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Very Useful Mini-guide, Thanks

by Al

Just a few comments/questions. Pardon my newbie's ignorance - I'm in the early stage of my quest yet.

1) Inspecting a used 5th wheel or travel trailer (not a self-propelled motorhome). Mechanic won't be very useful here (perhaps only for checking brakes and bearings). Major problem with old stick-built trailers (wooden frame with aluminum siding) is rot. Water gets in the walls through the seams (or sometimes from inside plumbing), and it stays there, causing rot and/or mold. There is no way to detect it reliably, without opening the walls, and sellers won't let you. Reputable brands sometimes have damage up to $7,000-8,000 in labor cost after 7 years - this job is difficult to do on your own. I saw rot damage in small localized areas around the door or washroom in units as new as 4 years.

All brands are susceptible to rot. Molded fiberglass units like Casita, Scamp, Bigfoot - mostly don't have this problem (maybe only floor if it's wooden), but those models are usually small and cost 2-3 times more than "stickies".

2) State sales tax - most states have it, and those that don't (or have it very low), either have RV prices higher, or fewer dealers , or are located farther from Canada. But that's OK, savings are still significant for Canadians. I only suspect that 7-8% state tax is not refundable when you import it to Canada. In other words, you pay total 19% tax (8% state and 11% GST+PST).

3) Insurance on newly purchased RV: if it's a towable unit, Canadian liability insurance of your pickup or SUV covers the trailer as well, AFAIK. But this is only liability.

4) Getting local state plates (not just temporary "paper plates") if you want to continue the trip for another several months after buying RV, and then may be heading up North to Canada. DMV requires some address - but not a legal immigrant status, right? So, providing temporary address of some RV park or address of mail-forwarding service would suffice, or am I missing something? I'm talking only about registration/plates, - not State Driver's License.

Comments for Very Useful Mini-guide, Thanks

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Dec 26, 2012
Depends on the state
by: Anonymous

It's different in every state. Fl charges tax, Ca too, no matter if you are Canadian or US resident. Taking it to the state line does cost $250 and up, plus some states require local notary to witness the bill of sale in this case. Savings on some $12K travel trailer are marginal, though with a 60K motorhome it makes more sense.

Dec 25, 2012
Avoid Florida sales tax
by: FloridaRV dealer

There is a legal way to not pay Florida sales tax if you are not a Florida resident. Once the vehicle is inspected and paid for do not take possession of the unit. Hire a professional driver to deliver it to you out of the state... Like just across the border and take a picture of it with a Georgia sign with the driver delivering it to you across the border of Florida with the RV in the background. Send a copy of the picture to the dealer or seller as evidence that you took delivery outside the state. Keep a copy of the picture if any questions arise. A cell phone pic emailed instantly works best. Now you are in compliance and NO SALES TAX is due. The driver will either have a temp tag good for 30 days or use his transport tag, Try to get a Florida temp tag or a temp tag from Your dealer as it is easier. Fees range from $250 and up depending upon if it is towable or drive able and distance to border and back. We export frequently utilizing this legal loophole.

Jun 12, 2011
sales tax
by: Bob

When purchasing a trailer from a dealer in Washington State we did not have to pay the WA sales tax but had to supply our Income Tax forms proving we payed income tax in Canada & were permanent residents of Canada. We were only allowed to purchase temporary trip permits for 6 days to get us to home. We did spend 4 days camping down there checking the rig out before we crossed the border.

Mar 22, 2011
More expert advice about dry rot
by: Marianne (moderator)

RV featured dry rot in their tip of the day so I thought I'd provide a link here for those interested in the topic. It does seem like a legitimate concern and, like cancer, not easy to detect until the symptoms show up and then it may be too late.
Here's the link:

Update: Sorry the page was taken down.

Mar 01, 2011
More on Dry Rot
by: Les Doll

Hi everyone, and of course, Marianne!

Interesting comments on this thread and I agree with all of them regarding dry rot.

I have opened some walls after all indications have pointed to severe dry rot problems, and have found minimal damage.

Then again, I have opened some walls (or roofs, for that matter) that showed some damage but found massive and extensive problems.

Other than x-ray vision, there is no reliable way, that I know of, to see into a wall to evaluate the exact dry rot situation. There are, however, certain indicators and "hints" that I use.

Feb 28, 2011
by: Anonymous

Marianne, not to argue, but again - without opening the walls there is no reliable way to detect dry rot (after water has settled in) in old "stick-built" trailer or 5-wheel. The most reliable tool is your own nose - if you smell rot, then it is there; but you might not smell it and it still will be there.

You may check all the usual points of water ingress - stains behind the counters and around the windows and doors and AC, cracks in aluminum sheets after accidents, rust around the exterior screws and so on, and find nothing or very little. Those screws corrode with time anyway - they are plated, not stainless. Trailers older than 10-12 years have often been resold a couple of times before, and one of previous owners might put some caulking around the seams and/or new paint here and there - and this might not mean anything - may be the guy just cared about his trailer.

RV centers provide "leak detection", pressurizing the trailer inside and looking for soap water bubbles on the outside, and also "moisture detection" (this one detects not cracks but actual moisture). Both methods are expensive over $200, and neither one will find old dry rot that previous owner had sealed inside after caulking and/or painting.

Feb 28, 2011
Good Questions
by: Marianne Edwards

Here are my suggestions:

1) Les Doll, a certified RV technician with years of RV construction and maintenance experience has written an excellent book with advice on what to look for when buying a used RV. He gives advice on what to look for and walks you through all the steps to take to check for hidden damage before you make your purchase. The ebook,
"Guide to Buying a Used RV" by Les Doll
($27.00) is certainly a worthwhile investment.

2)From my research, in some states you'll have to pay the sales tax, either at the dealership or at the DMV office, when you purchase your trip permit. Whether you will be charged the sales tax or not varies from one state to another. For instance, it appears there's no avoiding it in Florida, yet in New York, you will be exempt if you're going to import an RV to Canada. You could call a dealer or a DMV office of the state where you'll be making your purchase to confirm if state sales tax will apply and how much. The bottom line is, while you may get out of paying it, I wouldn't count on it.

3)I think you're right but regulations may vary depending on your province of residence. I would check with my insurance company.

4)All my research shows that, although you may be able to acquire a plate in the USA using an RV park or a friend's address, your insurance coverage will only cover you for the short time it takes to bring your purchase home. I verified that with several insurance companies but I was asking about a vehicle, not a towable. Again, I would suggest checking with your insurance company to be certain you would be covered.

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