In the market for a new RV? Unlike buying a car, RV purchases take time and require more thorough inspections, system demonstrations, and preparation. Instead of picking out a rig you like on the lot and taking it home, after you choose your RV, it could be months to weeks before it’s ready for you at the dealership—and once it’s there, you’ll need to complete a dealer walkthrough before taking your rig home. This is where your RV is inspected, and you can get yourself familiarized with all the features of your new (or new to you) rig.
Whether you’re buying used or new, here’s what you need to know to prepare yourself for a successful RV dealer walkthrough.
What Is a Dealer Walkthrough?
During your walkthrough, you’ll inspect your RV to ensure that everything is in good, working condition, and ready for you to take it home. The dealer will schedule an appointment with the service department so an RV technician can demonstrate all of the systems and features of your RV. The goal of a walkthrough is to make sure you’re comfortable operating all components of your RV, so don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you might have about your rig.
Scheduling Your Walkthrough
Most walkthroughs can take up to 2 hours, so plan your schedule accordingly. If you’re purchasing your RV as a couple, it’s a good idea to ensure both parties can attend the walkthrough, and if possible, you should organize child care during this time. Not only can walkthroughs lack entertainment value for younger kids, but it’s also important that your attention is focused on learning the ins and outs of your new RV.
If you purchased your RV far from home, consider planning an overnight stay nearby. You can test everything out at the campground and receive additional support from the dealership.
Preparing for Your Walkthrough
Before you make your way to the dealership to walk through your rig, here are a few things you’ll want to do beforehand and some items to bring with you.
Towing Information and Equipment
Make sure you know the towing capacity of your vehicle if you’re buying a towable RV. Also, ensure your vehicle has the proper trailer brake controls. Some vehicles have these factory installed, while others will need to be modified.
If you didn’t purchase your towing gear through your dealer, make sure you have the following items before arriving at your walkthrough:
- Appropriate hitch installed on tow vehicle (for a towable RV)
- Sway bars and weight distribution system (for a towable RV)
- Dolly or tow bar setup (optional for motorized RV)
If you’re using sway bars, a weight distribution hitch, or a tow bar the technician should help you properly connect the system. And if you have a brake control system, the tech should show you how to use it and adjust the settings.
You’ll need to have insurance in place before leaving the dealership with your new RV. Before your walkthrough date, research RV insurance options and choose one that meets your needs.
Items to Bring to Your Dealer Walkthrough
From taking notes to system inspections, here are a few simple items to bring along with you to make your walkthrough easier.
- Pencil or pen and a notebook
- Fully-charged cell phone with storage for photos and video
- Tire pressure gauge
- Basic toolkit
When taking video, don’t record the entire walkthrough in one file. Record short segments focused on specific information so it’s easier to reference later.
RV Technician Walkthrough Checklist
The RV technician will demonstrate how all systems and components of your rig work. They should also answer any questions or concerns you have. If you don’t understand something or if you’d like to practice using a certain system under their supervision, just ask. Their job is to get you as comfortable and confident as possible to take your rig home.
Here’s a list of things that should be demonstrated during your walkthrough:
- Electric, water, and sewer hookups
- Filling and emptying the fresh water tank
- Winterizing and dewinterizing
- Air conditioning and heating systems
- Opening and closing awnings and slides
- Television, stereo, and Bluetooth capability
- Operating the refrigerator, stovetop, oven, microwave, and any other appliances
- Pull-out or jackknife sofa beds
- LP gas tank and regulator operation
- Battery location and operation
- Generator operation
Ask your technician to help you measure the height, width, and length of your RV before you leave the dealership for navigation safety.
Your Inspection Checklist
Besides the RV technician, you also need to check and inspect areas of your RV before leaving the lot. This way, if any repairs are needed (even in a new RV) you can address these issues at your walkthrough. If any repairs can’t be fixed immediately on-site, agree in writing on any repairs or modifications before finalizing the purchase.
Here’s what you should inspect at the dealership:
- Open and close all cabinets, drawers, and doors.
- Open and close all exterior compartment doors.
- Visually inspect seams, walls, flooring, and the roof.
- Turn all lights on and off.
- Use the entertainment system.
- Inspect the exterior from front to back.
- Look at the underbelly of the RV.
- Check all locks and keys.
With these tips in mind, you should be prepared for a successful dealer walkthrough that leaves you feeling confident about hitting the road with your new purchase.