It is unfortunate that not even the used 5th Wheels market is spared from sleazy salesmen. This is not to say that the person that is selling you his RV is sleazy, it is just good sense to do a thorough inspection on an investment you are going to be stuck with in the foreseeable future. Buying a 5th Wheel is not a small feat to accomplish. You have probably saved for quite some time to be able to afford one. Your quality of life (in the 5th wheel) will be much better if your acquisition meets your requirements.
It is always smart to inspect your 5th wheel before it is towed to your preferred destination. We have developed a comprehensive list of the things that you will need to have checked (sometimes with the help of a professional) so that you can ask for warranty repairs long before delivery.
The best way to go about the used 5th Wheel checklist is to check it against a new 5th Wheel first so that you can established the benchmarks. For specialized areas such as welds and axles may need to hire an independent qualified technician to do the inspection. It is also advisable to read through other RV inspection checklists to get more insight on what you should inspect. This will also be a great resource to get checklists.
5th Wheel Inspection Sheets
Sheet 1: 5th Wheel Details (please fill in the details)
|5th Wheel Number:||Asking Price:|
|Year of Manufacture:||Plate Number:|
Items You Will Need for Inspection
- A Pen and a Notebook – You will need to write down the things you want replaced/repaired before you make the final payment for the used 5th wheel. Every time you note a problem, ensure you note it. It may be hard to remember from memory if there is a huge list of repairs needed.
- Tape Measure – You will probably need a 50-foot tape to help you calculate the area of different compartments, ceiling clearance, total surface area of the 5th Wheel etc.
- Calculator – You do not want to make errors when calculating the surface area or calculating what you need to pay the used 5th Wheel owner.
- Pliers – They will help you open tight nuts.
- Flashlight – Some dark corners or under the 5th wheel will be dark and you will need flashlight illumination.
- Screwdriver (flathead and star)
- A tire pressure measuring gauge that can take up to 100 psi
- Working gloves
- Shoes with rubber soles for better traction
- Creeper for underside inspection
- Rags for wiping hands after checking fluid levels
- Test trip for engine coolant
What to Inspect on the Outside Walls
- Check the general surface condition. Is it scratched? Has it been repainted recently? Do you see any signs of accident? Some of these things may help you negotiate a better price.
- Leakage – Ensure that there are no signs of holes that can leak water into the interior.
- Are there seals and caulking? This means that the 5th wheel has seen better days.
- Ensure that the doors and windows are in tip top working conditions. Their screens should be able to waterproof the 5th wheel’s interior.
- Are there air vents? Are the vents clogged?
- Ensure that the hand rails are properly screwed to avoid accidents
- Awning mechanisms, canvas, and sensors should be in tiptop condition. Awning proofs the front end of the 5th wheel from rain, sun and wind.
- Check the mirrors and lights and ensure that they are working.
- Ensure the steps at the entryway are properly fixed and have a rough surface
- You would want to ensure that the sockets and other connectors are properly covered to prevent rain water seeping in.
- Ensure that the locks and fuel doors are in great working condition
- External slide seals, motorized slide operations, and slide locking mechanism should all be working well.
- Test the operability of other expansions and foldouts.
What to Check on the Exterior Side of the Roof
- Ensure the general surface conditions has been well taken of.
- What is the condition of the edges and corners? The points where the walls attach tend to rust.
- Are there signs that the roof is leaking?
- Check whether the seals, caulks, vents, and vent hoods are all properly sealed and working.
- What is the condition of skylights?
- Check to ensure that the top slide covers are working.
- Inspect the air conditioners, the satellite dishes and the antennas
- Is the ladder that goes to the roof working?
- Are the solar panels still operational?
What to Check on the Underside
- Ensure there are no fluid leaks – be it oil on axle or water from the kitchen
- Check for signs of repair on the frame conditions and negotiate the price accordingly.
- Ensure that the welds and axles look well maintained.
- Inspect the suspension and braking wiring mechanism and ensure that it works. Note that this may not be present in some 5th wheels since most are towed.
- Your 5th wheel plumbing needs a thorough check. Get a plumber if you must to check the holding water tanks, the underside insulation, the hoses, wires and holding pipes.
- Other things to check on the underside include; landing legs, stabilizing jacks and rear differential
What to Check in Storage Compartments
- Ensure overall condition of the storage compartments is in tip top condition
- Check for signs of a leak
- Lower compartments need a thorough inspection on the floor.
- Use your flashlight to inspect the darker corners of the storage compartments.
- Ensure that the locking and sliding mechanism, the door and its seals, as well as lights in the storage compartments are working.
What to Inspect on Wheels
- Check the tire pressure, tread, and date of manufacture.
- Ensure there is a spare wheel
- Check that the wheel rims are in tip top condition.
Utilities to Check
- Ensure that all connectors and power cables are working.
- Make sure your 5th wheel’s batteries and disconnect switch are in tip top condition.
- Ensure that the sliding tray where the battery is fastened is properly secured.
- Other connectors you need to check up include; telephone, satellite, cable TV, outside shower, sewer hose and water hose connectors.
- Check the water valves on the tank, drain, and antifreeze.
- Check the generator fluid levels, noise level, and exhaust location.
- Check the black tank and gray tank dumping valves.
The Trailer Coupling Components
- Check the overall king pin and/or tongue condition.
- Ensure that the hitching equipment such as sway bars and weight distributing hitch.
- Ensure that the 5th wheel has safety chains.
- Check the connector and umbilical cord for trailer coupling.
- Does the 5th wheel come with trailer plug and wiring harness?
- Examine the cable and switch for breaking away.
General Necessities to Check
- The floor plans of the kitchen, bath, bedroom and living room.
- Ensure that you can access the necessities using slides in
- To ensure the strength of the floor, stomp around and check the floor for weaknesses.
- Make sure that the walls the slide internal seals, the windows and their drapes and shades are all in great working conditions.
- Check the latches and locks on the door.
- Ensure that the cabinetry finish, its hinges, slides, latches and interior are all in great conditions.
- Always remove the drawers for inspection.
- Check whether the ceiling is sagging, see to the fans and exhaust vents.
- Does the 5th wheel has furniture, is the furniture movable?
- Are there enough beds for your purposes including mattresses, pullout beds and fold beds?
- Ensure that the 5th wheel doesn’t have pests and rodents.
What to Expect in the Kitchen
- Sinks, countertops, countertop extensions.
- Oven, burners, stoves, coffeemaker, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, icemaker
- Drinking water filter
- Pilot light
- Caulking and seals on the sink.
What to Expect in the Bathroom
- Ensure the toilet flushes
- Check the shower fixtures, tub walls, sinks and solid waste tank.
- Dryer vent
- Washer hoses – check for leaks
- Unscrew panels of the shower head and check for leaks
- Ensure that the washer and dryer connections are tight
What to Check in Water Systems
- Ensure the water heat and pump works properly.
- Check whether the pump shuts down automatically and that all its faucets work.
- Does the water tank has a level indicator?
What to Check on Waste Systems
- Level indicator
- Shower and sinks drains
- Ensure that the foul odor doesn’t come back into the 5th wheel after flushing.
What to Check in the Air Conditioning Systems
- Ensure that the furnace and air conditioning controls are working.
- Ensure that the cool air comes from the ceiling vents
- Does the 5th wheel has ceiling fans? Are the vents controlled by a thermostat? Is it working?
Entertainment systems To Expect
- TV, Audio equipment, DVD player, satellite, TV sliding mechanism
- TV antenna and signal amplifier
- Controls for lowering, rotating and raising the antennae
- Controls for rotating, raising, and lowering the satellite dish
Must-Have Safety Devices
- Exit windows for emergency
- Fire extinguisher
- Propane gas detector
- Smoke detector and
- Carbon monoxide detector.
- Lights should have 120 volts AC or 12 volt DC current. Use a current meter to check.
- Ensure that the outlets have power and that the DC ports have power.
- Ensure that the GFCI breakers are in working conditions.
- Among the power sources you can expect on the 5th wheel include solar and generator. Solar is more efficient.
- Ensure you know the location of the circuit breakers and fuses.
Obviously this checklist is not exhaustive. It is just a starting point from which you can grow your checklist in order to ensure you get value for money. Maybe you should be a member of RV enthusiasts’ forums to share your story with other fifth wheel enthusiasts.