Purchasing an RV is like purchasing a second home. It’s mobile, but it’s considered a second home and the interest and expenses for it will be treated as such. As such, it’s a long process to find a model that will work for you. As a newbie, you’re probably wondering if you should buy new or old. Which class is right for you? What do I need to maintain my RV? Let’s start at the beginning.
Visiting RV dealers | Financing Options | RV Gear You’ll Need | Maintaining your RV
Visiting RV Dealers
Your best place to start is by looking for local RV dealers. Most often this will not be the place that you’ll actually buy the RV from but it will get your feet wet and allow you to see many models and styles in one place.
Start by not believing anything the salesman tells you. They will tell you anything just to sell a model to you. If you’re looking for a trailer, they will tell you that your Honda Civic can tow a fifth wheel trailer. Or, maybe not but they will make stuff up.
When on the lot, I would start with travel trailers and then look at class c’s, fifth wheel’s and class a’s. The reason I recommend that order is not get overly excited about larger, fully outfitted units that are very costly. You can also see different models and the features that are available.
New vs. Old
As a newbie, you might be thinking that you’ll want the latest model. You might be thinking that model will be the most reliable and have all the latest features. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Most newbies don’t know this but most RV owners do – quality control is not something that the RV industry is known for. The people making these things actually don’t care about quality. They just want to make a product, get it to the dealer and deal with the issues later.
As a consequence, you’ll find handles that fall off, trim that is loose, switches or outlets that don’t work, etc. It’s your job to find all of these issues if you buy a unit brand new and report them. You’ll have a warranty that will pay for them to be fixed, but in-between outings your RV will be back at the shop being fixed.
Good advice for the newbie is to find a cared for used unit that is about 2-3 years old. You’ll save about 50-60% off the current price and the previous owner will have taken care of all the issues. If there are still issues, you’ll still have time time get them fixed but chances are, your RV will spend less time in the shop.
Given that, this is a good time to see what the dealer has in stock for used units.
If you’re not considering a driving RV (Class A, B or C), you might want to give some consideration to what you are going to tow your RV with. You might think that if you already own a pick-up truck that you are all set but that may not be the case.
Pick-up manufacturers like to play a game with who’s model has the highest towing capacity but they leave out some crucial numbers. It’s how much you can pull but rather how much cargo you can take.
That’s right – it’s not about towing but cargo. The real number you want to look for is the little sticker in your door that tells you how much cargo your vehicle with all its options can handle. This article talks about how much you can safely tow and explains this in more detail: