Four Tips For Purchasing A Used RV

Buying a used RV is a lot like buying a used car – with the same sometimes shady tactics designed to get you to buy. Do your research before you even set foot on the lot and you'll be in a better position to walk out with a good deal.

Sure, in a perfect world, we'd all be able to afford those $400,000 motor homes we see on TV. However, if the luxury lifestyle isn't in your budget, you still have options when it comes to purchasing used RVs. In many ways, buying an RV is like buying a car – and it's true that most of an RVs depreciation happens the moment you drive it off the lot. Buying used can be a great way to save money and get more RV for your dollar. But before you hit the lot to start looking, consider the following advice:

1. Check the paperwork

Before you get all gushy over the "perfect" RV, check the paperwork as you would on a used car. Does the VIN on the RV match the VIN listed on the paperwork? Did the previous owner leave any maintenance or repair records with the RV? If not, find a mechanic in the area who specializes in RV repairs. Even if everything looks good from the outside, a used RV may have hidden mechanical issues that could cost you thousands of dollars later on. Finally, do a gut check. Do you feel like you're working with a reputable dealer? If things look a little shady, walk out and find a dealership where you feel more comfortable.

 

2. The first look through

Although the dealer may try to steer you towards special features or upgrades, there are a few things you should check out for yourself. First, check the condition of the toilet and the floorboards around it – these are often the first things to fall apart in a motor home. Also check the condition of any moving parts or frequently used areas. In many RVs, the kitchen table folds down into a bed, so make sure all the pieces are in tact to make this transition. Check the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen area to make sure they all open smoothly without any sticking. If you do notice something amiss, follow up with the dealer to see if the repairs can be made before you take possession or ask for a discount based on the condition.

3. Test drive the RV

If you've identified an RV that you're interested in, ask to take it for a test drive, just like you would with any used vehicle. Pay special attention to how the brakes and tires feel – if there are any underlying problems with these parts, they may be expensive to fix. This is also a good time to be sure you're looking at the correct size RV for you. It's easy to get talked into (or talk yourself into) a larger RV than you can safely drive. As you test drive the RV, be sure you feel comfortable turning and maneuvering the vehicle – if you aren't, take a step down size-wise. If you can't get through the test drive, you probably won't have too many enjoyable vacations in your new RV.

4. Consider all costs

Again, this advice is similar to buying a used car. Before you even visit the dealership, research online to get a feel for the average prices of used RVs. If possible, print off several listings of RVs you're interested in to bring to the dealership for comparison. In addition, contact your auto insurance agency to see if they insure RVs and get a quote for some of the listings you've chosen. This will at least give you a ballpark estimate for what to expect in insurance costs. If your agency doesn't cover RVs, you'll need to shop around for one that does. Finally, calculate how much you expect to spend on gas on an average camping trip. You need to have all these figures together ahead of time so that you don't wind up in over your head on price.

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