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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.

Dealer Walk-through:

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.

The 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.

2. WINDSHIELD

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.

5. RADIO/CD

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.

7.  KEYS

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.

8.  LIGHTS

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.

9. GENERATOR

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".

10. APPLIANCES

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 tests.

13. REFRIGERATOR

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.

17. FURNACE

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.

19. CURTAINS

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 factory items.

22. INFO-CASE

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.

FINISHED!

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.

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Page Updated: 30 March 2013