Important Questions To Ask During Your RV Walk-Through

STEVE & KAYLEE TECHAU's family at a picnic table in front of their Keystone Cougar

After finding your perfect model and signing on the dotted line, you are officially the proud, new owner of an RV—congratulations! Now it’s time to do a walk-through of your rig. You smile and nod as the dealer goes over everything, and while it makes total sense at the time, you can hardly remember anything once you get home… We know the feeling. Our family has purchased two RVs from different dealerships and, despite being seasoned RVers, the buying and walk-through process is still overwhelming. Especially when we switched from a travel trailer to a fifth wheel. Even if you buy from the same brand or stick with the same RV type, it’s important to remember that every single RV is set up differently.

The dealership walk-through is a critical part of understanding how your specific RV works. During this time, you’ll want to gather as much information and ask as many questions as possible so you can properly and safely operate your new RV. Keep reading to learn what critical questions to ask, including all of the systems you’ll want demonstrated, while doing your dealer walk-through.

Our Top Recommendations For Your RV Walk-Through

  1. Film Everything

    Our number one recommendation for your RV walk-through is to record everything. We guarantee you will not remember all of the small, intricate details, but taking a video on your phone is an easy way to capture everything and have it for reference later. It might feel embarrassing or uncomfortable to film the whole process, but remember that this walk-through is about you and setting yourself up for success when you’re on your own. It’s best to have whoever is leading the walk-through actually show you how to do things, not just tell you. After they have shown you, try doing it yourself.

  2. Review Your Manual Beforehand

    Our second recommendation is to review the RV manufacturer's manual or handbook before you do the walk-through. This way, you can note things that you need extra clarification on. However, never use the manual in lieu of a walk-through—nothing beats hands-on experience.

  3. Take Your Time

    Never let the salesperson or technician rush you through the walk-through. In our experience, a full RV walk-through should take at least an hour. But you can advocate for as much time as needed to get all of your questions answered. Take notes throughout and check off your questions as they get answered.

Now we’ll get into specific questions to ask during the walk-through by category.

Electrical Questions

  1. What amperage is the RV? Is it 30 amp or 50 amp? What do I need to convert between the two amperages?
  2. How do I plug into shore power?
  3. What runs on shore power and what runs on the house batteries?
  4. If the RV has solar pre-installed, how do I switch to solar power? What outlets run on solar? What are the sizes of the solar batteries and panel(s)? What can be run on the inverter for solar?
  5. If the RV has a generator, how do I turn the generator on and off? How often should I run the generator?
  6. Where is the distribution panel?
  7. Can you show me some basic fuses and what they power?
  8. How do I run the heater? How do I run the air conditioner?
  9. What kind of refrigerator does the RV have? Is it dual (electric and propane), residential or 12-volt?
  10. Does the RV use electric jacks? If so, how do I level the RV? How do I use the “auto-level” feature? What do I do if the “auto-level” does not work.
  11. Review the command center or “house panel” and find out what it controls, including slides, lights (interior and exterior), awnings, furnace, tank levels, and tank heat pads.

Mechanical Questions

  1. What type of slides does the RV have? What is the best order to open and close the slides?
  2. How do I extend and retract the awnings? 
  3. How do I start and run all appliances? Including the stove, oven, microwave, and fans?
  4. Where are the propane tanks stored? What size are the propane tanks?  
  5. How do I run the furnace? Where is the furnace located?  
  6. Does the RV have a TV, stereo or bluetooth capabilities? How do I operate these?  
  7. What is the proper way to set-up and tear-down the RV?  
  8. Does the RV have hydraulic jacks? If so, how do you level the RV? How do you use the “auto-level” feature?

Material Questions

  1. How do I open and close all storage compartments?
  2. Which key goes to which door or compartment?
  3. How do I open and close the windows?
  4. How do I open, close and lock the doors?  
  5. Do the steps retract automatically, fold in or do they need to be folded up?
  6. Does the dinette or sofa convert into a bed? How do I do that?
  7. Open all doors, cabinets and drawers. Look at the flooring, molding, windows, and sealing (especially in the bathroom) to see if anything is cracked or damaged.

Water and Dump Questions

  1. Where do I fill and drain the freshwater tank?
  2. Where and how do I hook up to a city water connection?
  3. How do I turn the water pump on and off?
  4. Are there heating pads on the tanks? How to turn them on and off? Are they automatic?
  5. What type of water heater is on the RV? How do I start and run the water heater? Where are the controls for the water heater? What are the recommended settings for the water heater?
  6. Is there an onboard water filter?
  7. How do I winterize and de-winterize the RV?
  8. How large are the freshwater, gray and black tanks?
  9. How do I dump the gray and black tanks?
  10. How do I sanitize the gray and black tanks? 
  11. How do I flush the black tank?

Towing and Hitching Up Questions

  1. What is the weight, length and height of the RV?
  2. What is the recommended towing setup for the RV? 
  3. How do I hitch and unhitch to and from my tow vehicle?
  4. Can the RV tow anything behind it? If so, what is the weight limit?

Bonus Recommendation For Your RV Walk-Thru

Once the walk-through is complete, we highly recommend you do a start-to-finish set-up and tear-down of your RV. Go through every single step as if you were setting up on your own. Connect and disconnect your RV to your tow vehicle (if purchasing a towable RV), level the RV, push the slides out and bring them back in, push the awning out and bring it back in, and connect to any water or power if the dealership has it available. Ask the salesperson or technician for feedback along the way.

Take the list with you

This is not a complete, exhaustive list, and every RV is different, but this is a good start and covers the basics for most RVs. Just remember to take your time and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Afterall, the dealership walk-through is a great opportunity to gain knowledge and build your confidence so you can fully enjoy your future RV adventures.

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Fifth Wheels

This camping trailer affectionately nicknamed a “Fiver” is a favorite of many, especially those taking extended trips or traveling full time in their RV. The prominent overhang resting above the tow truck bed is frequently employed as a bedroom suite, or, more recently, a living room or even a kitchen.  

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