Buying an 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 and not buy the RV?
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Does the seller make you feel uncomfortable?
You should feel comfortable when you are looking at an 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 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.
Here are some phrases to watch out for:
- “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”
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 needs.
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.
RVs 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 an RV on one of the 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 an 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.
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 sales guy.
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 appears 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 really 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 of what things to look out for when buying an RV.
Need more RV buying advice? Check out this post: How to Find the Right RV for You.