I've always advocated that the new owners of a RV should inspect
the vehicle BEFORE the final papers are signed and especially BEFORE
the dealer gets the final payment. You'll find that in some cases there is a world
of difference in how you are treated in respect to getting any small problems taken
care of promptly by the service department. If you haven't already signed for delivery,
then these little problems will get TOP PRIORITY in the service department.
The premise is simple: the dealer needs to move the new vehicle
as fast as possible.
Once you own it instead of the dealer, then you wait in
line with all the other people getting service. Plus there is always the problem
with situations in which things that are missing when you take delivery and they
are not discovered until several days later. It's very tough to prove later that
something was missing.
Proper Frame of Mind:
Before you start out for the dealership with the expectation
of picking up your new vehicle, you MUST get into the proper frame of mind:
you may be faced with the possibility of driving back home without the new vehicle
if your inspection reveals some faults that should be corrected before you accept
delivery. Your dealer inspected the vehicle when it was shipped to him. You need
to do the same exact thing. However, since you have no service and repair capability
of your own, you can't just note the fact of discrepancies, but must be ready
to REJECT delivery for any major fault.
The easy way to do this is to make sure you haven't already
planned an immediate trip and as a consequence of not taking delivery it would
disrupt all of your prematurely made travel plans. In other words, don't have
a RV trip planned right after picking up the vehicle. When you go to the dealership,
arrive early in the morning. This will give them time to make any "quick and easy"
adjustments" that may pop up during your inspection. DO NOT arrive just before
closing time and expect to get anything reasonable done.
The dealer will probably have a walk-through or explanation of everything by
a sales or service associate. No problem, let him do his thing. He will probably
show you how everything works and then ask if you have any questions. When he
is done, just inform him that you would now like to take your own checklist and
see if you can do and locate everything he just explained to you. He will probably
smile politely and either accompany you or tell you he'll be inside the sales
office while you do your own walk-through. In reality, he goes back inside and
tells the salesman, "Damn, they're going through everything with a microscope!".
It doesn't matter if the dealer representative stays with you or leaves.
Do not be afraid to pull out a sheet of paper and start checking off items
one-by-one. This is exactly how it is done when the dealer takes delivery
of the vehicle. Why should you be any different. The following checklist page
is my attempt to create for you a list of items that you need to check. Most of
these items will probably have already been pointed out by the dealer representative
but now seeing if you can locate and verify the acceptability of the item is like
a little test for you to see if you've been paying attention. Just whip out and
unfold that sheet of paper and continue on to the actual checklist.
If you are purchasing a Rialta Motor Home, I highly recommend that you follow
this checklist as an inspection guide. Normally this is used for new vehicle delivery
but applies to used vehicles as well.
1. VISUAL INSPECTION
Walk around the outside of the vehicle and look for any defects in the paint
or body panels. Any problems with the paint or decals must be noted now otherwise
its your problem later. Look for any "dings" in the body especially where the
coach door swings back into the side of the vehicle. A key left in the lock will
create a ding if the door swings hard into the side body.
Examine the windshield very closely. No dings, stone chips, cracks, rub marks,
etc. This is one of the most common problems that dealers note when they take
delivery of the vehicle. If your dealer missed it on his inspection, he'll probably
try to pass it off on you so that he doesn't get stuck with the bill.
3. WHEEL COVERS
Unless you have the custom wheels, make sure all four wheel covers are present.
The dealer gets paid by Winnebago to install these on the vehicle. Don't accept
them not being installed. Look for any damage to these cheap plastic things that
get cracked when the high-paid person from the dealership smacks them onto the
wheels using a 16 oz. steel hammer. Also make sure that they are in the proper
position with the notch properly placed around the valve stem and not cutting
or crushing it.
4. TEST DRIVE
The dealer representative will probably accompany you on this. Take the vehicle
for a long drive around the neighborhood. It would be nice if you can get the
vehicle out on a highway at high speed. If the steering pulls to one side or the
other, note that the alignment needs correcting. It seems that a lot of new vehicles
leave the factory with the steering wheel not properly centered. If you are traveling
straight down the highway, the steering wheel should be pointing straight ahead.
If its off such as pointing to the 3 o'clock position, make the dealer get it
fixed. If the transmission sounds or feels noisy, don't accept the vehicle until
it is right. If weather conditions permit, test the vehicle air conditioning and
heater systems to their maximum. When you finish the test drive make sure you
park over a nice clean area of concrete or asphalt. As part of your last inspection
item, you'll be looking for any drip marks.
While on your test drive of the vehicle, test the radio/CD player in the vehicle.
Bring along a tape or CD to test it out. Make sure the rear speakers are working.
If you have a tape or CD combination radio, make sure you get the instruction
booklet that came with it. It will normally be found in the black "info-case"
supplied from Winnebago. As complicated as some of these gadgets are getting,
you might get totally lost just trying to figure out how to change channels.
6. FLOOR MATS
While on your test drive of the vehicle, look down and make sure you get the
two "Rialta" rubber floor mats up front in the cab.
Make sure you get all the keys. I believe that they are still issuing two complete
sets. Test ALL the keys to make sure they work, especially the ignition keys
(dealers sometimes get the keys mixed up). Make sure the remote locking function
works on both sets of the VW keys.
Try every single light in the vehicle to make sure they all work. This includes
both interior and exterior lights. It helps to have a second person verify that
the brake lights and turn signals are functioning properly. All lights should
work while running only on battery power and without being connected to 110 volt.
If any don't work, make the dealer check the fuse, bulb, switch, or wiring.
Start up the generator. It should start up immediately (after all, it is brand
new). Let it continue to run while you complete the next few tests. If the generator
stalls or stops by itself, then something is wrong with it. It is brand new and
should not display any problems. Don't accept statements like "Oh, it needs to
be broken in first".
This includes the microwave and TV (if equipped). The actual number of appliances
that run on 110 volt are limited to the microwave, water heater, refrigerator,
coach air conditioner, and TV (if equipped). With the generator still running,
try the microwave by putting in a bag of popcorn and do a test cook. If it works,
enjoy the popcorn while you complete the next items. Turn on the switch
that controls the water heater (it looks like a regular light switch). You
won't have enough time to really verify that you are getting hot water, but you
should probably hear the generator load up when the heater is first switched on.
11. AIR CONDITIONER
With the generator running, start the coach air conditioner. Leave it run while
you complete the next few tests. Make sure the generator continues to run as it
should be able to handle the load of the air conditioner. Turn the temperature
control knob from low to maximum and you should be able to hear the compressor
kick in. Turn the knob back down to minimum and you should hear it turn off.
12. PROPANE SYSTEM
Verify that the propane tank is full (or nearly full) because it was full when
it left the Winnebago factory. Depending upon the time of year, yours may have
gotten used up by the delivery driver. Its no big deal if the level is down some
because it only costs a few bucks to fill it up. But better the dealer's money
than yours. Make sure the propane valve is turned on to complete the next few
You can't really test the function of the refrigerator as part of this checklist:
it either cools or it doesn't. But you can certainly test one of the most troublesome
areas of any RV....the propane ignition system. With the control knob in the proper
position, attempt to start the refrigerator on propane. It should start up on
the first few clicks of the igniter. Let it run while you finish the inspections.
It should continue to run during the remainder of all of the inspections. If it
doesn't (the flame goes out), then something needs adjusting, and that means a
lengthy service procedure. It won't really cool anything while you wait because
it takes several hours to really cool down. Usually if the refrigerator's propane
system works for several minutes without the flame going out, then that's a good
sign that it would continue to work as long as desired.
14. OVEN AND RANGE
With the propane system turned on, make sure the burners on the range can light
up. You may need a lighter to accomplish this. The flame should be even and blue.
Usually there is no problem, but you need to make sure. If equipped with the oven,
make sure that it lights properly. Turn off all burners and knobs as soon as you
verify that they are working.
15. WATER PUMPS AND FAUCETS
If the dealer claims that you can't test the water pumps now because
there is no water in the tanks, then pull over near the service or wash station
where there is a garden hose. It only takes a few minutes to put a few gallons
in the fresh water tank. There are two water pumps used inside the Rialta: the
potable water system and the shower drain system. Turn on the water pump switch
and flush the toilet to test the potable water pump. If it flushes, then the pump
is working. Now turn on the faucet at the kitchen sink and fill up a large glass
or cup with water. This verifies that the sink faucet is working. Look for the
presence of the sink strainer. Take that glass or cup of water back to the shower
and dump in on top of the shower drain. Now turn on the shower drain pump and
you should hear a gurgling sound as the water on the bottom of the shower floor
disappears which means the shower drain pump is working properly. You should drop
down the bath sink and test those faucets and the shower head also.
16. EXHAUST FAN
Crank open the vent and verify that the exhaust fan works on all speed settings.
With the fan switch turned on, it should automatically turn off when the vent
is lowered all the way. Make sure to lower the vent before driving the vehicle.
First verify that the thermostat is turned on. Now turn up the temperature
to its maximum setting. Within a few seconds, you should hear and feel warm air
exiting the furnace duct. Although the sound of the fan is somewhat loud, you
shouldn't hear any abnormal sounds or squeaks nor should you smell any propane
gas. The first few times the furnace is used it is not unusual for the hot air
to smell dusty. Turn off the furnace if it appears to be working properly.
18. TV ANTENNA
With the vehicle stationary, crank up the TV antenna to make sure it works.
It would be nice to have a small TV to test the signal amplifier right now because
Winnebago has probably hooked up the cable to the wrong connectors on the back
of the amplifier. (You're better off to do the 5 minute fix yourself rather
than driving back to the dealer later and wasting half a day.) If your vehicle
came equipped with a TV, now would be a good time to test it out. When done, make
sure you lower the antenna, turn off the amplifier, and especially double check
that the antennae is all the way down before driving the vehicle.
Every vehicle comes with two complete sets of curtains: privacy and shower.
On new vehicles, they are usually found folded in the main closet or one of the
overhead storage cabinets.
20. WINDOW SHADES
Don't expect too much performance from these inexpensive folding shades but
they should work perfectly when new. Lower each shade to the bottom; they should
all stay in place and hang relatively level. Make sure none are ripped or torn
especially along the sides. Now raise each one back up to the fully open position.
Once again, each one should go all the way back up and hang relatively level. If
the cords are improperly adjusted, the curtains will hang way out of level and
will be difficult to maneuver up and down. Its a simple thing to fix, but let
the dealer do the work if its needed.
21. SPARE TIRE AND TOOLS
Make sure the spare tire is present (under the vehicle). In the rear storage
compartment you should find the bottle jack and lug wrench. You may want to change
these later to something else that works a lot better and more easily than the
Make sure you get the black "info-case" from Winnebago which includes all the
other papers relating to the various devices and appliances installed on the coach.
You can sometimes do without having the installation instructions for the TV antenna
but make absolute certain that you have the "Rialta Owners Manual", the Volkswagen
EuroVan Owners Manual, and the Winnebago and VW warranty booklets.
23. VISUAL INSPECTION
Now, remember when I told you to park the vehicle on a nice clear portion of
pavement or concrete after your test drive? Either peer under the engine compartment
area or move the vehicle, and then look for any oil drips or pink anti-freeze
drips on the pavement. There should not be any except for water from the air conditioner,
if that was running.
Now that everything is done, please don't forget to turn off everything that
you turned on. Close the propane tank valve. Make sure you close and re-lock all
compartment doors. Make sure the roof vent lid is closed while driving. Make sure
the TV antenna is down.
If everything passes your inspection then thank the dealer for doing
a good job in preparing the vehicle for delivery. Go finish the paperwork
and enjoy your new RV.
If something needs work, and it may only take a few minutes, chances are the
dealer will want to fix it while you wait (I told you they want to get rid of
the vehicle as fast as possible). This is a good reason for arriving at the dealership
in the morning. Go ahead and wait for them to make the corrections, then re-inspect
the item to make sure it works.
If something minor is missing, such as no wheel covers, or missing curtains,
then have the dealer make out a due-bill. Sometimes they will rob the missing
item from another vehicle on the lot (Once again, I told you they want to get
rid of the vehicle as fast as possible).
If something major needs work, such as the transmission is dripping oil, the
generator won't start or won't continue to run, etc, then inform the dealer that
the vehicle is not acceptable in its current condition and that you'll be back
in two or three days to re-inspect (or whatever is reasonable given the nature
of the problem). Believe me, if there is a major problem, and you stick to your
guns in making this announcement to the dealer, he will immediately understand
that he is not dealing with a gullible customer here and that you know your business.
He will be very accommodating (almost apologetic) and the sales manager will then
be all over the service manager's back to get this work finished as fast as possible.
All of the above information is for your protection. No dealer will object
to any of these steps (if he does, then he is trying to hide something that he
can't get reimbursed from Winnebago). I can't stress the importance of being willing
to reject the vehicle and tell the dealer you'll return when they get it fixed.
If you find something like the generator not working but tell the dealer you'll
take the vehicle now and come back in a few days to get it serviced, then you'll
probably be sorry. When you return in a few days, you'll find yourself dealing
with a completely different department, namely the service department instead
of the sales department. And the service manager may tell you the first available
appointment is in 6 weeks. Meanwhile, you're stuck with a non-functioning whatever-system
on your brand new vehicle (you didn't really plan on using it for 6 weeks, did
you?). When your dealer accepted delivery from Winnebago, they spent anywhere
from 30 minutes to an hour on each vehicle making sure it was OK. Why should you
be any different? It's your money.
[ return to top ]