RVs need to be inspected before they are licensed, with some states requiring an inspection each year before the vehicle will be allowed to drive again. Further, many states and borders will require inspections of the vehicle before it is allowed to enter with hefty fees if it’s not done.
There are many different types of RVs, and each one requires a different kind of inspection before you can go and explore the world. It is essential to understand what each type is, what type you have, and the total impact of the inspection on your yearly traveling budget.
What Are Different Classes Of RV That Must Be Inspected?
There are several different classes that an RV can be, with each requiring different levels of inspection and maintenance. It is essential to note this as you will most likely have to pay more or less depending on the type of RV you choose to buy.
Further, as each type of RV can be used in vastly different situations, it is important to note that the cost of these inspections will be varied. Many people assume that the inspection will the exact cost of their car; however, the costs increase significantly as the size of the vehicle increases.
Class A RVs are built on either a truck frame, a bus frame, or a large vehicle frame; traditionally, these are what people imagine when talking about an RV. The largest class of RVs are always the most luxurious RVs as well as they have several appliances in them usually found in the home.
While these RVs are larger, they are relatively easy to drive if you have good spatial awareness; however, they will be the most heavily inspected. Further, because of their size, weight, and overall emissions, they are usually the most expensive to license.
We like to imagine these as the people that got tired of living in a tent and had easy access to some van. Usually, these are custom-built, either by the owner or a company that has only just started specializing, with each class B vehicle having a custom set of things in them.
Because these are converted vehicles, they don’t require special licenses, they are straightforward to drive, and most inspections are only done at the border. Often, these are only used by one or two people at a time, focusing on camp anywhere the vehicle can fit.
The easiest way of thinking about a class C RV is when thinking of an RV that has been sliced in half; they are the smallest sized RVs that are purpose-built for the purpose. Most class C RVs can be tricky to drive but are easier to inspect as they are so much smaller but will require a special license.
The capabilities of these RVs usually include cooking facilities, refrigerators, heating units, beds, and some living space for daily relaxing. We like to point to these RVs as the quintessential RV experience as they are slightly larger than a van but offer enough to relax in for a weekend.
If you’ve ever gone camping during the summer, you have seen these trailers at least once; they are inconspicuous trailers that fold out to provide enough room for a family. These trailers require little to no inspection that a standard trailer would not get licensed each year.
Further, because of the size differences between these, the overall weight of the trailer can differ significantly, allowing most vehicles to tow them. Many more experienced RV owners that are taking the extended family with them like to tow a folding trailer behind them to create a mini tent city.
A travel trailer is an RV that needs to be towed using a vehicle like a pickup truck, SUV, or van that has the required hitch equipment. These trailers weigh a lot more than most trailers and have several limitations upon them that will be inspected regularly.
Usually, these trailers will have their braking system with a unique twin wheel system that allows them to be towed for long distances. These are attractive options as they are not as tightly controlled as class a to c RVs and can be stored away when not needed without maintenance.
Fifth Wheel Trailer
Possibly the biggest out of any of the vehicles here, these trailers need special pickup trucks with the right equipment attached to move them from place to place. Further, they have several parts that extend out when the trailer has been parked, making the inside of the trailer significantly larger.
Because these trailers are usually moved to a specific location and then left there, they can be quite expensive to inspect before moving them. Many states have specific laws and requirements that these trailers must adhere to, making them a lot more expensive to transport.
Should You Get An RV Inspected?
If you are planning on purchasing an RV that is not brand new, we highly recommend that you have someone inspect it before you purchase it. These inspections can often find small faults that you may not be aware of before purchasing, which could have caused major issues later.
Once you have your RV, it will be greatly beneficial to have the vehicle inspected once a year to check on every part of it. Not only will this tell you what needs to be fixed, replaced, or adjusted, it will allow you to have a paper with a recent inspection date on the RV when crossing state lines.
Many places allow you to move through faster when you can present a document to show that the RV has been inspected recently. Allowing you to skip long wait times and lines when crossing country borders and some state borders, with many veteran RV owners, always have the paper ready.
What Does An RV Inspection Consist Of?
When getting your RV inspected, there is a setlist of things that the inspector will look at, each closer to the fine details and condition of your vehicle. Many RV owners never do more than a cursory glance at their machine, only realizing its faults when someone else is looking.
Inspectors generally all look for the same list of things, each helping them determine the overall quality and age of the RV. If they find that the RV has been neglected, chances are the rest of the machine will not have been taken care of properly either, leading them to do deeper inspections.
- Body Condition: If your RV has bumps, scratches, marks, and other things, then the inspector may not care. However, loose body parts, missing parts, and broken lights will cause your RV to fail inspection almost immediately.
- Wheels: The most significant cause of failed inspections is an RV’s wheels, as they need to be quite deep to be proper. Your wheels cannot have less than one millimeter thick ridges; an RV may require more because of the long distances.
- Accident & Flood Damage: Many RV owners have their vehicles from second-hand lots or maybe even rebuilt, which can lead to the RV having prior damage. Inspectors look for signs of this and may fail the RV if not correctly fixed.
- Drive Components: The drive components, the steering, the lights, the wipers, the windows, and everything else that helps you control the vehicle will be inspected. A failure here may mean that you cannot drive the RV away from the inspection location.
- Engine & Transmission: The heart and mind of the RV will be thoroughly inspected and tested by the inspector. They will make sure these two components can handle the extreme amount of stress placed on them.
- Fluid Levels: A point of many failures, the fluids need to be clean, new, and topped up for the inspection to pass. Many RV owners forget that even windshield wiper fluid is considered an essential part of driving an RV.
- Interior Inspection: The interior, the appliances, what gives them power, and everything else inside the RV will also be inspected. A mess of wires, open cables, and broken machines can cause the RV to fail some inspection parts.
Your RV will be inspected thousands of times throughout its lifetime, with many owners almost losing count of how many times it is done. As the RV ages, it becomes more difficult to pass these inspections, especially if you have done little to no maintenance.
Whatever you do, please make sure that the RV can move before you plan on having it inspected.