Buying a RV is a big deal. Don’t let anyone tell you it is not!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop-up camper for the weekends or a big 5th Wheel for full time travels.

If you buy a crappy RV or pay too much you won’t be able to have the fun and freedom that you are after.

So, what can you do?

We have compiled a list of tips, red flags, and other warnings to help you make a good decision when RV shopping.

These can apply to new or used RV’s or whether you are buying from a private seller or RV dealership.

Ready to know when to walk away not not buy the RV?

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Does the seller make you feel uncomfortable?

You should feel comfortable when you are looking at a RV(s).

If you don’t feel like your needs are being heard or understood, don’t buy the RV and walk away!

It’s not worth your time or money to go along with a dealer or private seller that just isn’t listening to you or respecting your needs.

Can you really trust someone that takes you to look at motorhomes in the $100K price range, when you want to see fifth wheels under $50K?

Are you able to test things out?

When you’ve chosen a particular RV, make sure you that you try everything out: Have the seller hook up to water and electric: flush the toilets, run the sinks, run the AC for an hour, open and shut the slides repeatedly, etc.

If the seller isn’t willing to put the RV through its paces for you, don’t buy the RV and walk away.

Everything might be fine, but then again, maybe not.

If they don’t, they may not respect the fact that you need to be comfortable with the purchase.

We have heard so many stories of people getting the RV home and then this doesn’t work or that wasn’t connected correctly, etc.

Try it all before you get home and you can help avoid this frustration and financial disappointment.

Is the “Perfect RV” more than a day’s drive away?

You’ve gone online and searched and searched and found the “perfect” RV.

The “only one” like it and it’s a thousand miles away.

Maybe you should reconsider.

Think about it: you know the Make, Model, Year, and asking price…why don’t you see if you can find it close by? 

If you are shopping via a dealer, ask them to locate one for you and bring it in.

IF you can’t find it anywhere else and it’s unusually far, don’t buy sight unseen. Make the time, go see it and test it out.

The last thing you want to do is buy the RV without seeing it or testing it out.

Remember, they’ve built thousands of the same model, year and floor plan. Another one is out there, these are not unicorns! Don’t Buy!

Are you Being Pressured?

If the seller is pressuring to buy, DON’T BUY THE RV!! Walk Away!! They are just trying to make a sale.

Any phrases like “This is the last one on the lot”, “The rebate/sale/clearance ends at midnight”, “There’s another couple/RVer/family looking at this unit” are red flags.

They are not interested in what you need or whether or not you are ready to buy. They just want you to get it.

People in sales know that if a potential buyer leaves without buying, they may lose the sale…they want you to buy.

You need to think about it, even if you know it is one you are going to buy.

Leave the place, get a coffee, take a walk, and if it still seems like the “Perfect one”, put a deposit.

An ethical salesperson knows that they are there to meet your need.

To help you find out what is right for you and then present you with available options and how they meet your needs.

The sale needs to be about you, not them.

You Can’t Inspect the RV

This is especially important if the RV is used. Don’t buy the RV unless you have either inspected it yourself or you have had someone (reputable) inspect it for you.

RV’s have many dark cubbies and corners that you may not even know exist so a cursory once over won’t reveal its hidden spaces.

Unfortunately you cannot take the seller’s word for used or even factory fresh RV’s.

RVs are known for leaky roofs and moldy corners. You don’t want your first rainy trip to be the day you discover them all…the seller will be long gone…

The Seller Can’t Give you the Title

Uhm…what? Don’t buy the RV that has no title or other paperwork.

This, again, is typically a used RV issue.

You want to be able to leave the seller with that title in your hand or at least some legal document that has transferred the ownership to you.

If you think this is a crazy thing to mention here, well you are right, it is, but it happens too often!!

The Price is Too Good to be True

This tends to be more common with used RVs listed on Craigslist or eBay, but it can also happen with a dealer (Sale that ends before you sign, but not before you have spent hours or days looking at a unit).

If you are looking at a RV on one of aforementioned online sites, and the price is excellent (no negotiation needed it’s so good), you are probably looking at a scam – Don’t buy the RV!!

Either the RV will be junk or there will be no RV at all and they are interested in more nefarious activities.

I’m not saying you can’t get a good price on a RV, but a good price is still a fair price, it isn’t a steal or a bargain.

It will be a reasonable price for a reasonably well-maintained RV.

Don't buy the RV until you know when to walk away. It's unfortunate, but buying an RV isn't as simple as finding the right one, signing a few documents, and then heading out on your first RV trip. There are many sellers out there just trying to make a sale without keeping your best interests in mind. Here are some red flags to watch for when preparing to purchase your RV.

Finance Mumbojumbo and Warranties

Say what? When buying new, you’ll face two salesmen.

The person showing you the travel trailers, pointing out the features, and how it’s the right deal for you.

The second salesman you’ll face after you’ve spent all day getting tired by emotional highs and lows is the finance and warranty salesguy.

If you’re financing through a dealer’s banks or credit unions, you may face a wall of confusing offers besides the financing itself that appear to be inextricably linked.

Our Travel Trailer comes with a warranty… of some sort.

It sounded really good when we got it but we couldn’t tell you today anything about it, what it covers, or how long it  lasts.

If you don’t understand clearly what is being sold to you, why you need it, will you realistically take advantage of any of the offers, just say no, and if you have to walk away from the whole deal… DON’T BUY!

So…did we miss anything?

Of course. There is no way we can cover everything out there, but this should give you a good idea on what things to look out for when buying a RV.

If you think you might be ready, but are feeling a little overwhelmed or disorganized, you should look into RVing Planet’s RV Buying Guides.

They will help you keep well organized notes and help you be prepared when you are faced with the seller. Stay in control of the process. They are available here.

RV Buying, Buy the RV

Still need more help, we are here for you! We can set up a one-on-one call to help you work through the process.

Details are available here!


I’m a blogging, YouTubing, RVing, roadschooling mama of two who is married to the fantastic Robert (the other half of Exploring the Local Life).

Jessica – who has written posts on Exploring the Local Life.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Buy The RV – Knowing When to Walk Away

  1. Good post! We’ve bought two new and were lucky to have dealt with a reputable dealer. They provided MSRP (valid!) and we had a great experience…twice. We did our homework ahead of time and went in (the second time) really knowing what we wanted. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We recently walked away from purchasing a new RV when we realized we we still loved our RV, and we wouldn’t love the debt the new one would come with. We were staying at a campground that had a sales center nearby and walked over to window shop.we almost got reeled in, but when we looked at the numbers we realized the upgrade wasn’t worth the cost.

  3. I became adept at spotting scam rv and truck ads. The price will seem too good and have random numbers , the pictures might be awkward but professional looking, they might require you to email for pictures, or they have some crazy story as to why the price is so good. And of course, asking for the money before you see it. If on an android device, you can click and hold the picture and choose to search google for it. It’s pretty easy to see if they stole the pictures from a closed ebay ad. If so, always report it.

  4. That’s great! Being prepared and working with someone providing a service rather than just selling makes such a big difference!

  5. That’s great! Being prepared and working with someone providing a service rather than just selling makes such a big difference!

  6. I recently purchased the 2018 Version of your RV. We love it! I’m looking for a TV and am wondering what you have and if you had to do any special mounting brackets or anything

    1. Hi! Sorry for the late reply but the RV should have come with a bracket that will fit many differnt types of televisions. We actually had a free standing TV that died – because we forgot to put it away when we repositioned one day!

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