Buying a Used RV: What to Look For

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Buying a Used RV: What to Look For

Buying a Used RV: What to Look For

For many, buying an RV is a dream come true. They allow you all of the freedom of the open road and make travel and vacations a breeze. For others, they provide a change in lifestyle that is only accomplished by owning a mobile home on land or sea.

Unfortunately, since they are seen as a luxury item rather than a necessity, they can be quite pricey. Also, the more elaborate the rig, the more expensive it is likely to be. If you find that your RV model of choice exceeds your budget, consider buying a used model. This allows you to invest in an option that offers more for your money and even depreciates more slowly than a new model would. The following tips can help make the process of shopping for a used RV easier and more successful.

Related Read: Buying a used RV: A Cautionary Tale

Locating Used RVs

There are several ways to search for the previously-owned motorhome or travel trailer of your dreams. Personally, we chose to use a broker when we bought ours, but you can also buy from a dealership or directly from the current owner. Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Broker: After receiving a deposit (usually non-refundable) and a list of your preferences and price-range, a broker will send you listings from their database of available RVs that match what you’re looking for. Once you’ve chosen one to pursue, he or she will help facilitate the transaction. It’s really important to choose a reputable broker since they’ll be handling everything. Check out several to determine deposit cost, requirements, and reliability. The Better Business Bureau (B.B.B.) and websites like Rip Off Report can help.

Dealer: Buying from a dealer is probably the most expensive option, as they often pad the cost to increase their margin. However, an RV purchased from a lot is likely to have been thoroughly inspected and professionally cleaned. Check for dissatisfied customers with the B.B.B. and insist on a test drive.

Independent Seller: This is often the least expensive option because you’re dealing directly with the seller without any middlemen. You can find pre-owned RVs for sale by looking in the local classifieds and on craigslist. It is, however, the riskiest since you don’t have any way to assess their honesty and fewer recourses if something goes wrong.

Related Read: RV Financing – Tips from an RV Dealer

RV’s Reputation

When you’re narrowing down your options, research the reputation of each manufacturer. Find out how long they have been in business and how satisfied their customers generally are with their products. Determine how often they require maintenance or repairs, as well as the effort and expense usually required for each. Are parts easily available? Check out forums for the RV brands you are considering; nearly all have at least one.

Inspect and Test Drive

Before taking possession (and preferably before making a payment) do a visual inspection of the exterior and interior condition. Examine the tires for wear and check the fiberglass or aluminum walls for any areas missing paint or trim. On the inside, look over the carpet, tile, and upholstery. Scrutinize counters and cabinetry for nicks and verify all doors and drawers work properly. Then, get the opinion of a professional mechanic.

Make sure also to test drive the RV. Check out how it rides on the highway, assess the turn radius, and see how it handles in tight spots. Make sure this is the one for you.

Related Read: The Virgin’s Guide to Buying an RV: Do’s & Don’ts

In Conclusion

For many, buying a used RV provides opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Since hundreds of units sit unoccupied most of the year, it’s likely that you can find one in near-new condition that fits your needs. Happy hunting!

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Carrie Todd


Carrie Todd

Initially, Carrie became a freelance writer, editor, and artist to support herself doing something she loves that also allows her to travel. Living in her Tourmaster coach, she has spent no more than five months in one place since October 2013. This ensures that she gets to experience the constantly changing scenery that accompanies the yearly seasonal changes, as well as meet new people across the country. She has since become a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Consultant, as well to further this endeavor. In fact, Carrie considers herself fortunate, as most people have to be of retirement age to enjoy the sort of freedom she has, with every day bringing something different.

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