Tip of the Day… Waste Systems

Now that you have water in the holding tanks, it is a good time to verify that the holding tanks are working properly.  If you closed the valves before running the electric water pump test, there should be water in the holding tanks.  Verify that there is no water leaking from the dump valves.  Check the gauges to see if they work.  Note, most of these gauges will not function properly, except on a new RV.  At this stage you just want to know that the bulbs light up.

Tip of the Day…Electric Water Pump.

Most rigs have a water holding tank and an electric water pump.  You will want to test this out.  It is very simple.  Fill the water holding tank with some water.  Shut the valves to the holding tanks. You want to collect the water in the tanks for testing later on. It does not have to be full.  Now switch the system over to the internal tank and turn on the water pump.  You should hear it cycle on and then go off after a little bit.  Wait for 5 minutes or so to see if you hear it cycle on again or not.  It should not cycle on unless you have a leak somewhere.

Now open one of the faucets and check for water pressure.  Run the water for a little bit as the system may be pressured by city water still.  You should hear the water pump kick on.  Check that you have a good flow and pressure.

Tip of the Day…Finding the Rigth Price.

Tip of the Day… Finding the best price. Pricing a new or used rig is probably the hardest thing you will do when it comes buying an RV. Lets start with new RV pricing. The hard thing here is that there are no guides. Friends, family and your Facebook circles will tell you 20 to 30% off of sticker price. I have seen some sell for much less than that. Our first RV was a 2001 Jayco Legacy Designer. The sticker price was over $75000 and the dealers price was about $60,000. At the time we were buying it had sat on the lot for over a year and a half. I had researched on the web and even found a company that would let you ‘build your own RV’, which I did. I created a brand new 2004 model with all the same features and found out that they would sell me a new one for $45,000. With this information I went back to the dealer and offered them $40,000, that is 47% off the Retail price. If you are looking for a new rig and one that is last years model, I would start at 40% off and see what they say. A rig that is that old has been hurting their cash flow and they just might go for it.

Now for used rigs. NADA is your friend. Dealers will tell you it is not an accurate guide, yet if you are trading one in that is the first place they go to for the price they are willing to pay you for trade. Buying a used RV is like buying a car, there are three parts to the deal and each is separate from the others. The price you will pay, the price they will give you for your trade and the cost of the financing. So start with the NADA figures. If you have been following the inspection process, you can then determine if you want to take anything off of the pricing that needs repair and you are willing to do the work your self. Let’s take our 2001 Jayco Legacy Designer as an example. NADA has the low end at $11850 and the high end at $14,300 for retail. A search on the web shows the unit to be selling for around $13,000. The dealer will offer around $8000 for it and they will work off of a no frills unit price. They will sell with every option figured into the selling price. Same as a car dealer. So, figure out what the price of the rig is going to be. What the price of your trade in is going to be.

When it comes to your trade, are you willing to sell it your self? You can make more money, but you have the hassle of selling it, collecting the money etc.

The final area you have to work out is the financing. Your local credit union will be the best place to finance if you are a member, otherwise, contact your bank before going to the dealer. Find out what they will do for you.

Tip of the Day…Hot Skin Testing

Have you ever touched an RV and felt a little tingle?  Chances are there is an electrical problem and you were getting a mild electrical shock.  When the electricity is transferred to the skin or any metal part of the RV we call it Hot Skin.  Hot Skin comes from a screw or other modification that cuts into a voltage line (12 VDC or 120 VAC) and you touch the metal or skin of the recreational vehicle and complete the circuit to ground.  Often times this will be a very mild shock, but it can kill under the right conditions.

To test for Hot Skin you will need three things:  A multimeter, some wire (about 100 ft) and a good earth ground.  The testing is pretty simple.  Start with attaching one end of the wire to the earth ground.  The other end is connected to the black or ground lead of the multimeter.  Now, with the rv powered on, walk around the rv and place the red lead (hot lead) on various places where you can find metal.  Pay close attention to doors and windows.  Check the frame and other doors where you might be working while cleaning or doing minor repairs.

Note, do to the seriousness of this type of problem, any indication other than ZERO volts is a failure and must be verified by a qualified technician.

Tip of the Day… Steps

Something we use everyday and pay very little attention to are the stairs.  They can be mechanically or electrically operated and receive very little maintenance, until they fail.

When inspecting the stairs note the number of stairs, the condition, type of operation, do they move easily, are there non-skid stripes in place?  Have any damage or repairs been made?

Step on the stairs, do they feel solid and safe?  Electric stairs are difficult to remove and replace.  Often the attaching bolts are hard to access and may require removing the door frame to replace.  So you want to make sure these are in good working order and won’t need to be replaced any time soon.

Tip of the Day… Awnings and Toppers

Awning and slide toppers are wonderful things.  They help keep us cool, keep the rain off and protect the tops of our slide outs from debris.  Awnings, including the window awnings are made from two types of materials vinyl or cloth.  Both of these deteriorate over time.  They are also come with automatic or manual operations for the main awnings.

Inspecting the awnings will require a close examination of the materials and the operations of them.  The inspection should start while you are up on the roof or working your way around from the outside.  You will want to inspect the material, looking for holes, tears and basically any other repairs that might have been made.  Check for mold and mildew.

Inspect the hardware for loose bolts, screws and damage.  Check the operation and make sure the locks are operational.  Nothing like having an awning unwind while driving down the road.

Note the sizes of the awnings/toppers.  Slide toppers should extend over the ends of the slide-outs.  They should also be mounted on the slide-outs below the flashing on the main part of the slide.  Slide toppers mounted too high will damage the flashing on the slide-outs.

Some slide-outs have a protective covering over them that winds up to cover the awning material from hail and other debris when not in use.  Make sure that this works by operating the slide-out or retracting the awnings (main and windows).


Tip of the Day… Tires, Part 4

Inspection. So now that you know what to look for it is time to inspect those tires. I would recommend that you bring a piece of white chalk to mark the area where the size, load range, date and max pressure will be found. Some of this information will only be printed on one side of the tire. Murphy law says it will be the inside of the tire . Get on the ground and carefully search the tire until you find the information. Record it as best you can. Take the tire pressure as well. Remember, this might be less than maximum but can be adjusted.

Inspect the side walls of all the tires both inside and outside. Look for cracks, tears, gauges etc. If you find any, I would replace the tire.

Now find the weight sticker for the unit. This will be either in the cab area behind or next to the driver seat or on a towable curb side near the front of the unit. Write down the maximum weight the unit is designed to handle. You want the highest value you can find on the chart. Now for some research. Look up the make, model, size etc of the tire on the manufactures website. Compare the maximum rating of the tire with the maximum rating of the RV. IF the RV is heavier, the tires are no good and will need to be replaced. Do not let anyone tell you differently. An overweight rig will cause the tires to fail and that could cost you your life.

Tip of the Day…Tires Part 3

Age. This is the area that gets most of us. We are use to our cars and running the tires until they are bald. When we look at a used RV the tires seem great! But remember these are Special tires. They are not designed like our car and truck tires. Car and truck tires have UV protection built into the side walls and rubber. This prevents the sun from damaging the tires structure and makes them last longer. ST tires do not have this special protection. As such the sun damages the tires when they are exposed. Depending on who you listen to, the ST tires will last a few as 5 years before needing to be replaced to as many as 10 years. I have found nothing that says always change the tire after x number of years. But the apparent wisdom is no more than 7 years. So how do you determine the age of the tire?

On one side of the tire you will find the DOT information the last four digits will be the birth date of the tire. The first two digits are the week of the year and the last two digits are the year. So a tire date code of 4312 would be the 43 week of 2012. Add 7 to that and this tire would need to be changed out by 4319 or the 43 week of 2019.

Tip of the Day… Tires, Part 2

Load Range. The Department of Transportation requires that all tires have certain information branded into the side walls of the tires. The load range/ply rating identified how much load the tire is designed for at it maximum pressure. ST or Special Trailer service tires are rated one of four values.
B 4 ply Max Pressure 35 PSI
C 6 ply Max Pressure 50 PSI
D 8 ply Max Pressure 65 PSI
E 10 ply Max Pressure 80 PSI
F 12 ply Max Pressure
G 14 ply Max Pressure
H 16 ply Max Pressure
J 18 ply Max Pressure
L 20 ply Max Pressure
M 22 ply Max Pressure
N 24 ply Max Pressure

Search as I might, I could not find the maximum tire pressure for ratings F-N. Other than 120 PSI being the highest PSI. So please check the tires you have on the RV for maximum PSI.