Finally took one too many amazing RV trips in a rental…
…and suddenly found yourself in the market to buy one of your own?
It happens to the best of us, and we here at RVshare think it’s an awesome decision, so congratulations! (Not that we’re biased or anything… 😉 )
Having an RV of your own is the perfect way to invest in your sense of adventure and commit to spending quality time with your family. (And, psst: as a soon-to-be new motorhome owner, now’s the perfect time to sign up for Passport America, a discount camping club that will save you 50% on your campsite accommodations at almost 1900 campgrounds nationwide. That means it pays for itself in the very first use!)
Of course, even in the midst of all the excitement around your decision, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed. Choosing and purchasing a travel trailer or motorcoach is a huge decision — and an investment of tens of thousands of dollars! You want to make sure you get the best rig for your money, one that’ll keep you and your family happy on the road for years to come, but you might not know where to start
So if you’re wondering how to purchase a camper without developing an ulcer or tearing your hair out, read on.
Choosing a Motorhome
If you’re looking for our very best advice on buying an RV, the answer is: take your time. And that includes before you even get anywhere near a dealership floor.
From figuring out which style of RV is right for you to getting a feel for the features and reputations of different brands and manufacturers, the key to making a purchasing decision you won’t regret is all about having lots of patience.
Of course, that can be really difficult, especially when you’re eager to get on the road right this second. But trust us, it’s worth it.
Fortunately, there’s tons of great info online, and plenty of RVing communities where you can ask questions and chat with veteran campers in real time. And if you’re into old fashioned book learning, you’ll find lots of great reading material on the subject, too, both to prepare you for your purchase and help you maximize your enjoyment while traveling. Here are a few of our favorites:
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to RVing (we promise you don’t have to be a complete idiot to benefit from it!)
- RV Buyer’s Survival Guide
- The Ultimate RV Pre-Purchase Inspection Checklist : How To Inspect Your New RV
- The Complete Book of Boondock RVing: Camping Off the Beaten Path
But all the reading in the world won’t make up for one very important thing you need to do before buying any RV, especially for the first time buyer.
Yup: We’re talking about a walkthrough.
Questions to Ask When Buying an RV
So many you went to the dealership or maybe you found yourself at an RV show or event — which is a great way to shop lots of different vehicle options at the same time, by the way! (Here’s a great list of when and where the best RV shows and expos are going down, organized by state.)
Either way, you found a rig you fell head over heels in love with, and you’re ready to pull the trigger.
Not so fast! Here are some questions you should ask and hands-on inspections you should make before you come anywhere close to signing.
How to Spot a Lemon When Buying an RV
To help avoid buyer’s remorse, there are a few things to look for and check when buying an RV, especially if it’s a used motorhome or travel trailer.
For example, it’s imperative that you ensure the rig is free of any signs of water damage, which can quickly and easily destroy the vehicle and waste your investment.
Checking for water damage can be time consuming, but it’s a necessary step to protect your assets. Be sure to actually climb into the overhead cabin if it’s a Class C, and open any cabinets along seams to check the walls behind them. Look for browning wallpaper and feel for noticeable softness. Anywhere your RV’s got a seam is a spot water could potentially seep in!
RV Walkthrough Checklist
Water damage is an important item on a used RV pre-delivery inspection checklist, but even new RVs require walkthroughs if you want to make an informed purchase. Here’s what you should insist on trying out yourself before you make any RV purchase.
How well do the cabinets and drawers sit? Open and close them to ensure they’re smooth and easy to operate, and to avoid finding yourself driving down the road to the constant, annoying sound of your drawers jiggling in their frames.
Is the air conditioning and heating powerful enough? Nothing ruins a great vacation like feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, whether it’s because it’s too cold or not cool enough. Stand in front of the rig’s A/C vents for a spell and ensure they’ve got what it takes to keep you from sweating.
How’s the water pressure? Having your very own private shower is one of the biggest conveniences of RV travel… but not if the water pressure is so paltry it leaves you with conditioner in your hair all day. Test it out yourself before you make a buying decision. (And, psst, if you’ve unfortunately found yourself in a rig with subpar pressure, consider investing in a replacement RV shower head. It’s one of the most affordable, but significant, RV upgrades you can make!)
Finally, if possible, ask if a certified mechanic of your own choosing can give the rig a thorough inspection before you sign the purchase papers. So long as the dealership doesn’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t have a problem with that request… and it’ll go a long way towards putting your mind at ease when you’re forking over a significant portion of your savings.
Phew! Now that that’s all taken care of… get out there and have some fun in your new rig!
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