We’ve probably all heard the advice to have the vehicle where’re thinking of buying throughly inspected by a trustworthy mechanic first. I suggest that’s not the last time we should do that, because unexpected breakdowns are particularly hard on nomads.

Many of the things that can go wrong with a vehicle don’t simply happen out of nowhere, without warning. They happen over time as parts wear out. Sometimes strange noises, vibrations and less-than-perfect functions give us a hint. Sometimes the changes are so gradual we don’t notice. “Oh, it has always been like that. I think.” That’s why it’s good to have fresh — and knowledgeable — eyes and ears experience our rigs now and then.

Yes, it will probably cost you something to have your rig inspected. But it’s money well spent, even if you learn there’s nothing wrong. You just bought some peace of mind. Or, if all is not well, you bought some knowledge, a warning, and a reduced likelihood of being stranded somewhere far from help—where it will really cost you something. If only you’d known you had a bad looking U-joint you might not be out in the boonies with a mangled driveshaft and a torn brake line trying to find a towing service that will go off pavement.

In these days of supply line problems and product shortages, it’s good to get ahead of repair problems when you can. If you have to wait for parts — and a mechanic who can’t get to you until, gee, next Wednesday at the soonest, and that’s if the parts for this other job arrive before the weekend — it’s better to do it while you can still drive and live in your rig instead of a hotel room. (Ask me how I know.)

Sometimes corny old aphorisms are absolutely true. Forewarned is forearmed. And a stitch in time can save nine. Or nine-hundred dollars.

In the meantime, keep checking your gauges, fluid levels and the condition of belts and hoses. Do regular oil and filter changes. Rotate your tires. And pay attention to unusual noises and behaviors. Your rig might be trying to tell you something, like, “Y’oughtta have that checked out.”