

  5. If you truly feel like it, you can video it or even bring a notebook. Keep in mind though things may move quickly through the inspection so you may not catch everything. Most people said they tried to write things down but they just got overwhelmed.

Don’t be afraid, be prepared

Overall it can be an overwhelming process so be prepared. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. In some cases, like us, you are pulling a rig that is as big as a semi. It can be very intimidating. There are a lot of moving parts so make sure you understand what each does and what to do if one of those fancy new systems fails.


Take your time and make sure you look in every nook and cranny. On our second camper we had door handles replaced and a few other cosmetic things that just weren’t right when we got it. Don’t be afraid to ask for these things. You are paying for this camper after all.

Get excited about all the new adventures you are going to have in your new camper and keep in mind this community is big, there is always someone to help at any campground.

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