How to Buy a Reliable RV That You Will Love!

One of the toughest parts about getting started with your RV journey is picking the right one. We know this first hand, we were extremely overwhelmed at first!

It is especially important to learn how to spot what makes and RV good or bad when shopping around for used RV’s. This is because they are usually sold “As Is” and any problems can become your problems which can cost you a large amount of money. Or worse, potential serious injury. Buying used is already a large and troubling problem for car purchases, but it’s amplified in a luxury purchase such as an RV. You want to make sure you are armed with information to make a good buy.

Buying new is also not without it’s problems. Yes genrally speaking it will be perfect working order but that doesn’t mean you can just strut through the door and buy any old RV.

Sonja and I had just gone through this, we decided to look at used RV’s because of the savings and we don’t really want to pay for depreciation. However this is a very expensive purchase with very high maintenance costs for issues. We had to find a balance between saving on the sticker price and reliability.

Overall looking over an RV is not much different from looking for a used car or truck – it’s just bigger and more complicated.

Here is how I look over an RV to see if it passes my test.

Before Your RV Purchase

Congratulations! You have decided to buy an RV! You’re about to have an amazing time and some true freedom. Whether you want to full time in an RV or just use it sparingly, both require the same due diligence to make sure you get what you want and need.

Set A Budget

Figuring out what you can afford or are willing to spend is the first place to start. Set a budget for your situation and look around at your options. If you finance it then a difference between $45,000 or $50,000 isn’t too much different from $65,000 or so but the difference in RV and potential resale value could be a lot higher.

When we were looking for our RV we set a budget of around 40-50k but ended up with an RV that was 62k out the door. The difference in our payment was only about $60 more a month but for an RV with 8,800 miles and super clean it was worth it to us. We decided to buy an RV that would give us as little maintenance as possible.

Look Online at Different RV’s

After we set a budget we went to rvtrader.com and set the filter with our prices and looked at all the RV’s (nationwide search) that fit our price range. We spend about 3 weeks just looking every day at all the different floor plans, interior design, outside appearance, etc… to get a really string idea of what is out there.

Look At Live Models at a Dealership

After looking online a lot and getting a great foundation of what we liked and didn’t like we wanted to see how big they actually were. So we ended up going to our nearest dealership and

Check the Date of the Tires

I list this one first because tires are probably the single most important part of an RV but many people don’t know how to tell if the tires are safe or if they pose a major safety hazard for their family. I would look at new RV tires too just in case but this mostly applies to buying pre-owned.

The problem is the tires might look good to the untrained eye; decent tread, no visible cracks etc… but the tires are old. Old tires, especially ones who have been sitting get hard, as the tires rotate down the road they experience a lot of forces, old, harder tires have a very real chance of breaking up and causing an accident.

The proper way to look at tires is: Obviously tread wear, and cracks. But the key is to check the date of manufacturing. You find this by finding an oval on the tire. It should be close to the rim, but it will have some information like PSI Max, Rating etc…Look for a 4 digit number. This will tell you the manufacture date. It’s read: xx/zz;
xx = week of the year,
zz = the year it was made.

So bad would be something more than 2 or 3 years old. If the tires have that much age I would haggle the price down some and replace the tires or look for something else. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth the risk.

Pick the Right Dealership

Closely Watch Your Salesperson

Check the Fluids

Start The Engine Cold

Look Underneath and the Chassis

Play With Everything

Set A Budget

Choose The Right Floor Plan For You

Towing Capacity

Sleeping Capacity

Pick an Age Range

Shop Around Online

Determine Purchase Value