RV Ready Set Go: Hit the Road for Summer Vacation with a 5th Wheel


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Do you intend to take a vacation this summer? Are you planning to go RV style with a travel trailer or a fifth wheel? Pulling a trailer is a great way to enjoy a vacation without having to check in and out of motel rooms, sleep in unfamiliar beds, and be without a kitchen to fix a few familiar meals. A trailer is also a great choice over a motor home as you can disconnect your truck and do some sightseeing without the inconvenience of the RV. Choosing to purchase a used travel trailer or fifth wheel is a fantastic way to save money; however, it can set you up for some serious headaches if you are not careful in your purchase. A superb clean-up or patch job can hide an existing problem just long enough for someone to take the trailer off of the previous owner’s hands. Before you drive away with that great deal, be sure to know what trouble signs to look out for so that your summer vacation is not spoiled by a trailer deal gone sour.

Airstream Travel Trailer

Interior Interests

  • Black spots – Mildew and mold are the two worst enemies of an RV’s interior. Unfortunately, these problems can be temporarily hidden by a quick coat of paint, some wallpaper, or even a good cleaning. While this may temporarily cause a spot to disappear, the mold can quickly return. Check the caulking and corners of the RV as these areas are most likely to reveal any mold and mildew issues.
  • Stained Ceiling – Thoroughly check the ceiling for any discoloration that could indicate a leak. The last thing you want is to wake up with water dripping on you from above.
  • Soft Floor – A rotted floor will lead to expensive repairs, so don’t be ashamed to thoroughly check the floor, even removing your shoes to get a better feel for any sags or soft spots.

Other interior warning signs are far easier to notice: a non-functioning appliance, torn cushions, worn out carpet, etc. While it is not impossible to redo the interior of an RV, it is important to factor the cost into the purchase price when deciding if it truly is a good deal.

Structural Integrity

Like it or not, one of the best things you can do when looking at a used travel trailer is to get down and dirty. Taking a look underneath the trailer may not be pleasant, but it may very well be the best thing you can do to avoid problems that may occur just a few miles down the road. Be on the lookout for any kind of damage: welded areas, cracks, axle damage, and especially rust. The framework underneath the RV is what supports the whole structure. If there is any damage on the framework, you will soon have problems that reveal themselves on the inside, cabinet doors that do not close, leaks in the ceiling, etc.

Mechanical Issues

Every feature of the RV should be checked to ensure that it works. After all, what is the benefit of having an automated roll-out awning if it does not work? Do not just take the owner’s word for it; try the various devices yourself.

A Second Pair of Eyes

One bit of advice that just might save you the most trouble is to take a friend along when shopping for a used RV. This is especially great if your friend already owns an RV. He or she will have a better grasp on what things to look out for. Even if the friend has never owned an RV, he is far less likely to fall in love with the trailer and turn a blind eye to any faults since he will not be the owner.

If you find a trailer that passes all these tests with flying colors and is a great buy, then congratulations! Enjoy many fantastic vacations with your own home on wheels.

Josh Moran is a marketing specialist for RV123.com, a company that specializes in used campers and motorhomes.

Image credit: brewbooks via Flickr

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