Used Toy Hauler Buying Checklist

Recreational vehicles are built in a wide range of designs to accommodate the specific needs of outdoor enthusiasts. Toy haulers are definitely on the luxury side of the spectrum and combine spacious living space with a portable garage.

The inspection process is similar to that of a camping trailer or an RV, but there are a few key components that are distinct to toy haulers. This article will guide you through the steps of inspecting a used toy hauler and what to expect when reviewing its condition in person. 

Set Your Requirements

Toy haulers are a hybrid between a carrying trailer and a motorhome or a travel trailer. With all but the most expensive models, this means you will have to make a compromise between the living area and the garage.

You will have to decide beforehand if you want an open or enclosed garage. The open garage doubles as an additional living space. With the hauled vehicle parked outside, there is a lot more interior room. The downside is that the dirt, leaks, and odor of the vehicle can spread throughout the home.

The closed garage is separated from the living quarters by a wall and a door. This space can still be used but is often unfurnished. The upside of a closed garage is the ability to haul larger vehicles, like sports cars or even SUVs, and keep them isolated from the living space. 


If you already know what type of vehicle you will store in the hauler, then the next step is to check the gross weight rating. You will need to know the wet weight rating of the hauler, which combines the dry (stock) weight with all the water, fuel, and luggage on board. 

If you are buying a motorhome toy hauler, then the maximum weight of the transported vehicle needs to be less than the difference between gross weight and the wet weight. The same applies to a trailer model, with the added step of ensuring your towing vehicle doesn’t exceed the gross weight rating. 

Exterior Condition

You will need to examine the trailer from all sides to determine the condition of the walls, undercarriage, and roof. The primary concerns are rusts, leaks, and evidence of a collision.

Minor scrapes and dents are unavoidable. Aside from affecting appearance, they are not an issue. But functional components certainly can be, so inspect every silicone and rubber seal for wear. They are responsible for keeping water away from the interior, so it’s imperative they are in working order. 

Mechanical Components

Made to carry heavy loads, toy haulers are generally much sturdier and better built than regular travel trailers. However, this means that the replacement parts are often more expensive. Therefore, inspecting the primary mechanical parts can save you from additional costs post-purchase.

Depending on the size and weight of the trailer, it can include a bumper, gooseneck, or a fifth-wheel hitch. The easiest way to test it is to secure it to your vehicle, attach the power adapter, and take it for a ride. Before heading out on the public road, make sure the lights are fully operational.

Roll down your window, drive slowly, and listen for any noise coming from the trailer. Check the age of tires, tread pattern, and look for signs of uneven wear. Squeaking over road imperfections could indicate worn-out suspension, while constant rumbling means that the wheel bearings are run-down. 

Living Quarters

Most toy haulers combine the kitchen, living room, and bedroom into one area. When you step inside, pay attention to the smell of the interior space. Mold and moisture create a damp, unpleasant odor that is not safe to inhale. Mechanical smells can be expected to an extent. However, this is an area where you will sleep. Thus, you want the space to be as clean as possible. 

Take a seat on every piece of furniture to see if it has deteriorated from use. Open up every cupboard and drawer and look for signs of mold in the back. Test every power outlet, TV, kitchen appliances, and external power supply.

Inspect the fresh water and waste tanks for leaks. Run the kitchen and toilet faucet, showerhead, and flush the toilet to see whether the pressure is good or the drains are clogged.

The overall condition and the appearance of the interior have to be appealing to you and your family. Even if everything is in order, the layout, size, and styling might not be what you want. If the price is right, you can consider renovating the interior. Be mindful to factor in renovation costs, and stay within your budget.


Open and close the power back or lift ramp and check if it is functioning smoothly. The mechanism should be flawless, as the cost of repairing it can easily reach over a thousand dollars. Ask the owner to roll up one of their vehicles up to see if the ramp holds. 

Set the ramp in the leveled position and extend the built-in railings to examine the condition of the portable patio. Try it out with as many people as you can, without exceeding the weight limit, to see if it will collapse. 

The interior typically includes a few overhang compartments and tool shelves. However, if there is any extra furniture, make sure to check it for the smell of gas and oil. If the garage is clean, but it still smells, the scent might have been absorbed by the furniture materials. 

Some toy haulers come with a built-in gas station to charge up more conveniently in remote locations. To check if the tank is rusty or has accumulated dirt, open the cap and shine a flashlight inside. If you can’t see through the fuel, it has been unused for too long. 

Extend the hose to its limit. If possible, pour the fuel back into the gas tank to inspect for leaks. If it is not possible, use an empty gas canister or an alternative container that is safe for this purpose.

Dents in the garage separator indicate that a vehicle was likely driven into it. Inspect the hooks responsible for securing the transported vehicle, ensuring that there isn’t any oil in the slots. There is not much that can go wrong with the garage area. Provided the ramp is clean and in good working order, there is no need to worry.