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What the heck is a “PPI”?!

Every Friday morning I sit down here at my trustworthy computer with a cup of coffee and try to come up with a suitable topic for the week’s e-mail Blog-cast. Usually I have a couple topics in mind based on recent conversations I’ve had with customers, dealers or manufacturers. I look for recurring themes that may be useful to the majority of the RV buying public and wrestle the winning idea into some (hopefully) interesting and informative text.

Some articles generate considerable feedback while others disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again. In some ways that’s to be expected (even Babe Ruth struck out sometimes!). However, in others I can’t help but feel that I’ve wasted some of your time (average reading time for our weekly articles is only two minutes, but still…) as well as some of mine (average writing time for articles is about forty-five minutes).

This week most of my conversations with customers dealt with issues we’ve covered recently here and I was on to my second cup of coffee with a blank page staring me in the face when fate intervened in the form of a ringing phone. On the line was a very nice lady named Linda who had recently purchased our Travel Trailer & Fifth Wheel Guide Ultimate Package and she had a complaint. She said that she had really enjoyed the book and the RV Model Reports. They had helped her and her husband a lot in their quest for the perfect RV for them, but in one of our reports we had recommended that they do a thorough “PPI” to check for some known fit and finish problems with a specific model.

Real Life PPI Issue

“First of all,” she said, getting down to business, “I had to call you to find out what a “PPI” even is.” Ouch. Good point. Sometimes we here at are so immersed in RV lingo that we tend to assume that everyone knows what we’re talking about when we use industry abbreviations. A “PPI” is a Pre-Purchase Inspection and is probably one of the most important things we’ve never discussed in detail with our customer base. “But even after I hung up,” she continued, warming to her task, “I still didn’t know how to do a PPI. You should really explain that. Don’t you think?”

Yes, Linda (she is included in this e-mail), we should have, and it’s an important enough oversight that I am going to make sure that it gets included in future printings of our books. How we made it ten years in this business without this ever coming up is beyond me.  Our company is consumer based and we frequently tweak our products to better meet the changing needs of our customers. We thrive on feedback and respond accordingly. Not only did Linda raise a great question, but she also gave me a fantastic topic for today’s article…

What is an RV PPI?

A “PPI” is performed by a new owner prior to leaving the dealer’s lot. It’s a walk through and final inspection to ensure that the Motorhome or Travel Trailer is in complete working order with no issues. All issues found during the PPI should be addressed by the dealer to the new owner’s complete satisfaction -at no charge. Unfortunately this may mean leaving the RV in the dealer’s hands for a few more days if significant issues are found. At no other time will you have the leverage to get service performed quickly and without argument. Any found issues could not possibly be due to owner neglect or mistreatment.

Perform your PPI prior to handing over any payment and you will be amazed how quickly the service team responds to your requests. Many new owners are so eager to get their new toy home that they hurry through the PPI as quickly as possible. Fight this urge and take your time. Due diligence always pays off in the future.

What to look for in a Pre-Purchase Inspection (or “PPI” as we industry insiders say):

1.    Fit and Finish: Open and close all doors, drawers and windows. Check for proper latching. Doors especially get “out of whack” during transport from the manufacturer to the dealer and require re-adjustment.

2.    Operate all heating and cooling systems. Check that air flow is adequate from all vents. A kinked line can greatly minimize air flow and should be corrected. Heating systems are usually pretty reliable but air conditioners often have issues. Since most camping is done in the summer months, make sure the A/C is blowing strong and cold. Let it run for a minimum of ten minutes. The RV should be noticeably cooler in that time.

3.    Electronics: Turn on the TV, the stereo, GPS, and test all buttons. We hear numerous times a year that brand new TV’s don’t work. Just because it’s new don’t assume everything is working -or even hooked up!

4.    Plumbing: Most systems will be dry at the dealer and there’s not much you can do to test it but leaks are not uncommon on first time trips. Once you get set up for the first time with water, check under the sinks and under the RV itself for any signs of leakage. You don’t want to discover a leak a week after it starts.

5.    Leveling systems: More and more RVs are equipped with hydraulic jacks. The reliability of these is excellent but make sure they extend and retract smoothly and you thoroughly understand how to operate them. Now is the time to ask questions.

6.    Slideouts: ALWAYS open and close the slideouts several times. We can’t emphasize this enough. Listen for bumps or grinding. Have someone operate the slides while you watch them from underneath. They should travel freely both ways without hesitation. Any “catching” or rough spots should be addressed immediately by the dealer.

7.    Roofing: Roofs on RV’s today are pretty darn good but leaks are not unheard of -and if the leak drains into interior walls, frequently don’t become obvious for months. Climb up and give the roof a good visual inspection. Look for gouges, cuts, and tears, anything that may enable rainwater to access the interior. Check the trim around the perimeter of the roof. Is it secure?

8.    Tire pressure: Most RVs sit for weeks or months on a dealer’s lot. It’s expected that tires will lose some tire pressure. Low tire pressure is not always visually evident and dealers don’t always check this like they should. Bring a tire pressure gauge and check the tires for proper pressure. This is the simplest part of a PPI but may have the largest impact on your safety.

Conclusion on RV Reviews

Finally, follow these simple steps and your first trip should be problem-free. Nothing has ruined more first-time RV vacations than something that doesn’t work as it should.

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