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Checklist For Buying the Perfect Used Travel Trailer

Aug 18, 2007
Buying a used travel trailer can be a scary prospect indeed. But, armed with a little information and the attitude that the right trailer is out there for you, you can get through the buying process and come out on the other end with a fantastic used travel trailer!

First, you must know how much trailer you need to suit your situation and how much you can handle in terms of price and towing capability. I can't help you much with price--you'll have to decide beforehand what you range is, but you can research what trailers are available for what prices on the internet. As far as towing capability is concerned, you need to be concerned with two numbers--GTW (gross trailer weight),which is the maximum weight your vehicle is designed to pull, and TW (tongue weight); that's the downward force (measured in pounds) your hitch ball can support. Both of these figures can be found in your vehicle's owner's manual and should be topmost in your mind when considering which trailer you can tow.

Now to the fun part; once you have decided some of your basic needs, you can start shopping! You may have used RV dealerships in your area. That's great news since you will have a wider selection and a salesperson to offer suggestions and recommendations. Of course if you don't, you can find plenty of used trailers for sale through your local classifieds and online. Don't be shy--see a lot of trailers; it's the only way to find the one that's just right for you!

Once you do find a trailer to consider, there are a lot of things to keep in mind; I suggest making a checklist to remind yourself what you are looking for and to take notes about the features and condition of each model you see.

Starting with the exterior, look for dents and dings, rusted spots, rusty or loose screws. Check if the exterior compartments are clean and dry. Inspect the roof; are the rubber seals cracking or discolored from water/sun damage? Are the vent covers secure? Is there a roof rack? Check any awnings and pullouts to see if they operate smoothly and look to be in good repair. Is the awning discolored or mildewed? Is it large enough?

Moving inside, check the doors; do they close securely? Check the hinges and handles and locks. Is there a pull out step? Does it work well and store securely? Are the windows in good condition? Do they operate smoothly and lock securely? Are all the screens in place? Are they in good repair?

Consider the interior walls and flooring. Are there signs of water damage, including discoloration and soft spots? Do you like the colors? Are the walls or flooring marked with stains?

What is the condition of the furniture? Are all the appliances in working order? Turn everything on and check it's performance. The refrigerator and freezer will take a few hours to fully cool, but if this trailer is on your "short list," be sure to check them. Turn on all faucets to check for leaks; check the water heater and all holding tanks for leaks by filling them with water. Check if the bathroom is big enough. Lay down on the bed; do you feel comfortable in the sleeping space? Are the closets big enough? Can you see your family vacationing happily in this space?

If so, then you know all your hard work has paid off, and you have found the perfect travel trailer for your family! If not, you know your checklist has weeded out another poor choice, and you are that much closer to finding your trailer. So, get out there and get to work; your next family vacation could be in your very own perfectly used travel trailer.
About the Author
Emily Sandberg is a camping enthusiast who spent many a happy weekend camping in her family's used travel trailer. When she's not towing anything, she covers her hitch with a hitch cover from Trailer Hitch Universe.
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