Used Travel trailer buying guide

used travel trailer

There are many things to consider when buying a used travel trailer. In this article, I'll go over some of the most important ones.

  • Introduction: What are you looking for when deciding on what to buy?
  • What You Should Look For: An overview of what to look for when shopping around for your next used travel trailer.
  • Are you ready to buy a used travel trailer?

Get a feel for the trailer from the outside

The exterior of the travel trailer you're looking at is where you'll want to do most of your inspecting. You're not going to find a perfect trailer, but if something looks questionable, it's best to ask questions. A knowledgeable seller will be able to answer all of your questions without hesitation and should have no problem getting insurance quotes or other documentation on any damage that has been repaired in the past.

If you do notice that there are issues with the exterior of the trailer, take photos as soon as possible for reference later.

Asking about any known problems can save both parties time and money later on down the road; however, if anything looks suspicious or questionable, don't hesitate from walking away from a deal if it doesn't feel right, it could end up saving money in long run.

Check all fluid in the engine

  • Check the engine oil level, color and odor. If it’s dark and smells burnt, you may have a problem.
  • Check the coolant for signs of leakage or corrosion. Most rigs use ethylene glycol as their coolant, so if you see rust colored beads anywhere on your rig it could be a problem taking care of immediately.
  • Make sure the transmission fluid is at the correct level and not black or brownish in color—this indicates excessive heat within your transmission that can lead to premature failure over time (and possibly cause damage to other components).
  • Power steering fluid should be clear and free of any visible contaminants like foam bubbles or dirt clumps; check it monthly during routine maintenance checks and top up as needed with high-pressure power steering fluid (you can find this stuff at just about any auto parts store).

Have a certified mechanic run checks on the travel trailer

Have a certified mechanic run checks on the travel trailer. It's important to have an experienced professional look over your potential purchase to make sure there are no major issues with the vehicle. Specifically, you should be looking for:

  • Brakes and wheels.
  • Bearings (wheel bearings).
  • Shocks and suspension.
  • Transmission, engine and radiator.

Look at the wiring

  • Look for frayed wiring. This could be a sign that it's been repaired, which is not a good sign.
  • Look for exposed wiring and signs of corrosion or rust on metal parts of the trailer. This could mean that you'll have to replace some components soon and/or pay more money down the line when they stop working properly because they haven't been maintained well enough.

Check all seals, seams, and gaps

  • Check all seals, seams, and gaps. It's important to inspect the entire outside of your travel trailer for cracks or holes that could lead to water damage.
  • Check for leaks in the roof. The roof is often overlooked when inspecting a used travel trailer, but it should be inspected thoroughly before you buy a used RV. Look for any discoloration or warped wood along the edge of the roof and check seams for evidence of water seeping through them over time (like algae growth).
  • Check for leaks at the base of the trailer. Water can pool up under it, especially if you're parked on an incline or uneven terrain like gravel or dirt: look for signs of moisture in specific areas where there's not much ventilation; this could indicate a leak near one of your windows or doors that needs fixing before driving off into another season with no air conditioning system functioning properly.

Pay attention to flooring when you look inside a used travel trailer

When you look inside a used travel trailer, pay attention to flooring. You want to see if there's any discoloration or stains on the floor. If there are, it could be because of mold or mildew issues in the unit. Look for places where the walls meet the floor and check them for damage like cracks or soft spots. These can be signs of water damage inside and outside of your unit that could lead to problems later on down the road if they go unchecked and aren't fixed right away.

Look at the walls of the travel trailer

Of all the things to look for when buying a used travel trailer, this is probably one of the most important. The walls are what keep you dry and comfortable when it's raining outside and should be constructed with quality materials that have been properly installed. Water damage can cause mold and mildew to grow in your trailer which is not only unhealthy but can also cause structural damage if left untreated.

Water damage can be difficult to repair, and you don’t want your walls to start falling apart after a few years. Look for any signs of delamination or soft spots in the walls, and have these repaired before buying the trailer. If there is too much damage to be repaired without hiring a professional, consider buying another model instead.

The roof should be solid without cracking or separation

You should check the roof from the inside and outside of the trailer. Look for water stains, soft spots or delamination, bubbles, indentations or cracks. Check for rust and corrosion on metal components such as nuts and bolts. Also check for loose screws, rivets and caulking around windows.

Open and close windows, doors, and storage compartments

Check to see if the windows, doors and storage compartments are working properly. This can be as simple as opening and closing them a few times, checking for ease of use and functionality.

When you’re looking at the door or window seals, make sure there is no damage to the door frame or seal that would prevent it from sealing properly when closed. If there is excessive rattling rattling or squeaking when opening and closing these items (which can indicate either damaged hardware or bent posts), you must replace these parts before using your travel trailer again.

Examine each room and look for damage such as holes in walls or ceilings

When you walk through each room and take a look at the walls and ceilings, look for signs of water damage. If there are cracks in the walls or ceilings, get a professional to inspect the trailer. The inspector may be able to tell you if it is something that can be easily repaired or if it would need to be replaced entirely.

Identify signs of previous water damage

When you’re buying a used travel trailer, look for signs of past water damage. There are several ways to check for this:

  • Check the walls and ceilings for stains or discoloration. If you notice any soft spots or bubbling, it could be a sign that moisture has caused some damage to the walls and ceiling.
  • Look at the flooring as well. Are there any stains around windows? Or are there telltale signs of previous leaks on the ceiling? These can be indicators that water has caused problems elsewhere in the trailer as well.
  • Check out how clean everything looks throughout your inspection, if it seems like they haven't cleaned up after themselves (or if they didn't even bother), then there's probably something fishy going on here.

Make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing system

Make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing system.

  • Look for signs of water damage, such as discolored or warped cabinets and flooring. If you notice mold, check to see if it is on walls or ceiling panels above shower heads where water from a leak could seep down onto them.
  • Check that all toilets flush properly as well as all sinks and showers to ensure there are no leaks. If you want to get really thorough with it, open up every faucet and run some water through each fixture; you might find something that needs repair or replacement.
  • Test out hot and cold running water throughout your trailer by turning on each faucet for a few seconds at a time (but not long enough for any one area to fill up). If there are any issues with temperature regulation when your shower goes from lukewarm to scalding hot with only slight increases in pressure, this may indicate problems somewhere along the line where pipes have become loose due to vibrations caused by travel or weather conditions over time--especially if your trailer has been sitting unused during off-season months when it's not being used regularly anymore but hasn't yet been winterized properly yet either.

Open and check all cabinets and drawers

  • Open and check all cabinets and drawers. Make sure they’re in good shape and aren’t missing any parts or tools.
  • Check the walls for signs of water damage, insects, or wear and tear from use. For instance, look for carpeting that may have been ripped out or replaced due to pests like mice.
  • Inspect the flooring closely for any cracks, rips, or mold growing under it (or in one corner of the trailer).

Check the propane system

Before you buy a used travel trailer, make sure that the propane lines are secure and not leaking. Also, check all of the propane tanks for leaks by turning on all appliances that use it.

See if there is any damage to the LP tanks

  • Check for damage to the LP tanks. The LP tanks should be in good condition, with no dents or rust, and all valves should work.
  • Inspect the frame rails for corrosion and cracks. Sometimes, even if you can't see it from the outside of your trailer, there may be corrosion inside your frame rails from moisture build up that has eaten away at your frame and caused structural damage.

Determine if there are any leaks in the gas lines by using soapy water and turning on all the propane appliances

As with any type of purchased vehicle, it is important to check for leaks by using soapy water. If you do not have soapy water handy, then use a leak detector spray. The propane lines should be in good condition if there are no leaks present and the lines have been properly maintained. When purchasing a used travel trailer, it is important that you check all appliances prior to driving off the lot.

Check the air conditioning unit(s)

You should also check the cleanliness of these units. Look for signs of mold or other moisture damage, as well as any other issues that could affect their performance or longevity.


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Your purchase is your investment, so make sure you get the most out of it. If you're considering a used travel trailer to save money, please keep in mind that you could end up spending more money than if you purchased a new one.

There are many things to consider when buying a used travel trailer, but there's no need to worry. Just take it slow and careful and remember that patience will pay off.

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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