It has recently come to my attention that many people who are just starting the process of buying their first RV do not know what to look for when trying to find a quality RV. So, I have compiled this list of features you should look for and ask about to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. We'll start from the outside and work our way in.
Air Filled or Nitrogen?
When looking at an RV, first check the tires. Are they air-filled or Nitrogen? This actually becomes pretty darn important down the road. Air-filled tires do not maintain steady pressure very well, and can actually accumulate water inside the tire which can corrode your rims. They may be less expensive now, but replacing entire rims can get pretty darn costly.
Nitrogen-filled tires are definitely the way to go with trailers. Since they maintain steady tire pressure, you are going to get a much smoother ride out of them which is a huge plus when you consider all of your nice camping gear that would be rattling around otherwise. Nitrogen tires also do not accumulate any water in your tire. So, in the long run, a Nitrogen filled tire is going to give you a smoother ride and prevent most costly wheel replacements down the road.
Fiberglass siding is the new craze in RVs. But, be warned: All fiberglass sidings are NOT created equal. Many manufacturers use a pinch-roll process to bond the walls together. That means that the glue has about 3-5 seconds to set, and it could have air bubbles in it because it had to set so quickly. Air bubbles are an RV owner's worst enemy. When there are air bubbles in the glue, water can get in them and cause delamination in the walls. Delamination is virtually irreversable and severely decreases the value of your RV. The process you WANT to have in your manufacturing process is the vacuum-bonding style. This is generally a forty-five minute process where pressure is applied even to the whole wall using a vacuum. This process ensures that there are no air bubbles which means you are almost guaranteed to never experience delamination and your RV will hold its value better than most others in the market.
Now, this is not something that would be readily apparant to even the most savvy of consumers. When you are looking at purchasing an RV, be sure to ask the salesperson if the roof has a rubber liner and how for down it goes. The rubber liner is incredibly important to you for a few reasons. One, it helps ensure that your roof is leak-proof. That kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it? Who wants to be camping and find out that their roof is leaky? Two, you need to ensure that the rubber liner goes relatively far down the sides of the unit. Some manufacturers only line the top of the roof, but it is the seals and trim that really need the added protection of the rubber liner. In any RV worth its snuff, the rubber liner will go at least a fourth of the way down the walls if not more. The third thing you should look for in the rubber lining is that it is made entirely of one piece of rubber. Think about it. If the rubber liner is there to seal in the coach properly, then you probably don't want a bunch of seams in the liner itself.
General Wall Construction
Aluminum construction is pretty much the only way trailers are built these days, so that is an easy. But, there is a feature you should the salesperson about that quality RV's will have along with that aluminum frame. Top-notch trailers will also have real wood studs where the cabinets are mounted. This is to ensure that the screws that are holding the cabinets on the wall have no way of backing themselves out down the road. When the cabinets are mounted with a metal screw into a metal stud, the vibrations of traveling can cause the screws to back themselves out of the stud, and then you are left with a mess when you should be relaxing. So, just be sure to ask your salesperson how the cabinets are mounted and save yourself from a huge headache later on.
This is kind of a two part section for you to ask about. First, you've got the flooring itself. Ask your salesperson what exactly is holding you above the ground. Lower-quality trailers will have anything from pressed board to particle board. If you wouldn't want that junk in your home furniture, why on Earth would you want it for your floor? Having pressed board, particle board, etc. for you floor essentially turns into cardboard flooring if it gets wet or if you just use your trailer frequently. Make sure that before you sign any papers to find out what is below your feet. High quality trailers are going to have 3/4" tongue-in-groove PLYWOOD flooring, which is the same stuff they use is most houses. The second thing you should look at on the floors is the kind of linoleum they use. Is it wrapped completely around the flooring? What kind of warranties does it have? Let's face it. Your linoleum is going to get abused. You should definitely make sure that the linoleum used in your trailer is up to the task of surviving your lifestyle.
Finally, find out what kind of warranties the manufacturer offers. If a manufacturer is proud of their product, they are going to offer top-notch warranties right off the bat. If there are no manufacturer warranties, then they obviously aren't proud of their product and aren't going to stand behind it. If it has always been your dream to own an RV, then you should look for something that the manufacturer is proud to make and will stand behind.
The last piece of advice I can give you start the journey of buying an RV is to really listen to your salesperson. If they do not illustrate any of the quality features I have listed above, then chances are good that the trailer does not have them. If all that the salesperson can say about the unit is that it is light and inexpensive, then I would personally run as fast as I could away from them. If you have any questions about other things you should look for, or if you have any suggestions on other things that other consumers should seek out in a trailer please feel free to email me or leave it in the comments!