Pre-purchase RV Inspection: Why Is It Important?

A pre-purchase RV inspection makes an overwhelming process much smoother. For some, the process of buying an RV is simply overwhelming. While it’s a fun purchase with a lot to look forward to, it’s also a big investment. 

Before you make your final decision, it’s important to do your research. That way, you know you have a motorhome that matches your lifestyle. One crucial aspect to this is a pre-purchase RV inspection. 

How Much Does an RV Inspection Cost?

RV inspection costs vary pretty widely, anywhere from $150 to $1000+ for a thorough inspection. Typically, this cost depends on the size and type of recreational vehicle you want to be inspected. While the price might seem daunting at first, it’s a good idea to spend this money because it saves you in the long run. 

This is because the inspection uncovers issues that need to be addressed immediately. Moreover, it helps you know whether you need to find an entirely different motorhome altogether. When you spend a bit now, you avoid spending thousands of dollars on a lemon of an RV. 

Different Types of RV Inspections

While a pre-purchase RV inspection is more common, there are a few different types of inspections to consider. 

Pre-Purchase RV Inspection

A pre-purchase inspection is one of the most thorough. This is because the inspector goes over the entire vehicle. This helps you understand what you’re buying, whether anything is missing or broken, and what to expect down the road. Additionally, you can choose to have them inspect the mechanics alone or do a full interior and exterior inspection.

In a level 1 inspection, they check the safety of the vehicle before you head out onto the road. Generally, this takes about 3 hours. With a level 2 inspection, there’s much more in-depth analysis, with fluid checks and more. 

Here’s what an RV inspector examines in a general inspection. 

  • The condition of the wheels and tires 
  • Damage from accidents, floods, etc. 
  • The condition of the exterior and underbody 
  • Cracks in glass or other issues with the windows
  • Suspension, steering, exhaust, and braking systems
  • Drive components
  • Inspection of the doors and roof
  • Test of appliances and generator
  • Inspection of the engine and transmission
  • Visual inspection of upholstery, mats, and other decorative finishes
  • Electrical system check 
  • Fluid levels and leaks

If possible, it’s a good idea to have the inspector drive the motorhome as well. Moreover, ask that they document the inspection thoroughly. This helps you keep a solid record and is especially useful when you need to decide between several RVs. 

State Inspection

Different motorhomes require different types of state inspections. For example, a Class A motorhome requires a state safety and emissions inspection while a camper usually only needs an emissions test. 

In a safety check, they examine the lights, tires, brakes, and potentially the suspension. They work to ensure the vehicle won’t pose a danger to others on the road. However, they don’t look for any potential problems or cosmetic issues. 

Can I Do My Own Pre-Purchase RV Inspection?

While you cannot perform your own mandatory safety inspections, you are able to perform a pre-purchase RV inspection if you like. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of doing this yourself. 


  • Saves money
  • You trust your own judgment – not every RV inspector is thorough, and a bad apple won’t do a great job


  • You don’t have the same experience as a licensed RV technician. 
  • You are liable for any mistakes – when inspectors do a bad job, you have recourse, but if you do the inspection yourself, you only have yourself to blame for errors

While the cost of a pre-purchase RV inspection might seem high, it’s an important part of a major purchase. It gives you the peace of mind that you made a good decision. Alternatively, it steers you away from a potentially very expensive mistake.