You just bought an RV, now what?
You researched it, found a dealer, ordered it, waited for it and the big day finally arrived; the day you get to bring your new RV home. The excitement and anticipation can be overwhelming, and then suddenly there it is sitting in the driveway. What do you do now?
Well before you jump in and head out on a cross-country RV trip, let’s think about this for a minute. The dealership you purchased the RV from is required to perform what is known as a Pre-Delivery Inspection, or PDI, on the RV prior to you taking delivery of the unit. A PDI is a safety/operational check to make sure all of the systems and appliances are operating properly and that your new RV is ready to go camping. These PDIs are quite thorough and for the most part technicians will catch and repair any deficiencies noted during the inspection.
With that said, RVs are very complex, with wiring and plumbing systems routed throughout the walls, roof and undercarriage of the RV. So it is possible for some potential problems to be missed during the PDI process.
This is why I always recommend taking a short, close to home shakedown trip, before venturing off on a longer RV trip. When I say close to home it could be in your backyard or at a KOA campground close to where you live. All you really need is access to water and electricity to give the new RV a good once-over. Some RV dealers offer to let you spend a night or two camping out at the dealership before taking the RV home. They hook you up to a water and electrical supply and you get to test the unit out, making sure everything operates properly.
Regardless of where this shakedown trip takes place it serves several purposes:
1) Taking a shakedown trip allows you to identify any problems and have repairs made while you are still close to home. It is much easier to have your dealership make repairs than it is to find a repair facility when you are traveling. During the shakedown trip keep an eye out for things like water leaks or other shortcomings and for simple things like a cabinet or drawer that needs to be adjusted. Keep a pen and paper close by so you can make notes about any repairs that need to be accomplished.
2) A shakedown cruise will let you know what you forgot to pack, so you don’t forget it when it’s time for that two-month long cross-country RV trip. Again, keep a pen and paper close at hand and write down whatever comes to mind in the way of personal belongings and supplies that you just can’t live without when you are camping.
3) A shakedown trip gives you an opportunity to try all of the onboard systems and familiarize yourself with how things work on the RV. I also recommend that you purchase an RV training DVD specific to the type you of RV you purchase to assist you in learning about your new RV. The more you know about your new RV the more enjoyable your RV experiences.
If you find any shortcomings during the shakedown trip, schedule an appointment with the dealership to have the required repairs made. When you take the RV in for repairs go over all of your concerns with the service writer. Point everything out on the RV so they understand exactly what you are talking about and they can expedite the repairs.
When you get the RV back the only thing left to do is plan your trip, load it up, hook it up, fuel it up and JUST RV IT!
Mark J. Polk
For more information on how to purchase, use and maintain your RV be sure and visit www.rveducation101.com.