How to Learn What You Need to Know About an RV
I always advise RV shoppers to do a thorough job of researching any unit they think they might want to buy. The problem is that many people have no idea abut where to find the information they need. Sometimes they don't even know exactly what to look for.
The more important items include but are not limited to where to find
- honest and reliable repair shops,
- parts for older coaches,
- reasonably price and safe storage facilities,
- insurance coverage or
- anything else related to RV ownership
It takes time and effort to learn about these things, but you can find what you need more easily if you have a guide such as this one to help you.
Contact the RV's Manufacturer
Once you know the year, brand and model of a coach, your first step is to learn all you can about how it is constructed.
The best way to do this is to contact the manufacturer and ask about the materials that they use when building your specific unit.
You can find their phone number with a simple online search. If manuals came with your coach, the manufacturer's contact number should also be listed there. Once you have their contact information, you can speak with someone in their construction or sales department and ask questions about
- the thickness of the walls,
- the amount of insulation,
- the type of framework used,
- the brand of chassis and the weight it is rated to carry,
- the roofing materials and
- whether the coach has full or partial body paint.
If you’ve ever been to an RV factory or watched a YouTube video such as the one below that shows you how they are put together, you'll see that under the glitz of fancy flooring and rich upholstery often lie thin materials that are quickly installed and don’t hold up well to road vibration and weather.
It is usually shocking to watch this type of construction, but it's better to know about it so that you'll know what you're dealing with when problems arise.
Your manuals will also provide a good deal of information, but there is nothing as good as talking to the source or watching a video to get a clear picture about how your coach has been constructed.
Call the Manufacturers of the RV's Systems
Few people realize that the systems used in RVs are created by a variety of manufacturers. For this reason, if you want to know more about any of them, you have to contact the companies that created them by using the same methods noted above or, if possible, checking the nomenclature on each item to find this information.
While doing that, you should also write down the name, model and serial numbers of each item. If you can't find it, call the parts department of the dealer that sold you the unit as he likely will be able to help you with this task.
- If all he can tell you is the name of the company that created the product, you will need to find their phone number and contact them with your questions.
- If the product is no longer manufactured, you may have to search for dealers that specialize in providing outdated equipment.
Sometimes an experienced mechanic can also provide some of this information.
Doing all of this can be time consuming and tedious, but sometimes it's the only way to learn what you need to know.
Years ago my husband and I found that we needed to replace the small clips that held our older coach's screens in place only to find that nobody was selling them! It took quite awhile to find some, but by using the above methods, we finally did.
Search NADA for Pricing
You can search the RV section of NADA.com to find basic pricing information about any recreational vehicle that has ever been manufactured.
The values you will see are not written in stone, but are good benchmarks for determining fair market value. How to Know What an RV Is Worth will give you more information about how to determine an RV's value.
This is good information to have if you are thinking of selling or trading in your travel unit because knowing it can save you a good deal of money.
Recently a reader asked me what they should ask for a 3 year old gas motorhome they wanted to sell. NADA figures showed that they paid $122,000 for their unit when new but that the average retail value was only $89,000 and the low retail was $69,000. This means that in the best case scenario, selling would equal a financial loss of $33,000 and in the worst case they'd lose $53,000.
These figures no doubt shocked them, but at least they had a basic idea of value to help them decide how to proceed.
It's always a good idea to keep track of your coach's value, and this is an easy, cost-efficient way of doing so.
Read the Owner’s Manual
As noted earlier, the owner's manual can also be a very helpful source of important information. If you don't have one, an online search usually will produce one that you can download and use. Conversely you can contact the manufacturer to see if he has one he can provide.
The bottom line is that an RV's manual is an important resource for you to have. One of the reasons is that it often shows the schematics for the engine, plumbing and other important systems.
People tend to ignore these manuals because they seem complicated, but they can be extremely helpful,
For example, my husband and I were having problems with toilet clogs, even though we thought we were doing all of the right things. However, by checking out the plumbing diagrams in our manual, we discovered that the pipes that leave our sewer tank have two 90 degree turns in them that can stop waste materials from passing through easily.
As a result, we made some basic repairs and changes and resolved this issue!
People think that all structural issues are the same in RVs, but they are not.
For example, some allow all water from the shower and toilet to empty into one tank, while others separate the shower and sink water from the commode water so that they go into separate tanks.
This is important to know because in the first instance, the sewer tank fills more quickly than in the second, which means you need to dump more often or risk backup and flooding issues.
Owner’s manuals are chock full of meaningful information that will show you everything from which cleaning items are safest to use to how to contact the manufacturer if you need parts or assistance.
Visit Online RV Forums
Online RV forums are another good source of information. You can join or just stop by to see if others who own your type of travel unit have had similar problems to yours and, if so, to see how they dealt with them.
By visiting one or more of these forums, you'll be giving yourself the opportunity to meet RVers who represent many years of experience and are willing to share their knowledge with you.
The best way to find them is to do a Google search for online RV forums or, conversely, to type in the year, brand and model of your coach followed by a brief description of your issue.
For example, you might type wordage such as "1999 Country Coach Magna generator problem".
Fellow owners are out there right now waiting to hear from you. It costs nothing to join one of these forums, but the payback for doing so can be extremely satisfying.
Contact RV Owners' Clubs
Some of the more popular brands of RV such as Airstream and Safari have clubs owners of those brands can join that provide access to all sorts of information and help from others who own your brand, year and model of travel unit.
There are many benefits to joining such clubs since they sponsor rallies, caravans and other fun activities that allow them to personally meet.
Sometimes manufacturers' representatives show up at the rallies and offer free and discounted repairs and upgrades to people who need them. I met a man awhile back who went to a Safari Owners' Club rally and bought two beautiful captain's chairs for half price!
To find a club, search the net to see if one exists that will work for you. Not all brands have clubs, but if you find one that is a match, you'd do well to join it.
Watch YouTube Videos
YouTube is another excellent resource for learning about your RV's systems and how to understand and work with them.
Many companies and individuals post videos that provide information about how to make repairs, problems they have encountered since owning their coaches, how to inspect units and more.
There is nothing more effective than actually seeing how something is done, and YouTube videos provide that experience.
Some share the bad experiences they had due to the fact that they did not find out about various things until something went wrong. Watching them can be an important tool that will help you to learn what you want to know.
The good news is that these videos cost nothing to watch!
Inspect the Coach
If you really want to learn about an RV, you should take the time to inspect it . The Best Way to Avoid Buying a Defective RV tells you how to do this properly.
If you don't do this, you will eliminate your chances of finding flaws you could not possibly know about otherwise.
Problems often occur in hidden areas such as on the rear walls of closets, in the interiors of the ceilings in upper cabinets, behind toilets, under sinks, around window frames and around any items that attach to roofs and sidewalls as well as in basement storage areas and even underneath coaches.
By carefully inspecting every area of a recreational vehicle, you can learn a great deal about it that will help you decide whether you want to own it.
For example, checking behind sofas and toilets can reveal leaks you didn't know your RV had!
Call Your Insurance Agent
If you take the time to contact your insurance agent and supply them with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of an RV, they can tell you whether it has ever been in an accident, has been stolen or has any title defects.
This information is vital to know, yet few people ever think to ask about it.
Make sure that you do!
Good Resources Are Key
It takes time and a bit of creativity to find the information you need to know about an RV.
Recreational Vehicles are more complex than people realize, but learning about yours will help you to keep it in good shape and will also save you money. The trick is to find the resources that will help you to learn what you need to know.
There is a world of information dealing with all aspects of RV ownership, so the more you know, the better off you will be.
For example, did you know that there are campgrounds with full hookups scattered around the U.S. where you can stay for free? Are you aware of the huge savings you can get by joining certain discount camping clubs? Do you know how much you should pay for detailing or storage?
These things and more are all part of owning an RV, and you would do well to learn about them!
Do you think you know as much about your RV as you should?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 Sondra Rochelle