Fifth wheels, or RV trailers, can be a fantastic value if you have a tow vehicle that's up to the task of hauling them around the country. This RV style offers plenty of space in a more affordable package than a motorized camper. Models that include slide-out sections can provide even more interior room, which can be helpful for families or anyone who intends to live in their RV long-term.
Purchasing a used fifth wheel can save you even more money, but you'll also need to take more precautions during the buying process. While there's plenty to inspect when looking at a used RV, the roof is one crucial area that many buyers nevertheless neglect to check.
Why Does The Roof Matter?
Your RV's roof suffers more exposure to the elements than any other part of the body. The top of an RV repels water, reflects harsh sunlight, and serves as a mounting point for many crucial components. Because of this, many RVs experience problems on their roof long before other parts of the trailer begin to show signs of wear.
Problems with the roof can also be costlier to deal with later and may warn of more severe underlying issues. Water leaks can be particularly troublesome, and a thorough roof inspection can reveal areas where water may have leaked into the trailer in the past.
What Should You Check?
Once you're on the roof, your top priority will be to check for signs of physical damage or areas where water or moisture can enter the RV. You should expect some minor scratches or dings on any RV that's seen a lot of use but watch for signs of significant damage. If the roofing material appears cracked, torn, or ripped, that could spell trouble.
You'll also want to pay special attention to any rooftop appliances, whether they are factory or user-installed. Every device on the roof is another area that water can enter the RV, so carefully check the state of the sealant or gaskets around these items. If something looks worn or broken, you'll want to make a note of it and check for water intrusion near that area on the interior.
What if You Find a Problem?
Don't panic or immediately walk away if you notice an issue on the roof. While a roof inspection is a crucial part of the buying process, roof problems don't mean that a used fifth wheel isn't worth your time. Instead, use what you find to help you investigate issues once you're inside of the RV. In particular, you'll need to look for signs that water has entered the interior and damaged components or trim.
If you don't find evidence of additional damage, then you shouldn't consider these issues to be deal-breakers. Continue to evaluate the rest of the trailer, and keep in mind that you'll need to repair whatever roof issues you discovered. By using a roof inspection as one part of a more extensive inspection and buying process, you'll have no trouble finding the perfect used fifth wheel for your needs.